Ambition and the Tongue by Muhyi din Ibn al-‘Arabi, from Futuhat Makkiya.

Avoid Ambition

Beware, friend, lest you desire elevation in the earth. Cling to obscurity. Then, if God raises your position, it is only God who elevates it. If He provides you with elevation in people’s hearts, that is up to Him. That which you must have is humility, abasement, and humbleness. He produced you from the earth, so do not exalt yourself over it. It is your mother, and whoever is arrogant towards his mother has not been dutiful to her, and it is forbidden to be undutiful to parents.

Then it is reported in a Tradition (hadith) that it is a duty for God not to raise anything in this world without Him lowering it. If you are that thing, then expect God to lower you. The one who has this quality should only fear that when God lowers him, He might then lower him into the Fire. That is when that thing raises itself, not when God raises it. That is not up to him, and he must be fearful about what God grants him of elevation in the earth by legal power and advancement; he must work for His sake, cling to His door and follow Him with unwavering devotion. He must keep in mind his servanthood and basis. He was created from weakness and from a root described as being abased. He knows that that elevation belongs to the level and position, not to himself. When he is deposed from it, that importance about which he was proud does not remain for him. That is transferred to the one whom God establishes in that position. So elevation belongs to the level, not to himself. Whoever desires elevation in the land, desires legal power in it. The Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, said that on the Day of Resurrection legal power will be regret and sorrow.

Therefore do not be one of the ignorant. That which I command you is that you should not desire elevation in the earth. If God gives to you, only ask God except for humility, humbleness, and submission in yourself. You will only obtain that if it is God that you witness. The focus of creation and the high great is only to obtain the station of witnessing. That is the desired existence.

-Muhyi din Ibn al-‘Arabi, The Mysteries of Bearing Witness

Avoid Being Someone Whose Tongue is Feared

Beware, my brother, of being someone evil so that people fear your tongue. Among the worst people are those who are honored out of fear of their tongues. You know yourself best in that respect. A man came to the Messenger of God, (may blessings and peace be upon him) and when the Messenger of God (may blessings and peace be upon him) saw him approaching, he said of him before he reached him, “A bad son of a tribe.” When he reached him, he was cheerful with him and laughed with him. When he left, ‘Aisha said to him, “Messenger of God, you said what you said about him and then you were cheerful with him.” He replied, “‘Aisha, one of the worst people is the one whom people honor out of fear of his evil.” So beware lest you be one of those who are like this and thereby be one of the worst people by the testimony of the Messenger of God (may blessings and peace be upon him). If you have a wife and you tell her a mystery and there is a mystery shared between you and her, then beware of divulging her mystery. That is one of the major wrong actions in the sight of God. It is confirmed by the Messenger of God (may blessings and peace be upon him) that one of the worst people in the sight of God on the Day of Resurrection will be one who entrusts a mystery to his wife and she to him and then he divulges her mystery. That is a major wrong action. Beware of cursing the father or mother of anyone so that he curses your father and mother in turn. That is part of filial disobedience. The same applies when you sit with an idolater; do not curse the one he takes as his god alongside God. When you sit with the Rafidites (the Dissenters; a group of Shi’a known for rejecting Abu Bakr and ‘Umar as well as ‘Uthman) whom you know will attack the Companions, do not mention or allude to any of the Companion whom you know that they will attack when they are praised. His obstinacy will make him attack them and then you will have exposed them to being attacked by mentioning them. God says, “Do not curse those they call upon besides God in case that makes them curse God in animosity, without knowledge” (6:108). The Messenger of God (may blessings and peace be upon him) forbade that a man curse his parents. He was asked, “Messenger of God, how can a man curse his parents?” The Prophet (may blessings and peace be upon him) said, “He may curse another man’s father who in turn curses his father, and curse his mother and he in turn curses his mother.” It is a wrong action for a man to impugn the honor of a Muslim man unjustly. This is confirmed by the Messenger of God (may blessings and peace be upon him). You must attend the night and morning obligatory prayers in congregation. When someone attends night obligatory prayer in congregation, it is as if he had prayed half the night. When someone attends the morning obligatory prayer in congregation, it is as if he had prayed the entire night. You must be kind to the servants of God in general, indeed to every animal. There is a reward with God Almighty for every creature with a moist liver.

-Muhyi din Ibn al-‘Arabi, The Mysteries of Bearing Witness, Futuhat Makkiya.

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