Dhikr

(discussed in relation to retreat)
Taken from ‘The Basic Research’ by Ibn Ajiba
Commentating on: He perseveres in the dhikr, the tongue stops and the invocation still flows. The inward is imprinted with the Name according to how much the tongue repeats it. Then its meaning flows in the heart like Nourishment flows in the body. Then, at that time, the tablet of the Unseen faces the mirror of the heart, and it is not hidden. Then he grasps the known and the unknown, because He has accumulated a readiness to grasp. From the poem of Ibn al-Banna of Saragossa, Shaykh ibn Ajiba has said: I say that when the faqir enters retreat, he must use isolation, that is the isolation of the heart. Retreat is for the body, and isolation is for the heart. Complete detachment is necessary, otherwise it will be of no benefit to him. We have seen previously what was said about isolation in the Hikam. The purpose of retreat is the cure of the heart. The heart is not cured except when it is empty of mixtures. The heart is like the stomach, once a lot of things are mixed in it, it gets sick. These mixtures are ideas and disturbances. If the heart is empty, invocation is of benefit to it, otherwise, not. The faqir continues to pronounce the invocation until his tongue stops, and the inward continues. The inward must confirm what the tongue is saying, because to invoke without the inward cannot take one to the Presence of Eye-witnessing. So the faqir must continue to invoke with his tongue and to confirm it with his inward until its meaning flows into his heart and its light is firm in his heart. Then it will flow in all his limbs like blood or the water that runs in tender plants. The body moves by the dhikr of Allah. I have heard from the Shaykh of our Shaykhs, Moulay al-'Arabi, may Allah be pleased with him, 'I continued to do the invocation of the Supreme Name for four years. My whole body used to move by the dhikr. If I put my hand on my thigh to still it, the other one would move. If I put my hand on the other one, the first one would shudder once more.' If the mirror is polished and is shining, then the gleams of the Unseen will reflect upon it. These are the lights of facing, and the introduction to the lights of witnessing. Witnessing begins as gleams, then appearance, then the sun of gnosis shines, and it does not set. Then the realities of things are revealed to him, and he grasps the secret of every existent being and he knows the reality of every known and unknown thing, which means that that which was unknown to him becomes known and whatever was known is

grasped by its secret and wisdom. He knows the secret of resemblances and the realities of intricate matters. So the circle of knowledges becomes wide around him and the treasures of understanding open up for him and he goes out to the space of witnessing and controls by his secret existence. The earth cannot contain him, and the heaven cannot shade him. The fields of the Unseen are open to him, and he is purified of every wrong and fault. 'No person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden for them as a reward for their deeds.' (32:17) The phrase 'the tongue stops and the invocation still flows' means that the invocation is imprinted on the heart completely so that it flows from the heart even when the tongue is silent. This is the purpose of dhikr. The phrase 'the inward is imprinted with the Name' means that there is a result being built when the heart confirms the invocation of the tongue. This result is according to how much the tongue repeats it. Here we understand that dhikr by the tongue is advised so that perhaps the dhikr can enter the inward. In the first case, we have notice of Presence when the tongue is doing the dhikr. That is the best, because if there is no struggle with the dhikr of the tongue, it cannot move to the heart, even if it is a lot. The phrase 'Then, its meaning flows in the heart' means that the heart is dyed in the meaning of the dhikr, which is stillness and tranquillity by the invocation of Allah. The phrase 'when the tablet of the Unseen faces the mirror of the heart' means that when the heart has been dyed by the invocation of Allah in tranquillity, the lights of the Unseen face its polished, pure mirror. These lights are expressed as the Tablet of the Unseen. It is also called the gleams. At that time, what was hidden appears of the lights of witnessing. Then the existence of every existent being is folded up. Ash-Shushtari say, What was hidden is manifested, and I have enfolded the entire cosmos. From me my glasses went around, after my death you see me, alive. When the author said, 'Then he grasps the known and the unknown' he means that when the sun of gnosis rises, the murid understands the secret of what was unknown, he obtains the gnosis of the secret of his existence and is absent from his witnessing by witnessing the Worshipped. The phrase 'because he has accumulated a readiness to grasp' means that he does not grasp the secret of the known and the unknown, except if he amasses strength by his preparation for that. That is, complete emptiness and freedom from things. It is according to his disengagement that the realities of things are revealed to him. It is according to how much you are absent from beings that the witnessing of the Creator is revealed to you. You are with the beings as long as you do not witness the Creator. If you witness the Creator, beings become by you. It is impossible for you to be attached to the beings and know the secrets of their Maker in them. Allah the Exalted knows best. Shaykh ibn Ajiba has also said in his commentary: Shaykh Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "I wanted at the beginning of my path to travel by means of many awrad, and much fasting and prayer. When Allah knew the sincerity of my intention, He sent me one of His

awliya, who said to me, "O son, cut from your heart every attachment except Allah alone, and isolate yourself and gather your yearning and say 'Allah, Allah, Allah.' Do not add anything to what Allah has made obligatory on you except the Sunnah. Say this name with your tongue and your heart and your secret, and make your heart present, and gather your thoughts. When your self says, 'What is the meaning of this?' say to it, 'I am not required to give its meaning. Allah the exalted says to remember the Name of your lord and devote your self to Him whole-heartedly.'"' The Shaykh used to teach the faqir what was necessary, and put him into retreat and then put him in the care of a servant who taught him what the Shaykh had ordered him to do, the dhikr which was suitable to him, and what he needed in his travel. It is a condition that the servant must be higher than him in knowledge, state and taste. Some Shaykhs teach the Supreme name at the beginning, if they see that the faqir is capable of it, and he orders him to kill his self with the dhikr of his Lord. He gives him a time in which he remembers his Lord, and a time in which he kills his self. This is what we found our Shaykhs doing, [although] I say this manner is finished today… What remains is fuqara reminding each other. The Shaykh orders whoever is capable to remind the fuqara…Today, this manner has replaced the servant and the retreat, so the faqir must not hide anything of his states from the Shaykh, neither small nor great, because the slightest thing can make him inherit a lot. 'It is said to him, 'Say "Allah!" always, and Beware, do not forget Him for the blink of an eye.'

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