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16:90 Surely God commands justice and beautiful doing and giving to kinsmen, and He prohibits indecency, the improper, and rebelliousness. And He admonishes you, that perhaps you may remember.

In this verse, the Creator of the world and the world’s folk, the lovingly kind Lord, brings together in succession the foundations of service and the guideposts of interaction. He makes the faithful aware of the pleasing character traits and He honors them by letting them recognize the causes of His approval. He instructs them in beautiful worship of Him and in living with His creatures.

Ibrāhīm Adham said, “In my whole life in this world, my heart was happy three times, and in those three times I was happy because I acted with severity toward my own soul. I was walking in Antioch, barefoot and bare-headed, and various people were insulting me. In the end, one of them said, ‘He’s a runaway slave.’ Those words were pleasing to me, for in reality that is what I was. I said to myself, ‘O you who have escaped and fled, when will you come back to the path of peace?’ “The second happiness was when I was sitting in a ship. There was a buffoon among the passengers who would come by every hour and slap the back of my head, for he saw that I was the lowliest of all the people. “Third was in the city of Malatya. I was in a mosque, my head placed on the knees of remorse, and I had fallen into the valley of my own insignificance. A shameless man came, undid the belt of his pants, and said, ‘Old man, take this rose water!’ My soul ceased to be in that lowliness, and my heart became happy at that. I found that happiness to be a gift of felicity for me from the Exalted Threshold.”

The great ones of the religion were like this—always acting with severity toward their own souls and striving in the abasement of their own persons. They concealed the faults of the people and saw their own faulty attributes. The people were always at ease and in comfort from them, but their souls were always in suffering and tribulation.

Surely God commands justice and beautiful doing. It has been said that justice is the heart’s equilibrium with the Real and beautiful doing is interacting with things while seeing the Real. Muṣṭafā said, “Beautiful doing is that you worship God as if you see Him.” This hadith alludes to the heart’s encounter with the Real, the secret core’s convergence with the Unseen, and the spirit’s contemplation and everlasting happiness while the servant is drowned in the light of contemplation and the call of gentleness flows in his spirit. When an eye has seen Him, how can it busy itself with seeing other than Him? When a spirit has found companionship with Him, how long will it make do with water and dust? When someone has become accustomed to the Presence of Union, how long will he put up with the abasement of the veil? How will the ruler of his own city spend his life in exile?”

When You are the soul’s food, then You leave it,

the soul whose food You are does not linger.

It remains like a lizard thrown into water or

a fish living in the open desert.

How can a lizard live in water or a fish in the desert? Do not take away our spirit’s food, O God! Surely God commands justice and beautiful doing. In this verse, God commands the servant to three things that save, and He prohibits him from three things that destroy. When he keeps back from the three things that destroy, he will escape from hell, and when he carries out the three that save, he will reach paradise and have to listen, drink, and see with the Real.

Then, after listing the commands and prohibitions, He says at the end of the verse, And He admonishes you, that perhaps you may remember. God gives you advice so that perhaps you will fear and accept the advice. He calls and offers His generosity so that perhaps you will respond. He shows His gentleness so that perhaps you will place your love in Him. He conceals faults so that perhaps you will incline toward Him. From the clouds of the gentleness of His artisanries, He rains down kindness so that perhaps you will stay at His threshold. He brightens hearts so that you may see His gentleness. He shakes with the marks of rebuke so that you will keep on remembering Him. He reduces burdens and increases the fruit so that you may perceive His good Godhood.

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