Allah Almighty has said:
“… So that you may not despair over matters that pass by, nor exult over favors bestowed upon you” (Qur'an, 57:23);
“Allah is pleased with them and they with Him” (Qur'an, 5:119; 9:100; 58:22 and 98:8).
Be informed that acceptance [of whatever Allah decrees] is the fruit of love for Allah: One who loves something does it, and love is the fruit of knowledge. When one loves an individual because he has some attributes of perfection or qualities of beauty, this love increases whenever he gets to know him more and more and thinks about him.
If one ponders on the greatness and perfection of Allah Almighty, the explaining of some of which is quite lengthy and gets us out of the gist of this message, he would love Him, and the believers love Allah the most. When one loves Him, he sees as good anything that He does, and this is called acceptance.
Acceptance, then, is the fruit of love. Actually, it is the fruit of every type of perfection. Since it is a branch of knowledge, one who ponders on His mercy would plead to Him [for it]. One who ponders on His greatness fears Him. When one cannot reach the one whom he loves, he yearns for him.
And when he reaches him, he feels comfortable with him. When there is extreme comfort of this sort, it produces joy. When one sees how He cares [about everyone and everything], he would rely on Him. And when one sees as good whatever He does, he becomes pleased with Him.
As he sees how faulty he is compared to His perfection, His full knowledge of and control over the one whom He loves, he surrenders to Him. From such surrender great stations branch out; some of those who know them know them, and these reach the ultimate end of every type of perfection.
Be informed that acceptance is a great virtue for man. Actually, all virtues are rendered to it. Allah Almighty has drawn attention to its distinction, making it conjoint with the acceptance of Allah Almighty and a mark pointing to it:
“Allah is pleased with them and they with Him” (Qur'an, 5:119).
But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah: that is the supreme joy; such is the ultimate end of benevolence, the zenith of gratitude.
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, has made it a guide to conviction (iman). When he asked a group from among his companions: “Who are you?” They said, “Believers.” He asked them, “What is the mark of your belief?” They said, “We persevere when afflicted, we thank when prosperous and we accept when destiny befalls.” He said, “Believers, you are, by the Lord of the Ka’ba.”1
He, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, also said, “If Allah loves one of His servants, He tries him with affliction: If he perseveres, He will choose him; when he is pleased, He will count him among the elite ones.”2
He, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, has also said, “When it is Judgment Day, Allah Almighty will plant wings for a group from among my nation whereby they will fly from their graves to Paradise where they roam about and enjoy as they please. The angels will ask them, ‘Did you witness the Reckoning?’
They would say, ‘We did not witness any Reckoning.’ They would ask them, ‘Did you pass on the Sirat?’ They would say, ‘We saw no Sirat.’ They would ask them, ‘Did you see Hell?’ They would say, ‘We did not see any such thing.’ The angels would then say, ‘To which nation do you belong?’ They would answer saying, ‘We belong to the nation of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny.’
The angels would then ask them, ‘We plead to you in the Name of Allah to tell us how your deeds in life were.’ They would say, ‘There were two attributes in them. It is through them that Allah Almighty got us to reach this status through the favor of His mercy.’ The angels would ask them about these two attributes, and they would answer saying, ‘Whenever we were by ourselves we felt too shy to be disobedient of Allah; and we were always pleased with whatever He allotted for us.’ The angels will say, ‘What you now have rightfully belongs to you.’”3
He, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, has also said, “Grant Allah acceptance from your hearts, you will thus win the rewards of Allah Almighty on the Day of your want and bankruptcy.”4
In narratives about Moses, peace be with him, he was asked once: “Ask your Lord about something because of which, if we do it, He would be pleased with us.” Allah Almighty inspired to him saying, “Tell them to be pleased with Me so I may be pleased with them.”5
Similar to the above is narrated about our Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, who has said, “If one likes to know what is there for him with Allah, the most Exalted One and the most Great, let him look and see what status he has for Allah with him, for Allah Almighty grants one the status which he himself grants Allah.”
