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Title: Letters from a Sûfî Teacher
Author: Manerî, Shaikh Sharfuddîn
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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=Shaikh Sharf-ud-dîn= was the son of =Shaikh Yahiâ=. His birthplace is
=Maner=, a village near =Patnâ= in =Behâr= (India). A love of knowledge
and the religious life, and signs of spiritual greatness, were found
in him from his early childhood. A strange Being was once seen by
the cradle of the baby. The mother, frightened, reported the matter
to her father, =Shahâb-ud-dîn=, a great saint. The latter consoled
her, saying that the mysterious Presence was no less a Being than the
Prophet =Khezar=[1] Himself, and that the baby was expected to be a man
of great spiritual advancement. He acquired secular knowledge under
=Ashraf-ud-dîn=, a famous professor of those days. He first refused
to marry, but had to yield when, being ill, he was advised by the
physician to take to marriage as the remedy for his disease. He left
home after the birth of a son, travelled in many places, and was at
last initiated (at, or near =Dehli=) by =Najîb-ud-dîn Firdausî=. The
latter made him his deputy on earth under a deed drawn twelve years
earlier under the direction of the Prophet of =Islâm= Himself, asked
him to leave the place, and quitted his body shortly after.

[1] A mysterious Personage, according to some, a Prophet; according to
others, a _Walî_ or 'Friend of God'. He is supposed to be an Immortal
Being, an invisible Teacher and Helper of Mankind. Moses was sent by
God to seek His instruction. '_Khezar_' literally means 'green', a
metaphorical expression for auspiciousness, blessedness, wholesomeness
and fertility.

On his initiation, =Sharf-ud-dîn= lived for many a long year in the
woods of =Bihiâ= and the =Râjgiri= Hills. In his later days he adopted
=Bihâr= (now a subdivisional town) as his residence, at the request
of some of his friends and disciples. He died on Thursday, the 6th of
Shawwâl, 782 Hijra, in the opening years of the 15th Century A. D.
His titular name is =Makhdûm-ul-Mulk=, 'Master of the Kingdom or the
World.' He was equally proficient in secular learning and esoteric
Knowledge, and possessed superhuman powers. His tomb at =Bihâr= is
still resorted to as a place of sanctity by a large number of devout
Mahomedans. He wrote many works, of which three only have yet been
published. These are:--

(1.) _Maktûbât-i-Sadî_, a 'Series of a Hundred Letters' (or rather
essays on definite subjects) addressed to his disciple =Qâzî
Shams-ud-dîn= in 747 Hijra.

(2.) _Maktûbât-i-Bist-o-hasht_, a 'Series of 28 Letters', being replies
to the correspondence of his senior disciple, =Mozaffar=, the prince of

(3.) _Fawâed-i-Ruknî_, a number of brief Notes prepared for the use of
his disciple =Rukn-ud-dîn=.

The present booklet consists of the translation of copious extracts
from _Maktûbât-i-Sadî_, the most elaborate and comprehensive of the
three published works, with Notes occasionally added from the other
two with a view to elucidate or complete the subject in hand. These
extracts, it is hoped, will cover the greater part of, if not all,
the _principles_ inculcated in these books, and are expected to give
the reader a fair knowledge of the _Teaching_ of the Author _in all
its phases_. Matters relating to mere exoteric rites, legends and
traditions have been omitted. The translation does not pretend to be
always very literal, but an honest attempt has been made to present a
faithful rendering of the original to the English-knowing public, that
they may be able to better appreciate the Teachings of =Islâm=, and
that the Brotherhood of Creeds may have one more advocate to plead its
cause before the tribunal of the human intellect.






  On Monotheism                                 1

  Turning to God, or Conversion                 5

  On Seeking the Teacher                        8

  On the Qualifications of a Teacher           12

  On Discipleship                              15

  On Discipleship (Continued)                  16

  The Friend of God                            19

  The Brotherhood of Friends                   20

  Polytheism, and the Friendship of God        22

  Lights                                       23

  The Unveiling of the Supersensuous           25

  On the Same                                  28

  Illumination                                 29

  Dreams                                       30

  On Misconceptions                            32

  The Outer and Inner Ailments                 34

  The Origin of Theosophy                      36

  Seeking the Path                             37

  The Pillars of the Path                      39

  Religion, the Path and Truth                 39

  Accessory to Prayers                         41

  Purification                                 42

  The Motive                                   44

  Prayer                                       45

  Invoking the Divine Help                     46

  The Divine Allegiance                        47

  The Sacred Formula                           48

  The Naked Faith                              49

  The Inner Polytheism                         51

  The Divine Knowledge                         52

  Love and Devotion                            55

  Seeking God                                  58

  The Way to God                               60

  Speech and Conduct                           62

  Magnanimity                                  64

  Knowledge                                    65

  The Steps of a Disciple                      67

  Islâm                                        71

  The Noble Qualities                          73

  Contemplation                                76

  Renunciation                                 78

  On the Same                                  80

  The Clearing of the Path                     81

  Self-Control                                 83

  Truth                                        84

  The Descent from Adam                        87

  Confidence                                   91

  Pursuit and Renunciation                     92

  The Company of the Saints                    93

  Service                                      97

  The Transmutation of Evil Qualities          99

  Avarice                                     101

  The Evil of the World                       103

  Renunciation of the World                   104

  The Final Doom                              106

  The Soul                                    108

  The Heart                                   109

  The Desire-Nature (=Nafs=)                  110

  Desire                                      112

  Discipline of the Desire-Nature             114

  Discipline of the Desire-Nature (Continued) 115

  Alienation from the Desire-Nature           117

  Self-Toleration                             118

  Hidden Differences of Stages                118

  Heedlessness                                120

  Sorrow                                      121

  Conduct                                     122

  Seclusion                                   124

  Death                                       126

  Hell                                        128

  Heaven                                      129



Masters of the path have divided monotheism into four stages. The first
stage consists in repeating, vocally, without any inner conviction,
"There is no God save Allâh."[2] This is hypocrisy, and does not profit
on the day of resurrection. The second stage consists in repeating the
said _logion_ vocally with an inner conviction based upon conventional
imitation (as in the case of ordinary people), or some form of
reasoning (as in the case of an intellectual theist). This is verily
the visible body of monotheism, frees one from gross polytheism and
from hell, and leads to heaven. This second stage, though safer than
the first, and less unstable, is for all that a low one, fit for old
women.[3] The third stage consists in Light shining in the heart, which
reveals the One Agent alone as the root of all phenomena, and the
non-agency of all else. This is quite unlike the conviction of ordinary
people or that of an intellectual theist. Such a conviction is a fetter
to the soul, whereas the vision of the Light breaks all fetters. There
must be a difference between one who believes a certain gentleman to be
in his house, on the testimony of others (as in the case of ordinary
people), another who infers the residence of that gentleman in the
house, because he sees his horses and servants at the gate (as in the
case of the intellectual theist), and another who actually sees the
gentleman in the house (as in the case of the third stage). In the
third stage one sees the creatures and the Creator, and distinguishes
them from Him. This much of separation still persists--hence it is not
perfect union in the eyes of the Masters.

[2] =Lâ elâha ill' Allâh=.

[3] Weak souls.--_Trs._

The fourth stage consists in the pouring forth of the Divine Light so
profusely, that it absorbs all individual existences in the eyes of
the pilgrim. As in the case of the absorption of particles floating
in the atmosphere in the light of the sun, the particles become
invisible--they do not cease to exist, nor do they become the sun,
but they are inevitably lost to sight in the overpowering glare of
the sun--so, here, a creature does not become God, nor does it cease
to exist. Ceasing to exist is one thing, invisibility is another....
When thou lookest through a mirror, thou dost not see the mirror, for
thou mergest it into the reflexion of thy face, and yet thou canst not
say that the mirror has ceased to exist, or that it has become that
reflexion, or that the reflexion has become the mirror. Such is the
vision of the Divine Energy in all beings without distinction. This
state is called by the Sûfîs, absorption in monotheism. Many have
lost their balance here: no one can pass through this forest without
the help of the Divine Grace and the guidance of a Teacher, perfect,
open-eyed, experienced in the elevations and depressions of the Path
and inured to its blessings and sufferings.... Some pilgrims attain to
this lofty state only for an hour a week, some for an hour a day, some
for two hours a day, some remain absorbed for the greater portion of
their time....

Beyond the four is the stage of complete absorption, _i. e._,
losing the very consciousness of being absorbed and of seeking
after God--for such a consciousness still implies separation. Here,
the soul merges itself and the universe into the Divine Light, and
loses the consciousness of merging as well. "Merge into Him, this is
monotheism: lose the sense of merging, this is unity." Here there are
neither formulæ nor ceremonies, neither being nor non-being, neither
description nor allusion, neither heaven nor earth. It is this stage
alone that unveils the mystery: "All are non-existent save Him;" "All
things are perishable save His Face;" "I am the True and the Holy One."
Absolute unity without duality is realised here. "Do not be deluded,
but know: every one who merges in God is not God."

The first stage of monotheism is like the outermost shell of the
almond; the second stage is like the second shell; the third stage is
like the core; the fourth stage is like the essence of the core--the
oil of the almond. All these are known by the name of the almond, but
each differs immensely from the others in status, result, and use.

This note should be studied patiently and intelligently, since it deals
with the basis of all developments, activities, and supersensuous
phenomena. It will explain the phraseology and the allusions in the
writings of the saints, and throw light on the verses on monotheism and
the stages thereof.

O brother! though an ant, thou mayest turn out to be a Solomon. Do not
think thou art an impure sinner: though a gnat, thou mayest become a
lion.... God raises the monotheist out of the dualist, the faithful out
of the faithless, and the devotee out of the sinner.--_Letter 1._

[The following extracts on monotheism from _The Series of 28 Letters_,
another work of the author, may be aptly added.--_Trs._]

According to a tradition of the Prophet, all beings were created out of
Darkness, but each took in Light according to its capacity, and thus
became luminous. Hence all beings are sparks of the Divine Light, and
their luminosity is derived from It. Now one can fully understand the
sacred verse: "God is the Light of heaven and earth."--_Letter 17._

Thou-ness and I-ness pertain to our world. They do not exist in the
region of the Beloved. He is the one Reality: futile is the assertion
of any existence but His.--_Letter 2._


=Taubâh= literally means to turn back. But the nature of the turning
must be different with different individuals according to the
difference in their conditions and stages. Ordinary people would turn
from sin with apology in order to escape punishment; middling ones
would turn from their deeds to secure the regard of the Master; the
Elect would turn from all worlds, here and hereafter, and feel the
insignificance and non-existence thereof in order to realise the glory
of the Maker. The turning of a beginner cannot be permanent. A saint
says of himself: "I turned back 70 times and failed each time; but my
seventy-first turning proved steady, and I failed no more."

=Khwâjâ= (Master) =Zunnoon= of Egypt observes that the =Taubâh= of
ordinary people consists in turning from sins, that of the Elect in
turning from heedlessness.

=Khwâjâ Sobaid= and many others are of opinion that =Taubâh= consists
in remembering one's past transgressions and being ever ashamed of
them, so that one may not grow proud of one's many virtues. On the
other hand, =Khwâjâ Junnaid= and many others hold the view that
=Taubâh= consists in forgetting past transgressions, _i. e._, in
expunging their impressions from the heart, so that it may become as
pure as if it had never committed them.

=Taubâh= is obligatory for all pilgrims at all times, since for each
pilgrim there is always a stage higher than his present one. If he
halts at any stage, he stops his pilgrimage and commits sin.

=Taubâh= consists in a firm and sincere resolution to abstain from
sins, so as to assure God of one's unwillingness to commit them in
future; and in compensating, to one's best ability, those one has
harmed in any way....

=Taubâh= is the basis of all developments, as the ground is for the
foundation of a building. The chief requisite is =Îmân= (peace, faith,
or moral sense). =Taubâh= and =Îmân= appear together, and the latter
illumines the heart in proportion to the former.

The real =Taubâh= lies in turning from one's nature. When the disciple
turns from his nature he becomes another; _i. e._, he does not become
another man, but his qualities change. Then he unfolds true =Îmân=,
which sweeps away many-ness and leads to unity. Ere the turning, =Îmân=
is but conventional and nominal. "How long will you worship God with
your tongue only? This is no better than worshipping desires. So long
as thou dost not become a Moslem from _within_, how canst thou be a
Moslem merely from _without_?" The lame ass of conventional faith and
the lip-behaviour that we have cannot help us to tread the Path.

None ought to despair under any circumstance whatsoever. Here work is
without a motive, and requires no payment. Many are instantly raised
from the level of image-worship to a stage higher than the angels and
heaven. The Lord does whatever He wishes. "How" and "why" find no room
here. May God make thee a seer of His, and remove thee from thyself!
Do thou aspire high, though thou art low at present. O brother, human
aspiration should stoop to nothing, either on earth or in heaven! "Such
men are so constituted as to care for neither hell nor heaven. They
seek God and God only, and spurn what is not He."

Theosophy (=Tasavvuf=) is ceaseless motion, since standing water
becomes stagnant. A man may corporeally be in his closet, yet his
spirit may run to the =Malakût=[4] and the =Jabrût=.[5] Rapid motion,
like the morning breeze, can neither be seen nor grasped.--_Letters

[4] The astral and lower mental planes.

[5] The higher mental plane.


The Saints on the Path--blessed be they--unanimously declare that it
is incumbent upon a neophyte, after the maturity of his conversion
(=Taubâh=), to seek a Teacher, perfect, experienced in the elevations
and depressions of the Path, its joys and sorrows, possessed of
balance, and versed in the internal ailments of a disciple and their

Though in the beginning one does not need a Teacher, and the seed can
be sown merely with the help of Divine Grace, the seed, when sown in
the soil of the heart, does need a Teacher for its further growth, for
the following reasons given in the books of the saints:

1. Since one cannot go to the =Kâbâ=[6] without a guide, albeit the way
is visible and sensuous, and the pilgrim possesses eyes and feet, it is
impossible without a guide to tread the occult Path trodden by 120,000
prophets, which has no visible track and is supersensuous.

[6] The Sacred Shrine at =Meccâ=.

2. As there are many thieves and robbers on a sensuous way, and
one cannot travel without a guide, so on the occult Path there are
many robbers in the guise of the world, the desire-nature and the
elementals, and one cannot travel without the guidance of a Master.

3. There are many precipices and dangers on the Path, leading to one
or other of the many heretic schools formed by those who, having
entered the Path without a Perfect Guide, on the strength of their own
intellectual resources, fell and perished in the forest and deserted
the Law. Others, more fortunate, have safely crossed those dangers
under the protection of Masters, and have seen the victims, and known
where and why they fell. All pilgrims are liable to these dangers. If
one secures the help of a mighty Teacher, one can be saved and progress
with the help of His secret hints and instructions, else one may fall
into some heresy and lose the fruit of one's labour.

4. The pilgrim may pass, on the way, through certain spiritual
conditions, and the soul may put off the physical garment, catch the
reflection of the Divine Light, display superhuman powers as a Divine
agent during the continuance of the experiences, taste the relish of "I
am God, the Holy One," and become proud of having reached the goal. The
pilgrim cannot understand this intellectually: but if the soul, during
the continuance of these experiences, is not helped by a mighty Master,
he may, it is feared, lose faith, and fall a victim to a false notion
of unity.

5. The pilgrim on the way unfolds supersensuous powers, and sees
supersensuous phenomena--devilish, passional, and divine. But he cannot
understand them, as they are spoken in a supersensuous language (_i.
e._ revealed through an unfamiliar medium).... If, at this stage, he is
not aided by a Teacher, helping him on behalf of God, and versed in the
interpretation of supersensuous words and symbols, he cannot progress

When God opens the eyes of a man, so that he distinguishes good from
evil, and resolves to follow the one and avoid the other, but does not
know how to do it, he must betake himself to a Divine Man and make a
firm determination to change his condition. Then the Divine Man will
take him up, help him to subdue the desire-nature, gently induce him
to abstain from his defects and blemishes, and keep him away from bad
companions. A disciple can, with the help of a Teacher, do in an hour
what he would do unaided in a year....

It is said: a disciple may reach the goal with the help of a single
Teacher, or of more than one Teacher. (In the latter case) each Teacher
may be the means of the revelation of one stage only; yet it is more
consistent with decency and politeness for the disciple to refrain from
looking upon such a stage as the limit of development attained by his
Teacher, ... inasmuch as the Perfect Ones are not at all concerned with
the business of stages and conditions. But one cannot leave one Teacher
for another without the permission of the former. Who does so deserts
the Path.

It is the practice of the Masters--blessed be They!--to impose a
threefold discipline on a student. If he observes it, he receives
the Robe (the real one, not the conventional)--else he is rejected.
The threefold discipline consists of: 1. Service of the world for
a year. 2. Service of God for a year. 3. Watching the heart for a
year.--_Letter 5._


Broadly speaking there are five qualifications:

(1) Devotion to God. One cannot be thus devoted, unless one is free
from servility to all save Him.

(2) Capacity to receive truths direct from God without any
intermediary. One cannot unfold this capacity without completely
getting rid of the lower human nature.

(3) Nearness to God. One cannot approach God unless one is equipped
with the Divine character, and one's Spirit reflects the light of the
Divine attributes.

(4) Acquisition of knowledge from God without any intermediary. For
this the heart should be cleansed of all impressions, sensual and

(5) Being an Elect of the Heart Doctrine, which relates to the
knowledge of the Divine Essence, the Divine Qualities, and the Divine
Works. One cannot attain to this stage without a second birth. "One
born of the mother's womb sees this world; one born of the Self (_i.
e._, quitting the lower human nature) sees the supersensuous world."

