Chapter XXV (e)
Principles of Audition
The principles of audition vary with the variety of temperaments, just as there are different desires in various hearts, and it will be unjustified to lay down one law for all. The lovers of audition may be divided into two classes:
- those who hear the spiritual meaning,
- those who hear the material sound.
Both contain their good and evil effects. Listening to melodious sounds produces an effervescence of the substance molded in man. If his inward is true, the melodious sounds will produce true spiritual feelings and if it is false it will act in the same fashion. When one is overwhelmed with evil, whatever he hears will increase in his evil. This was truly illustrated by the story of David. Allah sent him as His Caliph and bestowed upon him a sweet voice and caused his throat to be a melodious pipe, so that the mountains used to be intoxicated with the melody of his voice. The wild beasts and birds would come from mountains and plains to hear him, and the water would cease to flow and the flying birds would fall from the air. It is related that during a month’s space the creature in the jungle would abandon their feasts, during that period the children would neither weep nor ask for milk; and whenever the folk departed it was found that many had died of the rapture that seized them, as they had listened to his voice. And it is related that once at one time seven hundred maidens died. Then Allah wishing to separate those who listened to the voice and followed their temperament from the followers of the Truth who listened to the spiritual reality, permitted Iblis (Satan) to work his will and display his wiles. Iblis fashioned a mandolin and a flute and took up a station opposite to the place where David had his assembly. Thus, David’s audience became divided into two parties. Those who were destined to felicity remained listening to the voice of David, while those destined to damnation lent ear to the music of Iblis. There was before the spiritualists neither the voice of the David nor the music of the Satan, for their eyes were only fixed on the Truth. If they heard the Devil’s music, they regarded it as a temptation proceeding from Allah, and if they heard David’s voice, they recognized it as being a direction from Allah. They separated from all and got free from things which were cause of establishing relation with others. They saw both right and wrong as they really were. When a man has audition of this kind, whatever he hears is lawful to him.
Some impostors say that their audition is contrary to its outward reality. This is absurd, for the perfection of saintship consists in seeing everything as they really are that the vision may be right and if one sees otherwise, the vision is wrong.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
اللهم النا حقاءق الا شياء كماهي
“O Allah, show us the things as they are.”
So, when to see a thing is to see it in its true reality, similarly, the right audition which is being heard would also be only that which is right. Those who love singing or captive of their nafs (lower soul) and lust, they listen other than reality. Were they listened according to the reality, they would have remained safe from evils.
Are you not aware that the people of error heard the words of Allah, and their error increased than before? Nadir b. al-Harith after hearing the Quran said,
إِنْ هَذَا إِلاَّ أَسَاطِيرُ
these are nothing but tales of the ancients,” (Q 6:25),
but Abdullah b. Saad b Abi Sarah who was recorder of the revelation said,
فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ
so blessed be Allah, the Best to create!” (Q 23:14).
Some of them have quoted the following verse as a reason that there shall be no vision of Allah,
لاَّ تُدْرِكُهُ الأَبْصَارُ
no vision can grasp Him,” (Q 6:103).
Some have cited the following verse to prove that position and direction may be affirmed of Him:
ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى عَلَى الْعَرْشِ
then He established Himself on the Throne (of authority),” (Q 10:3).
Some have argued that Allah actually “comes”, since He has said,
وَجَاء رَبُّكَ وَالْمَلَكُ صَفًّا صَفًّا
and thy Lord cometh, and His angels, rank upon rank.” (89:22).
Since the error was implanted in their minds, it profited them nothing to hear the Word of Allah, whereas when a Unitarian, pursues a poem, he regards the Creator of the poet’s nature and the Disposer of his thoughts, and drawing an admonition there from. The act leads him to the Causer and he sees in the act an evidence of the Agent. Thus he finds the right way even in falsehood, while those whom we have mentioned above lose the way in the midst of truth.
The Sheikhs have uttered many subtle and unique sayings on this subject and it is impossible to include all of them in this book. However some of the selected sayings are being included. Dhu al-Nun says:
السماع وارد الحق مزعج القلوب الي الحق, فمن اصغي اليه بحق تحقق ومن اصغي اليه بنفس تزندق
“Audition is a Divine influence which stirs the heart to seek Allah. One who listens to it spiritually he attains the way to the Truth, and who listens to it sensually he falls into error.”
This does not mean that audition is the cause of attaining unto Allah, but it means that the audience ought to hear the spiritual reality, not the mere sound. During audition his heart should be ready to receive the Divine influence and when such state is achieved it stirs his heart to the obedience of the Truth and such person becomes steadfast to the audition of the Truth. One who follows his nafs (lower soul) is veiled and is trapped in interpretation. The fruitation of the former is revelation and of later is veiling.
Zandaqa (heresy) is a Persian word but in Arabic it signifies “interpretation”. The Persian calls the commentary on their Book Zand u Pazand. The philologists, wishing to give a name to the descendants of the Magians, called them zindiq on the ground of their declaration that everything stated by the Muslims has an esoteric interpretation, which destroys its external sense. Hence the word zindiq came to be applied to them as proper name. Dhu al-Nun by using this term, intended to declare that spiritualists in audition penetrate to the reality, while sensualists make a far-fetched interpretation and thereby fall into wickedness.
السماع ظاهره فتنة وباطنه عبرة فمن عرف الاشارة حل له استماع العبرة والا فقد استدعي الفتنة وتعرض للبيلة
“Audition is outwardly an evil and inwardly an admonition. He who is aware of the mystical signs may lawfully hear the admonition otherwise he has invited evil and calamity,” i.e. one whose heart is fully committed to the voice of the Truth, for him audition is a calamity and trial.
Abu Ali Rudbari in answer to a man who questioned him concerning audition, said, “ليتنا تخلصنا منه راسًا براس would that we got rid of it entirely!” Because man is unable to do everything as it ought to be done, and when he fails to do a thing duly he perceives that he has failed and wishes to be get rid of it altogether.
One of the Sheikhs says,
السماع تبنيه الاسرار لما فيه من المغيبات
audition stirs the inwards to explore the secrets of the heart,”
so that it should always remain present in the proximity of the Truth. The seekers of the Truth consider absence of the inward secrets the most blameworthy quality. The lover, though absent from his Beloved, must be present with him in heart; if he be absent in heart, his claim of love is false.
My Sheikh says that
السماع زادالمضطرين فمن وصل استغني عن السماع
audition is the viaticum of the one lacked behind. One who has attained his object has no need of it,” because on attainting object of union hearing can perform no function. News is heard of the absent, but hearing is naught when two are face to face.
ايش اعمل بالماع ينقطع اذا قطع ممن نسمع منه ان ينبغي ان يكون سماعك متصلًا غيرمنقطع
“What avails an audition that ceases whenever the person whom you hear becomes silent?
It is necessary that thy audition should be continuous and uninterrupted.”
This saying is a sign of the concentration of thoughts in the field of love. When a seeker attains such degree as this he hears (spiritual truths) from every object in the universe and it is a lofty state.