5:35 O you who have faith! Be wary of God, and seek the means of approach to Him. And struggle in His path. Perhaps you will prosper.
Here you have a call of generosity, here you have an address with gentleness, and here you have an arrangement to be applauded, sweet to the hearts. It is a cause of familiarity and aid to clarity. It makes one secure from a distance and permits response. He is saying, “O you who are the faithful. You have heard the message, bowed your heads, and approved of the intermediary. Be wary of God. Fear God, avoid His anger, and think about Him, for everything is from Him. Say: All is from God [4:78].
Who in the world is like Him in loving kindness and servant-caressing? The hope of the disobedient is in Him, the remedy for trials is with Him. No one has pride save in His name, no one has ease save through His mark. There is no deliverance and joining without His guidance and kind favor.”
This is why He says, “Seek the means of approach to Him.” This is the means of nearness, and nearness is the cause of joining and deliverance. The means of approach are the intermediaries that mark the friendship between the servant and the Patron. The cause of the conjunction between the two is obvious. From what come union and conjunction? Revering the commands, respecting the prohibitions, tenderness towards people, serving the Real, striving in the various supererogatory acts, and building up the spirit and heart.
Striving in the various supererogatory acts can be done with three things: first, remembering the gaze of God; second, keeping one’s days away from damage; and third, recognizing one’s poverty at the halting-place of exposure. When you remember God’s gaze, you are one of the Godward.
When you keep your days away from damage, you are one of the worshipers. When you recognize your poverty at the halting-place of exposure, you are one of the humble. One can build up the heart with three things: listening to knowledge, mixing little with people, and curtailing wishes. As long as you are listening to knowledge, you are in the circle of the angels. As long as you are apart from the people, you are counted among the sinless. As long as you have curtailed your wishes, you are one of the sincerely truthful.
Seek the means of approach to Him. He is saying, “O you who are worshipers, seek nearness to God with the virtues; O you who are knowers, with proofs; and O you who are recognizers, by abandoning means!”
What is the worshipers’ means of approach? The repenters, the worshipers, the praisers, the journeyers, the bowers, the prostrators, the commanders to the honorable and prohibiters of the improper, the keepers of God’s bounds [9:112]. What is the knowers’ means of approach? Have they not gazed upon the dominion of the heavens and the earth? [7:185]. What is the recognizers’ means of approach? Say “God,” then leave them [6:91].
The worshipers’ means of approach is practice, the knowers’ means of approach unveiling, and the recognizers’ means of approach face-to-face vision. The worshipers’ means of approach is truthfulness, the knowers’ means of approach friendship, and the recognizers’ means of approach nonbeing. The worshipers’ means of approach is remembrance with need, the knowers’ means of approach remembrance with joy, and the recognizers’ means of approach remembrance with neither need nor joy. This story is long.
“O God, if anyone has found You by seeking, I have found You by fleeing. If anyone has found You by remembering, I have found You by forgetting. If anyone has found You by searching, I have found searching from You. O God, the means of approach to You is You. First were You, last are You. All is You, and that’s it. The rest is folly.”
It has also been said that the means of approach is the precedent solicitude concerning which the Exalted Lord says, “those to whom the most beautiful has preceded from Us” [21:101], and the mercy that He wrote against Himself in the Beginningless: “Your Lord has written mercy against Himself” [6:54]. He caressed the servant without the servant, placed the army of solicitude in front, and wrote mercy against Himself.
“O God, where will I find again the day when You belonged to me and I was not? Until I reach that day again, I will be in the midst of fire and smoke. If I find that day again in the two worlds, I will profit. If I find Your being for myself, I will be pleased with my own nonbeing.”
And struggle in His path. This is addressed to the warriors. His words, “Struggle in God” [22:78], are addressed to the recognizers. The struggle of the warriors is with the sword against the enemies of the religion. The struggle of the recognizers is with severity against their own souls.
Tomorrow the warrior’s fruit will be houris and palaces, but the realizer will be inundated by light in the ocean of face-to-face vision. The struggle of the warriors goes forth from worship and, at the time of contemplation, they will gaze on the Endless. Hence He says to them, “Perhaps you will prosper,” that is, in the Endless. The struggle of the recognizers goes forth from recognition and, at the time of contemplation, they will gaze on the Beginningless, so the Exalted Lord says about them, “He chose you” [22:78].