Pearls of Wisdom by Shams Tabrizi

[These are the rough notes of talk delivered by Alimah S. Ahmed on Feb 20, 2015].

There are a lot of different levels of friendship between two very different human beings. Hadhrat Khizr (as) and Hadhrat Musa’s (as) companionship is an example of this. Hadhrat Khizr (as) said you will not be able to handle me. You will not be able to handle my friendship. As students when we study this, we feel it is because Hadhrat Musa (as) was a Shar’i Nabi so it was difficult for him to adjust to Hadhrat Khizr (as). But on a general level, when two people are different, they learn a lot from one another.

Shams Tabrizi and Rumi (rah) had the same type of a relationship. Shams Tabrizi had sent a message to Rumi (rah) that no one is able to handle me and I need someone to whom I can transfer what Allah swt has given me. These are some of the quotes by Shams Tabrizi.

“In this world, it is not similarities or regularities that take us a step forward, but blunt opposites. And all the opposites in the universe are present within each and every one of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the non-believer should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until the day one reaches the stage of Insane-i Kamil, the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.” 

When you have opposition, only then will you succeed in life. We try to remain in our comfort zone or just try finding people we think are like us. In fact, if we sit with people who are most different than us, we will learn the most from them.

Also along with external forces, within us there are also opposing forces. Everyone has a believer and a disbeliever within themselves. It is only when a believer meets their disbeliever, or when the disbeliever meets their believer, when they will become a mu’min e kamil (complete believer).

It is important to understand your full potential; your good and your bad. This also brings humility. If you know yourself then even after you succeed and people start praising you, you will not become proud.

Imaan comes gradually, and to understand it you have to understand its opposite. You have to understand what is kufr, what are the signs of munafiqeen, then you will get a better understanding of what imaan is. Sometimes you understand certain things by their opposites. For example, when you see darkness then you value light. When you see filth then you value cleanliness.

Sometimes Allah swt also makes you fall into sin. Sometimes some salah gets qadha, sometimes you are put in a situation where you say something bad and realize you have this filth within you. This teaches you humility and also makes you appreciate the good within you. Allah swt makes you fall to pick you up higher. This is what I understand from my naqis knowledge.

“Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission to a power that comes within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquillity and peace even if the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.”

Submission doesn’t mean that you are passive. True power resides in submission and submission is a power that comes from within. Those who submit to the Allah’s rule then they will be at peace even if there are tribulations in the whole world.

“It is not what we aspire to achieve, but it is the consciousness of being nothing that takes us forward.”

Our aspirations and goals will not take us forward. We succeed when we feel that we are nothing. These are very philosophical concepts and sometimes difficult to understand.

“If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather. Through an illness, accident, loss or fright, one way or another, we are all faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgemental and more compassionate and generous.” 

We are all faced with incidents and difficulties in life. These incidents make us realize we should not be selfish and should become non judgemental towards others. If after problems you become harder, that is wrong. What is good is to become soft after troubles. If you want to get close to Allah swt, then you have to expand your heart such that you love all of humanity, then you will love Allah swt.

“Hell is in the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy or fight someone we tumble straight into the fires of hell.”

It doesn’t mean literally we should stop thinking about Hell or Heaven. It is just a way to understand that in a way we go through hell when we have such feelings in our heart.

“Real filth is the one inside. The rest simply washes off. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleansed with pure waters, and that is the stain of hatred and bigotry contaminating the soul. You can purify your body through abstinence and fasting, but only love will purify your heart.”-

You can purify your body by staying away from sins and fasting. But only love will purify your heart. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleansed by water, that is the hatred or envy of the heart. That is cleansed by love.

It’s easy to love a perfect God, unblemished and infallible that He is. What is far more difficult is to love fellow human beings with all their imperfections and defects. Remember, one can only know what one is capable of loving. There is no wisdom without love. Unless we learn to love God’s creation, we can neither truly love nor truly know God.” 

Allah swt is perfect. It is easy to love Him. But it is difficult to love humans because they have so many faults. But marifah only comes when you have muhabbah. There is always comparison and contrast between human love and Allah’s love. But unless you love His creation, you cannot truly love Allah swt or know Allah swt. This only includes permissible love that is encouraged in Islam.

“Try not to resist the changes, which come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

Do not fight the changes that life brings. Maybe the change is better for us.

“When we want to become a better person, then it is important to face difficulties with patience. Without difficulties one cannot improve. Clay only becomes a bartan through extreme heat.” 

For a new self to be born, hardship is necessary. We try to find the easy way out. But just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, love can only be perfected through enduring pain.

“The quest for love changes user. There is no seeker among those who search for love who has not matured on the way. The moment you start looking for love, you start to change within and without.” 

The seeking of love also matures us. There is no seeker who looks for love and does not mature. You will feel changes both internally and externally.

“Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to look at the end of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.” 

Every now and then one can retreat to poetry. Our predecessors used to read and write poetry when they were free. Even scholars like fuqaha have books of poetry because this is what they would do when they get tired. We on the other hand, get into something unproductive when we are free. So when you get tired keep some good books with you that you can read them, especially after exams.


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