Thursday, March 24, 2011

On The Inner And Outer Self

Chapter 4: On The Inner And Outer Self

You must, O my brother, improve your inward aspect until it becomes better than your virtuous outward appearance, for the former is where the gaze of the Real obtains, while the latter is where the envious gaze of creation is to be found. God never mentioned the inward and the outward in His Book without beginning with the inward. And the Prophet used to pray, may blessings and peace be upon him: ‘O God! Make my inward better than my outward, and make my outward virtuous.’

When the inward is good the outward is also inevitably so, for the outward always follows the inward, whether for good or evil. The Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him, has said: ‘In the body there lies a small piece of flesh; when it is good the rest of the body is good also, and when it is corrupt the rest of the body becomes corrupt also: it is the heart.’

Know that the one who claims to have a thriving inward but whose outward has been corrupted by his abandoning outward acts of obedience is a pretender and a liar.

The one who exerts himself in the reform of his outward aspect by caring about the way he dresses and appears, speaks, moves, sits, stands, and walks, but leaves his inward full of repellent attributes and vile traits, is one of the people of affectation and ostentation, who have turned away from the Lord.

Beware, O brother, of doing in secret that which if seen by people would make you ashamed and worried about being censured. A gnostic once said: ‘A sufi is not a sufi unless, were everything that is in him to be exposed on a plate in a marketplace, he would not be ashamed of anything that came to light.’ If you cannot make your inward better than your outward, the least that you can do is to make them equal, so that you behave equally well privately and publicly in obeying God's injunctions, avoiding His prohibitions, respecting what He has made sacred, and hastening to please Him. This is the first step a servant takes on the path of special knowledge. Know this! Success is from God.

... The Book Of Assistance, Imam Abdullah ibn Alawi Al-Haddad

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