A salik (initiate) is a traveler who follows a way to a goal and makes efforts to meet with God. The way of traveling differs according to the capacity, abilities and gifts with which each individual has been favored. Some are extraordinarily attracted and taken by God Himself to the ranks of loving and being loved by God and being pleased with Him and His being pleased with them, without having to observe some of the rules that must be observed during journeying. Such are mentioned as those who are attracted by God. They can reach, through the blessings of the Prophet’s Ascension, in a few minutes, hours or days the states and stations that others can reach after many periods of suffering, and become purified of carnal dirt. Their hearts are refined in the shortest way possible and, reaching their Beloved and Desired One at a speed that is not possible through other efforts, they are able to feel all the spiritual pleasures of being favored with His company. They have reached the horizon of “a perfect human being,” which is regarded as the point where the outward and inward have been united.
These perfect ones, who are attracted by God toward Him, are the hidden treasures of the Divine mysteries, the centers on which the lights of the Divine Knowledge and Existence are focused, and those who offer the water of life to believers for the health of their spiritual life, a water with which they will quench their thirst for eternity. They revive dead hearts with their speeches, open blind eyes with their glance and attentions, and cure the spiritual wounds of those who are in their aura. They live intoxicated with ever new gifts and favors, and cause those around them to experience the most dazzling of observations. With their seeing directed by their insight, and their speaking dependent on their hearts, they are enraptured with the colors and lines which pertain to Him, and which they see in everything they look at, and they scatter pearls and coral whenever they open their mouths to speak. Since they are dazzled and enchanted by even a half-seeing of Him, those who do not know them think that they are insane or intoxicated. Ruhi of Baghdad describes their state very well:
Do not think that we are intoxicated with the wine of the grape;
We are among the intoxicated from eternity in the past.
If some temporarily go into ecstasies with the initial signs of Him, they immediately come to their senses because of their nature, and they take refuge in wakefulness and self-possession, continuing on their way to meeting God in wakefulness. There is nothing in their feelings, thoughts or acts which causes people confusion; nor are there utterances of pride incompatible with the rules of Shari’a, nor any affectations, nor relaxed behavior. They advance toward being pleased with Him and His being pleased with them in reliance on Him in the atmosphere of The eye did not swerve, nor did it stray (53:17).
Some others complete their spiritual journey by observing its heavenly rules, reaching the horizon of attraction toward God with the support of Divine help and feeling as if their will-power has been connected to a sacred center of attraction. They continue their future life connected to that center in the manner of those who have let themselves go in the current. You can find in such people, who have taken off toward nothingness and carnal non-existence, neither anxieties, worries, nor grief. They are occupied with the Eternal Friend, they feel His intimacy, and live free from uneasiness and troubles because of the peace they find in His presence. The following verses of Niyazi Misri indicate this horizon in one respect:
Having renounced the worldly worries,
And taken off to carnal non-existence;
Zealously flying without ceasing,
I call, “O Friend, O Friend!”
There are still some others who constantly make an effort, from the beginning to the end, and, without expecting any return, sincerely fulfill their duties of servanthood. They neither feel attraction nor are attracted toward God, nor do they display any affectations, nor have any superiority or inferiority complexes or fancies and fantasies. They show great will-power and patience, observing even the least important rules of devotion without any show and being extraordinarily steadfast in His way. They prefer living an Islamic life over wonder-working and pleasures, and never adopt Paradise and what lies beyond it as a goal of their devotion. Regarding believing and devotion as the greatest blessing of the Lord, they live in thankfulness for such gifts in utmost humility and modesty. With his particular style, Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi describes being favored with this blessing as follows:
Happiness has come and held us by the skirt,
And set up our tent in the heaven.
Yesterday the Beloved asked me:
“How do you do with this unfaithful world?”
I answered: “How can one be who,
Has seen the fortune of the fortunate state?
Thanks that I have found in the bottom of my teeth
The sugar that Egypt cannot see even in her dreams.”
The first thing an initiate must do is to turn to God in repentance and contrition, in determination to emigrate to what God is pleased with from what He is not, to what He asks us to do from what He does not, and to a life in the heart and the spirit from a carnal life. So long as their efforts are supported by such a high degree of refinement of the carnal self, purification of heart, and good morals, initiates feel that they change both inwardly and outwardly while their horizons become gradually enlightened. To the extent of their sincerity and purity of intention, they begin to present an example of straightforwardness in acting, with the mechanism of their consciousness becoming gradually radiant. With belief developing into conviction, and conviction deepening with increasing knowledge of God, and knowledge of God being transformed into love, and love growing into burning passion, and passion ending in constant wonder, a human being, who has been created of dust, of wet clay, becomes the focus of attention for the inhabitants of the heavens. Those dwelling in the pure realm of the Divine dominion regard it an honor to follow the example of such humans. Whoever turns to them for guidance intends to be guided to the truth, and whoever holds fast to them intends to grasp a strong rope.