Nevertheless it is said that the qualifications of a Teacher are
indescribable and innumerable. A Teacher is not the body, the head, or
the beard, visible to man. He is in reality the inner being by the side
of God, in the region of Truth, clothed in Divine mercy and glory....
Here is a query: How can a beginner find out such a Teacher and Guide,
know and follow Him? It is not meet for a beginner to weigh Divine Men
with the balance of his little intellect and to look at Them with his
limited vision. Nor is it meet to follow another on his mere assertion.
Then how to know if such a one is a genuine Teacher or a mere pretender?

Answer: Each seeker is furnished with materials appropriate to his lot.
He cannot transcend them, ... nor can anything hinder him from using

Query: Is there any sign whereby to distinguish a pretender from a true
Teacher, the worthy from the unworthy?

Answer: There are many signs, but it is impossible to describe and fix
them. For all that, there is no sign or mood, the presence or absence
of which _alone_ would mark a Teacher or a pretender. In short, one
blessed with the Divine Grace should set his feet on the Path, turn
away from sensual pleasures and passional gratifications, and fix
his attention on God. Then the glance of some Perfect Teacher will
shine in the mirror of the heart.... When a true disciple catches
such a glance, he instantly contracts a love for the Beauty of His
Godly Strength, becomes restless and uneasy, and comes to the Path.
This uneasiness forbodes fortune and success. Perfect discipleship
consists in perfect love for the Beauty of the Teacher's Godly
Strength. A disciple should follow the wishes of his Teacher, and not
his own wishes.... In each locality there is a Teacher who protects
men living in that area. The King of the time is only one, but there
is an ordinary teacher in each town. According to tradition there are
always 365 Friends of God, who are the props of the world and the
channels of the transmission of blessing and mercy from heaven to
earth.... O brother, know for certain that this work has been before
thee and me (_i. e._, in bygone ages), and that each man has already
reached a certain stage. No one has begun this work for the first time.
Everything is according to Divine dispensation. Do you suppose 100,024
prophets to have ushered any new work into the world? By no means.
They stirred up what lay already in the bosom, and led man to what was
ordained for him by God....--_Letter 6._


Desire is a craving in the heart for a certain object. The craving
produces a stir in the heart, the stir arouses a tendency to seek for
the object. The nobler the object, the purer the desire....

Desire is threefold:--

(1) Desire for the world. It consists in the absorption of a man in the
seeking of worldly objects. Such a desire is a downright danger. When
it clouds the heart of a neophyte, it keeps him back from all virtues,
and lures him to failure. A life spent in the gratification of such a
desire deprives one of eternal happiness after resurrection.

(2) Desire for heaven. The soul transcends the previous stage,
longs for the heavenly state and permanent happiness, and practises
lifelong asceticism, so that he may attain his object on the day of
resurrection. The desire for heaven is nobler than the desire for the

(3) Desire for God. A man (at this stage) unfolds the inner sight,
aspires to transcend the created universe, and considers it disgraceful
to seize anything contained in that area--so that he develops a longing
for the Creator Himself and is respected in heaven as well as on
earth. When a disciple ceases to hanker after the world and heaven,
and regards everything save his Object as a hindrance to his (onward)
march, he should heartily endeavour to seek God, come manfully to
the Path, and resort to a compassionate Teacher, so that the latter
may help him in treading the Path, and tell him of its dangers, thus
securing him a safe journey without any break or failure.

The Teacher cannot turn an unruly candidate into an earnest
disciple.... If the spirit of the Path lies latent in a candidate, it
will unfold by His company and service. The Divine Law works in this

ON DISCIPLESHIP. (_Continued._)

When a man calls himself a disciple, he ought to justify the title
to the fullest extent and firmly tread the straight Path. He should
constantly use the collyrium of turning back (=Taubâh=), put on the
robe of detachment from connexions and from self, drink the wine of
Seeking out of the cup of Purity, draw the sword of Magnanimity from
the sheath of Religion, dismiss the cravings of the infidel Desire,
practise absorption, and not care for the higher or the lower worlds.
When he has become proficient in the truths of discipleship and the
subtleties of Seeking, has gathered the fruits of purification and
asceticism, begun to tread the Path and passed through several stages
of the journey--then, if asked whether he is a disciple, he can say:
"I may be one, God helping." Thus is discipleship justified, and
pretension avoided.

This is the way of those endowed with insight and divine Wisdom. Not to
look to personality at any stage, nor to depend upon its possessions.
Many saints with a lifelong devotion have slipped down from dizzy
heights.... A disciple who concentrates in himself the purity of all
the angels and the piety of all men is self-conceited and sure to fall,
if he knows himself to be better than a dog.... The beginner has a
tongue, the proficient scholar is silent.--_Letter 54._

A disciple is a worshipper of his Teacher. If his rest and movements
are in accordance with His commands, he is a disciple; if he follows
his own desires, he is a follower of his desires, not of his Teacher.
A disciple is he who loses himself in the Teacher. He shakes off his
desires, as a serpent casts its slough. If he has even the least
remnant of desire left in him, and doubts and protests find room in
his heart, he is a worshipper of himself, not of the Teacher....
A disciple should be a worshipper of the Teacher, [so that he may
become a worshipper of God]. One who obeys the Messenger verily obeys

God has concealed precious gifts under the difficulties He has imposed
upon these men (_i. e._ the disciples). A disciple should manfully
discharge his duties without fail, in spite of the hardships and
trials of the Path. God does not work in one way only, and it is
difficult to know which way will lead the disciple to Him--joy or
sorrow, gifts or privation. There is a divine secret underneath all
sufferings and enjoyments in the world.--_The Series of 28 Letters,
Letter 1._

"A long journey is needed to ripen the raw." As a fruit requires
both sunshine and shadow for its maturity, so a pilgrim requires the
dual experience--joy and sorrow, union and separation, presence and
absence,--for his perfection.--_Ibid, Letter 5._

There is no bar to the reception of the Divine Light. If there is any,
it is due to lack of capacity. How can an unpolished mirror reflect
an image?... The pilgrim needs patience and endurance, not hurry and
unrest. God knows each man as he is, and sheds the Light when he
deserves it.--_Ibid, Letter 4._

Contentment is a _sine quâ non_; one without it should abandon
occultism and go to the market.

The performance of duties to the best of one's abilities cannot be
dispensed with, as it is necessary for the safe passage of the pilgrim.
While sane, he should follow Truth. Truth in words and conduct is ever
beneficial, never harmful.--_Ibid, Letter 15._


The =Walî= (or the Friend of God) is one who constantly receives the
favours of the Deity, which consist in his being guarded against all
troubles, the hardest of which is the commission of sins. As a Prophet
must be sinless, so must a Friend be protected. The distinction between
the two is this: The one is beyond the commission of a sin; the other
is liable to commit a sin on rare occasions, but does not persist
therein.... The Friend is endowed with all possible virtues.... Again,
it is said, the Friend is he who does not fail in his duties to God
and the universe. He does not serve through hope and fear of agreeable
and disagreeable consequences. He does not set any value on his

A Friend may be either known or unknown to the people. If unknown, he
is not affected by the evils of fame....

A Friend is he who does not long for the world or for Heaven, who
forsakes himself for the Divine Friendship and turns his heart to the
True One.... The Friends are the special objects of the Love of God.
Owing to their devotion, they have been chosen as the Governors of
His Kingdom, the channels of His Activities, receive special powers,
and are liberated from the bondage of the desire-nature. They do not
desire anything save Him, nor feel attachment to anything save Him.
They have been before us, are in these days, and will be till the end
of the world....

They are to-day the appointed Agents of God to serve as channels for
the propagation of the messages of the ancient Prophets, and to govern
the world--so that the rain may pour from heaven by Their blessings,
that plants may grow from the earth by Their purity, and that the
faithful may prevail over the faithless by Their strength.

Superhuman powers are a kind of idols in this world. If a saint is
content with their possession, he stops his onward progress. If he
turns away from them he advances the cause of his union with God.
Here is a subtile mystery, and it is this: True Friendship consists
in the rejection of all save the Beloved. But attention to superhuman
powers and reliance upon them means the rejection of the Beloved, and
satisfaction with something other than Himself.--_Letter 8._


[There is a passage on the hierarchy of Divine Friends in
=Fawâed-i-Ruknî=, another work of the author, which is translated below
as a supplement to the present subject.--_Trs._]

There are 4,000 =Walîs= who are not known to the world. They do not
know one another, nor are they conscious of their exalted position.
They ever remain veiled from the world, as well as from themselves.

There are 300 =Akhyâr= (the Charitable or the Benevolent) who solve the
difficulties of the world and keep the gate of the Divine Sanctuary.
There are forty =Abdâl= (the Substitutes); 17 =Abrâr= (the Liberated);
5 =Nujabâ= (the Pure); 4 =Autâd= (the Pegs); 3 =Nuqabâ= (the
Watchers); 1 =Qutub= (the Pole), also called =Gaus=, the 'Redresser of
Grievances'. All these know one another and are interdependent for the
discharge of their respective duties. (Total, 370--_Trs._)

According to another authority (=Majma-us-Sâerîn=) there are 356
=Walîs= ever working in the world. When one of them retires, another
takes his place, so that there is never any diminution in the number
356. They are made up of 300 + 40 + 7 + 5 + 3 + 1. The =One= is the
=Qutub= of the world, the preservation of which is due to His holy
existence. If He retired without another to take His place, the world
would fall to pieces. When the =Qutub= retires, one of the _Three_
takes His place; one of the _Five_ fills up the gap in the _Three_,
one of the _Seven_ fills up the gap in the _Five_, one of the _Forty_
fills up the gap in the _Seven_, one of the _Three Hundred_ fills
up the gap in the _Forty_, and a man is posted to the vacancy in the
rank of the _Three Hundred_--so that 356 ever continue working in the
world, and every spot is blessed by Their auspicious Feet. Their outer
life is similar to that of ordinary people, so the latter cannot know
Them. Inwardly, They are united with God. Love, Friendship, and the
Mysteries have to do with the _within_, not with the _without_. They
(the =Walîs=) are too strong to be hindered by earth, water, fire, air,
plains and hills. Being in the East, They can see and hear men in the
West. They can instantly go from the East to the West, come from the
West to the East, go to and come back from =Arsh= (the Divine Throne).
Theirs are many superhuman powers of like nature.


Polytheism is twofold:--

(1) The outer, which consists in worshipping a god other than the One
Highest God....

(2) The inner, which consists in thinking of a being, other than God,
as a helper at the time of need.

Some say that to see anything save Him, is polytheism for an Occultist.

Some say that to refer to any separated self in any way, to be inclined
to do anything with one's own will, and to resort to one's own schemes
and plans in any emergency, are all forms of polytheism....

The chosen Friend is he who is of God alone, both without and within.
He neither acts nor thinks against [the Divine Will]. He does not
mix with the desire-nature, forgets his services in the presence of
the Master, and cannot do without Him.... He is so filled with Him
in all respects--both without and within--that it is impossible for
anything else to enter into him.... He loses his desire, will, and all
individual qualities, and exists merely through God's Desire and Will.
He gets what he wills--not because he wills anything other than what is
God's will, but because his will is one with God's. Nay God unfolds His
Will in him.--_Letter 9._


When the mirror of the Heart is cleansed of impurities, it becomes
capable of reflecting the supersensuous lights. They appear in the
beginning as flashes, but gain in power and volume as the heart becomes
purer--manifesting [gradually] as the lamp, the flame, the stars,
the moon, and the sun. The forms of flashes arise from ablutions
and prayers ...; those of the lamp, the flame and the stars, from
the _partial_ purity of the heart; that of the full moon, from its
_perfect_ purity; that of the sun, from the Soul reflecting its glory
in the perfectly purified heart. A time comes when [the inner light] is
a thousand times more luminous than the [external] sun. If [the visions
of] the sun and moon are simultaneous, the latter signifies the heart
reflecting the light of the Soul, the former the Soul itself. The light
of the Soul is _formless_, but is seen behind a _veil_ distorting the
_idea_ into the form of the sun.

Sometimes the Light of the Divine Attributes may cast its reflection
in the mirror of the heart according to the purity of the latter....
This Light distinguishes itself by a feeling of bliss in the
heart, which shows that it comes from God and not from others. It
is hard to describe this bliss. It is said that the Light of the
Constructive Attributes is illuminative, but not scorching; that of
the Disintegrating Attributes scorching, but not illuminative. This
is beyond the comprehension of intellect. Sometimes, when the purity
of the heart is complete, the Seer sees the True One _within_ him,
if he looks _within_, the True One _without_ him, if he looks to the
universe. When the Divine Light is reflected in the light of the
soul, the vision gives bliss. When the Divine Light shines _without_
the media of the soul and the heart, the vision manifests formlessness
and infinity, uniqueness and harmony, the basis and support of _all_
existence. Here there is neither rising nor setting, neither right
nor left, neither up nor down, neither space nor time, neither far
nor near, neither night nor day, neither heaven nor earth. Here the
pen breaks, the tongue falters, intellect sinks into nothingness,
intelligence and knowledge miss the way in the wilderness of
amazement.--_Letter 12_.


The essence of the Unveiling lies in coming _out_ of the veils. The
seer perceives things not perceived by him before. The "veils" mean
hindrances keeping one back from the perfect vision of the Divine
Beauty, and consist of the various worlds--according to some, 18,000 in
number, according to others, 80,600--all present in the constitution of
man. Man has an eye correlated to each world, with which he observes
that world during the unveiling. These worlds are included under a
twofold division: Light and Darkness, Heaven and Earth, Invisible
and Visible, Spiritual and Physical,--each pair expressing the same
sense in different words.... When a sincere pilgrim, impelled by his
aspiration, turns from the lower nature to follow the Law, and begins
to tread the Path under the protection of a Teacher, he unfolds an
eye for each of the veils uplifted by him, to observe the conditions
of the world before him. First, he unfolds the eye of intellect and
comprehends the intellectual mysteries to the extent of the uplifting
of the veil. This is called the _Intellectual unveiling_, and should
not be depended on. Most of the philosophers are at this stage and
take it as the final goal. This stage transcended, the sincere pilgrim
comes to unveil the heart, and perceives various lights. This is called
the _Perceptual unveiling_. Next, he unveils the Secrets; this is the
_Inspirational unveiling_, and the Mysteries of creation and existence
are revealed to him. Next, he unveils the Soul; this is the _Spiritual
unveiling_, and he can now view Heaven and Hell, and communicate with
the Angels. When the soul is completely cleansed of earthly impurities,
and is thoroughly pure, he unveils Infinity and is privileged to
gaze at the circle of Eternity, to comprehend instantly both Past
and Future, getting rid of the limitations of Space and Time, ... to
see both fore and aft ... to read hearts, know events, and tread on
water, fire, and air. Such miracles are not to be relied on.... Next
comes the _Innermost unveiling_, enabling the pilgrim to enter the
plane of the Divine Attributes.... The Innermost is the bridge between
the Divine Attributes and the plane of the Soul, enabling the Soul to
experience the Divine vision, and reflect the Divine character. This is
called the _Unveiling of the Divine Attributes_. During this stage, the
disciple unfolds esoteric knowledge, revelation from God, His vision,
His bliss, real absorption, real existence, or Unity,--according as
he unveils the Divine Attributes of intelligence, audition, sight,
construction, disintegration, stability, or oneness. Similarly one may
think of other qualities.--_Letter 13._

       *       *       *       *       *

[The last two extracts tacitly refer to the following =Sûfî=
classification of the human constitution:--

1. The Body (=Tan=), the brain-consciousness, or intellect, correlated
to the physical plane (=Nâsût=).

2. The Heart (=Dil=), the desires and the lower mind, correlated to the
astral and lower mental planes (=Malakût=).

3. The Soul (=Rûh=), the higher mind, the Ego, correlated to the higher
mental plane (=Jabarût=).

4. The Spirit (=Sirr=, or the _Mystery_), correlated to the spiritual
planes (=Lâhût=)--_Trs._]


[The following supplementary notes from _The Series of 28 Letters_ may
prove both instructive and interesting.--_Trs._]

You say you hear certain words, but not from the organ of speech, or
through the organ of sound. Speech and Sound belong to this world: what
you hear belongs to =Malakût=.--_Loc. cit., Letter 10._

A pilgrim may hear the _sound_ in his body, nay, in the minerals,
plants, and animals. But if he hears from them the same =Zikr= (_i.
e._, the sacred formula) as practised by him, it is but an echo of his
practice--an imaginary phenomenon, not a real one: whereas, if he hears
from them the =Zikr= peculiar to them, the phenomenon is real.... The
universe being endless, the phenomena are endless.--_Ibid, Letter 15._

Powers and phenomena are trials for a pilgrim. Regard them as
obstacles, and never care for them.... It is a rare boon to pass from
the Name to the Named.... The Vision of the Prophet Khezar foretells
your success on the Path.... The odours, sacred and unearthly,
experienced by you, pertain to the =Malakût=: how can you find their
likeness on earth?--_Ibid, Letter 16._


There is a difference between Divine illumination and
Soul-illumination. When the mirror of the heart is cleansed of all
impurities, and has become thoroughly clear, it may serve to focus
the rays of the Divine Sun and so reflect the Divinity and all His
Attributes. But this boon is not enjoyed by every clean heart. Every
runner does not catch the game (lit., the antelope), but only he who
runs _can_ catch it....

A clean heart reflects some of the qualities of the Soul. If thoroughly
clean, it may at times reflect all the qualities. Sometimes the Essence
of the Soul--the Divine Viceroy--may display its nature, and assert
"I am the True One" by virtue of its viceroyalty. Sometimes the whole
universe may be seen making obeisance at the viceregal throne, and
the soul may mistake the Divine Viceroy for God.... Such mistakes are
common, and cannot be avoided without the Divine Grace and the help of
the Teacher. Now to come to the difference:

(1) Soul-illumination conquers the lower nature temporarily, _i. e._,
so long as the illumination continues;--Divine illumination conquers it

(2) Soul-illumination is not inconsistent with the foulness of the
heart, does not solve all doubts, nor does it impart the bliss of
Divine Knowledge;--Divine illumination is the reverse of this.

