The Hidden Aptitudes & Its Appearance in Time
My Grandsheikh Abdullah, may Allah bless him, said that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sal) never gained any rank through his devotions or actions. As a proof of this, Grandsheikh quoted a tradition (Hadith) of the Holy Prophet (sal): “Oh Allah, don’t leave me to my works, my actions, my devotions even for the time it takes to blink an eye or less than that.” This hadith indicates that the Prophet (sal) never depended on his own works and devotions, but always hoped for Allah’s causeless mercy, and that his rank was not a result of any actions on his part.
Grandsheikh added: “Even if Allah Almighty was going to recompense the Prophet (sal) for his devotions, the Prophet (sal) would not accept that. How could he, the Prophet (sal), accept a payment when even members of his Nation (Ummah) of lesser rank than him – Saints and sincere believers – would never accept any payment or recompense for their acts of worship; in fact, no real believer would accept anything, because he is worshipping purely to gain his Lord’s pleasure.”
Grandsheikh says that Allah Almighty has given to each person a nature suitable for a certain rank (Fitra). For example, you have a competence or aptitude (Ahliyya) for the Naqshabandi Way; no one can in any way change or alter that competence – it has to appear.
"Just as different seeds have different unalterable natures hidden within them, so each son of Adam has a distinct aptitude granted to him by his Lord, granted according to the Divine Will alone, and at all times independent of our actions and devotions."
Sooner or later everyone’s aptitude must appear; don’t be hopeless because those qualities may now yet be hidden, for you must know that at any time Allah Almighty decrees, those qualities will appear and that appearance will not be connected in any way to our actions or devotions, but will be purely a grant from Him, the Almighty. These words lead us to new horizons of understanding and open up vast areas of inner wisdom to explore – these good tidings should fill us with contentment.
Shah Naqshaband said: “In our view, one’s having the competence for this Tariqat is more important a fact than his being a muslim or believer.” Why? – Because that capability which Allah Almighty has granted us is what is important, then, with our actions Islam and Iman will appear. But that secret capability or aptitude from Allah Almighty is most important.
You may do all the good actions asked of you by Islam and Iman, but that capability which you have been granted is more important to Allah; therefore, the Prophet’s (sal) hadith says: “Allah is not looking to our outward actions, but to our hearts.” With His looking to our hearts, that worthy – nature is going to be ever more inundated with Divine Lights – more beautiful and complete. But we are merely doing good actions with our bodies, while the heart and its movements in relation to its Lord are much more important.
The importance of that worthy-nature and of our realizing it is expressed in the following story: Once the Holy Prophet (sal) was addressing his companions after the night time prayer (Isha) saying: “Oh my companions, it is the same for every one of you whether he prays and does good actions or not, because the ranks that Allah Almighty has granted to you are neither going to decrease or increase – the ink of pre-destiny has dried, and what He has granted you must reach you – no more and no less – no matter what you do.”
What was the reply of the companions? - They said : “Oh Prophet, if it is like that, why the do we tire ourselves out and inflict suffering upon ourselves with all these devotions and good actions? Why do we get up on cold nights and come to the mosque from far distances in the darkness? Why do we forsake our wives’ loving embraces every morning to come here? From now on we shall not come here so early to pray but shall remain with our wives in hot beds; this is very good news for us.” The Prophet (sal) replied: “You are free to do as you like; come or don’t come –no one is forcing you.”
at night they left the mosque with the intention of staying comfortable in their beds the next morning. When the last part of the night had begun to show signs of giving way to the oncoming dawn, Bilal, the Prophet’s (sal) Muezzin, began to recite devotional poetry from the minaret, as was his habit in the morning before calling for the prayer (Adhan), in order to awaken people in ample time for coming to the mosque. On this particular morning, as soon as he started reciting, all of the companions awoke with a start. They said to themselves, “We told the Prophet (sal) that we won’t be coming this morning; we must remain in our beds.” However, in spite of themselves, they threw aside their blankets, sprang from their beds, made ablutions (Wudu) and hurried off to the prayer.
