The General Amnesty & the Oceans of Mercy
My Grandsheikh was saying that the gates of Paradise are open for all to enter; and according to the hadith of the Holy Prophet, Allah Almighty has parceled out Paradise, assigning to everyone his portion, and not allowing anyone to occupy the portion that has been assigned to another. What this means is that Allah Almighty has given to His servants before they ever ask for anything, has given with a generosity that is absolute, as He doesn’t wait for us to ask that then He may give us according to our requests, He gives unbesought.
Our Grandsheikh went on to say that Allah Almighty treats His people in this life with the absolute Mercy emanating from His Divine Name Ar-Rahman (The All-Beneficent). No one can fall outside of the bounds of a mercy and a beneficence that is boundless, as is the mercy implicit in the Holy Name Ar-Rahman. Don’t ever think that the mercy oceans belonging to this Divine Name has any shore – no – they are boundless and endlessly deep, and so they ever will remain. You must know that Allah is never going to take back anything which He has granted to His servants, and that even to think such a thing is unbelief (Kufr) and the worst thought that we can think about our Lord.
Yes, our Lord gave to us all a grant never ending, and that grant is faith.
What we are listening to now of Grandsheikh’s words is not knowledge of the sort that we may be accustomed to hearing – it may seem new and strange to our ears, but nonetheless it is the truth from the secrets which are opened up day by day to the Saints (Awliya). Allah Almighty granted faith to the Sons of Adam on the Day of Promises, the day when the souls of all the descendants of Adam were brought forth from his backbone and asked by their Lord: “Am I not your Lord?” We were all present on that day – looking to our Lord, talking to Him, knowing Him – and we replied: “Yea, verily. We testify that You are our lord.” (Surat-ul-Araf : 172).
That faith was granted to everyone, but Divine Wisdom decreed that in this life some people’s faith would remain covered while that of others would appear. The Holy Prophet said in regards to this: “The hearts of the Sons of Adam contain treasures, and the keys to the hearts are in the Hand of our Lord.” Therefore, if He is not going to open the hearts, no one can- not even His Beloved Muhammad, for whose sake the whole creation was created.
If you understand that faith is present in all of mankind, you must be very respectful towards each one of them and you must understand that only with Allah Almighty’s permission are you believing and showing your faith, while someone else is not showing faith only because his Lord has not opened it up for him. You must understand the matter like this, and never say about anyone, “He is an unbeliever’, - who can know what will be the state of any person at the end of his life? The key to the hearts is in the Hand of the Almighty, and what will become of each person in the end is a secret known in its entirety only to Allah Himself; even the Prophet can only know something about this matter within defined limits. On the Day of Promises, Allah Almighty granted faith to His servants, and He is not going to take it away from them – perhaps they will declare their faith upon breathing their last breath – such is Allah’s mercy. Allah Almighty is keeping and hiding so many mercy oceans which are destined for His servants.
(A question was asked) :
“Mevlana, it is easy enough for me to understand how someone who dies a slow death from a long and torturous disease may have time to reflect on his life, and realizing his helplessness, believe and turn to Allah in repentance (Taubah) even though he was the most stubborn unbeliever and evildoer up until that time; but what I can’t comprehend is how someone who is, for example, shot and killed while in the act of committing a heinous crime, may attain repentance despite the suddenness of his death.”
(Sheikh Nazim replied) :
Allah may create time within time. The time that it takes that bullet to kill him may seem very short to us, but for that person Allah may make it a very long instant indeed, long enough for him to reflect upon his whole life and repent unto his Lord. Isn’t Allah Almighty capable of extracting a confession from His slave? – He most certainly is.
“But, Mevlana, how shall we understand all the verses of Qur’an which speak about eternal Hell with no exit?’
Allah Almighty says in one verse of the Qur’an : “And we don’t send our verses (Ayat) except to frighten (Takhweefeh).” In other words, ‘To scare the hell out of people.’ For example, you may say to your son, “If you don’t stop doing that I will kill you!” In reality, you are never going to do any such thing, but that warning may just be sufficient to make him listen to what you are saying and to desist from that disliked action.
“Mevlana, why is it that the meanings we derive when we read the Qura’n seem to contradict the hidden meanings which you are uncovering?”
