THE TANTALIZING TASTE of THE OCEANS OF LOVE
A saying of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, in which he prayed to God: “Oh Allah, I ask You to grant me the love of You and the love of those whom You love, and grant me, Oh my Lord,the love of those actions which lead me to the love of You”.
The Three Levels Of Love To ask our Lord to open up our hearts to His Divine Love is the most important request we can make of Him in our prayers, as nothing can take the place of love. The Holy Prophet, who is called the Beloved of Allah, whom Allah created with the yeast of love, and whom Allah loved so much that He dedicated the creation to him, even this beloved Prophet asked Allah for Divine Love – why? Because who tastes of that love ask for more. Whose heart is like a rock will not ask Allah for this love, but those who have had the slightest taste of that love know that it is the key to all spiritual progress, to mercy, beauty, wisdom, to all favours that Allah may bestow upon His servants. Therefore, the Holy Prophet taught all mankind what is precious in this life. And then his prayer continued: “And grant me the love of those who love you”. The first level, “Love of God”, is the Station of the Prophets, and you can’t step from the bottom of the stairway to the top in on step. Allah Almighty is the Transcendent Being – you can’t even begin to fathom anything about Him Almighty – but it is easy to love those who represent His Love among mankind, for it is much easier for us to begin to understand and love human beings like ourselves. You will find nothing in their hearts but the Love of Allah; therefore, loving them is a means to approach the Divine Love. Lastly, the Holy Prophet asks for the love of those actions which lead to the love of Allah, actions which carry blessings with them, which soften our hearts and weaken our greed and selfishness. These are the actions encouraged by our Lord through the example of His Prophets, actions ordered and recommended in His Holy Books. And, although in the beginning our inner state may not correspond to these saintly actions, by engaging our limbs in what pleases our Lord, He will strengthen our hearts thereby. These are the three levels of love for which the Holy Prophet prayed, and the wisdom reflected in this prayer is proof enough of the veracity of Muhammad, peace be upon him. While Believers must always ask for that love, Satan is ever at war with such a notion, for he knows that once love has entered the heart of one of his slaves, that slave is lost to him, for he will not be able to snare him anymore with this world’s pleasures. He who has tasted that love may not even notice those pleasures, or may regard them as only a drop in an ocean. Once, as Moses, upon whom be peace, was headed toward Mount Sinai, he passed the cave of a hermit. The hermit emerged and called after Moses; “Oh Moses, please ask our Lord to bestow upon me just an atom’s weight of His Divine Love”. Moses agreed to do this, and then continued on his way. Later, when Moses was addressing his Lord, he petitioned on behalf of that hermit. The Lord replied, “I will grant that servant of My Divine Love, but not in the amount he requested. I will only grant him the tiniest fraction of an atom’s weight of that love”. When Moses returned from the mountain, he quickly went to see what was happening to the hermit, to see what effect such a tiny dose of Divine Love might have had on him. When he arrived he was startled to see that where the cave had been a part of the mountain was blown away, and in place of that cave there was a deep chasm in the Earth. “Oh servant of my Lord”, he cried out, “what has happened, where are you?” Then Moses looked down the chasm and saw the hermit sitting down there as if in another world, completely overwhelmed by that love. Why did that hermit ask for a portion of Divine Love? Because he was worshipping but feeling nothing; he felt emptiness in his heart that could only be filled by that love. Without love, worship is tasteless and useless; therefore, we must be sure to build our worship upon a strong foundation of love and to bake love into the bricks of the building of our devotional practice. This is more than an analogy, for even physical buildings are either alive with the love of their builders, or dead from their hard – heartedness. Therefore, old buildings often emanate a good feeling because of the love and goodness of those who built them. This is especially true of old mosques and churches, for their original congregations built them for the sake of their Lord’s love and in an attitude of sincere piety. There is often a very strong feeling of the Divine Presence in old mosques, but have you ever felt such an atmosphere in the new showpiece of sterile architecture mosques? No, it is impossible; you may feel only an inner contraction inside of such concrete hills. They have left the love out of the mortar; the most important ingredient is missing. There is nothing in all creation that the Creator, Allah Almighty, hates. Indeed it is impossible to be hated by Allah and to be in existence: one absolutely precludes the other. All creation appeared through His Divine Love. He loved them and they appeared; therefore, everything in existence carries its share of Divine Love in it. When I say “everything”, I mean everything, from atoms and their parts – the very building blocks of the Universe – up to mankind. Yes, everything, even the smallest particles of matter, carries that Divine Gift. As you know, the electrons of atoms revolve around the nuclei, and at enormous velocity. Someone told me that the famous scientist Albert Einstein once declared: “I have come to understand so much, but what I have never been able to fathom is what power gives electrons the energy to orbit nucleii at such a speed. From where does such power come to them?” We believe, and furthermore, have been granted certainty in our belief, that everything in existence has life, is living. For the