Irada, Murid, and Murad (Will, the Willing One, and the Willed One)

Irada (will) is both a verb and a noun. As a verb, it means to choose between two things, to desire. As a noun, it means the mental power by which a person can direct his or her thoughts and actions. Will has been defined by those living a spiritual life as overcoming carnal desires, resisting animal appetites, and always preferring, in complete submission to His Will, God’s wish and pleasure over one’s own. A willing disciple (murid) never relies on his or her own power, and is absolutely submitted to the Will of the All-Powerful, Who holds all of creation in His Grasp. As for the one willed (murad), he or she overflows with love of God and never considers or aspires to anything other than obtaining His pleasure. Such a person has become a favorite of God.

According to the verse: They desire only to gain His favor (6:52), will is the first station on the path to God and the first harbor from which one sets sail for eternity.[1] Almost everyone who sets sail for the infinite first comes to this harbor, from where an impetus to reach the ultimate destination is gained. Journeying toward this destination is proportional to the traveler’s purity of intention, the degree and quality of his or her relationship with the world and material things, and the power of the driving force derived from this harbor and from the inner desire to undertake this voyage. In proportion to the help of God and the strength of the disciple’s willpower, some traverse the distance between the harbor and the destination at walking speed, others at the speed of a spaceship or light, and still others at a speed that cannot be measured. The Ascension of the Prophet, the spiral ascents of a saint, and the journeying of a dervish are good examples of what can be achieved by the will, the willing one, and the willed one when supported by the help of God, the Truth.

There is a derivative relation between will and the willing one (disciple). Just as material or natural causes are veils between superficial views and Divine Grandeur and Dignity, so that those who cannot understand the reality behind things and events should not blame God Almighty for what appears to them as disagreeable, so too a person’s willpower is only a shadow of the shadow of the One Who does whatever He wills in whatever way He wills (85:16). Just as a shadow is dependent on the original, any will created is dependent on the Creator. Similarly, the liveliness and attraction observed in a mirror do not belong to the objects’ reflections, but to the objects themselves. Nevertheless, it is difficult to understand this and distinguish between a shadow and the original.

Until the traveler perceives that one’s personal will is a dim reflection of the Absolute Will (of the All-Willing One) and advances as far as, or rises as high as, the station of being the one willed or desired, one freed from the captivity of the body and thoughts to become a person of pure spirituality and conscience, a disciple will always regard his or her will as having a separate, independent existence. Indeed, a traveler is willing at the beginning of the way and willed at the end of it; one willing while exerting efforts to make servanthood second nature, and one willed at the point where his or her relation with God is an indispensable dimension of his or her being; one willing while searching the ways to be loved and desired, and willed when seeing an imprint of Him on everything and weaving a lacework of spiritual pleasure with the threads of knowledge and love of God.

There are many stations between the beginning of certainty coming from knowledge and the final point of certainty coming from experience. Every station is both an end and a beginning: an end of the way extending as far as it, and a beginning of the way extending from it. For example, according to many: Open and expand my breast for me (20:25) is an end, while it is a beginning compared with: Have We not expanded your breast for you? (94:1). Also, for many: My Lord! Show me Yourself, so that I may gaze upon You (7:143) is a final station, while it is the beginning of the way extending to the station expressed in: His sight swerved not, nor did it go wrong (53:17). Again: Assuredly, my Lord is with me. He will guide me (26:62) means awareness of God’s company, while it is not comparable with the exalted truth or reality mentioned in: Do not be grieved, for God is with us (9:40).

In the beginning, loyalty, faithfulness, and resolution are of fundamental importance, while solemnity, self-possession, and mannerliness are the most important at the end of the journey. Those who have erred in the beginning cannot advance far enough, while those who have erred in the end are reproved.

One important source from which willpower is fed is the traveler’s care and sensitivity in fulfilling his or her responsibilities and constant supplication to God. Moreover, it depends on the traveler’s perseverance in supererogatory acts or duties of worship so that God Almighty may become his or her eyes with which to see, ears with which to hear, and hands with which to grasp.[2]

O God! Inspire in me righteousness and protect me from the evil of my evil-commanding, carnal soul. O God! I ask You to enable me to always do good and abandon evils. And bestow blessings and peace on our master Muhammad, the chosen, willed one, and on his Family and Companions, near-stationed to You and godly.

By M. Fethullah Gulen


[1] Eternity, in addition to meaning eternal life in the Hereafter, is also used to describe the expansion of feelings, emotions, and reflections that one feels inwardly. An individual has infinite, eternal desires and ambitions, and he or she can experience in his or her heart the (eternal) pleasures of Paradise and of being loved by God and loving Him.
[2] Al-Bukhari, “Riqaq,” 38; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 6:256.

Leave a Reply

Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: