Bismi’Llāhi ir-Ramān ir-Raīm

In the Name of God, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate


One constant in the world of forms is change. Where we are concerned, the body ages, beauty fades, senses diminish, intelligence dulls, sensory pleasures become increasingly mundane and unsatisfying, and the accumulation of possessions fails to satisfy the heart’s longing to return to its paradisal origin and into the Divine Presence ﷻ. Every longing leads to the Beloved ﷻ. The inner world of the average person follows his point of attention. Those motivated by love for the Friend ﷻ are ascending the ladder of existence. Only the Almighty ﷻ is ultimately Real ﷻ. Those who truly love Him ﷻ will begin to know Him ﷻ. And knowing Him ﷻ brings integration so that you become a “real” human being.

Recall the tale of Pinocchio, the wooden marionette chiseled into shape by Gepetto, whose love invokes the blessings that bring Pinocchio to life. When Pinocchio sees his reflection in water, he witnesses the awkward imperfection of a wooden marionette. Gepetto, however, recognizes his true essence and loves him unconditionally. With the dawn of consciousness, Pinocchio is blessed with insight and speaks, “If I’m brave and good, I will be a real boy someday.” It is through the blossoming of virtue that he will become a “real” boy. As Pinocchio ventures into life, he is soon misled and easily occupied by the pleasures of the world. Initially, he does not even hear the warnings of Jimeny Cricket — his guardian who represents the voice of his conscience. Pinocchio is not yet connected to his heart, which is a primary means of guidance. Through a series of life lessons, Pinocchio is introduced to his shadow side. When he wrongs himself, there are consequences, such as being deformed into a donkey. It is not until he feels shame and remorse for his behavior, followed by deep concern for the well-being of Gepetto, that he awakens and realizes his true nature. When he finally returns home to Gepetto and sees his reflection again in water, he sees a real human being. In truth, his true nature was there all along, but he had yet to witness it.

Your heart is your cosmic portal to the Divine Reality ﷻ. There is no way around it on the journey to the Beloved ﷻ. When you embark on this journey, you will have to confront everything that gets in the way of your true nature. Ramaḍān lends itself to self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-realization. According to a mystical saying of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ –related by Shaykh al-Akbar Muḥyīddīn ibn al-ʿArabī, “He who knows himself, knows his Lord ﷻ.”

Those whose hearts are purified and beautified with virtues become real human beings. Those who choose to betray their innermost nature become increasingly ugly. Beware of the choices that will leave an indelible mark on your soul. Trust and follow the voice of your heart that is guided by the Spirit ﷻ, and check all other voices against it. Your existence is neither accidental nor inconsequential. And Allāh ﷻ knows best.


© Ḥakīm Ilyās Kāshānī