Question: It is written in the dependable works I have read that it is not permissible to say, "I do not want Paradise. I want to see Allah." However, we come across such statements said by Yunus Emre and other Sufis. What explanation can be given for this?
Allahu ta'ala likes Paradise and praises it. A person's not liking and not wanting Paradise, which is praised and liked, means not liking the thing Allahu ta'ala likes and not wanting the thing He has ordered us to want. It is not permissible, in this regard, not to want Paradise.
The words of the lovers of Allah, like Yunus Emre, and of Sufis who espouse Wahdat al-Wujud can be understood only with interpretation. Hadrat Yunus Emre says:
What people desire as Paradise,
Is a few mansions and houris.
Bestow it upon seeking ones,
What I need and crave is Thou.
If such statements are said by a wali (dear slave of Allahu ta'ala), then they should be interpreted into different things. Yunus Emre means by these statements, "I perform acts of worship not with the sole intention of entering Paradise, but I perform them only to attain Your pleasure." Actually, every Believer must perform acts of worship solely for the purpose of winning Allah's pleasure. A loyal servant should always be in pursuit of Allahu ta'ala's pleasure. Therefore, enamored Yunus says, "What I need and crave is Thou." Similarly, Hallaj-i Mansur once said, "Ana-l Haqq [I am the Haqq, i.e., Allah]." It must be interpreted into a different thing, too. He means by this statement, "I do not exist; Allah exists."
Those who are intoxicated by Sufism
When people of wajd (ecstasy, trance) and hal (spiritual states) lose consciousness due to intoxication caused by Sufism, they become excusable in their words and deeds. However, it is not permissible for others to follow the words and deeds of those who are in a state of intoxication because of Sufism. They themselves do not incur any sins, but those who follow them incur sins. (Maraj-ul-bahrain)
Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states:
To be desirous of Allahu ta'ala and to love Him mean being desirous of the Hereafter and loving it, for meeting Allahu ta'ala has been promised to take place in the Hereafter. And it will come out in the Hereafter whether Allahu ta'ala is pleased with His servant. Allahu ta'ala likes the Hereafter. It is sakr (spiritual drunkenness) to turn away from what is liked, and it means opposing Allahu ta'ala's invitation and liking. He says in the 25th verse of Yunus Sura, "Allahu ta'ala calls to Dar-us-Salam [Paradise]." Allahu ta'ala calls to the Hereafter. To turn away from the Hereafter is to oppose Allahu ta'ala and to strive to wipe out the thing Allahu ta'ala likes. (Vol. 1, Letter 302)
The reason why the religious superiors ask for Paradise is that it is the abode with which Allahu ta'ala is pleased and that He loves those who ask for it. The reason why they seek protection from Hell is that it is the abode with which Allahu ta'ala is wroth. Otherwise, they ask for Paradise not because their nasfes take delight in it. In the same way, they seek protection from Hell not because it contains torment and hardship, for these superiors regard all things that the Darling does as beautiful. They think of them as their wishes and objectives.
Asking for Paradise
Question: We, like everybody, perform our acts of worship and abstain from prohibited things out of love for Paradise and fear of Hell. It seems as if the pleasure of Allah is of secondary importance. If Allah said, "O My servants, you will not enter either Paradise or Hell. Perform acts or worship purely for My pleasure," I think that nobody would perform acts of worship. Then is an act worship performed out of love for Paradise and fear of Hell accepted?
This idea is wrong. No Muslim performs acts of worship for Paradise or Hell. They perform them for Allah, as He has ordered them, and to attain His pleasure. They like whomever He likes, and they dislike whomever He dislikes. For example, they like Muslims and dislike disbelievers.
Asking for Paradise is not contrary to Allah's pleasure. A person who loves Allah wants to meet Him, and the meeting place is Paradise. The one who is asking for Paradise is indeed wants to meet Allahu ta'ala and to encounter him.
One day I was having a talk with a young man who was working as a paperboy for our company. The young man said:
"In the past I was serving purely for the sake of Allah, but now I have the intention that the more newspapers I sell the more money I get. I have lost my sincere devotion. Seeking the pleasure of Allah has become a secondary consideration; the truth is that I am not in pursuit of it anymore. What I hanker after is only money."
"Then there is a well-paid job for you. We have been phoned from so-and-so newspaper. They were looking for an employee and told us the amount of salary they would give. What do you think?"
"Even if I die from hunger, I will not go to that newspaper, which attacks my spiritual values."
"Did you say that you had no sincere devotion? As it shows, you are working not for money, but for Allah's pleasure."
Should we not ask for Paradise?
Question: I perform acts of worship only for Allah's pleasure, never thinking of asking for Paradise or fearing Hell. In other words, I do not say, "O my Lord, give me your Paradise and protect me from your Hell." Is it appropriate?
It is not appropriate because Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states:
The fear of and the craving of the Awliya (pl. of wali) who worship Allahu ta'ala with fear and to attain His blessings are not intended for their nasfes. The reason why they perform acts of worship is that they want to earn Allahu ta'ala's love and pleasure and that they fear His wrath and resentment. They ask for Paradise because it is the place where Allahu ta'ala's pleasure and love is. Otherwise, their seeking Paradise is not intended for the desires of their nafses. Furthermore, they are afraid of Hell and they pray to be protected from it because it is the place where Allahu ta'ala's wrath is. Otherwise, their fear of Hell is not intended to rescue their nafses from torment, for these superiors have been freed from being slaves to their nafses. They have become true and devoted servants for Allahu ta'ala.
When the Awliya' ask for Paradise and fear Hell, we must certainly ask for Paradise and fear Hell. It is declared in the following hadith-i sharifs:
(If a person who has completed the salat does not say "Allahumma ajirni min-an-nar wa ad-khil-nil Jannata" without talking before it, angels will say, "Woe to him! He has been incapable of asking for protection from Hell." Paradise will say, "Woe to him! He has been incapable of asking for Paradise.") [Tabarani]
(Whoever asks Allah for Paradise three times, Paradise will pray, "O my Lord, put him into Paradise." Whoever asks for freedom from Hell three times, Hell will say, "O my Allah, keep him away from the Fire.") [Nasai]
(O my Allah! I ask You for Paradise and all kinds of words and deeds that will draw me closer to it, and I take refuge with You from Hell and all kinds of words and deeds that will draw me closer to it.) [Ibn Majah]
(O my Allah! Bless us with Your forgiveness, protection from every sin, achievement of all kinds of good, attainment of Paradise, and freedom from Hell.) [Hakim]
(O my Allah! Bless us with safety from every sin, achievement of all kinds of good, admission to Paradise, and freedom from Hell.) [Hakim]
This means to say that it is the order of our religion to ask for Paradise and to pray to be protected from Hell.