True Love

From Tosun Baba to his Ihvan:

The following I relate for my daughters and my sons, and that which has to be between them:

I read that the truth of Muhammad (saws) comes from three sources. These three are mentioned to us with the words of his love, for love itself is the source of all existence. He says, "I was made to love three things from your world: women, and perfume, and the comfort of my eye is in salat." He mentioned women first and salat last.

Eve, the first woman, was a part of man, created from the side of Adam, as humanity itself is a part of its Lord. But only the Lord is the Source of all and everything. That is why "he who knows himself, knows his Lord." As the Beloved of Allah says, "I was a prophet when Adam was between water and earth." He, not Adam, was the first Man. Neither he nor Adam, nor anything else created, is proof of the origin of anything. This can only be the Lord.

The Lord says, "I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known, so I created creation." That is the love of the whole for its parts. Hadrat Muhammad (saws), the whole, was made to love women, his part; he was made to yearn for women as the whole yearns for its part. The Lord said, "I have breathed from My own soul into Adam," as a sign of His love for mankind,  He addressed His prophet Dawud (as), "O Dawud, my love for the ones who yearn for Me is greater than their yearning." After this manner is the yearning of the Beloved of Allah (saws) for women.

The Lord essentially yearns for Himself when He shows His love for humanity, since He has breathed His own soul into His creation. It is said that He has created humanity in His own image, and this is the way in which man loves woman.

Hadrat Musa (as) heard his Lord speak to him from the burning bush, because what Musa needed and wanted at that moment was fire. In the case of Adam, Allah created for him, from him, another being in a beautiful human shape and named her Woman. When Adam saw Eve in his own image, he loved her, as all beings yearn for that which is uniquely divine in themselves.

The love of woman for man is her yearning for home, her origin. The Lord’s love for the human being is the love for the one whom He has created in His own image. The love of man for woman is the love of the one who was created from him in his own image.

This love honors the beloved; it is manifested in the Lord’s order to the angels, whom He created from divine light, to bow in front of Adam, whom He created from earth and water. That is the bond between the Lord and man, and between man and woman.

Thus a trinity is formed, three in one: the Lord, man, and woman. Allah teaches men to love through His own love: that is how he made man to love woman. That is why the Beloved of Allah said, "I was made to love women." He did not say: "I loved women." He attributed loving women to his Lord.

When a man loves a woman, he yearns to unite with her. In this unison desire and pleasure spread to all the cells of the body. Since that desire consumes one’s whole being, and as the Lord does not wish His servant to take such total pleasure in the union with anything other than Himself, it became an obligation to take a total ablution afterwards. It is a return to the potential love for the Truth within one’s self.

If man, during union with woman, whom he was made to love, sees signs of his Lord in the beloved, that is a gift from the Lord; If, however, he sees in this union the signs of the Lord within himself (as the woman came out of him and is a part of him) this is a reflection.

Because the Beloved of Allah (saws) saw the love of his Lord in women, he was made to love them. The Lord, in His essence, is immaterial and invisible. He is free from all resemblance to what He has created, and has no need for anything He has created. He is only visible in His attributes and manifestations, as signs of His creation. All creation is in need of Him. Of the signs of this need and yearning for Truth, the best manifestation is in woman; and the best possible exercise of union is the union between man and woman. It is the manifestation of divine closeness, whereby men and women may see their inner selves.

Allah created Adam as His perfect creation, as the microcosm of all He has created; He breathed His own soul into Adam. Thus Adam’s exterior is created, and his inner being is Truth. In this way Allah has honored humanity above His angels.

The Prophet said that he was made to love women, nisa’—in Arabic,a plural word without a singular. He did not say imra’ah, which is "a woman" in Arabic. Thus it is not anonymous femaleness that he loves.

As humanity is for the Creator, woman is for man. Man, by the will given to him and by Allah’s order, feels closeness and the secrets of the universe open in woman. Whoever views woman in this light, and loves her, is exercising divine love. Whoever is only affected by lust is seeing an empty image, without soul. This person does not know his own soul, nor does he know whom he loves, nor what love really is. The love which our master and guide, the Beloved of Allah, was made to feel for women is part of Allah’s love for Him.

The Prophet Muhammad (saws) says, "I was made to love three things from your world: women, and perfume, and the comfort of my eye is in prayer." And Allah Most High says in the Qur’an,"Allah gave each its due when He created it." Allah gives all creatures what they deserve. What they deserve is measured by the realization of the beautiful Names and attributes of the Lord placed within them. Nature was created before things existent in it: that is how we identify it. The reality of Nature is the breath of the Compassionate One, the divine breath spread in the eighteen thousand universes and manifested in matter: mountains, oceans, forests, animals, and man. As visible nature, in its beauty, is to the divine breath, so is woman to the Beloved of Allah.