When the Prophet (sal) entered the mosque that morning, he looked around and saw that it was full of worshippers, then he said: “Oh people, oh my companions, you intended something last night, and were firm in your resolve – what happened to you that made you come when you said that you wouldn’t?” They replied: “We swear to Allah that when we heard the call to prayer, our beds became like thornbushes or as beds of nails, and lying in them was like lying on fire – we couldn’t remain there even for one moment, so we jumped out and hastened to answer the call to prayer.”
The Prophet, Peace be Upon Him, then said: “Every creature may find ease only in behaving according to his particular competence (Ahliyya). It is that ahliyya, that worthy-nature which Allah put in your hearts that made you move from your beds despite the intention to the contrary which you made last night.
Everyone is born with the nature of Islam (Fitra), and in his deepest heart is always yearning to re-discover that nature; this secret is inside every son of Adam, and this is what made you get up. For these reasons, the Prophet (sal) was in no way afraid that his companions would really leave worship because of having learned those truths. Also, inheritors of the Prophet (sal) are not afraid to reveal some truths to their followers, because that hidden nature which Allah put in their hearts will make them do, make them come despite their desires.
Grandsheikh also says that if the Prophet (sal) declared that his worshipping was as nothing and that he never could depend upon it – how can we depend upon our worship? If two prostrations of the Prophet’s (sal) devotions were put in a scale and weighed up against the combined devotions of the Nations, his two prostrations would be heavier; and if his declaring the Unity of Allah once (La ilaha illa’llah) was weighed up against the sins of all the sons of Adam, it would destroy all of those sins. From this you can understand what the power and rank of our Prophet (sal) is in the Divine Presence.
Neither our Prophet (sal) nor any other Prophet is in need of sacrificing himself in the way the Christians claim that Jesus Christ made himself a sacrificial lamb for Allah or for the sake of his Nation: this is a shameful thing to say. It is enough to say once ‘La ilaha illa’llah’, no need for human sacrifice. When Allah Almighty, desiring to try His servant, ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son, at the last moment, He withdrew His order for the slaughter and sent a ram down from the Heavens instead. So how is He going to make Jesus Christ a lamb, an offering for the sins of the world? This is a very ugly and unfounded claim.
The Last Prophet (sal) and all Prophets before him were given Divine Powers with which to guide people to the straight path – no need for them to be lambs for Nations.
"Despite the high value of our Prophet’s (sal) devotions, he does not depend upon them and awaits no payment for them from Allah, but he performs them only for Allah’ s good pleasure – that is his goal."
Everyone may ask at this, “What use is our worshipping, our acting?” No one can do any worship that is suitable for our Majestic Lord. No one can worship his Lord as He deserves to be worshipped – beside His Greatness all is as nothing – but we have been ordered, and so we are carrying out those orders.
Then Grandsheikh quoted Sayyidina Ali, who said regarding ladies: “Nothing good comes from them, but no one can live without them.” Ali’s wife, the Prophet’s (sal) daughter Fatima, said to Ali: “We are like roses, from time to time you must smell them, and otherwise you are useless.” “Similarly,” says Grandsheikh, “nothing is coming from our worship – it is useless – useless, that is, for giving adequate respect to our Majestic Lord; it is impossible to give absolute respect with such worshiping, but as we have been ordered, so we must do and whether useless or not, we cannot depend upon it”.
This is a reality that one must be aware of, and when you understand this point it will prevent you from becoming proud of your devotions, and that is very important, as whoever becomes proud of his devotions falls down, like Satan. The very worst thing for a servant is to look at himself and say: “Oh, how good I am, I am such an obedient servant of my Lord!” and to look at others, saying: “Look at them, they don’t do any worshipping, but we do!”
We have been ordered to build ladders to the moon – builders of skyscrapers are puffed up with pride over their accomplishments, and look down with disdain on the people on the ground, saying : “Oh you lazy people, we have already reached to the sky while you are still like miserable little ants on the ground.” They may say this, but no matter how high they build their skyscrapers, even if they pile stone upon stone eternally, they will never reach the moon in that way – it is impossible.
What is important is to listen to the orders of Allah Almighty and to obey them as best we can, and although we will never reach the moon, perhaps we may be better than one who doesn’t try, because we carry out orders, and it is better to try even if we know that ultimate success is impossible to attain in this manner – we must do it out of respect for the Lord. In every religion, every Prophet came to teach us this point.