THE INWARD STRUGGLE
"We shall surely test you with
fear and hunger, and loss of property and lives and crops, but give glad tidings
to those who have fortitude"
<Quran, The Cow 2:155>
When striving in the way of God a believer will encounter many obstacles that seek to dissuade him from his chosen path. There shall be elements in his faith which are in complete harmony with his understanding of the world, and others, which are not. These more disagreeable elements can be a source of perplexion and leave him frustrated at his inability to solve them. It is in times like these when a person's Iman (faith) is tried, and he should seek solace in God with the comfort that He alone is the All-Knowing, the All-Aware.
Similarly, a believer's reflections may lead him into some of the deep mysteries of tawhid, its unseen secrets, and its hidden realities. He may observe how the scholars differ in the interpretation of the verses and Hadiths relating to the Attributes of God, and he may then halt before them baffled and bewildered, unable to remove the veils and solve these enigmas. At this point, as a number of gnostics have said, he should retreat, and seek refuge in his Lord, and consider Him alone to be possessed of knowledge of these things, as was the way of our righteous predecessors. He must reflect on on how he had needed his Lord's creative ability to make and fashion his human form, and that he must therefore need His grace and illumination to guide his essential nature. He must not ground his faith in the conclusions of human thinking, but must rather flee from his confusion to God and His Messenger, and entreat his Lord to bestow His assistance (madad) upon him, which will do away with his need for any other. He must say, "O Lord, I seek refuge in You, lest my faith in You and what You have revealed be the product of thinking that is tarnished by the attributes of the ego, or a mind that is mixed with the muddiness of human fallibility. Let it rather be from Your Manifest Light, Your most exalted assistance, the Light of Your Prophet, the Chosen One, and his blessings (barakat)" Thus will you find peace and cool tranquillity. This is the way which the rightly-guided man will follow in his time of need, whenever his thoughts are in turmoil and conflict.
And just as in time meanings are unveiled, so it is that as your spiritual state progresses similarly your surroundings are understood in a new light. It has been said, that as the human is made up of both the spirit and the body. The spirit being of the angelic realm and the body being made from clay, earth (dunya), so it is that as ones obedience to his Lord increases, his actions are more like those of the angels, his yearning for the afterlife increases and similarly his perception and understanding of aspects pertaining to the angelic realm increase. And just as one indulges more in acquiring this world such that all his actions and energies are performed accordingly he will be veiled from aspects of the spiritual world and will be far less adept to it. When his obedience to his Lord increases and thus his efforts and, in a sense, his training, are all focused on the afterlife and the pleasure of his Lord, then similarly his understanding will increase. For just as the master musician attains his mastery through years of practice and dedication with the tools he has been given, his perception of music will be quite different from one who has only just taken up the instrument or likewise one who prefers to only listen to the performance but not partake in it. Allah has said in a Hadith Qudsi (Divinely inspired saying of the Prophet, pbuh): "..And the most beloved thing with which My slave draws nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (voluntary prayers or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, (so much so that) I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me something I will surely give him, and if he seeks My protection, I will surely protect him." [Al-Bukhari]