REVIVAL OF RELIGIOUS LEARNINGS
VOL. IV - PART II
Chapter 9. Pondering over good 370
Thoughts of God's creations 377
THE REVIVAL OF RELIGIOUS LEARNINGS
The Book of Constructive Virtues
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PONDERING OVER GOOD
The Holy Prophet said: Good thinking for an hour is better then divine service for one year. The Holy Quran gives encouragement to Tadabbar (efforts to recognise attribute), I'tebar (to take lessons), Nazr (deep insight) and Iftekar (thinking). It is no secret that good thought is the key to light, beginning of deep insight, door to various knowledge and path to Ma'rfat and understanding. Many men have understood its excellence, but have not known its real nature, its effects, its root and ways. How to think of God, what to think, why to think, with whose help to think are the things that were unknown to them. We shall try to give their details.
MERITS OF GOOD THINKING
The Almighty enjoined us to do good and He praises those who think good. He says: They remember Allah standing, sitting and lying on their sides and think of the creation of the heavens and earth: 0 God, Thou hast not created this in vain. Hazrat Ibn Abbas said: A party of men were thinking of God, when the Prophet said: Ponder over the creation of Allah, and don't ponder over Allah because you cannot realise His power.
The Prophet said that he came to a company of men and saw that they were in a pensive mood. He asked them: What do you talk? They said: We are thinking of the creations of Allah. He said: Do it and think over the creations of Allah. Don't think over His self or existence. There is a white land near the western hemisphere. It's light is white and whiteness is its brilliance. It's distance is the path of sun's movement for forty days. There are some beings there whose eyes are not disobedient to Allah for the twinkling of an eye. The companions asked: 0 Prophet of Allah, how far does the devil live from them? He said: They don't know whether the devil was created or not. The companions asked: Are they the children of Adam? He said: They don't know whether
Adam was created or not.
Ata said: One day I and Obaid-bin Amer went to Hazrat Ayesha and were talking with her. There was a screen between her and us. Hazrat Ayesha said: 0 Obaid, why don't you meet me? He said:' For a saying of the Prophet. He said: Meet me off
and on, love will increase. Obaid said: Inform me of a wonder which you have seen of the Prophet. At this, Hazrat Ayesha began to weep and said: All his works are wonderful. He came to me in his appointed night, even my body touched his body. Then he said to me: 0 Ayesha, leave me, will you worship my Lord? He then went to a water skin, performed his ablution?nd began to weep in his prayer, so much so that the tears wetted his beard. Then he prostrated so much that the ground underneath became wet. Thereafter he laid on one of his sides. Bilal came to call him for Fazr prayer and saw that he was weeping. He asked: 0 Prophet of God, why do you weep? Your past and present sins have been forgiven. He said: Woe to you, 0 Bilal! Who will prevent me from weeping? God revealed this verse this very night: In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the changing of nights and days, there are surely signs for the intelligent - 3:190. Then he said: Woe to him who reads this verse and does not ponder.
The great saint Hasan Basari said: To ponder over good for an hour is better than prayer for one whole night. The saint Fazil said: To think good is like a mirror which shows you virtue and vice. The great saint Ibrahim was once asked: Why do you think for long? He said: To think of good is the brain of wisdom. The saint Sufiyan used to repeat the following poems:
When human mind tries to think of good, For him, there is lesson in everything.
The great saint Taus said: The disciples of Jesus Christ once asked him: 0 Spirit of God, is there anybody like you in the earth at present? He said: Yes, one whose words are uttered in remembrance of God, whose silence is preserved in the thoughts of good, whose every sight gives lesson, is like me. The great saint Hasan Basari said: Talk which does not contain wisdom is frivolous, silence which is not of good thought is misguidance and the look which does not give lessons is a mere sport and play.
