I seek refuge with Allah, from Shaitan the Outcast. With the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All Praise is for Allah-swt, the Creator of the Universe and the Source of all knowledge. He-swt, Who has concealed so many mysteries in every particle that no creature can claim to know everything, this (claim) suits His Majesty alone. Creation can know only as much as He-swt grants to whomsoever He-swt wills. Man is the masterpiece of His creation. Every straw, leaf and particle houses countless secrets within itself and each secret is a witness to Allah-swt Greatness. The more the revelation of such mysteries to a person, the more he acknowledges the greatness of Allah-swt, provided his human nature has not been corrupted. However, if his nature has been contaminated, every medicine will produce the opposite effect and the revelation of each mystery will mislead him and inflate his ego. May Allah Kareem grant protection from this malady! By Allah-swt Grace, I wish to put across some basic points. Possibly these may serve as a guide for a true seeker and help in the attainment of Salvation. I have no capability except that granted by Allah-swt . Tasawwuf(Sufism) and Sulook(Spiritual Path) is a subject that is as important as it is unique. It deals with the feelings of faith and belief and the inspirations on the Qalb(Heart). Many scholars have written that these people (the Soofis) wore woollen clothing (soof) and thus came to be known as Sufis. However, my opinion is different. In my view, Tasawwuf(Sufism) is the Persian translation of the Quranic word ‘Tazkiyah’(Purification), which means cleansing of the heart, it is included within Prophetic blessings and, in reality, something one cannot do without. I don’t want to write anything as its proof, since beginning with the Companions and the Khair ul Quroon, countless scholars have written about Tazkiyah(Spiritual Purification) and have proved it as the essence and the most important part of the Deen. If someone isn’t convinced by their writings, then what is my position and what difference will my writing make to him? The present day situation is reflected in the letter of a friend from India. He wrote that he visited Dar ul Uloom Deoband but did not find anyone there who knew about Zikr-e Qalbi(Remembrance by heart); I was shaken when I read this letter. The scholars, who laid the foundations of this institution, were all, till the very recent times, Sufis. However, their successors have shelved their works that not only contained the evidence of Sulook(Spiritual Path), but also contained substantial material on different methods of Zikr(Remembrance) and on guidance for seekers. From Hadhrat Nanotvi to Maulana Thanvi, which scholar was not a Zakir and a teacher of Zikr(Remembrance), and who did not write about the various forms and methods of Zikr? Our Shaikh ul Mukarram-rua himself made a valuable and worthy contribution to this resource in the form of Dalael us-Sulook. I wish to mention just a few of the books that are available in the library of Dar ul Irfan (as the whole list would be very lengthy). In addition to this, every Mufassir and Muhaddith has written about it in his works on Tafsir or Hadith. The few words that I wish to pen down here deal only with the feelings of the Lata‘if(Spiritual Organs) and the Maraqbaat (meditations), their effect on practical life and the ways to find or determine the reality of the Lata‘if(Spiritual Organs) and the Maraqbaat(Meditation). It is a very delicate subject and has probably never been addressed in this manner before. Every age has its own requirements and probably this hasn’t been a requirement of the previous times. When we learnt Sulook(Spiritual Path), we would not dare to even speak to Shaikh ul Mukarram-rua. Rather, at times, when two of us realized a spiritual feeling differently (although the difference was only in its detail and interpretation, not in its essence), we kept to our individual version for the rest of our lives, but wouldn’t dare to ask the Shaikh-rua(Spiritual Teacher). Today, the time and its people have changed. They want to know the logic and the reason behind everything and ask for its interpretation and explanation. This change occurred in front of us and we have to put up with it. Therefore, with Allah’s Grace, this Faqeer (humble soul) is trying to write, to an extent, about those feelings. The purpose is not to convince those who deny, but that the travellers of this Path may be guided and enabled to understand the feelings of their Qalb(Heart) and their effects. A list of books is attached for those who want proof; they can benefit. Those are only a few tittles of the books in the Dar ul Irfan library; indeed, there should be many more treatises on the subject. Along with the above, is a topic that requires much attention and that is about Kashf and Mushahidah (spiritual visions and observations). These (spiritual visions and observations) are not integral or necessary elements (of Tasawwuf), but belong to the category of rewards bestowed by Allah-swt. It someone is blessed with Kashf, he should consider it a Divine blessing and not an indication that his Zikr(Remembrance) is being accepted. Indeed, it is the feelings and effects noticed in one’s practical life that are the criteria for acceptance, since the results of an effort that is accepted, which in turn depends upon one’s sincerity of intention and purity of faith, most certainly become visible in one’s conduct; and this is a special Divine Favour. Some friends remain under the misunderstanding that as they have not been blessed with Mushahidah(Spiritual Vision), their Lata‘if(Spiritual Organs) are not illuminated; this is not the right impression. What is essential is that the effect of the Lata‘if(Spiritual Organs) and the Maraqbaat(Meditation) is reflected in one’s character.