Here I have some salt; it is a white powder that we use in most of our foods. Who could guess that it consists of two poisons that would kill whoever consumed them? Also, here we have some water – who could guess that it consists of two gases – two hydrogen atoms and one of oxygen? He who knows, knows, and he who doesn’t know sees only the obvious and apparent. The latter may deny, but his denial won’t make him right. Similarly, people read the Holy Quran and understand it on their respective levels; they may deny anything beyond their level of understanding, but their denial doesn’t decrease in the least the validity of the deeper truth, truth which cannot be gained merely through outward study, but is given as a grant from the Divine Presence.
"My Mercy outdoes My Anger".
Grandsheikh, speaking about the final results of our actions (Aqiba) and Allah’s manner of judging them, pointed to Allah’s word: “My Mercy outdoes My Anger”, and he said: “For me, these are the greatest good tidings, as it gives me hope of my safety from Hell to know that Allah Almighty’s Mercy will come and cover everything on the Last Day”
That Divine Forgiveness will cover so many people on that day; and the Prophet said that even Satan will be seeking forgiveness, and hoping that it may come to him also, but more than this the Prophet didn’t say.
Grandsheikh said that nothing from the actions of Allah Almighty’s servants will be a burden on Allah; don’t ever think that it could be. Now, listen carefully to the following description which is recorded in the Holy Books: on the Day of Judgment, Allah Almighty will order a person to Hell, and the Angels will grab him and start dragging him to the fire. When he realizes that this is really happening he will turn to his Lord and say: “Oh my Lord, I never thought that You would really put me in the fire of Hell.”
Allah then orders: “Bring him back.” He was such an evil person, did so many dark deeds and listened always to the dictates of his lower self, but he never lost hope in his Lord’s Mercy for him and His reprieving him from Hell. We can be proud of being our Lord’s servants, even if we are not obedient ones – proud that He is such a merciful Lord who will reprieve so many of us from the jaws of Hell, and admit them to Paradise.
My Grandsheikh was saying that there are different stations for each person in Paradise that Allah gave without their ever having been asked for; that is His favour and His grant unto His servants which he has communicated to them through His Prophets. When our Grandsheikh was saying that even disobedient servants will also finally attain Allah Almighty’s Mercy, he quickly drew our attention to the following important point: “Oh my son, I am saying that with Allah’s Endless Mercy everyone should finally enter Paradise. Such considerations, however, are for the common people, and we are not seeking to stay at that level. We are asking for the highest station, the greatest pleasure, the highest degree for His servants: the stations of Ridwan-Allah-ul-Akbar. With those servants our Lord will be absolutely pleased, and they, in turn, will be absolutely pleased with their Lord.
Here is the answer to a question that anyone who is striving hard in the way of his Lord and obeying his commandments may ask: “Why should we make a great effort to please Allah if there is a good chance that he will forgive us anyway?” The answer is: The degrees in the Divine Presence of those who have made efforts must differ from the degrees of those who were complacent in this life.
The Two Paradises.
Grandsheikh was saying, quoting the Holy Qur’an, that there are two Paradises: one of them is the real Paradise and the other is but a shadow or copy of it. Allah Almighty is going to give to His servants according to what were their wishes and desires in this life. Whoever was satisfied with this life’s pleasures, and preferred them to the love of his Lord, asking for ever more pleasures in everything of this world, and giving the love of Allah the second place in his heart, Allah will give him what he loves most: a Paradise full of pleasures: splendid gardens, luxurious castles and lovely virgin girls –all these gifts will be of a beauty unimaginable, incomparable to any beauty on Earth.
The original Paradise in the Divine Presence and the highest station (Maq’adu Sidq) is entirely different from the shadow Paradise. The Prophet said that in that Paradise there are no palaces, no gardens and no girls. In their place one will find the Lord’s smiling, radiant Countenance. In the first Paradise, the shadow Paradise, the people will regard their Lord’s Divine Countenance once a week at the time that we now pray the weekly congregational prayer (Salat ul-Jum’a). When they take a look at His Face they will forget all else; the Divine lights from His Divine Face will make them forgetful of everything else, this will occupy them until the veils of Majestic Grandeur are lowered; then they will return to their selves. When they are gazing at their Lord’s Countenance, they are taken from themselves and are no more there, but when the Veil of Grandeur is lowered, the inhabitants of that Paradise come to themselves and proceed to enjoy their paradisiacal pleasures more than ever – everything will appear new and full of more light than before. But for those who worked in this life for His pleasure, Allah is taking them to His Divine Presence and not letting them out. That is the real Paradise. Our Grandsheikh was saying that to be in the Divine Presence for only one second, he would give all the eight Paradises – it is so valuable an experience.