(3)--Soul-illumination may induce pride, self-conceit, and egoism....
Divine illumination does away with all these, and increases the fervour
of Seeking.

'Illumination' and 'obscuration' are two words generally used among
the =Sûfîs=. The former means the unfolding of God, the latter means
the infolding of God. These expressions do not apply to His Essence,
since It is changeless. As when one finds the solution of a problem,
and says, "the problem is solved"--the problem is not solved, but
one's mind unfolds so as to grasp the problem; knowledge being
called the solution of the problem, ignorance its obscuration--so,
when one sees all from God, and not from self, when Self does away
with the lower nature and sees the Unknowable,--this is designated
Illumination.--_Letter 14._


_First_, a pilgrim passing through the _earthly_ qualities sees in his
dreams heights and depths, streets and wells, gloomy and deserted
sites, waters and mountains. _Secondly_, passing through the _watery_
qualities, he sees greens and pastures, trees and sown fields, rivers
and springs. _Thirdly_, passing through the _airy_ qualities, he sees
himself walking or flying in the air, going up the heights. _Fourthly_,
passing through the _fiery_ qualities, he sees lamps and flames.
_Fifthly_, passing through the _etheric_, he finds himself walking or
flying over the heavens, going from one heaven to another, sees the
circling of the sky, and the angels. _Sixthly_, passing through the
_starry_ region, he sees the stars, the sun and the moon. _Seventhly_,
passing through the _animal_ qualities, he sees the corresponding
animals. If he finds himself prevailing over an animal, it indicates
his conquest over the corresponding quality. If he finds himself
overcome by an animal, it denotes the predominance of the corresponding
quality, and he should guard himself against it.

The pilgrim has to pass through thousands of worlds, and in each world
he perceives visions and experiences difficulties peculiar to it.

O brother, the soul is for the Goal. It should boldly cry out: "Let me
either cease to live, or reach the Goal."--_Letter 16._


Many men fall from doubt and suspicion. A class of people say, "God
does not need our worship and services, and has no concern with our
virtues and vices: why should we restrain ourselves?" Such a doubt
arises from sheer ignorance, and supposes that the Law enjoins duties
for the sake of God. No. Duties are for the sake of man alone.... An
ignorant man of this sort fitly compares with a patient who, being
prescribed a certain treatment by his physician, does not follow it,
and says that his abstinence does no harm to the physician. He speaks
truly enough, but works his own destruction. The physician did not
prescribe to please himself, but to cure him.

A second class of men transgress the Law and depend on the Divine
Mercy. God is both merciful and a chastiser. We find that there are
many distressed and poor men in this world in spite of His Mercy and
His mountains of Treasure, that not a single grain of wheat grows
without laborious cultivation, and that no man can be healthy without
food, water and medicine. As He has ordained means for health and
wealth without which they cannot be had, such is the case in the moral
sphere also. Denial and ignorance are poisons to the soul, and idleness
its disease. The antidotes for the poisons are knowledge and wisdom
alone. The remedies for the disease are prayers and worship alone. He
who takes poison while depending on the Divine Mercy, kills himself.
The disease of the heart consists in desires. He who does not restrain
his desires risks his life if he knows them as sinful. But if he does
not regard them as harmful he has no life to risk, since he is already
dead. For such disregard is denial, and denial poisons faith.

A third set would understand by self-discipline, as imposed by the Law,
complete freedom from lust, anger and other evils. When they fail after
practising self-discipline for a length of time, they regard the task
as impossible. "Man, as he is constituted, cannot be pure, just as a
black blanket cannot turn into a white one. Why should we undertake
an impossible feat?" (So they think).--It is ignorance and vanity to
suppose that the Law enjoins complete freedom from lust and other
impulses inherent in human nature. The Prophet has said, "I am a man,
and may be angry," and signs of anger were at times visible in him. God
praises one who controls anger, not one who is devoid of anger. Again,
the prophet had nine wives, and a man destitute of the sexual desire
should be medically treated. The Prophet has countenanced the begetting
of progeny and the perpetuation of the race. But he has instructed
that the two (lust and anger) should be subdued so as to be under the
control of the Law, as a horse under the control of the rider, or a
dog under the control of the hunter. The animals should be trained,
else they will set upon and overthrow the man. Lust and anger are like
the dog and the horse, and it is impossible to catch the heavenly Game
without them. But they should be under control, else they will destroy
_us_. In short, the object of self-discipline is to break and subdue
these impulses, and this is possible.

A _fourth_ set proudly declare that everything is according to the
Divine Will. What is the use of exertion?--When the Prophet spoke of
the Divine Will, his companions said, "We shall depend upon it and
refrain from exertion." The Prophet replied, "_Ye shall exert_, and
[then] what has been ordained will be given." Thus, man should not
refrain from exertion. If he has in the beginning been ordained to
a noble destiny, he will attain to it [by exertion]. Good and evil
destinies hinge upon virtue and vice, in the same way as health and
death upon food and starvation.--_Letter 18._


Man has been formed of two different substances, the earthly and the
heavenly. As his earthly frame is liable to ailments, so is the
heavenly; and there are doctors for the treatment and cure of both.
The doctors of the bodily ailments are the physicians, and those of
the moral ailments are the Prophets and [later on] the Saints who are
their successors. As a sick man would certainly die if not treated by
a skilled physician, so a soul suffering from the moral diseases would
certainly die, if not helped by a Prophet or a perfect Saint. As a
physician examines the pulse to ascertain the disease of a patient, and
recommends him to resort to one thing and abstain from another, with a
view to restore physical equilibrium and health,--so also the Divine
Messenger ascertains the moral ailments of the disciple, and prescribes
different duties based on the Law according to his receptivity and
capacity, recommending this, disallowing that, so as to reduce his
inner perplexities and desires to a state of harmony required by the
Law, and bring about moral health in the shortest possible time. As a
sick man going against the instructions of his physician gets worse and
worse and has to die, so a moral patient disobeying the Law gets more
and more perverse and has to perish through ignorance.--_Letter 19._


The institution of Theosophy (=Tasavvuf=) is ancient. It has been
practised by the Prophets and the Saints. As evil impulses predominate
in the world, the Theosophist (=Sûfî=) is looked down upon by men.
The Theosophist is one who has lost the self, exists in the True One,
is beyond the reach of the lower nature, and is at one with Truth.
A Theosophical student (=mutasavvif=) is he who seeks to become a
Theosophist through asceticism and purification, and disciplines
himself in the ways of the Theosophist....

The Prophet had a place in his mosque set apart to discourse privately
with his elect companions, who trod the Path. There were senior
disciples such as =Abû Bakar=, =Omar=, =Osman=, =Alî= and =Salmân=;
and mediocre ones, such as =Belal= and others. The Arab chiefs and his
ordinary companions were not admitted there. The elect companions were
about 70 in number. When the Prophet wished to shew his special regard
to a particular companion (=Sûfî=), he favoured him with a piece of
his garment (N. B. The word =Sûfî= may be derived either from =Safâ=,
purity, or from =Sûf=, dress.--_Trs._)

The first Theosophist was Adam, and the last Mohammad; and Theosophy
has continued amongst the followers of Mohammad.--_Letter 22._


The aspiration of the Seeker should be such that, if offered this world
with its pleasures, the next with its heaven, and the Universe with
its sufferings, he should leave the world and its pleasures for the
profane, the next world and its heaven for the faithful, and choose
the sufferings for himself. He turns from the lawful in order to avoid
heaven, in the same way that common people turn from the unlawful to
avoid hell. He seeks the Master and His Vision in the same way that
worldly men seek ease and wealth. The latter seek increase in all their
works; he seeks the ONE alone in all. If given anything, he gives it
away; if not given, he is content.

The marks of the Seeker are as follows. He is happy if he does not
get the desired object, so that he may be liberated from all bonds;
he opposes the desire-nature so much, that he would not gratify
its craving, even if it cried therefor for seventy years; he is so
harmonised with God that ease and uneasiness, a boon and a curse,
admission and rejection are the same to him; he is too resigned to beg
for anything either from God or from the world; his asceticism keeps
him as fully satisfied with his little all--a garment or a blanket--as
others might be with the whole world.... He vigilantly melts his
desire-nature in the furnace of asceticism and does not think of
anything save the True One. He sees Him on the right and on the left,
sitting and standing. Such a Seeker is called the Divine Seer. He
attaches no importance to the sovereignty of earth or of heaven. His
body becomes emaciated by devotional aspirations, while his heart is
cheered with Divine Blessedness. Thoughts of wife and children, of this
world and the next, do not occupy his heart. Though his body be on
earth, his soul is with God. Though here, he has already been there,
reached the Goal, and seen the Beloved with his inner eye.

This stage can be reached only under the protection of a Perfect
Teacher, the Path safely trodden under His supervision only.... It is
indispensable for a Disciple to put off his desires and protests, and
place himself before the Teacher as a dead body before the washer of
the dead, so that He may deal with him as He likes.

Virtue and vice have their uses and evils. Often a virtue throws one
the farther from God, and a vice leads one the nearer to Him.... The
virtue that begins in peace and ends in pride throws one the farther
from God; the vice that begins in fear and ends in repentance leads one
the nearer to Him.--_Letter 23._


Their words enliven the heart; their deeds liberate men; their
compassion is universal; they do not care for feeding and clothing
themselves, but feed and clothe all; they do not look to the evil of
others, but stand as their saviours, return good for evil, and bless
them that curse. Why?--For they are protected: no gale save the zephyr
of Love can blow over the world from the horizon of their heart. Their
compassion shines as the sun over friend and foe alike. They are humble
as the earth, trodden by the feet of all. They are not hostile to any
man, nor do they grasp at anything of the world. All creatures are
their children, they are not the children of any. They are absolute
Compassion for the whole universe, for east and west,--for they are
liberated and see all from the One Root.... One void of these qualities
cannot tread the Path.

In the case of a Theosophist, the heart goes first, then comes the
tongue. In the case of a worldly-wise man, the tongue goes first, and
then the heart.--_Letter 24._


Religion (=Sharîat=), the Path (=Tarîqat=), and Truth (=Haqîqat=).

_Religion_ is a way laid down by a Prophet for his followers, with
the help of God. All Prophets equally call the attention of men to
Monotheism and service. So there is but _one_ Religion, _one_ appeal,
and _one_ God. Their teachings cannot be contradictory, as they are
based on Divine inspiration. The difference is merely verbal and
formal, but there is no difference in the essentials. They are the
[spiritual] physicians of humanity, and have prescribed religions for
their respective followers according to their needs. Religion consists
of a series of injunctions and prohibitions, and deals with monotheism,
bodily purification, prayers, fasts, pilgrimages, the holy war,
charity, and so on.

The _Path_ is based on religion, and consists in seeking the essence of
the forms [dealt with by religion], investigating them, purifying the
heart, and cleansing the moral nature of impurities such as hypocrisy,
avarice, polytheism, and so on. Religion deals with external conduct
and bodily purification; the Path deals with the inner purification.

Religion is the soundness of external purification. _Truth_ is the
soundness of the inner condition. The one is liable to alterations, is
the work of man and can be acquired; the other is immutable, the same
from the time of Adam to the end of the world, and is the Divine Grace.
The one is like matter, or the body. The other is like spirit, or the
soul.--_Letters 25 and 26._

[A higher stage is simply mentioned, in _Fawâed-i-Ruknî_, as =Mârfat=
(the Divine Knowledge), without any detailed explanation. Thus,
=Sharîat= corresponds to the exoteric religion of any given nation;
=Tarîqat= to the Lesser Mysteries of the ancient Western mystic, or
the Probationary Path of the Eastern mystic; =Haqîqat= to the Greater
Mysteries of the ancient Western mystic, or the Path Proper of the
Eastern mystic; =Mârfat= to the stage of the Perfect Man, or the


After the morning prayer, the twilight should be spent in muttering
the Divine Names, sacred recitations, repentance and apology. One
should not speak at this time, except to obey an express injunction or
prohibition of the Scriptures, to bless or benefit the faithful, and
to instruct a student in need of knowledge. The company of a Saint, a
knower of God, or one's own Teacher, if available, is preferable to
mutterings and recitations.

Before the sunset prayer, some time should be spent in attentively
examining the desire-nature _i. e._, reviewing the gains made and the
losses incurred during the day.

One should go to sleep pure, and with holy recitations, and should
not sleep unless overpowered. One should get up in the latter part
of the night before twilight, and immediately take to the sacred
duties.--_Letter 28._


It is purity which makes man respectable. It is the storehouse of all
boons and virtues.... =Islâm= is based on purity, and cannot tolerate
the slightest stain. She does not show her face to the impure.

     _First_:--the purity of the body, the garment, and food.

     _Second_:--the purity of the senses, _i. e._, abstinence from sins
        and transgressions.

     _Third_:--the purity of the heart, _i. e._, renunciation of all
        evil qualities, such as uncharitableness, envy and malice.

With the first purity, the disciple takes the first step on the Path;
with the second, he takes the second step; with the third, the third.
This is the essence of =Taubâh=--turning from impurity to purity. At
first he was a temple of idols; now he becomes a mosque. At first he
was a demon; now he becomes a man. At first he was dark as the night;
now he becomes bright as day. It is now that the sun of =Îmân= (peace
or faith) shines in his heart, and =Islâm= shows her face and leads
him to the Divine Knowledge. Any work whatsoever, without this purity,
is but a ceremony or tradition on the lines of the forefathers, but is
_not_ =Islâm=.

       *       *       *       *       *

Know God as your constant guardian. Living under His ever-watchful Eye,
one ought to be modest and feel ashamed to bring one's transgressions
to His notice.

       *       *       *       *       *

As prayers cannot be duly performed without the outer purity, so the
Divine Knowledge is impossible without the inner purity. As fresh
water--not water already used--is necessary for the one, so pure
Monotheism--not mixed--is necessary for the other.[7]

[7] See "Monotheism"--_Trs._

       *       *       *       *       *

The inner purification is hinted at in the Prophet's prayer: "O God,
purge out hypocrisy from my heart."--_Letters 29 & 30._


The value of a disciple's act lies in his motive. The motive is to the
act as life is to the body and light to the eye. As the body without
life or the eye without light is useless, so the acts of a disciple
without a pure motive are mere forms. With the Seers, forms are denial
and destruction, not faith and salvation. A valid motive arises from
purity, as rays from the sun and sparks from the flame. When the motive
is not biassed by worldly attractions, it is called _ascetic_ purity by
the Sûfîs. When the motive is not biassed by heavenly attractions, it
is called _spiritual_ purity. It is said that the motive of a man is
according to his knowledge and wisdom. If desire and love of the world
predominate in the heart of a man, all his acts will be worldly--even
his prayers and fasts. If desire and love of heaven predominate in his
heart, all his acts will be heavenly--even his eating and sleeping.
Again there are others, of loftier aspiration, caring neither for earth
nor for heaven, but for God only. All acts done by such men will be
purely divine....

A disciple should always be careful to purify his motive and to
get out of mere forms. For this, he should obey the instructions
of a Teacher, his motive, though in the beginning mixed with
hypocrisy and insincerity, will ultimately be purified by obeying His
instructions.... The disciple should act as the earth, so that the
Teacher may act as the sky--wet him with His rains, warm him with His
sun, shade him under His clouds, perfume him with the fragrant breeze
of His compassion--and thus help his growth.--_Letter 31._


The daily routine of a disciple, in the absence of his Teacher, should
be such as to secure purity of heart, whether by prayer, sacred study,
mutterings, or meditation.

The secret of prayer is inexpressible. When the disciple, renouncing
separateness, stands for prayer in a mood of self-surrender, his body
ranks with =Kâbâ's= shrine, his heart with =Arsh= (the Divine Throne);
and his spirit sees the Vision Divine....

The devotee mostly prays with the fire of Love without observing
external forms (_e. g._ kneeling and prostration), takes all devotees
as one, and does not stigmatise any man with the brand of infidelity
and damnation.

In the state of prayer, one merged in the Divine cannot be conscious of
anything else; as Alî, while praying, was operated upon, and an arrow
drawn out of his thigh, but he did not feel it.--_Letter 32._


Opinions vary as to which is the better course, invocation of the
Divine Help, or self-surrender to the Divine Will. In some cases the
one is preferable, in others the other, according to the tendency and
condition of each individual. If invocation induces _unfolding_, it is
good. If it induces _infolding_,[8] it should be stopped. If it induces
neither the one nor the other, its performance and omission are of
equal value. If _knowledge_ preponderates at the time of invocation, it
is to be continued, for such an invocation is a worship in itself. If
_Divine Wisdom_ preponderates at the time, silence is preferable....

[8] See p. 30.

What is the use of invoking the Divine Help, if the Divine Will
is irrevocable?--Answer: The revocation by invocation is also in
accordance with the Divine Will, the invocation being simply an
ordained means, as a shield is a means to repel an arrow, and watering
is a means to grow seeds.

If one resorts to an invocation, it is to be repeated three, five or
seven times.--_Letter 36._


The Divine Allegiance gives freedom and the sovereignty of the whole

God never made anything so precious as the heart of His Servant,
because it is there that He treasured up the wealth of His Wisdom: "I
cannot be contained in heaven or earth, but I am contained in the heart
of My faithful Servant."

What is Service?--To be resigned to the Divine Will without a murmur. A
Servant is he who does not think of wages, and has been liberated from
the bonds of desire. He who serves God for wages is the servant of the
wages, not of God.

