Desirous Quest


Allah, the Almighty, said:

{…and to invoke Us, being desirous of (reward) and in awe.} [al-Anbiyâ 21:90]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وجَلَّ: "وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَبًا وَرَهَبًا"

Raghbah (desirous quest) is closer to the truth than rajâ’ (hope) and above it. This is because rajâ’ (hope) is an aspiration that lacks verification 193 and raghbah is a quest upon verification [of the safety of the path].194 Raghbah is of three levels:

الرَّغْبَةُ ألْحَقُ بِالْحَقِيقَةِ مِنَ الرَّجَاءِ؛ وَهِيَ فَوْقَالرَّجَاءِ، لِأَنَّ الرَّجَاءَ طَمَعٌ يَحْتَاجُ إِلَى تَحْقِيقٍ وَالرَّغْبَةُ سُلُوكٌ عَلَى التَّحْقِيقِ. وَالرَّغْبَةُ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:

The first level is the raghbah of the people of the transmitted reports, which results from knowledge195 and thereby:

  1. stimulates striving that is dependent upon shuhood (vision)196

  2. protects the journeyer from the lassitude of exhaustion

  3. prevents its possessor from reverting to the shortcoming of (following) concessions197

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَىرَغْبَةُ أَهْلِ الْخَبَرِ، تَتَوَلَّدُ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ:

  1. فَتَبْعَثُ عَلَى الِاجْتِهَادِ الْمَنُوطِ بِالشُّهُودِ

  2. وَتَصُونُ السَّالِكَ عَنْ وَهَنِ الْفَتْرَةِ

  3. وَتَمْنَعُ صَاحِبَهَا مِنَ الرُّجُوعِ إِلَى غَثَاثَةِ الرُّخَصِ

The second level is the raghbah of the dwellers of a spiritual state (ḥâl)198, and this is a raghbah that:

  1. does not leave any potential energy unexhausted

  2. does not let resolve fade out

  3. does not leave any aspiration except in the maqṣood (the goal that is sought)

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُرَغْبَةُ أَرْبَابِ الْحَالِ. وَهِيَ رَغْبَةٌ:

  1. لَا تُبْقِي مِنَ الْمَجْهُودِ إلَّا مَبْذُولًا

  2. وَلَا تَدَعُ لِلْهِمَّةِ ذُبُولًا

  3. وَلَا تَتْرُكُ غَيْرَ الْقَصْدِ مَأْمُولًا

The third level is the raghbah of the people of shuhood (vision), and this is an ultimate excursion accompanied by extreme vigilance that annihilates all dispersion.199

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُرَغْبَةُ أَهْلِ الشُّهُودِ، وَهِيَ تَشَرُّفٌ يَصْحَبُهُ تَقِيَّةٌ، لَا تُبْقِي مَعَهُ مِنَ التَّفَرُّقِ بَقِيَّةً.

193 Because you hope in the reward of Allah, but you have no guarantee you are deserving of it.
194 Ibn al-Qayyim cautions that raghbah is also a desirous quest for something that is not guaranteed. However, he agrees that raghbah is higher than rajâ’, which is a mere aspiration, whereas raghbah is the desirous quest that results from this aspiration, just like harab (escape) results from khawf (fear).
195 The beneficial knowledge that is based on the transmitted reports (the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the sayings of the Companions and righteous predecessors).
196 This vision takes place in the maqâm of iḥsân where one worships Allah as if they see Him. There is no ranking above this. Ibn al-Qayyim cautions that the fanâ’ considered by many Sufis to be the highest station is not above this station. The valid concepts of fanâ’ are included in this station of iḥsân. The invalid concepts take away from one’s status and do not add to it. A muḥsin who worships Allah as if they see Him will not be distracted by the creations (including themselves) and will not favor their pleasure over His. This is the valid concept of fanâ’.
197 Concessions are not all the same. Allah loves that His concessions be used by His servants, as the Prophet ﷺ indicated. Some of them are mandatory to use, like the eating of something ḥarâm in the case of necessity; some are recommended, like breaking the fast during burdensome travel; some may be superior, like many of the concessions in the sanctioned madh-habs and ijtihâd for those who need them. Over time, people can ascend in warâ‘by needing less and less of these last concessions. Some are forbidden, like pursuing the errors of the scholars or every easy position in every madh-hab.
198 Here, the raghbah is an irresistible urge by the dweller of these states. Ibn al-Qayyim gives the parable of moths being attracted to light.
199 The excursion to reach the point of fanâ’ accompanied by extreme worry that some distraction may bar them from it. The ultimate result is complete annihilation of all dispersion where the hamm (concern) becomes only one and the maqṣood (the sought goal) becomes only one. At this level, one would have already walked away far enough from their ego that it will not cause them any setbacks.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj