NEITHER OFFENDING NOR BEING OFFENDED I.

The Mathnawi: If you know who is within this heart, what is this rude behavior at the front door of the Owner of the heart?”

“Ignorant ones show respect to man-made masjids, but through apathy they break the tender hearts.” (v.2: 3108-3109)

The heart is under the constant gaze of the Lord Almighty. Wounding a heart is the greatest offence a nafs can commit. For this reason in a couplet Mawlânâ says:

“Kâ’be bünyâd-ı Halîl-i Âzer est

 Dil, nazargâh-ı Celîl-i Ekber est”

The meaning is that the Ka‘ba is a structure that was built by Ibrâhîm, the son of Âzar, but the heart is the place where Allah Almighty’s gaze falls. Therefore, demolishing a heart, which is a place where the Almighty gazes, is a greater sin than demolishing the Ka‘ba.

In addition, Yûnus Emre, the well-known Turkish dervish and poet, points out the same fact:

The old hodja with a white beard

Is not aware of his state (his place in front of Allah).

He should not trouble himself with the Hajj

If he has broken a heart.

The human being is the most honored of creation and has been created as the most perfect of all. A human heart is the site at which Allah Almighty gazes. In a hadîth qudsî Allah Almighty says, “Neither the earth nor the heavens will contain Me; only the heart of the believing servant (contains me).” (Ajlûnî, Kashfu l-Khafâ, II: 195) All this further clarifies the honored state of humans and the gravity of hurting another human or wounding their hearts.

Those with a wounded heart have a highly esteemed place with Allah Almighty. Those who wish to please Allah should gratify these sad souls. Indeed, one day the Prophet Mûsâ (a.s) made a supplication to Allah Almighty and said:

“O Lord! Where shall I seek for you?” Allah Almighty replied, “Seek me with those whose hearts have been broken!” (Abû Nu‘aym, Hilya, II; 364)

In a hadîth qudsî narrated from Abû Hurayra (r.a), the beloved Prophet (pbuh) said, “On the day of resurrection Allah, the Azîz and the Jalîl, will say,‘O Mankind! I was unwell, did you visit me?’ The servant will answer, ‘O Lord! When You are the Lord of the heavens and earth how can I visit You?’ Allah Almighty will reply, ‘You knew that such and such a servant of mine was ill, yet you did not visit him. Do you not know that if you had visited him you would have found Me with him?’

Allah Almighty will say, ‘O Mankind! I wanted food from you but you did not feed me!’ The servant will reply, ‘O Lord, how can I feed You? You are the Lord of the Universe!’ Allah Almighty will say, ‘Such and such a servant of mine wanted food from you. You did not feed him. Do you not know that if you had given him food you would have found Me with him!’ Allah Almighty will say, ‘O Mankind! I wanted water from you but you did not give me water!’ The servant will answer, ‘O Lord! How can I give water to you? You are the Lord of the Worlds!’ Allah Almighty will reply, ‘Such and such a servant of mine wanted water from you. You did not give him water. Do you not know that if you had given him water you would have found Me with him!’” (Muslim, Birr, 43)

Regardless of being a Muslim or a heathen, the prayer of every person who has been hurt or who is under oppression is presented to Allah Almighty and accepted in the shortest time. Indeed, there are no barriers between the prayers of a wronged person and Allah Almighty. The Messenger of Allah advised the Companions to avoid the curses of these wronged people whose prayers are guaranteed saying:

“Beware of the curse of the wronged person because there are no barriers between him and the Lord Almighty.” (Muslim, Imân, 29)

There are three people whose prayers will not be rejected by Allah: 1. The prayer of the fasting person until they break their fast; 2. The prayer of the wronged person; 3. The prayer of a just ruler.” (Tirmidhî, Da‘awât, 48; Ibn Mâjah, Du‘â, 2)

The following hadîth beautifully expresses that Allah Almighty will not permit His servants to be despised: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told us: “[Once] a man abruptly said, ‘I swear by Allah that He will not forgive such and such a person.’ The Lord Almighty replied, ‘Who is the one swearing that I will not forgive such and such a person? I have forgiven him and cancelled all of your (good) deeds!’” (Muslim, Birr, 137)

The Mathnawi: “Allah will not wreak ruin upon a people unless they hurt a Prophet, a saint or a godly person” (v.2: 3112)

The couplet states that one of the main reasons for the destruction of a people is that they have hurt a Prophet or a person close to Allah. This also means that individuals or groups that respect, value and esteem those who are close to Allah will be rewarded with an increase in their honor and dignity.

In a hadîth al-qudsî it is said, “Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask (something) of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it..” (Bukhârî, Riqâq, 38)

Few better examples than Mûsâ (a.s) exist in this regard.. Recognizing his sublime and spiritual power, the magicians of the Pharaoh asked him if he would like to be the first to throw his staff. Thus, with the barakah (blessing) of this kindness, as they had accepted the supremacy of a person who was close to Allah, they were blessed with guidance. On the other hand, they were requited with a punishment for their audacity in competing with a Prophet. As we know, they were first tortured and then martyred, their hands and feet cut off on the order of the Pharaoh.

Whilst in competition with Mûsâ the magicians had reached the lowest point of kufr (disbelief) yet on the very same day they managed to reach the highest spiritual heights from where they defied the Pharaoh; when faced by his oppression and menace they were able draw from the level of their îmân such that they preferred the eternal to the transient.

They (magicians) answered, “Never shall we prefer thee to all the evidence of the truth that has come unto us, nor to Him who has brought us into being! Decree, then, whatever thou art going to decree: thou canst decree only [something that pertains to] this worldly life!” (Tâhâ, 20: 72)

In another verse of the Qur’ân we are told,

They answered, “No harm [canst thou do to us]: verily, unto our Sustainer do we turn!” (Shu‘arâ, 26: 50)

Worried about the weakening of their îmân as the Pharaoh severely tortured them, they pleaded with Allah for steadfastness in patience and îmân.

“O our Sustainer! Shower us with patience in adversity, and make us die as men who have surrendered themselves unto Thee!”(A‘râf, 7: 126)

Rûmî analyses the spiritual dimension of this event as follows: “The cursed and tyrannical Pharaoh, threatening the magicians because of their îmân, said, ‘I will have your hands and feet cut off (alternately) and then I will not forgive you, but have you hanged.’ The Pharaoh thought that the magicians would be frightened and startled, bowing down before him trembling. But the Pharaoh did not know that the magicians were free of fear and worry, and were aware of Divine secrets and truth. Even if they were beaten a hundred times and became powder in the mortars of fate, they now had the wisdom and foresight to differentiate their shadows from themselves.”

This means that the magicians understood that the soul is the reality and the body is but a shadow. They sacrificed this shadow immediately and reached the state of fanâfillah.

O mankind! This world is but a resting place and a dream. Do not be taken in by the merriment and splendor of it. Even if your hand is cut off or if you are sliced into pieces in a dream, do not be frightened! The Prophet Muhammad (May God bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘This world is naught but a dream.’”

The Mathnawi: “Some people attempted to struggle against the Prophets. They saw their bodies (the Prophets’ bodies) and thought them to be ordinary people.”(v.2: 3113)

Those who regard Prophets to be like their fellow beings and do not see the Divine manifestations, the wisdom and the privileges that have been bestowed upon them cannot save their nafs from being dragged into erroneous actions or impiety. This is a state that has existed throughout history. People who could not perceive the Prophets, their divine duties or their complete spiritual worlds have been ruined because of their audacity and because they are unable to attain submission or obedience. The likes of Abû Jahl and Abû Lahab thought of the Prophet Muhammad as mere flesh and blood, no different to themselves; as a result they were destroyed for their inability to comprehend.

The Companions who knew the Prophet well observed him in awe. Abû Bakr (r.a) who was one of the most prominent of the Companions, felt a yearning for the Prophet even when they were together; he closely observed the Messenger, the sun to both worlds, with admiration.

The state of the Prophet’s muezzin, Bilâl (r.a), was a different story. When the Messenger of Allah passed away, it was as if Bilâl had lost his voice unable to speak. He could not stay in Medina any longer.