=Khwâjâ Hasân Basri= says: "Seek the Knowledge that is revealed by
Service, and seek the Service that is revealed by Knowledge." Knowledge
and Service are equally necessary, but Knowledge is superior, being the
root and guide. Hence it is that the Prophet says: "Knowledge rules
conduct, and conduct follows it." Again, He says that the sleep of the
wise is better than the prayers of the ignorant, and that the ignorant
do more evil than good by their acts.--_Letters 37-39._


The disciple should ever practise the formula: "There is no God except
=Allâh="--vocally or inaudibly, whether he be alone or in company.
Let him not for a moment step out of this fort. The fort is made of
the negative "no God" and the affirmative "except =Allâh=" phrases;
and it protects the pilgrim entering therein against the two highway
robbers: the desire-nature and Satan. When the disciple unfolds the
inner eye in the plane of Unity, he transcends affirmation and denial,
as they are inconsistent with Unity. Affirmation and denial inhere in
the nature of man, and a disciple does not attain to Unity unless he
goes beyond human nature. Affirmation and denial are in themselves a
form of polytheism, since a valid affirmation and a valid denial each
need three elements--the affirmer, the affirmation and the affirmed;
the denier, the denial and the denied. When a believer in _two_ is
a polytheist, how can a believer in _six_ be a monotheist? When the
non-God has no existence, what is to be denied? When thou thyself art
not, how canst thou affirm?... This is the zenith of Unity, and the
stage of the Perfect Ones.... He who sees with the eye of Unity finds
the non-God non-existent....

Whenever Mohammad, transcending the realm of His mission, looked with
the inner eye into the realm of Unity, He eagerly and yearningly wished
His personality blotted out, the dividing line erased, and the human
limitation cast away. But the Compassion of the Beloved would ever
intervene, and bring Him back to the realm of His mission for the
delivery of the message.--_Letter 40._


Intellect is a bondage; Faith, the liberator. The disciple should
be stripped naked of everything in the Universe in order to gaze at
the beauty of Faith. But thou lovest thy personality, and canst not
afford to put off the hat of self-esteem and exchange reputation for

All attachments have dropped from the Masters. Their garment is pure of
all material stain. Their hands are too short to seize anything tainted
with impermanence. Light has shone in Their hearts enabling Them to see
God. Absorbed in His Vision are They, so that They look not to Their
individualities, exist not for Their individualities, have forgotten
Their individualities in the ecstasy of His Existence, and have become
completely His. They speak, yet do not speak; hear, yet do not hear;
move, yet do not move; sit, yet do not sit. There is no [individual]
being in Their being, no speech in Their speech, no hearing in Their
hearing. Speakers, They are dumb; hearers, They are deaf. They care
little for material conditions, and think of the True One [alone].
Worldly men are not aware of Their whereabouts. Physically with men,
They are internally with God. They are a boon to the Universe--not to
themselves, for They _are not_ themselves....

The knowledge that accentuates personality is verily a hindrance.
The knowledge that leads to God is alone true Knowledge. The
learned are confined in the prison of the senses, since they but
gather their knowledge through sensuous objects. He that is bound
by sense-limitations is barred from supersensuous Knowledge. Real
Knowledge wells up from the Fountain of Life, and the student thereof
need not resort to senses and gropings. The iron of human nature must
be put into the melting-pot of discipline, hammered on the anvil of
asceticism, and then handed over to the polishing agency of the Divine
Love, so that the latter may cleanse it of all material impurities.
It then becomes a mirror capable of reflecting the spiritual world,
and may fitly be used by the KING for the beholding of His own
Image.--_Letter 41._


The Prophet says, "Polytheism in my followers is more imperceptible
than the motion of an ant on a black stone on a dark night." Such
a polytheism, though not affecting the [exoteric] faith, injures
the essence and fruit of Faith. Pure gold and an alloy of gold are
both gold, but the latter cannot be as precious as the former. True
Faith consists in Monotheism, which is the antithesis of polytheism.
Real Monotheism appears only when the root of polytheism[9] has been
destroyed. In order to secure true Faith or Monotheism, every impurity
that stains it should be cast away. Such impurities constitute the
inner polytheism. Looking to any save God for help or hindrance;
hoping or fearing from any save Him; hypocrisy, anger and pride, even
in their most subtile forms; pleasure and pain at being praised and
blamed by others; regarding virtue and vice as means of union with and
separation from God--all these come under the _inner_ polytheism. In
short, no one can be established in Faith unless his character comes up
to the standard: "He is wholly from God, by God, and for God."

[9] Separateness.

Again the Prophet says: "There is no peace for the faithful except in
the presence of God, and death is anything save His Presence."--_Letter


Divine Knowledge is the essence of the faithful soul. One destitute of
it does not really exist. The Knowledge of the Creator follows from the
knowledge of created objects, and leads to the safety and permanence of
the knower.

One way to the Divine Knowledge is to see the whole universe as subject
to the Divine Will, to sever connection from all, and to realize the
Unity of God and the Eternity of His Nature and Attributes.

Another is through one's own nature. "He that knows his own nature,
verily knows his God." God first shewed His Powers in the universe to
enable monotheists to gain Knowledge of Him by observing it. This way
being too long for the Sages, He placed in Man the essences of the
entire creation, thus making Human Nature the facsimile of the whole
universe and the ladder to His Knowledge. Pilgrims tread the Path of
Divine Knowledge _in_ themselves, look for the pure and the foul _in_
themselves, and find the indication and proof of that Knowledge _in_

God engages some men in observation, and they know Him by pondering
over His creation. He leads others to His knowledge through asceticism.
There is another class of men whose hearts He illumines at once. Again,
some are debarred from the _essence_ of the Divine Knowledge, others
from the Path itself. "The Divine Beauty has thousands of aspects, each
atom presenting some peculiar one."

=Noori= was asked: "What is the proof of God?" He replied: "The proof
of God is God Himself." They asked him again: "Then what is the use
of intellect?" He said: "Intellect is a failure, it cannot lead save
to what is a failure like itself." Intellect can only look upon an
entity either as _body_, _essence_ or _accident_; or in Space and
Time. It cannot go beyond those limitations. If it fixes any of
those limitations on God, it sinks to infidelity. If, bewildered, it
exclaims: "I do not find any existence save with these properties. So,
God being without any of these properties, is perhaps naught,"--it
is still dragged down to infidelity.... In short, Divine Knowledge
depends upon Divine illumination alone.

Divine Knowledge is the knowledge of God as He is in His Essence,
Attributes, and Works. The Sage should know God in the same way as
God knows Himself, and as He has described Himself in the =Qurân=.
There are two theories as to the _perfection_ of this Knowledge. Some
Intellectualists hold that the Sage knows God in the same way as God
knows Himself. If he does not know Him perfectly, he knows a part of
Him. But God is partless. So Sages are equal in Divine Knowledge.
Intellectualists hold to the possibility of perfect Divine Knowledge.
The other theory is held by the Sûfîs and a few intellectualists as
well, _viz._, that no one knows God perfectly. They know Him to exist,
and know it to the extent necessary for their salvation. They do not
hold to the possibility of perfect Divine Knowledge.

With the Masters of the Path, Divine Knowledge is the actual and
direct perception of God: with the Intellectualists, it is the sound
intellectual knowledge of God.

It is incumbent on a pilgrim not to be satisfied and stand still until
he reaches the Goal. The more he knows, the more he should seek.... The
whole world is satisfied with a smell or a word (_i. e._ very little),
and no one has received even a drop from the holy cup. "I asked Him,
'Whose art Thou with all this Beauty?' He said, 'I am My own, for I am
verily ONE. I am the Lover, the Beloved, and Love; I am the mirror, the
image and the beholder'."--_Letter 45._


This world and the next are intended to be used in seeking God. An
objection raised against such a use of the next world is untenable:
for prayer and fast, pilgrimage and the holy war, and all the exoteric
obligations cease _as such_ in the next world; but devotion--seeking
after God--ever endures. If you go to heaven, each day of the heavenly
life will open up new vistas of Divine Knowledge. An endless work is
this, may it never end!

When God loves a man, He inflicts troubles on him and takes away his
wealth, wife and children, so that he may be bound to naught, and
estranged from all save Him. If he suffers patiently, he receives boons
without toil. If he endures cheerfully, he is purified of all evils.

Again, God's love for a man makes him aware of the defects of his
desire-nature, so that he becomes its instructor and censor.

The following are the signs of a man's love for God:--

1. Being given to prayer and seclusion.

2. According to others, preferring the Divine Word to human words, the
Divine Presence to the sight of man, the Service of God to the service
of the world; and not grieving for any loss save separation from Him.

3. According to =Junnaid=: Not being tired in His Service.

4. According to a certain Sage: Avoiding sins.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is dangerous to assert one's love for God.

The word "=Mahabbat=" (love) is derived from "=Hibba=" (a seed.) The
seed is the germ of life, as it is there that lies the real plant. The
seed is put into the soil, lies concealed therein, and receives sun
and rain, heat and cold, without any [apparent] change. When the time
comes, it sprouts, flowers, and fructifies. So, when Love takes root
in the heart, it bears presence and absence, joy and sorrow, union and
separation, with equanimity....

Devotion is the perfection of Love. Worship makes a servant, knowledge
makes a knower, abstinence makes an ascetic, sincere seeking makes
an earnest aspirant, sacrifice of all the world makes a Friend,
self-sacrifice makes a Lover, losing the perishable and imperishable
elements of self in the Beloved makes a Devotee.

It has been said: Devotion is born of the Light of the Presence of the
Eternal Beloved. It is like a flash of lightning, illuminating the eye
of the Devotee, speaking to his ear, enlivening his movements, and
alienating him from all the world--so that his acts are not for self
nor for others, but are works of impersonal Devotion to the Beloved.

Devotion is beyond words, intellect, and astral perception. "I am
Devotion, beyond this world and the next; I conquer all without
arrow or bow; I shine as the sun in every atom, yet my presence for
its very brightness is unperceived; I speak in every tongue, I hear
in every ear; yet, strange to say, I am tongueless and earless; as
every thing in the Universe is verily Myself, My like cannot be found
therein."--_Letters 46 to 48._

[The following extract from _Fawâed-i-Ruknî_ may appropriately find
place here.--_Trs._]

As prayers and fasts are the _outer_ duties, so Love and Devotion are
the _inner_ duties. Their ingredients are pain and sorrow. Devotion
leads the devotee to God. Hence Devotion is necessary to tread the
Path. Know Devotion as Life, its absence as death. The privilege of
Devotion is not granted to every man, nor does every man deserve it.
He who deserves it is worthy of his God; he who does not deserve it is
unworthy of Him. A Devotee alone can appreciate the value of Devotion.
A vast multitude seek after heaven, while very few seek after Devotion;
for heaven is the lot of the desire-nature, while Devotion is the lot
of the Soul.

Get rid of the notion of selfhood, and give up thy self to Devotion.
When thou hast done so, thou hast reached the Goal.

Dost thou know why so many obstacles have been set up on the Path?--In
order that the devotee may gradually develop strength, and be able to
see the Beloved without a veil.

The boat on the sea [of life] is Devotion; the Boatman is the Divine


Nothing is more binding upon you than to seek God. If you go to market,
seek Him. If you come home, seek Him. If you enter a tavern, seek
Him. If the Angel of Death come to you, take care not to neglect the
Seeking. Tell him, "Do thou thy work, I do mine." ... If you be taken
down to hell, you shall not neglect the Seeking. Say to the Angel of
Hell, "Strike my useless personality with the whip of chastisement: I,
on my part, tread the Path of Seeking"--so that the Work may go on. If
you are taken up to Heaven, do not look to the _houris_ and palaces,
but speed on the Way of Seeking. "Tho' they offer me both the worlds, I
will not have them without Thy Presence."

The first stage on the Path of Seeking is _Humility_. The Great Ones
say: 'Humility is the messenger from God to man.' Sown in the heart,
it impels to God. Practised for some time, it turns into _Courage_.
Masters unanimously hold that Love cannot put up save with the Courage
of the Disciple. Practised for some time, Courage turns into _Seeking_.
This Seeking is led by the Divine Will to the secrets of [the holy
formula], "There is no God except Allâh." The drum of Seeking proclaims
at the gate of the Divine Sanctuary, "He who seeks God obtains Him." A
cry resounds: "Let neither sky nor earth, heaven nor hell, hinder the
Path of My Seekers, for they seek Me, and I am their Goal." These are
the steps on the ladder of human progress. Each pilgrim has his own
stage, according to his aspiration.

The vigilant Seeker should kill out self-conceit and self-respect with
asceticism and purification, transcend both the worlds, and be ready to
lose his life. It is unlawful for him to aspire after anything in the
universe. "One does not unite with the All, unless one parts with all."

It is said:

When Adam was lodged in Paradise, the Law commanded him not to approach
the Tree, while the Path dictated to him to turn away from all.
Adam said unto himself. "This Paradise is full of wonders, and I am
its lord. But my heart longs to visit the abode of sorrow: lordship
will not serve my purpose." A voice spoke to his spirit, "Adam, wilt
thou remove to a foreign country?" "Yes," answered Adam, "for I have
something to do." The voice said, "Do this work here." Adam: "The other
is more important." The voice: "Heretofore, Paradise and the angels
have been thy servants. Now thou shalt have to exchange the home of
peace for the abode of condemnation, the crown for poverty, reputation
for disgrace." Adam: "I accept all these, and will proclaim my freedom
throughout the universe." So it cannot be said that Adam was deprived
of Paradise, but rather that Paradise was deprived of Adam.--_Letter


=Khwâjâ Bâyazîd= was asked, "What is the way to God?" He replied: "When
_thou_ hast vanished on the Way, _then_ hast thou come to God." Mark
this: If one attached to the Way cannot see God, how can one attached
to self see God?

When the Sun of Divine Knowledge rises, all modes of knowledge become
ignorance; when Divine aspiration appears, all desires melt away....

Whoever is bound to his exterior--his turban, his robe, the size and
colour of his garment--is still attached to the personality and a
worshipper thereof. Thou canst serve either personality or the Law: two
contraries cannot unite. So long as you hanker after approbation and
dignity, so long as you become angry at an insult, you are with your
old genius and self-conceit, and have not been accepted by the Law.
You should sacrifice yourself in the SELF. To no purpose do you change
your dress and food. If you eat a single blade of grass in a lifetime,
remain clad in a single garment for a thousand years, are shut up in
a monastery away from the sight of men,--beware, lest you should be
deluded. All these are but the subtleties of the desire-nature, its
cunning and craft.

Many pious men are as motionless as a serpent or a scorpion frozen
with cold. Their piety is not due to rectitude and purity, but to lack
of opportunity. When summer comes in and the surroundings change, one
may behold what they do.... No one can safely tread the Path without
a Guide.... In the beginning, a disciple is not a fit recipient of
the Divine Light. He is like a bat, unable to bear the light of the
Sun. As it is dangerous folly to travel in utter darkness, he needs a
light less dazzling than the Sun, in order to illumine the Path for his
safety. Such a light is that coming from the Masters, who, like the
moon [reflecting the light of the sun], have become fit reflectors of
the Spiritual Light.--_Letter 51._


All learned men base conduct on speech. They have gathered their
learning through the avenues of hearing and speaking. The Masters of
Truth have received Their Knowledge through divine inspiration, which
depends on following the Law. With Them, knowledge does not depend
upon words or speech. It has no connection with the tongue. Knowledge
is that which makes a man follow the Law. Secular learning deals with
words. Knowledge deals with Truth, and is not to be found save in the
region of the Real. The province of the tongue is letters, and they are
limited. Knowledge comes from the Heart, and the Heart does not perish.
God has not given Knowledge to all, whereas He has not withheld speech
from any. Knowledge is that which controls desire and leads to God.
That which contributes to the gratification of desire and leads to
the courts of chiefs and oppressors is not Knowledge, but a snare.
Knowledge makes one humble and frees from ostentation and disputes....
The end of all learning is the beginning of Discipleship.

The _first_ robe worn by a Disciple consists in coming out of the self.
The _second_ robe consists in setting no value on what he heretofore
took as divine, so that the flame of Discipleship burns all things in
him. Then, he begins to see lights and utter charming words, leading
to self-conceit and the admiration of others. This is a snare of the
desire-nature, and stops his progress. Here comes in the necessity of
a Teacher to help him cross this stage and bring him from stagnation
to motion. Thus _light is a thicker veil than darkness_. Hence is it
that the Wise are dumb and blind, unaffected by the opinion of the
people. Hence is it, again, that the difficulties of a Disciple cannot
be solved by a learned man, as the latter is but versed in religion,
while the difficulties of the former are connected with the Path. It
is useless for a Disciple to follow the learned, as the dicta of the
latter are concerned with _outer_ conduct, while he has to deal with
the _inner_ life. The one is preparing for the destruction of self;
the other seeks salvation for the self through knowledge. The business
of the learned is to gather up what has been left by others, and store
in his bosom the knowledge of the past. The business of the Disciple
is to throw away and renounce what he has, and to unlearn what he
has learned. So they are opposites and cannot be reconciled in any
way.--_Letter 52._


A disciple lacking in magnanimity makes no progress at all. One whose
aspiration does not go beyond heaven, is not fit for this battle. The
Wise hold that the desire to have everything in the world according
to one's own wishes, befits a woman, not a _man_.... In short, a
magnanimous disciple should first of all tread upon his own life,
and try his sword on his own desire-nature, not on an infidel. For
the infidel can only hurt the body, and plunder earthly possessions;
whereas the desire-nature injures the very root of religion and
destroys faith....

Be on the alert, and take no step without due caution, for Time is a
penalty to the heedless.

It is said:--When a man wishes to enter the Path, the Chief of the Evil
Ones, Satan, seizes his skirt and says: "I bear the Cross of Curse for
this work, that no unclean fellow may enter the Path. If any dare come
in without the Robe of Monotheism and sincere Earnestness, I lop off
his feet." ...

