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Ibn 'Arabi On
Proximity And Distance

Why Do Muslims Fast?

Knowledge of Reality and
Ignorance of Reality -
What is Knowledge
of Reality?

Knowledge of Reality and
Ignorance of Reality -
Seeing Versus
Not Seeing

Knowledge of Reality and
Ignorance of Reality -
Journeying In
The Spiritual Path

Book of Theophanies

The Month of Ramadhan

Sufi Psychology:
The Isolation and
Transformation
of the Nafs

To Be Or Not To Be

Imposter Or
Mistaken Identity?

Moulana Rumi -
The Mirror of Divine Love

The Transformative Power
of the Fear of God

Test of the Hardship

The Theatre
of Life

Peace and the
Inner Jihad

Sufism and the
Paradox of Self

Surrender

Faith and Action

What is Tasawwuf
(Sufism)?

Listening for God:
Prayer and the Heart

 



Bismillaah ir Rahmaan ir Rahiim
In the name of Allah, The Merciful, The Compassionate



FAITH AND ACTION

By Fatima Fleur Nassery Bonnin


It is commonly believed that faith is either something that one has or has not. This is a simplistic understanding of faith. There are various degrees of attainment to faith. It is therefore a productive practice for each and every person to deliberately question their level of faith so that they do not misguide themselves. The 'whisperer' (satan) in all of us very much enjoys making us believe untruths about ourselves so that we stay misguided.

There is a level of faith that corresponds with our belief and stays only in our mind, and there is a level of faith that is reflected in our deeds and actions. It is this second level of faith that is true faith.

Faith in the outer level is the belief in God the Creator of heaven and earth, and it pretty much ends there. Religion is having faith in God, as well as practicing certain actions connected to the faith. If religion is used only as habitual practice, it becomes a ritual devoid of meaning. If it is only a belief without practice, then it is an ideology and no benefit derives from it.

A community which does not believe in the Creator, nor in eternal life, nor in the journey of the soul and the unseen, such a community lives a life of being preoccupied with benefitting only from what is here in this life, since they believe it comes to an end.

On the other hand, the community that believes that there is a super power (given various names) that runs the universe, and if it is pleased with people, it turns the events of life in their favour and if it is not pleased, works against them, and it does not believe in the return or the life in the hereafter, such a community lives a life according to pleasing such a power so that they benefit from the result.

But the community that believes the universe and everything in it has a Creator and the return is to Him, and believes that life in this world is a period that comes to an end for the body, but the soul keeps on living and does not end in death, such a community behaves, lives and acts in a certain way in accordance with that belief. These are the people on the straight path to God.

"Verily unto our Sustainer do we return" - Qur’an 26:50

The quality and purity of faith is shown in your action. If you want to know about your faith, examine your actions.

Who is behind the action?

God says in the Qur’an, addressing the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh):

"It was not you who threw the pebbles at the enemy, when you threw, it was Allah who threw" - Qur’an 8:17

Prophet Jesus (pbuh) says:

"Split a piece of wood, I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." - The Gospel of Thomas, Verse 77

What does all this mean? If the action is the action of God, then what is the role of man? How does one know the difference between one's own action and the action of God?

God has created human beings as His reflection and His vicegerent.

“Behold thy Lord said to the angels: I will create a vicegerent on the earth” - Qur’an 2:30

This means God works through human beings. It is His Will that moves from will to manifestation in action through human beings as a vessel.

Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an that not a leaf moves without His Knowledge and His Will. Therefore nothing takes place without His Will. But since the outer actor is the human being, when the action is performed, the action takes the colour of the man's personality (nafs). Therefore man performs the action according to who he thinks he is. The more of the man's attachments to certain outcomes, desires, purposes etc, in the action, the less of God's action. The less of man's colouring in it, the more of God's.

Saints and Awliya have no part of themselves in their actions because their personalities (nafs) have been annihilated in God and they have become a vessel for God's action. On the other hand, the actions of non-believers and ego driven people are fully coloured by themselves. The rest of the people fit somewhere in between according to the purification of their self or nafs.

Since we live in a physical realm of cause and effect, the nuances of the colouring of one's action has effects and consequences. The freer the action is from the person's colouring, the closer to the action of God. This is how some saints and Awliya were able to do extraordinary things because it was not their action. It was mainly God's action.

The question to ponder upon is: how can man, having been given such a potential, be so out of touch with it? The answer is that man takes himself or his self as real and is pre-occupied by it. If you observe your inner chatter and pay attention to your intention behind the actions in day to day life, you will see that as soon as an idea comes to you to do something, it gets hijacked by how to do it in order to get the result you desire, what to do to get the most out of it, how to affect or handle the people involved and how to impress others so they think what you want them to think, and the list goes on. This is what is known in psychology as the fragmentation of the personality.

The same is true also in the realm of imagination. As soon as there is an idea, the personality rushes to it and takes it on and drives it. If one has pleasure seeking personality, the imaginal situation becomes imbued with pleasurable action. If one has fear driven personality, the imaginal situation is moved through the fear-based hypothesis. If one is a problem solver, it takes the colour of the problem that needs solving etc. Thus any type of personality puts its mark and colouring on the action or idea and therefore in this world of cause and effect it will bring the effect accordingly. This is only on the physical dimension. On the level of soul the action also gets swayed according to the purity of the soul.

God has put a lot of emphasis on good action (amilu saalihat) throughout the Holy Qur’an. The reason is twofold. First, true faith is shown in the action. Secondly, if the action was not the criteria, then we could fool ourselves to think we have real faith. To say it more accurately, the satan in us would fool us and make us err.

It is important to know that with real faith comes the responsibility of action. Therefore when you see people talk about faith but they don't live it, you would know that it is a superficial faith or more accurately it is a belief.

To summarise: the test of the faith is in the action. If our faith is strong and real, our nafs would become purified and our action will be closer to the action of God. Ultimately the actor and the act is God.

May Allah (swt) guide us to such a path through His Grace and grant us the station of nearness, (tagarob).


* * * * *

Since the righteous man is accepted by God
          his hand in all actions is the hand of God

The hand of imperfect man is the hand of Satan
          since he is in the trap of demands of deception

                                        Moulana Rumi, Mathnawi, I:1610-12



Do not hang about the thievish nafs and its work
          whatsoever is not God's work is naught, naught

                                        Moulana Rumi, Mathnawi, II:1064

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Sufi Teachings:

Ibn 'Arabi On Proximity And Distance

Why Do Muslims Fast?

Knowledge of Reality and Ignorance of Reality - What is Knowledge of Reality?

Knowledge of Reality and Ignorance of Reality - Seeing Versus Not Seeing

Knowledge of Reality and Ignorance of Reality - Journeying In The Spiritual Path

Book of Theophanies

The Month of Ramadhan

Sufi Psychology: The Isolation and Transformation of the Nafs

To Be Or Not To Be

Imposter Or Mistaken Identity?

Moulana Rumi - The Mirror of Divine Love

The Transformative Power of the Fear of God

Test of the Hardship

The Theatre of Life

Peace and the Inner Jihad

Sufism and the Paradox of Self

Surrender

Faith and Action

What is Tasawwuf (Sufism)?

Listening for God: Prayer and the Heart

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For further information contact the
Australian Centre for Sufism and Irfanic Studies (ACSIS)
Phone: (02) 9955 SUFI (7834)
or email: acs@australiansuficentre.org


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