God’s Messenger desired eagerly for them to have faith, which is why God said, “Perhaps thou art consuming thyself with grief that they do not have faith in this talk” [18:6].
6:52 And drive not away those who supplicate their Lord morning and evening, desiring His face.
One narrative has reported that God’s Messenger sent ʿUmar with a message to these poor men, telling them to come less often for a few days so that perhaps those people would have faith. ʿUmar had not taken three steps before Gabriel came and brought this verse—“And drive not away! O Muḥammad, do not drive them away, for I have not driven them away. Do not caress those whom I have not called.”
Yes, those accepted by the Presence are one thing, those driven away by severance something else! Those poor men were the ones called by And God invites to the abode of peace [10:25], and those estranged ones were the ones driven away by Slink into it, and do not talk to Me! [23:108]. God’s Messenger called ʿUmar back. The unbelievers returned and said, “If you can, at least give us a turn one day and them a turn another day, and then we may have faith in you.” God’s Messenger aspired to set these turns as they wanted. Gabriel came and brought this verse: “And keep thy soul patient with those who supplicate their Lord [18:28]. Be with them, for I am with them. You should want them, for I want them.”
When the unbelievers despaired of his setting downturns day by day, they returned and said, “If you do not set downturns, we allow that. We will sit along with them for a time, and you look at us, not at them. You show respect to us, and then we will have faith in you.”
Muṣṭafā called ʿUmar and sent him to the poor men to make their hearts happy and to seek their heart’s approval for this so that perhaps those unbelievers would have faith. But the goal of the unbelievers in what they were asking was not to have faith. Rather, they wanted to torment the hearts of the poor so that perhaps they would find Muṣṭafā repellant and leave his religion. When ʿUmar set out on the road to take this message, Gabriel came and brought this verse: “And let not thine eyes turn away from them” [18:28], O Muḥammad, do not turn your face away from these poor men and do not lift your eyes away from them, for I am always gazing upon them.” God’s Messenger turned totally to the poor and sat with them. He always used to say, “Welcome to those concerning whom my Lord counseled me.”
Desiring His face. Abū Yaʿqūb Nahrjūrī was asked, “What is the attribute of the desirer?” He recited the verse, “Those who supplicate their Lord morning and evening, desiring His face” [18:28]. Then he said, “They wake up and have nothing to ask from this world of theirs, nor any demand for their afterworld. Their only aspiration is to talk with their Patron. When they become disengaged for God, the Real’s solicitude devotes itself to them and undertakes to speak for them. Hence He said, ‘And drive them not away, O Muḥammad!’”
Desiring His face. The meaning of desire is a man’s wanting as he travels the road. It is of three sorts: One is desiring only this world, another is desiring only the next world, and the third is desiring only the Real. Desiring this world is what He says: “You desire the chance goods of this life [8:67]. Whosoever desires this hasty world [17:18]. Whosoever desires the tillage of this world [42:20]. If you desire the life of this world and its adornment [33:28].” The mark of desiring this world is two things: approving of increase in this world by means of decrease in the religion; and turning away from the poor among the Muslims. Desiring the afterworld is what He says: “Whosoever desires the afterworld [17:19]. Whosoever desires the tillage of the next world [42:20].” Its mark is two things: approving of the safety of the religion by decreasing in this world, and bosom friendship with the poor. Desiring the Real is what God says: “Desiring His face [6:52]. If you desire God and His Messenger [23:29].” Its mark is stepping beyond the two worlds, becoming free of the creatures, and escaping oneself.
This was an explication in terms of learning and the verification of the expression. As for the explication in terms of understanding in the tongue of allusion, it is what the Pir of the Tariqah said when he was asked about desire: “It is a breath between knowledge and the present moment in the quarter of joy, the neighborhood of friendship, and the house of nonbeing. The house has four borders: one with the distraught, another with the strangers, a third with the heart-lost, and a fourth with the yearners.”
Then he said, “O helping and lovingly kind! Exalted is he who has one breath with You. O Found and Findable! What mark does the desirer show other than selflessness? Everyone’s tribulation is because of distance, but the desirer’s because of nearness! Everyone is thirsty from not finding water, but the desirer is thirsty from being quenched.
“O God, I seek the Found. I say to the Seen, ‘What do I have, what should I seek, when will I see, what should I say?’ I am entranced by this seeking, I am seized by this speaking.”