There are times when some of us commit even the smallest transgression, and we “run” to our Lord seeking repentance or forgiveness. Our repentance is not governed by the size of the transgression but by a heart that is fearful of its Lord. And so, whether it is a minor and insignificant transgression or a major one, the depth of the repentance and its extent are sometimes very similar. At other times the extent of the repentance and the cry of the heart depend on the size of the transgression. All in all, matters depend on the response of the heart to the situation it finds itself in. Although the heart is under the control of our Lord, it has the ability to call on Him when the need arises.
We must understand this call. It is not what we imagine it to be. It doesn’t involve the words we are speaking. It has to do with deep regret for what one has done. It is this regret that also governs the nature of the repentance; the deeper the regret the more intense the repentance. It is supposed to be like this, but human beings differ so much from each other and at certain levels have so little in common, that each one’s response is an individual one. I do not think that there are any two similar responses of repentance by two individuals to the same transgression.
I am using the example of repentance to show the extent of our spiritual individuality. For each one it is in his own way. This is perhaps the reason why we cannot always understand how different Sufi masters respond in different ways to the situations they are in or to the blessing they receive. At the spiritual level, our individuality is stark, and what we receive as blessings is in no way related to any individual work. Each person has an accumulated record of hasanat so that when he performs any other good deed there is a major growth in this hasanat. Are the blessings in response to the accumulated record of good deeds or are blessings in response to the most recent addition to that record? We do not know. Do blessings increase with the increase in the record or is each set of blessings for each individual record? We can only guess.
Sometimes when I read in the Qur’an and the Prophetic Traditions how Allah Almighty multiplies the blessings for a single good deed, from 10 to beyond 700, then I wonder whether this Divine Response to what we do is not a response to our accumulated record. And so our Lord pours on us endless blessings all the time for what we achieve in His Name.
When I think of the Salawat and when I think of the Divine Salawat of which we know so little of its “beginnings” and where it is going to “end”, and I imagine the word “eternal” attached to it, I come to realize the eternal extent and depth of blessings that Allah Almighty pours on His beloved servant all the time. In this Salawat there is an ocean of knowledge for those whom Allah Almighty has granted special understanding. And even we, people of little understanding, see our participation in the special Divine Grace as a major blessing for us. And when we multiply all the existing atoms by themselves and ask our Lord to grant to the Messenger (ﷺ) that totality of Salawat, then from our side we are busy with numbers and totals that appear not to have an end. One’s mind cannot always take this understanding and this has to do with only one matter. There is a strong feeling in one, if one considers what I have just written, of blessings for one that are just short of eternal; if I can put it in that way. We are servants of such little gratitude and little understanding of our Lord, and as we display obedience to Him, He engulfs us in blessings that we have no idea of. It is always one’s desire that when these blessings are exposed to us on the Final Day, that they will carry us to an incomparable servitude. But this is just a major desire; perhaps not…perhaps not.
If one goes back to the beginning of the letter at which I spoke about repentance and forgiveness, both these words, one more intense than the other, has Arabic connotations in the Qur’an and so, they are of the uncreated words of our Lord. This is how Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal defines the words of the Qur’an. So, when I say astaghfirullah, I am busy with my Lord’s words. If these words flow from a heart in which there is of the Presence of our Lord, how can we define the dimensions of these words? Think about this. The heart in deep regret calls to its Lord with His Uncreated Words from a “space” in which there is of the Presence of our Lord. Does this mean that when we are busy with our Lord with His Words, we are busy with what appears to be infinity? What appears finite to us is definitely not finite by our Lord. Is it like this, or are the Words of our Lord little finite compositions of limited meanings? I cannot see it like that. Is this perhaps not the reason why there is so little understanding of the nature of our Lord’s Workings, the extent of His Blessings and the nature of our Records? Are these things not sometimes beyond our comprehension because we deal with concepts and understandings from a dimension that we have no knowledge of? While I dictate this, I realise our smallness in relation to the Greatness of our Lord; if one can make such a comparison. Again I must ask our Lord for forgiveness and repentance if in this letter there is anything that shows a total lack of knowledge. Perhaps it is just like that, and although we do not understand His Workings, we still try to draw from His Teachings those ideas that will give us some comprehension of His Workings and His Names. We ask Him for all of these, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]