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Solitary notes on preoccupations and its hierarchy

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

By the Secret of al-Fatiha, by the Secret of Ephphatha

“May Allah steal from you all that steals you away from Him.” - Rabia Al-Adawiyah

When a servant of God takes on a solitary sojourn or said more correctly, when a servant is given and bestowed with all the necessary resources, provisions and doorways to take a solitary sojourn or a retreat by the Sole agent Who Bestows (al-Wahhab), Who Gathers (al-Jami) and Who Opens Doorways (al-Fattah), we may remind ourselves that such sojourn is an opportunity to remember God away from all preoccupations with the world and it's people.

The currents of time has changed in such a dramatic fashion that it leaves those with yearning very challenging environment to clean the heart from myriad preoccupations, be it useless information, delusion in pretense of entertainment, mind and heart distracting technologies or chattering of ignorant minds and countless more elements. All of them have a sum effect of making the soul cut off from its source of nourishment, which is Divine Remembrance, Meditation on the Divine Sublimity and Contemplation on the grand existence.

For a servant, to contemplate upon his or her soul, its progress or digress, the state of his or her rusty heart, the poisonous mind growing habituated to noise over tranquility - it is by necessity that he must find or ask for an opening of time to turn away completely from every preoccupation with common people and their commerce of every sort, from emotion to products; from selling and buying of this blindingly busy supermarket life. Without doing so, the heart become like a desolated castle with its interior and exterior chambers completely broken apart, leaving no protection for the precious soul that makes it it's abode.

To repent from the missed opportunities given to one's life, heart and soul to progress on the Path of Illumination, to repent over the countless breaths gone by without remembrance, to repent over misdeeds and actions that hurt other hearts, to repent from carelessness of one's own precious jeweled soul - are the things a servant must strive to do in a sojourn. To repent for one's lost moments to attain God realization and to repent from not to work towards the harmonious alignment to God's Will and Commands is a serious matter and prayers must be made to be bestowed with opportunity to fulfill this obligation of repentance with sincere heart. "Repent, for the Kingdom is near" is the first inspiration that a great soul that descended among humanity transmitted, and with every single breath, we are approaching that Kingdom which we all must travel to.

Life is precious, yet time that shapes life is extremely deceitful and fleeting in nature. The journey to the King of kings, to the Sovereign of the Kingdom - is certain and in His Majestic court, either one is accepted or rejected, in His Splendor either one is elevated in honor or rejected in abject humiliation, either one is admitted to His Boundless Love and Beauty, of Jamal or one is rejected to experience the Awesome attribute (Jalal) and calamity for one's rejection of truth and lost moments in earthly life. 

We seek refuge from the Fire and ask admittance into the Garden. We refuge from awesome retribution of the Sovereign King to Whom belongs all that is in heaven and all that is earth, to the Tender Mercy of the Most Merciful Who is Ever Await for His servants to turn to Him so that He may cover them with His boundless love and mercy.

God is One without a second, Indivisible Oneness (Ahad) and there is no other than Him (la ilaha illa Huwa).

There is no destination but God.
There is no journey but to God,
and all journeys ends end to God.

The great sages of time taught us, ushered us to:
M a k e     G o d     a     R e a l i t y
E n o u g h     o f     t h i s     c h i l d i s h     p l a y
a n d     p r e t e n s i o n     o f     f a i t h.
Has not the time arrived to live faith and to make God a Reality?

Know that to call God as Beloved is earned by God's most precious jeweled servants and that station has no admittance to vanity farers. Those who have gone in this way, you and me are unworthy even to carry their shoes, no! Even less than that, you and me are unworthy of even carrying the dust of their shoes.

The guides of humanity have again and again  asked us to take heed. To take care of our soul, which is a sacred trust. This life is ever fleeting away. We are asked to repent from all vanities and all the rubbish which found their way in your heart.

Hold true to the covenant of:

Astaghfirullahil Azim wa tubu ilaih

La ilaha illa Allah
mafi qalbi ghairullah.

I ask forgiveness to the Most Supremely Majestic and I (re)turn to Him.

There is no other agent but God.
There is nothing worthy residing in Heart except God.

Know that the servant of God who takes on solitary sojourn must strive to deeply contemplate, repent and renew his or her covenant of faith, obedience to Divine Will and must strive towards freedom from preoccupation of the world and its people. The model below is a simplified graphical parable using a pyramid model of the nature of preoccupation in which the people of the world are constantly immersed in and the path way towards freedom from each of the major obstacles that create preoccupation within human soul.