Abû Bakr the Caliph pleaded with him to call the prayer once more, but Bilâl’s answer was: “O Abû Bakr! Ask me what I wish for I do not have the strength to call the prayer after the death of the Messenger of Allah. Do not force me. Please let me be…” But Abû Bakr wanted to hear once more the beautiful call to prayer of which rung out in the days of old; he continued pleading with Bilâl finally saying, “After being deprived of their Messenger, should the nation be deprived of the Messenger’s muezzin too?” Bilâl  (r.a)  finally gave in and went up the minaret, trying his utmost to hold back his tears, in order to make the call for the morning prayer. He could not contain himself, however, and began to weep. Bilâl, unable to bring himself to make the call, in spite of all efforts, was pressed no further by Abû Bakr in this regard.

Bilâl could not stay in Medina any longer and the same morning he immediately left for the city of Damascus. He participated in battles on the frontiers so that he would become a martyr and be with the Messenger of Allah; but as a matter of Divine predestination, he returned alive after each battle. Years passed in such a state.

One night, he saw the Messenger in his dream. The Messenger said to him, “O Bilâl! What is this pain? Is it not time for you to visit me?”

Bilâl woke up in haste and immediately set off into the desert on his camel. After traveling on his own for many days, he at last reached the radiant city of Medina. He ran straight to the grave of the Prophet before anyone could catch sight of him, and collapsed on the grave upon reaching it. As he put his head on the grave he started to cry and said, “I have come, O Messenger, I have come!” Just at that moment the Prophet’s grandsons Hasan and Hussayn (pbuh) came. Seeing them, Bilâl rose and embraced them tightly, saying, “O the lights of the Prophet’s eyes!” Hasan said, “Bilâl, I would like to ask you something, but will you do it for me?” Bilâl responded, “Tell me, my dear child, tell me!” Hasan said, “We long to hear you make the call to prayer as you once did for the Prophet at his masjid. We would like to hear it, will you make it?” “I will make it for you,” replied Bilâl. At noon, Bilâl went up to the place where he used to make the call to prayer in the masjid of the Prophet. He began to shout “Allâhu Akbar, Allâhu Akbar!” in such a way that all of Medina shook associating this sound with the Messenger of Allah. The mountains and rocks wailed with this deep cry. When Bilâl reached “Ash hadu an lâ ilâha ilallâh” the whole city trembled and with “Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasâlallâh!” everyone poured onto the streets. People were asking each other if the Messenger had returned to the world; people were crying, wailing…

Bilâl (r.a) was trying to not choke on his tears in order to complete the call. But it was not possible… He could not contain himself; he was exhausted and fainted on the spot.

Sayyidina Fâtimah ( r.ha), the most esteemed of the women of Heaven, was another soul who was deeply grieved by the passing away of her father, the Messenger of Mercy. “The passing of the Messenger to the afterlife was such a calamity for me that if it had come at the time of darkness, the color of darkness would have changed.”

May Allah enlighten our hearts with the love of the beloved Prophet, the Companions and the people of God who follow in their footsteps. May He enable us to know the Prophet well and benefit from his character and personality. May He make the Prophet’s sublime love a sustenance for our hearts, one which never is exhausted, but increases continuously! Âmîn!

The Mathnawi: When in anger, if you have wounded hearts and caused them to burn, that fire will feed the hellfire for you”

“The fire of your anger will burn you even in this world; it will cause you destruction. The hellfire born from this destruction will burn you eternally in the Hereafter.”

“Here, the fire of your rage is aimed at people. The fire of Hell, which is the end product of this aim, will attack you eternally in the Hereafter.” (v.3: 3472-3474)

The perfect man has such an impeccable morality and nature that he is not angry with anyone or hurt by anyone. He has reached the secret of the following verse:

The God conscientious- who spend [in His way] in time of plenty and in time of hardship, and hold in check their anger, and pardon their fellow-men because God loves the doers of good;”(Âl ‘Imrân, 3: 134)

It is narrated that Ja‘far al-Sâdiq (r.a) had a slave who took care of the domestic chores. One day, the slave accidentally poured a bowl of soup over Ja‘far. Ja‘far, covered in soup, looked angrily at the slave’s face. The slave said, “Sir! In the Qur’ân it says, ‘…those who defeat their anger,” to which Ja‘far replied, “I have defeated my anger!” This time the slave said, “In the same place of the Qur’ân it says, “…those who pardon their fellow men.” Ja‘far said, “Alright! I forgive you!” But the slave continued, “At the end of the ayah it says, “Allah loves the doers of good.” After this Ja‘far said, “All right, you are now free; I have freed you for the sake of Allah!”

