Doctors of the Heart

Excerpts from "Openings from Allah" by Shaykh Ahmad ibn Ajiba, a commentary on the Andalusian Sufic text, "The Basic Research".

From: Nuradeen Magazine

From the Nuradeen Magazine Vol. 1, No. 5 -- September/October 1981

He is a herbalist, a pharmacist, an ophthalmologist, and a master of kohl, an expert physician.

It is a condition upon the doctor of the hearts to know the composition of the cures of the heart, and its beverages, and the food of the spirits. He must also know the benefits of invocation and its tastes, the results of reflection and its gnosis. Invocation is like food for the hearts, and knowledge is like its drink. Discourse is like food for the spirits, and reflection and the glance are like its drinks. To keep company with the Gnostics is of great benefit to the hearts, and the spirits, and the secrets. It is their food and their drink and in it is their cure, every one according to his sincerity and his love and according to his degree and station. Every tribe knows its drinking place.

The Shaykh must know how to cure the inner sight. If it is bad because of doubt or kufr or hypocrisy, he must extract from it this impairment of trust. He must give it tranquility and clear certainty. This cure belongs to the people of great light and great care. They make one independent by a glance, even if the inner eye is apparently sound, but is shut because of the sickness of the sensory and illusion, or is blinded by meanness and disturbance and carelessness. The sign of this is that the one who carries it struggles to get what has been given to him and does not fulfill what is required of him. He cures him with the kohl of the unification of actions until he becomes certain that the one who is singled out with creating and forming is the one who is singled out with judgment and management. The one who planted the tree is the one who will water it and guard it. At this stage, worry will leave him, and disturbance and carelessness and fear, and meanness and avarice. His heart becomes strongly bonded to his Lord, rich from otherness.

When the inner eye has opened and the light is manifest to it, and it sees the nearness of the Real to it, but because of its weakness it cannot witness the light, the Shaykh puts on it the kohl of the unification of attributes. If it is open, and it can witness the light which surrounds it, but its own light is not strong enough to join it with the lights surrounding it, he puts on it the kohl of the unification of the essence -- then its light connects with the light of the kingdom of power, and it does not witness anything but the light. Only then is its cure complete and successful. This is the commentary upon what 'Ibn 'Ata 'Illah said, 'The gleams of inner sight allow you to witness the nearness of the Real to you, and the inner eye allows you to witness your non-existence because of His existence, and the truth of inner sight allows you to witness His existence and not your non-existence nor your existence.' 'Allah was, and nothing was with Him. He is now as He was.'

The phrase of the author, 'an expert physician', means that the Shaykh must know and gather all the knowledges of transactions. He must have gnosis of all the sicknesses and their cure. The people of his time know this in him, and the people of the art confirm it. This is not really a condition because the people of this art are hidden, and Allah the Exalted knows best.

Then the author goes on to say, concerning the states of the Shaykh,

He has reached expertise in symptoms, and the opposite sicknesses of the stomach, more than Galen or Hippocrates.

He says, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Shaykh must be more expert in the knowledge of hearts than these two famous hukama in their field. What he means by symptoms is everything that becomes a barrier for the murid in his travel, like his inclination toward leadership and reputation and his coming forward to position before his perfection. Another example would be inclination towards this world or occupation with means before he matures and perfects his going-on, and so on of what interrupts traveling. What he means by the opposite sicknesses are the low desires and purposes. The Shaykh must recognize the desires of the self and shaytan and angelic and Lordly desires. He must also know the noble and disgraceful purposes and elevated yearnings and low ones. He must cure the murid of mix-ups and gather his heart on Allah and upon being absent from other-than-Him by complete annihilation in Him so that he has a heart which is completely dedicated to Him. He must cure him of low purposes like love of desires by guiding him to realize slave-ness and to fulfill the functions of Lordship which are required of the Gnostics. And Allah the Exalted knows best.

If all these matters are perfect in the Shaykh, then it is appropriate for men to go to him for the cure of what is inside of them of illnesses. The author has explained this by saying,

When what he has is real, the critically ill and the sick seek him. He cures them of sicknesses, and the one whose heart is enraged becomes pleased.

