To Die Before Dying

When we take a short voyage to a place where we are going to stay a few days, we take the trouble to reserve our seat on the airplane, to reserve our room in a hotel. We inquire about the conditions in the place we are going to go and take our coat if it is cold, our swimsuit if it is warm. We pack our luggage, we prepare. Why is it, when we know it as the only thing that is sure to happen, that we will very soon take a very long trip to a place where we are going to stay for eternity, that we do not prepare? We think there is time, but it may be tomorrow. When we are ordered to go we cannot delay our departure even an hour.

That trip is death. As sure as we are alive, we are going to die. When we were born we started to die.

After we pass through the dark door of the tomb, the trip is long until Doomsday, and on the Day of Last Judgment we will be assigned to the place in which we will spend eternity. What do you know about that road? What do you know about the place where you are going to go? What have you prepared for that voyage?

In fact, what do you know about this place, life, yourself? If you knew, you would have a chance to know what is beyond it.

The ones who know say that there are two worlds, one evident and one hidden. The evident one is made of coarse matter and the hidden one is made of fine matter. The one that is of coarse matter is called the smaller world, the microcosm. The one made of fine matter is called the greater world, the macrocosm. The microcosm is a sample of the macrocosm.

Man is that sample. You are the smaller universe in which exists all that there is in the greater universe. If you knew that which is evident in you and that which is hidden in you, that which was you before and that which will be you after, then you would know the meaning of the greater universe.

To know yourself, and through this knowledge to know all and everything, is the purpose of your creation. Allah Most High says wa ma khalaqtul‑jinna wal‑insa illa li­-ya'budun ‑‑ "I have not created men and jinn but to worship Me." The word li‑ya'budun ‑‑ "to worship Me" ‑‑ is interpreted by the ones who know as li‑ya'rifun ‑‑ "to know Me." In a hadith qudsi, a divine precept, Allah answers the question of the prophet David (a.s.) about the purpose of creation by saying ya Dawudu kuntu kanzan makhfiyan fa-ahbabtu an 'urafa fa‑khalaqul‑khalqa li‑ a'rifuni (or _li‑urafa) ‑‑ "Oh, David, I was a hidden treasure. I wished, I loved to be known, and I created the creation (out of love) so that they know Me (by knowing themselves)."

Whoever wishes to fulfill his destiny, the purpose of his creation, must know the whole of the creation. Not what you imagine it to be, but the reality of it, and that is possible by knowing yourself. That is why our Master the Beloved of Allah has said man 'arafa nafsahu faqat 'arafa rabbahu ‑‑ "He who knows himself will know the manifestation of his Lord." And he used to pray Allahumma arini haqa’iq al‑ashya’i ka‑ma hiya ‑‑ "Oh, Lord, show me the reality of things."

To know, know that there are two existences. One is qadim – eternal, the other, hadith ‑‑ temporal. The eternal is the creator of the temporal. And know that all and everything comes from a seed. As you come from a seed, so does the greater universe. As you cannot be other than what is in the chromosomes and genes in the seed of your conception, so is the universe hidden in its seed, the first creation. That seed is a divine light. Some call it the Causal Mind; some call it the Causal Soul. That light, which Allah has created from His own light, we call nur Muhammadi, the Light of Muhammad.

All creation is other than the creator. It is from Him, it is not Him. It is His art, it is temporal, and it is in need of its creator. It is dependent on its creator, while the one who created it is eternal, perfect, independent, without need, all-powerful. He creates out of love, out of love furnishes all that the creation needs, and rules with love and justice.

When He created the seed, the essence from which all creation would come, He looked upon the beautiful Light of Muhammad and that light moved with joy and excitement, became agitated, boiled, overflowed. Like the cream in milk, its essence came to its surface, and that which was heavy in it sank to the bottom.

From the essence of this essence Allah created the realm of the souls. This realm is also called 'alam al­-malakut, the angelic realm. This is the hidden universe created of fine matter. The fine matter from which it is created is indivisible. It is closer to its Creator. It has no will of its own. It is under the command of its Creator. Qul ir‑ruhu min amrir‑rabbi ‑‑ the soul is under your Lord’s command.

The realm of the souls contains the qualities and attributes of the nur Muhammadi, the first creation, which in turn contains the attributes of its Creator. The visible world contains the attributes of the invisible realm of the souls. A glass of water from the ocean is not the ocean, but it is from it, a sample of it, and contains the qualities of it.

The ones who know say that the visible world follows the structure and design of the hidden realm of souls, and the hidden realm of souls is designed after the initial creation. For instance, the hidden realm of the souls is created in thirteen levels. Including its seed, the first created essence, it is in fourteen levels. So also are the levels of the material world.

When Allah willed to create the realm of the souls, He looked upon His first creation, which moved and boiled in excitement, bringing that which was purest in it to the surface. From that purest of the pure He created the soul of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.).

From the essence of what was left of this divine light, He created the souls of the ulul‑a'zam ‑‑ the chosen prophets like Hadrat 'Isa (a.s.), Hadrat Musa (a.s.), Hadrat Ibrahim (a.s.), Hadrat Nuh (a.s.), Hadrat Adam (a.s.), and others.

