The Universal Path of the Spirit: The Way of the Fitrah

The Universal Path of the Spirit: The Way of the Fitrah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

“We believe in Allah, and what has been sent down to us, and what has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), and Isma’il (Ishmael), and Ishaq (Isaac), and Ya’qub (Jacob) and the Tribes, and in what was given to Musa (Moses), and `Isa (`Oseh), and the Nabiyyin (Prophets), from their Rabb (Lord). We make no difference between them.” Qur’an, Surah 2.136

قُولُواْ آمَنَّا بِاللّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالأسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَى وَعِيسَى وَمَا أُوتِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

Throughout the years prophets and messengers have been raised up by Allah on this planet to serve as guides and leaders for mankind’s ultimate spiritual awakening. In the wake of their absence mankind has sought to create ideologies and religious dogmas; invented to reconstruct the teachings they left behind, and fill in the gaps of whatever they might not have addressed (or might not have survived). However, these ideologies and man-made religions were themselves quite separate from the actual spiritual path brought by those prophets in their Universal teachings. For no prophet taught an “ism,” or the like, to be named after themselves or their people. For such is not the Universal Message and the Universal Path which they all taught to every nation and tribe throughout history. There was one thing that these prophets and messengers were raised up for, and that was to bring Enlightenment to their respective peoples, and ultimately to the entire world.

In the Gospel of Thomas, Saying 24, `Isa’s disciples said to him, “‘Show us the place where you are, since it is necessary for us to seek it.’ He said to them, ‘Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.'”

The prophets and messengers were to bring the truth in increments, ever-unfolding, ever-increasing like the sun rising to dawn upon the masses; slowly but steadily Enlightening the world, to ultimately wake the sleepers up from the dream of duality, the illusion of “self-hood,” the illusion of the nafs.

The Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever knows himself, will know his Lord.” This was the ultimate goal the prophets; to awaken us to our true Self, our Higher-Self; the Self which resides within all things, and yet all things reside as mere specks of thought within It.

The Prophet Lao Tzu wrote similarly, distinguishing between two modes of knowing: “Those who know others are wise. Those who know themselves are enlightened” Tao Te Ching, 33

True introspection is thus the goal of the true seeker (salik). To understand others is a great accomplishment in this world. But how often it is seen that one will know the nature of others and yet ignore their own faults. How often it is seen that people will pick apart the world around them and never look to their own faults and spiritual diseases. We see this range from nationhood, to selfhood; in each case most are content to seek to remove the speck of dust from their brothers eye whilst ignoring the board blocking their own vision.

The Holy Qur’an urges us towards this ultimate objective of Self Realization when it says: “Do they not contemplate in their own selves (anfusikum)?” Qur’an 51.21

وَفِي أَنفُسِكُمْ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ

To know others is important, but only insomuch as they serve as a mirror to our own selves. That is, human psychology, animal psychology and even the nature of the principles of Yin and Yang throughout the Universe itself, serve as examples of manifestations that play out within our own hearts (quloob), and throughout the cosmos. Thus, to know others is a noble feat if the intention (niyyah) of knowing “them” is to ultimately know and embody Truth. Yet even this is far inferior to true KNOWLEDGE OF SELF.

It is reported (in Misbah, 159), that (for hardship with a woman’s labor), it should be written for her what is reported from `Isa, “O Creator of the nafs from the nafs (Ya Khalaqa an-nafsi mina-n-nafsi), and Director of the nafs from the nafs (wa-Mukhriji-n-nafsi mina-n-nafsi), and Savior of the nafs from the nafs (wa-Mukhallasi-n-nafsi mina-n-nafsi)! Save her (Khallasha).”

Thus there is the lower self, the base, animal self, which is illusory, dualistic and nothing more than a dream of “realness” of a thought within the Mind of the Thinker, and there is the ULTIMATE REALITY of the Higher Self of the Thinker Itself. This is the “nafs” from the “Nafs.”

By another narration, in Bihar al-Anwar, 92, 176, a psalms of `Isa the Ruh Allah is recorded similarly say: “O Creator of the soul from the soul (Allahumma: Khalaqa-n-nafsi mina-n-nafsi), Director of the soul from the soul (wa-Mukhriji-n-nafsi mina-n-nafsi), and Deliverer of the soul from the soul (wa-Mukhallasa-n-nafsi mina-n-nafsi). Release us and deliver us from our trouble (Farraj `annaa wa-khallasnaa).”