The chapter of anger from the book of life is in fact a history of disaster. The remedy against these despised outbursts of rage, the way to deliverance from this grave danger, is to use the strength of brotherhood and patience, and, without disturbing the balance, to enwrap oneself in silence.

When Abû Dardâ (r.a) asked the Prophet (pbuh) to teach him something that would take him to Heaven, the Prophet replied, “Do not get angry!” (Bukhârî, Adab, 76; Tirmidhî, Birr, 73)

On another occasion a person came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “O, Messenger of Allah, I do not have the strength to memorize a great deal. Tell me something concise which will bring true happiness.” The Prophet (pbuh) also told him, “Do not get angry.” In other hadîths it is said, “Allah Almighty will cover the shameful acts of those who hold their anger” (Ihyâ, III, 372) “There is no deed better for a servant than containing his anger in order to attain the blessings of Allah.” (Ihyâ, III, 392) “The strong and powerful wrestler is not the one who throws everyone, pinning them to the floor. The real hero is the one who holds his anger in at the appropriate time.” (Bukhârî, Adab, 102; Muslim, Birr, 106-108)

The Mathnawi: If a weak and miserable person asks for the mercy and help of Allah Almighty, a great clamor will fall onto the armies of the Heavens (i.e. the angels).” (vol. 1: 1315)

“O man! The oppression and wickedness you see from others are the reflection and the manifestation of your own bad behavior which is only emanating from them.” (vol. 1: 1318)

In one hadîth we are warned against the complaints of the oppressed and it is said that nothing can stand in the way of their prayers reaching the Divine Presence. Therefore, one should refrain from oppressing others. However, the oppressed should also think that the oppression and wickedness they face are a reflection and manifestation of their own bad character in another person. Thus, Mawlâna describes the peace and restlessness in a person’s inner and outer worlds as follows:

If a thorn has pricked you, know that you planted that thorn! If you rest within soft and beautiful materials, know that you have woven them!”

“If you were to delve into the depths of your character and nature you would know that wickedness and immorality comes from yourself.”

However, all the misfortune and bad treatment one faces are not always a result of one’s own faults. If this were so, the Prophets, who are without sin, would never have encountered ill-treatment. These misfortunes are sometimes an integral part of this world, which is a place of trial, and sometimes are aimed at helping a person mature spiritually.

Nevertheless, some misfortunes come because of the actions of people themselves, as mentioned above; in such cases, one should check and account for one’s actions. For this reason, before talking, we should be careful about what comes out of our mouths. The intention should not be to hurt with the thorns that fall from our dagger, but to shield hearts within our own heart. Our behavior should reflect what we say and we should reflect this beauty all around us.

The Mathnawi: “One who hurts a human does not know that he has hurt Allah. Does he not know that the water in this pitcher is mingled with the water of the river of Haqq?” (vol. 1: 2520)

Offending a believer will bring Allah’s anger even before such a behavior causes that person’s anger. This is because Allah loves His creation very much. Hence He even forbids backbiting His sinner slave in order to protect that person’s honor.

The Lord Almighty has given mankind an aptitude for drawing close to Him, as He has stated in the following verse: “… I breathed into him of My spirit (i.e. of my qudra)…” (Hijr, 15: 29, Sâd, 38: 72) and He created the human with the secret of ahsan al-taqwîm in the finest form. For this reason, Allah Almighty does not approve of any of His servants being hurt through disparagement or belittling. It is said that as he was crossing a beach, Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî saw a young man drinking wine from a jug. The same man was also laughing loudly with a woman next to him. Muhyiddîn Ibn ‘Arabî thought to himself, “A human must think himself the lowest of creation and be very humble, but I think I am superior to this young sinner. I do not drink wine and I do not act in a way that is reckless or immoral.” Just then, a cry was heard from the sea,” We are sinking, help!” Hearing this cry, the young man threw the jug and ran into the sea in an instant; in a couple of minutes he was carrying four people who had nearly drowned onto the beach. Ibn ‘Arabî, who was watching everything that took place in astonishment, had found the answer to his doubts which had earlier arisen in his mind. He thought, “Look, that young man who you so belittled and despised, thinking him a sinner, has saved four people in an instant. What did you do? You were not even able to save one!”

