Shortening the Path

If you wish your path to be shortened in order to attain realisation swiftly, hold fast to what is ordained (in the Qur’an) and to what is particularly recommended concerning voluntary observances [that is, rites and other observances which are not legally obligatory but which the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) strongly recommended]; learn outer knowledge as is indispensable for worshipping God, but do not linger on it, since you are not required to study this deeply; a deepening of inner knowledge is what you need; and fight against covetousness; then you will see marvels. “Noble character” is nothing else but the tasawwuf of the Sufis, just as it is the religion of religious men. […]

Likewise, always flee from sensuality [Al-hiss: sensuality in the broader sense of the word, i.e. attachment to sensory experience], for it is the opposite of spirituality and opposites do not meet. Inasmuch as you strengthen the senses you weaken the Spirit, and vice versa. […]

Know (and may God be merciful to you) that the faqir [the poor, implying the poor towards God, as in the verse in the Qur’an: O men, you are poor towards God and he is the Rich, the Glorious (35:15)], when he exchanges the remembrance of all things for the remembrance (dhikr) of God, purifies his servitude, and whosoever serves God in a pure and unmixed way is holy […]. So remember only God; be God’s alone; for if you are God’s, God will be yours and blessed is he who belongs to God so that God is his. Let the mention of God’s word – Remember Me and I will remember you (Qur’an 2: 147) – suffice to prove the excellence of the remembrance (dhikr) of God. And the word which the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) spoke on behalf of his Lord: “I am the Companion of him who calls upon Me”.

From Letters of a Sufi Master: The Shaykh  Al‘Arabi ad-Darqawitranslated by Titus Burckhardt (Fons Vitae, 1998), p. 15 – 17

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