Al-Ghazzali

Fragrant Flowers From the
Garden of Al-Ghazzali’s Sufism
   We pick only a very few fragrant flowers from the overflowing garden of Imam Al-Ghazzali’s spiritual knowledge. From the lofty heights of his experiences the following passage beautifully explains the episode of Mansur Al-Hallaj as the lowest rung of the ladder of Divine Path. He deals with the subject of Anal Haqq:
   “If you place colored liquid in a colorless (white) bottle, it takes up manifestly its own color while the unwary and uninitiated onlooker mistakes the white bottle for the colored contents. It was in this state when Allah manifested Himself in the body of the Christ that people working under the same misapprehension began to call Christ the God himself. It was a flagrant mistake to identify the colorless white bottle with its colorful contents. So they erred in calling him god. This is the first stage in which Mansur said: “Anal Haqq” (I am god). There are seventy more experiences, all Divine illuminations, of course. But the difference among them being as between the illuminated creations like the stars, the moon and the sun. All are illuminations but, before the sun, the stars and the moon look dark. The remaining stages follow before the highest mystical state is reached. It is as if one witnessing the image of the sun or the moon in the mirror or water may err in considering that it is the sun that ix in the mirror or water and identify the Lord with the human being.” (From Book 3).
   Note: Only those who live in such sublime states ofmujahedas in Sufism can follow and experience these supreme spiritual stages.
   One reads Al-Ghazzali’s account of the strictmujahedas that he expects the devotees to observe in the Sufi Path. He says: “Once a devotee passed through a forest and was delighted to see the sylvan surroundings where the chirping of the birds pleased him. He built a hut nearby, feeling the chirping of the birds will help him in his concentration. But the Lord sent a message to him through the prophet of the time: “Since thou hast loved a creature in preference to Me and thereby failed in thy exclusive surrender and devotion to Me, thy Creator, ye hast lost claim to the high spiritual state for ever that I had thought of bestowing on thee.”
   While citing innumerable instances of the fear of Allah (khauf-e-Khuda), Al-Ghazzali is ever lavishing his applause on the hope of Lord’s mercy, i.e. faith in the merciful forgiveness of God. He cites the case of a robber who saw a saint sitting in solitude. He went and sat by the side of the saint hoping that by that moment’s nearness to the saint, the Lord may look with compassion on him. But when the saint recognized the robber, he got up at once, rebuked him and asked him to get away. But here the Divine Voice declared to the saint: “We have washed clean from the scroll of destiny the respective vices and virtues of both of you. Now start your spiritual practices anew. Because of Our Raza (free will and pleasure), the robber is absolved of his sins and because of your pride you are condemned to lose all your spirituality.”
   But by far the case of the poor Negro Bilal is brought out with emphasis by Al-Ghazzali to show the love of Allah for His devotees: “Prophet Mohammed (sas) was in prayers when he heard the Divine Voice: “Mohammed, I have lain ill for a week and you have not come to see Me.” The Prophet (sas) said: “I cannot understand thy illness, O Lord.” The Voice answered: “My devotee Bilal is ill and ye hath not visited him.” The Prophet (sas) at once went out seeking him and whom did he meet but a poor grass-cutter lying huddled up in a dingy room in the servants’ quarter amidst the filth of the horses, lying in agony but repeating with fervor the name of Allah. Startled, the Prophet (sas) rushed to embrace him and delivered the message of Allah to him. The poor man asked him to repeat it thrice and then saying with eyes brimming with tears: “What besides life have I to offer to my merciful Lord” fell down on the feet of the Prophet (sas) and passed away.”
   The conclusion is that no one can say which little act of virtue finds favor with Allah Almighty and which small sin throws one into hell.
 

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