11:1 Alif Lām Rāʾ
Alif: He makes them “familiar” [alf] with blessings and He commands them to tawḥīd. Lām: He “blames” [lawm] them for their failings and commands them to disengage. Rāʾ: He is “kind” [rifq] to them with His bounty and carries them to solitariness.
Alif: He makes the creatures familiar with the blessings of the Patron of Blessings, then He calls them to the Patron of Blessings: “Why do you delight in blessings? Desire the mystery of the Patron of Blessings. Why do you take your ease in blessings? Seek the great ease of the heart. How long will you play the dice of perishing love? Seize hold of endless union!”
Lām. He blames them: “Watch out! Do not busy yourselves with the picture-house and the scented garden, or you will fall behind the friends and not reach them.” In the report has come, “Travel! The solitary will be the preceders.” God says, “The preceders, the preceders—they are the proximate” [56:10-11].
Rāʾ. This is an allusion to the deliverance [rahā] of the chevaliers from themselves, like the enraptured in the playing field of euphoria: When will they come to the end of the road? Where will they reach the shore of this drowning ocean? When will the night of their waiting come to an end? When will the dawn of good fortune appear from the horizon of felicity?
The reality of this work is all needed. It is an endless longing, a congenital pain. In it there are both joy and melting, both a hidden resurrection and everlasting life. It is the unsettledness of the hearts of the finders, the trial of the spirits of the proximate, the bewilderment of the knowledge of the realizers, the incinerating passion of the recognizers, the euphoric striving of the friends, and the perplexity of the chevaliers. Their perplexity in this road is like someone who falls into a bottomless well. The more he goes down in the well, the more it becomes bottomless, so his feet will never reach the ground. So also the travelers on this road are always traveling, falling and rising. They will never reach a halt, nor will they have any consolation in their grief, any bottom to this ocean, an end to this talk.