This is the fifth part of a series of translations of Habib Umar’s work, Qabs al-Nur al-Mubin, an abridgement of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din.
Obligatory precaution against the devil’s overpowering of the heart and the prevention of his entrances therein.
Know that the heart is like a pitched dome with doors through which concerns enter, and similarly like a target of which arrows from various directions are aimed towards, so the point of entry for these renewed influences are either external, through the five senses or internal, through imagination, desire, anger and natural traits within man’s composition.
The most notable of acquired influences within the heart are spiritual promptings, through the medium of thoughts and reflections which are its acquirement’s of knowledge by means of renewal or recall, which is called spiritual promptings, as a prompting takes place preceded by the hearts ignorance of it. So the base of actions are spiritual promptings, these spiritual promptings then awaken the desire, the desire awakens the resolve, the resolve awakens the intention and the intention awakens the limbs.
These are divided between that which calls to evil, of which is what is ultimately harmful and that which calls to goodness, of which is what is of benefit in the Final Abode. So these are 2 varying spiritual promptings, the good of which is called an inspiration and the bad of which is called a whisper. As long as the end result varies, it’s is an indication of the varying of its respective cause.
The agent of a good spiritual prompting is angelic and the agent of an evil spiritual prompting is demonic. The subtlety which equips the heart to accept a good inspiration is called harmonization and that which equips it to accept a demonic whisper is called deception and failure. An angel is an epitome of a creation which Allah Most High brought into existence, its role is the outpouring of goodness, benefiting by knowledge, revealing truth, counseling towards good, enjoining the good and this was the purpose for it being created and facilitated. A devil is an epitome of a creation which has an opposing role to that which is that of counseling towards evil, commanding immorality, to cause despair by means of distress, when considering to embark upon goodness.
A demonic whisper is opposite to inspiration, a devil is opposite to an angel, harmonization is opposite to failure, Allah Most high says: “And of everything we have created pairs.” (Sura ad-Dhariyat 51:49). All matters have pairs except Allah Most High, as He is unique without a pair, in fact, He is the one, the Real who created all the pairs.
The heart is attracted towards the devil or the angel. He (SAW) said, : “In the heart there are 2 callings. A call from the angel promising goodness and belief of the Truth, so whoever amongst you finds this then know that it is from Allah Most High, so show gratitude to Him and a call from the devil promising evil, disbelief of the Truth and forbidding goodness, so whoever amongst you finds this should seek refuge in Allah Most High from the Devil.” Thereafter he recited His words: “Satan promises you with poverty and orders you to commit what is indecent, but Allah promises you His Forgiveness and bounty from Him. Allah is the Embracer, the Knower.” (Sura al-Baqarah 2:268)
Regarding the attraction towards these 2 dominating factors, He (SAW) said: “The heart of a believer is between the two fingers of Allah the Most Exalted.” Mujaahid mentioned regarding His statement: “From the mischief of the Whisperer who withdraws. It is spread out within the heart, upon him remembering Allah, it withdraws and shrinks and if he is unmindful, it spreads out within the heart.” Regarding their difference, Allah Most High says: “The Evil One has got the better of them: so he has made them lose the remembrance of Allah.” (Sura 58:19) Ibn Wadhaah said regarding the narration he mentioned: If a man reaches the age of 40 without repenting, the devil wipes his face with his hand and says: By my father, a face which will not succeed. By this, the meaning of a whispering, a spiritual prompting, an angel, a devil, harmonization and failure all become clear.
So it’s upon the servant to acquaint himself with every affair that comes to mind to know whether it’s an angelic calling or a satanic calling and to eagerly examine it with an insightful eye, without any caprice from the natural disposition, which is only perceived through the light of God-consciousness, insight and abundance of knowledge as He Most High says: “Those who fear Allah, when a thought of evil from Satan assaults them, make remembrance.” (Sura 7:201) Which means that they return to the light of knowledge. “At once, they have insight.” (Sura 7:201) Which means that the problem becomes manifest to them. As for the person who has not accustomed his self towards God-Consciousness, his nature is inclined towards the obedience of what has deceived him through the following of his caprice, and as a result, his mistakes are many and his destruction is brought near without him noticing.
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.