sake of everyday reckoning we classify certain things, such as rocks, as inanimate objects, and recognize life only in plants, animals and human beings. But we believe that beyond these outward distinctions everything has life. Therefore, atoms, and their electrons that turn around the nuclei with such speed as to baffle even the renowned Mr. Einstein, are, in reality, alive. They are alive with the Divine Love Power that their Lord has granted them. That’s what makes them spin at the speed of light. Science may make penetrating and wonderful discoveries. Scientists’ knowledge may advance and climb to unimagined heights in the realm of the observable and what may be proven through experiments. But even such a great realm, the realm of observation and experimentation, is finite, has its limits, and only within these limits can it draw authoritative conclusions. Therefore, scientists who recognize their limitations and are not blinded by pride may admit, that some occurrences are not explicable by science. The Divine Name Al Wadud It is for those who have access to a realm of knowledge beyond science to say with certainty, that it is Allah Almighty, the Lord of the Universe, who through His Holy Name “Al-Wadud” (The All-Loving) gives His Divine Love to everything in the Universe. Those electrons, drunken with Divine Love, spin at such velocity around the nuclei. That is how the influence of Divine Love is manifested by them. Science can neither proves nor denies this explanation, as this phenomenon is beyond their realm, and they cannot as much as offer a theory. But our hearts may be content with this explanation, as each and every one of us may try it himself within himself; for we all have the Power of that Divine Love in our hearts ready to be contacted. There is no one word in Western languages that gives the full meaning of “Al-wadud”, and even explanations don’t do it justice, even though the West claims its knowledge to be superior and looks down disdainfully on every religious experience. And this Holy Name, the meaning of which cannot even adequately be expressed in advanced western languages, is the most suitable “Dhikr,” the most suitable of all the Divine Names to repeat and meditate upon for people who see themselves as superior beings and as being above normal standards. “Love”, it is certainly not a concept that western culture is unfamiliar with, and undoubtedly most people lay claim to loving and being loved to knowing the meaning of love, and to it being an important aspect of their lives, indeed the most important. But the love we refer to in connection with the Divine Name “Al-Wadud” is not the physical transitory love that is rapidly becoming the only meaning of love applicable to modern man: the love that one may find in the zoo. If you can’t imagine a love other than what is on the level of animals, then you belong in the zoo. There is a real love, never changing, never dying love, and then there is temporary animal love. Both are in man through the wisdom of the Creator, but the permanent love is the love given to man through the Divine Name “Al-Wadud”. To realize that love is the challenge and fulfillment of human existence – to come in contact with those Love Oceans, for He has given His Divine Love most abundantly to His most honoured representatives in creation, mankind. You may love a young lady for her youth, and when that youth departs you love her no more. That is false love. Sometimes we may have both kinds of love simultaneously, but usually the physical overpowers the spiritual, so that it is never allowed to appear. But to reach the ultimate goal of human life we are in need of permanent love, and it is only the Lord of the Universe who can grant it. Therefore, when we say “Ya-Wadud” we are opening ourselves up to that Divine Love, asking our Lord to awaken that love that knows no limitation that is eternal and extends to all creation. I have been ordered to teach and advise people to call on our Lord, saying” “Ya-Wadud”, as this will enable the sincere to attain real love of their Lord Almighty and to love everything around themselves. We must learn to love everything for the sake of the love the Creator has for all His creation. And we are in utmost need to pray for such love, as although it is the essence of all success in the way of spiritual purification, it has become almost extinct in our times. Therefore, suffering, disturbances, struggle, crisis and chaos are continually on the rise. What passes for human love nowadays is in deed a very far cry from real human love. Mostly, people cling to it for two or three months then throw it away. You are saying: “Oh my goddess” and she is saying, “Oh my god,” but look in again on them two or three months later and see what is left of that “true devotion” and “deep emotion”. That is the greatest cause of wretchedness in our times. For this reason I don’t refer to this century as a civilized one. Rather, the twentieth century is witnessing the destruction of civilization, and every minute violence and misery are increasing. The Oceans Of Divine Love. The Lord – our Lord, your Lord, and their Lord – is One. He created us and planted His Divine Love in the very yeast of our being. You must know that, although that love may be temporarily covered, it is running through our hearts as a river runs to an ocean. Along the course of that river love may manifest only as temporary human love, and that love current may even seem to disappear completely, like a river that flows under a mountain, only to re-emerge on the other side. But there can be no doubt that our Lord has placed in every heart a current that flows irresistible to His Love Oceans in the Divine Presence. Therefore, don’t imagine them to be cut off from Divine Love – it must be with them, whether that is now apparent to you and to themselves, or not. As our heart-current flows toward that ocean, the main difference we notice is that our love is not tied to physical beauty. Everyone loves