The Prophet of Allah, when he tells of the things he was made to love, puts woman above man. He uses the word "thalath," feminine three, not "thalathah," masculine three, and yet in the same sentence there is the word tib – perfume, which is masculine. In Arabic grammar when it is said, for example, "Fatimah and Zayd came," the verb is in the masculine form. Thus the Prophet has purposefully and ungrammatically given precedence to the female over the male. In addition to the first loved one being feminine, third loved one, salat, is also (gramatically) feminine. The pattern is repeated thus: Dhat (Essence) is feminine; Adam is masculine; Eve is feminine. It is the concept of trinity: man (masculine) is between two feminines. They are linked : Essence to man; man to woman; woman to Essence.

Tib (perfume) is mentioned after nisa" (woman) because the breath of life, procreativity, is in woman.

The Prophet of Allah was created as a servant of his Lord. He never claimed to be a master. He submitted: worshipping, praising and knowing his Lord, until his Lord wished to raise him to the level of an active being. As a sign of his level, Allah gave him the secret of the effect and the influence of beautiful smells upon living beings. The sensation of smell is a most effective influence, creating heedfulness, love, remembrance, and consciousness. It is the sign of life. There is a second birth of consciousness in the one already born of woman. That is why the Prophet was made to love perfume after women. (It also refers to the "perfume" of the good woman.)

Words are breath. The good word is divine; therefore it is a perfumed breath. The word itself is divine. It can never be bad and it can never smell bad. Apparent ugliness is only an accidental result. That which smells bad is that which is disharmonious—that which is not in accordance with its origin, or even that which is in a lesser state than perfection.

Only perfect things were beloved by the Beloved of Allah. Yet, among men there are those "who tyrannize themselves, who have not found what is expected of them," or "those who are fooled by the lies of their imagination and deny their Lord." They have no sense to distinguish the right from the wrong, the good from the bad, or the beautiful from the ugly.

Could there be anyone—in this life and in this world—who might see only beauty and ignore every ugliness? It is not true that ugliness does not exist. The truth is in seeing it, and then being compassionate toward it and loving it.

What is called ugly is usually what is felt as disagreeable. What is called beautiful is that which is liked. Nearly all people are of this view. Some people even have the kind of taste that identifies the ugly as beautiful and the beautiful as ugly. None of these are blessed with the special sense of beauty that erases the realization of the ugly. Yet even that does not eliminate the existence of ugliness in this universe.

It need not be eliminated. In both beauty and ugliness is the rahmah, the compassion of Allah. His compassion covers all and everything.

Salat, the ritual worship, is the third and final thing that the Beloved of Allah was made to love in our world. Salat is vision of things beyond our sight. That is why he said, "Salat is the comfort of my eye." Seeing realms beyond our vision, closer to Allah, permitted him to converse with his Creator.

Allah says, "Remember Me and I will remember you." Thus salat, in a divine tradition, is a conversation between Allah and His servant . He says, "I divided salat between Myself and My servant. Half of the worship belongs to Me and half to My servant. And My servant will certainly receive that which he asks of Me."

In every cycle of the ritual prayer, it is an obligation to recite the opening verses of the Qur’an. Without them the prayer is not valid.

The person at prayer first says Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim – "In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful." The Lord responds: "My servant is calling upon Me." When the servant says alhamdu li-Llahi rabb il-‘alamin– "all thanks and praise to the Lord of all creation," The Lord says: "My servant is thankful to Me." When the worshipper says maliki yawm id-din– "owner of the Day of Judgment," the Lord says: "My servant has submitted to Me and left his life in My hands." These first three verses of the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an belong to Allah.

Iyyaka na‘budu wa iyyaka nasta‘in—"We belong only to You and we ask all we need from You." Then the Lord says: "My servant is now with Me and he will have all that he wishes." This verse in the center of the chapter is like Purgatory, a state of abandonment of the self.

Then the servant says ihdinas-sirat al-mustqim—"lead us to the straight path, the truth"; as-sirat alladhina an‘amta ‘alayhim—"the path of those who are close to You, whom You love"; ghayril-maghdubi ‘alayhim wa lad-dalin – "not the path of the ones who meet Your wrath, or who go astray." And Allah says: "That which My servant asks belongs to him. When My servant intends and wishes he is given the state of purity, sincerity and peace."

Whoever yearns for truth, obtains it. Allah says in a divine tradition, "I am with the one who calls on Me." Whoever has eyes should certainly be able to see the One who is with him. But "the blind in this world of matter are blind in the other world of reality." Are you with the truth while praying, or not? In that way you can know where you are and who you are.

