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The 7 Ornaments of Love

Volume 4 of Imam Fode Drame’s Expansions Series is “The Rejuvenation of the Soul.” In this profound and captivating exposition of the soul’s journey to perfect faith, the Shaykh expounds on how the process takes root and grows into mature Love of God.

The conclusion of the work is the soul’s sojourn to be clothed with the “Ornaments of Faith.” This present article is intended merely to point to and emphasize what the Imam has so eloquently elaborated on there.

The 7 Ornaments of Faith

Faith begins as a seed in our hearts. From the dropping of the water of life on that seed it grows. When that creeper is fully matured it produces the fruit of Love of God. This process can be called substantiation of faith—or faith becoming the substance of love. The substantiation of our faith comes from remembrance and appreciation leading to obedience. In this way we grow to love God. Naturally, we do this through gradually deepening our love of the process of tending this garden of faith. Along the way we are adorned by our Creator with “The 7 Ornaments of Faith.” They can be defined as follows:

1. Taqwa – Awareness, and all it entails; such as God Consciousness; Reverence and Respect for and Remembrance of God, and His rights, signs, and creation– hence, safeguarding our souls. The Presence of this ornament will dictate the extent the others are manifest.

Question: How aware of God, or God conscious, have I been today, this week, this month, or this year?

2. Tawbah – Recognizing, acknowledging, inventorying and amending short-comings, errors, or mistakes. Also, affirming the need for, and fervently seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Question: How conscientiously have I sought the mercy, forgiveness, pardon and blessing of my Lord in each and every moment?

3. Tahara – The love of cultivating purity.

Question: How have I cooperated in Allah’s purification of my body, mind, heart, words and deeds?

4. Ihsan – Perfection and Excellence of generosity– to be charitable in all circumstances. Initiating giving. Giving good for good, as well as returning good for wrong.

Question: Have I done my best to be generous and charitable– reflective of God’s Loving Light of Kindness and Mercy?

5. Tawakkul – Total Reliance on and Surrender of all affairs to Allah, instead of believing in one’s own efficiency. It is absolute Trust and Exclusive Dependence on God for one’s own welfare, and the benefit of whatever one considers to be theirs.

Question: Have I given it all to God?

6. Qist – To be upright, equitable, just and fair in all of one’s affairs; both with those one loves, as well as one’s enemies. To treat both friend and foe with the same unswerving justice.

Question: Have I been impartial in my judgements, dealing compassionately and kindly with everyone?

7. Sabr – Patience. It connotes steadfastness and persistence in pursuit of Truth, regardless of risk. Undeterred by potential for harm or existence of obstacles it has 3 conditions: 1) It is unrelenting; 2) It is resilient– never dispirited or distraught; and, 3) It is not subdued, nor sheepish.

Question: Have I persevered, waiting on the Lord with utmost confidence and unassailable assurance of my inevitable success?

The affirmation of these 7 Ornaments of Love can be summarized in the following command:

Be aware, repentant, pure, perfect, trusting, equitable, and patient!

The opposites of love and faith are hate and disbelief. Similarly, each of the substantive forms of faith have their counterparts in their opposites. Remembrance is juxtaposed to forgetfulness; appreciation to ingratitude; and obedience to rebellion. Loving a thing necessitates dislike for its opposite.

The 7 Ornaments of Love serving as the garments of our faith, are both embellishments and protections. Additionally, they also have their counterparts. Just as it is desirable to know the ornaments of love so we can cultivate them, it is equally imperative to understand their opposites, so they can be avoided.

Faith, being an essence, has substance. It is a reality. Its opposite is non-faith. It has no reality. By definition it is the absence of faith, meaning it is not Truth, or it is unreal. It is a mere shadow of The Reality, a mirage, an illusion or an imagination. It is imagined, or wished to be so, but it is not The Reality. It would be nothingness if, in fact, nothingness could be a thing. But nothingness, if anything at all, is merely the concept of no-thing. As such, it negates its very possibility by its own definition.

Only God is. La illaha illalaah! There is no other reality– just This.

This has been described as the difference between the living and the dead. There is no Reality but God. To believe in anything apart from God is to believe in that which is unreal. Believing in something other than God, or refusing to believe in God which is The Reality, is to end up without reality, unreal and not being. Being is life. Non-being is not life. Therefore, to believe in God is to live and be real; and to fail to do so or to believe in any other is to cease to be, and to die.

To live is to hear, understand and respond. Those who are alive will hear and understand God’s messages and respond with obedience to them. Those who fail to do so are to be considered spiritually and ultimately dead.

Therefore, to protect the heart from the stains of such nilistic ideation, it is important to watch for the corrupting influence of such ideations in the counterparts to the 7 Ornaments of Love. These counterparts are as follows:

1. Udwan or furjoor instead of Taqwa – Rebellion, disobedience or transgression instead of reverent awareness, remembrance or God consciousness.

2. Istikabaar instead of Tawbah – Arrogance instead of acknowledgment.

3. Khiyana instead of Tahara – Treachery instead of purity.

4. Dhulm instead of Ihsan – Wrongfulness, wrongdoing, or self-harm instead of Excellence or Perfecting the self in generosity.

5. Farah instead of Tawakkul – Exultation instead of reliance, surrender, trust and dependence on God alone.

6. Israaf instead of Qist – Extravagance instead of being upright, equitable, just and fair.

7. Ifsad instead of Sabr – Corruption instead of patience.

In summary, if we want to have substantial existence in Love with Allah it behooves us to cultivate our garden of faith, letting it blossom in full maturity. Therefore, we will want to follow the command:

Be aware, repentant, pure, perfect, trusting, equitable, and patient!

Furthermore, let us be ever-vigilant in following its obvious corollary:

Avoid the very semblance of rebellion, arrogance, treachery, wrongfulness, exultation, extravagance and corruption!

May we all have the aid of Allah in this practice. His power is the only power, and He alone is powerful over all things.

Hamdu’llah!

— The Editor

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