Lantern of Guidance 

Chapter 6, Section 2

Adab (Etiquette) for Divine Presence

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Know that preservation of Adab (Etiquette) is both the fruit of the Mahab-bat (Divine Love) as well as the seeds for Mahab-bat. The more perfection of Mahab-bat (Divine Love) is attained the more maintaining of the Adab (Etiquette) for That Divine Beloved is necessary. Since the more the face of the Adab (Etiquette) is made patent to the lover, the more the presence of the Beloved. And it is because of the latter that Abu ‘Uthman Hayri said: Once the Mahab-bat (Divine Love) is truly genuine it emphasizes upon the lover for abiding by the Adab (Etiquette). Therefore, any slave within whose heart the Mahab-bat (Divine Love) is deeply rooted ought to strive hardest to maintain the necessary Adab (Etiquette) for Divine Presence: Refinement of both the Zāhir (Exterior) and the Bāten (Interior) in order to perpetually presenting to Hu (IT) being the ‘loved one’ and the ‘satisfactory one’ (vying for ITs attention), rather than excelling in disobedience.

The more the lover draws nearer (Qurb) towards the Almighty’s Presence, the stronger the desire within him for detailed-ness of Adab (Etiquette). Certainly in comparison to worldly ministers and deputies of a ruler, the dangers of improper conduct in Regal Presence of That Divine King, are far more feared—justifiably so.

One of the main Adab (Etiquettes) while in Divine Presence is not to busy or divert the glance away from That Divine Beauty to something else. It is in Hadith (Prophetic Narration) that if the slave stands to pray, truly he feels facing the Divine Presence, therefore would not pay attention to anything else, as in the exact text of the Hadith quoting the Creator of the heaven and earth:

“That once the slave stands to pray he is in presence of Ar-Rahman (The Most Beneficent), and if he diverts his own attention towards others his Lord asks him: Diverting your attention towards someone that is better for you than I!? O Son of Adam turn towards Me that I am far better than that which you are paying attention to” (‘he diverts his own attention’ is translated from the ‘Ifta’al derived-form meaning the person on his own volition turned the attention away, busily in a preoccupied & premeditated manner.)

My love whose dreams perpetually in my eye
ITs secrets well hidden deep within my mind

If I remember IT I am all nothing but a heart
If I glance at IT I am all nothing but an eye

Another key Adab (Etiquette) is to not forget whom we are while in Divine Presence. Facing the lofty rank of the Almighty one should not feel arrogant (too good & proud) and constantly remind his Self that “I am just a Faqir (Pauper)”. (Not to invoke arrogantly in Divine Presence and not to belittle others whom we judge them are spiritually less fortunate. This is the worse behavior plaguing the religious people i.e. holier than thou!)

There is a famous tale about the King Mahmoud and Ayyāz. One day Mahmoud entered upon Ayyāz and saw an old vest made up of wool rags and a worn old hat hanging from a nail in Ayyāz’s place. The king asked him: What are these? Ayyāz replied: Since the hands of government placed me on the way of the king and he has disrobed me from these rags and enrobed me with rich garments, in order to deflect the amnesia of (who I really am) and avoiding rebelliousness which are both necessary instruments of the Nafs (Psyche, Self), I have hung these old clothes of mine as a reminder. Therefore, each time I glance upon these worn rags I do recall the reality of who I am, not to be overwhelm with amnesia of my current status, and forsake not my true status. (King Mahmoud is Sultan Yaminod-Dawleh Abul-Qāsim  Mahmoud Bin Saboktakin Ghaznavi a famous Persian king reigning around 950 CE and Ayyāz one of his most loved court officials. Between these two there was a legendary brother love.)

To support the above said two Adab (Etiquettes) they are found with the Prophet: (His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong! (Koran [53:17]). And even in the case of the prophet Moses peace be upon him, though his sight was not ‘swerved’ yet the nectar of hearing the audible Divine Words, drunkenness of his heart and tasting the Wajd (Consciousness of Divine Presence) and Qurb (Divine Nearness) caused him to lose control and asking: "O my Lord! show (Thyself) to me, that I may look upon thee." And due to this (lack of Adab) the rejection was ordained: By no means canst thou see Me! (Koran [7:143]).

