Classical Sufism F. A. Ali ElSenossi: The Seven Treasures of the Heart

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with F. A. Ali ElSenossi
The heart contains seven treasures, each of them in a separate, secure chamber. The first is the Treasure of Remembrance of Allah. The second is the treasure of Shawq – the intense longing and desire for Allah. The third is the Passionate Love of Allah (‘Ishq) . The fourth is the Secret – that is one of the Realms of the Unseen of the Realms of Allah; it is beyond description and higher than knowing in the standard manner of knowing. The fifth is the Spirit. The sixth is the Treasures of Gnosis (ma’arifa), and the seventh is the Treasure of spiritual poverty (faqr).  To shed more light on these seven treasures of the heart, we could say that when the first one, the Treasure of Remembrance – is opened in the heart of the Slave of Allah, he enters a state of separation and seclusion in his physical existence. He is no longer affected by the material world, nor does it have a hold on him.  The name given to such travelers is ‘absentee’ – he is in a state of astonishment from the manifested Celestial Realms and the state of tranquility of the heart in the Remembrance of Allah.

The Second Treasure
The Treasure of Shawq – intense desire for the Beloved Allah means that the Slave is constantly in a state of intense desire and longing towards Allah. He will seek annihilation with every breath because of the intensity of the heat of the longing that has been ignited within him.

The Third Treasure
The Treasure of Love. When it is opened within the heart, the condition of the Slave is that he is in a total state of acceptance towards Allah. He loves His orders with intense enjoyment with selflessness and they have a sweet taste for him. He will prefer this state of acceptance above all others. Even if he were to have, in that moment of time, the greatest calamity and difficulty – it would be more beloved to him than anything else. He would not desire to be anywhere other than that particular moment.

The Fourth Treasure
The Treasure of the Secrets from the Realms of the Unseen of the Beloved Allah. Its nature cannot be known and cannot be reached. Its complexity is that the Slave, in all of his states of consciousness; will not move except by Allah and will not be at rest except in Allah. He will not transgress or oppose the Divine Law in any way because of his complete state of purity. Intense longing and yearning for the Beloved.

1. Shawq is a yearning to behold the Beloved, and a longing for nearness to the Beloved, and a longing for union with the Beloved, and an intense longing for increase in perpetual longing. It is said that “breath” is a movement of yearning towards the Beloved and within the “breathing” enjoyment is experienced. The breathing of the ecstatic who is under the pull of the Divine Attraction bears witness to this.

2. Intense, overflowing and passionate love of Allah. Some say that ‘Ishq cannot arise without actual vision of the Beloved. ‘Ishq is the highest stage before absorption in Allah. It is as rare as the red sulphur. It burns away everything of the lover (‘Ashiq) transforming him into the beloved. After annihilation in Allah (Fana fillah) and absorption in Allah (Gathering of the gathering), where all is blindness and there is no longer any vision, the lover is separated from the Beloved (Gatheredness and separation) and his passion burns afresh. Passionate love of Allah is without limit.

3. Divine Knowledge. Ma’rifa is a light which Allah casts into the heart of whomsoever He Will. This is the true knowledge which comes through “unveiling” (kashf), “witnessing” (mushahadah) and “tasting” (dhawq). This knowledge is from Allah, it is not Allah Himself, because He Is Unknowable in His Essence. The triad on the Sufi Path of Return is comprised of Fear (makhafah), Knowledge (ma’rifa) and Love (mahabbah). Fear leads to Knowledge which leads to Unconditional Love of Allah. It is said that spiritual struggle (mujahadah) is child’s play whilst ma’rifa is men’s work.

4. Indigence and spiritual poverty and destitution and neediness. True poverty is to own nothing, not even one’s own self. Spiritual Poverty is to “know” that Allah is the Independent One Who is in need of nothing. Spiritual Poverty is to belong totally and unconditionally to Allah Almighty. This is the station of Union with Allah.

5. The spiritual retreat and seclusion. Initially seclusion is undertaken by physically withdrawing from those outside disturbances which have the potential of distracting one in his contemplation of Allah’s Names and Attributes. Ultimately this withdrawal becomes purely spiritual when the heart is in a state of perpetual presence with Allah . Then the lover of Allah is with his Beloved at all times, regardless of the external conditions within which he is situated. Seclusion is the conversation of one’s secret awareness with Allah. This is known as Khalwa in Jalwa (Seclusion within society) – as you are in seclusion with Allah while going about your everyday activities.

The Fifth Treasure
The Treasure of the Spirit, is that the Slave will encounter the Reality of unveiling(6) and all of its Secrets on a sensory level. Nothing will be hidden from him of its Unity or its multiplicity. It is a state of ecstasy, a state of soberness and a state of total obliteration.

