I was reading the excellent blog Thoughts & Readings, where I put in a comment to a posting titled "Fear", dated Monday, September 26, 2005. I received the following response to my question at the bloggers' other blog, Spiritual Tendencies.
A Question from Thoughts & Readings
A dear brother of mine posted this at ‘Thoughts & Readings’:
Hatim Al-Asamm asserted, ‘Do not be deceived by righteous places, for there is no place more righteous than Paradise, and consider what Adam [peace be upon him] met with in a righteous place! And do not be deceived by abundant acts of worship, for consider what Iblis came to after so much worship. And do not be deceived by large quantities of knowledge, for Balaam knew the Greatest Name of God, and consider what he met with! And do not be deceived by meeting the pious, for there is no person with a greater destiny than Mustafa [may God's blessing and peace be upon him], and meeting him did not benefit [some of] his relatives and enemies.’
And brother Fayyaz Khan posed a very good question as such:
‘If one isn't to be deceived by righteous places, abundant acts of worship, large quantities of knowledge, and meeting with the pious, then how is one supposed to follow the right path? What is the foolproof method to get rid of this network of deception?’
In my humble opinion, the great Hatim al-Asamm (may God be pleased with him) said such to prevent negligence on the part of seekers, when it comes to realising that total dependance on God is the ultimate cause of salvation and the attainment of the Divine Truth.
Performing abundant acts of worship, attaining large quantities of knowledge and regular meetings with the pious are all extremely beneficial means to a greater end. But all that, not complemented with the dire need of God's grace will deceive the seeker into assuming that he is progressing on the right path, causing him to be fully satisfied with his current state and actions.
That particular state of self-satisfaction is the deception, not the acts of worship, abundant knowledge and meetings with the pious.
We have heard and read of extreme acts of worship and self-mortification by the Sufis while failing to see that these Sufis do not actually take into account what they have done and how much, all they consider is Who all that was for. They are never satisfied with themselves, always satisfied with God and seek only His satisfaction.
Therefore, the proper method of approach to God must always be based on fear and utter need of His grace. If one is in a state which is deemed good, one must always be aware that God has the ability to remove him/her from that state, if He so chooses.May God bless and protect us!
Posted by Shaik Abdul Khafid at 10/10/2005