nature, greenery, rushing waters, youthful forms, beautiful people – but what about the others? The Lord gave of His Love to people in general, not only to the young and beautiful. And the One who implanted His Love in our hearts says: “Oh My servant, as I have given you from My Divine Love, so have I give it to all creation, so spread your love to everyone that you may be in harmony with My Will.” In reality, everything that contains His Love is green and beautiful, but to perceive the beauty in all creation you must transcend outward forms and penetrate to the realm of Spiritual Reality Oceans. First of all, it is important to pass from forms to meanings, from fleeting shapes to eternal spiritual realities, as forms are limited and limiting, whereas spiritual realities are Oceans, Endless Oceans of Contentment. To arrive at those Oceans will bring you inner peace. Therefore, I am trying to love everyone. It is easy to say to a person, “I love you” as long as that person has never harmed you, but according to our Grandsheikh such is not the measure of real love. He used to quote a famous Daghistani Sufi poet who said: “I don’t accept the love that you claim to hold for me to be real until I have tested you. What is my test? If I put you through a meat grinder and you came out the other end as minced meat - but were still alive - and if then I returned you to your original form, would you still love me?” What this poet meant was “If I cause you so much suffering, and harm you as no one has ever harmed you before, will you still love me despite all that I have done? That is true love. But if I am with you for forty years, and because of one hurtful word I may utter towards you in a moment of stress, you leave me and declare me to be your enemy, denying the love of forty years and saying, “ I don’t love you anymore”, that is not the love we are referring to. Therefore, as I have said, there are levels of love along the way, differing in quality according to their nearness to the goal, the Absolute Love Oceans of our Lord. When one has reached that goal he may take any amount of harm from others and still love. He may say: “I love you for the sake of my Lord, not for any other reason. That love will never change or diminish, as no matter what you do your Lord’s love is with you. You may behave like a wild animal, you may wound me, but yet, for you to even exist, my Lord’s love must be with you, and therefore I am loving you, too.” Only the highest and most select of mankind are ever on such a level, and we are trying to reach that point – but it is so difficult. You must know that this is a test for you and an opportunity to gain spiritual ranks. Now you are in a situation where you must be patient with people who may not be upholding the same level of decorum that you are accustomed to. Here is an opportunity for you to advance, as Holy people have advised us: rather than avoiding all ill-mannered and badly educated people, we should mingle with them and establish contact with them, that they may benefit and that you may test yourself and gain thereby. They are servants of the Almighty’s Will, and we are His servants too. Our Lord is their Lord and their Lord is our Lord. We must be patient and we will gain, little by little. Cherry trees first yield bitter fruit, but you must wait – little by little, little by little, the tree starts to yield sweet and tasteful cherries. The Promise of The Holy Masters The Holy Masters have promised me that whoever sits with us and listens with his heart full of love must come to the same level: their hearts must open to Divine Love. The Masters are not going to abandon us, and we are not going to turn from them, as our hearts have been bound with the strongest of bonds; the bond of Divine Love, that strongest of relationships of love that exists between the Creator and His creatures. That relationship is the ultimate goal of existence, and we pray that we may grow stronger always. Those with whom we sit and whose hearts are receptive to Divine Love will attain that love. This is a promise from the Masters, and therefore our meeting indicates that your time is approaching, the time when you will be able to break the bonds that make you slaves to your egos. Soon you will be free to approach your spiritual goals, and that is why everyone here feels himself affected and moved to tears. If the love that was with me were only transitory love you wouldn’t even bother sitting with me for a moment. But the love that is with me is real, permanent and Divine, and I have extended a ray of it to your hearts to awaken permanent love in you. My daughters and sons in attendance here today have never met me before, but our first meeting has been enough to establish real love from my heat to theirs. This is a love they will never forget, a love that is blossoming in their hearts. I ask my Lord for permission to spread His permanent love to the hearts of all people – and the time is approaching when we hope that permission will be granted. Love is eternal, and the transitory nature of all things pertaining to this world is a sign of truth, a sign that shows s by means of contrast. Real spiritual love: love of Allah and love of mankind for the sake of Allah is the only truth, the only thing in this world that is permanently and constantly sweet. Physical separation from someone you love, in accordance with the rule that pertains to the physical, may create a longing that will cause love to increase, may augment the bliss of reunion. But on the spiritual level that love is constant, is never interrupted by distance or by time. Your beloved may be on the moon and you may be in bliss at the thought of reunion, but if love is unrequited, that is not sweet separation but a bitter pill. The extinction of love is pitch darkness. You may regard the sunset as beautiful, but how would you feel if it were setting forever? Love is the water of life. Allah created Adam from clay and water. If it were not for water the