Whoever feels the presence of his Lord during prayer is an imam, the leader of a congregation, even if he is praying alone. The Prophet of Allah says: "He who truly prays is certainly an imam, because there are angels praying behind him." That true servant of Allah is raised to represent his Lord: when he says sami‘a Llahu li-man hamidah—"Allah hears those who praise and thank Him"—he is repeating Allah’s promised response to himself and to the angels behind him. The angels respond rabbana lakal-hamd—"our Lord, all praise and thanks are due to You." All this is seen by those who can claim, like our Master, the Messenger of Allah, that "salat is the comfort of my eye."

The ones who do not see or feel their Lord, but at least believe that He sees and hears them, are blind, deaf, and dumb. They may not receive, unless Allah, in His mercy, gives them protection from sinning and doing wrong. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: "Salat protects man from things wrong and forbidden," and, "Allah knows what you are doing." We are urged to be like "the one who listens as if he sees his Lord."

Material being came into existence through motion. The motion that caused existence is found within the movements of the salat. These movements are three: vertical– upwards; horizontal – forwards; and reverse—backwards and downwards. The first, vertical movement, is in the position of qiyam, standing up. The second, horizontal movement, is in the position of ruku‘, bowing. The third, reverse movement, is in the sajdah, prostration.

These three motions are also manifest in the three kingdoms of creation: the vertical in man, the horizontal in animals, and the prostration upon the earth, in earth. In the final movement of prostration, the worshipper becomes a lifeless earth that does not move, or do anything, on its own, with its own will. It only moves and does by the will of another. That is the state of the Beloved of Allah, who did not attribute anything that he was or did or said to himself, but attributed all to his Lord. When he said "salat is the comfort of my eye," he meant that it was neither his salat nor his eye. The Lord Himself saw Himself in this divine light.

Thus in the salat the reality sees its realness; the truth sees nothing else but the truth. That is why it is maleficent and forbidden by the Lord to care for anything else other than what is being done through you during salat. When the mind wanders in imagination, the Devil steals from the salat and prevents the lover from reaching the Beloved. The true lover seeks only the Beloved. The direction of the Ka‘bah is where the worshipper looks for the Beloved. Whatever distracts is leading one astray, away from the Beloved.

The Lord ordered us to worship Him, to praise Him—but He also praises the one who praises Him and prays for the one who prays to Him. This mutual, shared state is like a mirror. It differs for each and every person. As Hadrat Junayd al-Bagdadi, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "The color of the water is the color of the cup that contains it." The truth accords with the state in which one finds oneself.

The Lord appears in accordance with our need. Moses saw Him in the burning bush when he needed fire. Some saints saw Him as coral or a date tree, and Hadrat Ibn Arabi saw Him in the shape of a white horse. The Beloved of Allah saw Him in the shape of a most beautiful youth who resembled him.

Coral is the final evolution of the mineral kingdom, one step behind the vegetable kingdom. The date tree is the final evolution of the vegetable kingdom, one step behind the animal kingdom. (In fact, a date tree is like an animal: if one cuts the top of it, it dies.) The horse is the final evolution of the animal kingdom, close to the human being. The human being is the best of creation—and the Beloved of Allah is the best and the most perfect among human beings.

Allah says, "I am as My servant thinks of Me." He also says,"Everything worships Me and tells My praises, but you do not hear." Mineral, vegetable, animal—each in its own way worships its Creator and obeys Him more than men do, for none has a will of its own. But the human being, the final and best creation of the Creator, is given the gift of will, along with the gift of the knowledge of all the Names in which the Creator’s attributes are manifest, and the gift of an ego and a mind. He is tested by his ability to choose.

When man worships, he worships the One whom he thinks exists, whom he imagines to be, like an artwork created by an artist. Often when he praises Him, he praises himself—and, alas, condemns others who worship their own images of God. If such a one understood the meaning of "the color of the water is the color of the cup that contains it," he would have been able to differentiate the cup from the clear water and not to praise the container instead of the Contained. That Contained God fits into the different sizes of the hearts able to contain it, like a drop from an endless ocean...while the Absolute Lord cannot fit into anything. When the Lord said: "I do not fit into the heavens and the earths which I have created, but I fit into the loving heart of My believing servant," this does not signify His size. All He created is not He, but it is all from Him.

This writing also is a drop from the ocean and my humble gift to my children on the occasion of the Mawlid an-Nabi, with the hope that it will increase their love for the Beloved of Allah. We are only able to love someone we know. May Allah be pleased with my children and may He make my children pleased with Him.

Allah knows best and He is the one who tells the truth and guides to the straight path.

Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti, July 22, 1994