NOURISHMENT AND PERFECTION OF SELF

Having cleaned and refined the self, a wayfarer is ready for the next stage known as training and perfection of self (Tahliyah). Logical sciences have confirmed that the human self is in the state of motion and growth gradually manifesting its hidden potentials. In the beginning, self is not perfect; rather gradually develops its essence. If it travels on the straight path gradually, it becomes perfect and eventually attaining its ultimate perfection. But if it deviates and selects the wrong course, it will gradually take distance from the ultimate human perfection and eventually crash into dark valleys of ignorance and brutality.


God’s Nearness

It should be understood that human movement is real, not figurative. It is related to his Celestial Spirit and not to his body. Also, this movement takes place within his inner essence and is not an external phenomenon. In this movement, his precious essence moves and becomes metamorphosed. Therefore, the axis of human movement is real, not metaphorical, but the axis of movement is not separate from the mover’s essence; rather the mover moves within its inner essence carrying the axis of movement. Every movement carries some goal and thus human beings in the world are moving towards which objective and what is going to be their eventual fate? Traditions and Qur’anic verses reveal that the ultimate objective or goal destined for human beings is God’s Nearness, but all human beings do not travel on the straight path and do not attain the exalted position of God’s Nearness. The Holy Qur’an says:

وَكُنتُمْ أَزْوَاجًا ثَلَاثَةً. فَأَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ. وَأَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ. وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ. أُوْلَئِكَ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ. فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ.

“And ye will be three kinds (First) those on the right hand; what of those on the right hand And (then) those on the left hand; what of those on the left hand And the foremost in the race, the foremost in the race Those are they who will be brought nig In gardens of delight. 56:7‑12”

People on the right hand are those who have received eternal salvation, people on the left are those who have received adversity and people foremost in the race are those who distinguished themselves in their journeying on the straight path and attained the exalted position of God’s Nearness. This verse clearly indicates that the objective or goal behind human movement must be God’s Nearness. The Holy Qur'an also says:

فَأَمَّا إِنْ كَانَ مِنْ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ. فَرَوْحٌ وَرَيْحَانٌ وَجَنَّةُ نَعِيمٍ. وَأَمَّا إِنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْيَمِينِ. فَسَلَامٌ لَكَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْيَمِينِ. وَأَمَّا إِنْ كَانَ مِنْ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ الضَّالِّينَ. فَنُزُلٌ مِنْ حَمِيمٍ.

Thus if he is of those brought nigh Then breath of life, and plenty, and a Garden of delight And if he is of those on the right hand Then (the greeting) "Peace be unto thee" from those on the right hand But if he is of the rejecters, the erring Then the welcome will be boiling wate And roasting at hellfire. 56:88‑94”

Further, Almighty God says in the following verse:

كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الْأَبْرَارِ لَفِي عِلِّيِّينَ. وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا عِلِّيُّونَ. كِتَابٌ مَرْقُومٌ. يَشْهَدُهُ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ.

“Nay, but the record of the righteous is in 'Illiyin.  Ah, what will convey unto thee what 'Illiyin is!  A written record. Attested by those who are brought near (unto their Lord. 83:18‑21”

From the above verse it may be concluded that the exalted position of God’s Nearness ‑attainment of absolute perfection‑ is the ultimate goal of people’s journeying and movement. Therefore, God’s favorite servants are the most distinguished group among the people who have been bestowed eternal bliss. The Holy Qur’an says:

إِذْ قَالَتْ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمِنْ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ.

“(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). 3:45”

It can be inferred from traditions and Qur’anic verses that distinguished and deserving God’s servants who have surpassed others in belief, faith and righteous deeds shall be blessed with the most privileged and exalted position of God’s Countenance and according to the interpretation of some verses, that place has been also named ‘the Place of Nearness to the Most Magnificent King’ (Malik Muqtadir). Also, the martyrs will be assigned this special position. The Holy Qur’an says:

وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ.

“Think not of those, who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead. Nay, they are living. With their Lord they have provision. 3:169”

Therefore, human perfection and the final destination of the wayfarers is Nearness of Almighty God.


