Man, in fact all and everything, has three aspects:
essence, attributes, and actions.
If we wish to describe a person (or a thing) we might start with its shape and form and physical characteristics, describing a man as tall, thin, blond, blue-eyed, etc. Next we might describe him by his actions or capabilities: strong, intelligent, farsighted, kind, generous, etc. These are his actions, or possibilities of actualizing things.
Both the attributes and the actions and functions of a person may change. The tall may get taller, the young become old, the thin become fat, and blondes go gray. Actions also change. The strong may become weak; the generous may become poor and be unable to give.
When the shape and character and actions of men or things change, if there is something constant left, that is the essence of that person or that thing.
Allah Most High blew from His own soul into this body of flesh and bone of a hundred or two hundred pounds. The body is weighable, measurable, changeable, temporal, subject to decay, while the soul is immeasurable, invisible, immortal, coming from another realm.
When the soul enters the body, it is as if an act of marriage takes place. The flesh, the mother, world-bound, joins with the soul, the father, heaven-bound. From this marriage two children are born. One is called the heart, resembling the father, yearning for the fatherland, attached to and under the guidance of the father. The other child is called the ego, having the character of the mother, attached to the motherland and loving this world.
In this family of your being, your actions, your character, your behavior, your beauty or your ugliness are either from the heart or from the ego. They are changeable. When they are from the heart, they correspond and are is in harmony with your father, the eternal soul. When they are from the ego they relate to your mother the flesh and her country, the world.
Your shape, your form, your physical appearance, your behavior your actions are first manifested in your wants and wishes. The ego wants what the flesh wants. The heart wants what Allah wants. These wants are manifest in one’s will.
Will is wanting to have something or to do something, and to think that you, yourself, are able to get what you wish to have and to think that you are able to do what you wish to do. Will is a unique gift which Allah Most High has given only to man. It enables man to choose the right from the wrong, that which is good for one from that which is bad for one.
Yet man does not know what is good for him. Therefore Allah has given to His chosen servants a perfected religion in which He has completed all His blessings upon them and is pleased. That is Islam. When man listens to his heart and is in accordance with its wishes and chooses to submit that most valuable gift of Allah, his will, to Allah’s greater will - that is Islam. Then the divine light, an-nur al-Muhammadi, the beauty of the beloved of Allah, will be his physical appearance and he will receive ihsan and will be in the presence of his Lord forever.
There was once a shaykh of great wisdom who had been given marfetullah (gnosis). The sultan of his nation was surrounded by advisors whose knowledge was the sciences of this world, the knowledge of the ego. They misguided the sultan and the world suffered.
The true wise man wished to warn the sultan, but the advisors prevented him. So he thought of a scheme. He declared publicly that there was no such thing as man’s will.
Such a declaration is heresy (just as it is also heretical to say man is the creator of his own actions). The advisors of the sultan saw this as an occasion to condemn the wise man and reported him to the sultan.
The sultan asked that the wise man be brought to his presence in order that he judge him. He asked, "Is it true that you claim that man has no will, while Allah says that it is His gift to mankind?"
The wise man said, "Yes, I claim that man has no will. I also confirm that he does have will. But what do you say, my sultan? For instance, do you believe that I have will? "
"Certainly," said the sultan.
"Do you also believe that I have the ability to actualize what I will?"
"Of course," said the sultan.
The wise man said, "In that case, I will that all that you have in your treasuries be distributed among the people!"
The sultan turned to his advisors and said, "Answer him."
They could only mumble, protesting, "He is doing this for the sake of intellectual argument. it is not serious!"
"Then destroy his argument with your knowledge," the sultan insisted.
The advisors fell silent.
The wise man said, "Let me explain my own argument, my sultan.
"In your presence, in your palace, the only will is yours, and I have none. When I return home, however, I can tell my wife, my children, and my servants what I wish, and they will do it. There I have a will.
"But even here there is a Sultan above all sultans, the Owner and the Lord of all and everything, All-powerful, Ever-living, known by His attributes, seen by His actions, ever-present, all and everywhere. The ones who know Him and know that they are in His presence at all times—for those people of the heart and of the essence there is only one will, the divine will of Allah. They say nothing but from Him, they see nothing but of Him, they do nothing but by Him.
"Then there are those who are heedless of Him and of what is His, who feel that they are at home in this world, which is theirs~ These are the ones who have will and think they can do.
"Perchance they will think that their freedom extends to where others’ freedom begins. Society as men know it depends on that sense of responsibility. That is why man’s will is a gift to humanity.
"But these heedless ones know that what they will seldom happens, while they see that the ones who have given up their will for the greater will of Allah are satisfied, at peace, and pleased, for whatever happens to them is for the best. They are envious and critical of those who have given up will, and are aggressive toward them. Yet they are bound to fail.
"All praise is due to Allah."
- Article by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti, may Allah be well pleased with him and accept him among His noble servants
Credit: On Will via Jerrahi.org
Related: The Reality of Human Essence | the Hu of Hu-man