In a narrative about David, peace be with him, the Almighty says this to him: “Why should My friends be concerned about this life? Concerns remove the sweetness of their addressing Me with their hearts. O David! I love My friends to be spiritual, worry-free.”6
It has been narrated that Moses, peace be with him, has said, “Lord! Guide me to something I should do which causes You to be pleased with me so I may do it.” Allah Almighty inspired him saying: “My pleasure lies in something which you dislike, and you cannot persevere about something which you dislike.” He said, “Lord! Lead me to it! Lord! Lead me to it!” The Almighty said, “My pleasure is in your acceptance of My judgment.”7
Prophet Moses, peace be with him, asked Allah: Oh Lord who is the most beloved to you amongst your slaves. Allah answers the one who when I take his beloved makes peace with me. Moses then asks: who amongst your slaves are you angry with. Allah answers he who consults with me but when I set the course of matters is unpleased with the outcome.
Something more emphatic has been narrated than the above, that is, the Almighty has said, “It is I, Allah; there is no god but I; one who is not patient when I afflict him, and he does not accept my judgment, should seek a god other than I.”8
It has also been narrated that Allah Almighty inspired this to David, peace be with him: “O David! You want something, whereas I want something else. What shall be is what I want. If you surrender to what I want, I shall spare you what you want. But if you do not surrender to what I want, I will wear you out regarding what you want, and [in the end] only what I want shall come to be.”9
Ibn Abbas has been quoted as saying, “The first to be called on to enter Paradise on the Judgment Day will be those who praise Allah Almighty under any condition.”10
Ibn Mas`ud is quoted as having said, “Should I lick a piece of burning timber, and it burns whatever it burns, keeping whatever it keeps, it is dearer to me than I say about something which happened that I wished it did not, or about something which did not happen that I wished it did.”
The Prophet, peace and blessings be with him and his progeny, is quoted as having said, “Allah Almighty, through His wisdom and greatness placed spirituality and ease in acceptance [of Allah’s decrees] and in conviction, and He made grief and sadness in doubt and rage.”11
[Imam] Ali son of [Imam] al-Hussain, peace be with them both, has said, “Asceticism is [divided into] ten portions: The highest degree of asceticism is the lowest degree of piety. The highest degree of piety is the lowest degree of conviction. And the highest degree of conviction is the lowest degree of acceptance [of Allah’s decrees].”12
[Imam] al-Sadiq, peace be with him, has said, “The attribute of acceptance is that you accept what you like and what you do not like. Acceptance is a ray of the light of Gnosticism. One who accepts forgets about all his choices. One who truly accepts is one who is truly accepted, and acceptance combines in it the meaning of adoration. The meaning of acceptance is the pleasure of the hearts.
I have heard my father, Abu Muhammad al-Baqir, peace be with him, say, ‘One whose heart is attached to an existent is a mushrik [committing shirk, apostasy]. One whose heart is attached to something which he will [eventually] lose commits kufr [disbelief]. Both such persons are outside the norm of acceptance. And I wonder about one who claims to worship Allah while disputing with Him about whatever He decrees! Accepting Gnostics are far from it.’”
It has been narrated that Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari, Allah be pleased with him, was afflicted in his last days with weakness, old age and incapacitation [blindness]. He was visited by [Imam] Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqir, peace be with him, who asked him about his condition. He said, “I am in a status in which I prefer old age over youth, sickness over health and death over life.”
Al-Baqir, peace be with him, said, “As for me, O Jabir, if Allah causes me to age, I shall love old age, if He keeps me young, I shall love young age. If He causes me to fall sick, I shall love sickness. If he heals me, I shall love healing and good health. If He causes me to die, I shall love death, and if He decrees to keep me alive, I shall love to stay alive.”
When Jabir heard the Imam (ع) say so, he kissed his face and said, “Surely the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, told the truth when he said, ‘You shall live long enough to meet one of my sons whose name is the same as mine, who prowls knowledge like an ox ploughs the land,” so he was called “Baqir”, one who prowls the knowledge of the early generations and of the last, that is, he splits it open and gets to the pith, the heart, the essence of it.
