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42:26 And He responds to those who have faith and do wholesome deeds, and He increases them in His bounty.

This “increase,” according to the commentators among the Folk of the Sunnah, is the vision of the Lord. In the same way, He says in another place, “Those who do what is beautiful shall have the most beautiful and an increase” [10:26]. When the servant reaches the vision of God, he reaches it through God’s bounty, not his own obedience, as He says: “and He increases them in His bounty.” Tomorrow, when He bestows His vision on His friends, He will do so by the request of His own beauty, not the request of mortal man. How could an insignificant mortal have the gall to make the request himself? What a marvelous business! Before the vision of others, the exaltedness of jealousy requires mask upon mask, but the perfection of beauty requires self-disclosure upon self-disclosure!

Though He’s always hidden behind the curtain

the light of His face is apparent on every horizon.

Once when he was overpowered by ecstasy, Abū Bakr Shiblī said, “O God, tomorrow raise up everyone blind so that only Shiblī may see You!” Another time he said, “O God, raise up Shiblī blind, for it would be a shame for someone like me to see You!”

The first words were jealousy for beauty against the eyes of others, and the second time was jealousy for that beauty against his own eyes. In the road of the chevaliers, the second step is more complete and more exalted than the first.

Evidence that tomorrow’s vision of the Lord will be at the request of beauty is in the sound report, “When the folk of the Garden enters the Garden, a call will come to them, ‘O folk of the Garden, you have an appointment with God that He desires to fulfill.’” When the folk of paradise comes into paradise and they take up residence in their own goodly dwellings, a call will come, “O friends of the Real! You have a promise with the Real. Come and be present, for the Real will realize that promise through His bounty.’

They will say, “What promise is that?” How lovely are promised by friends, even if broken. What then if a promise is a truthfulness itself? These are the words of one created thing to another: The paradise-dwellers say, “What is the promise You have made?,” though it is not as if they do not know what it is, but they pretend to be ignorant.

This is like Shāfiʿī. Someone said to him, “Who is the intelligent man?” He replied, “The clever man who pretends to be heedless.” He brings his knowledge as if it were ignorance.“So He removes the veil, and they gaze upon Him.” The Real lifts the veils from their eyes so that they may look upon their Lord.

42:28 He it is Who sends down the rain after they have despaired and spreads out His mercy.

This verse alludes to the servant when the branches of his present moment have wilted, the limpidness of his love has turned opaque, the sun of his intimacy has been eclipsed, and the freshness of his covenant has become distant from the courtyards of proximity. At that point, it may happen that the Real will gaze upon him with the gaze of mercy and send mercy’s rain to his secret core. Then the fresh twigs will return and flowering roses will grow up in the places of witnessing closeness.

If Your forsaking me takes my hand,

perhaps my days will return.

Your covenant may curve back

to life, for covenants may come again to life.

Leaves sometimes go dry,

then you see them green and moving.

Since the last of this work is so similar to the first of this work, the road to the Friend is a circle. It comes from Him and goes back to Him. The first of this work is like springtime and blossoms. A man is happy, fresh, and comfortable. Then he sees the downs and ups. Disappointments and dispersions come forth, for in worship there are both togetherness and dispersion, and in the stations, there are light and darkness. In the darkness of dispersion the servant sees so much concealment that he says, ‘Oh, I tremble because I am worthless. What can I do other than burn until I rise up from this fallenness? What will happen then?’” Who sends down the rain after they have despaired. The clouds of munificence pour down the rain of finding, the billows of bounteousness scatter the pearls of welcome, the rose of union blossoms in the garden of bestowal, and the last of the work goes back to the first. In joy and coquetry the servant says, “With reports, I went forth seeking certainty, fear my resource, hope my companion. The goal was hidden from me and I was striving in the religion. All at once, the lightning of self-disclosure flashed from ambush. With thought, they see like that, with the Friend like this.”

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