He (Allah) kept you in the state of qabdh so that you do not remain in the state
of bast, and He brought you into the state of bast so that you are not left
in the state of qabdh. He extricated you from both states so that you be devoted
to your Master alone.
(Qabdh is a spiritual state of extreme despondency. Bast is the opposite of qabdh. It is the state of spiritual exhilaration.)
Qabdh and bast are two states which settle over the Saalik in alternating order – one after the other. In qabdh such a waarid (spiritual current) of the Divine Attributes of splendour (jalaal) and wrath (qahr) settle on the heart, which displaces the heart’s exhilaration and tranquillity resulting in a shadow of despondency. There remains no serenity in thikr and worship.
In the state of bast, the waarid passing over the heart emanates from the Divine Attributes of beauty and mercy. It results in extreme elation. The exhilaration experienced is beyond the Saalik’s control. In this state he is unable to contain his spiritual happiness.
The Saalik who has progressed ahead of the initial stage of Sulook experiences the conditions of qabdh and bast. In the beginning he experiences khauf (fear) and raja (hope). The difference between qabdh/bast and khauf/raja is that the latter is the product of reflecting on a future event whereas the former is the consequence of the incidence of waaridaat at the present time.
Here the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) explains the wisdom (hikmat) of qabdh and bast. Addressing the Saalik, he says that the purpose of bast is to take the Saalik out of the state of qabdh. If it was not for bast, the Saalik would perpetually remain in the state of qabdh. Bast being the opposite of qabdh, displaces it. One of these states will always be with the Saalik who is in the middle stage of Sulook. Either he will be in qabdh or bast. It is, therefore, necessary to alternate these states, otherwise he will perpetually remain in only one state.
Qabdh is the effect of the Divine Attribute of Jalaal (power, splendour, glory). If the Saalik remains in qabdh, within a few days its effect would become unbearable for him. It will then not be surprising if he is destroyed. In fact, such episodes of self-destruction have happened. It is for this reason that the state of bast is bestowed to him.
The state of qabdh is imposed on the Saalik so that he does not always remain in the state of bast because in this latter condition the nafs derives pleasure. Thus, the state of continuos bast will bring about a reduction in the attribute of ibaadat. The longer this state remains, the graver the danger.
These two states do not occur to the kaamil (the Saalik who has attained perfection). He experiences a condition in between qabdh and bast. Neither state is predominant. Hence, the Saalik is ultimately taken out of these two states so that his attention is focused only on Allah Ta’ala. In the states of qabdh and bast the Saalik’s attention is diverted to his states because in these two states is their dominance (ghalbah) over the Saalik. In the state of qabdh, the Saalik will endeavour to eliminate the impressions of despondency and grief while the heart derives pleasure in the state of bast. Thus, in both states the attention is not towards Allah Ta’ala. The state of the kaamil is equilibrium (i’tidaal). Neither can his state be called qabdh nor bast.
Istiqaamat (steadfastness) and I’tidaal (equilibrium) are achieved by way of qabdh and bast. After the ups and downs of these two states, a state of equilibrium settles on the heart.
In the state of bast, the Aarifeen are more fearful than in the state if qabdh. In bast only a few remain within the confines of adab (respect).
Since the state of bast conforms to the desires of the nafs, the a rifeen in this state are more fearful than in the state of qabdh. In bast the nafs may lose itself in pleasure and proclaim its spiritual conditions and miracles. There is the danger of the Saalik making claims of loftiness. Sometimes when the state of bast becomes intense, the Saalik utters such statements which are in conflict with the lofty state of Allah Ta’ala. It is for this reason that the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) says that only a few among the Saalikeen succeed in observing the limits of respect (adab).
On the contrary, since qabdh is a state in conflict with the nafs, the attributes of humility, weakness and servitude prevail. The Saalik perceives himself overwhelmed by Divine Wrath and Power.
In the state of bast, the nafs has its share of pleasure, but in the state of qabdh the nafs has no share.
The basis for the previous statement is given here. In the state of bast the limits of adab (respect) are generally not observed because the nafs receives its share of pleasure in the condition of bast. Unmindfulness and forgetfulness are necessary corollaries (lawaazim) of the nafs’s derivation of pleasure. Also, the ego asserts itself. The acquired inspirational knowledge, mysteries, subtleties and stations of elevation are in front of the Saalik. Thus, in the state of bast, he considers himself to be among the elite. These attitudes are negatory of Uboodiyat. On the other hand, the nafs obtains no pleasure in the state of qabdh. It, therefore, remains within the limits of rectitude. Hence, the a rifeen prefer the state of qabdh to the state of bast.
Frequently in the darkness of qabdh you are granted such knowledge and insight which you will not acquire in the brightness of bast. It is, therefore said (in the Qur’aan): ‘You do not know who is more beneficial for you among them. ‘
Qabdh is displeasing to the nafs while bast in pleasurable. The Saalik, therefore, fears the state of qabdh and thinks of it to be a means of distancing him from Divine Proximity while he loves bast and regards it to be a medium for attaining Divine Proximity. The Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh), therefore, explains the wisdom of qabdh.
Qabdh is compared to darkness because in this state the Saalik is motionless. The nafs is broken and forlorn, hence it does not move towards its excellences nor does it advance claims of loftiness. In this forlorn and motionless condition it turns in supplication to Allah Ta’ala. The state of bast is described as brightness because the nafs is in motion just as people are in motion during daytime. In this state the nafs is desirous of displaying its knowledge of spiritual realities.
The Saalik is advised not to fear the state of qabdh because sometimes in the state of qabdh the Saalik is granted such transcendental knowledge and mysteries which he does not attain in the state of bast. This is occasioned by the humility and forlornness of the nafs produced by the state of qabdh. Humility is the cause for Allah’s grace and kindness. The treasure of Uloom and Ma-aarif is granted to the Saalik in this state of extreme humility.
The Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) then cites the following Qur’aanic aayat:
“You do not know who among them is of greater benefit to you.”
This aayat discusses the issue of inheritance. The instruction is to execute the laws of inheritance as commanded. You do not know which heir is of greater benefit to you. Therefore, do not use your own opinion and fancy in matters pertaining to inheritance. Inspite of a man being able to recognise the people who will be his heirs, he is told that he in reality is not aware of the one who is of greater benefit to him. On the basis of this aayat, the Shaikh (rahmatullah alayh) says that the Saalik too does not know which of the two states (bast and qabdh) is better for him. In this case his unawareness will be greater than the unawareness regarding heirs (referred to in the aayat) because the state of qabdh and bast are spiritual conditions which cannot be fathomed by the physical senses. It is, therefore, essential that the slave refrains from his opinion in these states. Allah Ta’ala knows which state is best for him