While the phrase “know yourself” is not found in the canonical Christian Testament, it is nevertheless implied in the Second Century CE Gospel attributed to John 14.17: “Even the Spirit of Truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither does it know him; but you know him, for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.”

To know the lower-self (nafs), is to be able to identify it. To identify it is to be separate from it, to stand outside of it and look upon it. To stand outside it and look upon it is to first isolate it. And the purpose of isolating it is to remove annihilate any thought of it (fanaa’).

The Injil account of the Gospel attributed to Luke, in Luke-Acts 17.20-21 reads: “And when the [Bet Shammai] Pharisees demanded to know
when the kingdom of God should come, `Isa answered them and said, ‘The Kingdom of God does not come with visible signs: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.'”

Interestingly, the Greek word for “within” (entos) has also been translated in a number of Bibles as “among” or “in the midst of.” Like the Injil account attributed to John’s reference to the “Spirit of Truth” whom the world sees not, Luke’s second meaning – “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” or “within you” – is mystically expressed in the parallel “hidden” or “batini” saying of `Isa in the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas, wherein `Isa said, in saying 113: “the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the Earth, and men do not see it.”

As well in Saying 3: “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father.”

Yes brothers and sisters, the Kingdom of Heaven is within you, has always been within you and will always be within you. For there is no Reality save Allah; La Haqiqata ‘illaa-llah. Everything which you believe “you” see, is the creation or construct of Allah’s Mind within Itself. There is Nothing you see which is unique in and of itself; only Allah is Al-Wahid, the One, the Unique.

All that you believe “you” see is in reality One and the same as THAT which you, the real YOU ultimately are a reflection of, despite the muck and mire of the rijs that covers over the mirror of the heart. That Higher-Self (that is the Only “you” which exists), is not unique to “your” imaginary manifestation within the Mind of Allah. Rather, that Higher-Self is One and the same; Universal to ALL that truly is. This Reality is the Kingdom of Heaven within us and all around us. When you come to know this, then you will know your”Self” and will be “sons,” reflections of the Source, the “Father.”

To attain this state means that “you” are the true slave of Allah. “You” take no account of your”self” which was an illusion, a dream, all along. You do not exist to fulfill the hopes and dreams that family, culture and society at large have conditioned “you” to believe are yours. Rather you exist as a shell, a living embodiment of the Divine Will, on Earth as it is in Heaven. When you have attained this state, then you will understand the meaning of `Isa, the Ruh Allah‘s words when he said:

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” Gospel attributed to John 4.34

It is for this reason that Ahadith speaks of the Masih ad-Dajjaal being killed “by Allah” yet explains that this will be done “through `Isa.” This is because of the nature of Al-Masih itself. For there is no Masih in Reality, there is only Allah. Al-Masih is yet another illusion of independent existence apart from Allah, which is the Only Reality.

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me.” Gospel attributed to John 6.38

This must be the nature of all who wish to inherit our birthright as Bani Adam, and awaken to the Ruh that resides within us all; the Ruh that was placed in fullness of awakening within Adam and `Isa. This is the nature of the Ruh Allah, and the nature of those who are TRULY and quite literally Masihi, or`Isawi. For these are not the names for the followers of Bulusiyyah (Paulean Christianity), these are the names for those who have awaken to their nature and Higher Self; the Ruh Allah within us all and around us all. For there is no Reality but this.

Because of this Messianic Reality, `Isa said: “Verily I say unto you, just as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, so too have you done it unto me.” Gospel attributed to Matthew 25.40

For what is done to one, is done to ALL; from the smallest to the greatest. The Ruh within One is the Ruh within ALL.

It is reported in Sharh Nahj al-Balagha 10, 156, that `Isa passed by three people. Their bodies had become thin and their colors had changed. Then he said, “What has brought you to what I see?” They said, “Fear of the Fire.” He said, “It is the duty of Allah to give security to those who fear Hu.” Then he passed from them to three other men. He was surprised to find them even thinner and more changed. Then he said, “What has brought you to what I see?” They said, “Yearning for the Garden.” He said, “It is the duty of Allah to give to him who has hope in Hu.” Then he passed to three others. He was surprised to find them even thinner and their faces were shining like mirrors. Then he said “What has brought you to what I see?” They said, “Love of Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent.” Three times he said, “You are those who are close to Allah.”