This “greatest copy and pattern of creation”, who has become a source of radiance in the inner depth of his or her self, turns into a center of Divine gifts and a storeroom of favors, becomes a blessed one who offers everyone the water of life. Each of the different mansions which such a traveler passes through during the journey upward is called a “state,” and the relatively stable point to which his or her abilities develop, and which we may describe as the “arch of perfections” of a traveler, is called a “station.” “The gifts and radiance of everyone is in proportion to his or her capacity.”
Every traveler to the Truth ends the journey at a certain peak and observes all the worlds, materially and spiritually, from this summit or pinnacle. The final point which every traveler reaches according to his or her capacity is the peak particular to that individual, and therefore each peak is of a relative height. The highest, the only real peak, which separates the mortal from the Eternal or the contingent from the absolutely necessary, which is mentioned in the Qur’an in “or nearer” in the statement a distance between the strings of two bows adjacent each other or even less (53:9), which describes the nearness of God’s Messenger to God, is the one belonging to the master of creation, upon him be the most perfect of blessings. All other heights are defined, in comparison with one another, with such expressions as “lower” or higher” or “greater” or “less” and belong to those whom God has made near to Him, and the godly are relative and in proportion to the capacity-capital of everyone and the Divine gifts with which they are favored.
When the initiates step on their individual horizon of perfection and make their heart into a polished mirror to the sacred Divine gifts, that heart becomes familiar with the Divine look and the breezes of Divine inspiration, and they begin to feel and view creation differently, according to the individual’s level. They burn with the excitement of demonstrating to others what each sees and feels.
Those initiates always think of Him and mention Him as “The One to be worshipped is He-God”, breathing the truth of “The One to be sought is He-God”, pondering their inner world and the outer world, respiring with “The One to be known is He-God” and relating everything to the truth of the Divine Being around the axis of Names and Attributes, developing their belief, first based on acceptance without seeing what is believed in, into a conviction based on a seeing by the heart, supported by a state of spiritual pleasures. They experience verbal and physical devotion with such delight that it is as if they have entered Paradise and been favored with a vision of God. Haqani says:
What behoves an initiate is to proclaim: We worship but God alone.
They hold back from everything which they think is not approvable in His sight, and think of Him only. They reflect deeply on a profound understanding of the fields that He allows.
Initiates who have come to the end of their journey think only of Him, consider Him, know and concentrate on Him with His title of “He.” They consider and concentrate on Him because of Him and because they must do so, and they consider all else than Him-whether relating to this world or the next-only in accordance with and in proportion to His permission. For one who has focused on Him only and considers all else save Him because of Him, the only thing to be sought and desired is He and His good pleasure. Let us listen to Mawlana once more:
O you who are seeking the world; you are like a day laborer in this world;
And you, lover of Paradise, are also far distant from truth.
O you, who are unaware of the truth and pleased with the two worlds,
You are excused, for you have not felt the pleasure of suffering for the Beloved’ sake.
In short, initiates who have determined their goal well and who are aware of the horizon where they are, leave both their bodies and souls, with which others are most concerned, on the bench where corpses are washed for burial, and scatter all their capital of being before the door of their heart. Freed from all concerns of everything save Him that may keep them from their way, they turn to their heart and try to understand its voice. They put their eyes and ears under the command of their insight, they plunge into the pure world of metaphysical considerations. It sometimes occurs that they can transcend space in one attempt, and make their voices heard by the inhabitants of heavens in another.
This point, where the heart turns completely to the invisible speaker in it, is like a launch pad from which initiates can rise to the door of eternity in one leap. A step forward, with their head and feet having met at the same point, the heroes of ascension (to God) and descent (to return to being amidst the people) become like a ring. In such state, where the “bird of petition” should be sent to God, lips and voice fall silent, and only the warm sounds of the heart are heard. The head bends itself down to lean ever increasingly on the heart, and whispers to itself:
Worship your Lord until certainty comes to you (by death) (15:99).
O God! I ask You for Your love and the love for him who loves You, and for the deeds which will cause me to get near to You. O God, bestow Your blessings and peace on Your beloved one and the Messenger, Mustafa, and on his family and Companions, who were appreciative and faithful.
By M. Fethullah Gulen
 Ruhi of Baghdad (d. 1605) was one of the important figures in the Ottoman-Turkish classical literature, who usually wrote about moral issues. (Trans.)
 Mehmed Niyazi Misri (d., 1694) was a Sufi poet who was born in Malatya (Turkey), educated in Egypt and lived in Istanbul and Edirne. (Trans.)
 Haqani Mehmet bey (d., 1606) was an Ottoman Turkish poet. He spent his whole life in Istanbul. Hilya (“The Portrait”) and Miftah-i Futuhat (“The Key to Conquests”) are his well-known works. (Trans.)