And further: the stages that mark the wayfarers’ journey from their mortal abode to the heavenly homeland are said to be seven.
Some have referred to them as seven valleys, and others, as seven cities.
And it is said that until the wayfarer taketh leave of self and traverseth these stages, he shall never attain the ocean of nearness and reunion nor taste of the matchless wine.
The first is the Valley of Search.
The steed of this valley is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal.
Nor should he ever become downhearted: If he strive for a hundred thousand years and yet fail to behold the beauty of the Friend, he should not falter.
For those who seek the Kaaba of “for Us” rejoice in the tidings “In Our ways shall We assuredly guide them.”
In their search, they have stoutly girded up the loins of service and at every moment journey from the plane of heedlessness into the realm of search.
No bond shall hold them back and no counsel deter them.
It is incumbent upon these servants to cleanse the heart, which is the wellspring of divine treasures, of every marking; turn away from imitation, which is following the traces of their forefathers; and shut the door of friendship and enmity upon all the people of the earth.
In this journey the seeker reacheth a station wherein he seeth all created things wandering distracted in search of the Friend.
How many a Jacob will he see searching after his Joseph, how many a lover will he behold hastening towards the Well-Beloved; a world of adoring souls will he witness tracing the path of the Adored One! At every moment he findeth a weighty matter, in every hour he becometh aware of a new mystery; for he hath severed his heart from both worlds and set out for the Kaaba of the Beloved.
At every step, aid from the invisible Realm will attend him and the fervour of his search will grow.
One must judge of search by the standard of the Majnún of Love.
It is related that one day they came upon Majnún sifting the dust, and his tears flowing down.
They said, “What doest thou?” He said, “I seek for Laylí.
They cried, “Alas for thee! Laylí is of pure spirit, and thou seekest her in the dust!”
He said, “I seek her everywhere; haply somewhere I shall find her.”
Yea, although to the wise it be shameful to seek the Lord of Lords in the dust, yet this betokeneth intense ardor in searching.
“Whoso seeketh out a thing with zeal shall find it.”
The true seeker hunteth naught but the object of his quest, and the lover hath no desire save union with his beloved.
Nor shall the seeker reach his goal unless he sacrifice all things.
That is, whatever he hath seen, and heard, and understood, all must he set at naught, that he may enter the realm of the spirit, which is the City of God.
Labor is needed, if we are to seek Him; ardor is needed, if we are to drink of the honey of reunion with Him; and if we taste of this cup, we shall cast away the world.
On this journey the wayfarer dwelleth in every abode, however humble, and resideth in every land.
In every face he seeketh the beauty of the Friend; in every region he searcheth after the Beloved.
He joineth every company and seeketh fellowship with every soul, that haply in some heart he may discern the secret of the Beloved, or in some face behold the beauty of the Adored One.