"Should thy inner eyes unfold, every atom would tell thee a hundred
secrets. Then wouldst thou see each atom ever advancing. All are
absorbed in the march--_thou_ art blind--and the march goes on _in
thee_ as well. There is no limit to the progress of LOVE. Such _has
been_, there is no help." From highest heaven to lowest abyss,
all things are seeking and striving. It is the wicked man alone
who has made peace with the enemy, and cut himself off from the
Beloved.--_Letter 53._


Knowledge is to purification and asceticism what ablution is to prayer.
No practice is possible without knowledge, as no prayer is possible
without ablution....

Knowledge is of two kinds: that received from teachers and books, and
that unfolded in the soul. Again the latter kind is twofold:

(1) The Knowledge transmitted from the Divine Sanctuary into:--

     (_a_) The Soul of a Prophet. Such Knowledge is called =Wahî=.[10]

     (_b_) The Soul of a Master. Such Knowledge is =Ilbâm=

(2) The knowledge transmitted into:--

     (_a_) The Soul of a Master from a Prophet.

     (_b_) The Soul of a Disciple from a Master.

[10] A revelation received from God through an Angel (mostly

As a Master sees God in the Soul of a Prophet, so a Disciple sees God
in the Soul of a Master.

"So long as the tablet of thy heart bears the impression of letters,
thou dost not know any of the secret meanings. When the letters
completely vanish from the tablet of thy heart, then comes the
knowledge of the secret meanings."

Knowledge is the key to all virtues, as ignorance is the key to all
vices. Knowledge ushers in liberation, ignorance brings in destruction.
The celestial ranks and abnormal sacred powers spring from knowledge;
chastisements in the various grades of hell result from ignorance. So
the faithful should shun ignorance and the ignorant in the same way as
vice and infidelity. "A wise man is my friend, and a fool is my foe."
As ignorance and the ignorant are to be avoided, so is it obligatory to
seek knowledge and the company of the wise--not worldly knowledge, but
the moral; not the worldly wise but the morally wise. "If you acquire
knowledge thoughtlessly, you will use it as a means of gaining worldly
position. True Knowledge is that which leads to the Divine Sanctuary,
not that which leads to wealth, rank and passional gratifications."
The company of a Sage for a day is more conducive to progress than
purification and asceticism.--_Letter 55._

[The following note may be added from "_The Series of 28

Real knowledge comes from the Soul, and a true knower is he in whom
lies the original and final Knowledge. The purer the Soul, the deeper
and more subtile its comprehensions.--_Loc. cit., Letter 6_.


The first step is Religion (=Sharîat=). When the disciple has _fully_
paid the demand of Religion, and aspires to go beyond, the Path
(=Tarîqat=) appears before him. It is the way to the Heart. When he has
fully observed the conditions of the Path, and aspires to soar higher,
the veils of the Heart are rent, and Truth (=Haqîqat=) shines therein.
It is the way to the Soul, and the Goal of the Seeker.

Broadly speaking, there are four stages: =Nâsût=, =Malakût=, =Jabarût=
and =Lâhût=, each leading to the next. =Nâsût= is the animal nature,
and functions through the five senses--_e. g._, eating, contacting,
seeing, hearing and the like. When the disciple controls the senses
to the limit of bare necessity, and transcends the animal nature by
purification and asceticism, he reaches =Malakût=--the region of the
angels. The duties of this stage are prayers to God. When he is not
proud of these, he transcends this stage and reaches =Jabarût=--the
region of the Soul. No one knows the Soul but with the divine help;
and Truth, which is its mansion, baffles description and allusion. The
duties of this stage are love, earnestness, joy, seeking, extasy and
insensibility. When the pilgrim transcends these by forgetting self
altogether, he reaches =Lâhût=, the unconditioned state. Here words

Religion is for the desire-nature; the Path, for the heart; Truth for
the Soul. Religion leads the desire-nature from =Nâsût= to =Malakût=,
and transmutes it into Heart. The Path leads the Heart from =Malakût=
to =Jabarût=, and transmutes it into Soul. Truth leads the Soul from
=Jabarût= to the Divine Sanctuary. The real work is to transmute the
desire-nature into Heart, the Heart into Soul, and to unify the three
into one. "The Lover, the Beloved and Love are essentially ONE." This
is absolute monotheism....

"The motive of the faithful is superior to their acts." Acts by
themselves are of no value: the importance lies in the heart.

It is said that the traveller on the divine Path has three states:
(1) Action.[11] (2) Knowledge. (3) Love. These three states are not
experienced unless God wills it so. But one should work and wait. He
will do verily what He has willed. He looks neither to the destruction
nor to the salvation of any one.

[11] _lit._, walking or moving.

One who wishes to arrive at the Truth _must_ serve a Teacher. No one
can transcend the bondage and darkness of desires unless he, with the
help of the Divine Grace, comes under the protection of a perfect
and experienced Teacher. As the Teacher _knows_, He will teach the
disciple according to his capacity, and will prescribe remedies suited
to his ailments, so that "There is no God except =Allâh=" be firmly
established in his nature, and the ingress of the evil spirits be cut
off from his heart. All the world seeks to tread the Divine Path. But
each knows according to his _inner_ purity, each seeks and aspires
according to his knowledge, and each treads the Path according to his
seeking and aspiration.--_Letters 56 & 57._

[The following extracts from "_A Series of 28 Letters_" may throw
further light on the subject. The =Sûfî Mulk= (or =Nâsût=,) =Malakût=,
=Jabarût= and =Lâhût= severally correspond to, if they are not
identical with, the physical, astro-mental, causal and spiritual planes
of modern Theosophical literature.--_Trs._]

It is not permitted to give out the knowledge gained through
[supersensuous] vision. This much only can be recorded:--

The objects of the senses constitute this world (=Mulk=); those
cognised by intellect constitute the plane of =Malakût=; the
potentialities of all beings constitute the plane of =Jabarût=; ... In
other words, this world is visible, the =Malakût= is supersensuous, the
=Jabarût= is super-supersensuous.... The subtlety of this world cannot
bear comparison with that of =Malakût=, the subtlety of =Malakût= with
that of =Jabarût=, nor the subtlety of =Jabarût= with that of the Holy
Essence Divine. There is not an atom of this world but is permeated by
=Malakût=; not an atom of =Malakût= but is permeated by =Jabarût=; not
an atom of this world, =Malakût= and =Jabarût= but is permeated by God,
and conscious of Him. Being the most subtile, He must permeate all--for
the greater the subtlety, the greater the quality of permeation. Now
you may understand the meaning of the verse: "God is with thee wherever
thou art, and in thy very being, though thou mayest not see Him;
nearer is He to thee than the nerve of thy neck." Hence is it said that
this world, =Malakût=, =Jabarût= and God Himself are all with thee, and
that the True Man is the focus and mirror of all the Mysteries of the
Divine Essence. It is not permitted to go further lest exotericism may
censure. "Utter not secrets before the mob if thou art a true devotee
Hast thou not seen that =Mansûr=, intoxicated with devotion, uttered a
secret and was put to death?"--_Loc. cit., Letter 2_.


=Islâm= is other than the lower nature. So long as the lower impulses
do not yield to purity, the heart has no affinity with Islâm. The
investigators of Truth give to the bundle of the impulses the name of
'the desire-nature'. The outer body with its limbs and joints is not
dangerous, but is simply a horse to carry the directions of the Law.
God says: 'He sent us a horse from His mighty palace. Let us ride on it
and come to the Path'. So long as it carries His directions we should
not vex it. If it attempts to transgress the Law, let us punish it with
the whip of asceticism, so that it may come back to the path. This
is the discipline of the body. But if a man pricks his limb with a
pin, saying that he thereby subdues the desire-nature, he is a sinner.
Many ignorant fellows labour under a delusion and foolishly take
self-torture as an important discipline. By no means transgress the
limit of the Law and common-sense. The body is a valuable horse, and
fit to carry the divine charges. It is the desire-nature, and not the
body, which deserves rooting out and chastisement.

The world is arrayed into two parties, the party of God and the party
of Satan. Look well and see to which _you_ belong....

A Knower has said, "No one comes to worship God, unless promised
the bribe of heaven and threatened with the torture of hell." This
indicates an indifference to Monotheism.

It is said:

On an =Îd= day[12] =Shiblî= the Saint was seen mourning and clad in
black. He was told: "This is the =Îd= day. Why are you so clad?" He
replied: "I see all men rejoicing and clad in new suits, but _not one_
of them is aware of God. I mourn this day over their heedlessness." O
brother, thou hast become inured to heedlessness, hast barred the gate
of Divine Knowledge and art content with the gratification of desires.
Rest assured, so long as thou dost not put off thy desires, thou canst
not put on the robe of Faith; so long as thou dost not look upon the
desire-nature as thy foe, Faith cannot come to thee as thy friend; so
long as thou dost not cease thy connection with Satan, thou canst not
see the beauty of "There is no God save =Allâh="; so long as thou dost
not turn from the world, thou canst not approach the Path of Purity.

[12] The Muhammadan festival day at the end of the Ramzân fast.--_Trs._

Since the Lord is thy Origin, thou hast not come; since the Lord is thy
Goal, thou wilt not go. "There is no God save =Allâh=." Nothing can be
separated from the Infinite, and attached to non-God. Since the Origin
is from Him, the End is verily in Him. Separation and union, coming and
going, are thus unreal. This is a long story. Discreet silence is here
absolutely necessary.--_Letter 58._


Noble qualities were in the beginning of creation given to Adam, who
left them as a legacy to other Prophets. Mohammad, the head of the
Prophets, received them in His turn. Similarly, evil qualities were
allotted to Satan who handed them down to his followers--the proud
and the disobedient.... Since the Noble Qualities are the precious
legacy of Adam to Mohammad, no garment or decoration is better for the
faithful than that of the Noble Qualities. They are based upon harmony
with the Divine Will and the Prophet's Life.

One should curb one's temper, lest it should embitter the life of
others. One should ever be cheerful, and of controlled tongue. One
should always salute others. One should be charitable, and abstain from
slander, abusive words and untruthfulness. One should adapt one's words
and deeds (_e. g._ eating and sleeping) to the scriptural injunctions.
One should ever be magnanimous and free from the taints of miserliness,
hatred, greed and suspicion. One should do one's best to practise at
all times the virtues possessed by the Prophet, and flee from vices.

The Prophet has said: "Seek him who flees from thee; forgive him who
injures thee; give to him who does not give to thee."

The Prophet always concealed the defects of the faithful, and bore
injuries and reproaches to propagate Religion. He was never angry
for himself. He did not tolerate flattery, neglect, or silence in
the service of Truth. He helped the friends when they were disabled.
He worked for a servant in the family, when the latter was ill. He
accepted the invitations and presents of others. He never found
fault with any unprohibited food. He used any garment allowed by
the Law--sometimes a blanket, sometimes a silk wrapper, sometimes a
worn out cotton garment. He rode sometimes on a horse, sometimes on
a camel, sometimes on an ass. Sometimes he walked on foot, without
shoes, wrapper, turban or cap. He slept on a mat without bedding....
He had no miraculous power: His virtues were sufficient guarantee of
His godliness. Many an unbeliever, just as he saw Him, would exclaim,
"This is not the face of a hypocrite," and swear allegiance to =Islâm=
without asking for miracle or argument....

The Noble Qualities are based on knowledge and insight. He who is
fettered by self-conceit cannot be expected to purify his nature. Hence
the pilgrim should use insight to acquire the virtues of the Prophet.
He should guard the virtues he has been endowed with, and acquire
those he is lacking in by self-exertion (_i. e._ asceticism, service,
and the Company of the saints). Most of the virtues can be acquired,
and we have been ordered [by the Scriptures] to strive therefor to the
limit of our powers. Man is a mirror who, when trained, perfected,
and cleansed of impurities shows within him all the Divine Attributes
of construction and disintegration. Then he realises his divinity and
the purpose of his life. A Sage refers to this very fact in these
lines: "It is thou who art the Divine Scripture; it is thou who art
the mirror of the Royal Beauty. Beyond thee there is naught in the
universe: seek thy object within thyself, for thou art that."--_Letter


The Prophet has restricted the use of contemplation to the Works
of God, not to His Nature and Attributes. Thinking on God may soon
end in unbelief. In order that thought may work, its object must be
limited, and the Divine Nature and Attributes are unlimited. Hence a
student should contemplate on the objects of Creation, noticing their
[relative] permanence and impermanence, and realising the position and
changes of each in its phenomenal aspect. He will thus be led to the
knowledge of the Creator. Hence the Seeker should [while not neglecting
outward activities, holy recitations and other duties] contemplate from
time to time on Creation--Seeing the Wisdom of the Creator therein--,
on his desires, on the heart and the body; he should enquire into his
stages from the beginning of Creation to its end, and study his own
character. His contemplation should be in conformity with Religion,
based upon knowledge and experience, and irrespective of considerations
of gain and loss, so that he may develop insight. Right contemplation
achieves in a short time the results of long practice and worship. The
Prophet has said, "Contemplation for an hour is better than [formal]
worship for sixty years."

As the range of the _outer_ vision differs with different men, so is
it the case with _insight_, or the _inner_ vision. Some see as far as
Heaven, some as far as the Divine Throne. A few have the _perfect_
insight which pierces through all Creation to the Creator.

The end of contemplation is the advancement of knowledge and the
acquisition of wisdom. When the heart develops knowledge and wisdom,
there is a change in its condition. With that change, there comes a
change in conduct as well, and the man _turns_. With the _turning_,
he begins to tread the Path. Treading attracts him to God. _Then_ a
current of Divine attraction may carry him to a stage inaccessible to
men and genii by exertion and asceticism....

If thou longest and dost not succeed, be not dejected; for, as the
Great Lord has said, "Asking is for men, acceptance for God."--_Letter


The _first_ duty incumbent upon a Seeker is the practice of =Tajrîd=
and =Tafrîd=. The one is to quit present possessions; the other, to
cease to care for the morrow. The _second_ duty is seclusion, outer and
inner. Outer seclusion consists in flying from the world and turning
thy face to the wall, in order that thou mayest give up thy life on the
Divine threshold; inner seclusion consists in cleansing the heart of
all thoughts connected with the non-God, whether the non-God be earth
or heaven.

The _third_ duty is at-onement in speech and thought, which consists
in ceasing to speak and think of the non-God. The _fourth_ duty is
the practice of moderation in speech, food and sleep, since this
triad supports the desire-nature. Too much speaking is a bar to holy
recitations; too much sleep interferes with meditation; too much food
brings on inertia and checks the performance of duties.

Purity of body as well as of mind is necessary at all times--purity of
body _alone_ is not sufficient--in order that the Divine Attraction may
uplift thee to a stage unattainable by _all_ the efforts and ascetic
practices of _all_ genii and men put together. Very easy to speak of
this, but very hard the practice--since this practice does not lie
with the bodily organs or elements, but with the Heart and the Soul
which are beyond our control. The gate to the Path is Knowledge and
Wisdom. He who avoids this gate has to plod on his way through an
endless forest infested by demons, and ends by losing his life and

Eternal Life is the life in Spirit without a body. It is attained by
Love, not by obedience. Servants wait for an order and seek remedies
for their ailments; Lovers are impelled by Love and invite ailments
without asking for a remedy. The Beloved ever cries, "Stay at a
distance lest thou shouldst perish." The Lover answers, "I am prepared
from the very beginning to give up my life. Death is better than a life
without Thee." The life of the body has no value on the Path. Whoso
cares for the one has no business with the other. Love says to thee:
"Give up a life which must turn into dust, and I shall instal thee on
the throne of Glorious At-onement. Now the choice is thine."

Although there is no heart _without_ love, yet the priceless treasure
of Divine Love does not fall to the lot of greedy and mean fellows, who
are content with prayers and fasts, and have but given up their earthly
claims for higher honours.

Be cheerful and hopeful, for the Door of Compassion is open.

God has created doubt interfering with conviction, the lower nature
veiling the face of Truth, duality warring with monotheism, the alloy
claiming the place of the genuine coin, a thousand foes arrayed against
each friend, a temple of idols facing every mosque, a suffering
balancing each blessing. "He does all this; but man, awe-stricken,
cannot breathe a sigh: for His Face is like a mirror, and a mirror is
clouded by breathing."--_Letter 61._


=Tajrîd= and =Tafrîd= are indispensable for a Disciple. The one is
the renunciation of the world and of outer concerns; the other is the
renunciation of self. No impurity in his heart, no burden on his back,
no market in his bosom;--not reckoned with any class of people, not
concerned with any particular object, his aspirations soaring above
earth, heaven and the Divine Throne,--such a Disciple rests in his
Beloved. The Beloved away, all the worlds cannot please; their absence
leaves no void when He is there. As said by a noble soul, "No grief in
the company of God; no joy in the company of the non-God." One away
from God is at the very centre of sorrow and suffering, albeit he may
hold the key of all the treasures of the earth. One attached to God,
however poor, is king of heaven and earth. =Khwâjâ Sirrî Saqtî= was
wont to pray: "O God! punish me, if such be Thy Will, any way save by
veiling Thyself." This is the only real hell.... As observed by some
one, "With Thee, the heart is a mosque; without Thee, 'tis but a shrine
of idols. With Thee, the heart is a heaven; the heart without Thee is a

In short, when the Disciple realises the Greatness of God, feels the
pangs of His seeking, knows that "Who gains Him gains all, who loses
Him loses all," and finds that he can dispense with all save Him,--he
then overcomes his old habits and unfolds the vision, "I am from God
and for God." Life and death, acceptance and rejection, praise and
blame, are thenceforth equal in his eyes. Heaven and earth find no
place in his heart. He bows to none for food, clothes or money. His
Goal being the Divine Sanctuary, he longs for naught save God.--_Letter


The Path should be cleared of all impurities inherent in the lower
self.... The Great Ones have declared: "He that takes a step in
obedience to his desire-nature loves it better than God. He cannot be a
believer: how can he be a Saint?"