Shaikh Allah Yar Khan was born in Chakrala, a remote village of Mianwali District of Pakistan, in 1904. He completed his religious education in 1934. The same year, he met Shaikh ‘Abdul Rahim, who took him to the shrine of Shaikh Allah Deen Madni. By Divine Will his spiritual connection was immediately established with the saint of the 10th century Hijra (sixteenth century CE) and he started receiving spiritual beneficence. His sublime education in Sufism, signifying progressive spiritual growth and advancement, continued for about twenty-five years, after which he was directed to undertake the propagation of Prophetic blessings – a noble mission that he accomplished with singular zeal and dedication for a period spanning half a century. Anybody who visited him was duly rewarded with a share of spiritual bliss commensurate with his/her sincerity and capacity. Shaikh Allah Yar Khan’s mission produced men and women of deep spiritual vision and eminence.
He authored eighteen books, the most distinguished being Dalael us-Sulook (Sufism – An Objective Appraisal), Hayat-e Barzakhiah (Life Beyond Life) and Israr ul-Haramain (Secrets of the two holy Mosques). He was undoubtedly one of the most distinguished Sufi saints of the Muslim Ummah and a reviver of the Naqshbandiah Owaisiah Order.
He passed away on 18 February 1984 in Islamabad at the age of eighty. Six months before his death, he nominated his most illustrious and spiritually gifted student, Muhammad Akram Awan, as his successor to lead the Naqshbandiah Owaisiah Order.
Islam, as a complete code of life or Deen, was perfected during the life of the holy Prophet Muhammad-SAWS. He was the sole teacher and his mosque was the core institution for the community. Although Islam in its entirety was practiced during that blessed era, the classification and compilation of its knowledge into distinct branches like ‘Tafsir’ (interpretation of the Quran), Hadith (traditions or sayings of the holy Prophet-SAWS), Fiqh (Islamic law), and Sufism (the soul purification) were undertaken subsequently. This Deen of Allah passed from the holy Prophet-SAWS to his illustrious Companions in two ways: the outward and the inward. The former comprised the knowledge defined by speech and conduct, i.e., the Quran and Sunnah. The latter comprised the invisible blessings or the Prophetic lights transmitted by his blessed self. These blessings purified the hearts and instilled in them an ardent desire to follow Islam with utmost love, sincerity and devotion. Sufism is the effort to acquire these Barakah (Blessings).
The Companions handed down his-SAWS teachings as well as blessings to the Taba’in. Their strong hearts were capable of infusing these blessings into the hearts of their followers. Both aspects of Islam were similarly passed on by the Taba’in to the Tab’a Taba’in. The compilation of knowledge and its interpretation led to the establishment of many schools of religious thought; famous four being the Hanafi, the Hanbali, the Maliki, and the Shafa’i, all named after their founders. Similarly, in order to acquire, preserve and distribute his blessings, an organized effort was initiated by four schools of Sufism: The Naqshbandiah, the Qadriah, the Chishtiah, and the Suharwardiah. These schools were also named after their organizers and came to be known as Sufi Orders. All these Orders aim at purifying the hearts of sincere Muslims with Prophetic lights. These Sufi Orders also grew into many branches with the passage of time and are known by other names as well.
