Allah, the Almighty, said:

{…and whoever honors the sacred ordinances (ḥurumât) of Allah—it is best for him in the sight of his Lord…} [al-Ḥaj 22:30]

الحُرْمَةِقَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ حُرُمَاتِ اللَّهِ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ عِندَ رَبِّهِ"

Veneration (of that which is sacred) means escaping from the destitution of discordance and boldness.216 It is of three levels:

الْحُرْمَةُ هِيَ التَّحَرُّجُ عَنِ الْمُخَالَفَاتِ وَالْمُجَاسَرَاتِ. وَهِيَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ.

The first level is to honor the commands and prohibitions:217

  1. not out of fear of punishment, for that would be egotistic

  2. or out of pursuit of reward, for that is enslavement to the compensation218

  3. nor even as a demonstration of commitment, for that would be pretentious piety219

All these are variant forms of self-worship.

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى تَعْظِيمُ الْأَمْرِ وَالنَّهْيِ:

  1. لَا خَوْفًا مِنَ الْعُقُوبَةِ ، فَتَكُونُ خُصُومَةً لِلنَّفْسِ؛

  2. وَلَا طَلَبًا لِلْمَثُوبَةِ فَيَكُونُ مُسْتَرَقًا لِلأجْرَةَ

  3. وَلَا شَاهِدًا لِلجِدِّ، فَيَكُونُ مُتَدَيِّنًا بِالمُرَايَاةِ

فَإِنَّ هَذِهِ الْأَوْصَافَ كُلَّهَا مِنْ شُعَبِ عِبَادَةِ النَّفْسِ.

The second level is acting upon the apparent scriptural text and acceptance of the milestones of tawḥeed that are established in the scriptures and known to the public:

  1. he/she does not seek to analyze them unwarrantedly220

  2. or re-interpret them allegorically

  3. or exceed their apparent meaning by resemblance 221

  4. or claim complete comprehension of them or speculate about them

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ إِجْرَاءُ الْخَبَرِ عَلَى ظَاهِرِهِ. وَهُوَ أَنْ تَبْقَى أَعْلَامُ تَوْحِيدِ الْعَامَّةِ الْخَبَرِيَّةِ عَلَى ظَوَاهِرِهَا.:

  1. لَا يَتَحَمَّلُ الْبَحْثُ عَنْهَا تَعَسُّفًا

  2. وَلَا يَتَكَلَّفُ لَهَا تَأْوِيلًا

  3. وَلَا يَتَجَاوَزُ ظَوَاهِرَهَا تَمْثِيلًا

  4. وَلَا يَدَّعِي عَلَيْهَا إِدْرَاكًا أَوْ تَوَهُّمًا

The third level is to:

  1. protect the (state of) relaxation222 from being tainted by audacity

  2. protect the (state of) joy from being polluted by security223

  3. protect his/her shuhood (the heart’s beholding of God) from the veils of the causes 224

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ:

  1. صِيَانَةُ الِانْبِسَاطِ أَنْ تَشُوبَهُ جُرْأَةٌ

  2. وَصِيَانَةُ السُّرُورِ أَنْ يُدَاخِلَهُ أَمْنٌ

  3. وَصِيَانَةُ الشُّهُودِ أَنْ يُعَارِضَهُ سَبَبٌ

216 Disobedience may result from reckless boldness in transgressing that which is sacred and inviolable or mere failure to abide by and commit to that which is required by Allah. Boldness may also refer to the loss of reverence and glorification in the state of intimacy experienced in the third level.
217This is the level of Islam (rules of the exterior), followed by the second level (which is about eemân [beliefs]), and the third level (which is about iḥsân). One may add to the commands and prohibitions all the symbols of Allah and etiquettes of His deen. Allah said:

{وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ}

{…And whoever honors the symbols of Allah—indeed, it is from the piety of hearts.} [al-Ḥaj 22:30]
218 This is the often-recurring concept of whether we should be seeking paradise or running away from hell and whether that should be what we pursue through the worship of Allah. In Madârij as-Sâlikeen, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim elaborates on this with his immense knowledge, intellectual vigor, and awareness of the debate over this issue and the arguments of all sides. Here is a very brief summary of the points he makes:
There are two sides to this argument and a middle. One side (mainly that of the Sufis) claims that Allah is deserving of worship even if there is no paradise or hell, and that the true lovers seek none but the pleasure of their Most Beloved. The other side (mainly that of the rationalist scholars) claims that this concept is blasphemous since there are countless verses and hadiths that urge us to seek paradise and run away from the fire and that also indicate that this was the way of the greatest of mankind: the prophets and their disciples. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim says that the middle position is to say that one must seek paradise and run away from hell; however, paradise is not only about the green meadows and carnal pleasures. The Qur’an and Sunnah are clear on the ultimate pleasure of paradise being closeness to Allah, seeing Him, and rejoicing in His pleasure. The opposite may also be said about hell. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim also argues that the complete vanishing of will is impossible for a living creature. What is demanded is its complete conformity to the will of Allah. In summary, we are seeking paradise, whose ultimate pleasure is nearness to Allah.
219 This may mean that one is not working to prove their commitment to themselves. Any goal other than His pleasure is a form of pretention. One may be pretentious in front of themselves. The reward here is self-respect or the feeling of accomplishment rather than the pleasure of Allah.
220 Searching for the essence and ultimate meanings and forms of the unseen, such as the attributes of God, the angels, the hereafter.
221 By likening Allah to His creatures or His attributes to theirs; rather, he establishes His attributes with which He or His Messenger described Him, such as omnipotence, omniscience, speech, love, anger, wisdom, and all the rest of His beautiful and majestic attributes, in a way befitting Him, without denial or distortion, and without likening Allah to His creations or describing the essence of His attributes.
222When one finds comfort and relaxation with their Lord. Allah said:
{اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ}

{Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book wherein is reiteration. The skins shiver therefrom of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah…} [az-Zumar 39:23]
223 Security from the punishment of Allah and the change of one’s state.
224 We commented before on the consideration and reckoning of causes while believing that Allah is the ultimate Effector and Controller. Those who are blocked by the observation of the apparent causes from the observation of the ultimate Causer will be deprived of His shuhood (vision).

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj