قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وجَلَّ: واعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْل الله جَمِيعًا" و "واعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّه هُوَ مَوْلاكُم"
Holding firmly to the rope of Allah concerns adhering to His obedience while being watchful of His commands.85 Taking shelter with Allah86 is [through] transcendence beyond all illusions87 and riddance from any hesitation.88
Taking shelter with Allah is of three levels:
الِاعْتِصَامُ بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ هُوَ الْمُحَافَظَةُ عَلَى طَاعَتِهِ، مُرَاقِبًا لِأَمْرِهِ.والِاعْتِصَامُ بِاللَّهِ التَّرَقِّي عَنْ كُلِّ مَوْهُومٍ والتَّخَلُّصُ مِنْ كُلِّ تَرَدُّدٍ. والِاعْتِصَامُ على ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:
The i‘tiṣâm of the masses by the Revelation, with submission and compliance, which happens by:
اعْتِصَامِ الْعَامَّةِ بِالْخَبَرِ، اسْتِسْلَامًا وَإِذْعَانًا،
The i‘tiṣâm of the select few is by complete dedication, and that is:
وِاعْتِصَامُ الْخَاصَّة بالانْقِطَاعِ، وَهُوَ:
The i‘tiṣâm of the topmost of the select few is through communion;94 this involves:
واعتصام خَاصَّةِ الْخَاصَّةِ بالاتِّصالِ، وَهُوَ:
83 The rope of Allah has been interpreted by the righteous predecessors to mean many things. Collectively, they pointed to the milestones on the path of guidance. The Qur’an would be supreme among those, then the Sunnah. Ibn Mas‘ood (may Allah be pleased with him) also added the jamâ‘ah (the mainstream of practicing believers).
84 Like any journeyer, you need guidance as well as power and protection. Power and protection may be found only with Allah.
85 You are obeying Him out of loving and revering observance of His commands, not for your comfort, status, or any other inferior goals. You are also obeying Him according to His command, as relayed to you by His Messenger ﷺ, not your opinions or whims.
86 Although similar in meaning, there are subtle differences between isti‘âdhah billâh and i‘tiṣâm billâh. Isti‘âdhah usually refers to imploring for protection, while i‘tiṣâm usually involves working for it, which also includes imploring, since you cannot reach any goals without His help. I‘tiṣâm implies drawing close to the Lord, because one who is distant from Him cannot be justly described as mu‘taṣim bihi (taking shelter with/in Him).
87 The sheikh does not mean by describing all creations as illusions that they do not exist, but if you compare their transient, contingent, self-insufficient existence with that of the True One, it pales to the point of being called a wahm (illusion). The heretical type of fanâ’ is fanâ’ al-wujood (annihilation of existences other than the Divine), where one claims nothing is existent except the Lord, which inevitably leads to pantheism/union. This was not the creed of Shaykh ul-Islam al-Anṣâri, who was Athari in his creed, as he detailed in his books and as is known from his seerah. He used to affirm the attributes of Allah and His transcendence, and being above the throne, separate from His creations. The orthodox form of fanâ’ (annihilation) is fanâ’ al-irâdah (annihilation of will) of the servant into the irâdah of the Lord. This happens when the servant wills not, wishes not, desires not but that which is willed by his/her Lord. As for fanâ’ ash-shuhood (perception), it must be qualified. You will not allow your awareness of the surroundings to compete with your observation, watchfulness, and mindfulness of the True One (الحَقُّ). So, in comparison to your watchfulness of Allah, all others will vanish from your perception. The best of this Ummah, the Prophet ﷺ, was well aware of his surroundings and grounded in his reality without allowing any of that to obstruct him from beholding the True One with the eyes of his heart or distracting him from pleasing Him with every breath that moved in and out of his chest.
88 A heart that has no certainty, togetherness, and focus on the True One is infested with reluctance and hesitation between the Divine and the mirage of other deities, the everlasting life and the quickly- passing one, good and evil, truth and falsehood, etc.
89 Certainty in God and His promises and that which is with Him.
90 Justice to Allah by showing Him the devotion and gratitude due to Him and to His creations by applying the ‘Golden Rule.’
91 Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) says in Madârij as-Sâlikeen that this form of i‘tiṣâm is also befitting for the topmost of the select few.
92 Sparing your irâdah (will) from desiring what is evil or inferior through restraint. Wanting less and less of the desires of the nafs, until the nafs wants only what He wants.
93 Worldly attachments to people, pursuits, and things.
94 The previous level was the level of inqiṭâ’ (detachment) from all of the ‘siwâ’ (:السِّوَى other than Allah)—except from what He loves—which is the prerequisite for the perfect ittiṣâl (communion) with Allah.
95 That is, when you stop observing your own actions, including your fleeing to Him, and contemplate Him alone. Shuhood is about observing, watching, and beholding. (Refer also to the explanation in the Introduction.)
96 When you are too busy with His nearness to care about anything else.