It has been narrated that al-Kulaini, through his isnad (reference) to Abu Abdullah, peace be with him, says, “The head of obedience to Allah is patience and acceptance of whatever comes from Allah, be it something one loves or hates, and whenever a servant of Allah is pleased with Him regarding anything which he loves or hates, he will have goodness in whatever he loves or hates.”13
Through his isnad back to this same Imam, peace be with him, the latter says, “One who knows Allah Almighty the most; is one who is the most pleased with whatever Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, decrees.” 14
Through his isnad also to the Imam (ع), the latter says, “Allah Almighty has told his Prophet: 'I do not turn My believing servant from something except that I decree goodness in it for him; so, let him accept My decree, let him be patient about My affliction, and let him thank My blessings, for I shall write him, O Muhammad, in the company of the Truthful Ones with Me.'”15
He, peace be with him, has said, “Among what Allah, the most Exalted One and the most Great, inspired to Moses, peace be with him, was this: 'O Moses son of Imran [Amram]! I have not created anything dearer to Me than a believing servant: When I afflict him [with a trial], I do so for his own good. When I grant him health, it is for his own goodness.
When I keep away something from him, it is for his own good, and I know best what My servant needs for his own good; so, let him persevere when I afflict him, let him appreciate My blessings, and let him accept my judgment, for I shall then write him down among the Truthful Ones with me if he does what pleases Me and obeys My command.'”16
It has been said this to [Imam] al-Sadiq, peace be with him: “Through what criterion a believer is identified as such?” He said, “It is through full surrender to Allah and acceptance of whatever He decrees on him, be it something with which he is pleased or displeased.”17
It has been narrated in books of the Israelites that a servant worshipped Allah Almighty for a very long period of time, so he saw in a vision that his so-and-so female companion was in Paradise. He asked about her and hosted her for three days and nights in order to observe how she behaved.
He used to stand for prayers during the night as she remained asleep. He kept fasting as she was not. He, therefore, said to her, “Have you done anything else other than what I have observed?” She said, “By Allah, I have not done anything other than what you have seen and I am not familiar with anything else.”
He kept insisting on her to remember something till she said, “I remember only one single attribute: Whenever I was in hardship, I did not wish to be in prosperity; whenever I was sick, I did not wish to be healthy, and whenever I was under the sun, I did not wish to be in the shade.” The worshipper put his hands on his head and said to her: “Is this just an attribute?! This, by Allah, is a great attribute which an adoring servant of Allah finds to be very difficult to achieve.”
The station of acceptance is much higher than that of patience. Rather, the ratio of patience compared to acceptance among the people who know the truth is the same as disobedience compared to obedience: Love requires finding pleasure in affliction because one yearns for the company of the one whom he loves much more when he is afflicted than when he is not; so he desires his presence and company. Patience requires hating affliction and finding it hard till patience forces one to accept it. Hating something is the opposite of feeling at ease with it; thus, patience and love are antitheses of each other.
Also, patience is a demonstration of perseverance which, in the tradition of love, is the most contemptible of all and the worst indication of hostility as a poet has said:
He is good at demonstrating perseverance to the foes while finding incapacitation with the loved ones to be quite ugly.
From this onset, people who know the truth have said that patience is the most difficult station for people in general, the most undesirable along the path of love and the most uncommon along the path of Tawhid (oneness of Allah).
It is the hardest for the people in general because one is not trained on taming himself, nor is he palated with patience when afflicted, nor is he accustomed to self-control, so he cannot tolerate affliction, and he cannot be among the people of love so he may find pleasure in affliction.
If the Truthful One, praise to Him, tests him with affliction, he cannot tolerate it and is overwhelmed by impatience, finding it hard to suppress himself from showing it because he does not feel comfortable with it.
It is the most undesirable along the path of love because love requires feeling comfortable in the presence of the loved one, finding pleasure in affliction because this means the presence of the one because of whom there is an affliction while preferring what the loved one wants, whereas patience requires hating affliction as indicated above, so there is a clash here.