In general, the people now living in this life like it more than they like the worship of their Lord, for which they are making only minimal efforts. In their hearts, this life takes the first place and Allah takes the second; in the afterlife, they will find everything according to what was their liking here on Earth. The inhabitants of both Paradises will be perfectly pleased with their Lord: those who are in the Divine Presence will be pleased, and the inhabitants of the Gardens will also be pleased –everyone will be content. Now, you are all free to chose: If you prefer physical enjoyments, you will find what you are accustomed to, but if, in this life, you cultivate love for your Lord in your hearts, then, in that life, you will find His Presence.
For each group there will be eternal improvement – everyone will be improving within their stations. Allah Almighty will bestow on them ever increasing bounties, always corresponding to their levels. For example, an immature child is not going to enjoy the company of adults – he will rather seek the company of other children – just as an adult will not be content among children; and so, in the afterlife, each will blossom on his own branch and will never look to his position as being in the least deficient: there will be no envy on the part of the inhabitants of the lower Paradise in regards to those of the higher realms, for their satisfaction with their Lord’s favour will be complete.
A QUESTION WAS ASKED AT THIS POINT:
“Mevlana, in the light of these good tidings from the secrets of the Holy Qur’an, namely: that Allah’s Mercy encompasses all, that the mere assumption of Allah’s Mercy is sufficient for attaining it, and that neither body nor soul will shoulder the blame for bad actions and will thus escape punishment – in the light of these teachings the element of fear seems to be negated.
So many of us came to Islam because of the fear of Hell that we feel when we read about it in the Holy Qur’an; won’t this news of Allah’s All-Embracing Mercy eliminate the fear of Hell as a deterrent of bad actions?”
The Sheikh answered:
We can understand that punishment is Allah’s way of purifying the servant for his entry into bliss. Many people will suffer in their graves, on the Day of Resurrection and in the fires of Hell. Absolute Justice will reprieve both body and soul from punishment, and forgiveness will be granted; but from those dirty actions which have come out of the interaction of body and soul, Allah will create shapes in the exact likeness of the sinners to represent them in Hell. This likeness or effigy will be just as dirty as those actions were, and it will stay in Hell until it is cleaned. In the face of this punishment, one will suffer intensely – his shame will be so great, and at that time so difficult to bear, that he will wish for the Earth to swallow him.
There is a famous tradition (Hadith) from the Holy Prophet which will shed more light upon the point in question. He said that once a man died and was laid in his grave where two Angels came to question him, saying: “Who is your Lord? What is your religion? Who is your Prophet? And what is the Book that he brought?” He withstood this interrogation and gave all the correct answers, so that, when the angels left, an opening formed in his grave and through this entered a person of such beauty, elegance and delightful fragrance that he couldn’t turn his eyes away from him. He had never seen such a magnificent person, and his happiness at beholding him was so great that, if it could have been divided among the whole World, no one would have remained sad. He asked that radiant person: “Oh my Lord’s servant, who might you, be?” That person replied with the sweetest voice: “I am your good actions. My
Lord created me from the good actions performed throughout your life, and now I am your friend and companion forever.”
Then the Prophet went on to say that if, however, a person has spent his life committing evil deeds and then, in his grave, is not able to answer the questions of the Angels correctly, there will come to him a person so ugly, so vile and so wile impossible to imagine. How do you feel when a scorpion or a cobra is creeping up upon you? The disgust and repulsion he will feel at the sight of his horrible shape will be far in excess of that, and he will be thinking only of how he could escape from that grave, but it is impossible and every way he turns he will be facing that hideous apparition. You cannot imagine the distress he will find himself in. Finally, that horrid shape will take him in its arms and embrace him, exuding such a stench, that if you were to smell it now, you would not be able to eat for the next forty days.
Then the person in the grave will say: “I seek refuge in Allah from you! Who are you?” The vile creature will answer: “Don’t you recognize me? You were with me all your life and you were very proud of me; I accompanied you to so many bars, casinos and houses of ill repute, and now you will not know me? I am your bad actions; I carried you all your life, and now you must carry me – I shall be with you until Judgement Day.” Then, he and his bad actions will lie in that grave, and for that reason the grave is called ‘the box of works’.
On the Day of Resurrection, Allah orders for the effigy of those bad actions to be thrown into Hell, while the person stands on the heights between paradise and Hell (Al-A’raf) to observe, in a state of shame and contrition, the punishment being dealt out to him, unto the form of his bad actions. Then, finally, when he has been cleansed of those dirty actions, he is freed of them and passes on to the gates of Paradise.
There he finds two springs, two pools of water big enough for the whole Nation of Mankind (Ummah) to bathe in. In the first spring, all those who enter it will be transformed physically, so that they emerge in a form befitting the inhabitants of Paradise: if they be male, they will come out as handsome as the Prophet Yusuf and if they be women, they will be transformed into equivalent beauties. From the second spring they will drink, and this drink will eliminate all of the ego’s bad characteristics.
Both physically and spiritually clean, handsome and excellent, they will pass through a gate so wide that one billion people may pass at one time; but immediately on entering Paradise, each one will find his own private way to his own private Paradise, where he will be with his loved ones.
That is the final destination, but along the way one will encounter many troubles, as the results of bad actions are sufferings. The Prophet said that his Nation (Umma) would often find punishment in this life rather than in the next and that each of those sufferings in this World would amount to forgiveness there. This applies to all people after the time of Muhammed, Peace be upon him, for now all people belong to his Nation, whether they like it or not. There now remains no Nation belonging to any of the former Prophets, as their time has passed and gone. This is the time of the Last Prophet, and, at the end of time, Isa (alai) will return and announce that he and all Prophets before him are followers of Muhammed, on whom be Peace.
A General Amnesty...
Allah Almighty has created Hell for the purpose of cleaning and purifying, as He does not like to make people suffer without wisdom. This is Grandsheikh’s understanding and it was also Sheikh Muhiyuddin Ibn al Arabi’s understanding of the Holy Tradition (Hadith Qudsi): “My Mercy surpasses My Anger.” Therefore, we may hope for the final outcome to be a ‘General Amnesty’ for everyone, and we are pleased by that prospect. For example, you may be in a palace full of every comfort, but the fact that there are suffering people outside your palace prevents you from being truly happy; when, however, you learn that all those people have attained mercy according to their levels, you will feel relieved and say: “Now Allah has expanded His encompassing Mercy to everyone”.
It is a good manner to always think about our own egos as being worthy of eternal punishment in Hell. We can hope for reprieve only through Allah’s All-encompassing Mercy, and we ought never to assume that we will be the first to enter Paradise; instead, we should always think to ourselves: “I am the worst and my ego is the dirtiest; were it not for Allah’s Mercy, I would surely be destined for Hell. My only hope is His Forgiveness”.
In a famous hadith the Prophet, peace be upon him, is related to have said: “To him who knows no mercy, no mercy will be shown.” The merciless person in whose heart there is no wish for mercy for anyone, he will himself not taste of mercy. Mercy attracts more mercy, cruelty attracts cruelty, badness draws badness and goodness draws goodness. But mercy dwells in the hearts of all true believers and therefore, in the face of the punishment, so many saints will run forward offering to take the punishment of so many others upon themselves – this is the degree of mercy and self sacrifice their hearts have attained – however, it is not Allah’s way to lay any burden or punishment on his saints in the afterlife, nor to punish any individual for sins he has not committed.
Sultan Al-Arifin, Abu Yazid Al-Bistami, once said: “Oh my Lord, You have Power over all things and You have absolute Power to do anything You wish to do; therefore, I am asking You now to make my body so big as to fill the seven Hells, so that no place remains for other people. Every punishment You would give to Your people, pour it on me instead.” Then came the Divine reply: “Oh My servant, are you trying to compete with Me in generosity and mercy whereas I am the Most Merciful of the Merciful (Arham-ur-Rahimeen), the Most Generous of the Generous (Akram-ul-Akrameen)? All your generosity and mercy is only like a drop in an endless ocean compared to My Mercy and Generosity that I am giving out to My servants every minute, and I demand of you no blood sacrifice.”
Grandsheikh says” “Whenever I speak on this subject, I am always asking Divine Permission to bring out more and more good tidings of Allah’s endless Mercy and Generosity Now we are giving these good tidings, and if you are not receiving them with welcome, then you are only making yourselves suffer. If there is anyone objecting and saying that there must be eternal Hell, then he may go there. We are trying to pull them into our Lord’s Mercy Oceans – but they intend to put everyone in Hell, and they never think that they themselves will enter it; therefore they are agonized and outraged by our good tidings to the servants of our Lord.”