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NEWSPRESS: THE SIGNPOSTS OF PRACTICE

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7:29 Say: “My Lord has commanded justice. Set your faces in every place of prostration and supplicate Him, purifying the religion for Him. Just as He began you, so you shall return.”

In this verse, the Lord of heaven and earth, the Creator of the world and the world’s folk, the bestower and forgiver, the lovingly kind toward the servants, brings together the foundations of service, the signposts of practice, and the realities of recognition. He makes the faithful aware of pleasing character traits and He instructs them in beautiful worship of Himself and beautiful living with the creatures. He honors them by letting them recognize the causes of His approval.

This verse is one of the all-comprehensive words concerning which Muṣṭafā said, “I was sent out with the all-comprehensive words, and knowledge was made very concise for me.” In the Qur’an, there is much of the same sort. Let me speak about one of them: “Surely God is with those who are Godwary and those who are beautiful-doers” [16:128]. Consider how such a short verse has so many meanings. All of God’s caresses, the generous giving, and bounteousness of the Real toward the servant, are included in Surely God is with. All service, such as the sorts of worship and the types of practice that the servant does for God, comes under Godward. All that is rightfully due to people from each other in the various sorts of practices come under beautiful-doers.

In the same way, all the pillars of the religion, the standpoints of the Shariah, and the gates of the Haqiqah are included in the words, “My Lord has commanded justice. Set your faces in every place of prostration and supplicate Him, purifying the religion for Him.” He is saying, “God has commanded me to justice, that is, in my practice with the Real, the creatures, and the soul: with the Real by putting commands and prohibitions to work and approving of His decree in every state; with the creatures by living with good character, observing equity toward them in the varieties of practice, and not asking equity for myself; and with the soul by opposing it, pulling it into the field of struggle and discipline, and shutting the door to appetites and ease.”

The equal of this verse in the Qur’an is where He says, “God commands justice and beautiful doing” [16:90]. Justice is equity, and beautiful doing is preferring others. Justice is that you do to others what they did to you. Beautiful doing is that you do better than what they did to you. Justice is that you do not take away from the mandatory, you do not put aside retribution, you do not add to the punishment, and you do not hope for that which cannot be. Beautiful doing is when someone does the beautiful toward you, you do more than what he did. When someone does what is bad to you, you do what is beautiful to him. This is the path of the chevaliers and the conduct of the Men.

It has also been said that justice in interactions is that you take the straight and you give the straight. Beautiful doing is that you take the withered and you give the plump. Justice is that in answering the greeting of peace you say, “And upon you be peace.” Beautiful doing is that you add to it “and the mercy of God.”

Justice is what He says: “The recompense of an ugly deed is an ugly deed the like of it [42:40]. If you would punish, then punish with the like of that with which you were punished [16:126]. And expel them whence they expelled you” [2:191].

Beautiful doing is what He says: “And whoso pardons and sets aright—his wage is upon God” [42:40]. Pardoning a bad-doer is beautiful, and more beautiful is to add to that pardon and act beautifully, as the Exalted Lord says: “Repel the ugly with what is more beautiful [23:96]. And follow the most beautiful of what was sent down to you from your Lord [39:55]. So give good news to My servants who listen to the Word, then follow its most beautiful [39:17-18]. And command thy people to take their most beautiful” [7:145].

Then He says, “And set your faces in every place of prostration.” Junayd said, “He commanded us to guard the secret core, to lift up the aspiration, and to approve of God in place of everything other than Him.” He is saying, “Keep your secret core limpid so that you may recognize the Real. Lift up your disposition to Him so that you may become bold. See that all is His gentleness so that you may place your love in Him. Sit on the mount of service so that you may reach the way station of honor. Come forth honorably so that you may reach companionship. Have a high aspiration so that you may remain with Him.”

In describing Muṣṭafā it has been said that God gave him two generosities that He did not give to any other child of Adam. One is that he had a large aspiration and the other is that he was humble. The highness of his aspiration reached the point that the report has come, “He never stretched forth his hand toward any want.” In humility, he was as he said: “If I were invited for the trotter, I would answer, and I were given the shank, I would accept.” When he looked at himself he was so humble that he considered himself weaker than all the weak. When he looked at the Real, the two realms of being and worlds did not enter his eyes because of his great aspiration. This is why he said, “I am the master of the children of Adam, without boasting.”

Just as He began you, so you shall return: “In the endless, We will bring to pass for you what We decreed for you in the beginningless: A group He guided, and for another group misguidance was the rightful due [7:30].”

It has also been saying, “Just as He began you, so you shall return—in knowledge, will, and predetermination.” Just as He began your creation with knowledge, predetermination, and want, so in the end you will become what He wanted at first.

Junayd was asked about this verse. He replied, “Every man’s first is similar to his last, and his last is similar to his first.” Then he said, “The end of every work is the return to its beginning.” The road to the Real is a circle that comes out from Him and goes back to Him. Shaykh al Islām Anṣārī said, “The last of this work is so similar to the first of this work!” In other words, first of all, is pleasure, comfort, and life with repose and happiness, and then man puts his foot into the trap. The collar comes around his neck, and for every comfort, he has seen he sees a tribulation. For every rise, there is a fall.

This is the reality of the words spoken by Abū Bakr Kattānī: “Between the servant and the Real are one thousand stations of light and darkness. All is not light, for with every light there is darkness, with every fall a rise.” In other words, one is repose, ease, and life, another disappointment, suffering, and unreached desires. One is disclosure, the other curtaining; one is togetherness, the other dispersion. Were it not that repose and comfort were beforehand in the first of the desire, the servants would not have the capacity for those trials and sufferings. They keep on looking back at that, their hearts incline to it, and through the marks bearing witness to it they carry the burden of tribulation. Finally, once they are made to pass through all of it and the term is completed, the hidden becomes apparent, and in the end, they become what they were at first. This is the secret of the verse spoken by God, “Just as He began you, so you shall return” in keeping with the tasting of the lords of the recognitions and the companions of the realities. And God knows best.

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