Another Adab (Etiquette) is the attentiveness of hearing for the Spoken Divine Words, diverting the hearing from listening to the Nafs (Psyche, Self), paying attention to the Divine Commandments and Prohibitions. Hearing the Spoken Divine Words is made up of: Listening to one’s own words or others (e.g. reading Koran) during the worship or other times and to be cognizant that one’s tongue or someone else’s tongue has been chosen as an intermediary conduit to covey the Spoken Divine Words in form of speech so his ears can hear. For example, again in the case of prophet Moses the (burning) bush/tree was used to turn into spoken speech the Qadim (Time Immemorial & Preexistent) Divine Words: Verily I am Allah. (Allah can make any object turned into a conduit to transmit, in speech form, the Divine Words e.g. my own tongue, someone else’s, an angel, MP3 player and so on. In the most extreme example Allah chose a simple bush or tree in a desert as such speech conduit, because Allah can make all things speaks what Allah wants them to say. But we need to develop the already innate aptitude of listening for the often faint hum of Divine Spoken Words.)

Therefore in order to understand the Divine Words of Koran, one has to forsake listening to ALL others in order to listen to the Divine Spoken Words: When the Qur'an is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace: that ye may receive Mercy. (Koran [7:204]) (Therefore when the Koran is read you are in Divine Presence, you need to halt listening to any other voice, within or without, and pay full attention diverting all your hearing abilities to Divine Words)

Another Adab (Etiquette) is that of proper manner of asking questions and fineness of speech in conversation. For example, prophet Abraham peace be upon was in conversation with Allah praying for his sons and offspring and with regards to those who would disobey him, as a prophet, turning away to worship idols he said: who follows my (ways) is of me, and he that disobeys me,- but Thou art indeed Oft- forgiving, Most Merciful (Koran[14:36]) Abraham did not directly demand “forgive them and be merciful to them”, he just alluded in a polite non-demanding tone: yet you are most forgiving. Again we hear the same demeanor and tone of speech from Jesus peace be upon him: If Thou dost punish them, they are Thy servant: If Thou dost forgive them, Thou art the Exalted in power, the Wise (Koran [5:118]) Jesus did not directly demand “do not punish them and do forgive them”.

Again in long-lasting throes of a horrible ailment prophet Ayyub (Job) peace be upon him said: Truly distress has seized me, but Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are merciful (Koran [21:83]) and note that Job did not demand “Be merciful to me”.

Again when Jesus was (will be) questioned by Allah: O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah (Koran [5:116]) and in response Jesus says with utmost of Adab (Etiquette): Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it! Jesus did not say with arrogance “No I did not say such a thing”. (In language of Sufism, these slaves of Allah were at the very end of the Divine Path, and if you care to read their words you can uncover the terrific altered state that caused them to speak as such.)

Another form of Adab (Etiquette) is the disappearance of the Nafs (Psyche, Self) and loss of one’s Wujud (Being) within the emergence of the Divine Blessings, and doing so while the person recalls some of the blessings bestowed upon him. As was exemplified by the language of the Prophet: The Earth was contracted for me and I was shown the Easts & the Wests. He did not say “I saw” instead spoke of his Self in passive form “I was shown” to remove his person (lose his person) within the blessing that was bestowed upon him. This concealment of the Nafs (Psyche, Self) is the core of this Adab (Etiquette) more befitting the Divine Presence. Again we probing the words of the prophet’s nightly soliloquies: Unnumbered are the praises upon You, since You have praised Your own Self! (Translation? Again here we do not read “I cannot keep count of Your praises” or “I cannot count how much I praised you” with the aim being the removal of the person from the equation of praising & blessings)

اللهم إني أعوذ برضاك من سخطك، وبمعافاتك من عقوبتك، وأعوذ بك منك، لا أحصي ثناء عليك، أنت كما أثنيت على نفسك
التخريج (مفصلا): صحيح مسلم والأربعة [أبو داود، الترمذي، النسائي، ابن ماجه] عن عائشة
تصحيح السيوطي: صحيح

