4:36 Worship God, and associate nothing with Him, and act beautifully toward parents, and toward kinsfolk, orphans, the indigent, and the neighbor who is of kin, and the neighbor who is a stranger, and the companion at your side, and the son of the road, and what your right hands own.
This verse begins by mentioning tawḥīd, which is the root of the sciences, the secret of the recognitions, the basis of the religion, the foundation of being a Muslim, and the partition between enemy and friend. Any act of obedience without tawḥīd has no value or weight, and its outcome will be nothing but darkness and captivity. Any act of disobedience along with tawḥīd will yield nothing other than familiarity and brightness. Tawḥīd is that you say that God is one and that you be one for Him. Saying one is the submitter’s tawḥīd, and being one is the basis of the recognizer’s tawḥīd. The submitter’s tawḥīd drives away the devil washes away sin and opens up the heart. The recognizer’s tawḥīd cuts away attachments wash away the creatures and bring forth the realities. The submitter’s tawḥīd takes advice, opens the door, and gives fruit. The recognizer’s tawḥīd effaces the customs of human nature and burns away the veil of mortal nature so that the breeze of familiarity may blow, the beginningless reminder may arrive, and the friend may gaze upon the Friend.
The submitter’s tawḥīd is that you bear witness to God’s one Essence, pure attributes, and beginningless names and marks. He is the God other than whom there is no god, the Creator of heaven and earth other than whom there is no enactor. No one has loyalty like Him in the whole cosmos. He is a Lord who is above all in measure, beyond all in Essence and attributes. From the Beginningless to the Endless He is the greatest Lord. When intellect holds that something is impossible, God has perfect power over it. His power makes no use of contrivance, and His self-standing has no change of state. In the kingdom, He is safe from disappearance, and in Essence and attributes, He is transcendent.
You will never see any created thing without marks of deficiency and fault, but the Eternal Enactor is pure of deficiency, incomparable with fault, free of blights. He does not eat or sleep, nor is He the locus for newly arrived things or changing states. He is not new in attribute, nor does He accept the alteration. He stands before “when”, acts before activity, creates before creation, and is powerful before the artisanries.
Shaykh al-Islām Anṣārī said, “The tawḥīd of the Muslims amounts to three words: affirmation of attributes without excess, a negation of similarity without declaring ineffectuality, and going forward according to the outwardness without mixing.” The reality of affirmation is that you acknowledge and surrender to whatever God said in explanation and whatever Muṣṭafā said plainly about Him. You stand firm in the outwardness, you offer no likenesses for it, you do not turn it away from its formulation, and you do not wander around it with imagination, for God comes into knowledge but not imagination. You avoid reflective thinking about how it can be so and you do not seek any self-exertion or interpretation. You do not turn away from saying it or listening to it. You know that in reality whatever creatures know about God’s attributes is only the name. To perceive it is to accept it. The stipulation is surrender, and the commentary is to remember.
Know God’s Essence in God’s measure, not as rationally understood by creatures. Know His attributes as is worthy of Him, not as reflected upon by creatures. Know His ability in His measure, not with the artifice of creatures. He is a Being that is one, outside of imagination and apart from qualification. Whatever He wants, He does, not because of need, for He needs nothing. Rather, He puts things straight by want, pure knowledge, precedent wisdom, and penetrating power. His speech is true, His promise correct, and His Messenger trustworthy. His speech exists in the earth in reality, always joined with Him. His argument stands through it, His decree is irrevocable, His commands and prohibitions firm. Surely His are the creation and the command. Blessed is God, the Lord of the Worlds [7:54].
This is tawḥīd as transmitted and recognition as reported. Through this tawḥīd, people reach paradise, escape from hell, and stay free from the Real’s anger. The opposite of this tawḥīd is great associationism. Whoever is held back from this transmitted tawḥīd remains in the great associationism, far from God’s forgiveness. The other tawḥīd is the tawḥīd of the recognizers and the adornment of the sincerely truthful. Speaking of this tawḥīd is not the work of water and clay, nor is it the place of tongue and heart. What will the tawḥīd-voicer say here with the tongue? His state is itself tongue. How can he express this tawḥīd? Putting it into an expression is calumny itself. This tawḥīd is not from creation, for it is a mark from the Real. It is the resurrection of the heart and the plundering of the spirit.
