Sympathetic Concern


Allah, the Almighty, said:

{They will say: Indeed, we were previously among our people fearful [of displeasing Allah].} [aṭ-Ṭoor 52:26]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وجَلَّ: "قَالُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا قَبْلُ فِي أَهْلِنَا مُشْفِقِينَ"

Ishfâq131 is constant concern combined with empathy. It is of three levels:
The first level:

  1. ishfâq for one’s soul from transgressing into defiance132

  2. ishfâq for the deeds from being wasted133

  3. ishfâq for the people out of knowledge of their excuses134

الْإِشْفَاقُ: دَوَامُ الْحَذَرِ، مَقْرُونًا بِالتَّرَحُّمِ، وَهُوَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:
الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى

  1. إِشْفَاقٌ عَلَى النَّفْسِ أَنْ تَجْمَحَ إِلَى الْعِنَادِ

  2. وَإِشْفَاقٌ عَلَى الْعَمَلِ أَنْ يَصِيرَ إِلَى الضَّيَاعِ

  3. وَإِشْفَاقٌ عَلَى الْخَلِيقَةِ لِمَعْرِفَةِ مَعَاذِيرِهَا

The second level includes ishfâq for:

  1. the time being blemished by dispersion

  2. the heart being obstructed by an impediment135

  3. one’s certainty being undermined by [beholding] any cause136

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ

  1. إِشْفَاقٌ عَلَى الْوَقْتِ أَنْ يَشُوبَهُ تَفَرُّقٌ

  2. وَعَلَى الْقَلْبِ أَنْ يُزَاحِمَهُ عَارِضٌ

  3. وَعَلَى الْيَقِينِ أَنْ يُدَاخِلَهُ سَبَبٌ

The third level:

  1. ishfâq that protects one’s work from conceitedness137

  2. ishfâq that protects him or her from conflict with the people138

  3. ishfâq that keeps the seeker seriously committed

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ

  1. إِشْفَاقٌ يَصُونُ سَعْيَهُ عَنِ الْعُجْبِ

  2. وَيَكُفُّ صَاحِبَهُ عَنْ مُخَاصَمَةِ الْخَلْقِ

  3. وَيَحْمِلُ الْمُرِيدَ عَلَى حِفْظِ الْجِدِّ

131 To fear and feel for the suffering of oneself or others, prompting one to act or extend help.
132 Rebelling against any of the requirements of ‘uboodiyah (servitude).
133 Deeds could be wasted by corrupted intentions or conceitedness, among other destroyers.
134 Despite their excuses not availing them from the consequences of their wrongdoing, one may still feel pity for the people who lose their souls to the Shayṭân and their own inequities.
135 Spiritual lethargy, temptations, misconceptions, or any hindrances that will keep the heart from proceeding on its journey.
136 This is not to say that one should not believe in asbâb (causes), such as belief being a cause for reward and disbelief being a cause for punishment. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim has cautioned in his commentary that the sheikh’s overemphasis on the concept of fanâ’ (annihilation) and undermining the causes may cause misunderstanding and confusion. It is hoped that the sheikh meant that beholding the causes should not prevent one from having full faith in the Causer and being assured of His ultimate control.
137 Pretention destroys the deed before it comes into existence and conceitedness destroys it afterwards.
138 For conflict with the people corrupts one’s manners and compromises the wellbeing of our hearts.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


Shaykhul-Islam Abu Isma‘il Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Ansari al-Harawi (396-481H)

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj