Friday, October 09, 2009

the seeker and the sought | madhhab al-tasawwuf

Hand of Whirling DervishesThe seeker is in reality the sought, and the Sought the Seeker: for the man who seeks God only seeks Him because God first sought him. So says God:

yuhibbuhum wa yuhibbu naHu
, "He loves them and they love Him." (5:54)

and again, radiya Allahu aanhum waradu aan Hu, "God was well pleased with them, and they were well pleased with God" (5:119),

and, thumma taba aalayhim liyatobu, "Then He turned to them, that they might turn (to Him)." (9:118)

His seeking of them was the cause of their seeking Him: for the cause of every thing is God's act, and His act has no cause. If God seeks a man, it is not possible for that man not to seek God: so God has made the seeker the sought, and the Sought the Seeker.

Nevertheless (in the language of the Sufis), the seeker is the man whose toiling preceded his revelation, while the sought is he whose revelation preceded his toiling. The seeker is described in God's words, Waallatheena jahadu feena lanah diyannahum subulana, "And those who strive in Us, We surely guide them to Our paths" (29:69). Such a man is sought by God, Who turns his heart and implants in it a grace, to stir him to strive for Him, and to seek Him: then He accords him the revelation of the spiritual state.

So it was with Harithah, who said, "I turned myself from this world, and thirsted in the daytime, and watched at night" - then he said, "and it was as though I beheld the Throne of my Lord coming forth." With these words he indicated that the revelation of the unseen came to him after he had turned from this world. The "sought" man, on the other hand, is drawn forcibly by God, and accorded the revelation of the states that through the power of vision he may be stirred to strive for God, and turn to Him, and bear the burdens laid on him by God.

So it was with Pharaoh's magicians; after they had received the revelation, it was easy for them to endure the threats of Pharaoh, for they said, "We will never prefer thee to what has come to us of manifest signs, decide then what thou canst decide." So it was with Umar ibn al-Khattab, when he came seeking to slay the Prophet: for God waylaid him on his path. Similar too is the story of Ibrahim ibn Adham, he went out to hunt for pleasure, and a voice called him, saying, "Not for this wast thou created, and not to this wast thou commanded." Twice the voice called him; and in the third occasion the call came from the pommel of his saddle. Then he said, "By God, I will not disobey God henceforth, so long as my Lord protects me from sin."

This, then, is what is meant by being, "drawn forcibly": these men were granted revelation of spiritual states, and were thereby expelled from their carnal appetites and their possessions. Abu Abdillah al-Baraqi once quoted these verses,

The seeker's heart is based in purity
And passion leads his steps in every glen;
Along whatever vale his course may be
His only refuge is the Lord of humanity.

He paid with purity, and purely paid,
And pureness to his heart a lantern bought.
His seeking was upon the Seeker stayed:
Thrice blessed is the seeker who is sought!

The Doctrine of the Sufis by Arther Arberry- from Kitab al-Ta'arruf li-madhhab ahl al-tasawwuf by Abu Bakr al-Kalabadhi

Translated as, The Doctrine of the Sufis
by Arther Johan Arberry

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. Introduction to Sufi Doctrine by Titus Burckhardt
. Theoretical Gnosis and Doctrinal Sufism and Their Significance Today
. Sufi Doctrines
. The Sufi Doctrine of Rumi Pin It Now!