It is most uncommon when it comes to Tawhid because one who perseveres claims the strength of firmness, the claim of steadfastness and the strength to withstand recklessness of the nafs. Tawhid requires the fusing of the nafs; so, it [patience] becomes the most uncommon because proving one’s self in the path of Tawhid is the ugliest of abominations.
Rather, surrender, despite its great station and loftiness among people who examine Tawhid is [only] among the first of its venues. This is so because their conduct is to fuse themselves into Tawhid. Surrender is the annihilation of one’s will in order to submit to the will of the Truthful One, the most High, to truly stand with whatever Allah Almighty wants.
The distant stations between patience and acceptance have already been made clear to you: distant stations and tough paths.
Acceptance has three degrees arranged in strength the same way as they are in wording as follows:
First Degree: One looks at the position of affliction, the action that necessitates acceptance, so he realizes its impact and feels its pain, yet he accepts it, even desires it, seeking it with his intellect even if his nature dislikes it. Such folks seek rewards of Allah Almighty for it, hoping for an increase in his nearness with Him and for winning Paradise the expanse of which is like that of the heavens and the earth, the one prepared for the pious.
This section of acceptance is relevant to the pious.
An example for it is one seeking bloodletting and cupping from a doctor who is familiar with the details of his illnesses and what is required to heal him: He realizes that there is pain in this action, yet he accepts it, desires it, feeling greatly appreciative of the one who performs the bloodletting or cupping.
Also similar to it is one who travels seeking material gain: He realizes the hardship of travel, but his love for the fruit of his trip placates for him the hardship of traveling, accepting it. No matter what a calamity from Allah Almighty befalls him, being convinced that the reward stored for him by far exceeds his extreme expectations, he accepts it, desires it, loves it and thanks Allah Almighty for it.
Second Degree: One also realizes the pain, yet he loves it because it is desired by the one whom he loves. One who is overpowered by love seeks and loves whatever pleases the one whom he loves. This exists as we see how people love each other. Such love has been described by those who express it in their poetry and prose. It only means noticing the outward picture with the eyes.
But this beauty is only skin on bones and love filled with filth and dirt: It starts from a contemptible drop of sperms, and it ends with a filthy stink, while one between this status and that keeps carrying his feces [wherever he goes].
One who looks at his lowly beauty does so with lowly eyes that err quite often about what they see: They see what is small as big and what is big as small, what is distant as near and what is ugly as beautiful.
If one imagines being controlled by this love, how could it be impossible for him to love the eternal perpetual beauty the perfection of which cannot be realized with one’s foresight where erring is not possible, where death does not end such beauty but remains alive with Allah after one dies happy and pleased with whatever Allah sustained him, benefiting by death with more awareness and discovery.
This is obvious when one contemplates on it, and it is supported by a host of religious literary legacy about the conditions and statements of those who love. Some of this legacy will, God willing, be quoted. This is the status of those who are near to Allah.
Third Degree: One invalidates his sense of pain to the extent that what is painful happens to him yet he does not feel it, and he is wounded yet he does not realize it.
An example for it is a warrior: When he is angry or afraid, a wound may afflict him but he does not feel it till he sees blood gushing out, so he sees it as evidence that he was wounded. When someone runs because he has committed something dubious so a thorn pierces through his foot, he does not feel the pain because his heart is occupied by something else. One who goes through cupping or shaves his head with something which causes pain does not feel the pain even after the person performing the cupping or the shaving finishes.
All this is due to the fact that when the heart (mind) is occupied with something, it does not realize or sense anything else besides it.
Similarities to it exist in the concerns of people of this life, in being busy with it, in coveting it, so much so that they do not feel the pain, the hunger, the thirst and the fatigue. There are many examples which one can see with his eyes: The one who is passionately in love and who is deeply immersed in looking at the one whom he/she loves.
He may be afflicted by something which causes pain or grief, but due to his passion, he does not realize it because extreme love is taking control of his heart. All this is so when such pain or grief comes from someone else other than the one whom he/she loves; so, imagine if it comes from the one whom he/she loves!
The heart’s preoccupation with love and passion is one of the strongest mental occupations. If you imagine this about light pain, imagine it about a great pain regarding a great love: Love, too, can be imagined as doubling many times in power just as pain can be imagined.
