Peace, one and all…
The Threshold Society theme for December is of profound depth.
‘Endeavour to make God your companion in all your spiritual states, as much as possible’.
There is a lot to explore in this beautiful, and challenging aphorism. Firstly, companionship means friendship. I must befriend God if I am to make Him my companion. How does one befriend God? Friendship means sharing. I must actively strive to ‘share’ my states with God. Our states arise first in the divine before they become ‘ours’. Indeed, to speak of ownership here seems to miss the point. Friendship means devotion, it means being where the Friend is. In this present moment, devotion means living in and from the heart. It means sitting before God’s door within the heart, ever alert to what might manifest from therein. Friendship means love. It means being with the Divine, in each new moment and circumstance, as one might walk along a road with a close friend, experiencing the journey together. To make God my companion means opening a space for the Divine within. We cannot be true companions whilst we are full of our everyday egotistical concerns. How do we open up a space within? With remembrance, or zikr. With prayer, both formal and informal. With gratitude. With conscious relationship. With simple longing.
Opening such a space requires both effort and perseverance. I am warned by my heart that this is not the kind of grand effort my ego seems to enjoy, which is really a more or less obvious form of showing off. Rather, it is about the everyday choices I make, of trying to put God first in the small things, of striving for consistency. The Prophet (as) encouraged us to be consistent in our deeds: ‘Know that the most beloved deed to Allah is that which is done regularly even if it is small’ (Source). The individual building blocks of our lives, all of those individual moments, might seem small but they add up. Surah al-Asr advises us to avoid the ravages of time through mutual enjoining of truth and patience, of living in each new moment. The Sufi is to be the ‘son of the moment’ (ibn al-waqt), as the traditional saying goes. Given that companionship with God is our aim, in line with a recent sohbet, it is essential to constantly remember that although our efforts are necessary they are not sufficient. We are encouraged to try ‘as much as possible’ whilst remembering that only God is al-Kafi.
Effort, struggle and practice, all suggest that we will fail on occasion and, because we wish to make God our companion, that is okay. It’s perfectly okay to be a fallible human being. It’s perfectly okay to make honest mistakes. Apart from anything else, our mistakes and our failures open up the doors of repentance, of return, of tawba. The Prophet (as) said, in a beautiful hadith: ‘By Him in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin, Allah would replace you with people who would sin and they would seek forgiveness from Allah and He would forgive them’ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2749. Elsewhere, the Prophet (as) instructed us to turn to God with great frequency: 70 times daily in one place, and 100 in another. In other words, our failures and shortcomings are occasions for strengthening our bonds with God, not weakening them. Slowly, surely and through God’s grace, our hearts begin to melt, and the ice of our separate existence begins to give way before Hu’s overflowing love. We begin to see, so the great ones tell us, that the Divine is more real than we are.
Finally, my heart tells me that God must be the aim. My intention must be to closer to God, and not merely to acquire spiritual states. To be true, each and every state must be a doorway to God, not a final destination and not a ‘thing’ we possess.
Merciful One! Help us on our way to You! Grant us true, healing friendship with You, that You might be our constant companion!
And our last prayer is in praise of God, Sustainer of all the worlds.
Ask olsun! May love increase!