Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"For Ibn 'Abbad, there is one central concern for man's progress on his path toward God: that is, to grow in gratitude and in certitude.

Certitude, the unquestioning trust in God's wisdom, is the highest state the wayfarer can hope for, and he who has reached it will not need any revelations of hidden mysteries: His is the clear vision. But certitude is connected with gratitude. The early Sufis had defined, in dozens of sayings, the complementary stage of sabr [patience] and shukr [gratitude] and had discussed the relative value of each of them. But for Ibn 'Abbad, gratitude is the heart of the matter. In his letters he admonishes his disciples and friends to be grateful for everything that happens: When God leads a man through afflictions, it means that He wants this person to turn again to Him Whom he had forgotten in the midst of worldly planning and scheming. He knows that there are three forms of gratitude: in the heart, on the tongue by praising the Lord, and most importantly, by actions: to prove one's gratitude by fulfilling God's law and to show active love for the neighbor as well. Ibn 'Abbad would wholeheartedly have agreed with the old Sufi formulation that the final stage of gratitude is "gratitude for being able to render thanks."

-from Annemarie Schimmel's preface to Ibn 'Abbad of Ronda: Letters on the Sufi Pathtranslated by John Renard, pg. xiii.

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