Neediness Is a Means to Closeness

On this journey of Hope and Closeness, Shaykh Faraz throws light on diverse ways a believer can strengthen the connection with the all-sustaining and ever-living God, the ultimate purpose of life and religion, and the means to draw closer to Him.

Abu Madyan Shu’ayb ibn al-Husayn al-Ansari – known to his biographers as the Imam of the Ascetics, the Pious, and the Exemplar of the Seekers – was a seminal figure of Sufism in Muslim Spain and North Africa. The variety of Abu Madyan’s oeuvre includes doctrinal treatises and aphorisms, which provide unique guidance for those who seek closeness to Allah. The aphorisms offer a frame of reference to unpack the arguments and understand human dependency on and neediness for Allah. Abu Madyan said:

And know that were it not for Him,
you, and all the worlds, would be razed, crumbling, decaying*

He also said: “Neediness is honor.” An honor bestowed by Allah upon the children of Adam, peace be upon him. The two aphorisms offer an insight into the means of approaching the Almighty through the realization of one’s absolute dependency and neediness. To realize the debt of your existence to Him and acknowledge the role of Allah as our creator, sustainer, and source of all goodness is to rise in rank and, hence, in closeness. Accepting and identifying with this reality is to be spiritually alive. To think oneself independent of Allah leads to an existential crisis and spiritual death.

He said: “Neediness is a light as long as we conceal it, and the light departs as soon as we manifest it.” In other words, it is to accept and acknowledge that seeking Allah is a matter of the heart and internal journey to be traveled in silence.

He said: “Reaching Allah is for your attributes to be drowned and qualities to be effaced in the consciousness of Allah. That is to reach Allah.” The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

None of you is a believer until I am dearer to him than his child, his father, and the whole of mankind. [Bukhari and Muslim]

That is to say, none of you believes until you keep aside your whims and extinguish the worldly desires that bar you from Allah.

He said: “Whoever finds intimacy in creation will be alienated from the Creator.” This explains the importance of focusing on Allah, although our whims push us in the other direction. Allah is aware and answers our prayers even if we are not conscious of Him. Remain steadfast on the straight path and work to seek closeness and love of the one true God.

Hold on to certainty and show gratitude (shukr) fuelled by patience (sabr) through devotion with sincerity and excellence.

* وَاعْلَمْ بِأَنَّكَ وَالْعَوَالِمَ كُلَّهَا
لَوْلاَهُ فِي مَحْوٍ وَفِي اضْمِحْلاَلِ