This is the third part of a series of translations of Habib Umar’s work, Qabs al-Nur al-Mubin, an abridgment of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din.
This part explores why a person may not actualise the spiritual sciences that he is learning.
Specific similitude of the heart in relation to sciences:
The mirror may not reflect the image for five reasons:
First: Deficiency within its design, such as the nature of iron before it’s shaped and polished.
Second: Dirt, corrosion and grime.
Third: Being turned away from the angle of the picture towards something else.
Fourth: A veil placed between the mirror and the picture.
Fifth: No knowledge of the direction of the intended picture.
Likewise, the heart is a mirror, wherein the true reality of matters becomes manifest, but can became void of sciences due to these five reasons:
First: Deficiency in its essence, such as the heart of a youth, where the sciences don’t become manifest to him due to its deficiency.
Second: Due to the grime of disobedience and the dirt which accumulates upon the face of the heart caused by numerous desires, so turning towards the obedience of Allah Most High, and avoiding the demand of the desires, is that which cleanses the heart.
Allah says: And those who strive in Our (cause), We will certainly guide them to our paths. (Sura ‘Ankabuut 29:69)
The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: The one who acts upon what he knows, Allah will bequeath him with knowledge which he does not know.
Third: Due to it being turned away from the direction of the intended reality, the obedient and good heart - despite being pure - does not have the clear reality manifesting within it, since it’s not in search of the reality, nor is it parallel to the mirror in the direction intended. In fact, it may be that he is fully aware of the details pertaining to physical obedience or preparations of means to earning a livelihood. He does not pay any heed to pondering about the Divine presence and the subtle divine realities, so nothing becomes manifest to him save that which he is pondering about in terms of the precise details regarding the diseases of the deeds and subtle defects of the soul which he is pondering about or affairs related to one’s which he is pondering about.
Fourth: The veil. As for an obedient individual who has overpowered his desires, confining his thoughts towards a reality from amongst the realities may not have this manifested to him due to a belief since youth which reached him through tradition, which has been a cause for majority of the Muslim theologians and those strictly adherent to specific school of thoughts; in fact, many of the pious, since they are veiled by their traditional beliefs solidified within their souls.
Fifth: Lack of knowledge of the direction from which the sought out matter is discovered, since the seeker of knowledge is not capable of attaining knowledge of that which he is unaware of except by bringing to memory those science related to the sought out matter. The sought out sciences are not found within the natural disposition, and are only caught through the nets of acquired sciences. As a matter of fact, they are only acquired through the 2 previous sciences which are in harmony with each other and paired in a specific manner.
Therefore, ignorance of the sources and their methodology of pairing is a barrier towards the knowledge, similar to what we previously made mention of in terms of ignorance of the picture's direction, in fact, it’s similar to a person who wants to look at his nape in the mirror, so if he moved the mirror in front of his face, he would be nowhere nearby the direction of the nape and as a result, the nape would not become apparent to him. If he were to lift the mirror behind his nape, parallel to it, he would then have turned the mirror away from his gaze and will not see the mirror, so he is in need of another mirror which he will set up behind his nape which will then be opposite to this one, to a point where he is able to see it and he should pay attention to the relation between the positioning of the 2 mirrors in order for the picture of the name to reflect in the opposite mirror to the nape thereafter this picture from this mirror will reflect in the other mirror which is facing the eye, thereafter the eye will comprehend the picture of the nape, and likewise in the capturing of sciences their exists many strange techniques containing deviances and distortions stranger than that which we mentioned about the mirror.
So these are the causes of obstruction against the heart to know about the realities, so nevertheless, every heart by its natural disposition is suited to know the realities, since it’s a lordly and honorable affair, and is equipped to carry the responsibility.
He, SAW, said: Every child is born upon a religious sound disposition but thereafter, his parents call him towards Judaism, Christianity or Magianism.
This is part three of a translation of al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz’s abridgment of Ihya Ulum al-Din by Imam al-Ghazali entitled Acquisition of the Clear Light, not only provides the reader with a concise understanding of the Ihya but also serves as clear guideline to the main themes and focal points within the actual book.
Translator: Abdullah Salih, converted to Islam in 2003 and thereafter, embarked on a journey of seeking knowledge in the Valleys of Hadramouth in the beautiful city of Tarim. He was fortunate enough to sit in the company of Habib Umar, where he studied under him various sciences such as, but not limited to, some of the original works of Ihya as well that of the abridgment. He now resides in Namibia with his family and is engaged in Dawah activities locally as well as internationally.