6. Unveiling or revelation is one of the types of direct experience through which Knowledge of Reality is unveiled to the heart of the slave and lover. In His Infinite Grace Allah gives His slave and lover a Divine Self-disclosure which not only increases his Knowledge of Allah but also increases his yearning and intense love of Allah. The great Sufis are called “The People of Unveiling and Finding” (Ahl al Kashf wa’l Wujud). Within the unveiling they find Allah. This “unveiling” and “finding” frequently occurs during the spiritual concert (sama’). In a moment, when it is perceived through unveiling that “Allah is the singer and Allah is the hearer”, the singer and the hearer become One, disappearing into Allah.

The Sixth Treasure
The Treasure of Gnosis is the empowerment of the Slave from the point of action between the Realities of Lordship and that which is being worshipped. It is the knowledge of its Realities in totality – its laws, its requirements and its functions. This is the state and the presence of abiding, sobriety and total awareness. This is one of the higher states of spiritual consciousness and is the state of ‘Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah’.

The Seventh Treasure
This is the Treasure of spiritual poverty (faqr). When it is achieved and it opens itself to the Slave, he will witness his total need and reliance on Allah Almighty, and that he needs Allah in every breath he takes. Nothing can disturb the equilibrium of this state because of the empowerment of the continuous descent of open communication, and by the knowledge of everything that could disturb the state of need of Allah. Anyone who becomes rooted in the station of this particular treasure becomes the richest of all who are rich by Allah in everything. The one who is in such a state or station does not worry the least bit whether all of the creations love him or hate him, flock towards him or they run away from him. Because of his state of complete richness by Allah Most High. Whoever becomes the embodiment of such a station within this treasure will be safe from being stripped of what has been reached in the Presence of the Creative Truth, Most Holy (Al Haqq). This is the station of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and he said ‘Poverty is my honour’.

The advice that the Beloved Prophet (the Seal of all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah to the worlds) gave to humanity is to be in or to enter a state of happiness, a state of bliss, and a state of peace, because he is concerned for our success in this realm and in the next. “Now hath come unto you a Messenger from amongst yourselves: it grieves him that ye should perish: ardently anxious is he over you: to the Believers is he most kind and merciful”. (At Tauba 9:128)

The Messenger of Allah observed: You shall not enter paradise until you believe and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I direct you to a thing which, if you do it, it will foster love amongst you? Give currency to ‘Assalamu alaikum’. (Sahih Muslim Book 1 Hadith 96).

The spreading of peace amongst one another is much more than the outward greeting of ‘Peace be upon you’. This is just the beginning. When you truly are at peace within yourself, then you will be spreading that peace to others. This is spreading peace outwardly from within you – for no one will love you except the one that you have given peace to in every one of your states. The person you greet will see that you do not harbour anything in your heart towards him, that both your existence and his are by Divine cause, and that there is no self importance attached to your offering of peace. So, if you cannot see that God exists within that human being that you are giving peace to, then you should not expect or desire him to love you.

The reality of the existence of the Real (Al Haqq) is that it loves nothing other than itself. To achieve the peace that is mentioned by the Holy Prophet, then the following needs to be known to us in every level of our existence, development and manner of thinking:

1. That Allah is the First before anything. That He has no beginning – that is to say that His existence has no opening or key. He is the First of first-ness without openness to Him and at the same time, He is the Last and there is no end to His existence.

2. To love the Supreme Being and to know that He touches everything – especially human beings.

To spread peace is not just saying the words ‘Assalamu alaikum’ (Peace be upon you). A little bit of effort and elbow grease is required in order to cultivate all of the positive qualities that make us a human being, not just a human.

It is difficult for ordinary people to understand what hardship really is and the 7th state of consciousness that the Holy Prophet embodied – the total reliance on Allah and need of Him. We have been indifferent to those events and our knowledge is poor in this regard. To give an example of the behaviour of the Beloved of Allah, the Holy Prophet Muhammad when he was in such hardship, the following story is related:

For nine years, since Allah gave the permission to convey the final message to humanity openly, The Holy Prophet had been delivering the message to the people in Mecca and making an all out effort to guide and reform his community. With the exception of a few people who had embraced the message, and those who helped him while not accepting Islam themselves, the people of Mecca left no stone unturned in prosecuting and deriding him and his followers. His uncle, Abu Talib, was one of those good people who helped him even though he did not enter the fold of Islam.

The Holy Prophet went to the city of Ta’if, directly south of Medina, to ask for their assistance. Upon reaching Ta’if, he went to visit each of the three chieftains. In turn, he placed before each of them the message of Allah and invited them to Islam. Instead of accepting his message, they refused to listen to him or grant him hospitality of any kind. Each of them treated him most rudely and made it clear that they did not want him there. The Holy Prophet had expected civil, even cordial respect from them, as they were the heads of the clans.

