How to Have Spiritual Openings and See With the Light of Faith

Some Counsel of Imam Shafi’i and Its Explanation


by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani


In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate


Imam Shafi’i said,


“Whoever would love for Allah to open their heart, or to illuminate their gaze, should:

(1) leave excessive talking regarding things that don’t concern them;

(2) keep away from sins; and 

(3) have between them and Allah some carefully hidden good deeds.


If they do this, Allah will grant them openings of Knowledge that will busy them from all other.” [Bayhaqi, Manaqib al-Shafi’i, 1.22]


Brief Explanation:


One. ‘Would love’

Love (hubb) returns to two meanings: (a) strong inclination (al-mayl) and (b) preference (ithar). True love has both a strong inclination to Allah, and preferring what is pleasing to Allah over what is pleasing to one’s self.


Two. ‘To open their heart’

Opening of the heart (fath) is for the heart to become alive with the meanings of faith (iman), so that their faith is not merely a rational acceptance, but consciousness that moves their thoughts and actions.


Three. ‘Illuminate their gaze’

This refers to seeing – with the eye of their heart (basira) – everything being from Allah Most High.


Four. ‘Leaving excessive talking’

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say the good or remain silent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]


Five. ‘Things that don’t concern them’

The Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him) said, “From the excellence of a person’s Islam is leaving all that doesn’t concern them.” [Tirmidhi]


What concerns, or should concern one, is anything that has worldly or next-worldly benefit, whether for oneself or others, in a manner pleasing to Allah. [Ibn Allan, and others]


Six. ‘Keep away from sins’

Sins pollute one’s state, stain the heart, distance one from Allah and weaken the light of faith.


The key to returning to Allah – and the essence of repentance (tawba) is leaving sins. The key to leaving sins is (1) identifying the cause of the sin; and (2) diligently working to remove the cause of the sin from one’s life. If unable to identify the cause – or to remove it – then one should consult either (a) a trusted friend; or (b) a trustworthy scholar with spiritual insight.


Seven. ‘Hidden good deeds’

The key to Allah’s acceptance is sincerity (ikhlas) – in one’s purpose, state and actions. Sincerity is seeking Allah Most High, Himself alone, without ulterior motives. Having some good deeds – such as night worship, Qur’an recitation, remembrance, reflection, charity, or service to others – in secret, such that others don’t see or know about it, helps cultivate sincerity and cull insincerity.


Eight. ‘Openings of knowledge’

This refers to both (a) the meanings of faith and consciousness that Allah places in the hearts of those who cultivate sincerity in the ways described, and (b) Allah granting one openings in beneficial knowledge (al-ilm al-nafi’) that enable one to seek and spread the good, whether worldly or religious, for oneself or others.


These are some brief points on the wise words of Imam Shafi’i (Allah have mercy upon him).


And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.


‏قال الإمام الشافعي رحمه الله:

‏مَن أحب أن يفتحَ الله له قلبَه أو يُنوِّرَ بصرَه فعليه بـ:

‏- تركِ كثرة الكلام فيما لا يَعنيه

‏- واجتنابِ المعاصي

‏- وأن يكونَ له فيما بينَه وبينَ الله خبيئةٌ مِن عمل

‏فإنه إذا فَعل ذلك فتح الله عليه من العلم ما يَشغله عن غيره

‏مناقب الشافعي للبيهقي: 22/1