God says in the Quran: Soon I shall turn the minds of those from My signs, who walk upon the earth haughtily. Hazrat Hasan explained this verse and said that God restrains their hearts from good thoughts of His affairs. The Prophet said: Give your eyes a share of your divine service. They asked: 0 Prophet
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of God, what is the share of eyes in divine service? He said: To look towards the Quran to ponder over it, to seek advice and to take lessons from its wonderful matters.
The wise Loqman used to sit alone for long. His master came to him and asked: 0 Loqman, you sit alone for long. It would have been better if you have sat with the people. Loqman replied: To sit alone for long is profitable as it is a step towards Paradise. The great Caliph Omar-bin-Abdul Aziz said: Good thought is a blessing of God in divine service. The great saint Basher Hafi said: If the people ponder over the glory of God, they cannot be disobedient to Him. Hazrat Ibn Abbas said: Two Rakats of middle kind of prayer with meditation is better than inattetive prayer for the whole night. The great saint Abu Solaiman Darani said: To think of worldly affairs is an impediment of next worldly affairs and a punishment for the friends of God. Wisdom arises is thoughts of the next world and mind becomes active and alive. The great saint Hatem said: Experience increase wisdom, remembrance increases love and thoughts increases fear. It is said that God says in one of His scriptures: I don't accept the prayer of every wise man, but I look to his object and greed. If I see his object and mind for Me, I make his silence thoughtful and his words praiseworthy although he does not speak. The great saint Daud Tai once got up the roof of his house in a moon lit night and began to ponder over the creations of the heavens and the earth and to weep turning his look towards the heaven, so much so that he fell down upon the roof of his neighbgur. The owner of the house jumped up naked from his sleep and took a sword thinking that a thief had come. When he saw Daud Tai, he kept down the sword and asked him: Who has thrown you from the roof? He said: I don't know.
The great saint Junaid said:. The most honourable and highest assembly is to enjoy the air of Ma'rfat sitting in a meditative mood in the field of Tauhid, to drink in a cup of love from the sea of-Eikr and to look having a good idea of God, Imam Shafeyi said: Think before solemn promise, think before action, consult before proceeding. He also said: Four things are useful - (1) wisdom and its provision is thought, (2) patience and its provision is greed, (3) power and its provision is anger. (4) and sense of judgement and its provision is to keep the strength of passion in the middle path.
These are a few sayings of the wise about thinking and pondering.
WHAT IS THOUGHT AND ITS RESULT?
Thought means appearance of two wisdoms in mind and a third wisdom as a result of the mixture of the above two. Take one illustration. He who wants to know that the next world is better than the present world although he is addicted now to the present world, has got two ways. One way is that he must hear from others and believe that the next world is better than the present world. Without true insight into the things, he believes it as true as he heard it from others. This is Taqlid or blind belief. Another way is to know that what is everlasting is better. Out of the knowledge of these two premises, there appears another
knowledge that the next world is better than the present world.
Unless there is knowledge of the former two things, knowledge
of the third thing is not possible. This is Tafakkur or good
thought. The door of knowledge is not closed along with death. It continues even after death.
Thought is the basis of action. Thoughts begets knowledge,
knowledge begets condition of mind or moves the mind and the
mind moves the bodily organs to do an action. So good thought is
the key to good actions. This is better than Zikr and Zikr is better than teaching, as good thought amounts to Zikr, Zikr of mind is better than works of bodily limbs so good thought is better than all works. For this 'a saint said that good thought for an hour is better than divine service for a year. Good thought will lead you to the conclusion that the next world is better than this world. When this thought will be firmly rooted in mind, it will take recourse to renunciation of the world and desire to have ever lasting peace in the next world. This is the change of the condition of mind. Before the acquisition of this knowledge, mind turns to the comforts and luxuries of this world and a sense of hatred towards the world next. After the dawn of the knowledge that the next world is better than the present world, his mind changes altogether and his will and desire change
wholly and his entire actions are led with a motive of getting the next world.