Nothing but constant _turning_ (=Taubâh=) can guard the Path against
the onslaughts of the desire-nature. As the ordinary soul should turn
from sensuality, cruelty and avarice, so should the developed soul turn
from purity, worship and meditation. The Sages have said: "Thou must
acquire all virtues, such as truth, purity and worship. When acquired,
thou must scatter them in the air of supreme Indifference. Were all
Prophets, Saints and Angels to sing the hymn of His Unity, their final
chorus would end thus: 'We turn to God from all we have said.[13]'"

[13] Or "We retract with repentance what we have said."--_Trs._

Art thou endowed with the purity of all the Saints, plume thyself not
over it; art thou distressed with a thousand shocks, seek not refuge in

He that does not burn himself here in the fire of =Taubâh= certainly
deserves the doom of hell-fire. So burn thou to-day in the fire of
=Taubâh= whatever thou knowest of thyself, be it merit or defect. If
to-day thou dost not cast aside the thorns from thy Path, they will
hereafter turn into arrows and pierce thy heart.--_Letter 63._


The Self-controlled is one who has freed himself from the bondage of
self. The seven hells and the eight heavens are too narrow to hold
him--only the vast expanse of God is wide enough to receive him.

If the joy of heaven and the torture of hell ceased to be, there would
be no loss to the spiritual aspect of God. "What a Vastness! If the
worlds were not, It would not be less by a hair's breadth. The kingdom
of Its Glory is truly without beginning or end."

Freedom from self leads to freedom from all. So long as thou art bound
to any of the lower qualities, thou art its slave.... The Path is a
jealous master and will not put up with any partner. So long as thou
art a friend to self, thou art a stranger to God. Be then estranged
from self that thou mayest unite with Him. The dead wall of self cannot
be pulled down save with the help of a perfect Teacher.

Self-control will not allow thee to look down upon any creature, _e.
g._ to tread upon even the lowliest ant in thy way. Wert thou able to
raise the veil of ignorance from thine eyes, then wouldst thou see each
and every being seeking and adoring God.

The Prophet prayed, "Show me things as they are." His senior disciple
ever prayed: "O God, show me truth and untruth, and help me to follow
the one and avoid the other." So it is said: "When God seeks the
welfare of a man, He shows his defects to him," that he may change from
a temple of idols into a mosque.

       *       *       *       *       *

Rest assured that thou hast nothing but good to expect, once self has
been stripped off from thee. So long as thy self lies before thee,
thou canst but swell in self-respect. A Satan in very truth is he that
respects self, whether in the guise of angel or of man, whether on
earth, in heaven or in hell. Self-respect consists in not transcending
self. "Endless as the veils are, none is thicker than self-conceit.
Know its destruction as thy foremost duty."--_Letter 64._


=Khwâjâ Zunnoon= of Egypt says: "Truth is the Sword of God on earth.
It may not be laid on anything without cutting it." Truth consists in
looking to the Actor, and not to His instruments. True Faith consists
in ceasing to desire anything save Truth....

Once upon a time =Zunnoon=, while returning from Jerusalem, saw a
figure loom in the distance, and desired to question it. On drawing
near, it was found to be an old woman clad in wool, with a stick in her
hand. =Zunnoon= said, "Whence comest thou?" The dame replied, "From
God." =Zunnoon= again enquired, "Whither dost thou go?" The old woman
rejoined, "To God." =Zunnoon= then offered her a gold coin. She refused
the gift, saying, "What an illusion has overcome thee? I work for God
and do not receive anything save what comes from Him. As I worship Him
and Him alone, I cannot receive what is not Himself and comes from
other than Himself." Having spoken thus, she vanished. Such is to be
the ideal of the aspirant.

Working for God alone is the test of true devotion. Some think they
work for Him, but they work for Themselves. They have conquered the
desires of this world, but they seek for fruits in a higher world.
A few work irrespective of all consideration of internal suffering
or celestial joy, in pure love to carry out the Divine Will. "The
earth is a place of suffering, heaven is a place of joy. We shall not
receive the fruits of either, even to the measure of a barleycorn."
It has been said. The virtuous often prove more selfish in their
virtue than the sinners in their sin. The gratification of the latter
is but transitory, the joy of the former is permanent. God does not
gain by the self-denial of men, nor does He lose by their sensual

It is an old adage, that the mere description of a savoury dish only
intensifies the misery of hunger. Take an onward step if you can: lose
your head and give up your life.

As God is essentially ONE, a true believer must be a monotheist. Look
for the proof of this in the holy _Logion_, one half of which, "There
is no God," separates [the believer from the non-God], while the other
half, "Save =Allâh=," unites [him with God]. One unites with God in
proportion to one's renunciation of the non-God. He who claims to
have Faith should look at his own heart. If his heart flies from the
non-God, his claim is genuine. If it longs for anything save God, and
shrinks from the means of Divine Union, let him weep over his faith.
Either he has already lost it, or is about to do so.

A certain Great One has said: "All men claim to love, but if the claim
is carefully scrutinised, 'loving' turns out to mean 'being loved.'"
True love consists in the complete renunciation of all desires. If one
looks for the gratification of a desire, one plays the part of the
beloved, not of the lover.--_Letter 65._


The pilgrim justifies his descent from Adam when he enters the Heart.
Now he has finished the Turning, and begins his Pilgrimage. By the
virtue of his complete Turning, anything coming in contact with him
undergoes a change. This is the power of Transmutation. This explains
the phenomena of transmutation wrought by many Derveshes (_e. g._ the
change of wine into an innocuous beverage). Such a pilgrim may lawfully
lay his hand on the imperial treasury, and use the wealth of kings.
(Religious injunctions vary with circumstances. It is reported in the
traditions that a young man came to the Prophet and asked if he could
lawfully take a certain oil in the fast month of Ramzân. He said, "No."
Next followed an old man who put the same question. He said, "Yes."
The companions of the Prophet were confused, and asked, "How is it, O
Messenger of God, that you allowed in the one case what you prohibited
in the other." He replied: "The one was a young man, and I was afraid
of the fire of his youth; the other was an old man, and I did not
apprehend any danger for him.") But those who take to the _outer_
conduct without having reached the _inner_ stage, court their own ruin.
Such a stage must have the sanction of Divine Authority.

A time comes to the Master of the Heart, when all His limbs become
[as sacred as] the Heart. No part of his body, _e. g._, a nail or a
hair, should be cast aside, as it partakes of the sanctity of the
Heart. The broken hairs of the Prophet were divided by His companions
as a precious gift amongst themselves.... Hence arose the practice of
sharing among disciples the pieces of the teacher's worn-out mantle.
The practice is a mere sham if the teacher is not a Master.

He who has completed the Turning and reached the Heart, is a Master.
Only such a one is entitled to the honour of a leader,--not one who is
below this stage.

_Question_:--How to distinguish the real Master from a mere pretender?

_Answer_:--The _true_ Seeker has an _inner_ eye enabling him to
recognise a real Master. He would not be attracted to a pretender. Dost
thou not behold that if different kinds of animals flock together, and
different kinds of food be placed before them, each will fall to on his
own appropriate food and turn away from what is meant for others?...

The true Seeker also is known as _such_, as his inner eye opens to the
vision of the Master, and he receives the nourishment suited to his
aspiration. The Master begins to work on him. He is [as one] dead,
and the Master gives him a wash[14], purifying him of all undesirable
elements. This purification completes the Turning. Then he begins his
journey on the Divine Path--which is called the Pilgrimage.

[14] This refers to the practice of washing the dead body before burial
or cremation.--_Trs._

This is not devotion as ordinarily understood (_i. e._ prayer, fast,
almsgiving, etc.). Allegiance to a Master is in itself Devotion;
progress on the Path is its fruit. A brief prayer, a day's fast,
or a simple charity, performed or given in obedience to a Master's
direction, are more beneficial than long protracted prayers, or
splendid gifts, performed or given in response to the call of the

As a qualification for the Path, seek to get rid of old habits. But
it is not possible to get rid of old habits and purify the dross
without the service of a Master, since He alone can, by His Knowledge,
gradually drive out the host of the evil elements, and help one towards
the realisation of "There is no God save =Allâh=."

Continue thy seeking till _the_ Seeking unveils Itself, and destroys
thy self in Thee. Henceforth the Disciple has nothing to do: the
Seeking will Itself lead him on.

So long as thou seekest any but the Beloved, no Seeker art thou. How
then canst thou be wholly His? By wholly turning to Him. He can afford
to have thousands of friends, for He can reach all alike. The Sun is
with all--east and west, Hindu and Turk--for His range is unlimited.
But _thou_ art limited in capacity, and canst not feel the warmth of
His rays unless thou wholly expose thyself to Him. All the worlds are
benefited by Him, yet He does not lose in the least.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here one should guard against a possible misunderstanding. To love
a thing as a _means_ does not interfere with the love for the _end_
or the _final_ object. Our foes even ought to be loved as connected
with the Lord. This is not a division of love, but its perfection.
Love is a peculiar state: friendship with foes is possible only here.
=Abul Abbâs=--peace be on him--said to a party marching to war against
the unbelievers, "Would I might lick the dust of the feet of the
unbelievers whom ye would kill for His sake." The care of a scholar for
pen and paper cannot be said to divert his attention from learning. The
_real_ object of love ought to be only one (_i. e._ God), but loving
others as subservient to the final object (_i. e._ Divine Love) is by
no means harmful. If a man loves God, he must love the Prophets and the
Masters--nay, if he ponders well, he must love _all_ as connected with
Him. All the universe is His work and is certainly Himself. "Duality
does not approach Thy Sanctuary: the whole world is Thyself and Thy
Energy. The Universe is the shadow of Thy Presence; all is the result
of Thy mighty Workmanship."

But if it be the Divine Will to put an end to a certain work of His,
using thee as instrument, thou as a devotee must destroy it, and none
should accuse thee of lack of respect for His work. This is a very high
stage. If =Mohammad= and His blessed companions killed the unbelievers,
they did so in obedience to the Divine Will. The lover has not to seek
his own pleasure.--_Letter 66._


The =Sûfî= trusts in God. =Khwâjâ Yahiâ= observes: "He who does not
trust God cannot receive Divine illumination." _Explanation_: God deals
with a man according to his expectations. One who suspects Him cannot
receive any light. Again, it is a friend who is trusted, and it is a
foe who is suspected. Suspicion invites hostility; confidence, love.

There is a distinction, however, between mere groundless hope and
reasonable expectation. One who endeavours to obey the Divine Commands
may reasonably expect the Divine Grace; but it is a vain hope for one
guilty of commissions and omissions to expect exemption from hell and
enjoyment of heaven.... So it is wise to check the accounts of the
desire-nature, and prepare for death; and it is foolish to follow the
desire-nature and hope for the remission of sins.--_Letter 67._


=Sûfîs= differ as to whether they should follow or renounce worldly
pursuits. Complete renunciation is only permitted at a very high stage,
_i. e._ that of absolute unity and perfect trust in God.

Working for a livelihood began with Adam. He cultivated lands and
taught cultivation to his children. The Prophet =Shoaib= was a
merchant and possessed cattle. =Moses= served as His shepherd. If work
interfered with the principle of trust in God, the Prophets would not
have worked for a livelihood. =Mohammad= warned his friends against
the abuse of the principle of trust, and ever kept in store a year's
provision for his children. Work is a duty for him who has to support
another; but he should work so as not to be cut off from God.

Each should look to his circumstances and inner attitude, in order to
decide whether he should resort to work or cease from work. If ceasing
separates him from God, work should be resorted to; if ceasing leads
him to God, work should be left aside.

Work is as lawful as prayer and fast. The more you pray, the more you
fast, the better; but to look for your salvation therefrom is dualism.
You should adore for the glorification of God and the strengthening
of your love, but you should rely on His Grace for your salvation.
Similarly, work is better than renunciation; but it is not the work,
but rather the Divine Grace, which is to be looked up to as Providence.

A Dervesh should avoid begging as far as possible, as it is
dangerous in many respects. He, however, may beg (a) to gratify
his hunger.... (b) to pull down his personality, ... (c) knowing
the world as the Divine steward. It is more in keeping with the
ceremonious glorification of the Lord to ask of His steward than of
Himself.--_Letter 69._


Holy company is an important discipline for the pupil. It is very
effective in conquering nature and habit. Hence is it laid down by the
holy Saints as binding upon a disciple. The rationale of it is this.
The desire-nature consists of certain ingrained tendencies, and is
affected by the tendencies of one's associates. The Prophet says: "Men
follow the religion of their friends, so they should always be careful
of their company." ...

It is said that a man, while going round =Kâbâ=, prayed: "Lord, make
my brothers virtuous." Others asked him, "Why dost thou pray for thy
brothers at this sacred spot, and not for thyself?" He replied: "I
have brothers who, when I return to them, will elevate me by their
virtues if they are virtuous, and degrade me by their vices if they are
vicious. As my righteousness rests on theirs, I pray for them, that
they may help me in reaching the Goal."

=Malik= (Peace on Him!) says: "Do not associate with a brother or
a friend, unless you would thereby advance the cause of Religion.
To associate with any other object is absolutely forbidden."
_Explanation_: If you associate with a superior, he will benefit you
by his presence; if you associate with an inferior, you should benefit
him by teaching him religion and morality, and yourself too by learning
something useful he may know.

Company is to be sought for the sake of the Lord, not for selfish

Nothing is more dangerous for a beginner than loneliness. A story runs
thus. There was a disciple of Master =Junnaid= who fancied he had made
great progress and could not be harmed by isolation. So he took to
seclusion. Nightly, a procession appeared before him with a horse for
him to ride, and he was requested to ride up to heaven,--a delightful
place with sweet dishes, running brooks and fair company--where he
enjoyed himself till morn, and slept. On awakening, he would find
himself at the door of his hermitage. He turned proud and boastful. On
hearing the report, the Master came to him, asked him and was told what
had happened, and advised him to repeat three times when he went to the
pleasure-haunt: "There is nothing to be relied upon save God, and there
is no power except His." He refused to act up to the advice for a few
nights more. At last he wished to test the efficiency of the Master's
lesson and repeated the sentence as advised. The whole procession fell
into confusion and scattered, and he found himself in a cemetery with
the bones of the dead around him. Then he came to realise his guilt,
repented, and returned to the company of his fellow-disciples.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rule of society is to behave with each according to his position
in life. _With reference to elders_, to serve them; not to speak
before them save when necessary, and then only with their permission,
and after they have finished if they are speaking; not to sit on an
elevated seat in their presence. _With reference to equals_, to live in
harmony, and to share one's wealth with them (not as a loan, but as a
free gift). _With reference to the young_, to treat them with love and

_General_: Elders to be treated as one's own parents, equals as one's
own brothers, the younger ones as one's own children. None to be asked
for anything, but each to be helped. Life to be rendered agreeable to
all. Not to oppose others except at the call of religious duty. To
associate with those strong in religion, integrity and moderation. Not
to mix with those opposed in religion and temperament. To avoid the
company of a youth. (The desire in the young for the company of their
elders aids the development of their intelligence and knowledge. The
desire in elders for the company of youths leads to sin and folly)....

=Sûfîs=, when conversing with one another, never say, "This is mine,"
"That is thine;" "I wish it were so," "I wish it were not so." It is
the verdict of the Masters of Knowledge that God does not approve of
the use of words denoting I-ness.

If thou wouldst know the Unknown, taste the nectar of Grace and
transcend the seven heavens, then close the five senses, and pass from
the perishable to the Imperishable. They asked Master =Shiblî=, "Who
is a Knower, and how is he to be distinguished?" He said, "He is deaf,
dumb and blind." They replied, "These are the marks of an unbeliever."
He rejoined: "The unbeliever is deaf to the voice of truth, dumb for
the utterance of truth, and blind to the vision of truth; whereas the
Knower is deaf, dumb and blind to all save Truth."--_Letter 70._


Service is an essential duty for the disciple. Its gains are superior
to those of worship. It kills the desire-nature; it breeds humility and
good manners; it destroys pride, impurity and inertia, quickens the
soul and illumines the inner and the outer man.

They asked a Great One, "How many ways are there to God?" He said:
"There are as many ways as there are atoms in the universe. But the
best and the shortest is Service. I have reached the Goal by treading
this Path, and recommend it to my disciples." ...

_Rules of Service_: To put aside one's own desires, to render oneself
agreeable to others, ... and to regard one's powers and possessions as
intended for the use of others....

As the wealthy are to serve with their wealth and the learned with
their knowledge--so the disciple is to use _all_ his activities for the
service of others....

All Great Ones began with Service, which gradually lifted them to the
rank of Masters.--_Letter 71._

[The following Notes gleaned from other works of the Author are added
as bearing on the subject.--_Trs._]

The outer conduct of an occultist should be in accordance with the
mental capacity of the people surrounding him. He should speak what
concerns them only, and not of his own relations with God. Master
=Yahiâ= observes: "When with others, I say 'My Lord'; when alone, I
say 'My Beloved'; when united, I say 'I'." Obey the Law, whatever your
stage or position. Such is the approved mode of conduct, as recommended
by the Masters of Wisdom.--_The Series of 28 Letters,--Letter 21._

A certain Great One was told that the chief of a certain town spent
the whole night in prayers. He replied that the poor fellow had missed
the way and undertaken the work of others. On being questioned again,
he added that that man's path of duty lay in feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked, comforting the distressed, and fulfilling the
wants of the needy; and that keeping up all night in prayer was the
duty of a recluse. Each man ought to work according to his position in


The purification of character by the transmutation of evil qualities
into virtues is to be ever striven for as an essential duty. If
neglected, it must breed dangers and difficulties.

