Kashf Al Mahboob
IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE.
0 Lord, bestow on us mercy from Thyself and provide for us a
right course of action!
Praise be to God, who hath revealed the secrets of His kingdom to His Saints, and hath disclosed the mysteries of His power to His intimates, and hath shed the blood of Lovers with the sword of His glory, and hath let the hearts of Gnostics taste the joy of His communion! He it is that bringeth dead hearts to life by the radiance of the perception of His eternity and His majesty, and reanimates them with the comforting spirit of knowledge by divulging His Names.
And peace be upon His Apostle, Muhammad, and his family and his companions and his wives!
Ali b. 'Uthman b. Ali al-Jullabi al-Ghaznawi al- Hujwiri (may God be well pleased with him!) says as follows:-
I have asked God's blessing, and have cleared my heart of motives related to self, and have set to work in accordance with your invitation - may God make you happy! - and have firmly resolved to fulfil all your wishes by means of this book. I have entitled it "The Revelation of the Mystery". Knowing what you desire, I have arranged the book in divisions suitable to your purpose. Now I pray God to aid and prosper me in its completion, and I divest myself of my own strength and ability in word and deed. It is God that gives success.
Two considerations have impelled me to put my name at the
beginning of the book: one particular, the other general. 1 As regards the
latter, when persons ignorant of this science see a new book, in which the
author's name is not set down in several places, they attribute his work to
themselves, and thus the author's aim is defeated, since books are compiled,
composed, and written only to the end that the author's name may be kept alive
and that readers and students may pronounce a blessing on him. This misfortune
has already befallen me twice. A certain individual borrowed my poetical works,
of which there was no other copy, and retained the manuscript in his possession,
and circulated it, and struck out my name which stood at its head, and caused
all my labour to be lost. May God forgive him! I also composed another book,
entitled "The Highway of Religion" (Minhaj al-Diri), on the method of Sufi'ism -
may God make it flourish! A shallow pretender, whose words carry no weight,
erased my name from the title page and gave out to the public that he was the
author, notwithstanding that connoisseurs laughed at his assertion. God,
however, brought home to him the unblessedness of this act and erased his name
from the register of those who seek to enter the Divine portal.
As regards the particular consideration, when people see a book, and know that its author is skilled in the branch of science of which it treats, and is thoroughly versed therein, they judge its merits more fairly and apply themselves more seriously to read and remember it, so that both author and reader are better satisfied. The truth is best known to God.
In using the words "I have asked God's blessing" (p.3) I wished to observe the respect due to God, who said to His Apostle: "When you read the Quran, take refuge with God from the stoned Devil" (Qur.xvi,100). "To ask blessing" means "to commit all one's affairs to God and to be saved from the various sorts of contamination." The Prophet (May peace be upon him) used to teach his followers to ask a blessing (istikharat) just as he taught them the Quran. When a man recognizes that his welfare does not depend on his own effort and foresight, but that every good and evil that happens to him is decreed by God, who knows best what is salutary for him, he cannot do otherwise than surrender himself to Destiny and implore God to deliver him from the wickedness of his own soul.
As to the words "I have cleared my heart of all motives related to self' (p.3), no blessing arises from anything in which selfish interest has a part. If the selfish man succeeds in his purpose, it brings him to perdition, for "the accomplishment of a selfish purpose is the key of Hell"; and if he fails, he will nevertheless have removed from his heart the means of gaining salvation, for "resistance to selfish promptings is the key of Paradise", as God hath said: "Whoso refrains his soul from lust, verily Paradise shall be his abode" (Qur.lxxix, 40-1). People act from selfish motives when they desire aught except to please God and to escape from Divine punishment. In fine, the follies of the soul have no limit and its manoeuvres are hidden from sight. If God will, a chapter on this subject will be found at its proper place in the present book.
Now as to the words "I have set to work in accordance with your
invitation, and have firmly resolved to fulfil all your wishes by means of this
book" (p.3), since you thought me worthy of being asked to write this book for
your instruction, it was incumbent on me to comply with your request.
Accordingly it behoved me to make an unconditional resolution that I would carry
out my undertaking completely. When anyone begins an enterprise with the
intention of finishing it, he may be excused if imperfections appear in his
work; and for this reason the Prophet (May peace be upon him) said: "The
believer's intention is better than his performance." Great is the power of
intention, through which a man advances from one category to another without any
external change, For example, if anyone without any external change. For
example, if anyone endures hunger for a while without having intended to fast,
he gets no recompense (thawab) for it in the next world; but if he forms in his
heart the intention of fasting, he becomes one of the favourites of God (muqarraban).