Nearness to Allah is attained through Love alone. As there is no Reality save Allah, there is no true Love save Love of Allah. When we love the least of all creatures, or those esteemed lowest in human society, then we are to love them with the Love of Allah, the Mighty and Magnificent. This means when your brother is cold you keep him warm. When he is naked or in shabby, tattered clothes, you clothe him in that which he can wear with dignity. This means when he is hungry, you feed him his fill, and when he is thirsty you give him something to drink. When he is homeless you help him find shelter either with yourself or with those who have the ability to house him; and you support those facilities which house and feed the homeless, with both your time, effort and wealth. This means when your brother offends you, you are commanded to forgive him 70 times 7 times. When he strikes your cheek you are to turn and offer him the other, in case he is not yet done releasing his anger. When he asks you to walk one mile, you walk two. When he asks for your coat, you give him your shirt as well. If you have a grudge against him, you leave your sacrifice, your offering for atonement aside and first go make amends with him even though he is the one who wronged you. For if you hold a grudge in your heart for your brother then there is no room for the Love of Allah. And if you do not love your brother who offended you, how will Allah love you who has offended Him?

This is the true nature of Love. What so often masquerades under the guide of “love” is most often nothing of the sort, and is in reality spiritual distraction, istidraaj, and a form of shirk.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Gospel attributed to John 13.33-35

Brothers and sisters if you do not have love then you do not know `Isa. If you do not love your enemy as yourself, then you are not fit to call yourselves followers of `Isa. Yes, if Americans do not love Al-Qa`idah members and pray for them when they persecute them, then they do not know `Isa. If Palestinians do not love Israelis and pray for them, then they do not know love and do not know `Isa.

For Divine Love is not the rubbing of genitals. Divine love is not the buying of gifts, or the rewarding of kindness with kindness. That is not love, but is rather a natural reaction to pleasure of the nafs. There is nothing wrong with rewarding kindness with kindness, for what else are we to reward it with? But this, in and of itself, is not Love.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that you? For even sinners do the same.” Gospel attributed to Luke 6.32-33

The true `Arif (One with Higher Knowledge), will understand the nature of the Reality and will realize that there is nothing separate from Him, and nothing which is not within him, nor any”thing” which he himself is not within. All of such manifestations of duality are the illusions of sleep. Once the `Arif has awakened he will see that all things are One. When an animal is in pain, he is in pain. If an insect is in pain, dying, half stepped on along the way he walks, he will empathize with this being, for its “Being” is his “Being.” He will know that there is absolutely no difference between the Ruh in One and the Ruh in ALL. It is for this reason that his Love will extend to all things, and his forgiveness will shine throughout the world like a light that castes away all shadows. It is for this reason that it is written that: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Gospel attributed to Matthew 5.43-45

Similarly, in Islamic Hadith (Bihar al-Anwar 14, 235, 7), it is written of the sayings of `Isa that Fayd ibn al-Mukhtar said, “I heard Abu `Abdullah say, ‘When al-Ma’idah (the Table Spread) was sent down to `Isa he said to the disciples, “Do not eat from it until I give you permission.” Then one of them ate from it. Then some of the disciples said, “Ya Ruh Allah! So-and-so ate from it!” Then `Isa said to him, “Did you eat from it?” He said to him, “No.” Then the disciples said, “Yes! By Allah! Ya Ruh Allah! He ate from it!” Then `Isa said to him [who had thus spoken], “Affirm your brother and deny your eye.'”

It is for this reason that the Qur’an does not allow prosecution of adultery, of zina unless the crime is so blatant, flagrant and rampant as to be witnessed by four people! Even if you were to see such a sin with your own two eyes, it is as though it never happened; for we are to affirm the denial even of our guilty brothers and sisters and seek not after their faults.

This is the nature of love, the love that most only begin to taste for a few close relatives within their entire lives, yet do not extend to the whole world. When your child disobeys, you do not disown him. When your parent offends you, you do not disassociate with them. When your spouse yells at you, you do not get divorced. Those who understand this understand the beginning of love. Those who do not understand this do not understand the Love of Allah and are not near to Allah. Yet those who extend this no further have not benefited or actualized the reality of the Divine Love. This Divine Love is the nature of the Ruh Allah which lives within all things (whether asleep or awake).

