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The paragon of the world and master of the children of Adam, Muṣṭafā, reported that when the Eternal Enactor created paradise, He said to Gabriel, “‘O Gabriel! Go look at it.’ Go gaze on this paradise and see once what I have made and created for My servants and friends.” Gabriel went and saw those adorned paradises with their infinite joy and bliss, that place of revelry made and prepared in the neighborhood of God’s Presence for the exalted ones of the road and God’s friends. When Gabriel came back he said, “Lord God, ‘By Thy exaltedness, no one will hear of it and not enter into it!’ By the exaltedness of Your Lordhood, no one will hear the attributes of this paradise without aiming for it and becoming obedient so that he may enter it.”

3:14 Adorned for people is a love of appetites, like women, children, heaped-up heaps of gold and silver, horses of mark, cattle, and tillage. That is the enjoyment of the life of this world.

Then the Lord of the Worlds surrounded paradise with all the hardship and suffering of unworthy things and unreached desires, and He made its road a bridge of trial so that everyone who aims for the Patron must first pass over that bridge of trial.

Shaykh al-Islām Anṣārī said, “How should I have known that suffering is the mother of happiness and that beneath one disappointment lie a thousand treasures? How should I have known which gate this is or what is the answer to the story of friendship? How should I have known that companionship with You is the greatest Resurrection and that the exaltation of union with You lies in the abasement of bewilderment?”

O spirit of the world! The Kaabah is a sweet place, the nest of God’s friends and the lodging place of the sincerely truthful, but there is a man-eating desert before it, mile after mile and way station after way station. Who in the end will have the seeking to pass over all those miles and way stations until he reaches the magnificent Kaabah?

After He made the road of paradise that of unreached desires and disappointment, the command came, “O Gabriel: Look again. What do you see?” Gabriel saw that road full of danger, those mileposts of struggle, those way stations of discipline that He placed before the travelers to paradise. The Exalted Qur’an reports that if you do not pass by those mileposts of struggle, you will not gain access to His Presence: “Those who struggle in Us, We will guide them on Our paths” [29:69].

When Gabriel saw that, he said, “Lord God! I do not fancy that any one of them will enter paradise.”

Muṣṭafā said that the Lord of the Worlds then created hell with the fetters and chains, the tree of Zaqqūm, and the boiling water. He commanded Gabriel, “O Gabriel, go once into this prison to see the effect of My wrath and to know the attribute of My punishment.”

He said, “Lord God, ‘By Thy exaltedness, no one will hear of it and then enter into it!’ By Your exaltedness, O Lord, no one will hear the attributes of this hell and then do deeds through which he would enter hell.” Then the Lord of the Worlds surrounded hell with all the appetites of this world that are enumerated in this verse: women, children, heaped-up heaps of gold and silver, horses of mark, cattle, and tillage. He set up its road as the desires and caprice of the soul.

Thus everyone who follows in the tracks of his own soul’s desire and caprice will in the end head for hell. When Gabriel saw that he said, “Lord God, I fear that none of them will remain without entering hell.”

Then Muṣṭafā reported about the road to both houses. He said, “The Garden is surrounded by disliked things and the Fire is surrounded by appetites.” Those who walk in the unwanted will step into paradise, and few they will be! Those who walk in appetite will step into hell, and how many they will be! The road of paradise has trials and ups and downs, and the road of hell is easy and does not weigh on souls. “Surely the deeds of the Garden are rough ground on a hill, and surely the deeds of the Fire are soft ground in a valley.”

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