If you want to understand what valuable, difficulty-resolving talismans are the two parts of the phrase I believe in God and the Last Day, which solve both the enigmatical riddle of creation and open the door of happiness for the human spirit, and what beneficial and curative medicines are reliance on your Creator and taking refuge in Him through patience and entreaty, and supplicating your Provider through thanks, and what important, precious, shining tickets for the journey to eternity —and provisions for the hereafter and lights for the grave— are listening to the Qur’an, obeying its commands, performing the prescribed prayers, and giving up serious sins, then listen and pay attention to this comparison:
One time a soldier fell into a most grave situation in the field of battle and examination, and the round of profit and loss. It was as follows:
The soldier was wounded with two deep and terrible wounds on his right and left sides and behind him stood a huge lion as though waiting to attack him. Before him stood a gallows which was putting to death and annihilating all those he loved. It was awaiting him too. Besides this, he had a long journey before him: he was being exiled. As the unfortunate soldier pondered over his fearsome plight in despair, a kindly person shining with light like Khidr appeared. He said to him: “Do not despair. I shall give you two talismans and teach you them. If you use them properly, the lion will become a docile horse for you, and the gallows will turn into a swing for your pleasure and enjoyment. Also I shall give you two medicines. If you follow the instructions, those two suppurating wounds will be transformed into two sweet-scented flowers called the Rose of Muhammad (PBUH). Also, I shall give you a ticket; with it, you will be able to make a year’s journey in a day as though flying. If you do not believe me, experiment a bit, so that you can see it is true.” The soldier did experiment a bit, and affirmed that it was true. Yes, I, that is, this unfortunate Said, affirm it too. For I experimented and saw it was absolutely true.
Some time later he saw a sly, debauched-looking man, cunning as the Devil, coming from the left bringing with him much ornamented finery, decorated pictures and fantasies, and many intoxicants. He stopped before the soldier, and said:
“Hey, come on, my friend! Let’s go and drink and make merry. We can look at these pictures of beautiful girls, listen to the music, and eat this tasty food.” Then he asked him: “What is it you are reciting under your breath?”
“A talisman,” came the reply.
“Stop that incomprehensible nonsense! Let’s not spoil our present fun!” And he asked a second question: “What is that you have in your hand?”
“Some medicine,” the soldier replied.
“Throw it away! You are healthy, there is nothing wrong with you. It is the time of cheer.” And he asked: “What is that piece of paper with five marks on it?”
“It is a ticket and a rations card.”
“Oh, tear them up!”, the man said. “What need do we have of a journey this beautiful spring?” He tried to persuade him with every sort of wile, and the poor soldier was even a bit persuaded. Yes, man can be deceived. I was deceived by just such cunning deceptions.
Suddenly from the right came a voice like thunder. “Beware!”, it said. “Do not be deceived! Say to that trickster: ‘If you have the means to kill the lion behind me, remove the gallows from before me, repulse the things wounding my right and my left, and prevent the journey in front of me, then come on and do so! Show that you can and let us see it! Then say, come on, let’s go and enjoy ourselves. Otherwise be silent!’ Speak in the same way as that Khidr-like God-inspired man.”
O my soul, which laughed in its youth and now weeps at its laughter! Know that the unfortunate soldier is you, and man. The lion is the appointed hour. As for the gallows, it is death, decline, and separation, through which, in the alternation of night and day, all friends bid farewell and are lost. Of the two wounds, one is man’s infinite and troublesome impotence, while the other is his grievous and boundless poverty. The exile and journey is the long journey of examination which passes from the world of spirits through the womb and childhood to old age; through the world and the grave and the intermediate realm, to the resurrection and the Bridge of Sirat. As for the two talismans, they are belief in Almighty God and the hereafter.
Yes, through the second sacred talisman, death takes on the form of a mastered horse, a steed to take believing man from the prison of this world to the gardens of Paradise and the presence of the Most Merciful One. It is because of this that the wise who have seen death’s reality have loved it. They have wanted it before it came. And through the talisman of belief in God, the passage of time, which is decline and separation, death and decease and the gallows, takes on the form of the means to observe and contemplate with perfect pleasure the miracles of the All-Glorious Maker’s various, multicoloured, ever-renewed embroideries, the wonders of His power, and the manifestations of His mercy. Yes, when mirrors reflecting the colours of the sun’s light are changed and renewed, and the images of the cinema changed, better, more beautiful scenes are formed.
