Allah, the Almightysaid:

{O mankind, you are those in need of Allah...} [Fâṭir 35:15]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ"

Faqr is a word for the renunciation of the perception of ownership.401 It is of three levels:

الْفَقْرُ اسْمٌ لِلْبَرَاءَةِ مِنَ رُؤيَةِ الْمَلَكَةِ .
وَهُوَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ

The first level is the poverty of the ascetics, and it involves:

  1. washing one’s hands of the dunyâ, neither keeping it nor seeking it402

  2. silencing one’s tongue concerning it, neither praising it nor disparaging it403

  3. staying safe from it, neither craving it nor deserting it404

This is the poverty about whose virtue they [the masters of the path] spoke.

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى: فَقْرُ الزُّهَّادِ. وَهُوَ:

  1. نَفْضُ الْيَدِين مِنْ الدُّنْيَا ضَبْطًا أَوْ طَلَبًا

  2. وَإِسْكَاتُ اللِّسَانِ عَنْهَا مَدْحًا أَوْ ذَمًّا

  3. وَالسَّلَامَةُ مِنْهَا طَلَبًا أَوْ تَرْكًا

وَهَذَا هُوَ الْفَقْرُ الَّذِي تَكَلَّمُوا فِي شَرَفِهِ

The second level is the constant consideration of the antecedence (of the Lord) by beholding (Divine) grace. This:

  1. rids one of seeing their deeds405

  2. disrupts the beholding of the aḥwâl (spiritual states)

  3. purifies one from the filth of observing the maqâmât (spiritual stations)406

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ : الرُّجُوعُ إِلَى السَّبْقِ بِمُطَالَعَةِ الْفَضْلِ. وَهُوَ:

  1. يُورِثُ الْخَلَاصَ مِنْ رُؤْيَةِ الْأَعْمَالِ

  2. وَيَقْطَعُ شُهُودَ الْأَحْوَالِ

  3. وَيُمَحِّصُ مِنْ أَدْنَاسِ مُطَالَعَةِ الْمَقَامَاتِ

The third level:

  1. certainty of destituteness407

  2. surrender to the estranging realization of oneness409

  3. permanent sequestration in the vast, barren plains of abstraction409

This is the poverty of the Sufis

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ :

  1. صِحَّةُ الِاضْطِرَارُ

  2. وَالْوُقُوعُ فِي يَدِ التَّقَطُّعِ الْوحدَانِيِّ

  3. والِاحْتِبَاسُ فِي بَيْدَاءِ قَيْدِ التَّجْرِيدِ

وَهَذَا فَقْرُ الصُّوفِيَّةِ

401 One must have full recognition that their ownership is contingent and transient, and that even their own soul and actions are the property of Allah. Faqr here does not refer to lack of money, but rather the feeling of extreme need for Allah and dependence on Him for all forms of subsistence.
402 The actualization of this zuhd is by avoiding greed and hoarding. ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was one of the greatest zâhids in history, yet he was industrious and accomplished as well. Half of the ten Companions who received the glad tidings of paradise (named in aḥadeeth) were extremely wealthy. During the time of the Prophet ﷺ, rich people were not given an inferiority complex, nor were they made to feel filthy. Miserliness, greed, extravagance, boastfulness, and hoarding were condemned: not wealth in itself.
The scholars disagreed about whether the rich who are grateful are better or the poor who are patient. Ibn Taymiyyah was asked this question by Ibn al-Qayyim and his reply was, “The most pious.” Yaḥyâ ibn Mu‘âdh said that wealth and poverty will not be put on the scale in the hereafter, but only patience and gratitude. People have different circumstances and potential. For some, wealth (ghinâ) accompanied by shukr (gratefulness) is better than poverty (faqr) accompanied by ṣabr (patience); the opposite is true for others. For one like Imam Aḥmad—who did not want to waste his valuable time earning money for more than his basic needs, did not want to accept favors from anyone, and knew that he could handle poverty gracefully and that such a lifestyle would help him actualize his potential—poverty was superior for him. Meanwhile, Ibn al-Mubârak and Ibn al-Musayib were rich, and their wealth enabled them to dedicate their time to learning, teaching, and spending their money in Allah’s cause. They were still faqeer to Allah, however, not claiming ownership to anything in His kingdom and completely dependent on Him for all their needs.
403 If it were truly insignificant to you, you would not have wasted time dispraising it; you would not have been occupied with it in the first place.
404 When you miss it, don’t grieve over it, and when you have it, use it in His cause. Don’t make the station of faqr the goal of your heart. The pleasure of Allah should be the ultimate objective you are after in all states and circumstances.
405 When you recognize that your very deeds are His creations, and so is your soul. All are His favors.
406 The difference between ḥâl and maqâm may be that the first is more transient or is a gift from Allah without active pursuit on the part of the servant, unlike the maqâm, which may mean a more stable state of being or one that was granted by God after actively being pursued by the seeker. Recognizing Allah’s antecedence will not make you disavow your ownership of material objects or your deeds alone, but any entitlement to anything, including the spiritual states that you experience.
407 One’s lack of any means of subsistence without the grace of their Lord.
408 Allowing oneself to be cut off from the world of finites and images and drawn towards the One, the Real, the First and Final Cause, the Eternal without beginning or end.
409 Beholding the First (‘azza wa jal), separate from all the ḥawâdith (temporally originating events). It is barren because all as-siwâ (the other) will be left behind and vanish from one’s perception. It is vast because it is the ultimate liberation from the restraints of shuhoodas-siwâ (observing the other), which refers to distraction by beholding the multiplicity of created things and phenomena in this universe.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj