Please Explain the Pain
The following is a letter from an aspirant to their spiritual guide, and thereafter, the reply.
“How and when does a person become so close to Allah that nothing or no one else matters? Do you just have to kind of force yourself to think that way or does it actually become a real feeling where nothing hurts you because your sight is on Allah only? And what does it take to get there? I feel a lot of pain and sadness and I want it to go away. Different things make me feel bad and then all that adds up and it makes it hard to keep on going and making effort to get close to Allah. But I know that’s all that really matters in life so I should keep going. But how do we keep the courage to do so? I know it’s “no pain no gain” but how long do you have to keep paining for until you start gaining? I do not mean for the feelings, but when do I get Allah in my heart, that nisbat that everyone keeps talking about? Like Hazratwala’s books always talk about how proportionate to your sacrifice is the noor that comes in the heart, when do I get or feel that noor and happiness or whatever it is supposed to be? And if I’m not doing enough to get it now then how come I feel all this pain is it just for no reason then?”
“As far as how and when a person attains nearness to Allah Ta’ala, it is only through and by virtue of complete adherence to the Shari’ah and Sunnah. Pertaining to how one goes about upon this path without being distracted by anyone else, this is a trait acquired from the Saliheen. Reading abundantly from the biographies of the Mashaikh instills this quality within a person with rapidity.
One thing to note is that pain experienced is of two types, one that leads a person to digress from the path of the Shari’ah and the Sunnah and the other that despite its existence, allows one to remain steadfast on this path. This latter type of pain is the pain that is to be expected and in fact welcomed on the path of sulook. This is what is known as Gham-e-Awliya and leads one to the very nearness that you are inquiring about.
Upon associating with the Saliheen, listening to the discourses of the Mashaikh, and reading their writings, one develops himmah to such a level that their practice upon the Shari’ah and Sunnah is not effected by others. After a considerable amount of time has elapsed in this state, then and only then does one’s pain become a means of happiness, sweetness, and noor entering into one’s heart. As you have correctly mentioned from Hazratwala (RA), this noor then enters one’s heart proportionate to their sacrifice.
As far as when this stage is attained and how one knows when it is attained, Hazrat Khawaja Azizul Hasan Majzoob (RA), once posed a similar question to Hazrat Thanwi (RA). Hazrat Thanwi’s (RA) reply to this was that ‘Khwaja Sahib! When you became baaligh, did you have to ask someone to verify this or did you know this on your own?’. To this, Hazrat Khawaja Sahib (ra) replied, ‘I became aware of this on my own.’ Hazrat Thanwi (RA) then concluded by saying ‘Similar is the case with ma’rifah, when one attains it, he becomes aware of that which he has attained.’
To conclude, this pain that you are experiencing is a natural part of this path and the noor that enters one’s heart is in actuality the pleasure derived from this pain. The main goal is to stay steadfast upon the Shari’ah and Sunnah. Striving in this regards and also reading from the lives of the Mashaikh will be an exceptional catalyst to convert this pain into pleasure.”