As in this anecdote, there will exist people who we can only see outwardly, yet who conceal within talents and treasures. There is no guarantee for anyone concerning their last breath except for the Prophets. For this reason, the people of tasawwuf have acknowledged that belittling the servants of Allah is like murdering the heart.

The Mathnawi: You become angry with every difficulty, you spite every rude person. Well then, how will you become a mirror without being polished?” (vol. 1: 2980)

A human being matures through difficulties and deprivation. Avoiding every difficulty is a means of indolence, selfishness and a weakness of the mind. The correct thing to do is to look and see if there is a balance between the difficulty one is enduring and the result one will achieve.

According to this measure, a person who faces treatment that they have not deserved should question themselves to see if they have in some way called for this, rather than getting angry and retaliating. When treated badly, even when one does not deserve it, showing patience is the first level of maturity, and being thankful and feeling sorry for the perpetrator is the highest level. Such strength is rare and is by no means easy. Such strong wrestlers are really few in number.

Having compassion and being close to the weak, the poor, the wretched and the lonely is a requisite of mercy. But one should feel pity also towards

– “The conscience of the oppressors” that persecute the helpless and weak people.

– “Wretched souls who enslave” their vast opportunities for the “splendor of mortal and excessive pleasure”,

– “Vile souls who are destitute of mercy” in an environment where rights and justice are absent. Because, these people will be the greatest losers in the Hereafter.

The story of Habîb al-Najjâr, which we read in verses thirteen to twenty-seven of Yâsîn is a beautiful example that demonstrates the heroic dimension of this attitude. Habîb al-Najjâr was martyred because he informed people about the truth. According to the Qur’ânic declaration, as he was saying farewell to life, the divine curtains were parted before his eyes and he said, “Would that my people knew how my Sustainer has forgiven me [the sins of my past], and has placed me among the honored ones!” (Yâsîn, 36: 26-27)

The one who martyred himself as a sign of his closeness to Allah felt pity for the heedlessness and misery of his people.

Al Mathnawi: “The important thing is to have the temperament of a rose. Which in this garden of the world means rather than seeing the thorns and being hurt by them, thus becoming like a thorn, one should be like a rose for the entire world, embracing them with the mood of spring, even though trials such as winter come in between.”(v.3: 3259)

For a human being, becoming a rose means becoming “good (khayr) itself”. People who can achieve this are even able to make snakes submissive. This is because those who are close to Allah never look at any of Allah’s creation with enmity (bughd) or hatred. The natural animosity they feel against evil is the object of a secrecy that goes beyond the evil-doer. This is called bughd fillâh, that is“being angry for the sake of Allah”.

It is not easy to have such kind regard and sentiments with the incidents that take place in this world. In order to achieve this, one needs to travel a great distance on the journey, which starts at the nafs al-ammâra and ends atthenafs al-kâmila.

Mawlânâ converses with the rose in the following fashion:

“The rose gained its beautiful smell because it got along well with the thorn. Listen to this truth also from the rose. See what it says: ‘Why should I fall into despair because I am with the thorn, why should I let myself grieve? I have gained laughter for bearing togetherness with that ill-natured thorn. Through it I was able to put forth beauties and pleasant scents to the world…’”

In order to have an affect on those one comes across, a believer should reach a maturity in their behavior and language where they will feel responsible for the mistakes of such people. Just like a doctor whose responsibility is to look for a cure for illnesses rather than getting angry with the patient, the people of tasawwuf see the sinners as birds with broken wings and instead of getting angry they take them into the courts of their hearts, hating the sin, not the sinner.