Again, a traveller who stays for a time in a city does not become a resident
until he has formed the intention to reside there, A good intention, therefore,
is preliminary to the due performance of every act.
When I said that I had called this book "The Revelation of the Mystery" (p.3), my object was that the title of the book should proclaim its contents to persons of insight. You must know that all mankind arc veiled from the subtlety of spiritual truth except God's saints and His chosen friends; and inasmuch as this book is an elucidation of the Way of Truth, and an explanation of mystical sayings, and an uplifting of the veil of mortality, no other title is appropriate to it. Essentially, unveiling (kashf) is destruction of the veiled object, just as the veil destroys revelation (mukashafat), and just as, for instance, one who is near cannot bear to be far, and one who is far cannot bear to be near; or as an animal which is generated from vinegar dies when it falls into any other substance, while those animals which are generated from other substances perish if they are put in vinegar. The spiritual path is hard to travel except for those who were created for that purpose. The Prophet (May peace be upon him) said: "Everyone finds easy that for which he was created." There are two veils: one is the "veil of covering" (hijab-i rayni), which can never be removed, and the other is the "veil of clouding" (hijab-i ghayni), which is quickly removed. The explanation is as follows: one man is veiled from the Truth by his essence (dhat), so that in his view truth and falsehood are the same Another man is veiled from the Truth by his attributes (sifat), so that his nature and heart continually seek the Truth and flee from falsehood. Therefore the veil of essence, which is that of "covering" (rayni), is never removed. Rayn is synonymous with khatm (sealing) and tab1 (imprinting). Thus God hath said: "By no means: but their deeds have spread a covering (rana) over their hearts" (Qur.lxxxiii,14); then He made the sense of this manifest and said: "Verily it is all one to the unbelievers whether thou warnest them or not; they will not believe" (Qur.ii,5); then he explained the cause thereof, saying: "God hath sealed up their hearts" (Qur.ii,6). But the veil of attributes, which is that of "clouding" (ghayni), may be removed at times, for essence does not admit of alteration, but the alteration of attributes is possible. The Sufi Shaykhs have given many subtle hints on the subject of rayn and ghayn. Junayd said: Al-rayn min jumlat, al- watanat wa 'l-ghayn min jumlat al-khatarat, "Rayn belongs to the class of abiding things and ghayn to the class of transient things." Watan is permanent and khatar is adventitious. For example, it is impossible to make a mirror out of a stone, though many polishers assemble to try their skill on it, but a rusty mirror can be made bright by polishing; darkness is innate in the stone, and brightness is innate in the mirror; since the essence is permanent, the temporary attribute does not endure- Accordingly, I have composed this book for polishers of hearts which arc infected by the veil of "clouding" but in which the substance of the light of the Truth is existent, in order that the veil may be lifted from them by the blessing of reading it, and that ihey may find their way to spiritual reality. Those whose being is compounded of denial of the truth and perpetration of falsehood will never find their way thither, and this book will be of no use to them.
Now with reference to my words "knowing what you desire, I have arranged the book in divisions suitable to your purpose" (p.3), a questioner cannot be satisfied until he makes his want known to the person whom he interrogates. A question presupposes a difficulty, and a difficulty is insoluble until its nature is ascertained. Furthermore, to answer a question in general terms is only possible when he wbo asks it has full knowledge of its various departments and corollaries, but with a beginner one needs to go into detail, and offer diverse explanations and definitions; and in this case especially, seeing that you - God grant you happiness! — desired me to answer your questions in detail and write a book on the matter.
I said, "1 pray God to aid and prosper me" (p.3), because God alone can help a man to do good deeds. When God assists anyone to perform acts deserving recompense, this is truly "success given by God" (tawfiq). The Quran and the Sunnah attest the genuineness of tawfiq, and the whole Muslim community are unanimous therein, except some Mu'tazilites and Qadarites, who assert that the expression tawfiq is void of meaning. Certain Sufi Shaykhs have said, Al-tawfiq huwa 'i-qudrat 'ala 'l-taat 'inda 7- isti'mal, "When a man is obedient to God he receives from God increased strength." In short, all human action and inaction is the act and creation of God: therefore the strength whereby a man renders obedience to God is called tawfiq. The discussion of this topic, however, would be out of place here. Please God, 1 will now return to the task which you have proposed, but before entering on it 1 will set down your question in its exact form.