Theology and Mysticism

A man who had just returned from the pilgrimage came to Imam Junayd al Baghdadi Radi Allahu ta’ala anhu. Junayd Radi Allahu ta’ala anhu said:

“From the hour when you first journeyed from your home have you also been journeying away from all sins?” He said “No.” “Then,” said Junayd, “you have made no journey. At every stage where you halted for the night did you traverse a station on the way to God?” ” No,” he replied. “Then,” said Junayd, “you have not trodden the road, stage by stage. When you put on the pilgrim’s garb at the proper place, did you discard the qualities of human nature as you cast off your clothes?” “No.” “Then you have not put on the pilgrim’s garb. When you stood at ‘Arafat, did you stand one moment in contemplation of God?” “No.” “Then you have not stood at ‘Arafat. When you went to Muzdalifa and achieved your desire, did you renounce all sensual desires?” “No.” “Then you have not gone to Muzdalifa. When you circumambulated the Ka‘ba, did you behold the immaterial beauty of God in the abode of purification?” “No.” “Then you have not circumambulated the Ka‘ba. When you ran between Safa and Marwa, did you attain to purity (safa) and virtue (muruwwat)?” “No.” “Then you have not run. When you came to Mina, did all your wishes (muna) cease?” “No.” “Then you have not yet visited Mina. When you reached the slaughter-place and offered sacrifice, did you sacrifice the objects of worldly desire?” “No.” “Then you have not sacrificed. When you threw the pebbles, did you throw away whatever sensual thoughts were accompanying you?” “No.” “Then you have not yet thrown the pebbles, and you have not yet performed the pilgrimage.”

This anecdote contrasts the outer religious law of theology with the inner spiritual truth of mysticism, and shows that they should not be divorced from each other.

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