Thought is the name of the flame of the light of knowledge which appears between two kinds of knowledge as fire appears
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between iron and its strike on stone. If fire appears, eyes see. Before this, eyes could not see. As a result of this sight, it arouses the entire limbs of the body for action. Similarly light flashes in mind while it sees the real nature of each thing. It changes the mind which could not see in darkness. So the result of good thought is knowledge and change of condition of mind. There is no limit to the condition which changes the mind. He who tries to master all the branches of knowledge, will be baffled. So we shall try to master partial knowledge of all the stages leading to spiritual illumination.
MODE OF THINKING
We shall confine ourselves with modes of thinking in connection with religious affairs which concern with God. These are two - thinking with regard to one's virtues and vices and thinking with regard to God, His existence, His attributes and names and with regard to His creations, sovereignty, heavens and earth and what is in them. To give an illustration, the travellers towards God and those who desire to meet with Him are like lovers. A lover is always engaged in thoughts of his beloved, his beauty and figure. He also gets enjoyment in meeting with him. This pleasure is increased by his remembrance of his qualities and conduct. He thinks, how to correct himself for getting his love. Similarly his thoughts are confined within three divisions. (1) He thinks over his conducts'and actions, what is good and what is bad. This is concerned with worldly learnings. (2) He thinks over. spiritual matters. This includes what is dear to Allah and what is'not. This is again open like virtues and vices and secret like virtues of salvation and vices of destruction. Virtue and vice keep connection with seven organs of the body.
There are three matters for thinking about what is not dear to God - (1) to think whether a particular action is dear to God or not. Defects of many actions are not disclosed and await deep thinking, (2) to find out a way by thinking to remove a bad thing, (3) and to think whether the thing not dear to Allah is concerned with the past, present or future from which precaution is to be taken.
OBJECTS OF THOUGHTS ARE FOUR - (1) vices, (2) virtues, (3) vices of destruction, and (4) virtues of salvation.
(1) Vices: A man rising early in the morning should think what organ of his body has sinned. If it is a fact, he must abandon it immediately and must repent for its commission. If there is likelihood of its being committed, he shall take every precaution for not committing it again. Tongue. Tongue is an instrument of vices like back-biting, lies etc. Think first that there are vices prohibited by God in the Quran and that these will meet with severe punishment not only in this world but in the world next also. Think how to save yourself from these sins - whether by having recourse to loneliness or companionship with good people, Ear. Think how to save the ears from hearing back-biting, falsehood, frivolous talks, etc. Stomach. Think about temptations of taking unlawful foods, think wherefrom these are coming, whether from lawful source or unlawful source. Think in a similar way about your house, dress, acquired wealth and other riches. Think about the methods of lawful earnings and the ways of saying yourself from unlawful ways and means.
(2) Virtues: Think first of the obligatory duties, how you have performed them, how you have saved them from mutilation, how you have compensated them by optional duties. Think whether your eyes, tongue and ears have performed their respective duties faithfully and justly.
(3) Destructive vice: Think over the internal destructive vices and guilts such as passion, anger, miserliness, pride, show, hatred, jealousy, idleness, procrastination, greed for wealth, honour, name and fame. Think of eradicating them from the soil of mind and the different modes of their eradication. If you think that you are free from pride and vain-glory, take for examination one bundle of fruits on the head and go to market as was done by the early Muslims. If you cannot, you have not acquired the virtue of modesty and shun pride. If you think that you have conquered anger, then talk for testing it with such a man in such a way as will arouse his anger and then see whether you can appease your anger. Thus you can examine whether you have eradicated all the evils within yourself. If you find pride in your self, you are a fool. Do you think yourself great? He who is great to Allah is great. After death it will be known who is great and who is small. If you find in yourself greed for food, think in this way. It is the path of beasts. If there is perfection in the greed for food and satisfaction in passions, it would have been included in
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the attributes of angels. In this way think about all other guilts within yourself and thee ways of eradicate them from the soil of mind.
(4) Virtues of salvation: Then think whether you have acquired the virtues of salvation and whether there is any want of any of these virtues within yourself. There are ten basic virtues of salvation - (1) Repentance, (2) Patience in dangers and difficulties (3) Gratefulness for gifts, (4) Fear, (5) Hope, (6) Renunciation' of the world, (7) Sincerity, (8) Truthfulness, (9) Love for God (10) Modesty. Think, how far you have proceeded to acquire these virtues and what is wanting in you.
These are the various modes of thinking. By these methods, you will try to acquire knowledge which will attract you towards the Beloved and save you from the vices of destruction and adorn, you with the virtues of salvation. Think of the Quranic verses when you read them. One verse read with due thought is better than reading the whole Quran. Think of the following Hadis of the Prophet: The Holy Spirit breathed unto my spirit Love whom you like to love, but you shall have to separate from him. Live as long as you wish but you shall have to die. Do what you wish, but you will be given its recompense. This Hadis is an epitome of many thoughts and a sufficient food for reflection.
Every religious man should have a list of vices of destruction and the virtues of salvation. He must look to the listed vices and virtues daily. If he can free himself from the following ten vices, he can save himself from the other faults as these ten are the bases of evils. - (1) miserliness (2) pride, (3) self- aggrandisement, (4) show of honesty, (5) hatred, (6) excessive anger, (7) heavy food, (8) excessive sexual intercourse, (9) greed for wealth, (10) greed for name and fame. The bases of virtues of salvation are also ten - (1) Repentance for commission of sins, (2) patience at dangers and difficulties, (3) satisfaction over decree (4) gratefulness for gifts received, (5) fear and hope, (6) renunciation of the world, (7) sincerity in actions, (8) good behaviour with the people, (9) love for God and (10) humility before Him. He who has got the ten vices mentioned above shall think how to remove at first one of them. If it is given up, one vice goes away from the list. Think next of removing another vice and express gratefulness for
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removal of the first one. In this way, he shall remove the ten vices from himself and acquire the ten virtues in their stead.
These are the fields of thought for the pious, so far as the learnings are concerned.
THOUGHTS ABOUT GOD
The second field of thought is about God's glory, mightiness and power. To think about the existence of God is prohibited as the Prophet said: Think over the creation of God, not of His being, as no human intellect cant grasp about His being. It is not possible to see Him with these physical eyes, just as it is not possible to look at the sun incessantly. A bat cannot look at the scorching rays of the sun and hence it keeps itself concealed during day time. When darkness appears at night, it can see. The condition of the truthful is just like a man who looks at the sun at a glance, but if he continues to see at it, he has chance of becoming blind. Similarly to look at Him creates blindness and he becomes perplexed. So to think of God's being is prohibited. God is above space, time and free from direction. He is not within the world, nor outside it. He is not imminent or transcendent. He has got no hands, feet or bodily organs. He has got no body. He has got no weight, length and breadth and occupies no space, He is above time. So He does not take time to create a thing. He only says 'Be', and so it at once comes into being. So man cannot conceive of such a Being. Yet he must believe the existence of such a Being called God. If a fly could have intelligence like a man, it would have thought that God has got wings, hands and feet and has got power to fly. Likewise a man thinks Him to be so. So the Prophet said: Speak to men according to their intelligence.
The second line of thought is about the creation and created things of God, about His wonderful creations, His power and craftsmanship. We can guess about the sun from its scorching rays. Similarly, we can conceive of God from the wonderful creations of heavens and earth and what is therein. They are only a flash of light from His existence. There is no darkness deeper than the non-existence of His light and there is no light more expressed than His light. The existence of each thing is the result of His light, as the existence of each thing is the result of His existence. Just as the light of the sun preserves the light of a thing, so God preserves Himself. If as a portion of the sun is eclipsed,
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you can see the sun in a cup full of water. You can see the image of the sun in it and look at it.is possible only through it. So to lessen the scorching rays of this sun, you take recourse to water. Likewise you can see the attributes of Creator through His wonderful creations. This is the significance of the Prophet's saying: Think of the creations of God and don't think of His being.
THE METHOD OF PONDERING OVER
THE CREATIONS OF GOD
If the water of oceans were ink, the oceans would have dried up before God's attributes were written. This created world is divided into two:- (1) The root of one division is unknown to us. So thoughts over those things are not possible. There are many things in heaven and earth which are not known to us. God says: All praises are due to God who created pairs of everything which grow out of the earth and which grow out of such things which they do not know - 33 : 36. He says: I shall take you to such condition as you do not know.
(2) Another division of things is known but their details are unknown and thoughts about them are possible. Those again are subdivided into two:- (1) things we see with our eyes and (2) things which we do not see with them as angels, jin, devils, Arsh, Kursi etc. They are fields for thought. We shall only narrate what is nearer to our intellect. In other words, what we see with our eyes is the seven heavens and the earth and what is therein. There are the sun, the moon and the stars in heaven and we see their movements, rising and setting. We see also the earth, mountains, rivers oceans, moving animals, vegetables, beasts, birds and other animals. In other words, what is between heaven and earth is visible with the naked eyes. We see also clouds, rain, hail, storm, lightning, thunder, the blowing of winds, rainbow etc. Things of each field are also different and there are innumerable branches and sub-branches of each kind. Those are foods for relection. All these testify to the glory of God. The Quran directs us to reflect on these things. In the creations of the heavens and the earth and in the changing of day and night there are surely signs for the intelligent - 3 : 100. We narrate below some of these signs of God.
Life-germ: Man is created of a drop of water, a small life-germ. It is an epitome of wonder by itself. This Speaks of the
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glory of God. If you think of it throdghout your life, you will not know of even a minutes part of it, yet you are unmindful of this. How can you expect to know of others while you do not know of yourself? God says: Don't you reflect what is in yourself: He again says: Woe to man. What has made him to reject God? From what thing He has created him, from a sperm drop, He has created him and made his constitution proportionate -etc. 80:17. God says: I have created man from a quiztessence of clay. Then I placed him as a sperm-drop in a firmly fixed place of rest etc 23: 12. Look to the small drop of water, how he turned a small white substance in con-mixture with the worst blood into a clot of red blood, how he turned this clot into flesh and how he separated it into sinews, bones, liver, heart, spleen, head, ears, nose, eyes, uterus, stomach, faces and other organs of human body. Each has got its particular shape and form and each has got its own functions - eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, hands to touch brain to think, legs to walk, heart to circulate blood and stomach to digest food. Think of the head. The sculp of the head has been created with fifty different bones, each has different shape, all conjoined together. Likewise, think of each organ of the body. You will find no parallel. All these things are contained in a small white substance.
(2) World and its Contents. Think of the world as it is your habitation and think of its rivers, oceans, seas, mountains, mines and other things and then think of the region of heaven. God has fixed the world, so that it cannot move and He placed mountains, in it, so that it may not toss. He made some places so high that nobody can move around them. Think of the earth. It remainsdead. When rain falls upon it, it becomes swollen and then grow therein plants, grass and creepers with which animals of various kinds sustain their lives. He made out of dry stones water with which he made all creatures and grew plants and trees of various fruits.
Some plant gives food, some gives strength, some saves life, some destroys life, some cools, some irritates, some uproots jaundice, some increases it, some controls spleen, some purifies blood. 'Some circulates blood, some brings sleep, some gives strength and some weakness. So there is nothing which grows out of the earth which does not give some benefits. It is beyond the power of men to comprehend all the benefits. These are foods for reflection of the intelligent.
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Mountains and mines; There are under the mountains and underneath the ground wonderful signs of God. There are mines of gold, silver, pearls and emeralds therein. Some are mixed with other mineral substances, such as gold, silver, iron, lead. Some are not mixed like emeralds and rubbies. Look then to the mines underneath the ground. Out of them, salts, sulphur, tar etc. are found. If there is no'salt the taste of food goes. God therefore creates some kinds of saltish earth which mixed with water and burnt by sun-fire produces pure salt.
Therefore God has created everything with some object or other. He has not created it out of sport. God says: I have not created the heavens and earth and what is therein out of mere sport. I have created them, with truth.
(4) God's signs in the creation of creatures: God created some animals which fly in the air, some walk on the ground with two feet, some creep on their bellies, some with four feet, some with ten feet, some with one hundred feet. You will find in it insects. Their forms, nature and constitution also are different. You will find in them wonderful signs which show the craftsmanship of the Creator. If we describe the wonderful workings of flies, ants, bees, spiders etc. you will see wonders in them. Look how they construct heir habitation, how they collect food and how they love their mates, how they store up food. We could not have done their works with all our might. Do you think that the spider does it of its own accord and that it has got no teacher? Do all these things not prove that the Creator is the Mighty, the Wise?
Man is the most wonderful among the animals. He does not express wonder after seeing himself. How mighty is He who created man, the wonder of creations.
(5) Faith sign of God's wonderful creations: Land of this earth is surrounded by vast expense of water. The earth is an island in the vast expense of water which surrounds. it. The Prophet said: As is the horse's house in a vast field, likewise is the earth in oceans. So a horse's house has been compared with the earth. Think of the ocean. There are some watery animals therein which are like islands. If you burn something with fire thereon, you will find the island moving. Then you understand that it is not an island but a watery animal.
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'(6) Signs in air and airy things: The organ which can touch, cannot touch the air when it flows. Eye cannot see it. The horizon of air is just like an ocean. The birds fly therein just as fish in water. Everything in the air vibrates just as waves of the sea. If something filled up with air is drowned in water, it will not drown. On the contrary, if something filled up with water is thrown upward in the air, it will come down the earth. Then look to the gravity, weight and strength of the air. Take a piece of iron. It will not float, neither above water, nor in air, but it will go down the water. So air does not go down the water inspite of its light weight. God keeps the boat above water as the boats are full of air. Then look to the things in air- clouds, rain; thunder, lightning, snow, ice. God says: 'The clouds that are well controlled between heaven and earth'. The clouds bear vast expanse of water and they are driven and scattered to distant lands to deliver the benefit of water and rain.
(7) Heaven and its stars, sun and moon: Look to the sun which revolves round its axis for one year. Each rises each day and sets in. Had it not risen and set in, there would not have been night and day and time could not have been as certained. It would be all day or all night. Owing to the revolving of the sun, there appear summer, winter, spring and autumn. When the sun declines to one side from its axis, then comes the winter season. When it remains in the meridian, there appears summer season. There is not a star, the creation of which has no purpose. The astrologers are unanimous that the sun is greater than 160 times of the size of the earth. Then think of the stars. The smallest star is greater than eight times of the earth. The greatest star is more than 120 times of the earth. The greater the distance of the star, the smaller it appears to us. The Prophet said: The distance of one -heaven from another is 500 years' path. Think of the horizon how great it is which contains the sun, moon and stars. The Prophet once asked the angel Gabrail: Does the sun set in? He said: No, yes. He asked: How could you say - No, yes? Gabrail said: During the time taken by the reply - 'No, yes,' the sun goes to a distance of 500 years' path. No look how great is the sun and how fast it moves.
Then look to the Creator, how He puts the sun into the interior of your eye inspite of its vast figure. Then you can look to the entire body of the sun. Look how God kept the heavens
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without any pillar. Then look to the abode of the earth, how He created.it and sustains it. As an ant living in a corner of a palace does not keep information about the grandeur of the palace and its attendants and majesty of its owner, so also we live as an ant in a corner of this vast earth and do not keep information about the mighty Creator and His attributes. Now you cannot conceive the wonderful creations of God and His power and prowess, because you have been given a very little wisdom with which you cannot grasp everything as you have been given a little power of sight and hearing. God says: You have been given a very little knowledge-17: 85. These are the foods for reflection and ponder. You, must think of God's wonderful creations and not of His Being. The above thoughts will bring you near God. The more you think of His creation the more you will learn His glory, prowess and power.
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