Attaining fina-e-qalbi: Annihilation of the Heart
- Translation of a talk given by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad
“And that person who was dead, we gave him life and we granted him a light because of which he walks amongst people.” (Surah al-An’am, Verse 122)
A heedless person is like a corpse, whereas truly alive is the one who is constantly engaged in remembering Allah . Through the abundant remembrance of Allah the heedless heart of a person is transformed into a living one. Hence, this light of nisbah(spiritual connection) is such a blessing that it gives life to the heart that was once dead and devoid of the remembrance of Allah .
Different people display different signs of the attainment of this light. This light in the language of our mashaikh (spiritual elders) is also called faidh, barakah, rahmah, andnoor. All these words point to the same blessing. Attainment of faidh means the attainment of illumination. When a person gives bayt (pledges allegiance) to a shaykh and engages in the remembrance of Allah (dhikr) he attains faidh through this dhikrand his heart fills with noor. His heart attains peace as a result.
Light and darkness cannot coexist in the same space. Whenever noor enters the heart of a person he achieves tranquility, and whenever his heart is engulfed by darkness he is in a state of perpetual anxiety. Darkness causes unrest and confusion while noorbrings peace.
Engaging in dhikr and muraqabah, praying, and coming to the mosque are all righteous acts that attract the noor of Allah which makes us feel light and at ease. This inexplicable happiness is because of the attainment of faidh and cannot be adequately expressed in words. We experience this elation despite the overwhelming amount of worries in our life. Who is there in this world that is not plagued by problems? Indeed, this world is the very place of troubles. One has to face different difficulties at different stages of one’s life but attaining tranquility in the heart despite these worries and challenges is a proof of the attainment of faidh.
At times a person has pleasant dreams in which he may be visited by the auliya(friends) of Allah , the Prophet, or even by Allah Himself. For the majority of the time such dreams are indicators of the attainment of faidh and noor. On the other hand, if the person lives a life of heedlessness then his dreams may be very frightening. He may dream that various animals are chasing and attacking him, and is likely to be persistently haunted by such bizarre and frightening dreams. Hence, a sign of the attainment of faidh may be that a person receives mubasharaat (glad tidings).
In some people the faidh causes the fire of the love for Allah to burn so intensely that its heat can be felt throughout the body. Sometimes an indication of the attainment of faidh is that at times seekers experience a sleep-like state while inmuraqabah. In reality this is not sleep but rather it is a drowsiness that is callednuaas in Arabic. Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“Remember he covered you with a sort of drowsiness (nuaas), to give you calm as from Himself” (Surah al-Anfaal, Verse 11)
On the night of the Battle of Badr, Allah sent His sakina (serenity) down onto the Prophet and the Noble Companions. This sakina took the form of nuaas, about which Allah says:
“But Allah did pour His calm (sakina) on the Messenger and on the Believers.” (Surah at-Tauba, Verse 26)
The descent of this kind of sakina is a mercy, and we also know from the sayings of the Prophet that a deep tranquility descends upon those who remember Allah . When sakina descends it overwhelms the heart and the person experiences a state akin to drowsiness that an ordinary person mistakenly assumes is sleep as he cannot distinguish between the two.
However, sleep is different from the drowsiness felt due to the descent of the mercy of Allah . A person who consumes an intoxicating drug might experience a state mirroring the effects of sleep. The person is not physically experiencing sleep but the drug is altering the state of his mind. Similarly a person’s mind can attain a state of drowsiness because of this rahmah.
This is one reason why our elders have said that one should not worry if one experiences drowsiness during muraqaba because it is in fact a sign of the mercy of Allah . The example of such a person is like that of a beggar who waits outside the door of a rich and generous person in the hope of being given something. He waits there all day and during that time drowsiness or even sleep may overtake him. Now when the owner of the house asks his attendants the length of time that the beggar has been sitting at his doorstep, will they subtract from their estimate the one or two hours that the beggar might have dozed off or rather say that he had been sitting there since Fajr? Indeed they will say that he came after Fajr and the time he napped will be included in his waiting time.
Similarly, even if a person dozes off after having sat down with the intention of muraqaba, the time he dozed will be included in his muraqabah. These days it is even easier to understand this concept. If we connect our cell phones with a charger it makes no difference whether the screen is on or off because the charging takes place in either case. Similarly in muraqabah whether the screen of the person is on or off he continues to benefit from the faidh because the connection has been established.
Other manifestations of faidh are that hearts become more attentive towards the Hereafter; towards the grave, resurrection and Paradise. Furthermore, faidh softens a person’s heart and it overflows with the love and remembrance of Allah . Now what are the consequences of the attainment of this faidh on the heart of the believer?
If a person regularly and abundantly engages in dhikr a time comes when his heart becomes jaari (set in motion). What is meant by the heart becoming jaari? This has several meanings.
One is that a person experiences a movement in his heart. Just as we may feel a muscle in our body quiver at times, the heart muscle of a person also gains some movement because of dhikr. His heart experiences intense attention towards the name of Allah . It is important to distinguish between the regular palpitation of the heart and the heart being jaari. The beating of the heart is the pumping of blood seventy to eighty times a minute, but movement due to abundant dhikr is two to three times faster than the beating of the heart and is experienced as a delightful tickling in the heart. This is referred to as taharruk (movement) which soon after transforms intotazakkur (remembrance) where the person actually perceives his heart calling out the name of Allah .
The heart is the control center of the body and the limbs respond to the decisions that the heart processes. Hence the limbs will act righteously only if the heart is pure and vice versa. Consequently some elders have said that the heart becoming jaari means that the commands of the righteous heart are accepted by every other part of the body and thus the body becomes subservient to such a heart. Another opinion is that a heart becomes jaari when a person’s body begins to obey the commands of Allah , the shariah.
If a person thinks that his heart is jaari he should see if he is obeying the commandments of Allah . It is a blessing if he is but if not, then what is the use ofdhikr if it does not take one towards the inculcation of the sunnah of the Prophet? These blessings are attained with muraqabah and and we should try to perform dhikrabundantly so that Allah will bless us with His favors.
Once a heart becomes jaari one attains such immense pleasure that he cannot forget Allah for an instant even if he tried. We should all ask Allah for this blessing because this is a grand station from which there is no return. About this our elders have said that a fani (one who has achieved annihilation) never returns.
Some people raised objections to this and asked why it is that a fani cannot return. To this objection our elders responded by asking whether a fully ripened fruit can ever return to its former stage of growth? Can a child ever return to infancy after having attained maturity? The answer to both these questions is negative. Similarly, once a person has attained this blessing Allah protects him from sin in such a manner that the question of him falling back into error does not arise. This is called fina-e-qalbi(annihilation of the heart) and we should all pray to Allah to grant us this blessing.