The Poor, the Orphan and the Captive



All Prophets Taught Humanity to Submit


You will notice that in our associations, we often repeat ourselves, because for every spiritual reality there are at least 12, 000 oceans of meaning. In order to progress on our spiritual path, we must first dive into the ocean of obedience – “Samina wa atana” (2:285). It means “we hear and we obey”. But what or who do we obey? God replies to our question, saying


Obey God, obey the Prophet, and obey those in authority over you” (4:59).


To obey means to be obedient, and obedience requires submission. Submission to God is what all Prophets taught, from Abraham (as) to Noah (as) to Moses (as) to Jesus (as) and ending with the seal of Prophets, the Beloved Muhammad (s). All of them taught the same religion – the religion of submission to God’s will. It is the ego that wants to create distinctions and separate people, and Satan encourages these distinctions to cause trouble on the earth, but in reality it doesn’t matter what we decide to label ourselves because in the world of light there are no labels. Our Gucci, our Versace, our Mercedes, our BMW, all of it means nothing in the world of light. Similarly, whether we choose to call ourselves “Jewish” or “Christian” or “Muslim” or “Hindu”, these labels are ultimately meaningless in the Divine Presence. All that matters is the quality of our light; the purity of our soul on the spectrum of light. That purity is proportional to the level of our submission.


The Prophets, and their inheritors the Saints, are asking us to contemplate that if we love God, what can we offer to express that love? We cannot offer money, we cannot offer power or fame, we cannot offer anything from this material world. God is saying, “If you truly love me, then give back what I gave you – your Free Will.” And all Prophets were teaching this basic concept. Does anyone know the Lord’s Prayer? It says, “Thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…” Thy will – not our will – be done, because our will is simply a tool of our ego, and it acts as a barrier to spiritual progress. Therefore, Prophet (s) is teaching us, Saints are teaching us, that we must submit. Through that submission we will reach towards Divine Satisfaction.


3 Levels of Obedience


Submission is the door through which our souls must enter on their journey back to the Divine Presence. But submission does not lead to faith. Only obedience opens faith:

The Arabs say, “We believe.” Say “Ye have no Faith; but ye (only) say, ‘We have submitted our wills to God,’ For not yet has Faith entered your hearts. But if you obey God and His Messenger, He will not belittle aught of your deeds for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (49:14).


In the ocean of obedience, the Holy Quran highlights three categories:


Obey God, obey the Prophet, and obey those in authority over you” (4:59).

The Saints are teaching us that there is a heavenly secret contained within this verse dealing with the importance of humility. The highest level is the first command: “Obey God,” but Mawlana Shaykh says that to cut out the other two levels of obedience (the Prophet (s) and those in authority) and go straight to God is a very dangerous proposition. Even Prophets struggled in obeying God, as we learn from the story of Prophet Adam (as). Today, there are many people claiming that there is no need for intercession. They even say there is no need to find a guide; that we can connect to God directly, but this is what Satan said when God commanded him to bow to Adam (as). Satan refused, saying he would only bow to God, and his disobedience caused him to be thrown out of Paradise.


Through contemplation, we begin to understand that it was Satan’s lack of humility which caused his downfall. As Satan was asked to bow to a human being, we are asked to show a similar level of humility by obeying the Prophets and those in authority. The Divine is saying, “If you are going to approach My Kingdom, show weakness and ask for the assistance of other human beings. Don’t come to My presence thinking you are something. Don’t come with pride or arrogance.”


O ye who believe! Do your duty to God, seek the means of approach unto Him” (5:35).


The Shaykhs are teaching us that trying to connect with the Divine Presence directly is like asking to have an audience with the King when you are regular person. Regular people are not permitted to walk up to the palace doors and demand to meet with the King, as it would be taken as a sign of extreme disrespect. Instead, we would go through the Ministers and Magistrates that the King assigned to deal with us, ie. the Prophets and the Saints, and ask them to speak with the King on our behalf. Thus, the path to the Divine Presence requires obedience and manners. It requires that we learn the etiquette of how to approach, and this constitutes the heart of Sufi teaching.


Therefore, the Prophets and Messengers were created for the sole purpose of providing an intermediary between human beings and the Creator, and to speak on behalf of the Divine. Thus, God says in the Holy Quran, “He who obeys the Messenger obeys Me.” (4:80). It means that the proper approach to the Divine Presence is through the Prophets, because they are perfected reflections of that Light. Their hearts are like a polished mirror, reflecting the Light of the Divine Presence.


(The Prophet) says (aught) of (his own) desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed (to him)” (53:1-4).


However, we are not living in the time of the Prophet (s), which means we are in need of guidance as to how to follow the Prophetic example.