Those who pervert
(Quran, Surah Fussilat, 41:40)
In this beautiful aya, we are told about the two ways of coming before Allah. For the externalists, there are those who are brought securely to paradise, and those who are cast into hell fire. Those who come to paradise are brought in ease, with peace and tranquillity, while the path of those thrown into the fire is filled with difficulty upon difficulty. The people of outward meaning ask to be given ease, and to be brought to Allah’s presence through safety and not to be given difficulty. There is no doubt at this level of interpretation, but like a diver we penetrate into the Ocean of Meaning, searching for treasures.
There is also an essential level, insha’Allah, to this aya, as there is to all the ayet of the Quran Sherif, as there is in humanity, the supreme sign of Allah. The externalists talk about those who are brought to safety, and those who are thrown into the fire. At the essential level, we take seriously Allah’s own question: Who is better from among these two?
We need to ask: Who is thrown into the fire? According to the Quran Sherif, it was Ibrahim, Abraham, the Friend of Allah. Allah throws into the fire only those who are His Friends. This is something we are always saying, and we are standing firm on this teaching. The messengers are not just dead individuals from the past, but they represent as archetypes living spiritual realities and faculties within the soul of humanity here and now.
The Ibrahim thrown into the fire was not just the Prophet Ibrahim from the past, but that part of your own spirit which is Halilullah, the Friend of Allah. Before Ibrahim receives the full Message, he is thrown into the fire. Before the Message gushes forth in your heart, before the “deep sigh rising above comes back from the within as a message,” the Ibrahim of your soul is thrown into the fire. Then, and only then, emerges the Message. Ibrahim goes into the fire; a Halil, Friend, emerges. Isa, Jesus, goes into the desert; a Christ emerges. Muhammed goes into the cave; a Resul, Messenger, emerges.
If you happen to be at the station of Ibrahim, being thrown into the fire, Allah is giving you assurance:
We said: O Fire!
Ibrahim goes into the fire and comes out a Friend of Allah and a Messenger. If you are burning, if the fires are sent to cook you, may the outcome also be cool and convey peace to you. And may you emerge a Being bearing the Divine Message.
The whole of my life can be summed up
In this last state, one can even initiate the cooking process of other
souls by treating them with good edeb, manners, displaying the mekâr
ul-ahlak, the most beautiful of behavior, and above all, by acknowledging
within them the Divine beauty and light that even they themselves might
not have seen.
Fire can cook food or burn it,
We are not just asking fire for the sake of fire, nor just burning for
the sake of burning. We are beseeching Allah to cast us into the fire
of love, not too much fire, not too little fire, but the highest flame
that our souls need, the highest pitch at which it can be tuned, as Hz.
Inayat Khan again reminds us, “Spiritual realization is attunement
at the highest level.”
all the burden that we can bear. . .
May all of our souls be given the burden they can bear. May they be pierced with the highest pitch to which they can be attuned. May they be cast into the fire of love, out of which a bearer of the Message can emerge.