Sufi Inforgraphy: Preoccupation and its hierarchy (a draft model)

To begin with at the base of the pyramid is "world & material attachment" which is the first kind of preoccupation and most common and the breath of the pyramid signify the volume of such preoccupation, which are many. All sorts of material and worldly attachment constant keep people mindlessly busy to the extent that they forget their essential nature. Even though this preoccupation is the most abundant in volume and keeps many in its consumption, yet from spiritual perspective this is the easiest to overcome. The first level of seekers mostly begin their journey or through the evolution of the self, the first tendency that give rise to the heart is less interest in the world and lesser interest in material attachment. For every seeker of every path this is universally true.

After "world & material attachment" is the attachment with people, with other human beings. Being born and conditioned in society, human beings have tendency to drive physical and mental feedback from other fellow human beings. This works like a constant gratification. A very modern phenomena is the rise of Facebook, which is a very contemporary example of human beings preoccupation with other fellow human beings and tendency to show off, to let others know even the most trifling of things no matter how much time and resource and opportunity value is wasted. In advanced spiritual path, in the beginning - to minimize common people's company (except what is necessary) and only to attach with company of elevated soul was a prerequisite and it is still valid for the soul to progress. This is relatively difficult for people to practice or to evolve into. The Last Prophet counseled only to keep company with those whose (spiritual) state is inspiring. In our age because of the abundance of technology that makes easy for virtually be connected, whether by email, social sites, forums, chat - its very tempting to be occupied excessively with other people. For this progress, sound knowledge of the akhirah (after life) through the knowledge of Sharia (Divine Law) is a starting point for many. In Tariqa, solitude in the crowd is a specific teaching towards this goal.

After preoccupation with people, the next stage is "self interest and desire of self" which in breath is smaller than previous ones, but more subtle and thus more difficult in dealing. According to some of the greatest minds who understand human condition, it is the self interest and desire and craving of the self - which is the root cause of human suffering. At this stage to deal with such preoccupation, training under well developed path, tariqa and spiritual teacher is necessary. The self interest and desire of the self is so intermingled with our identity that it uses all sorts of excuses to make point for it. 

Subtler than "self interest and desire of self" is "self worship" and narrower in breath, yet more difficult to even recognize. The self's mechanism is such that it uses all kind of means to camouflage the self's tendency to worship itself. This is so dangerous that even higher officials in religious seat are prone to this. Pharisees of Christ's time, corrupt priests and popes are victim of this preoccupation where self uses institutionalized scope to idolize itself and seek attention and worship. Self styled gurus can turn into monsters by this preoccupation. For ordinary spiritual seekers it is the religious or spiritual pride which is a symptom of "self worship". It is one of the serious blemishes or shadows in the path. Those who with sincerity and diligence travel the path and made real progress through the training of the practices can advance in removing the preoccupation of "self worship" or "self's interests and desire."

At the last and most serious threshold towards freedom from self is the very self and preoccupation of identification with self. This is the most difficult  to get rid of, since it mingles with adamic existence like water is mixed with clay. Thus this is the most subtle and require perfect mastery of the self to remove the identification with the self, which in sufi technical term is fana or obliteration (samadhi) in godly attributes to such extent that all (false) identification simply dissolve into the Great Truth. This is not only difficult, but from the point of view of ordinary people, this is close to impossible. Then again, masters who have gone before us, who have attained this stage have left hope for us in their indications that 'it takes very very serious effort, dedication and time to make a soul pregnant with God, but it can be done.' This is a stage and process which, the more it is talked about, the less is accurate.

The overall reality is that there is a hierarchy of preoccupation that flows from gross to subtler dimensions and increasingly become difficult to get rid of. For this - awareness, intention and effort is necessary, but above all grace is the best aid and it is a noble promise made by the Lord that the journey from the darkness of slavery with false preoccupation (taghut) to that of light is a journey that manifests by, with and through the Protecting Guardian (Walee).

There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false idols and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is the all Hearer, the all Knower.  Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe. He bringeth them out of darkness into light. - The Quran 2: 256-257

May Allah save us from every preoccupation with the self, its selfishness, its cravings and never satisfying desires and from the world and its perishing attachments. May our heart's only occupation be with its most worthy Occupier, the Lord of Sovereignty of heaven, earth and that of Human Heart. Amen Ya Muqallibal Qulub! Accept our prayers O Turner of Hearts!

- Sadiq M. Alam
Nairn, Highlands of Scotland, United Kingdom



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Technology of the Heart: Solitary notes on preoccupations and its hierarchy
Solitary notes on preoccupations and its hierarchy
Technology of the Heart
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