Peace, one and all…
In one of the most profound passages in the Quran, God says of people who struggle on His way: ‘He loves them and they love Him’ (Quran 5:54). Divine love is the root, our love the branch: we love Him because God loves us. God’s loving-kindness, His divine rahma, is the template for whatever loving-kindness we ourselves might possess:
‘I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, Allah divided mercy into one-hundred parts and He kept ninety-nine parts with Him and sent down one part upon the earth, and because of that, this one single part, His creatures are merciful to each other, so that even the mare lifts up its hoofs away from its baby animal, lest it should trample on it.
(Bukhari, Book 73, 29).
Our ability to love flows from God, as does our ability to remember Him. Our remembrance of Him is, in reality, His remembrance of us. Or, more deeply, it is His remembrance of Himself. When we remember God sincerely, our sense of separation is effaced; we become a channel through which His remembrance flows. This is so because His remembrance is prior. This is so because His remembrance of us is love. Thus, we participate truly only when we disappear. We only truly exist when we embrace our own non-existence. Perplexity upon perplexity! It is only in passing away, that we truly arrive. It is only in dying that we find our true life. Love is amazement!
To reach this state is no easy thing. It takes dedication, hard work, openness, and no small amount of good humour. However, our own efforts can take us only so far, they can only prepare the ground so to speak. Divine grace is required. Only God is truly sufficient in disposing of our affair.
All of our attempts to remember God arise first in His remembrance of us. And yet, we must strive for presence, we must turn up. The Beloved tells us: ‘O you who believe! Remember God with frequent remembrance’ 38:41. We must participate. We must seek out the circles of divine remembrance, join them, be healed by them and finally dissolve in them. We must act. The Beloved also tells us: ‘and glorify Him morning and evening’ (38:42), and ‘pray steadfastly yourself’ (20:132), and so we are called to focus ourselves on God’s call, and to order our lives accordingly. Prayer and remembrance are enjoined upon us ‘so that you may find contentment’ (20:130), so that all the baggage we carry around within us might be resolved, so that the separation of our heart from God might be healed. We must serve: ‘And worship thy Lord, till certainty comes unto thee’. (15:99, The Study Quran). Love’s cause is worthy, and thus we must become worthy of it ourselves. And God’s hand is over all things.
Remembering God is to remember His presence, and to come into it. It is to know that the Divine is with us, whenever we remember, to whatever extent we remember. Regardless of our shortcomings, regardless of our faults, regardless of our separations, God is there, mysteriously present in our remembrance of Him, as a beautiful Hadith Qudsi makes clear. The Prophet (as) tells us that:
‘God, ever mighty and majestic is He, says: ‘I am with My servant when he remembers Me and when his lips move in mention of Me’ (Ibn Arabi Mishkat al-Anwar, 10).
And elsewhere, in a famous and profoundly beautiful tradition, the Prophet (as) informs us that:
‘God, ever mighty and majestic is He, says: ‘I am present in My servant’s thought of Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he mentions Me in himself, I mention him in My Self, and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in a better assembly than that. If he approaches Me by a hand’s breadth, I draw near to him by an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me by an arm’s length, I draw near to him by a fathom. If he comes to Me walking, I come to him running’
(Ibn Arabi, Mishkat 27)
Our human limitations are no obstacle. We are called by love. God takes the seed of love buried deep within our hearts, and causes it to grow. We are asked to simply remember. Why? Because, as the Prophet (as) makes abundantly clear, to remember God is to love Him, and love upholds the entire universe:
‘The one who remembers Allah abundantly loves Him.’
(Bihar al-Anwar, v. 93, p. 160, no. 39)
And our last prayer is in praise of God, Sustainer and Cherisher of all the worlds.
Ask olsun! May love increase!