HEALING IN THE WAY OF THE PROPHET (sas)
On Truth, Healing and Appropriate Behavior
Healing is the skill of bringing applicants out of their personal illusions and into the truth of Allah, and it must be done gently and with great respect for the illusions, for they have served us well. Allah says, "The light has come and falsehood must perish." But He also says, "And speak to them with the most courteous of discourse."
It is the appropriate behavior of the grateful slave to fall on his face in abject humility and gratitude before his Lord, and then to follow in the ways of the other grateful slaves. That, in itself, is sufficient for healing. But most of us have been living in a state of conflict and disillusionment, and can not always find much to be grateful for. So bringing the student to the point of recognition of genuine gratitude is something that must be done with concern and diligence. Let us not lose our concern on account of our diligence, nor lose our diligence in our concern. For the latter leads to sympathy for the victim, and the former leads to fruitless persistence.
And remembrance of the Divine name is the ultimate healing tool, but it must not be used alone. Success in this path requires a teacher and a community, also.
Healing is the process of recognizing our true selves and the discovery of our inner dignity. For one who knows himself, knows his Lord, and knowledge of one's Lord is the essence of spiritual health. Without spiritual health, maintenance of physical health become difficult or overwhelming. However with spiritual health, happiness, joy and gratitude become the norm, and Allah says in Qur`an, "If you are grateful, I will give you increase."
A solid and substantial healing is accomplished by the student through seeking and attaining sufficient attention from a healer or teacher in this way that all personal issues that the student may have with the learning process be absolved. This process of healing cannot be formulated, as it is as varied as the numbers of hearts seeking it. The singular qualification or requirement of the healer or teacher is that he or she has what the student requires.
Most teachers will be confirmed in this by their colleagues and community, and for themselves by the time, money and energy they have spent in acquiring such capability. The singular appropriate behavior for the healer is that she can remain strongly enough in her own truth and commitment to be able to anchor it for herself and the student while they are working together through their difficulty. If the healer's own faith or commitment becomes threatened by any of the material brought up by the student, then the healer should turn with confidence inwardly to her own teacher for support. Most teachers and healers in this way will not encounter any difficulty with that.
Explanation and teaching is not the primary goal or requirement in such a circumstance, since the effectiveness of teaching and explanation relies upon the state of the student, which is often uncertain and most certainly in transition. Maintaining personal clarity in surrender and a genuine willingness to understand coupled with a true confidence in the ultimate outcome of the process are the only real requisite qualities for the healer.
But being welcomed into the Sufi Community begins a new process of self discovery based upon Honor, Trust and Dignity, and the learning of the behavior patterns of its people. Demonstrating the desire to learn these patterns, to mold ourselves after the most exemplary models, is the essence of 'adab', or respect. Learning the patterns is the adab of learning the adab itself. And the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Ad-deen Adab, kulluha - this way (religion) is appropriate behavior, all of it."
In this day and age, healing is appropriate behavior, and it behooves us all to learn how to heal effectively. For this purpose we have the teachers in the Sufi way, all of whom learn from themselves, each other, and their students. And lest you mistake their casual friendship for ignorance of the way, remember that our prophet has made congenial living incumbent and easy for us by stating that among the people of adab there is no adab.
How then can we learn the patterns of appropriate behavior? We can learn them best by being sure that we know both how to learn and why we would want to learn. It is meaningless to learn behavior patterns without first knowing how and why we would want to. How we learn is by study and keeping company. To know why we learn them, simply investigate yourself and your motives. Ultimately you will discover that these behavior patterns are those of the people of heaven. The will help us to understand and more deeply experience the gardens of peace that Allah has in store for us in our hearts. But, since they are based on the highest courtesy to ourselves, others and Allah, they will also serve us in inviting others into our lives in this garden. And our behavior in this life both reflects and carries over into our behavior in the real.
Some examples: It is appropriate behavior to smile at neighbors and to greet passers by. To present a pleasant face to strangers and visitors, and to truly hide your deeper emotional difficulty from those who are not concerned. This is similar to the next act of courtesy, which is to remove dangers from the way of others, even a rock in the road.
When asked about your state or condition to praise Allah with "Al-Hamdu lillah, I'm feeling fine (or well, or fantastic, or poorly, or sad) today. And I hope all is well with you too?" For it is said in Qur`an, "Al-hamdu lillahi, fi kulli hal" The praise is Allah's in every case (or state or condition). When greeted with the saying of peace, "As-Salaamu Alaikum", to return it likewise or better. "Wa Alaikum Salaam", or "Wa Alaikum Salaam wa Rahmatullah", adding "and the Mercy of Allah." May His Mercy be with you, too.
Maintaining ourselves in our own truth while staying on the pathway of appropriate behavior is the goal of Sufi training. This is the meeting of the Haqiqat, the reality of Allah in every moment, and the Shari`at, the pathway of appropriate actions and behavior in every moment.
Many teachers teach that the Shari`at is the means to the attainment of Haqiqat, and that it must be learned and followed for many years before we will come to know the truth. They hold the truth out and away from their students like bait, as a dessert candy, to induce from them the yearning for proximity to Allah, and to use that yearning to learn the ways of the Prophet of Divine love. There is nothing wrong with this and indeed, each teacher knows the needs of his or her students.
But the healing way of the Sufi is to bring people to the healing love and reality of Allah immediately, and to allow the learning of the way and the acts of appropriate behavior to emerge from their desire and gratitude. For Our prophet, peace be upon him, when asked why, if all his sins were forgiven by Allah, he continued to pray, replied, "Am I not a grateful slave?"
The acts (behavior patterns) are indeed of a twofold purpose, as the prophet, peace be upon him, has said that the teachings of the way of piety will fall upon the ears of two kinds of people. They will be received as a revelation to many and as a confirmation to others, and that the latter are the "twice-blessed". So the acts can be both a means of attainment coming from the desire of one who thinks himself far to be near, and as a commitment of abject gratitude from one who is grateful for His nearness. And for most of us it is a little of both.
However, in our way, and indeed it is stated to be so in the teaching of Islam, we ask not that people take on the ways of our folk from any sense of compulsion, nor that it be taught that way. But that they draw near to us in physical proximity, surrendering to the love, and learn what they will from their desire to keep the company and learn from the beloveds of Allah, that they too might become, like us, self-convinced in this way.