There it was again. The same serene place in front and around him.
A field of grass spreading as far as the eyes could see. The clear blue sky with just the perfect amount of sunlight falling upon the grass to make it glitter like emeralds of the purest green.
A single tree- the same large one that he saw everyday- bearing gorgeous fruit on its branches that hung low; it seemed to be inviting him to eat and enjoy God’s gifts upon him.
He sat down in its shade and thought to himself of how desperately he wanted to find God. And to thank Him Almighty, for what He had blessed His servant with. Lost in his praise and thoughts of God, his eyes fell suddenly on what he expected to see, yet secretly wished against.
There she was, standing tall. Her feet sunk in the grass just enough to expose her ankles, being brushed gently by the ends of her white dress. For a second his heart beat faster, like it always did at this point in his dream; and he gasped. It seemed as though she became more beautiful by the day. More silent, and more mysterious. In one single glance, he felt his whole body wanting to walk towards her. He breathed heavily, and stood up.
“Why must you trouble my heart with the thought of my beloved?” He looked to his left and spoke with a voice that was loud and stern, but drenched with hopelessness.
“So that you can know that losing yourself in fantasies of solitude is not the way of life”, replied his nafs*; grinning. It knew it had once again interrupted the man’s perfect dream.
He looked back where he had seen her- she had disappeared. Just like the emeralds and the blueness of the sky. What remained was his body and his nafs, in the darkness of a summer night. The sheet he had been sleeping on was now wet with his sweat.
“I do not want anything to do with your way of life! All I desire is the way of God, to God. And therein I shall spend all the rest of my days.”
“So you will simply forget her? Are you so selfish? Have you forgotten what she means to you? What she makes you think when you lay eyes upon her?”
“Do not dare! Do not dare try to sabotage my love. You keep your filth away from her. She is too pure to be mentioned by your worthless tongue!” He was on the verge of screaming now.
The nafs creeped out of the shadows and stood right in front of him. “You cannot simply forget her. Have you left behind what she made you feel?”
“I have not forgotten a thing, you foul creature! I remember exactly what it was like to be in her midst. To have more of her than fragments in dreams. To hear her voice and look at her eyes glowing in the day and in the night. I remember the entirety of what you want to remind me of, bringing her into my dreams of spirituality, every night. I can never forget! I can never be selfish.”
“Then why have you distanced yourself?” Its voice shook the very walls of his poor home.
“Because I cannot deny the truth she holds in her very existence! I cannot! Her silence, her kindness and the heart that pounds inside of her, her very life- all of that speaks of but one thing: God! That is all! All that I see when I look at her, is God and no other. It is only Him that could create her. It is only Him that made her beautiful and filled her soul with gentleness. There is no other who could have fashioned the being she is. When I think of her, I think of the One who created- Al-Khaaliq!”
He paused for a moment and looked at his nafs. It stood frozen.
Who could’ve known that a heart that belongs to God could turn a desire that the nafs put inside it and the selfish wanting that made men yearn for the beauty of the world; into the most prominent and constant reminder of his own Master, his Allah?
His eyes were streaming with tears now. He held his hand over his chest, lest his paining heart would fall out.
“I cannot be with her until I am with God. How can I be content, knowing only the creation and being oblivious towards the Khaaliq? I cannot. I simply cannot! I have to seek The One, before I seek what He made from a clot of blood. I love the art but I have found that my heart belongs to Al-Musawwir: The Artist.
I was a mere traveler of time, until God brought me to her. And since then I have found myself only needing Him. As if that was His plan all along.”
He now looked up, his shirt soaked with tears. And he found himself alone; with only God and himself.
*nafs: The part of a man that creates worldly desires (greed, lust, jealousy, etc.). Usually regarded in religion and sufism as a wall between one and God.