As for the two medicines, one is trusting in God and patience, and the other is relying on the power of one’s Creator and having confidence in His wisdom. Is that the case? Indeed it is. What fear can a man have, who, through the certificate of his impotence, relies on a Monarch of the World with the power to command: “Be!” and it is 1 For in the face of the worst calamity, he says: Verily, to God do we belong, and verily to Him is our return,2 and places his trust in his Most Compassionate Sustainer. A person with knowledge of God takes pleasure from impotence, from fear of God. Yes, there is pleasure in fear. If a twelve-month baby were sufficiently intelligent and it were asked him: “What is most pleasurable and sweetest for you?”, he might well say: “To realize my powerlessness and helplessness, and fearing my mother’s gentle smack to at the same time take refuge in her tender breast.” But the compassion of all mothers is but a flash of the manifestation of Divine mercy. It is for this reason that the wise have found such pleasure in impotence and fear of God, vehemently declaring themselves to be free of any strength and power, and have taken refuge in God through their powerlessness. They have made powerlessness and fear an intercessor for themselves.
The second medicine is thanks and contentment, and entreaty and supplication, and relying on the mercy of the All-Compassionate Provider. Is that so? Yes, for how can poverty, want and need be painful and burdensome for a guest of an All-Generous and Munificent One Who makes the whole face of the earth a table of bounties and the spring a bunch of flowers, and Who places the flowers on the table and scatters them over it? Poverty and need take on the form of a pleasant appetite. The guest tries to increase his poverty in the same way he does his appetite. It is because of this that the wise have taken pride in want and poverty. But beware, do not misunderstand this! It means to be aware of one’s poverty before God and to beseech Him, not to parade poverty before the people and assume the air of a beggar.
As for the ticket and voucher, it is to perform the religious duties, and foremost the prescribed prayers, and to give up serious sins. Is that so? Yes, it is, for according to the consensus of those who observe and have knowledge of the Unseen and those who uncover the mysteries of creation, the provisions, light, and steed for the long, dark road to post-eternity may only be obtained through complying with the commands of the Qur’an and avoiding what it prohibits. Science, philosophy, and art are worth nothing on that road. Their light reaches only as far as the door of the grave.
O my lazy soul! How little and light and easy it is to perform the five daily prayers and give up the seven deadly sins! If you have the faculty of reason and it is not corrupted, understand how important and extensive are their results, fruits, and benefits! Say to the Devil and that man who were encouraging you to indulge in vice and dissipation: “If you have the means to kill death, and cause decline and transience to disappear from the world, and remove poverty and impotence from man, and close the door of the grave, then tell us and let us hear it! Otherwise, be silent! The Qur’an reads the universe in the vast mosque of creation. Let us listen to it. Let us be illuminated with that light. Let us act according to its guidance. And let us recite it constantly. Yes, the Qur’an is the word. That is what they say of it. It is the Qur’an which is the truth and comes from the Truth and says the truth and shows the truth and spreads luminous wisdom.”
O God! Illuminate our hearts with the light of belief and the Qur’an.
O God! Enrich us with the need of You and do not impoverish us with the lack of need of You. Make us free of our own strength and power, and cause us to take refuge in Your strength and power. Appoint us among those who place their trust in You, and do not entrust us to ourselves. Protect us with Your protection. Have mercy on us and have mercy on all believing men and women. And grant blessings and peace to our Master Muhammad, Your Servant and Prophet, Your Friend and Beloved, the Beauty of Your Dominion and the Sovereign of Your Art, the Essence of Your Favour and the Sun of Your Guidance, the Tongue of Your Proof and the Exemplar of Your Mercy, the Light of Your Creation and the Glory of Your Creatures, the Lamp of Your Unity in the Multiplicity of Your Creatures and the Discloser of the Talisman of Your Beings, the Herald of the Sovereignty of Your Dominicality and the Announcer of those things pleasing to You, the Proclaimer of the Treasuries of Your Names and the Instructor of Your Servants, the Interpreter of Your Signs and the Mirror of the Beauty of Your Dominicality, the Means of witnessing You and bearing witness to You, Your Beloved and Your Messenger whom You sent as a Mercy to All the Worlds, and to all his Family and Companions, and to his brothers among the prophets and messengers, and to Your angels and to the righteous among Your servants. AMEN.