In ‘Usul al-Kafi (1, 133, 1) it is written that Al-Ahwal said: “I asked Abu `Abdullah about the Ruh that was in Adam [mentioned in the Ayah] in which Allah says ‘When I straightened him and blew in him from My Ruh.’ He answered, ‘This is a created Ruh and the Ruh that was in `Isa was created.”

It is this Ruh Allah which is spoken of in the Injil account of the Disciple Thomas: “[`Isa] said: I am the light that is above them all. I am the ALL; the ALL came forth from me, and the ALL attained to me. Cleave a piece of wood; I am there. Raise up a stone, and you will find me there. ”

It is THAT around which this community revolves, it is THAT which we seek to annihilate the illusion of the nafs away from, in order that this Ruh may be shine through, unhindered by the illusion of the non-existent.

Allah, the Great and Almighty, said to `Isa, “Ya `Isa, Remember Me within yourself (Azhkurni fi-nafsika) and I will remember you within Myself (‘Azhkurka fi-Nafsi), and remember Me publicly and I will remember you publicly in a public better than that of the people. Ya `Isa! Soften your heart (qalbaka) for me and remember Me much in solitude, and know that My pleasure is in your shuddering for me, and be alive in that and be not dead.”

‘Usul al-Kafi, 2, 502, 3

To know this and to live this is to be alive and not dead. To remain ignorant of this and to neglect this is to be dead and not alive.

It is reported by Mufaddal, one of the companions of Imam as-Sadiq from Imam Ja`far as-Sadiq in a long hadith, that he said, “`Isa used to spend some time with the disciples and advise them and he used to say, ‘He does not know me, who knows not his soul, and he who does not know the soul between his two sides, does not know the soul between my two sides. And he who knows his should which is between his sides, he knows me. And he who knows me knows He who sent me.'”

Adab an-Nafs 2, 213

The ultimate result of this path to perfection of spirit, the path of purification, the path of the insaan al-kamil, the perfected human being, is that the rijs of the nafs will be purified, washed away, and the mirror of the qalb will reflect the Divine. This reflection itself IS the Ruh Allah. We know that the words of Inspiration (ilham) of the Ruh al-Quddus continue and should be heeded when such Truth manifests. For it is written in Bihar al-Anwar (51, 226, 4; from Ikmal ad-Din), that Di’bil ibn `Aliyy al-Khuza’i says, “I recited my long poem to my master `Aliy ibn Musa ar-Rida, the beginning of which is:

Madaris (Schools) of Aayat empty of recitations And the House of Revelation horrendously empty”

When I reached to my verse,

“The rise of an Imam who will definitely rise And stand by the name of Allah and Barakatu He will make distinction between all rights and wrongs And will proffer requital for charities and malevolence”

Imam ar-Rida cried very profusely and then raised his head and said to me: ‘O Khiza’i, the Holy Spirit (Ruh al-Quddus), has spoken on your tongues in these two verses!'”

So blessed are those who have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Ruh says. And blessed are those who recognize Truth and distinguish it from falsehood. Realize that One alone is good and One alone is master. Seek out the Source, and you will find the Source. Follow the stream and you will get to the delta. As the disciple Thomas recorded the words of `Isa: “I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become drunk from the bubbling stream which I have measured out…. He who will drink from the bubbling stream which I have measured out…. He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him.”

This is the Universal Path of the Spirit, the Path of the True `Arif; the Awakening of the Lover to the Beloved, the Awakening of thought to the Mind.

“If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and will come to him and make our home with him.” Gospel attributed to John 14.23

A number of our people have narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from al-Husayn ibn Sa’id from al-Nadr ibn Suwayd from Yahya al-Halabi from Abu ‘al-Sabah al-Kinani from Abu Basir who has said the following. “I asked Abu `Abdullah about the words of Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High. “Thus, We have revealed a Spirit to you, (Muhammad), by Our command. Before, you did not even know what a Book or Faith was…” (42:52) The Imam said, “He is a creature of the creatures of Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High greater than Jibra’il and Mika’il. He was with the Messenger of Allah to give him news and protected him and he is with the Imaams after the Rasul Allah.”

‘Usul al-Kafi, H 717, Ch. 56, h 1

This Ruh is the birthright of the Bani Adam, and this is the purpose of humankind’s creation; to achieve this state, higher than that of even the great Archangels Jibra’il and Mika’il. This is the state of awakening of the Ruh of the nafs awakening to the Nafs. This is the Universal Path of the Spirit.