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إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلأَرْضِ وَٱخْتِلاَفِ ٱلَّيلِ وَٱلنَّهَارِ لآيَاتٍ لأُوْلِي ٱلأَلْبَابِ
ٱلَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ ٱللَّهَ قِيَاماً وَقُعُوداً وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلأَرْضِ رَبَّنَآ مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَاطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
-Âl ‘Imrân ( آل عمران )

Al Qushairi Tafsir

Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alterna- tion of night and day, there are signs for people of pith.
Those who remember God, standing and sitting and on their sides,
The signs which the Real (سبحانه) presents to ordinary people are from the lessons and the vestiges [of people gone by] in the regions [of the heavens and the earth]. The signs which He presents to the elect are within their souls. [God] (سبحانه) said, “We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls” [41:53]. The outer signs lead to the knowledge of certainty (ʿilm al-yaqīn) while the inner signs lead to the eye of certainty (ʿayn al-yaqīn).
The alternation (ikhtilāf) of night and day alludes to the different responses (ikhtilāf) to the night among the servants. The nights of the people of communion are short and the nights of the people of separation are long. [Someone] said:
Months pass- we have not noticed their midpoints nor their ends.
And he said:
For you, morning is drunkenness and the night a hangover.
You slept even as the days of happiness were short. A second [poet] said: After they departed, the nights were long in so many ways- [once short], the night of the lovers is [now] long.
A third [poet] had nothing to say about the length or brevity of the night, for he said, because of what had overwhelmed him:
How should I know whether the night was long or not?
How can one who is on fire know that?
If I had paid attention to the length of the night, I would have been deprived of watching the stars.
For people of pith: The people of pith (ulū l-albāb) are those whose intellects have been kept sound from the drunkenness of forgetfulness and inattention. The sign of one like this is that his gaze will be through the Real. When he gazes from the Real to the Real, his gaze is in the right direction. But when he gazes from created beings and things to the Real, his thoughts are thrown into upheaval, which causes a state of confusion.
Those who remember God, standing and sitting: Remembrance (dhikr) permeates their every moment. If they stand, it is in remembrance of Him.
If they sit or sleep or prostrate-all of their states are consumed with the rightful due and realities of remembrance (ḥaqāÌiq al-dhikr). They stand in the proper manner (ḥaqq) of remembering Him and they refrain from [literally, “sit from”] opposing His command. They stand by means of the purest and choicest of states but refrain from paying too much attention to them or claiming anything concerning them. They remember God standing on the carpet of service, and then they sit on the carpet of near- ness. Those who are not secure from negligence in their standing in the beginning will not be sound and secure in their sitting in the quality of presence (ḥuḌūr) in the end.
Remembrance is the path (Ṭarīq) of the Real (سبحانه). The aspirants (murīdūn) cannot travel a path that is more sound or clear than the path of remembrance. If there were only His words, “I sit among those who remember Me,” concerning it, that would be sufficient.
Those who remember are of several types and this is because of the dif- ference in their states. There is a remembrance which causes the contraction (qabḌ) of one who, by remembering [God], remembers his own prior fail- ings, or something ugly that came from him. His embarrassment holds him back from remembering himself [in a positive way]; this is a remembrance of contraction (qabḌ). There is a remembrance that causes the expansion (basṬ) of the one who remembers; this is because of what he finds in the pleasures of remembrance and even more so [when] the Real draws him near in the most beautiful way. There is the one who remembers and is effaced in the witnessing of what is being remembered. The remembrance that flows from his tongue is a constant habit and, in what has appeared to it, his heart has become completely cut off [from anything else]. There is the one who remembers and who is in a place of the most intense veneration [of God]: he abstains from remembering Him and considers his praise of Him unclean. It is as if he finds himself too insignificant for [the remem- brance of God], so he wants nothing to do in this world and the hereafter with praising, remaining, existing, and glory.
Their speaker said:
I cannot remember you- not even once- without my heart, my spirit, and my innermost self cursing me.
It is as if a lookout from you called out to me, “Watch out!,” “Woe unto you!” “Beware of this remembrance!”
Remembrance is the sign of friendship (walāya), the clear evidence of the communion [of lovers], the actualization of spiritual desire (irāda), the mark of the soundness of the beginning (bidāya), and the signifier of the purity of the end (nihāya). There is nothing beyond remembrance. All of the praiseworthy qualities return to remembrance and arise from it.
and reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth: “Our Lord, You have not created this in vain.
Reflection (tafakkur) is the attribute of every seeker and its fruit is union, provided there is knowledge. When reflection becomes free of defects, its possessor will arrive at the watering places of realization (taḥqīq). When he achieves witnessing (shuhūd) and presence (ḥuḌūr), he will rise from reflec- tion to the boundaries of remembrance (ḥudūd al-dhikr) and remembrance is without beginning or end. The ascetics (zāhidūn), then, reflect on the ephemerality of the present world and the insignificance of its promise to those who seek it, and by that reflection they increase in their asceticism toward it. The worshipers (ʿābidūn) reflect on the beautiful reward, and they increase in their eagerness and longing for it. Those with the deepest knowledge (ʿārifūn) reflect on blessings and kindnesses, and they increase in their love for the Real (سبحانه).
Glory be to You! So guard us against the chastisement of the fire.
The glorification (tasbīḥ) alludes to the swimming (sabḥ) of the inner- most selves in the sea of grandeur.