clay would hold no shape. Divine Love is what binds our souls together. That is why people become so miserable when they feel unloved. It is a feeling that something essential is missing from one’s life, that life itself is incomplete, and in the face of this ache people set out in search of love with the desperation of a man dying of thirst. Love is an attribute of God Almighty which binds His servants to Him eternally. If Allah were to hate mankind it would be so easy for Him to bring about an abrupt and terrible end to our follies – but He loves us and therefore shows us so much tolerance. If you are a parent, consider your love for your children. If your son grew up to be a criminal, would you not love him still? Would you not maintain that despite his bad actions (which you would perhaps readily condemn) he was still basically at heart a good boy? Would you not find excuses for his bad behavior and have faith that he would turn away again from those bad actions? Ask For Divine Love Love is lovely to the Lord and to His servants. If you do anything with love it should be accepted by your Lord, and He should make it tasteful for you. If you love your work it will be easy for you to do, if not, it will only be a burden. The Lord says: “I am not in need of your worship; I am only seeking the love with which it is offered. “Oh servants of the Lord, Oh believers, you must not overlook this point. Don’t be like slaves rowing in the galley of a ship – if you pray, you must pray with love not by force, as if a slave driver were standing over you with a whip! Allah never appreciates such forced devotions. Now we are trying to perform all the practices but forgetting to ask for Divine Love, so we are becoming like mechanical robots, or like people performing gymnastics. Allah has asked us to engage our bodies in His worship and in service to His creation through charity and good deeds, but what must be the fruit of those actions? If the fruit is not love it is bitter fruit and is rejected. If our worship causes Love of Allah to grow in our hearts, then we must keep to that practice and continue on our way: and if we are keeping the company of a spiritual teacher, and find that through keeping his company love of Allah is awakening in our hearts, then we must follow him closely. The Love of Allah is not easy to attain, for we cannot imagine Him; therefore, He Almighty has made the Prophets apostles of His Love. Allah’s Beloved, the Seal of Prophets, Muhammad, upon whom be peace, was such a pure medium for the transmission of that love that the hearts of his companions were overwhelmed with his love, and were transported to the love of Allah. He was the representative of Allah, who is the Absolute Truth; therefore, the Prophet declared: “Who has seen me has seen the Absolute Truth”. When a delegation of non-Muslims came to visit Medina, they were amazed at the love and respect shown to the Prophet by his companions. When they returned home they said to their leaders: “We have met many emperors, kings and tribal chiefs, but never have we seen one whose subjects or courtiers treat him with such sincere love and devotion. How can this be?” They were not able to comprehend the secret of this love, as their egos caused them to deny Mohammed’s prophet hood. The love of the companions towards the Prophet was such that they used to say to him: “I am ready to sacrifice for you even my mother and father”, which, for the Arabs, is much stronger than saying: “I would sacrifice myself for you”. And in reality many of them underwent nearly unbearable hardships for the sake of their belief in the mission of the Holy Prophet: exile, disinheritance, boycott, torture and death. Who represented the Holy Prophet after his life on Earth? They are those who evoked such love. The Prophet himself described them: “Those who see them are reminded of Allah”. He who thirsts for Divine Love must seek out such people, but in our time they are mostly hidden, and Islam has come to mean for many people only a set of rules of conduct and forms of worship – an empty shell. Who can derive taste from such a thing? Shall mosques be only gymnasiums? And now the “gym teachers” are opposing Sufi Paths, which are the ways of the heart, ways that lead to the Love of God. Our Lord has given us an instrument that measures not your blood pressure but our “love pressure” and our goal is to make it high! Yes, seek to improve with every new day, for the Holy Prophet said: Whoever does not improve with each day is losing ground. “What does this mean? It doesn’t mean that if we pray forty rakats of prayer today, we should pray forty-one tomorrow and forty-two the next day. No, that is not required, what is intended is that you fill your worship with ever more love of your Lord, so that He will observe: “My servant has sent Me more love today than yesterday. “One of our Grandsheikhs summarized perfectly what I am trying to say: “An atom’s weight of love is worth more than seventy years’ worship without love”. Today we speak about love for Allah and His Prophet. Our Grandsheikh was telling this hadith, that one day the Prophet was giving a sermon when one Bedouin came to the door of the mosque and shouted: “Oh Prophet, when is the Last Day coming?” There was no answer, so he called out again and still again. The Prophet was waiting for Allah to provide him with an answer, as only He knows when the Last Day is. Then the Angel Jibril came to him saying: “Ask him what he did in preparation for the Last day”. The man replied: “Muhammed, I love you and I love your Lord, nothing else, only this”. Then Jibril told Muhammed: “Answer him that he will be with you and your Lord like two fingers together. Everyone who loves another must be with him on the Last day.” On hearing this, Abu Bakr asked: “Oh Prophet, is not action a necessary condition, is only love enough?” He answered: “No, Ya Aba Bakr, actions are not a condition, what is important is love. Everyone will be with his beloved friend.”