Don’t Just Move From One Creation to Another

Ibn ‘Ata’illah said:

“Travel not from creature to creature, otherwise you will be like a donkey at the mill: roundabout he turns, his goal the same as his departure. Rather, go from creatures to the Creator.” [1]

This quote might need a quick explanation, for one to be able to appreciate it’s relevance. If you really reflect on it you will see this reality, which Ibn ‘Ata’illah is describing, all around you and perhaps even in your own life. This is because many Muslims think they are moving closer to Allah (swt) when they change their ways. Some leave their old friends behind and start practicing. Others might leave movies and games to increase their amount of Sunnah acts. Another group might leave society’s acceptance of them, by making their appearance more Islamic (hijab, beard etc.). But the reality is, many of them are being deceived. Why is this?

If they were truly honest to themselves, they could end up realizing the following:

  • They left their old friends and started practicing to become married to a good spouse
  • They left games and movies and increased their Sunnah acts, to be regarded as “pious” and feel better about themselves
  • They changed their appearance and left the acceptance of society/parents/friends, to be accepted by other practicing Muslims, whom they wanted to befriend

Notice in the above examples, that these people honestly think they have moved from pleasing themselves or others, to pleasing Allah. The reality is however, that they only moved from one creation to another. From friends to a spouse. From entertainment to praise. From one group of society to another. From one point of their journey around the millstone to another, thinking they have traversed a distance and not realizing they are walking in circles.

One of the saddest examples I have seen in my own country is Muslim gang members who travel to join specific groups in the Middle East. They think they moved from a gang to a Caliphate, but the truth is they only moved from one gang to another. They used to kill Muslim gang members as revenge or simply because they were from another gang. Now they kill other Muslims, still because of revenge or because they might be from a competing rebel faction. They used to seek women and drugs. Now they seek “slave-girls” and war booty. All they have done is to move from one kind of jahiliyyah (ignorance) to another, the only difference being that they think they are now doing something which pleases Allah. I have no doubt there are sincere individuals among them, but if they were truly honest to themselves, they should try and gain an understanding of their Deen before traveling to kill in the name of it. Lest they be like the donkey moving around the millstone, grinding innocent lifes in the process.

May Allah protect us all from moving from creation to creation and may He facilitate our journey from created thing to His everlasting favor.


[1] Ibn ‘Ata’llah, al-Hikam (Quote taken from the English translation: “The Book of Wisdoms”, White Thread Press)

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