The holy Quran has linked success in this life and the Hereafter with Tazkiyah (soul purification).
He, who purified, is successful. (87: 14)
Sufi Orders of Islam are the institutions where the fundamentals of Tazkiyah (soul purification) and its practical application are taught. They have graded programs in which every new seeker is instructed in Zikr-e Lisani (oral Zikr) and is finally taught the Zikr-e Qalbi (Remembrance in heart). However, in the Naqshbandiah Order, Zikr-e Qalbi is practiced form the very beginning.
Adherence to the Sunnah (Prophet’s way of life) is greatly emphasized in this Order, because the seeker achieves greater and quicker progress through its blessings. The essence of Zikr(Remembrance) is that the Qalb(Heart) should sincerely accept Islamic beliefs and acquire the strength to follow the Sunnah with even greater devotion.
‘If the heart is acquainted with Allah and is engaged in His Zikr(Remembrance); then it is filled with Barakaat-e Nabuwwat (Prophetic blessings) which infuse their purity in the mind and body. This not only helps in controlling sensual drives but also removes traces of hatred, greed, envy and insecurity from human soul. The person therefore becomes an embodiment of love, both for the Divine and the corporeal. This is the meaning of a Hadith, “There is a lump of flesh in the human body; if it goes astray the entire body is misguided, and if it is reformed the entire body is reformed. Know that this lump is the Qalb(Heart)”.’
(Asrar at-Tanzil by Ameer Muhammad Akram Awan [RH])
Our method is called Pas Anfas, which, in Persian, means guarding every breath. Zikr(Remembrance) is performed with the heart using breath as the medium. Sit down facing the Qiblah (direction of Mecca; in case the direction is not known then any direction is alright), fully attentive towards Allah and close your eyes. Recite the Ta’awwuz and Tasmiah and start the Zikr(Remembrance). When you breathe in, imagine that the word Allah penetrates the depths of your heart and when you breathe out, the word ‘Hu’ strikes the heart or the Latifah(Spiritual Organ) on which the Zikr(Remembrance) is being performed. (The beginners may only do Zikr[Remembrance] on the Qalb[Heart]). Do Zikr(Remembrance) on each Latifah(Spiritual Organ) for suitable duration. When all seven Lata’if(Spiritual Organs) have been covered, return to the Qalb(Heart). After doing Zikr(Remembrance) on it for some more time, start the meditation. The body should now be relaxed and the mind set at ease. Concentrate on the Qalb(Heart) and imagine that the word ‘Allah’ rises from Qalb(Heart) and the word ‘Hu’ rises upwards to Allah’s Sublime Throne. This is the first meditation; it is known as Rabita (contact), it illuminates the Path for the Ruh(Soul) and facilitates its flight toward Allah’s nearness in subsequent meditations.
Remember that no worthwhile progress can be made without the Tawajjuh (spiritual attention) of a Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher), because the Barakah(Spiritual Blessings) that initiate a seeker along the Sufi path are transmitted only through him. The Companions got this blessing from the holy Prophet-SAWS and transmitted it to the Taba’in, who in turn passed it on to the Taba Taba’in. The Aulia (men of God) acquired this wealth of Barakah(Spiritual Blessings) from them, and it has similarly been transferred through the generations. Allah willing, this process will continue forever, and every believer, regardless of race, caste or gender can acquire these Barakah(Spiritual Blessings). Sound beliefs and sincerity are the only prerequisites for this acquisition. Constant Zikr(Remembrance) reforms the heart and initiates the journey from vice to virtue, from anxiety to contentment and from a lost life to Falah – success in this world and the Hereafter.