One of them went so far as to sneer at him “If Allah has made you a Prophet, I will tear down the hangings of the Ka’aba”, and the other exclaimed ‘Could Allah find none other than you to make His Prophet?’. The third one jibed at him ‘I do not want to talk to you, for if you are in fact a Prophet, then to oppose you is to invite trouble and if you are only pretending, then why should I speak with you?’

Our beloved Prophet, who was a rock of steadfastness and perseverance, did not lose heart over this rebuff from the chieftains and tried to approach the common people, but no one would listen to him. Instead they threw him out of the town and told him to go somewhere else. The Holy Prophet decided to leave the town, but they would not let him depart in peace and set the children of the town after him. They hissed, hooted and stoned him. He was hit so hard with rocks that his body ran with blood and his shoes were filled with blood. He left the town in this awful plight.

When he was a distance from the town, and safe from their mischief, he stopped and supplicated to his Beloved Allah, and said “Oh, my Allah, to Thee I complain of my weakness, of my lack of resources and my unimportance in the eyes of people, Oh Most Merciful of all those capable of showing Mercy. Thou art the Lord of the weak and thou art my own Lord. To whom art Thou to entrust me? To an unsympathetic foe who would sullenly frown at me or to an enemy to whom you have given control over my affairs? Not in the least do I care for anything except that I may have Your protection. I seek shelter in the light of Thy Countenance, the light which illuminates the heavens and dispels all darkness and which controls all affairs in this world as well as in the hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath or that You should be displeased with me. I must remove the cause of Your displeasure until You are pleased with me. And there is no strength or power but through Thee.

All of the heavens were moved by the prayer and the supplication of the Holy Prophet. The Archangel Gabriel then appeared before him, greeting him with ‘Assalamu alaikum’ (Peace be upon you), and said “Allah knows all that has passed between you and these people. He has given me the authority to put the angel in charge of the mountains at your command. The angel of the mountains appeared before them, greeted the Holy Prophet with ‘Assalamu alaikum’ said “Oh, Prophet of Allah, I am at your service. If you wish, I will cause the mountains overlooking this town to collide so that all the people therein will be crushed to death, or you may suggest any other punishment for them”.

The Merciful , Noble and Loving Prophet of the last message to humanity from Allah, said “Even if these people do not accept the message of peace, I do hope from Allah, that there will be people from among their progeny who will worship and believe in Allah and the message that I brought and serve His Divine purpose”.

My dear traveler, behold the conduct of the Universal Man, our beloved Holy Prophet whom we profess to follow. Look at the situation of the Holy Prophet. Even after so much suffering at the hands of the people of Ta’if, he neither curses them nor affects any revenge upon them, even though he had the full right and opportunity to do so.

Yet, in spite of his example, we get irritated so much over a little bit of trouble or abuse from someone that we keep on torturing them and taking revenge on them throughout our lives in every possible manner. If we examine our own actions in everyday life, we could see that the smallest things can ruin our day. Something so trivial as losing the car keys or the mobile phone, or someone who pushes his trolley in front of you in the supermarket queue and you are ready to send fire and brimstone on all of mankind. The whole weekend turns into a nightmare and we moan and complain about how rude people are. We are indeed in a very precarious state of existence. There is no tolerance, no consideration and don’t even mention forgiveness. Everybody lives in the realm of me, me, and me.

We are explaining here the 7th state which touches on the person of the Holy Prophet. Before we are able to enter even the first one, we must tie up the loose ends of our lives, discipline ourselves and prepare ourselves for the wonderful and blessed spiritual states of consciousness and make our lives more peaceful, more knowing, and more loving, because Love is the First Cause and the cause of our existence in every realm. That is why people, even in their hate and their rage say – “I’d love to get my hands on so and so”.

The best way to start is with one’s own self, to get all of that aggressive energy within you neutralized. Use it as fertilizer to nourish the roses within your heart. The middle way, the Way of Muhammad, the Chosen One, that is the way. It contains everything that we need to transform ourselves from what we are into what Allah loves for us to be. With all the unpleasant activity going around on planet earth and people on the edge of total madness – if the Archangel Gabriel and the Angel of the mountains were to come to us in a moment of anger to fulfil our request; one wonders what we would be capable of. I don’t think that we would be as forgiving as the Holy Prophet, the one who was sent as a mercy to all of creations.

At the end of the cycle, the taking of life will increase and both the one who is doing the killing and the one who gets killed will not know why. We pray and we supplicate to our Beloved Allah to change the condition of humanity and to remove the dark cloud which hangs over them and prevents them from seeing the Divine Sun.

As Allah has said in the Holy Qur’an, “And say: “Truth has (now) arrived, and falsehood perished: for falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish.” (Al Isra 17:81).

Wa ma tawfiq illa billah. And there is no success except with Allah.

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