Surah 37: al-Ṣāffāt
37:1 By the row-keepers in rows!
The lords of realization have said various things about which rows of angels these are. One group has said that what is meant is all the rows of the angels adorning the celestial world, through which the seven heavens have become luminous. In each heaven there is one sort and in each class one description. Some are in the station of service with the watchword of veneration, some in the station of awe with the blanket of watchfulness, some in the state of striving while sniffing the scents of contemplation, some in delight attracted by passion for the Friend, some in the market of yearning whispering secretly with the Friend, some in the dice of love melting in separation. The chanting of their glorification has deafened the ears of the spheres, their glorifying and hallowing has perfumed the world of holiness, and their flashing words have illumined the courtyard of the Throne. All are sitting in the celestial sky in the gardens of approval, all have bound their belts for the Exalted Threshold within the veils of awe. There is no shortcoming in their worship, no fatigue in their obedience, no slackening in their service. They do not disobey God in what He commands them and they do as they are commanded [66:6].
Another group has said that what is meant by these rows is the angels of the Inhabited House specifically, who are in the fourth heaven. They are like the Adamites in this dusty center, who visit the house of the Kaabah every year for one day. The master of the empire, the lord of the Shariah, the foremost of the prophets, said, “On the night of proximity and honor, the night of nearness and familiarity, the night of the miʿrāj, when we were strolling in that towering garden, we reached the fourth heaven and we went to visit the Inhabited House. We saw several thousand of those given proximity next to the Inhabited House. They were all drunk and intoxicated from the wine of union. They were coming from the right and passing to the left, circumambulating and saying “Here I am,” constantly passing to the left. You would say that their number was more than the stars and greater than the number of leaves on the trees. I could not imagine their number, nor could my understanding perceive how to count them. I said, 'O Gabriel who are they and whence do they come?'
“Gabriel said, 'O Master, “None knows the hosts of thy Lord but He” [74:31]. It has been fifty thousand years that I have seen it just like this. They do not rest for an hour. Thousands come from that direction and pass by. I have not seen those who come before, and I never again see those who pass by. I do not know whence they come or where they go. I do not know the beginning of their state, nor do I recognize the end of their work.”
Yes, friend, this is a marvelous business and a wondrous state! The heaven-dwellers set their faces toward a stone, and the earth-dwellers set their faces toward a stone. What do the helpless passionate ones have in their hands other than rushing and running? May the chevaliers who will settle for nothing but the face of the object of passion and gamble in nothing but love for the Friend subsist in a thousand happinesses!
O He whose face is my hajj and my umrah,
the people make their hajj to dust and stones.
“Here I am, here I am” in proximity or distance,
a secret to a secret, a thought to a thought.
In this world and that world and all that is,
the passionate turn to the Beloved's face, and that's it.
Even if the world's kiblah is not mine,
my kiblah is the Beloved's lane-and that's it.