An-Nafs al-Mutma'inna: The Serene Nafs:
The Nafs in Complete Rest and Satisfaction
The Fourth Station
The satisfied nafs: its walking is with Allah, its world is the Muhammadan Reality (al-haqiqa al-muhammadiyya), its location is the secret(1), its condition is sincere serenity, its source (warid) is some of the shari'a secrets, and its qualities are generosity, putting one's reliance on Allah, forebearance, worship, gratitude, satisfaction with the decree, and fortitude during hardship. The sign of the seeker (as-salik) entering into this fourth state is his steadfastness with the commands of the shari'a. He finds pleasure only in the character traits of the Prophet, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, and he finds serenity only in following his words whereas the previous maqam was one of coloring (talwin, meaning change)(2). In this maqam the salik gives pleasure to whomever looks at him or listens to him. Even if he were to talk without ceasing, on one would be bored with what he has to say. This is because his tongue expresses what Allah has given him to know in his heart about the reality of things and the secrets of the shari'a. Whatever he speaks is in conformity with what Allah and His Messenger have said. He knows this, not through the study of books, but by virtue of what Allah has placed in his secret. “I am your secret, My beloved, and You are My secret, so be at rest.”
Everything comes to rest in him, and he drowns in the ocean of modesty and adab. His state is one of awe. He has presence and acceptance. He has realized the reality of creation and the fana', and has come to understand Allah's words, “Everything in annihilation.”
The salik in this maqam may meet with creation from time to time, so that he may benefit creation with what Allah has bestowed on him and share the wisdom in his heart. O complete man, come out to them and benefit them in the manner in which Allah has bestowed His benefits on you.
Make sure you leave or make time for retreats because in this maqam you are in the beginning stages of completion. It is not suitable for you to mix with creation at all times, for this will impede your ascension into the remaining stations, and by that I mean the firth and sixth and seventh.
See where your benefit is. If it is in seclusion, be secluded, and if it is in mixing or socializing, then socialize. The sign for benefitting and mixing is that those who are present with you will be benefitted from you in receiving knowledge that Allah has given you, not the knowledge found in books. In this maqam busy yourself with the remembrance of His name by saying Haqq, Ya Haqq or Ya Allah. Be busy with the remembrance and do not be distracted by what appears to you. Pray to Allah to not be shown what can become a distraction that will stop you from serving Him and from standing by His door. If you receive revelation without protection, this can lead to being distanced from Him. Know that nearness is only given to the pure slaves who are not delighted by the extraordinary (karamat: miracles, etc.). So you find that the complete ones who have protection are not aware of any breaking of norms. (So they have miracles, but they are unaware of them and do not know whether or not something extraordinary has happened.)
Ask Allah for victory and protection to go through what remains of the veils. One of the veils in this station is the love of miracles (karamat). Remember that the end is to your Lord. Know that everything other than Allah is a trial, so do not stop with it.
An example of this is a man who intended to travel to the house of Allah in Mecca. He departed with the pilgrims. He went most of the way, and then met a woman who stripped him of his mind. He decided to stay with her. The leader of the caravan said to him, “Do not stop here; this will prevent you from doing the Hajj. Come with us and visit the house of Allah. On our way back we can marry you to his woman, but if you do not go with us, you will not reach the house of Allah and you will be in disobedience to your Lord.” But this man was overcome by passion and he never made it to the House of Allah. When he drew nearer to the woman and lifted the veil of her face, he found that she was very ugly. He regretted his decision, but it was too late. He tried to catch up to the caravan, but to no avail. He cried day and night.
The woman here is like the breaking of norms, or minor miracles, and the House of Allah is the nearness to Allah, and the caravan route is like the way to Allah. When the traveler finds himself near the presence of nearness to Allah, many miracles become manifest. If his passion becomes attached to them before the time has matured for them, he only exhausts himself and misses the mark. These miracles are part of this creation, this dunya, which have no benefit in this dunya or in the next world. When he realizes this, he regrets his attachment to them and weeps because they took him away form the maqam that he had worked so hard to attain.
Know that the nafs in and of itself is not an ugly thing. It is a gift from Allah, but if you are attracted to it and this attraction stops you from drawing nearer to Allah, then it becomes ugly. Remember that nearness is only possible through slavehood, which contains the secret of Lordship. So understand and do not stop with creation; otherwise that will be all you have.
Know that in this station you will have an attraction to litanies, recitations or invocations (al-awrad) and to prayers (tawhid) and to the presence of the incoming light, the Prophet, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, in a different way than in the previous stations.
Beware of being secure with the nafs at any station. It is your enemy, and you should never be secure for its attacks, even if it feigns friendship with you. Know that you are at risk from it all your life. For example, you may be given the wish for money to help you in your worship or in your servitude to Allah and to help your beloveds. This in itself will not harm you if you follow these conditions:
1) Make sure that this is truly your intent.
2) Do not be distracted from your Lord by the acquisition of money.
3) Should you acquire wealth, you should not hide it from people and pretend that you are poor.
In this maqam you may develop the desire of leadership, fame, and guiding others. You may start assuming that you are a shaykh and seeking this position so that people may gather around you and find guidance with you. Beware of opening yourself to this and of being attracted to it because it is one of the tricks of the nafs. But if Allah establishes you in this station, makes you well-known or famous, and puts the robes of a shaykh on you without your aspiring to it, then be where Allah has put you. This would be better for you than seclusion. You know this is the order of Allah if you find that the beloveds around you love you and are obedient to you. Its signs also are that when you look at them, you do not find yourself superior to them or they inferior to you. If you find yourself like this with your brethren, then guide them and counsel them and beautify the Sufi way for them, because this is the way of Allah. Be humble with them and thank God who has made you qualify for this position of which you are unworthy. Always feel indebted to them, and if you ever think they are in your debt, then know that you are not one of the servants of this field, abandon this position, leave them and strive to free your own soul from its remaining blemishes, for this is more important for both you and them.
When some souls cross the stations and reach this fourth station they are beginning to be qualified to be a guide because they are gentle, affable, patient (al-latif, al-rifq and al-halim). While crossing the stations, they purify themselves. When you arrive at the fourth station, you have the quality of al-mutma'inna. Then there is no harm in guiding your brothers and prescribing beneficial remedies of the path in the absence of a more perfect guide. Do not hasten and do not put yourself ahead, but complete your walking by advancing to the fifth, sixth, and seventh station.
Know that if you complete the fourth station and find yourself tasting this rest from your Lord, and you find that your foot does not slip from following the Book of Allah and the sunna of His Messenger, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, you will find that gentle divine hands will attract you to completion. This is different from the first attraction, which you received at the beginning of your walking. You will hear a call from the secrets of the secrets, “O mutma'inna, return to your Lord.” This will make you forgetful of everything in the dunya and in the Hereafter unless it is present with you. If it is absent from you, you are absent from it, because in this station you continuously contemplating or witnessing the Beauty and Majesty of the Haqq.
1. The secret is the inner aspect of the spirit and when it descends one degree it is called the soul and when it descends another, it is called the heart.
2. This is the station of mastery, of the eye of certainty, and of perfect faith