A spiritual aspirant wrote, Sir! The conditions of wilting and constriction is ever increasing. Weeks and months pass by without experiencing any happiness. It looks like mind and heart are dead. There no solace either in being alone or in gatherings. I’m extremely disturbed by the vacuum and suspension in life. The work is merely for acquiring sustenance there is no aspect of interest in it at all. ……………
……. The wish for dying has not as yet developed, however, life is a burden……………
Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,
‘This condition is called spiritual constriction (qabd). It happens to all (spiritual wayfarers:salikeen ). Outwardly it appears to be an affliction, however in reality it is a blessing.
Its causes are different. Sometimes it is disturbance in normal physiological (bodily) functioning or mixing (in unsuitable company) or seasonal affect or medicinal side effects or (consumption of inappropriate) food or psychological factors, or (excessive) thinking or (overwhelming) sadness or anger. All of these are treated by there opposites.
Sometimes it is due to sinful involvement. It’s treatment is abandoning the sinful and excessive repentance.
Sometimes it to elevate the spiritual status of the aspirant. That is, the deficiency in volitional good actions is compensated by forced spiritual struggle. This increases the spiritual status.
At other times it is to rectify one’s morals (ikhlaq). That is, by observing one’s imperfections there is development of humbleness and humility. This cures many blameworthy morals, like narcissism (ujub), arrogance (kibr) and hard-heartedness (qasawet), etc. .
Sometimes it is a test of love and reverence. That is to see if the individual works only when happy and experiencing enjoyment or continues with good actions when there is no experiencing at all. Because the later condition can only be due to overwhelming love and reverence.
At other times it is leads to attraction (jazb) to the sanctified realm (‘alam al quds) by removing the veils and obstacles.
And sometimes the causes are beyond descriptions.
After this prelude, there are some points of caution,
1. Sometimes various different causes are combined
2. When this (qabd) occurs it is futile to investigate and identify the reasons behind it. Moreover it is detrimental to do so. This is because there is no way to ascertain it definitely. And it will be a wasted effort.
3. The rights of all the possibilities should be fulfilled. That is (practice ) repentance, patience, thankfulness, assigning affairs to Allah (tafweez) , relying on Allah, humility, supplications, turning to Allah, excessive remembrance, being steadfast in good actions, decrease in useless affairs, involvement in activities that relax and strengthen the mind like meeting friends, interaction with spouse and children, consuming one’s favorite foods in moderation. All these must be combined in a efficient way.
4. All of these (above mentioned) activities should be done without the intention of treatment or expecting (a hastened) spiritual opening (bast) or blissful state. These are in themselves (necessary) to be done. One should be ready to be steadfast in fulfilling these rights even if this spiritual constriction prevails till the end of life.
5. Staying away as much as possible from all the astringent and worrisome affairs.
Use of these interventions meticulously, InshaAllah, will result most of the times in spontaneous (physical/tabaii) spiritual opening and for sure in intellectual (‘aqli) spiritual opening.
If there is suspicion of relapse then as per ان عدتم عدنا be ready. Like an individual who get a seasonal fever (every year). He doesn’t despair. He just renews the prescription again (for use).
Tarbiyet-us-salik , volume 3, p 186-8