He had let him know that he was in the sight of the Real so that he would model his courtesy on the Real’s courtesy. When he put courtesy into practice, he did not ask the Real for what his heart wanted and did no more than gaze upon heaven. Then He gave him better than what He gives to those who ask.
2:144 We have seen thy face turning about in heaven. Now We shall turn thee toward a kiblah that thou shalt approve.
When the Lord is generous and the servant exalted, He keeps the servant within the stipulations of courtesy, shows him the road of deeds, and gives him success. Then He rewards him for the deeds and praises him for his veneration. He says, “How excellent is the wage of the doers!” [3:136]. “How excellent a servant he was; surely he kept on returning” [38:30].
In the same way, He reported to Muṣṭafā, “You are in My vision and My exalted witnessing. Be careful to recognize the respect due to the Presence and to ask in keeping with courtesy.” Hence when his heart was intent on the kiblah, he did not make this manifest, in keeping with courtesy. He kept that wish in his heart and then the Exalted Presence addressed him: “Now We shall turn thee toward a kiblah that thou shalt approve. We have come to know that wish in your heart and We have admired your beautiful courtesy in not asking. We will bestow upon you that of which you approve in the work of the kiblah. O Muḥammad! All the servants in the world are seeking My approval, but I am seeking your approval. All are searching for Me, but I am calling for you. All wish for My caresses, but We are caressing you. Thy Lord shall bestow upon thee so that thou shalt approve [93:5]. Now consider the Kaabah as the kiblah of your soul and Me as the kiblah of your spirit.” When those caresses came forth from the Presence of Unity and those generosities reached him, the tongue of his state said In His Majesty.
Abū Bakr Shiblī said, “The kiblahs are three: the kiblah of the common people, the kiblah of the elect, and the kiblah of the elect. The kiblah of the common people is the Kaaba in the middle of the world. The kiblah of the elect is the Throne on top of heaven, upon which is sitting the God of the world. The kiblah of the elect is the heart of the desirers and the spirit of the recognizers, for they are gazing on their Lord with the light of their hearts.”
It has been said that when Muṣṭafā supplicated at the beginning of revelation and the outset of messenger hood, he would speak with explicit expressions of the tongue, and the supplication would be answered immediately. Thus the Exalted Lord recounts about the Day of Badr that Muṣṭafā wanted help for the army of Islam. He says, “When you sought the aid of your Lord, He responded to you” [8:9].
Afterward, his state reached a place such that the Exalted Presence would respond to his delicate allusions without explicit expression, as He says in this verse: “We have seen thy face turning about in heaven.” Then he became such that He would respond to his mere thought, without allusion or expression.
Thus it came to his mind, “What would it matter if these sinners of my community were forgiven?” This verse came in keeping with this thought: “Our Lord, take us not to task if we forget or make mistakes” [2:286]. Then the work reached the point that neither allusion nor the heart’s thought was needed.
Thus once it was heavy on his heart that the Companions were sitting in his room. The Lord of the Worlds sent down the verse that says, “When you have eaten, disperse” [33:53].