Shaykh Yusuf da Costa: Minding our own business

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As people in Tariqah, we have to keep our noses out of other people’s business, lives and the conditions of their homes. These matters are not matters for our concern. They are other people’s matters, and other people’s matters are the matters of other people. If one wants to regress spiritually or not progress at all, then one should get involved in the affairs, especially the unsavoury affairs, as we think, of other people.

What are the matters of our concern? Allah Almighty, as I’ve always said, has favoured us by placing us on a Tariqah path which leads to certain spiritual stations. What He has granted us, and also many others, is a very special honour in spirituality. Few people walk this path, and few people are engaged in the different religious activities on this path. We always say that our goal is Allah (ﷻ). We do not understand this. And so we should rather say: “Our goal is to obtain the satisfaction of our Lord and that He places us at the Heavenly station in the proximity of those groups that He refers to as ‘the best company’”. I want us to think about this. Here we are standing on a path and starting to walk on it and we are surrounded by all kinds of people who have no interest in what we are doing or they are opposed to what we are doing. They are involved in the multifarious activities of this world under the leadership of their egos and the master of the egos, Shaytan. They are his people. In a certain sense we are surrounded by spiritual darkness and only the path on which we are and the activities on this path are bathed in light. This is an active darkness reaching out all the time to those on the path, and creating major obstacles for them wherever they can intrude. This is one of the reasons why we grip the hand of an authorized shaykh. He helps to protect us from the darkness that swirls on either side of the path.

Much of the business and lives of other people are part of this darkness. How can we reach out, through various activities, to these people, who gossip, scandalize, sit in judgment of others, interfere in people’s lives and speak bad about others? People who indulge in these kinds of activities are not people of the path. They are people who are surrounded in darkness. When we get involved with these people and all their activities, then we are getting involved in their darkness, and so we listen to their gossip, advise them on their scandalizing, ask questions about their interference in other people’s lives and so many other things. And so, despite our being on the path, we have stepped off that path to get involved in matters that will cause our spirituality to decline. That is why Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:

كُوْنُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِيْنَ

Be with those who are truthful and pious (ix: 119).

This is because pious people are on this path. Of course, when we initiate new relationships in order to bring people onto the path or to help them in their remembrance of their Lord, then we sometimes establish relationships outside the path. This is inevitable. However, and this is a big however, we must not get involved in the different activities of family and social darkness that they are involved in. Our primary task is to bring them to the remembrance of their Lord, to enable their Lord’s lights to reach their hearts. Every time they gossip, scandalize, or interfere in other people’s lives, the layers of rust on their hearts increase. It is our duty to bring them away from what they do and to implant the remembrance of their Lord in their hearts and on their tongues. This is a very difficult process, because one has to protect oneself all the time from the gossiping and scandalizing tongues of those you are reaching out to. We must be careful that we do not fall into their traps; traps which will cause major spiritual retardation on our side. I’ve always said that Shaytan is a professional and we should be very careful that he does not mislead us through the good that we do.

I want you to remember that every bad thing that you express or do impacts negatively on your spiritual development, and even when you listen to these things which many of us do, that impact is also negative. We ask Allah Almighty, that in the work that we do, to bring others to His remembrance, He protects us from those activities that will cause our spirituality to decline, amin.

[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]


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