Ithaaf i's saail (Gifts For The Seeker)
Of: Imam 'Abdallah Ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad
Rady Allahu 'Anhu
Translated by: Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi, Madina
You should know that this phrase is the most comprehensive and profitable of all invocations; the nearest to bringing about the Opening and illumining the heart with the light of God. It is also the most suitable of invocations for all people, since it includes the meanings of all other invocations, such as al-hamdu li'Llah, subhan Allah, and so on. Each believer should therefore, make it his inseparable wird, his constant dhikr, without, however, abandoning the other invocations, of each of which he should have a wird.
Every human being is either a traveller, and arriver, or a non-traveller, and all three should hold unceasingly to this invocation. Travellers and non-travellers, since they perceive objects and attribute to them an existence of their own- something which may lead to subtle forms of hidden shirk- can only expel these from their souls by constantly repeating this phrase. As for the man who has arrived, this invocation is again the most appropriate for him, because although he perceives things by God, and unceasingly summons them to Him, he is not entirely free from perceiving his own self from time to time, and from reprehensible thoughts unworthy of his rank. It has been handed down to us that Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, may God be pleased with him, used to insert this phrase into his conversation: he would utter a few words, say la ilaha illa'Llah, and then resume what he was saying. This pertains to the Station of Subsistence (baqa) which follows that of Extinction (fana). As we said earlier, there is no invocation more appropriate for a man constantly to use than this; however, when the traveller reaches the initial stages of extinction, and is liberated from perceiving any of the worlds (as autonomous), then the most appropriate thing for him at that time is to keep to the Name of Allah. This is what the people of gnosis have advised.
All the above is from the point of view of choosing the best and the most appropriate alternative, for otherwise all the invocations are the paths leading to God. The shaykhs, may God be pleased with them, have many methods of uttering this honorable Phrase, whether aloud or silently, and have set conditions which the invoker who would expose himself to the Dive effulgence and the Lordly Opening needs to fulfil. These are explained in those of their treatises which deal with them specifically, where they can be found by whoever wishes to thread the path of such men. It is best that those who are able to find in their time a shaykh of authority should receive these from him directly, since books are a last resort for those who are unable to find (such a teacher); and what a difference there is between a man who receives the Path from a gnostic of authority who will take him to God, and one who only picks it up from a book!
God guides to what is right. To Him is the return, and success is from Him and in His Hand.
Source: Imam 'Abdallah Ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad, Ithaaf i's saail (Gifts For The Seeker), translated by Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi, The Quilliam Press, U.K, 1992, p18-19.