Man has all the qualities found in the animals. His resurrection will
be determined by his predominant quality, not by his outer body on
earth--_i. e._, he will turn into the form of the corresponding animal.
For instance, the predominance of anger, lust, pride or flattery in
earthly life, produces severally the forms of the dog, the hog, the
lion and the fox, on the day of resurrection. Similarly of other

Many men will be seen in bestial form on the day of resurrection, and
many beasts in human form. The dog of the Cave-Recluses[15] will rise
in the form of man, owing to his human qualities. Mount =Ahud= will
have a rock drawn out of it, and will stand in the rank of the Pure
Ones in human form.... Those endowed with the inner eye know that all
beings, even the mineral, pray. "Every particle of dust in the air
is full of the Light of Divine Love. All atoms in the universe are
centres--active or potential--of Divine Love."

[15] The reference is to the seven sages who, with a dog, retired to a
cave to avoid the persecution of a tyrant, awoke after a sleep of 300
years, and slept again to awake on the day of resurrection.--_Trs._

Such a difficult task lies in front, and none take to it save the Wise.
So thou shouldst not be heedless, but slowly and steadily discipline
thyself so as to overcome a part of thy animal nature--it is indeed a
mighty achievement to overcome it in its entirety.

He who wishes to know the nature of his resurrection should see what
is the predominating quality in his life: his resurrection will be
determined by this quality. It is not difficult to know thus much.

Similarly, if a man wishes to know whether God is pleased or displeased
with him, he should look at his life. A life wholly devoted to
righteousness must please God: righteousness is the indication of His
pleasure. A life wholly given to vice must displease God: vice is the
indication of His displeasure. A life partly righteous and partly
vicious is to be valued according to the predominating element in it.

If the earthly life is not turned to account, there shall be no
progress on the other side. If a man who has not transmuted [on earth]
the evil qualities in his nature, is taken to heaven at his death, and
all celestial boons are bestowed upon him, those qualities will not
change. He will have only the houris, the palaces, the roast cocks and
the stream of running water, but will be too weak to realise the real
object--the Goal of the _inner_ man, and the ideal of all the disciples
and of the Master. How insignificant are all other gains where That is
lost! How immaterial is any loss, where That is gained!

Frequent ablutions and baths remove sloth and drowsiness.

The Divine Vision on resurrection day depends on the Divine Grace, not
on merit. No eye deserves His Vision, no ear His Voice, no intellect
His Knowledge, no feet His Path.... Self-reproach is necessary for a
seeker.--_Letter 72._


To work for show, and desire the rank of a saint, is not the mark of
piety. Thy deeds are all tainted with desire. Purity consists in the
spirit of Service, not in avarice. The one is not compatible with the
other. But we want bribes to serve the Lord.

O brother, cast off avarice. God does not owe anything to any one, and
His gifts on earth or after death are gratuitous. Do all your works for
His Service, not in the hope of gaining heaven or shunning hell....

He who aspires to work in His Service should be careful of the purity
of his motives, which is a function of the heart. An act without pure
motive cannot soar from the region of sham to the sphere of Service....
A prayer worth the name is one performed with the fervour of the heart,
and not with the lips only. The motto of monotheism, "There is no God
save =Allâh=," if repeated as a talk at moments of sale and purchase,
can not be regarded as a declaration of Divine Unity.... God says: "My
shrine is not a place of sale and purchase. Thou goest to market with
the object of gaining something thou hast not. But if thou comest to My
Shrine, come with the distinct understanding that thou losest all and
returnest a pauper." =Khwâjâ Ahmad= had a vision of God, Who told him:
"=Ahmad=, all men ask Me for something, save =Bâyazîd=[16] who asks for
Myself alone."--_Letter 73._

[16] A great Muhammadan saint.


The world and all things therein are to be avoided, save as needed for
the Lord's sake. The world may be classed under three groups:--

(1) The first group is purely worldly, and cannot serve His Cause. It
consists of:

     (_a_) Vices. Their commission in the mind or with the body does
     not serve His Cause.

     (_b_) Too much of lawful enjoyments. This is the root of all
     failures and sins.

(2) The second group is purely divine, but may be turned to selfish use
by an impure motive, _e. g._, meditation, prayer and asceticism, if
practised with the object of gaining the respect of the people.

(3) The third group is apparently worldly but really divine, _e. g._,
eating for the sake of the Divine Service; marriage with the object
of begetting a child who shall repeat "There is no God save =Allâh=";
making a small fortune with the object of peacefully serving God.

In short, the world is that which gratifies the cravings of desire in
the present, and is of no use after death; that which may help on the
other side of death is not worldly.... He who appropriates the world
to the limit of _bare_ necessity (food, garment and a dwelling-house)
breaks his bonds; whereas he who seeks luxurious living exposes
himself to endless troubles....

The Great Ones have remarked that the lowest stage of purity shows
itself as an inner craving for well-being after death and a diminution
of worldly desires, ending in a gradual estrangement from this world,
and the realisation of other worlds....

The work is harder than you imagine. All worldly pleasures are sorrows
and sufferings.--_Letter 74._


Service of the Lord is impossible without renunciation of the world.
When thy body works for the world and thy heart longs for it, how canst
thou serve Him? The heart is one; it cannot attend to two things at the
same time. The world and the Lord are wide apart as east and west. The
more you approach the one, the farther you recede from the other....

Renunciation is twofold:--

(1) Human renunciation, _i. e._ the renunciation which can be achieved
by a man. It consists of three stages:

     (_a_) Ceasing to seek for the worldly objects one has not.

     (_b_) Casting off the worldly objects one has.

     (_c_) Ceasing to entertain worldly desires in the mind.

(2) Superhuman renunciation, which consists in complete indifference
to the world. It can be accomplished, with the help of the Divine
Grace, by one who has achieved success in all the three stages of Human
renunciation. The second is the true renunciation with many Sages.

The expulsion of worldly desires from the mind is a most difficult
task. You will find many cases of _apparent_ renunciation, with an
_inner_ longing for the world. But when you cease to seek for what you
have not, and cast off what you have, the Divine Grace will enable you
to drive out worldly desires from your mind. Relinquishment of the
world will not give _real_ renunciation, so long as the heart still
craves for the world. The Prophets were master-ascetics. One of Them
was Solomon, who possessed the sovereignty of all the worlds, and was
certainly an ascetic.

_Conclusion_: The separation of the heart from worldly cravings,
in spite of the possession of worldly objects, is superior to the
separation of the body from worldly objects, in spite of the worldly
cravings that remain in the heart.

Renunciation is the basis of all virtue and progress, and, as such,
is the first condition of discipleship. =Ahmad Hambal= (Peace on Him!)
says that renunciation is threefold:--

     (_a_) Abstinence from what is forbidden by the Scriptures. This is
        the lower renunciation.

     (_b_) Abstinence from over-indulgence in lawful pleasures. This is
        the higher renunciation.

     (_c_) Renunciation of that which separates man from God. This is
        the highest renunciation.--_Letter 75._


There are two classes of travellers, the noble and the wicked. Each
class has its peculiar speed, path, and doom.

Noble souls are divided into ordinary noble ones, and the more
advanced. The former attain heaven and the heavenly ranks by following
the ascetic practices prescribed by Religion. The more advanced
approach Purity by following the path of Devotion.

The wicked, too, are divided into ordinary wicked ones, and the more
degraded. The former include some of the believers, leading a sinful
life, disobeying the divine injunctions, and addicted to sensual
pleasures. They tread the path of transgression and go to hell. The
latter are the unbelievers, solely attending to sensual pleasures and
earthly gains, and wholly disbelieving in Religion and the disembodied
life. They risk the permanent for the sake of the transient, and
finally lose this world as well as the next. The former suffer in hell
temporarily, but finally escape it by virtue of their faith, albeit
imperfect. The latter eternally suffer in hell owing to total absence
of faith.

There are different gradations in hell, as there are grades of
unbelief or hypocrisy. There are thinkers and blind followers
amongst unbelievers as well as amongst believers. As the faith of a
thoughtful believer is superior to that of an ordinary believer, so
the sufferings of a thoughtful unbeliever are intenser than those of
an ordinary unbeliever. Ordinary unbelief is inherited from ancestors
and surroundings, and is punished in the first infernal region.
Intellectual unbelief does not rest upon tradition, but upon researches
carried on for long years, self-denial and discipline of the lower
nature, all intended for and ending in scepticism and atheism.--_Letter


People differ in their opinions on the Soul--some call it a body,
some an essence, some an accident; some regard it as eternal, others
as created. Orthodox =Islâm= declares its existence, but is silent on
its nature and quality. God says: "If questioned on the Soul, say, 'It
is from the Will of God.'," =Abû Bakr Qahatî=, however, holds that
the Soul is beyond the category of created objects. [The Author does
not subscribe to this view, and enters on a controversy to show its
heresy.--_Trs._]--_Letter 79._

[The following notes from _The Series of 28 Letters_, may be added as
bearing on the subject.--_Trs._]

In search of peace, and fervently longing for spiritual fragrance,
a pilgrim came to the Soul and said: "Thou art a reflection of the
Glorious Sun, unfading; all the attributes of the Absolute One lie
verily in Thee. Transcending Reason and understanding, Thou eludest
description and predication. There is no creature above Thee, there is
no Beloved beyond Thee." These lines from Master =Farîd Attâr=, and the
hints underlying them, ought to be carefully pondered over--so that
one may realise that there is no existence outside the Self, and that
whatever one seeks is to be sought within the Self. If an authority
be needed, one may read from the =Qurân=: "He is within thee, though
_thou_ mayest not see." Again, this couplet is worth perusal: "Adam
first ran towards all the atoms of the universe, but he did not find
God so long as he found not the Way within himself."--_Loc. cit.,
Letter 24_.

The connection of the Soul with the body compares well with that of God
with His universe: for the Soul is neither within the body nor without
it, neither united with it nor separated from it. Soul and body belong
to two different planes of existence; yet for all that there is not
an atom in the body but is pervaded by the Soul.... The Soul retains
its innate purity, linked though it be to the body for myriads of
years.--_Ibid, Letter 3._


There is a treasure buried in the heart of the knower. It is LOVE. A
single jewel out of it is worth a thousand heavens. The guardian of
heaven is an angel named =Rizwân=, whereas the guardian of the treasure
of Love is GOD Himself.

Know that thy merit is measured by what thou seekest.... If thou
worshippest to obtain heaven or avoid hell, thou worshippest thy own
desires. If thou seekest or fearest an object, thou art the worshipper
of that object. Thy real value depends on what is in thy heart. If thy
heart is attached to GOD, thou art a divine man....

=Junnaid=, when ill, prayed for his recovery. A Voice answered him,
"Dost _thou_ come in between Myself and Thee?"

Thou walkest every morning to office and comest back at dusk. Where is
the difference between thee and the fire-worshipper and the Jew? Thy
prayers are for increase of wealth, and thy pilgrimages for popular
approbation. All thy acts are similarly tainted with name and form. The
real end of life is yet veiled from thee.--_Letter 80._


Some say the desire-nature is a substance, placed in the body, similar
to the Soul. Others say it is a quality of the body, similar to life.
But all take it as the source of evil qualities and acts. These evils
are grouped into: (a) sins, (b) qualities, _e. g._ pride, envy, anger.
The former pertain more to the _outer_ man, the latter more to the
_inner_ man. The former are purified by ascetic practices, the latter
by =Taubâh= (or Turning)....

It is said that the desire-nature and the Soul are both mysterious
entities in the body, corresponding to demons and angels, hell and
heaven in the macrocosm;--the one being the centre of evil, the other
the centre of Good. There is no help against the desire-nature save in
ascetic practices.

Man is the epitome of the whole Universe, and is composed of the Soul,
the desire-nature and the body. He bears the characteristics of all the
worlds. The earth, water, fire and air of this world appear in his body
as the four humours: blood, phlegm, melancholy and bile. Other worlds
are not less vividly marked in him. The Soul leads him to heaven, being
its image; the desire-nature leads him to hell, being its image.

=Bû Alî= saw his desire-nature in the form of a hog. He wished to kill
it, but it said to him, "Do not trouble thyself: I belong to the Army
of God, _thou_ canst not annihilate me."

=Mohammad Nûrî= speaks of his desire-nature coming out of his throat
in the form of a miniature fox. "I knew it was the desire-nature, so I
put it under my feet and began to trample upon it. It grew the larger
and the stronger. I said, 'Pain and torture destroy all things, but
they simply aid your growth!' It said, 'This is due to the fact of my
constitution being the other way: what is pain for others is pleasure
for me.'"

=Abul Abbâs= saw it in the form of a yellowish dog. When he attempted
to turn it out, it came underneath the skirts of his garment, and

=Abul Qâsim= saw it in the form of a serpent.

Another Dervesh saw it in the form of a mouse, and asked who it was. It
said, "I am the death of the heedless and the salvation of the Divine
Friends. If I were not, they would turn proud of their purity and noble

These stories go to show that the desire-nature is a corporeal
being--not a quality--albeit it is endowed with qualities. It should be
subdued by ascetic practices, but it cannot be completely destroyed in
its essential nature. There need not be any fear from its existence,
when it has been subdued by the disciple.... This dreary forest cannot
be crossed save with the help of the Divine Grace and under the
protection of a Master of Compassion.--_Letter 81._


'Desire' is a term covering all the qualities of =Nafs=. It prevents
union, tortures the disciple, and stands against the seeker. It is to
be opposed and not to be gratified. "He who follows it is ruined; he
who opposes it attains his object."

Desires are twofold: (_a_) those connected with the senses and sex;
(_b_) ambition of power and fame. The victims of the former resort to
brothels without seriously affecting the well-being of others. The
victims of the latter resort to holy places, and become the pests of
the world. They isolate themselves from society and mislead others. He
who seeks the allegiance of his desires is far away from God, be he
above the sky; he who renounces his desires is in close touch with God,
be he in a heathen temple.

Master =Ibrâhîm= says: "I went to see a Jewish monk in Turkey, who had
confined himself in a temple for seventy years. He opened a window
and said he had not shut himself up there to secure the position of
an ascetic, but to break the dog within him and restrain it from
harming the world at large. I praised God for showing the right path
to his misguided devotee. He went on, '=Ibrâhîm=, how long will you
seek men?--Seek the self, and watch it when found. The desire-nature
constantly puts on many a semblance of divinity, and invites man to his

It is said of Master =Abû Alî= that he wished to cut off his genital
organ, as the root of lust, when his eyes fell on it while bathing.
A Voice whispered to his soul, "By My honour, no organ is better or
worse than another in My eyes. If you lop it off, I can put in each
hair of your body the whole lust of your genital organ." It is no use
destroying the organ: it is a vehicle for carrying the divine command.
But a man can transmute its quality, God helping.--_Letter 82._


The desire-nature is the worst foe. It is very difficult to be armed
against it, since, firstly, it is an _internal_ foe, and it is almost
impossible to guard the house against a thief co-tenant; and, secondly,
it is a _lovely_ foe, and a man is blind to the defects of his beloved,
whose shortcomings take on the appearance of merits. Such being the
case, the desire-nature may ere long hurl a man unawares to the lowest
depth of degradation. If you ponder well, you will find it at the
root of all the troubles that beset man in the past or may beset him
in the future. This being the foe, one should intelligently strive to
overcome it. It is improper to overcome it _all at once_, as it is
a vehicle and instrument of the Soul; nor is it proper to let it go
wholly unbridled, in view of the probable dangers. So the disciple
needs a middle course, and it is this: You should strengthen it to
the extent of enabling it to perform its duties; you should weaken it
to the measure of preventing the chance of its leading you astray.
Anything besides this rule is objectionable. It is reported in sacred
tradition that on seeing =Abdullâh Masûd=, who had by ascetic practices
weakened his body, his feet having become incapable of motion, his
eyes having sunk in their sockets, =Mohammad= said, "O =Abdullâh=, be
warned! Thy desire-nature has claims on thee." So the conclusion is
that the desire-nature should be disciplined by knowledge, so that it
may neither overcome (nor disobey) thee, nor be itself destroyed.

The middle course consists in restraining the desire-nature by
temperance. There are three ways of thus subduing it: (_a_) withholding
gratification; ... (_b_) imposing religious observances; (_c_) invoking
the Divine help for mastery over it. If you follow this threefold
method, the desire-nature will be amenable to discipline.--_Letter 83._


The discipline of the desire-nature is recommended by all creeds
and nations, and is known by Sages as a means of developing the
supersensuous faculties.... But thy business lies with the discipline
only, it is God's to grant supersensuous faculties. Thy labours cannot
bear fruit without His Grace. Avoid as much as possible the thought of
personality and its activities, and never follow the promptings of the
desire-nature. It is thy existence that veils Thee. Had there been the
veil of a single activity, it could be uplifted by another opposite
activity. But _the whole_ of thyself being a veil, thou canst not be
fit for the Divine Vision, unless and until _thou_ vanish completely.
It should not be forgotten in this connection that the discipline of
the desire-nature means the transmutation of its qualities, not the
destruction of its essential nature--for _that_ is impossible. But its
existence need not be regarded as dangerous after it has been subdued
by the inner Ruler.

Fasting is recommended by all nations and creeds. It helps the
receptivity of the heart, the purity of the intellect, and the health
of the body. Regulation of food is an important work. It is food that
imparts strength and weakness, purity and foulness to all the organs of
the body. It must be pure in quality and moderate in quantity.--_Letter


Alienation from the personality is the first step to acquaintance with
God. The one is a necessary condition for the other. All aspirants
find fault with, and impose tasks on, the desire-nature, so that this
wall of separation be pulled down, and a way be found to the Divine

So long as thou lookest down upon a single soul as inferior to thee,
thou art self-conceited, and blind to the Divine Presence. "If
thou hast knowledge, put that knowledge into practice; solve thy
difficulties by knowledge and practice (combined)." ...

The knowledge of all the Sages culminates in the realisation that they
do not know.

