So remember Me; I will remember you.
And be grateful for Me
and not ungrateful toward Me.
~ Qur'an 2:152
Following is a Sufic commentary by Rashid al-Din Maybudi, a major twelfth-century Persian scholar penned in his book Kashf al-asrār wa ʿuddat al-abrār, translated by William Chittick as The Unveiling of the Mysteries and the Provision of the Pious.
This is to remember the lovingly kind Friend, the heart’s ease and the spirit’s food. Remembrance is (like) the polo-ball and familiarity with Him is the bat. Its steed is yearning and its field love. Burning for Him is the rose, and recognizing Him the garden.
This remembrance makes the Real apparent. It is joined with the Haqiqah and separate from mortal nature. This remembrance is the watering place for the tree of tawḥīd, the fruit and produce of which is friendship with the Real. This is why the Lord of the Worlds said,
“My servant does not cease remembering Me, and I remembering him, until he is passionate for Me and I passionate for him.”
This is not the remembrance of the tongue that you know—this is inside the spirit. The time came when Abū Yazīd was remembering little with the tongue. When he was asked about that, he said, “I am in wonder at this remembrance of the tongue, and I am more in wonder at him who is a stranger. What would a stranger be doing in the midst? Remembrance of Him is in the midst of the spirit.”
In the story of passion for You, many are the hardships.
I’m with You, but many are the stations between us.
I wonder at him who says, “I remember my Lord.”
Should I forget, then remember what I forgot?
That great man of his time said in a whispered prayer, “O Lord! How can I remember You when You Yourself are remembering and I am crying out from forgetfulness. You are the remembrance and the remembered, You are the help in finding Yourself.
“O Lord! When someone reaches You, his sorrows are finished; when someone sees You, his spirit laughs. Who has more joy in the two worlds than he who remembers You? Who is more worthy of happiness in You than the servant?”
O poor man, you are remembering yourself. What do you know about remembering Him? Not having traveled, what do you know about the way stations? Not having seen the Friend, how can you be aware of His name and mark?
You are your own object of worship—you worship yourself: whatever you do, you do it for yourself.
If you pass into the spirit, you will gain dignity. If one day you pass by the street of the Haqiqah and remember Him in your secret core, you will see “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what has never passed into the heart of any mortal.”
Just once pass by Our street
and gaze on Our subtle artisanry.
If you want roses, pass into the spirit
and make the heart aware of union with Us.
It is written in one of God’s scriptures, “‘My servant! You will remember Me when you have tried out the others. I am better for you than anyone else.’ My servant, when you have seen and tested others, then you will know My worth and recognize My rightful due. In other words, once you have seen their lack of loving kindness and you have grasped My loving kindness and loyalty, then you will know that I am more lovingly kind to you than anyone else and I am more useful.
“‘My servant, did I not remember you before you remembered Me?’ My servant, one mark of My loving kindness is that I remembered you first, then you remembered Me.
“‘Did I not love you before you loved Me?’ First, I wanted you, then you wanted Me.
“‘My servant, have you turned away from Me and toward another because you are ashamed to face Me? Where are you going? My door is open, My gifts are bestowed on you.’”
This is as someone said:
You have all your brightness from Me,
you wander around, then you come back to Me.
By the exaltation of the Exalted! If you take one step in His path, a thousand generosities will reach you from Him. “From you a little service, from Him much blessing! From you a bit of obedience, from Him great mercy!”
The Prophet alluded to this in recounting from God: “When someone remembers Me in himself, I remember him in Myself; and when someone remembers Me in an assembly, I remember him in an assembly better than his. When someone comes near to Me by a span, I come near to him by a cubit, and when someone comes to Me walking, I come to him rushing.”
And be grateful for Me and not ungrateful toward Me.
It has been said that “I was grateful for Him” is gratitude at seeing blessings and in respect of activity. But “I was grateful to Him” is gratitude at seeing the Patron of Blessings and contemplating the Essence. The latter is the gratitude of the folk of the end, and the former is the gratitude of the companions of the beginning.
The Lord of the Worlds knew that most servants do not have the capacity for the gratitude of the folk of the end. He made the work easy for them and put aside the great gratitude. He did not say, “Be grateful to Me,” but rather, “Be grateful for Me.” In other words, be grateful for My blessings, recognize what is rightfully due for them, and then, by recognizing what is rightfully due, despair of what is rightfully due for Me in the contemplation of My Essence. That is not the work of water and clay, nor the talk of spirit and heart. Indeed, what weight has clay, what trace has heart, in this talk? Throw both into the ocean, and give union with the Beloved access to yourself!
How long with low aspiration will we make our homes in the spirit?
Let us pack our bags from spirit and aim for the Beloved!
The mark of “Fear not!” [41:30] has come out from behind the mask.
Lift your heads, cloak-wearers, so that we may throw away our spirits!
So remember Me; I will remember you.
