Monday, May 29, 2017

"And what prompts you to make your Pilgrimage?"

This was the condition of the man who, as he considered making Pilgrimage, made a request of Bishr al-Ḥāfi. Abū Naṣr al-Tamār relates that a man came to bid farewell to Bishr ibn al-Ḥāruth, saying, "I am eager to make the Pilgrimage, so give me some instructions."
Bishr said to him, "How much money do you have for your sustenance?" 
The man replied, "A thousand dirhams." 
"And what prompts you to make your Pilgrimage?" Bishr asked. "Is it entertainment, or a yearning for the House, or a desire to please God?" 
"A desire to please God," said the man. 
Bishr asked further, "And if you could please God Most High by staying home and spending the thousand dirhams, and you were sure this would please God, would you do it?" 
"Yes," said the man. 
"Then give it to ten people," Bishr said. "Then the person of faith can fulfill his religious practice, and the poor person can get back on his feet, and the father of a family can make his family prosper, and the one who is raising an orphan can give him joy. So if the One God gives you heart the strength to give the gift, do it. For surely your bringing happiness into the heart of a Muslim, and your sending rain to the sighing, and your alleviating the pain of the destitute, and your affirming a man who is weak in certitude are all more excellent than hundreds upon hundreds of proofs of Islam. go and disperse the money as I have advised you. Otherwise tell me what is truly in your heart." 
The man said, "O Abū Naṣr, my journey [e: the desire to make the journey] is uppermost in my heart." 
So Bishr smiled and approached him and said, "When money is gotten through unfair and suspicious business practices, that goads the lower self into conceiving a desire to hasten toward outwardly pious works. But God Most High has sworn that He will accept only the actions of the God-fearing." [Q5:27] 
When Bishr had said this, the man wept.
-from Letter 6 of Ibn 'Abbād of Ronda: Letters on the Sūfī Path. Translation and Introduction by John Renard, S.J. Preface by Annemarie B. Schimmel. (New York: Paulist Press, 1986), pg. 117.