There has been a single Master of Woe in each cycle, protecting others
under his charge. On the path of asceticism, a considerable amount of
prolonged exercises is a necessary preliminary to initial success,
which, too, is doubtful. On the other hand, he who is trained on the
Path of Woe has for his first stage the Purity of Devotion....

Be of good cheer, in spite of thy lack of devotion and the heavy weight
of thy sins. "Never despair of the Divine Grace"--it affords protection
to all sinners. Poor as thou art at present, do not be dejected: "The
Lord has created a beautiful form for thee," and "made Man after His
image."--_Letter 85._


He who is on good terms with the self is dead, though apparently
living; he whose life is in God is really living, though apparently
dead. Death is not of the body alone: the _inner_ man may die in the
same way as the _outer_. Men are perishing in the sea of desires. Their
Saviours are the Prophets who help them to cross the sea of desires
and merge in the Divine Unity.... The ungodly live in the form only
and are dead in the _spirit_, since true life consists in human nature
responding to the Divine Life. On the other hand, "Those who have
sacrificed themselves on the Path of God are not to be considered as
dead, but as living with their Lord." ...

"The Divine treasury is too full of prayers already. Put in a grain of
humble devotion if you can."--_Letter 86._


Men differ, in the gradations of their progress, as heaven from hell,
though they are so similar in their outer forms. All men--whether in
the past, the present or the future--are the centres of mysteries.
Each body treasures a Divine Secret; each Heart feels impelled to the
Path; each Soul radiates a glory unfathomable by human and angelic
intelligences.... The best and holiest men had an obscure life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Once upon a time =Zunnoon= sent a disciple of his, to enquire about
=Bâyazîd=. When the disciple reached the latter's house at Bustâm,
he found him seated on the floor of his cottage. But he did not know
that he was =Bâyazîd=. =Bâyazîd= asked the disciple what he wanted. He
said he wanted to see =Bâyazîd=. =Bâyazîd= replied: "Which =Bâyazîd=
do you want, and whence? Now I am =Bâyazîd=, yet I have been in search
of =Bâyazîd= for several years, and to no effect." The disciple took
him for a madcap, and, returning, reported the matter to =Zunnoon=.
=Zunnoon= with tears in his eyes exclaimed: "Our brother =Bâyazîd= has
gone forth into God with the true Devotees." ...

There was one =Helâl=, a slave to =Mogîra=. On his death the Prophet
with his companions went to the house of =Mogîra=. The latter was not
even aware of the death of =Helâl=, for none took care of him, alive or
dead, as he was the lowliest in the household. =Mogîra= came to receive
the party and kissed the blessed feet of the Prophet. The Prophet
asked =Mogîra= what had happened in the household. He said that all was
well. The Prophet went on: "=Mogîra=, the worthiest of your household
has departed, and you do not know of it." =Mogîra=, astonished,
remarked "I never supposed =Helâl= to have been so advanced." ... The
Prophet was then (at His request) taken to the place where the dead
body was. He found it in a stable at the feet of the beasts, clasped
the head and said with tears in His eyes: "=Helâl=, thy body lies on
this earth, but thy Soul is with the Lord." All the saints and chiefs
then wished in earnest devotion to have been the dust of =Helâl's=
feet. The Prophet continued: "There are seven men in each cycle who
support the world by their blessings and lead the faithful to victory
by their magnanimity. =Helâl= was the Head of these."--_Letter 87._


Heedlessness is blamed by all creeds and sects. It is heedlessness that
lies at the root of all failures.

It has been said. When a man heedlessly approaches the Path, the Devil
warns him, saying: "I was the Teacher of the celestial Hosts, but I
lost that post. Now I guard the Gate of the Path. You may enter with
the pass of Devotion only--else will you have to share my fate, being
unfit for the Path." ...

Everlasting purity is the character of the angel; lifelong
transgression is the character of the devil; turning with sorrow from
sin to purity is the character of man. Lifelong purity is impossible
for man. He is born imperfect, void of reason, with desires (the
agents of the Devil) in full sway. Reason (the curb of desires and
the light of the angelic essence) develops later--_i. e._, after the
capture of the heart by desires. Hence the necessity of Turning and
self-discipline, _pari-passu_ with the development of reason, for the
recovery of the heart from desires and the Devil.--_Letter 88._


No reading is so useful as that of the diary of sorrows.... The Goal is
unattainable save through the destruction of the desire-nature. Either
be ready to kill it out and tread the Path, or withdraw yourself from
the rank of the seekers--so that others may pass on (unimpeded by your

_A Story._--David, when about to pray, saw an ant, and wished to remove
it from the place. The ant appealed to David against his cruelty.
David said: "God, how am I to deal with Thy creatures?" God replied,
"Behave with self-restraint, lest thou shouldst harm any; do not look
to the outer body of a creature, but to the Spirit underlying. An ant,
if permitted, may rend asunder the dark Veil, radiate the Light of
Divine Unity from its bosom, and put to shame many a monotheist."

_Another Story._--Once upon a time, Moses prayed so warmly that the
stimulating effect was felt by him till the succeeding day. He wondered
whether any one could be so blessed as he was the night before. The
angel Gabriel presently came with this message from God: "There is One,
in this forest, who can cure the ills of My devotees." Moses hastened
to the spot, and found a frog croaking in a pool. The frog said:
"Moses, I have long been waiting to uproot pride from your heart. The
Divine influence you felt last night passed through me. I received it
first and then passed it on to you. Be warned against the repetition of
the boast!"--_Letter 89._


An act not permitted by the =Qurân= is fruitless; a desire not
sanctioned by the Prophet is vain. To wish for any help on the Path
save that from the Path is forbidden. The =Qurân= permits nothing save
sincere conduct, and sincerity springs from the heart that has tasted

The Masters of the Path are spiritual beings. Their word is life;
the purity of Their sorrow vitalises the world; Their character is

So long as thou dost not unlearn all thy previous notions, habits and
defects, thou canst not unfold the Eye of Wisdom in the Heart, and feel
the relish of the Science of Truth.... He who is destitute of Divine
Wisdom to-day (_i. e._, on earth) will not have the Divine Wisdom
to-morrow (_i. e._, after death).

Acts not based on Knowledge are futile; ascetic practices not
countenanced by religion are misleading and devilish. It is Knowledge
that unfastens the gate of good luck. It is Knowledge that can
comprehend the greatness of =Islâm=, the mysteries thereof, the
glorious character of the Prophets, the sublimity of Their mission,
the different stages of the advanced souls, the secret of the human
constitution, the evil in the wicked, the respect due to Faith and
the faithful, the injunctions and prohibitions of religions. Tread
zealously the Path of Knowledge till you get rid of ignorance.
Knowledge is the shortest way to God; and ignorance is the densest
veil between thee and Him. As Knowledge is productive of Good, so
is ignorance productive of evil. It is ignorance which brings in
faithlessness, neglect of religious duties, affinity to the devil,
alienation from the Prophets and the Pure Souls, and other innumerable

Seek no connexion with the self, lest thou shouldst be affected with
pride.... "Thou canst not reach Me, so long as 'thy-ness' inheres in
thee: thou shalt reach Me only when thou quittest thy self." O brother,
subdue thy desires with asceticism tempered by knowledge; cut off the
head of the desire-nature with the sword of self-discipline, as advised
by the Scriptures ... and (then) put on the robe of =Islâm=. If thou
art really in earnest, tread upon thy life--so dear to thee--and do
not fear death; what follows is Life, through and through. "If thou
dependest upon (bodily) life, thou wilt lag behind. Thou art Life in
the world of Life alone. Grasp well the subtile fact--thou _art_ That
which thou seekest." The foremost duty of the seeker lies in seeing
the Beloved as the only Life, and in eliminating the evil of his own
separated existence.--_Letter 90._


A man not wanted by the world for its intellectual or theological
education, may isolate himself from others, and avoid company save on
necessary occasions, such as those of the Friday and the =Îd= prayers,
a pilgrimage to =Meccâ=, and other useful meetings. The man who wishes
to avoid company altogether, had better live far away from human
habitation (in a mountain or on a desert island). Else [let him not
isolate himself altogether] unless he knows for certain that his gains
from attendance at the Friday prayer or other social gatherings are
really outweighed by the losses he incurs from coming into contact with
human Society....

But there may be a different sort of man, a Master of Knowledge, needed
by others for their religious enlightenment, the exposition of truths,
the setting aside of heretical arguments, and for stirring them to live
out the teachings of religion. It is hardly lawful for such a man to
absolutely avoid human society. It is narrated of a Sage named =Abû
Bakar= that, as he wandered about the hills with the object of leading
a life of prayer and worship in seclusion, he heard a voice saying,
"=Abû Bakar=, why dost thou desert the creatures of the Lord when thou
hast attained the position of a Divine Light?" So he returned to the
society of men.

Such a man, though living corporeally in the world and doing his
duties to it, has to work for his own salvation as well. =Omar= (peace
on him!) said of himself, "should I sleep at night I would ruin myself,
should I sleep during the day, I would ruin my subjects." It is
exceedingly hard to be corporeally in the world and to be at the same
time mentally away from it.

=Imâm Gazâlî= opines that a learned man may be excused for isolating
himself and burying his knowledge in days of trouble and degeneration,
when a man may send for a religious teacher, but declines to learn
anything of him--when no man appreciates the importance of religious

An extremely weak man should not resort to seclusion....

The real object of seclusion is mental isolation, not bodily
separation.--_Letter 95._


There are three classes of men: (1) The man of desires. (2) The
beginner who is just turning back. (3) The advanced Knower of God.

The _first_ does not recollect death; or if he ever does so, he does it
in a spirit of sorrow for the loss of worldly objects, and begins to
murmur at it. Recollection of death throws him the further from God.

The _second_ is given to the practice of recollecting death, so
that he may live fear-stricken, and accomplish his Turning the more

The _third_ never forgets death, as it is the guarantee of his union
with the Beloved.

But the highest stage of development is shewn in the soul that
completely surrenders itself to the Lord, and foregoes all choice of
life or death....

The frequent recollection of death is recommended, as it is calculated
to disturb physical enjoyment, and thereby lead to salvation....

Death is welcome to the faithful, as it sets him free from the prison
of earth-life and its tortures....

As remarked by an esteemed friend, earth-life is a state of slumber,
the after-death life is a state of waking, and death is an intermediate

Death (to an ordinary mortal) is more painful than a cut with the sword
or the axe, or the extraction of flesh from his body....

A calm look, and the repetition of the Holy Formula, these are becoming
on the part of the dying man.--_Letter 97._


Every man is liable to suffer in hell, and it is difficult to be
certain of exemption therefrom. According to the Prophet, there are
70,000 apartments in hell, each apartment containing 70,000 doors, each
door having 70,000 serpents and 70,000 scorpions; and the unbelievers
and the evil-minded cannot help passing through each of them....

Such is the description of hell, and of its subdivisions which
correspond to the number of earthly desires. The factor seven in the
subdivisions corresponds to the seven organs used in the commission of

If you wish to know your destiny, you should look at your character,
since your natural inclinations presage your destiny. If they tend to
good, you are not intended for hell; if they tend to evil, you are
destined therefor. As the =Qurân= says, "The virtuous are to be blessed
in heaven, the vicious are to suffer in hell."

Here is a secret. When death takes away the earthly veil (the body),
the desire-nature is yet more or less tainted with earthly impurities.
In some cases the mirror of the soul may be too darkened to admit
of any cleansing. Such a soul is eternally barred from the Divine
Presence. In other cases, (_i. e._ unrighteous believers), the rust
is capable of being cleansed, and so the desire-nature is exposed to
hell-fire to the extent of the purification needed. The time varies
from a brief moment to 7,000 years. No man quits this earth without
some impurity, however slight, in him.--_Letter 99._


Heaven contains apartments made of various gems, the outside of which
is visible from the inside, and the inside from the outside. They
abound with pleasures and comforts not tasted or conceived by men (on
earth).... Heaven is a vast palace made of a single pearl. It contains
seven apartments of red ruby. Each apartment contains seven rooms of
green emerald. Each room is provided with a gorgeous seat, 70 trays and
70 maid-servants. Each seat has 70 beddings of different colours, and a
Houri as the bed-maker. Each tray is furnished with 70 dishes.

Heaven is intended for those who salute and feed others, fast and

When the dwellers of heaven wish to communicate with their brothers,
their seats move the one towards the other. Thus they meet and talk
of their past relationship on earth. There is procreation in heaven
if so desired: conception, birth, and maturity all taking place

The dwellers of heaven are beautiful as =Joseph=, and well-behaved as

The duration of the lowest heavenly life is 500 years.

Such is the heaven of the ordinary soul.

Now as to the destiny of the Prophets, the purest Devotees, and the
Saints. Theirs is the vision of the Divine Face, in the supreme relish
of which the grosser enjoyments of heaven are forgotten. Orthodox
=Islâm= does not regard the Divine Vision as the fruit of human works,
but as the result of Divine Grace. It holds a similar doctrine as to
the Faith in the Lord of human beings upon earth.--_Letter 100._

[The following brief Note is added from the _Series of 28

=Imâm Qasherî=, explaining the Secrets of the =Qurân=, says:

"What the faithful will manifestly enjoy after death in heaven, is
inwardly experienced by the Saints on earth."--_Loc. cit., 28_.



Unusual and archaic spellings have been maintained. Obvious printing
and spelling errors have been fixed. In the original text, Persian and
Arabic transliterations, some proper names and locations were printed
in gesperrt (g e s p e r r t). Such words have been rendered surrounded
by == (=gesperrt=).

The abbreviation "Trs." used throughout the text stands for
"Translator," not "Transcriber."

Details of the changes:

  ToC Page 1: Title "Introduction" removed.

  ToC Page 1: On Discipleship (Continued)
  Originally: Discipleship (continued)

  ToC Page 1: The Outer and Inner Ailments
  Originally: The outer and the inner Ailments

  ToC Page 3: The Desire-Nature (=Nafs=) 110
  Originally: The Desire-Nature (=Nafs=) 130

  ToC Page 3: Discipline of the Desire-Nature (Continued)
  Originally: The same (Continued)

  Page 2:     There must be a difference between
  Originally: There must be difference between

  Page 2 footnote 3: Weak souls.--_Trs._
  Originally:        Weak souls.--_Trans._

  Page 6:     =Zunnoon= of Egypt observes that the =Taubâh=
  Originally: =Zoonoon= of Egypt observes that the =Taubâh=

  Page 6:     On the other hand, =Khwâjâ Junnaid=
  Originally: On the other hand, =Khwâja Junnaid=

  Page 8:     can neither be seen nor grasped.
  Originally: can neither be seen not grasped.

  Page 9 footnote 6: The Sacred Shrine at =Meccâ=.
  Originally:        The Sacred Shrine at =Mecca=.

  Page 9:     and lose the fruit of one's labour.
  Originally: and lose the fruit of one's labor.

  Page 16:    discipleship and the subtleties of Seeking,
  Originally: discipleship and the subleties of Seeking,

  Page 17:    A disciple should be a worshipper of the Teacher, [so
              that he may become a worshipper of God]. One who obeys
                        the Messenger verily obeys God.
  Originally: A disciple should be a worshipper of the Teacher, [so
              that he may become a worshipper of God. One who obeys
                        the Messenger verily obeys God

  Page 19:    THE FRIEND OF GOD--(THE =WALÎ=).
  Originally: THE FRIEND OF GOD--(THE =WALEE=).

  Page 19:    The =Walî= (or the Friend of God) is
  Originally: The =Walee= (or the Friend of God) is

  Page 20:    Here is a subtile mystery,
  Originally: Here is a subtle mystery,

  Page 21:    There are 4,000 =Walîs=
  Originally: There are 4,000 =Walees=

  Page 21:    there are 356 =Walîs= ever
  Originally: there are 356 =Walees= ever

  Page 22:    They (the =Walîs=) are too strong
  Originally: They (the =Walees=) are too strong

  Page 25:    Invisible and Visible, Spiritual and Physical,
  Originally: Invisible and Visible, Spirtual and Physical,

  Page 32:    virtues and vices: why should we restrain
  Originally: virtues and vices: why should should we restrain

  Page 36:    disciples such as =Abû Bakar=, =Omar=,
  Originally: disciples such as =Abubakar=, =Omar=,

  Page 41:    sacred recitations, repentance and apology.
  Originally: sacred recitations, repentence and apology.

  Page 58:    may gradually develop strength,
  Originally: may gradually develope strength,

  Page 59:    do not look to the _houris_
  Originally: do not look to the _hooris_

  Page 63:    are concerned with _outer_ conduct,
  Originally: are concerned will _outer_ conduct,

  Page 77:    the heart develops knowledge and wisdom,
  Originally: the heart developes knowledge and wisdom,

  Page 78:    checks the performance of duties.
  Originally: checks the preformance of duties.

  Page 87:    transmutation wrought by many Derveshes
  Originally: transmutation wrought by many Darveshes

  Page 90:    =Abul Abbâs=--peace be on him--said
  Originally: =Abul Abbas=--peace be on him--said

  Page 92:    renounce worldly pursuits.
  Originally: renounce wordly pursuits.

  Page 98:    Master =Yahiâ= observes:
  Originally: Master =Yehiâ= observes:

  Page 101:   only the houris, the palaces,
  Originally: only the houries, the palaces,

  Page 102:   after death are gratuitous.
  Originally: after death are gratuitious.

  Page 104:   diminution of worldly desires
  Originally: diminution of worldy desires

  Page 108:   =Abû Bakr Qahatî=, however, holds
  Originally: =Abu Bakr Qahatî=, however, holds

  Page 109:   one may read from the =Qurân=:
  Originally: one may read from the =Qorân=:


  Page 121:   angelic essence) develops later--
  Originally: angelic essence) developes later--

  Page 124:   Grasp well the subtile fact
  Originally: Grasp well the subtle fact

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