From what was left after this He created the souls of the messengers, the rasuls, and from what was left after that He created the souls of the prophets, the anbiya’.

From what was left after their creation He formed the souls of the awliya’, the ones who are close to Him. From what then remained, He created the souls of the ones who know Him. From the remainder of that, He created the souls of the pure ones. From what was left then, He created the souls of His servants who serve Him. From the rest, He created the souls of the believers.

From the dregs he created the souls of the world‑bound, then the souls of the non‑believers, then the souls of the animals and finally the souls of plants.

Then the Creator willed to create the evident world, and He looked upon the darkness that existed in contrast to the light He had created. With Allah's glance upon it, the darkness moved and boiled. From the essence of this darkness He created the first material creation,al‑'arsh al‑a'la ‑‑ His Throne. From what was left He created the kursi ‑‑ His footstool. From what was left He created the seventh heaven, and then the sixth, the fifth, the fourth, the third, the second heavens. From what was left He created the first heaven of the galaxies, suns, stars, moons. From the coarsest dregs He created the four elements of fire, air, water, and earth. Then from the four elements He made minerals, and then vegetation, then animals, and finally the material being of man.

The secret and the proof that there are fourteen levels in the hidden realm of the souls and fourteen levels in the evident world of matter, totaling twenty‑eight, is in the twenty‑eight letters of the Arabic alphabet. Therefore the universe is a book containing all the Names, including the Greatest Name of Allah ‑‑ that is to say, all the attributes of the Creator and His essence. The perfect man, the man who knows, reads this book as ordinary men read the marks of ink on paper. Our Master, the seal of prophethood, the best of the creation, the Beloved of Allah, was not illiterate. He read this book of the universe.

Next Allah Most High connected His creation of fine matter, the souls, with the creation of the visible world. The fourteen levels of the hidden universe of souls became the home from which material existences come, and to which they will return.

Al‑'arsh al‑a'la, His Throne, became the home of our Master Muhammad (s.a.w.s.). His Footstool became the home of the Chosen Prophets; the seventh heaven, the home of the Messengers; the sixth heaven, the home of the prophets; the fifth heaven, the home of the ones close to Him; the fourth heaven, the home of the ones who know Him; the third heaven, the home of the pure ones; the second heaven, the home of His servants who serve Him; the first heaven, the home of the believers; the flame made out of fire and air, the home of the world‑bound hypocrites and the infidels; and the earth and water, the home of vegetation and animals.

It is evident from this that man is created in fourteen levels, ranging from the highest level of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) to the lowest level of animals and plants. For indeed there are men who appear as human beings but who in reality are monkeys and donkeys, hyenas, bats, poisonous snakes, pumpkins and cucumbers ‑‑ created from dust and water, to become dust and water again.

There is no security for a man created as a pure one or a servant of Allah or a believer, for Allah says laqad khalaanal‑insana fi ahsani takwim, thumma raddadnahu asfal as‑safilin ‑‑ Man is created in the best form, then brought down to the worst of the worst.

Each man is created with a particular potential. He may have the potential of being a believer, a servant of Allah, a pure one, or something higher. But to deserve this predestined state, he has to pass through the tests of this world, of life, and of this flesh of coarse matter. If he is successful, he will reach his potential. If he is not, he will be left on the way.

If there were no danger of being left on the way, then Allah's sending so many prophets, and so many books and devout wise men as teachers to guide people, would have been meaningless.

What should one do not to be left on the way? The first effort is to know where one is, and where to go to find a way to that place. For that, one has to know where one originated and where one is bound to return.

Which is your home, the first heaven of the faithful, the second heaven of the servants of Allah, the third heaven of the pure ones? Each road is different, shorter or longer, and there are stations on the way, places to rest. How to avoid thinking that the place of rest is the final goal? The best way is to see where you are going before you are called to go home, to rise, to ascend to that place so that you remember where it is and how it appears.

The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was brought there in his Ascension, body and soul, and knew where he was going when he left this world. This is possible for you too, not bodily but with your soul. That is what our Master (s.a.w.s.) meant when he said mutu qabla an tamutu ‑‑ die before dying. Make your soul ascend to your home before you are called home.

The ones who know say that the means to do this -- after confirming with your heart and declaring with your tongue that Allah, the Truth, Most High, is one, and that Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) is His servant and His Messenger –- and after preventing yourself from doing the things that Allah and His Messenger forbade, while bringing yourself to do the things that Allah and His Messenger ordered you to do ‑‑ is to acquire three qualities.

The first of these qualities is sincerity, truth‑

fulness ‑‑ in everything you do, in everything you say, in everything you think and feel. The second is to show compassion and love to all creation ‑‑ men, jinn, animals, plants, water, air, and rocks. The third is to purify your body, your mind, and your heart from all dirt and negativity. Without these three qualities you will not be light enough to soar to new heights.

The active states of these three qualities are: With sincerity you must wish, you must yearn, you must seek. With love and compassion you must serve; serving Allah is serving His creation. With purity you will ascend, untied; you will soar and see your home, and you will remember what you saw and know where you are bound to go, and the way home.

May Allah help my children to actualize their destiny, and may He give them all that is good for them.


Amin, bi‑hurmati sayyid il‑mursalin Ta Ha wa Ya Sin.