39:2 Surely We have sent the Book down to thee with the truth, so worship God, purifying the religion for Him.
“O Muḥammad, We sent this Qur’an down to you so that you may call the lost to the road of salvation, bring the deprived of the intrusion of deprivation to the comfort of union, bring the suffering from the darkness of misfortune to the courtyard of prosperity, complete the noble character traits with this Qur’an, and arrange the Shariah in accordance with it. O Muḥammad, when a place does not have the light of your creed, all will be the darkness of associationism. When a place does not have the closeness of your Shariah, all will be the intrusion of doubt. O Muḥammad, We have joined your exalted good fortune and your eminent messenger hood to the Endless. “So worship God, purifying the religion for Him. Now belong fully to Me, turning your secret core toward Me, your heart lifted up from all others, released from the bonds of yourself and your own controlling power.”
With this command, the Messenger became so courteous that Gabriel came and said, “O Muḥammad! Have you chosen to be a prophet king or a prophet servant?” He said, “O Lord, I want servanthood. I do not want kingship, for kingship is entirely turned over to You, and servanthood is entirely turned over to me. I have no refuge but Your gentleness and no shelter but Your exalted presence. Rather, I choose servanthood so that I may be under Your kingship and praise Your kingship.”
This is why he said, “‘I am the master of Adam’s children without boasting’: The boasting that I have is of the Friend, not of other than Him. When someone boasts, he boasts of something that is above him, not below him. In the two worlds, no one is above me except Him. If I were to boast of other than Him, I would have looked at other than Him and left aside the command, ‘So worship God, purifying!’ But there is no command to leave it aside, and no stipulation to look at other than Him. Hence there is no boasting in other than Him.”
39:3 Does not the pure religion belong to God?
What is worthy of God is pure worship without hypocrisy and obedience along with self-purification and without eye service. When the pearl of self-purification is found, it is found in the oyster shell of the heart and the ocean of the breast. This is why Ḥudhayfa said, “I asked that paragon of the engendered beings what self-purification is. He said that he asked Gabriel what self-purification is. Gabriel said that he asked the Exalted Lord what self-purification is. He replied, ‘One of My secrets that I deposit in the hearts of those whom I love among My servants.’” He said, “It is a pearl that I have brought out from the treasury of My secrets and deposited in the core of the hearts of My friends.” This self-purification is the result of friendship and the trace of servanthood. When someone puts on the garment of love and takes off the robe of servanthood, he does whatever he does from the midst of the heart. Friendship for the Real does not come together with scattered desires in one heart. The obligatory acts of the body are prayer and fasting, and the obligatory act of the heart is friendship for the Real.
39:6 He created you from one soul and then made from it its mate.
He created heaven and earth and day and night to show the creatures the attribute of His power. They come to know that He is perfectly powerful, an artisan without contrivance, and they take His artisanry as evidence of His unity. He created Adam and the Adamites to make them the treasury of the secrets of Eternity and the target of the gentle favors of generosity. “I was a hidden treasure, so I loved to be recognized.
“I had an incomparable Essence and attributes, so there had to be a recognizer. I had infinite majesty and beauty, so there had to be a lover. I was an ocean of mercy and forgiveness beating its waves, so there had to be an object of mercy.”
The other created things had nothing to do with love, for they never saw in themselves a high aspiration. The one with high aspirations is you. The angels have straight and orderly work because there was no talk of love with them. The treasures and intimations put into the Adamic makeup were not placed in them. The ups and downs of the Adamites, their bewilderment and confoundedness, contraction and expansion, sorrow and joy, absence and presence, togetherness and dispersion; the drafts mixed with poison in their hands, the swords hanging over their necks—they have all these because a whiff of love’s rose reached their nostrils.
Abū Yazīd Basṭāmī said, “Once I was craving the wine of passion in the seclusion of ‘I am the sitting companion of those who remembers Me.’ I was bold, and I carried a heavy load of trials for my boldness. I had tasted many drops of tribulation. I said, ‘O God, Your stream is flowing—how long will I be thirsty? What sort of thirst is this that I see one cup after another?
He said, “I received inspiration in my secret core: ‘O Abū Yazīd! Do you not know that they don’t sell meat without liver to this group? In the gathering place of friendship, they wear only the garment of trial. Flee if you have no stomach for trial. Otherwise, they’re going to spill your blood.’”
Abū Yazīd said, “I increased my boldness and said in selflessness, ‘O God, I fled, but Your bounty hung on to me. Your generosity stirred up the fire of finding on top of the light of recognition. Your love stirred up the breeze of proximity from the garden of a union. You poured down the rain of solitariness on the dust of human nature.’”
He said, “At last a call came to my secret core and the rain of kindness fell from the heaven of gentleness. The tree of hope began to fruit and the instances of triumph began to come out: ‘O stuck in clay, put forth your hands!’”
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “Not apparent are the many sorts of generosity that the exaltedness of Eternity has readied for the servant. First He gives the servant an intention from the Unseen so as to lift him up from the world. Then He gives him a bright light to lift him up from the world’s folk. Then He gives him a pull of proximity to lift him up from water and life. When he becomes solitary, he is worthy of union with the Solitary.”
39:9 Is one who does devotions throughout the night, prostrating himself and standing, cautious about the next world and hoping for the mercy of his Lord? Say: “Are they equal, those who know and those who know not?”
“Devotion” is undertaking the courteous acts of service outwardly and inwardly without slackening or shortcoming, being cautious because of the threatened chastisement, and hoping for the promised reward. This is the attribute of a group that is constantly at God’s threshold in the station of service. Their makeup at the time of prayer becomes entirely reverence itself, and they are always burning in remorse because of shame for sin. One of the great ones of the religion said, “You must show reverence for God’s commands, for it is not apparent which command brings proximity to God. You must avoid all prohibited things, for it is not apparent which prohibition brings distance from God.”
It has been said that putting God’s commands into practice is of two sorts, one according to the property of servanthood, the other according to the property of love. The property of love is higher than the property of servanthood because the lover’s constant wish is for the Friend to command a service. Hence his service is all voluntary and nothing of it is coerced. He acknowledges the favors done to him, and he never lays favors on God, nor does he look for recompense. In contrast, a service that is done because of servanthood has both free choice and coercion. The person is seeking a reward and expecting recompense.
The latter is the station of the worshipers and the common faithful, and the former is the attribute of the recognizers and the sincerely truthful. The two groups can never be equal. The worshipers are satisfied with the blessings and held back from the Beneficent, but the recognizers have reached the Presence and take ease in contemplating the Friend.
Say: “Are they equal, those who know and those who know not?” Knowledge is three: reported knowledge inspired knowledge, and knowledge of the Unseen. Reported knowledge is heard by ears, inspired knowledge is heard by hearts, and knowledge of the Unseen is heard by spirits. Reported knowledge comes to outwardness so that the tongue may speak of it, inspired knowledge comes to the heart so that explication may speak of it, and knowledge of the Unseen comes to the spirit so that the present moment may speak of it. Reported knowledge comes from the narration, inspired knowledge comes from guidance, and knowledge of the Unseen comes from solicitude. Concerning reported knowledge, He said, “Know that there is no god but God” [47:19]. Concerning inspired knowledge, He said, “Surely those who were given knowledge before it” [17:107]. Concerning knowledge of the Unseen, He said, “We taught him knowledge from Us” [18:65]. Beyond all these is a knowledge never reached by the Adamite’s imagination or grasped by his understanding. It is God’s knowledge of Himself in keeping with His reality. God says, “They encompass Him not in knowledge” [20:110].