Booty is the property of unbelievers that Muslims capture in times of battle and struggle. It is said that struggle is of two sorts: the outer struggle and the inner struggle. The outer struggle is against the unbelievers with the sword, and the inner struggle is against the soul with severity.
8:41 And know that, whatever booty you take, a fifth is for God, and for His Messenger and for kinsfolk, orphans, the indigent, and the son of the road, if you have faith in God….
Those who struggle with the sword are three men: the wage-earning striver, the forgiven wounded, and the martyred slain. In the same way, the strugglers against the soul are three men: One strives, and he is among the pious; one attacks, and he is among the Pegs; one is released, and he is among the Substitutes. He who struggles against the unbelievers becomes rich by possessing the booty. He who struggles against the soul becomes rich in the heart. When someone is rich in property, the property is either permitted and a tribulation or forbidden and a curse. When someone is rich in the heart, his aspiration is greater than this world and his desire is greater than the afterworld. Muṣṭafā called to struggle against the soul more magnificent and greater. He said: “We have returned from the lesser struggle to the greater struggle.” This is because you can avoid the enemy, but you cannot avoid the soul. When you get along with an enemy, you will be secure from his evil. If you get along with the soul, you will see your own destruction.
One of the misfortunes of the soul is what Muṣṭafā said: “God gazes not on your forms or your deeds, but He gazes on your hearts.” He said that He gazes on the heart, but He does not gaze on the soul. It is well known that gazing is the result of love, and not gazing at the result of hatred. If the Real did not consider the soul an enemy, He would gaze on it just as He gazes on the heart. This makes it mandatory to consider the soul an enemy. One must conform with the Real and not gaze on the soul with affection and love. In the battlefield of struggle, one must act against it severely with the sword of discipline. One must sew shut the eye of its desires with the needle of solitariness and disengagement. This is why Muṣṭafā said, “When someone detests his own soul in God’s Essence, God will keep him secure from chastisement on the Day of Resurrection.”
In this meaning, the story of Aḥmad ibn Khiḍrūya is well known. He said, “I was passing the days in severity toward my own soul in order to keep it back from its desires and pleasures. One day it became elated by battle. It clung to me saying that fighting in battle was a stipulation of the religion, the support of being a Muslim, and the mark of obedience. I was surprised at its elation, for the soul does not become elated by obedience and rarely inclines to the good. I was sure that there must be some deception connected to it. I was commanding it too fast. Perhaps it could not put up with hunger and wanted to travel so as to be delivered from it and break its fast while traveling, so it wanted to put to use the concession for traveling. I said to the soul that I had made a pledge not to break the fast while traveling but rather to increase it. The soul said that it would accept that and would not break the fast. I thought that perhaps it was not able to put up with standing in prayer all night. It wanted to be delivered from that while traveling. I put it into my heart that I would not decrease my standing in prayer at all and I would keep the soul on its feet from night to morning. The soul said that it would accept that and not complain at all. I thought that perhaps it was because it did not mix with people and that dread of seclusion made it do this. I decided that I would dismount only at ruined way stations and avoid people. It also accepted that from me and approved of it. Then, in incapacity and pleading with the Real, I wept and said, ‘O God, inform me of the soul’s deception by Your bounty and make me happy with Your gentleness!’
“In the end, I found out that that this is what the soul was saying: ‘Every day you strike me with the sword of struggle and you kill me a thousand times, but the people don’t know anything about it. At least let me go to battle so that I may be killed once and for all. I will be a martyr, and the world’s folk will recount that Aḥmad Khiḍrūya was martyred in battle.’
“I said to myself, ‘It is a difficult enemy who shows himself to be in conformity in this world but does not want felicity in the afterworld. It wanted to spring the ambush of eye-service on me and destroy me that way, but the Exalted Lord informed me of its deception and gave me a place next to His generosity and gentleness.’ Then I increased my prayers of thanksgiving and saw many gentle favors of generosity.”
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “O God, it may be from the dread that I have come to the edge. I simply do not know how I fell in with this soul and this work. I have not taken heed, nor have I seen people taking heed. No matter how much I tried to see one breath of mine worthy of You, I have not seen it. O King, You know that it was not in Your tracks that I chose these days. O God, do not make manifest the secrets of someone You have called—the sins that You have concealed! Generous One, You are the judge between me and You. Do what is worthy of You!” A fifth is for God, and for His Messenger. Just as booty is taken from wealth and a portion of it is for God and for the Messenger, so also God has a portion in the transactions of the Haqiqah, which are the heart’s booty: The servant should be free of his own share in it and of slavehood to the realm of being; all of him should be the Real and in the Real, disowned of self and free of the world.
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “A present moment comes to the servant when of the body the tongue remains, and that’s it. Of the heart, the mark remains, and that’s it. Of the spirit, face-to-face vision remains, and that’s it. Hearing goes, the Heard remains, and that’s it. The heart goes, the Shown remains, and that’s it. The spirit goes, what was remains, and that’s it.
“This chevalier arrived at the way station and asked, ‘What mark is given of a flood?’ When he reached the ocean, he fell into the ocean and all words were consumed. He who reaches the Patron reaches himself.”