M. Fethullah Gulen
Ightirab (doubled separation) is a feeling resembling that which arises from falling into error after reform, or night following day, or the darkness of distress that surrounds the heart after exhilaration. Those whom the Messenger praised in His saying, “Glad tidings to the outsiders,” have always had a dread of such a feeling.
Resembling the “separation” described in the previous issue in many ways, doubled separation may arise either from a physical condition or from one’s spiritual state, or from one’s spiritual profundity and knowledge of God. In the third case, it is felt more deeply.
Doubled separation which arises from a physical condition is homesickness, separation from one’s family, relatives, and friends. Particularly when all the means for reunion no longer remain, the spirit sinks into an unbearable feeling of separation. If such a separation is not balanced with belief in God and the Resurrection, it becomes very difficult to endure. If one bears it with belief, one will die a martyr, as stated in the Prophetic Tradition, “The death of one away from his home is martyrdom” . If it is not accompanied by heresy and unbelief, according to “Every misfortune brings a reward,” then it is a beneficial gift from God provided it leads to God. According to some, such separation, the pain of which has been softened by belief, is such a sweet suffering that it brings as great a reward as one has the strength to bear. Even though a person may sigh and moan when faced with this pain, the human conscience welcomes it. The following couplets of a poet express this well:
Those away from home and who see me in this state,
Let them sit by my grave when the time is due.
For only those suffering separation know each other’s state;
they are keepsakes entrusted to one another.
O my Lord! You are One Who provides means for those without means;
it is only You Who will provide means for both me and others.
As out of night You bring forth day, You are also able
to bring forth joy and happiness out of my sorrows.
The feeling of separation arising from one’s spiritual state is appreciated and honored in the Prophetic saying, “Glad tidings to the outsiders.” Such people are righteous people struggling with what a corrupt age brings: a scholar devoted to truth lost in a community drowned in ignorance; a faithful one dedicated to truth in a world permeated by hypocrisy—all those suffer separation within separation. When such people witness the great waves of corruption spreading over the land, the ruination of the ignorant masses, and the regard paid to hypocrisy and hypocrites, they find themselves in increasing loneliness and become possessed of a great desire to tell the truth to others in order to guide them.
As for the separation that arises from spiritual profundity and knowledge of God, those suffering from this feel and expect that which exists in the purely Divine Realm, and find themselves in the depths of spiritual pleasures. Nevertheless, until they meet with the Almighty, they feel in their souls the separation of those who are closed to the Ultimate Truth around them, never being able to free themselves from feelings of separation that arise while journeying toward God. Although they always yearn for nearness to God and to meet with Him in the warmth of His friendship, they are sometimes under the influence of the fear, worry, and sensitivity that they feel during the journey; sometimes the eyes of their hearts are veiled by some evil thoughts and imaginations occurring to them unintentionally. Such people suffer separation, each according to their particular degree. Though the separation of some may be substantial, the separation that most suffer is only imagined or of the kind that arises from worry and excessive sensitivity. They tremble with the fear that this separation, which arises during their relations with the Almighty in different wavelengths, may affect their faithfulness, loyalty and nearness to God, and wound them spiritually. Since initiates view such separation as a sign of loss while they are striving and advancing toward gain, they feel helpless. In the worries or thought of being abandoned or left alone, they sigh in great pain and may cry out: “I wish my mother had not given birth to me.”
While those who suffer separation from home console themselves with the thought of the eternal union in the Hereafter, and those whose separation arises from their spiritual states can find comfort in their renewed pursuit and in glimpses of knowledge and love of God, the separation felt by those who have reached contentment in knowledge of God is absolutely unbearable. The worldly people, who neither see nor know what is beyond the material world, are unaware of what state such people are in. Nor can those known for their regular worship of God or those renowned for their asceticism recognize them or understand their condition, because they cannot get beyond their worship and asceticism. But the horizons and aims of those endowed with knowledge of God and the efforts that such make to reach their horizons and realize their aims, are as deep and high as the greatness of their relationship with the One Whom they adore.
O God! Show us the truth as being true and enable us to follow it, and show us falsehood as being false and enable us to refrain from it. And bestow blessings on our master Muhammad and on his Family and Companions. Amen, O the All-Helping!
- Ibn Maja, “Jana’iz,” 5; Abu Ya’la, a-Musnad, 4:269.