Reflection is the Light of Hearts – An Aphorism of Ibn Ata’illah Explained by Imam Zarruq

Translated by Faraz Rabbani
Ibn Ata’illah (Allah have mercy upon him) states in his Aphorisms (Hikam):
Reflection is the light of hearts. If reflection leaves, the heart has no light.
One of the great commentators on the Aphorisms of Ibn Ata’illah, Imam Ahmad Zarruq, explains:
This means that reflection (fikr) is the light-giving lamp by which the heart walks in the darkness of Otherness and is able to see benefit and harm–and behold Truth and Reality with clarity.
Through reflection, the heart reaches faith (iman). Through reflection, it attains gnosis (irfan). Through reflection, it rises through the ranks of submission (islam), faith (iman), and and spiritual excellence (ihsan).
This is why Ka`b al-Ahbar (Allah be pleased with him) said, “Whoever seeks the honour of this life and the next should engage in much reflection.”

Shaykh Abu’l Hasan al-Shadhili (Allah be pleased with him) said:
“The Path is seeking Allah in four matters. Whoever attains all four is from the realized veracious ones (al-siddiqin al-muhaqqiqin). Whoever attains three of them is of the elect of Allah who have been brought close (al-awliya al-muqarrabin). Whoever attains two of them is of the martyrs of certitude (al-shuhada’ al-muqinin). And whoever attains one of these is from the righteous servants of Allah (`ibad Allah al-salihin).
The first is remembrance (dhikr). Its expression is righteous action (al-`amal al-salih). Its fruit is light.
The second is reflection (fikr). Its expression is patience (sabr). Its fruit is action.
The third is neediness (faqr). Its expression is thankfulness (shukr). Its fruit is increase from Him.
The fourth is love (mahabba). Its expression is rejection of worldliness and its people. Its fruit is union with the Beloved. Love is what encompasses all principles of good, and its the end of all realization.
End of Quote from Imam Zarruq’s Commentary.
And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz Rabbani
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