~ Qur'an 2:152
Remember Me is the rivulet of your remembrance, and I will remember you is the ocean of the Real’s remembrance. When the rivulet of the servant’s remembrance reaches the ocean of the Real’s remembrance, the water of the ocean of I will remember you enters the rivulet of Remember Me and all of it becomes the ocean’s water. Nothing remains of the rivulet. This is exactly what the Pir of the Tariqah said: “When someone falls into the Real’s grasp, he burns, and then the Real is his successor.”
One of the pirs of the Tariqah said, “O God, we see through Your marks, we live in Your recognition, we flourish though Your name, we are happy in Your remembrance, we are joyful through finding You. It is we who are drunk with love from Your cup, we who are prey to passion in Your snare.”
“God created Adam in His form; his length was sixty cubits.” It is a sound report that the Lord of the worlds took a handful of dust with which He sculpted Adam. Adam’s boldness and nearness reached the place that, when He told him to travel from paradise to the earth, he said, “O Lord, travelers don’t go without supplies. What supplies will You give me for the road?” He said, “O Adam, your supplies in the land of exile will be My remembrance. After that, on the day of Return, I promise you will see Me.”
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “In the remembrance the servant reaches a place where the tongue reaches the heart, the heart reaches the spirit, the spirit reaches the secret core, and the secret core reaches the Light. The heart says to the tongue, ‘Silence!’ The spirit says to the heart, ‘Silence!’ The secret core says to the spirit, ‘Silence!’ God says to the traveler, ‘My servant, you have been speaking for a while. Now I will speak, you listen.’”
Inviting to God’s road is one thing, and inviting to God is something else. The former has an intermediary in the midst, and the latter has the Real as spokesman. The result of what He said with intermediary is obedience and abandoning opposition. The fruit of what He said without intermediary is solitariness and abandoning self-governance. Solitariness is to make the aspiration one-pointed in both remembrance and gazing. In remembrance it is that you want only Him in remembering Him and you fear none but Him in remembering Him. In gazing it is that at whatever you gaze you see Him and you put down your head before no one but Him.
Ask the folk of remembrance if you do not know.
~ Quran 16:43
This alludes to the fact that knowledge of the Shariah (Divine Law of Exoteric Dimension) is to be learned and is not correct without an intermediary and teacher. Anyone who fancies that the intermediary is useless in knowledge of the Shariah has no portion of the religion.
In short, know that knowledge is of three sorts: knowledge of the Shariah, knowledge of the Tariqah, and knowledge of the Haqiqah. The Shariah is to be learned, the Tariqah is to be practiced, and the Haqiqah is to be found. Concerning knowledge of the Shariah He says, “Ask the folk of remembrance.” Concerning knowledge of the Tariqah He says, “Seek the means of approach to Him” [5:35]. Concerning knowledge of the Haqiqah He says, “We taught him knowledge from Us” [18:65]. He turned knowledge of the Shariah over to a teacher, He turned knowledge of the Tariqah over to a pir, and He turned knowledge of the Haqiqah over to Himself.
When someone obtains these three knowledges, a light (nur / spiritual light) shines in his heart through which he recognizes the essence of prophethood. When he is given this recognition, he finds this eminence and special favor from the threshold of prophethood: “The men of knowledge are the heirs to the prophets.”
And remember thy Lord when thou forgettest.~ Quran 18:24
Junayd said, “The reality of remembrance is to be annihilated from remembrance in the Remembered. That is why God says, ‘And remember thy Lord when thou forgettest.’ In other words, when you forget the remembrance, the Remembered will be your attribute.”
Remembrance is not only that you take it upon yourself to move your lips by your own volition. That in fact is recollection, and recollection is an affectation. True remembrance is that the tongue becomes all heart, the heart becomes all secret core, and the secret core becomes nothing but contemplation. Then the roots of dispersion are cut off. It is from this station that the perfection of togetherness appears in the World of With-ness. “When self-disclosure is sound, the tongue, the heart, and the secret core are one.” The remembrance is lost in the Remembered, and the spirit is lost in the Light. Reports become face-to-face vision, and face-to-face vision is far from explication.
O You whose remembrance is the argument and whose intimacy is the reminder! You are present—of what use to me is this remembrance? O Gentle One! Give permission that I come out of Your remembrance for a moment!
Rashid al-Din Maybudi, author of this Sufi commentary on the Quran, was a major twelfth-century scholar of Maybud, near Yazd in central Iran. This commentary, called Kashf al-asrar wauddat al-abriar [The Unveiling of the Mysteries and the Provision of the Pious], is one of the earliest and longest commentaries on the Quran in the Persian language, though a good portion of it is in Arabic. Maybudi explains select verses and their allusions (ishara); by this he means the manner in which the words and imagery can be understood as pointing to various dimensions of the soul's relationship with God. Maybudi's work also came to be known by the subtitle of the published Persian edition, Tafsir Khawaja Abdallah Ansari [Quran Commentary of Master Abdallah Ansari] because Maybudi wrote it after having studied the Quran commentary of Ansari (d. 1088), an influential scholar and Sufi saint from Herat.
First published in 2015 by Fons Vitae
You may download the entire Tafsir by clicking this following link: The Unveiling of the Mysteries
and the Provision of the Pious