Understanding the Stations of the Heart
Peace and Blessing,
Bismi’llah ar-Rahman, ar-Rahim
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
I would like to talk now about what the Sufi’s call the Stations of the Way or the Stations of the Heart. The Sufi Path we have said before is the path of purification. It is the journey of purifying/cleaning both the outer being and the inner being. Specifically it is our heart that is to become purified. The goal of this migration, this movement of our hearts, is to be able come to live closer and closer to what God- Allah has intended or ordained for us about how we should be living. We can compare this to the migration of the great Prophet Ibrahim, saws, when he left his father who was practicing idol worship.
Ibrahim had struggled with his father to try to convince him that what he was doing was wrong. But when he could not change his father, he embarked on a journey, a journey to leave where his was, move to another place so that he could be right in Allah’s eyes.
He (Abraham) said: ‘I will emigrate for the sake of my Lord. Verily, He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.’” [29:26]
Walking the Sufi Path, the Way of Love, is a similar journey. Whereever you are right now, if you are meeting resistance in you life, continued difficulty, problems- if your life isn’t calm and peaceful then something is amiss in your relationship to your Lord
Allah has said in His Qur’an that if we follow what He has laid out for us then it will lead to success. Life will be filled with more peace, joy, and love.
So you need to start your migration, your walking down the Path of Love.
After people have been on the Sufi path for a time many of them want to know: “How am I progressing?” And this brings us to the point of the Station or waypoints on the Path to Allah.
Any journey has waypoints, a reference point that helps us know where we are and where we’re going. The Sufi’s refer to these waypoints as stations of the way. They are points along the journey towards God that help a person understand the depth of his/her spiritual walking.
The Sufi’s call these way points, hearts, and they talk about the human being as having not one heart like we would traditionally think but four hearts or four heart stations along the journey to God. These are called: the heart of the self, the heart of the heart, the heart of the soul, and the heart of the Secret.
The heart of the self corresponds to the physical realm of our body. More importantly it is the station of the ego, the animalistic self or nafs. A person who has not yet started the migration to God lives a very self-adsorbed life. They find themselves racing about living totally in the dunya, chasing money, sex, drugs, or social position.
So the first waypoint that needs to be reached if a person wants to start he journey towards advancing to God is the Station al-Islam. The person needs to understand that they cannot live life without God and they need to surrender their essential self to God and become a Muslim. They must make Shahadah and say: “There is No God, but Allah, And Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” Becoming a Muslim starts the migration process.
The Second Waypoint or Station of Path is called the Heart: or the Heart of the Heart. Here the locus is the world of Malacout, the world of angels and spirits. The individual has taken Shahada has started doing their salat. They are doing their fife times daily prayers and beginning to remember God. They are reflecting on their life. So they will begin experiencing more and more peace. Their heart is beginning to open. The heart of the heart is the place where Imam, Divine Belief has begun to germinate.
Muhammad al-Jamal writes of this station: It means to leave the world and the hereafter for the King (al-Malik). Here your are in the station of surrender to God which is the state (al-maqam) of Ibrahim, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him, in which all of your speaking, all of your time, and everything that you do will be toward your Allah, and for Allah alone. By this you will reach the station of belief (al-maqam al-Imam) leaving the question of “why?” and “what?”and “Where?” and leaving the desire for either Heaven or Hell, and the state of your heart should always be saying, “I want only to see You, my Lord.”
The meaning of al-Iman is to believe in the heart and assert the laws and principles of Islam from the depth of a living Faith. Faith is the activity of the people of the Path, the hidden inner path of which the center is the heart of the Muhammadan heart. To find it you must purify all your qualities and human characteristics from the substance of your personal characteristics, your personal presence to the substance and reality of the presence of Muhammad, saws
When a person has finished with the station of belief (al-Iman), you are taken to the station of the Soul, of excellence (al-Ihsan) In this station you stand at the beginning of asceticism and renunciation. Here you know that Allah is ever watching you. You are ever conscious of His presence. This is the world of Jabarut. It is the realm of Divine creation.
Now you will be like a stranger in the world, in which you are, yet at the same time you are not. It is as though you are only passing through it. Here you carry the Holy meaning inside your heart and your soul. For this reason it is said, “Be a stranger in this world. Love God and then He loves you. Look not with a desire to what is in the hand of another, and he will love you. And renounce what people possess and people will love you. Through this the light will inter your heart illuminating for you the way to Allah.
When the renunciation is true, it reveals itself as hayat-the quality of modesty, awe, politeness, respect, and love. This Hayat is more than taqwa, which is the quality of devotion and reverence lying between the essence of fear and the essence of hope in the presence of the King.
The person who has this hayat will show patientce in the face of difficulties, thankfulness for everything that comes to him, whether it is ease, or hardship, and deep surrender to the degrees (al-Qadr) of Allah. Whether what Allah gives or takes is precious to him or not, he says, “I am the slave between Your hands my God. Do what you want.”
When the person has reached the deep humility of Hayat, having left behind all attachments to the world and the world of the hereafter, there is no fear after that, only the deepest awe for Allah.
And the mercy is such that as he stands alone without anything before Allah, he is as Moses, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who would not look at Allah because he would have been burnt up.
The last station of the heart is called the Station of the Secret. It corresponds to al-Itlaq. The secret here is Allah, His love and mercy. I myself do not feel qualified to comment on this station, except to say the Masters have said: more love, more love, and more love.
Peace and blessings,
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