There are two terms describing the state of a believer. One is the Abid – a worshipper who is passionate about worshipping Allah Ta’ala and gaining reward. This is wonderful and every person should aspire to worship Allah Ta’ala and maximise reward. The other state is the Arif – one who seeks the recognition of His Creator. More than his desire for worship and reward, he aspires to recognise the greatness of his creator. He seeks that which Allah Ta’ala wants from him at a given time and situation – although this may outwardly seem contrary to his understanding and feelings. There is a distinct difference between the two. One is driven by maximising reward and reaping the benefits of worship, whilst the other seeks the acceptance and pleasure of Allah Ta’ala by aspiring to do what Allah Ta’ala wants in that moment.
A person once came to Hadhrat Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki rahimahullah in Makkah Mukarramah and lamented that he was unable to attend the congregational Salah in the Haram Shareef for an entire month due to severe illness. He lamented the loss of reward and that he was very upset about this. Hajee Imdadullah rahimahullah explained that the Abid will be upset by his loss of reward and opportunity to be in the Haram Shareef, whilst a Arif focuses on the decree and wisdom of Allah Ta’ala. If Allah Ta’ala decreed my absence from the Haram Shareef due to illness, then it is what pleases Him that I should be happy with. Performing Salah where Allah Ta’ala wants me to, due to my circumstances, is better than the desire to be in the Haram Shareef.
Our practice should conform with that which is the need of the time. In this way a person becomes a true servant of Allah Ta’ala and not a servant of his desires and feelings.
Shaykh Maseehullah rahimahullah explained that in terms of weight and reward, one Rakaat Salah of the Arif is equivalent to a thousand Rakaats of the Abid . This is by virtue of the motivation and intention of the person.