The Second Circle is surrounded by the Third Circle. This is as brilliant as the sun and very grand. The effect produced from the emotions and feelings of Divine love from this (Circle), is akin to the effect the rays of the sun have on the earth‟s flora: Love of Allah pours forth from every pore of the body. What is love, what is it? How deep is its imprint? When to your will, I render, And become pliant to surrender. Every cell of the body pours out this emotion, drowning the person from head to toe in obedience. A quote of Hazrat Zun Noon-rua from the Hulyat-ul Aulia, when he was asked about the sign of a person who loved Allah-swt , replied: „He loves that which Allah-swt loves, dislikes that which Allah-swt dislikes, is not affected by anyone‟s praise, nor moved by anyone‟s propaganda. This person loves Allah-swt .‟ Hazrat Bassar Bin Assri-rua is quoted in the same book as: „The Love of Allah-swt is demonstrated by the love of His obedience and by loving the Zikr of Allah-swt .‟ Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi-rua writes without quoting a reference this time, as it was his wont to always quote a reference, „I do not remember who I heard it from: Qais was a contemporary and friend of Hazrat Hassan-rau. He fell in love with Laila. When Hazrat Hassan-rau delivered the reins of power to Hazrat Ameer Mu„awiyah-rau , and thus the Muslim Ummah was saved from discord, the Muslim conquests commenced once again and the Message of Allah-swt began spreading throughout the world, and he-rau set out for Makkah Mukarramah, Qais was one of his travelling companions. On the way, while conversing, Hazrat Hassan-rau said, „Qais, by relinquishing my government I have saved the Ummah from discord and dissension‟. Qais replied, „That right does not belong to you in the first place, nor does it suit Hazrat Ameer Mu„awiyah-rau .‟ Surprised by this statement Hazrat Hassan-rau asked, „In your opinion whom should the Power have been handed over to?‟ He replied, „To Laila! It suits her only‟. To this Hazrat Hassan-rau exclaimed, „You are Majnoon!‟ meaning „you are mad‟. Since then, Majnoon became his name. Now see; when a person loves someone, he sees only his beloved everywhere; but if someone were blessed with the love for Allah-swt, then what would be his condition! These are extraordinary people, significantly distinct! If Allah-swt grants access and attachment to such people, it causes to reform both the worlds (lives) of a person. It is a great favour of Allah-swt that one finds an accomplished Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher), and Allah Kareem grants purity in one‟s relationship with him, only then can one discern these realities. The Tasbeeh of this Circle is the same, (the seeker) should say once: „Asal, Asal, Asal, Da‟irah Asma-e Sifaat mei say oopar Nafs meiray kay‟, and then keep reciting the Ayah: „Yuhibbo hum wa Yuhibboona-hoo (Al Ma‟idah: 54). This should be rendered both in the heart and by the Rooh(Soul), and then see and savour Divine Favour: how strong his Faith grows and how easy it becomes for him to follow the Holy Prophet-saws. If one possesses Kashf and Mushahidah, it‟s a great blessing indeed; but in any case, it can be certainly felt through Wajdan (intuition). Even if one has neither, the real test is the increase in strength of Iman and the ability to act righteously. As this emotion of love gains strength, the desire for Divine Nearness takes hold, and as this desire strengthens, one‟s deeds and conduct start adhering to the Sunnah, and the depth and profundity of the heart‟s sincerity keeps increasing. The fact is that, there is no limit to Sulook as it is the attainment of Divine Nearness. This earthly life has no significance at all, even in Barzakh and also in the Hereafter which is a life eternal, the dwellers of Jannah(Paradise) will keep progressing, and there will never be an end to this progress. Yes, man can know about the Maraqbaa(Meditations)t up to a certain extent. It is possible that the Gracious Rabb has placed a limit on (acquiring) their knowledge in this world. Even then, their distances are much beyond human computation and their locations are far beyond the bounds of human knowledge. The fundamental strength to access them is derived from initial Maraqbaat(Meditations). Therefore, they require full attention and a lot of effort. The moments (of Zikr) spent in the Shaikh‟s(Spiritual Teacher) company are extremely precious indeed; and if Zikr(Remembrance) is performed along with other Ahbab, that too would be for a limited period only; therefore, in addition to these, substantial time should be devoted on one‟s own, so that these (Maraqbaat)(Meditations) take strong root and bear fruit, which as already mentioned, is that one should crave for following the Sunnah, and the attachment to the Sunnah should become even stronger than his life‟s attachment to food and water.