The safekeeping of the uncovered Divine Secrets is another form of Adab (Etiquette). Once a slave is made aware of a Divine Secret divulging the secret, the betrayal of a trust, is not permissible facing the Divine Presence. Such divulging is far away from the rank of Qurb (Divine Nearness) as can be found in the Hadith (Prophet Narration): Divulging the Divine Secrets is disbelief/shameful. (According the Imam Manāwi the Prophet said “if you knew what is in store for you with Allah” referring the People of Suf-fah the companions who were hapless poor and while they prayed with the prophet one of them fainted from weakness of hunger and poverty and some Arabs called them ‘insane’. Therefore the prophet said the above statement ‘if you only knew…” a secret that was divulged to him and perhaps some of the Dervishes with him, yet it was not divulged to the wealthy believers nor the people at large.)

People ask me about the secrets of Leyli
Yet I misguide them by absurdity and folly

They say as her confidant share with us her secrets
And I say: If doing so I wouldn’t be trustworthy

فيض القدير، شرح الجامع الصغير،  - للإمامِ المناوي

 - (لو تعلمون ما لكم عند اللّه من الخير) يا أهل الصفة (لأحببتم أن تزدادوا فاقة وحاجة) قاله لأهل الصفة لما رأى خصاصتهم وفقرهم قال بعض العارفين: ينبغي للعاقل أن يحمد اللّه على ما زوى عنه من الدنيا كما يحمده على ما أعطاه وأين يقع ما أعطاه والحساب يأتي عليه إلى ما عافاه ولم يبتله به فيشغل قلبه ويتعب جوارحه ويكثر همه وفي الحديث وما قبله وبعده إشعار بأن إفشاء سر الربوبية قبيح إذ لو جاز إفشاء كل سر لذكر لهم ما ادخر لهم ولذكرهم حتى يبكون ولا يضحكون وفيه تفضيل الفقر على الغنى قالوا: بشر الفقراء الصابرين بما لم يبشر به الأغنياء المؤمنين وكفى به فضلاً.
(ت عن فضالة بن عبيد) قال: كان النبي صلى اللّه عليه وسلم إذا صلى بالناس خرَّ رجال من قامتهم في الصلاة من الخصاصة أي الجوع وهم أصحاب الصفة حتى يقول الأعراب هؤلاء مجانين فإذا صلى انصرف إليهم فقال: لو تعلمون إلخ. قال الترمذي: حسن صحيح.


Another Adab (Etiquette), that of timing, is to know when to be silent and when to invoke and pray. It is highly improper to ask for something while there is anger in Divine Presence and equally it is improper to be silent when the Divine Presence is eager to hear requests. As Abul-Hasan Nūri said: A person who is not observing the Adab (Etiquette) his (sense of) timing is detested.

It is important to observe this Adab (Etiquette) of timing as a necessity for asking and invoking in prayers. In the beginning of Qurb (Divine Nearness) it is not advisable to expand the speech and ask carelessly. As Shebly said: Expanding the boundaries of speech while in Divine Presence is to forsake the Adab (Etiquette). This was exemplified by prophet Moses peace be upon him whom in the beginning of his journey upon the Divine Path, prior to appointment as a prophet, did not venture into asking anything from Allah unless in dire need: O my Lord! truly am I in (desperate) need of any good that Thou dost send me! (Koran [28:24]) (This prayer he uttered when running from the Pharaoh’s army, right after being charitable to an old man’s daughters helping them to water the herd and not once asked for anything from anyone) And when the same Moses, now a prophet, secured a high rank of Qurb (Divine Nearness) then he was given permission to ask for the lowly worldly things as Allah told him: O Moses ask of Me even be it a bit of salt and I shall give you! (Translation? I do not have any authentication on this statement)

Therefore we see that for every moment there is an Adab (Etiquette) as for every situation also there is an Adab. And because of this Abi Hafs Had-dād said:

“Sufism is entirely made up of Adabs (Etiquettes), for every situation there is an Adab, for every Hāla (Momentary State of the Heart) there is an Adab and for every Maqām (Stationary State of the Heart) there is an Adab. He who maintains the Adab for all times shall indeed reach the righteousness and whoever limits the observation of Adab he is indeed afar from Qurb (Divine Nearness) and repulsed from the Divine Acceptance) (Translation?)


© 2005-2002,  Dara O. Shayda