Syyiduna Ali once said, “…even if paradise and hell were presented before me and i was able to see them with my external (zahiri) eyes. My iman would not increase or decrese one bit. My iman is on the unseen and it cannot be affected with these things”. This is a very bold claim you may say, but be careful and see who is saying this. The quote is crucial to as to why i have written this post.
Within many sufi circles it is to some degree common that the students within the given group are very frequently exposed, or have experiences of the unseen world. that is, they can often times see the angels, glimpses of paradise and hell, some times even the prophets and their companions as-well as the awliyah of the past. Now this is a double-edged sword, although it is highly praiseworthy and a great blessing to see these things, which also complements one’s iman. However, they do have a darker side so to speak. What i mean is that (i also read on many books of ihsan and tassawuff written by the greats of the past), when these things become a frequent occurrence and a normality i.e having visions and dreams of the awliyah and the prophets of the past, than it is very likely that the individual or the person(s) who see and hear these visions ‘frequently’ can lose the value of the severity and the value of such blessings. Simply put, the novelty wears out. people then lose a scene of respect and awe they once had, when they heard or read of these experience people had in the past. More so, the awe they had lets say of a great wali of the past, this is more so due to his/her sickness of the heart. He/she begins to see them as a normal interaction with a ‘normal’ person of the world. This on a larger scale has a knock on effect on dheen (islam) as well, as the individual or the people who are frequently exposed these experiences begin to see the obligations of Islam in a light manner. In a “its okay if i don’t do this or that, as i am linked and have close relationship with this and that teacher” attitude.
In the past when such experiences did take place the awliyah were very careful not to mention them regularly, just so that people did not become accustomed these experiences which lead them to take Islam and the sunnah less lightly. As the saying goes, “to much of something is not good” similarly is the case of visions and dreams. If people are constantly bombarded with visions or experiences of someone having them, in which this and that wali said this, then (speaking from experience) you lose this sense of great awe and honour you had for them. This is as i understand is because, since we as human beings – (at large) not purified, we cannot value the extent of these blessings and hence can have a negative effect on our lives rather than good. instead of helping us to stop committing sins and leading us to have greater motivation to do good deeds, we simply carry on living our own sinful lives. We begin to see these experience we hear as mere entertainment. Totally being oblivious to the severity and the greatness of the experiences.
To sum up, once a wali made a dua in the midst of a gathering in which he said, “o Allah i thank you for not giving me the opportunity to live in madinah permanently”. The people in the gathering totally dumbfounded, asked the shaykh after a while. “o syydi why did you make such a dua?” to this he replied, “well, knowing who i am and the evil nature within me, i have this great fear and understanding that if i was to live there, i would soon lose its (madiah’s) great honour, respect and awe. As a result would therefore continue to live my sinful life there! in the presence of the great one. You see many of us, we lose the our barring and become easily ‘bored’ with what we have and do not appropriate what we have, novelty wears out as they say”. This dua and the explanation this wali gave has immense weight and significance in this discussion. His concerns are clearly visible and are rampant within the vicinities of madinah and mecca. Many who live their now see these two great places of worship and significance, as normal mosques that you and i may see in the UK or elsewhere. They have totally lost the ta’zeem (respect) they once had of these great places and hence go one living their normal, sinful and astray lives, whilst being in the haram. SubhanAllah! In the same light, when one is exposed to the experiences of the unseen world very frequently then this ‘decline’ in appreciating the blessing also occurs here. which ultimately leads the layman in not taking the teachings and warnings of the mashaykh or the Prophets mentioned in the quran and the sunnah seriously. As one begins to actually see them in the same light as the injunctions mentioned in the visions and dreams. One fails to differentiate between the divine wahi and an inspiration (which has to potential to be incorrect and harmful). The blessings of seeing nothing means that you are always in the mode of expecting and hoping as to how things will be in the hereafter. Always eager in doing good deeds, since the descriptions of paradise always helps you imagine how these blessings will be and the descriptions of hell makes you fearful in respect that every hardship you go though in the world, you try and create a picture as to how the punishments in hell will be. In this way helping you always to try and avoid the sins.