Then is the third Circle, which is bigger and brighter than the first two and makes the Salik(Seeker) experience the pangs of inner love, the way this Faqeer had mentioned in a couplet: Your-saaws obedience sure induces, The joy, pleasure of life, Faqeer, The pangs of inner pain, but strike, Chords of ecstasy, intense, unique Its Tasbeeh is also the same, as the Rooh(Soul) of the Salik(Seeker) recites this Tasbeeh, it is overwhelmed by Allah’s love and views the whole world from that perspective. In actual fact, these matters are not for writing, reading or talking about, but are for practically doing, because feelings can only be realized and perceived once they actually descend. This realization is also proportional to one’s capacity, because there is definitely a difference in the feelings of every seeker about every meditation.
The seeker sees a Second circle surrounding his forehead, which is bigger and brighter than the First circle. The seeker should once say: „Asal, Asal Da‟irah Asmae Sifaat mein say oopar Nafs meiray kay‟, and then keep repeating: Yuhibbo hum wa Yuhibboona-hoo within his heart and also with his Rooh(Soul). A Hadees Sharif states that the entire universe in all its vastness, when compared to the vastness of Arsh(Divine Throne), is like a finger ring lying in an endless expanse of a desert. Therefore, if the vastness of these Circles is considered by this scale, one is left astonished. Moreover, they have their own specific colours, lights and glow. Each ray, fleck of light and colour drips with love and saturating the Rooh(Soul) it enters deep into the Qalb(Heart) of the seeker, making him devoutly obedient to Allah-swt and the Holy Prophet-saws . I have mentioned earlier, that people suffer from a misconception that the Sufis are unproductive people. Yes, pseudo Sufis may certainly be an unproductive lot, but those blessed with real Tasawwuf(Sufism) and Sulook(Spiritual Path) work much more than a non-Sufi. In practical life, no non-Sufi can match them; because they not only work much more, they also strive to base all their actions on the Sunnah. For this reason, Hazrat Ji-rua used to say that every Sufi is an Alim, if he is not himself an Alim then he attaches himself to an Alim, or he is granted Ilm-e Ladunni from Allah-swt (Knowledge from His Presence), because knowledge is essentially required for practice; how can he practice (religion), unless he has the knowledge. Hence, these people are knowledgeable about the Deen, its devotees, and practicing men of admirable character. If Allah-swt grants the company of such people, then it is one of His very great Favours. Only then does one realize the worth of such people. My personal experience is that these people can converse about every subject in the world, I don‟t know how they have the knowledge of these things; and their opinion, in all matters, is the most sound. Their talk does not stop at invitation and reformation, but they are seen to be foremost in their practice as well. Although these Circles are only the initial and founding stations of Sulook(Spiritual Path), but it is always the foundation that guarantees the strength of building, and it is again the foundation that determines the height of the building. The Lights of these Circles bestow such feelings, that a fistful of clay (i.e. Man) is filled with Allah‟s Love. Subhan Allah-e wa bi-Hamdi-hee, Subhan Allah il Azeem!
When the Salik(Seeker) sees his Rooh(Soul) here, he sees a circle of light, bright like the sun, is around his forehead. Its Tasbeeh is Yuhibbo hum wa Yuhibboona-hoo Allah loves them and they love Allah. In time, a person values something or loves someone because of its beauty or excellence. However, Allah-swt is Absolute, He-swt can neither be seen nor imagined. So, how can love, which is a natural feeling and blossoms in the heart, develop for Him-swt? Allah Kareem loves them because He sees all of them and knows all things at all times. However, love is a feeling that demands its response, and that too, is love. Let alone human beings, if you love even an animal, it also responds with love and starts growing up and flourishing… and what can compare with Allah’s Love! When it rains, it softens the soil of the Qalb(Heart), which starts blossoming the flowers of love and yielding the pearls of love for Allah. The practical effect of these Circles is that a Salik(Seeker) doesn’t consider the obedience to Allah-swt or the adherence to the Holy Prophet-saaws as a mere routine Fardh or Sunnah, but starts to love them and adheres to them with his utmost sincerity, in a passionate manner.