We said in the Second Point that the sense of taste is a doorkeeper, and indeed, for the heedless and those who have not progressed spiritually or advanced in the way of thanks, it is like a doorkeeper. Wastefulness should not be indulged in or the sense of taste’s price be raised from one to ten for the sake of giving it pleasure.
However, the sense of taste of those truly on the way of thanks, those seeking reality, and those who approach reality with their hearts is like a supervisor and inspector in the kitchens of divine mercy, as is explained in the comparison in the Sixth Word. Its duty is to recognize and weigh up the varieties of divine bounties on the tiny scales present in it to the number of foods, and to send the body and stomach news of the food in the form of thanks. In this respect the sense of taste does not only look to the physical stomach; since it looks also to the heart, spirit, and mind, it holds a position and importance superior to the stomach. It can follow its pleasure on condition it is not wasteful or extravagant, and is purely to carry out its duty of thanks and recognize and perceive the varieties of divine bounty, and on condition it is licit and does not lead to degradation and begging. In fact, delicious foods may be preferred in order to employ the tongue which bears the sense of taste in giving thanks. The following is an instance of Shaykh Geylani’s wonder-working which alludes to this truth:
At one time, being instructed by Ghawth al-A‘zam, Shaykh Geylani (May his mystery be sanctified), was the only son of an aged and anxious woman. This esteemed lady had gone to her son’s cell and seen that he had nothing to eat but a piece of dry, black bread. Her maternal compassion was aroused by his emaciated condition resulting from his asceticism. She felt sorry for him. Later she went to Ghawth al-A‘zam in order to complain, and saw the Shaykh was tucking into roast chicken. Out of her concern, she declared: “O Master! My son is dying of hunger while you are eating chicken!” Whereupon Ghawth al-A‘zam said to the chicken: “Rise up, with God’s permission!” At this, the cooked chicken bones assembled and were thrown out of the dish as an entire live chicken. This has been related unanimously through many reliable and documented channels as a marvel of someone whose extraordinary wonder-working is world-famous. Ghawth al-A‘zam said to her: “When your son reaches this level, then he too can eat chicken.”1 Thus, the meaning of Ghawth al-A‘zam’s words is this: whenever your son’s spirit rules his body, and his heart rules the
See, Gilani, Ghunya al-Talibin, 502; Nabhani, Jami‘ Karamat al-Awliya’, ii, 203.