gold, silver, iron, clay, brick

July 19, 2008

Sheikh `Abd al-Qadir’s Allegory: The Fortress of Iman
Answered by Shaykh Musa Furber

Sheikh `Abd al-Qadir’s Allegory: The Fortress of Iman


Some Muslims are of the opinion that as long as they do the bare minimum (integrals, conditions, and the essential and obligatory actions) they have done enough. For them everything else is merely recommended or merely offensive, and so they see no problem in neglecting the sunna, give no second thought in performing offensive actions, and see precaution as a prison cell. This is the same as someone eating just enough to just sustain life expecting to win the Iron man competition.

Sheikh `Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani clarifies the importance of going beyond the bare minimum in an allegory he mentions in Ghunya li Talibi Tariq al-Haqq. My own sheikh mentioned this allegory in one of our first lessons, and Hanbalis sometimes mention it in their books-but without attribution to Sheikh `Abd al-Qadir. One of these is al-Saffarini’s Ghudha al-Albab, a commentary on general refined behavior. The translation appears below, with the original Arabic following.

The allegory of belief [iman] is that of a land that has five walls. Al-Hajjawi said in its commentary: It is said that the allegory of belief is that of a land that has five walls. The first wall [the innermost wall] made from gold, the second from silver, the third from iron, the forth from cooked clay [aajurr], and the fifth [the outermost wall] from brick. As long as the people of the brick wall are diligent in protecting the brick, the enemy does not aspire [destroying] the second; but if they neglect this [brick wall], they will aspire for the second and then the third, until they demolish all of the walls. And like belief [iman] has five walls: certainty, then sincerity, then performing what is obligatory, then the
recommended [sunan], and then refined behavior [aadab]. As long as one holds to and is diligent with having refined behavior, Satan does not scheme [to destroy] him. But if one forsakes refined behavior, Satan aspires to [destroying] the recommended works, then the obligatory, then sincerity, and then certainty.

[Source: Al-Saffarini, _Ghudha al-Albab_. 1:27]

Subhan’Allah, this brief explication of the backbone and crux’ of Imaan is truly inspiring. Walhamdulillahi Rabbil Alameen.

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