I say that when these matters are realized in the Shaykh completely and perfectly, the sick one and the critically ill seek him out so that he can cure them of the sicknesses of their hearts. The greatest of these sicknesses are anxiety about provision, fear of creation, and management and choice, then anger and impatience when the decree has taken place. The Shaykh cures him by his yearning, the light of his inner sight, and by his glance until the heart of the sick one is full of the light of certainty. Then he becomes independent, by Allah, of everything else and the lights of reliance upon Allah shine upon him and he rests from the struggle of management and choice.

Then he tastes the sweetness of Iman. He is pleased with Allah in every state and time. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, 'The one who is pleased with Allah as his Lord, and Islam as his deen, and with Muhammad as his Messenger has tasted Iman.' In the Tanwir, it is said, 'The one who is pleased with Allah as his Lord submits to Him, and the one who is pleased with Muhammad as a Messenger follows him and the one who is pleased with Islam as a deen acts according to it.' I say that there is no doubt that the heart, when it is sick, does not taste the sweetness of trust. It does not savor obedience and conversation. The mouth of the sick one cannot savor drink or food. If the heart is sound, then he tastes the sweetness of trust. One of the pillars of Iman is to trust in the decree, its good and its bad, its sweetness and its bitterness. He must find everything that comes from Allah sweet, however it may be, because it is all from the Beloved. May Allah reward the one who said:

I am pleased with what Allah decrees,
His order is accepted with openness among the pious
If man is struck by the fire of struggle,
The pure gold is like cast gold
The one who has patience does not fear any matter but
He is happy in the two states, without any doubt.

The phrase, 'the one whose heart is enraged becomes pleased' is the sign of the cure. As long as the slave is in contraction, majesty, and difficulty or is in expansion, beauty, and ease, there is still a remainder of sickness of the heart in him. If all the states are the same with him, that is a sign of soundness and perfection. Then he joins the stations of men.

Dhu'l Nun al-Misri, may Allah be pleased with him, was asked, 'What is the description of 'Abdal?' He, said, 'You ask me about pitch darkness, to unveil it to you. They are people who remember Allah by their hearts, glorifying their Lord because they know His majesty. They are the proofs of Allah the Exalted over His creation. Allah the Exalted has given them the garment of light from His love. He has raised the banners of guidance to show them how to get to Him, and He has given them the station of heroes by His will, and He has given them some of His fear, and He has purified their bodies with His watching and He has perfumed them with the scent of the people of His transactions. He has given them robes from His love and has placed on their heads the crowns of His good care. He has deposited in their hearts rubies of His Unseen, and their hearts are connected by His union. Their yearnings flee to Him, and their eyes in the Unseen are looking at Him. He has established them in looking at Him and He made them sit on the chairs of the doctors among the people of His gnosis. He said to them, 'If one is sick because of losing Me, or because of being separate from Me, then cure him. Or if one comes to you who is sick because of fear of Me, give him victory. If one comes who thinks he is safe, then warn him. If one comes who yearns for union, then let him hope. If one comes who is traveling towards Me, give him provision. If one comes who is a coward in his transaction with Me, then encourage him. If one comes to you who has given up hope in My bounty, then give him hope. If one comes who hopes for My excellence, then give him good news. If one comes who has a good opinion of Me, be in expansion with him. If a lover of Mine comes, unite him. lf one comes who glorifies My worth, then glorify him. Or if one comes who has done wrong action after My excellence (Ihsan) to him, reprimand him. If one comes who seeks guidance, then guide him...' to the end of what he said, may Allah be pleased with him.

Then the author calls our attention to the purpose of this knowledge, and says,

This is not the medicine of Galen, it is concerned with selves.

Here, he has brought our attention, may Allah have mercy on him, to the fact that this type of medicine is not the medicine of the bodies which Galen the hakim used to know. Rather, it is the medicine of the selves, which makes them suitable for the Presence of the Perfectly Pure. This is the medicine of the heart which cures it of the sicknesses of forms and which readies it for entrance into the presence of the Knower of the Unseen. It makes it one of those who come to Allah with a sound heart, and makes it a sincere seat for a King of great worth, next to the Generous. May Allah give us the delight of dwelling in His presence in this world and the next.

[Added February 15, 2004]