18:19 Now send one of you forth with this silver of yours to the city and let him see which of them has the purest food.
Here there are two allusions: One is that every faithful servant, though he may have reached the furthest limit in the Haqiqah, will be held to guarding the rulings of the Shariah, for any reality in which the outward Shariah is not witnessed is the deception and delusion of Satan. The root in this is that the chevaliers sent one of themselves to buy some food for them, and they commanded him to investigate and scrutinize its situation so that heedlessness would not make him fall into something forbidden.
The second is what was said by Yūsuf ibn al-Ḥusayn to one of his companions when he took something to the poor or to the folk of recognition, or when he bought food for them: “Let it be the most goodly and the most subtle of things, for when someone reaches recognition, only subtle things conform with him and only delicate things become his closeness. The root here is His words, ‘and let him see which of them has the purest food.’” Then he said, “When you buy for the renunciants and the worshipers, buy whatever you find, for they are still busy with abasing their own souls and holding them back from appetites.”
18:23-24 Say not of anything, “I will do it tomorrow,” but only, “If God wills.” And remember thy Lord when thou forgettest.
When someone recognizes God, his free choice drops away before His will, and his decrees are enveloped by the witnessing of his Lord’s decree. When someone sets foot in the street of recognizing God and comes to know that the creatures are all captive to His power in the prison of the Will on the passageway of the decree and the measuring out, he will no longer choose and will not prepare his own work, nor will he make his own rulings. He will throw his own work entirely over to God’s will and not mix his own self-exertion with what God has taken care of. With the tongue of the state, he will say, “O God, O He who was, is, and will be! I know not Your measure and am incapable of what is worthy of You. I wander in my misery, day by day in a loss. How then is someone like me?! But such am I. I lament at gazing into the darkness—will anything remain of me? I do not know. My eyes look to a day when You remain and I am not. Who will be like me if I see that day? And if I see it, I will sacrifice my spirit to it.”
And remember thy Lord when thou forgettest. It has been said, “When you forget yourself, remember your Lord, and when you forget the creatures, remember the Creator.” He is saying, “Once you have brought your soul’s caprice underfoot and removed your status with people from your heart, remember Me and make your spirit happy with this pure remembrance.” The caprice of the soul is an idol and status with people is a sash of unbelief. As long as you have not disowned the idol, you will not become a tawḥīd-voicer, and as long as you have not undone the sash, you will not be a Muslim.
There was a worshiper by the name of Abū Bakr Ishtanjī who had a great status. He feared that he would destroy the status. He got up and set off on a journey during the month of Ramadan and broke the fast in keeping with the ruling of the Shariah. Then he returned from the journey not fasting, and the people were unaware of his excuse. He kept on eating food in the middle of the city until the people gathered around him and began slapping him, saying “He has no religion!” One of the realizers of the road said, “At the time when they were slapping him, I went near to see what he would say. To himself, he kept on saying, ‘O soul, you are not a people-worshiper, and you must not be deluded by status with the people! Look how I have brought you back to worshiping God, not the people!’”
And remember thy Lord when thou forgettest. Junayd said, “The reality of remembrance is to be annihilated from remembrance in the Remembered. That is why God says, ‘And remember thy Lord when thou forgettest.’ In other words, when you forget the remembrance, the Remembered will be your attribute.” Remembrance is not only that you take it upon yourself to move your lips by your own volition. That in fact is recollection, and recollection is an affectation. True remembrance is that the tongue becomes all heart, the heart becomes all secret core, and the secret core becomes nothing but contemplation. Then the roots of dispersion are cut off. It is from this station that the perfection of togetherness appears in the World of With-ness. “When self-disclosure is sound, the tongue, the heart, and the secret core are one.”
The remembrance is lost in the Remembered, and the spirit is lost in the Light. Reports become face-to-face vision, and face-to-face vision is far from explication. O You whose remembrance is the argument and whose closeness is the reminder! You are present—of what use to me is this remembrance? O Gentle One! Give permission that I come out of Your remembrance for a moment! Those who call You friends are a crowd, but the most ancient is to be preferred. O You who bring pure milk out from the midst of feces and blood [16:66], by Thy bounty take my hand! Leave me not with the mark of Eve and Adam!