Meanings of God’s Nearness

Let us now see what is meant by God’s Nearness and how it can be imagined that a person may reach closer to Almighty God. The nearness means being close and can be defined as follows:


1. Nearness Relative to Place

The two beings that are closer physically are called near to each other.


2. Nearness Relative to Time

When two things are closer to each other relative to time, they are called near to each other. Of course, it is evident that nearness of (God’s) servants with Him cannot belong to the abovementioned two categories, because Almighty God is beyond the limits of time and place; rather He is the creator of them; therefore, it is not possible for anything to have nearness with Him relative to time and place.


3. Metaphorical Nearness

Sometimes, it is said that Mr. X is very close and intimate with Mr. Y, which means that Mr. Y respects, likes and accepts Mr. X’s recommendations and suggestions. This sort of nearness is called metaphorical, figurative and ceremonial but is not real. Can this kind of nearness be possible between a servant and God? Of course, God loves His deserving servants and accepts their prayers but still this kind of nearness cannot be possible between a servant and Almighty God, because as pointed out earlier, this has been proved by logical sciences and Qur’anic verses. Traditions also support that the wayfarer, his direction and straight path are real things, neither figurative nor ceremonial. Likewise, return towards Almighty God which has been so much emphasized in plenty of Qur'anic verses and traditions is a real thing and cannot be metaphorical or figurative. For example, Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:

يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ. ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَرْضِيَّةً.

“But ah! Thou soul at peace Return unto thy Lord, content in His good pleasure. 89:27‑28”

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ أَسَاءَ فَعَلَيْهَا وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِظَلَّامٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ.

“Whoso doeth right it is for his soul, and whoso doeth wrong it is against it. And thy Lord is not at all a tyrant to His slaves. 45:15”

الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُمْ مُصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ.

“Who say, when a misfortune striketh them: Lo! we are Allah's and lo! unto Him we are returning. 2:156”

Anyway, return to Almighty God, straight path, way of God and attaining self‑perfection are real, not metaphorical, things. A human being’s movement is an optional act whose result will become manifested after his death. Since the very beginning of human existence, this movement begins and continues until death. Nearness to God is real thing and God’s decent servants really become closer to Him while the impious and sinners take distance from Almighty God. Therefore, let us see what is meant by nearness to Almighty God. God’s Nearness is not comparable to other types of nearness; rather it is a special kind of nearness which may be called nearness relative to perfection or relative to the rank of exaltedness of that particular existence. In order to further clarification, let us refer to the following preface.

Books of wisdom and Islamic philosophy have confirmed that existence is real and consists of various rank and degrees. It may be compared to the analogy of illumination which consists of various degrees of lights varying from low to very high. The lowest degree of a lighting lamp can be one watt which is also illumination until the lamp with infinite brightness which is nothing other than illumination. Between the lowest and highest limits of illumination, there exist various intermediate degrees of light differing relative to extreme limits in proportion to their weakness and strength. Existence, too, consists of various ranks and positions differing in proportion to their weakness and strength. The lowest degree is the existence of nature and matter until the highest rank of existence—the essence of Almighty God which from the point of view of perfection is infinite and absolute. Between these two extremities, there also exist intermediate degrees of existence varying in proportion to their weakness and strength. Here it becomes clear that as much as existence is stronger and holder of higher rank, in perfection will be closer relative to the most supreme existence and the source of absolute perfection—the Essence of Almighty God, and opposite to that the weaker an existence, the farther it will be relative to the Essence of Self-Existent (Wajib al‑Wujud).

In the light of the aforementioned explanation, the meaning of nearness of the servants to God and distance from Him can be imagined. As much as the Celestial spirit is concerned, a human being is an abstract reality, which from the point of view of manifestation is related to matter, and because of that is capable to grow, becoming perfect until attaining the ultimate degree of his existence. From the beginning of his movement until arriving at the final destination, he is no more than one person and one reality, but as much as he achieves perfection and ascension in his journeying within his essence, in the same proportion becomes nearer to the source of all Creation, the Absolute and Infinite Perfection—the Holy Essence of Almighty God.

A human being through belief and righteous deeds can make his existence complete and perfect so that he can attain God’s Nearness being able to utilize divine blessings and favors to his maximum advantage and therefore making his own essence a source of further benevolence and goodness.