On Sunday, 24 June 2012, we had our first assembly of dhikr in the Du Noon mosque. It was a very momentous occasion. This is the first mosque in the area and Allah’s (ﷻ) Name was called for the first time in the way we do in that structure. I think that all of us who were present there felt a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation to our Lord for having been involved in the building of another mosque. The fact that we are building these mosques and jamaat khanas in the poorest of areas, adds greater gratitude and appreciation. In our own small way, we are following an important Prophetic Practice, and that is to work amongst the very poor. I sometimes think that being able to do things for the poor, even in very small ways, is a very special honour for all of us who were there on Sunday. There are also others who were not there but who also made their contribution. Not a single person had anything negative to say about the structure or about the activities. It humbles all of us when we think that we have made a contribution to the religious life of the people in that area.
Despite all the positives, a very significant negative happened during the proceedings and I want to talk to you a little about this. While we were busy in deep remembrance of our Lord, it started to rain. A number of people got up from the assembly and ran outside to save their shoes from becoming wet. Perhaps they had never walked in the rain so they do not know about wet shoes. But this was not the disturbing factor. What disturbed one was how shallow the remembrances of our Lord was that a little bit of rain could cause so many people, adults and children, to jump up. I can understand the children, but I cannot understand the adults. Later the evening I felt very despondent. We are doing all these things; building mosques, making congregational dhikrs, feeding people, and so many other things, and yet … was what happened a demonstration of the lack of effect that all of these things were having on the hearts of those who jumped up, and perhaps many more? It has become a serious concern for me that it appears that the hearts are not being reached. This is such a worry, because there are many other things that happen, which demonstrate to us that hearts are not changing; not keeping appointments, not informing the office if appointments cannot be kept, not being on time, not excusing oneself when not on time and so many other things, which have to do with our behaviour as religious beings, but which reflect hearts that are not totally unshackled or hearts which are not totally free of rust. I sometimes sit in dismay when I look at what we sometimes do, not realising the impact on our hearts.
Is the road longer than what we have assumed and each spiritual attainment that we talk about, even far more difficult to attain that what we had thought? You see, goals cannot be reached in spirituality without a transformation of the behaviour patterns of those engaged in a religious quest. On numerous occasions I have spoken about behaviour patterns as reflected in the teachings of Futuwwah and on so many other occasions I have written about this. I am not saying that I am the paragon of spiritual virtue. No, no, no … I am seeing in others what I am perhaps not seeing in myself, and as I am appealing with regard to the matters mentioned in this letter, I am also appealing to myself to see to it that my behaviour is of an impeccable nature.
Surely, on this path, because of its nature and because of its difficulties, our responses to all situations must be seriously calculated ones. We do this because our striving for piety is a seriously calculated striving. I remarked today with regard to a particular murid that whenever he has to be somewhere, he is there and that there are those murids who, whenever they have to be somewhere, they are not there. How are we going to get it right to encourage in each one of us, a discipline of spiritual behaviour that will push us forward in our spiritual development and growth? How are we going to do this when even the most elementary rules with regard to punctuality, attendance and all matters related to these, are not being adhered to?
So many times I have told the murids : “Please think”. I say this, because we need to have our hearts geared in such a way so that our Lord can place those hearts between “two of His Fingers”, and turn those hearts to Him. It is when our Lord wants to turn our hearts or direct our hearts to Him so that they become His, that we fail so miserably. Don’t we know that our Lord is busy with our hearts by looking at them and by giving them direction? Don’t we know that our spiritual success lies in the direction that He is giving our hearts? Don’t we know this? Don’t we know that just as our Lord can look at our hearts, He can also look away? Don’t we know that just through our intense and consistent remembrance of Him, He gives our hearts direction, but when our remembrance is sloppy, then our hearts can become directionless? Don’t we know?
Every time I read the Holy Tradition of how our Lord approaches us when we make only the slightest approach to Him, I come to understand that if it were not through His Generosity and His Mercy and His Love, where would we have been? When He grants us the most perfect of the highest possible standards of blessings, we return a sloppy remembrance to Him. What happened on Sunday was an exhibition of sloppiness by those of us who should have known better. It is a major insult to Him when in return to what He has granted us, we respond with forms of behaviour that we will not even use for other human beings. He is our Lord. What we grant to Him must be of the highest quality, of the highest spiritual quality that lies within our abilities. How can we expect Him to grant us of the Graces that He has granted His Friends elsewhere, when we are not prepared to demonstrate to Him our dignity and our service to Him. I am writing this letter feeling despondent, because in a certain sense, I am responsible for each one of you. And I am despondent not only because of what some of you do, but also because of what I am unable to do. Perhaps I should try harder. I still cannot fathom how human beings respond after being scolded. I cannot understand this. We are, in my opinion, in perhaps the most active Tariqah in this country, an Order that goes out of its way to implement the Prophetic Practice. We, in our work, and in our relationships and in our social responses, should demonstrate forms of behaviour that reflect a spiritually developed or developing heart. I ask our Lord to forgive all of us for our indiscretions, to straighten us on this path and to put our feet firmly, one in front of the other, as we walk on this path, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]