When love for beautiful pictures can be strongly felt with the sense of vision, love for beautiful pictures can likewise be mentally visualized through the noor (celestial light) of Divinely-bestowed vision. Their greatness cannot be compared with any other greatness. One for whom a glimpse of it is revealed may be dazzled, so much so that he is stunned and he enters into a swoon, not feeling what happens to him.
It is narrated that a woman stumbled, so her nail was removed. She smiled. She was asked, “Do you not feel the pain?” She said, “The pleasure of its reward has removed from my heart the bitterness of its pain.”
Someone treated someone else of an illness which afflicted him. But he did not treat himself. He was asked about it, so he said, “Whatever pain is received because of the one you love is not painful at all.”
Be informed that what we have stated in the chapter about patience from a group of prominent ones includes acceptance of destiny with regard to the death of sons and the like. Let us here mention general matters:
When the pain of [Prophet] Job, peace be with him, intensified, his wife said to him, “Why do you not supplicate to your Lord so He may remove your affliction?”
He said to her, “Wife! I lived in power and prosperity for seventy years; so, I want now to live the same period in affliction, perhaps thus I will have thanked Allah for what He has blessed me, so patience is most befitting me for what He has tested me.”18
It is also reported that Jonah (Prophet Unus), peace be with him, said once to Gabriel, peace be with him, “Take me to the one who adores [his Maker] the most from among the people of the earth.” He took him to a man whose hands and legs were cut off due to leprosy, and both his vision and hearing had gone, too, yet he kept saying, “Lord! You permitted me to enjoy them as long as You willed, and You have taken away whatever You will, keeping for me my hope in You, O most Kind, the One Who is the most connected with His servants!”19
It has also been narrated that Jesus, peace be with him, passed once by a man who was blind, leukodermic, handicapped, both his sides hit with hemiplegia and his flesh scattered around him because of leprosy, yet the man kept saying, “Praise to Allah Who has healed me from what He has afflicted many from among His creation.” Jesus, peace be with him, said to him, “Man! What affliction can I see that it has been kept away from you?!”
The man said, “O Spirit of Allah! My condition is better than those in whose heart Allah did not place knowledge of Him which He has placed in mine.” Jesus (ع) said to him, “You have said the truth. Stretch your hand to me.”
The man stretched his hand to Jesus and instantly he was turned into the most beautiful of all people, having the best form, Allah having removed all his suffering. The man accompanied Jesus (ع) and worshipped with him.20
Someone has narrated saying, “In my youth, I went to Abbadan and saw a blind man who was also leprous, mentally retarded and epileptic. Ants were eating of his flesh. I raised his head and placed it in my lap with the desire to learn and repeat what he was saying. He woke up and said, ‘Who is this busy-body who is intercepting my connection with my Lord? By Him do I swear that if He cuts me to pieces, I will never increase in anything but in more love for Him.’
Due to extreme itch, someone’s leg was severed from the knee down. He said, “Praise be to Allah Who took away from me one (limb), leaving three. By Your Dignity! If you took away, you have kept. If you afflict, you heal.” He did not miss a single act of adoration that night.
Someone said, “I have won from every station a position save acceptance of destiny. I have nothing of it except its smell. Despite this, if He permits all creations to enter Paradise while lodging me in hell, I will still be pleased with Him.”
One Gnostic was told once, “You have earned the extreme end of acceptance.” He said, “No, I have not won the extreme end of acceptance but a status of acceptance; had Allah made me a bridge over hell on which all creations pass to Paradise, then He filled hell with me, I would still love His wisdom and accept His allotment for me.”
This is the speech of one who knows that love has consumed his concern, preventing him from feeling the pain of fire. Such a status taking control of one's soul is not impossible, but it is distant with regard to weak conditions during this time, and a deprived weakling should not renounce the condition of the strong, thinking that what he is incapable of doing is also not doable by others.
Imran ibn Haseen, may Allah be pleased with him, suffered once from a stomach pain. He remained lying on his back for thirty years unable to stand up or even sit. A hole was made in his bed through which he would relieve himself as a toilet. His brother al-Alaa visited him and kept weeping for his condition. He said to his brother, "What are you weeping about?"
He said, "I weep for seeing you in such an awful condition." He said, "Do not weep; if Allah loves it for me, I, too, love it." Then he said to his brother, "Let me tell you something perhaps Allah will make it beneficial for you, but I want you to keep it confidential till I die: The angels visit me, and I feel very comfortable with them. They greet me and I hear their greeting. Thus, I know that this affliction is not a penalty; it is the reason behind this great bliss. If one sees this [sight of the angels] in his affliction, why should he not be pleased with it?"
Some people have said, "We visited Suwaid ibn Shu'bah. We found a shirt thrown, but we did not think that there was anything underneath it till he removed it. His wife said to him, 'May your wife be sacrificed for your sake! Should we provide you with food or drink?' He said, 'My lying down has over-extended, the hipbones have become exhausted and worn out. I have not been eating or drinking since—and he stated the number of days—yet it does not please me for this status to disappear as much as a piece of clipped nail.'"
It has been narrated about someone who suffered acutely of sickness for sixty years. When his condition worsened, his sons visited him and said, "Do you wish to die so you may rest from your condition?" He said, "No." They said, "What do you, then, want?" He said, "I want nothing; I am only a slave, and only the Master has a will over His slave and the judgment."
It has also been said that the sickness of Fath al-Musilli intensified. Besides his sickness, he was afflicted with poverty and exhaustion. He said, "My Lord and Master! You afflicted me with ailment and poverty; such are Your deeds with the prophets and messengers; so, how can I thank You for the blessing which You have bestowed on me?"
Be informed that supplication repels affliction. The removal of ailment and the safeguarding of sons do not clash with accepting destiny. Allah, Glory belongs to Him, has ordered us to worship Him with supplication, urging and encouraging us to plead to Him and regarding the abandoning of supplication as a sign of haughtiness while doing it is an act of adoration, promising us to answer our pleas. He called on His Prophets and the Imams, peace be with them, to do likewise and to enjoin others to supplicate. Citations from their statements are innumerable. Allah Almighty has praised those among His servants who plead to Him saying:
"They used to call upon Us with love and fear (love for rewards and fear of punishment)" (Qur'an, 21:90).
Among the obligations of the pleading person is that he, during his supplication, must be obedient to the command of his Lord, Blessed and Exalted is He, by pleading for what He has ordered him to plead. Had He not ordered him to plead for it, and had He not commanded him and permitted him to plead, he would not have dared to oppose His decree. In fact, this is a sort of acceptance for those who accept, those who discipline themselves, those who perform the obligations associated with supplication.
One of its marks of acceptance is that if his plea is not answered, he does not feel any pain because of that, for it is quite possible one pleads for something which, if granted, would bring him harm with which only Allah Almighty is familiar.
It is also recorded that one may keep pleading to Allah Almighty for something to the extent that the angels sympathize with him, so they would say, "Lord! Have mercy on Your believing servant and answer his plea!" Allah Almighty will then say, "How shall I rid him of something with which I have mercy on him?"
Yes, if one feels apprehensive about the possibility that Allah Almighty did not answer his plea because he is distant from Him, something which brings about disappointment, presentiment, expulsion and exclusion, there is no harm in it, for a believer's perfection lies in his holding his nafs in contempt, looking at it as a low thing even if his plea is answered: He does not think that such an answer is due to his high status with Allah Almighty and his nearness to Him.
Rather, this may be due to the contempt and hatred of Allah Almighty of his voice, from the angels being harmed by his stink, so they plead to Allah Almighty to speed up answering his plea so these angels may be relieved.
Also, the reason behind delaying answering the plea is due to Allah Almighty and His angels loving his voice, enjoying the pleasure of his silent pleas, so the angels ask Allah Almighty to delay answering it. Also, as reports have narrated, a believer is always between anticipation and apprehension: It is through them that good deeds stand, wrongdoings are avoided, and deeds that please the Almighty are desired.