The true life is the one lived at the spiritual level. Those whose hearts are alive, conquering the past and the future, cannot be contained by time. Such people are never excessively distressed by sorrows of the past or anxieties of the future. Those who cannot experience full existence in their hearts, and thus lead banal, shallow lives, are always gloomy and inclined to hopelessness. They consider the past a horrifying grave, and the future an endless well. It is torment if they die, and it is torment if they survive.
Establishing a sound relationship with a long, great past and a long, better future depends on your having a proper understanding of your heart’s and soul’s vitality. The fortunate ones live at this level and fully understand this life. They see the past as our ancestors’ great tents and thrones, the future as roads leading toward the gardens of Paradise, and, while sipping inspiration from their inner conscience as if from the fountain of Kawthar1, they pass on from the guesthouse of this world. But the unfortunate ones, those who cannot reach such level of understanding and endeavor, lead lives that are worse than death, and their deaths are a hell of darkness upon darkness.
There is a mutually supportive and perfect relation between one’s actions and inner life. We may call this relation a “virtuous circle.” Attitudes like determination, perseverance, and resolve illuminate one’s inner conscience, and the brightness of this inner conscience strengthens one’s will-power and resolve, stimulating him or her to ever-higher horizons.
Those fortunate ones, whose actions reflect the obedience of their spirits, will always seek to please the Creator and humanity, and will continue to acquire praiseworthy virtues. Their qibla2 pointer will always point to the same mihrab3, and their progress indicator will always show the same route. Although some straying may occur every once in a while, a truly sincere remorse and a heartfelt penitence will melt away the consciousness of sin from their hearts and souls. After this, they will resume their roads, often with renewed vigor.
Those fortunate ones who fulfill their duties meticulously and thoroughly, who attend with care to every little detail, enjoy orderliness, harmony, and devotion to duty in their outer worlds. At the same time, they increase the pure light of their inner worlds and, on the wings of their prayers, attain a few times each day the rank of angels.
This understanding and balance in human hearts, that is, the inward experience and meticulous practice of religion alongside a love and yearning for eternity, over time was replaced by dull formalism and mysticism that made us lazy. Since that time, those two ominous groups have regarded their own inspirations, which are no more than the light of a firefly, as equal to the bright and varied brilliance of Revelation. They block our way to new horizons of thought and darken the horizons of our aspirations by spraying fumes and dust onto our enlightened path.
By way of summing up, we may characterize soldiers of truth as follows:
Soldiers of truth have a toughened structure, like tempered steel, that can withstand all pressures and assaults. Their intellect can combine, like an expert chemist, the Divine Word and all current knowledge in a pot and thereby obtain new syntheses. Their spirits have been perfected in the same crucible that perfected such spiritual masters as Mawlana Rumi and Shaykh Jilani. They are so modest that they see themselves as just ordinary people among others. Finally, their altruism has reached such a level that they can forget their own needs and desires for the sake of others’ happiness.
1 One of the rivers in Paradise.
2 The direction in which a Muslim turns to when praying. The individual is its beginning point, and the Ka‘ba, located in Makka, is its end point.
3 An architectural feature found in every mosque to indicate the direction Muslims must turn to when praying.