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “O God, the recognizer knows You through Your light and cannot express the radiance of finding. The tawḥīd-voicer recognizes You through the light of proximity and burns in the fire of love without turning away from joy. O Lord, in his finding he seeks to find You because he is drowned in bewilderment. He does not know seeking from finding.” The poor wretch who recognizes Him through the artisanry! The poor man who seeks Him through the evidence! From the artisanry, you must seek whatever finds a room, and from the evidence, you must ask for what is fitting. How can the reality of tawḥīd cling to the tongue of reports? This is not the tawḥīd reached by inference and striving, nor that proven by evidence and artisanry, nor that realized by any means whatsoever. It is found in the midst of heedlessness, it comes without asking, and it busies the servant with itself. Lit up by the contemplation of the Near and the observation of togetherness, the servant reaps the benefit of beginningless love and loses the two worlds.
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “O God, the mark of this work has taken the world away from me and concealed me even from the mark. Seeing You has left me without spirit. Love for You took away a benefit, and I lost the two worlds. “O God, do You know what has made me happy? I did not fall to You by myself. You wanted—it was not I who wanted. I saw the Friend at my pillow when I woke up from sleep.”
Moses had gone in search of fire when he found I chose thee for Myself [20:41]. He was unaware when the sun of good fortune rose over him. Muḥammad was asleep when the good news came: “Come and See Me”.
Moses was not wanting conversation, nor was Muḥammad wanting vision. The finding comes in heedlessness. Do not fancy anything but this. O God, the splendor of Your exaltedness left no room for allusions, the majesty of Your unity took away the road of ascription—I lost all that I had in hand, and all my fancies turned to nothing. O God, Yours kept on increasing and mine decreasing until at last there remained only what there was at first. With the first tawḥīd, the servant escapes from hell and reaches paradise. With the second tawḥīd, he escapes from himself and reaches the Friend.
And associate nothing with Him. In the tongue of the Shariah, associationism is that you believe in another object of worship and not attest to God’s unity. In the tongue of the Tariqah, associationism is that you see among the engendered beings an existent thing other than God and you remain with the secondary causes.
Shaykh al-Islām Anṣārī said, “Not seeing the secondary cause is ignorance, but remaining with the secondary cause is associationism.”
Then, in the course of the verse, He mentioned the neighbors and commanded taking what is rightfully due to them into consideration. He said, “and the neighbor who is of kin, and the neighbor who is a stranger, and the companion at your side.” The neighbors are many, and what is rightfully due to them is in the measure of their proximity. There is the neighbor of the house, the neighbor of the soul, the neighbor of the heart, and the neighbor of the spirit. The neighbor of the house is the Adamite; the neighbor of the soul is the angel; the neighbor of the heart is the tranquility of recognition, and the neighbor of the spirit is the Real—majestic is His majesty! He called the neighbor of the house “the neighbor who is of kin.” About the neighbor of the soul, He said, “Surely there are over you guardians” [82:10]. Concerning the neighbor of the heart, He said, “He it is Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the faithful” [48:4]. About the neighbor of the spirit, He said, “He is with you wherever you are” [57:4].
The rightful due of the neighbors of the house is that you never leave aside taking them into consideration. By caring for them you should always keep them thankful to you and at ease with you. The rightful due of the neighbors of the soul is that you keep them happy with your obedience and do not make them suffer by disobedient acts. Then, when they turn away from you, they will turn away satisfied and grateful. The rightful due of the neighbor of the heart is that you keep your own recognition pure of the stains of innovation and the defilement of bewilderment and you adorn it with the garment of the Sunnah and the ornament of wisdom. The rightful due of the neighbor of the spirit is that you rectify your character traits, you observe courtesy to all sides, you fill your mind with reverence, you step beyond the two worlds, you escape from yourself, and you become one for the Real.
It has been reported that God said, “O Muḥammad! Belong to Me as you always were, and I will belong to you as I have always been.”