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.
1. Acceptance of the Faith is an act. Remembrance of Allah-swt is present in it, hence it is Zikr(Remembrance).
2. Acquisition of knowledge about the Deen is an excellent act and it contains the Remembrance of Allah, hence it is Zikr (Remembrance) .
3.(a). Every action whether it is a Farz (Obligatory), Wajib (Necessary), Sunnah, or Mubah (proper/permissible), includes the Remembrance of Allah, and is therefore Zikr (Remembrance) . This covers everything from worship to worldly affairs, and is known as Zikr-e Amli (Practical Zikr). It also includes Zikr-e Lisani (Oral Zikr), as recitation during Salah(Prayer) and Tasbihaat(Recitals) are Zikr-e Lisani. Similarly, studying and teaching Deen, Tableegh (preaching) are all included in Zikr, because Remembrance of Allah-swt is present in all of them. (b). The next form is Zikr-e Lisani; Tasbihaat, Darood Sharif and Recitation of the Quran are all included in Zikr-e Lisani.
(c). Further, the third form is Zikr-e Qalbi(Remembrance of Heart). Qalb(Heart) is a subtle body placed within the lump of flesh about which the Holy Prophet-saws reportedly said, „There is a lump of flesh in the body; if that is healthy the whole body is healthy, and if that is sick the whole body is sick. Know that it is the heart (Qalb)‟, (or as said by the Messenger-saws of Allah-swt). Divine Injunctions about this (Zikr-e Qalbi) are also present, so much so that the author of Tafseer-e Mazhari has written that acquisition of Zikr-e Qalbi(Remembrance of Heart) is mandatory for every Muslim man and woman, and he has presented just two references of Divine Commands: 1) The command of Allah-swt, when dispatching Hazrat Musa-as and Hazrat Haroon-as to Fir„aun (Pharaoh): And slacken not in keeping Me in Remembrance. (Ta Ha: 42)…meaning My Zikr (Remembrance) should not become secondary in your attention. Now, every cell of a Prophet‟s body is not only a Zakir (engaged in Allah-swt‟s constant Zikr) in itself, but it is a Zakir-maker, as anything that touches him also becomes a Zakir. Therefore, it is not possible for a Prophet‟s greatness to be ever unmindful of Zikr. However, to invite Firaun(pharoah), a cruel despotic ruler and a self-proclaimed god, possessor of pomp and splendor, and grandeur and might, to accept the Unity of Allah-swt – that too, from a position of want and poverty; this task could only be undertaken by a Prophet of Allah-swt . It was emphasized (by Allah Kareem) that even in that situation, the primary attention should be focused towards His Zikr (Remembrance) , and the conversation with Fir„aun be consigned a secondary status. This state can be none other than Zikr-e Qalbi.
2) The other reference is found in Surah Muzzammil(Chapter of Quran): the Holy Prophet-saws is addressed: Remember the Name of your Rabb and devote yourself to Him wholeheartedly. (Al Muzzammil: 8) That is, keep on doing the Zikr (Remembrance) of your Rabb‟s Name, keep repeating „Allah Allah Allah‟ to such an extent that there remains no other awareness except that of Allah-swt. Here, the Command to recite the Quran has already been given separately. Therefore, this reference is only to the Zikr (Remembrance) of the Personal Name and to Zikr-e Qalbi. Yes, it is with Allah-swt, to grant the capacity to understand this.
Human beings have been blessed with two types of knowledge which make them superior to the other creatures. The first type relates to the physical body and every human being whether good or bad, believer or a disbeliever can acquire it. The second type is related to the Divine Being which cannot be acquired through intellect or experience but is granted by Allah Himself to Prophets and then acquired by their followers. Its seat is the human Qalb (heart). The Divine Word was similarly revealed unto the heart of the holy Prophet (Sall Allah-o Alaihi wa Sallam). But only those people whose hearts were illuminated with the light of Faith could benefit from him. Although every believer and disbeliever saw him-saw alike, yet the holy Quran asserts that the disbelievers did not see him … looking toward thee, but they see not – 7:198. They saw him with physical eyes; their hearts being devoid of Divine love, they tried to judge him with mundane intellect and as such failed to perceive his real self. They saw him as Muhammad-saw – the son of Abdullah and not as Muhammad-saw – the Messenger of Allah.
Arwah Bin Masood Saqfi (who had not accepted Islam till then) was representing the Makkans during the Truce of Hudaibiyyah. While writing the truce document, Hadhrat Ali (Radhi Allah Unho) inscribed ‘Muhammad – the Messenger of Allah’ in the opening sentence. Arwah instantly reacted and said, “That is the only dispute between us. If we accept him-saw as Allah’s Messenger, then why would we block his way to Allah’s House? His name should be written as Muhammad-saw – the son of Abdullah.”: he was right, in his own way. Unless the heart is revived and its faculties fully restored, it cannot discern reality. Also, this knowledge is beyond the realm of the intellect which can confirm only what it receives through its physical senses, it cannot perceive the intangible.
This earth has seen many periods of material progress; there have been great scientists, scholars and intellectuals of high eminence before our time and the process of amazing discoveries and miraculous inventions has continued all along. The other day, scientists discovered the remains of an ancient civilisation under the sea bed where they unearthed houses, utensils, bones and skulls. The design and beauty of those old houses even excel the present standard of our construction. It was a continent once, but those people were probably seized by Divine punishment and buried underwater. This world has witnessed many turns of time; it has seen nations rise, fall and perish forever. But despite all of the material progress and development, the intellect has only discussed a very small portion of human life, that which starts from birth and ends at death. Nobody could disclose anything about his remaining eternal life of the Hereafter, nor could provide any information about his Ruh (The Spirit). No philosopher or thinker could claim any knowledge about the Divine Being, His Attributes or the nature of His relationship with man. This aspect of knowledge is beyond the access of the human mind and intellect. There has been only one group, that of Allah’s Messengers and Prophets, who provided sure knowledge about the transcendental truths. They were blessed with knowledge from the Divine Presence and their hearts were its treasure-houses.
My friend, if the intellect acquires knowledge while the heart is dark, it works more for human destruction than for its peace, it generates more distress than comfort. If you analyse the Western society, it is devoting more funds for armament research than for medicine. But if the heart comes alive, it starts guiding the human intellect. It works for the betterment of humanity and not for its destruction. It consciously migrates from vice to virtue. The life of the heart (Qalb) is related to Allah’s remembrance. Man has only to implant Allah’s Name firmly in his heart, what follows is really amazing. Although the eyes cannot see Him, yet the belief becomes surer than visual observation. The hands cannot feel Him, the mind cannot grasp Him but the heart recognises Him vividly. It cannot describe Him but it discerns Him, hears Him, establishes a relationship with Him, entreats Him, obeys Him and acts according to His Will.
This is an abstract state which cannot be verbalised. If you ask a lover about love, how will he describe it? Similarly, if a person who has never remained hungry asks about hunger, how can he be told? Keep him hungry for sometime and he would understand it himself. Similarly, ask the person who wants to know about love to start loving, he would himself taste love and discover its logic. We ourselves experience these natural instincts quite often. Similarly, faith is also an arcane state of the heart. It can be experienced only after it is professed. The holy Prophet-saw has said, “Worship Allah as if you see Him”. Now, to conceive an impossibility is naturally impossible. If you ask a man to imagine giving birth to a child, he would never succeed even after years of mental effort. The holy Prophet-saw has commanded the believers to worship Allah as if they see Him, while according to Quran, the human sight cannot encompass Allah. It signifies that there must be some other way to perceive His Transcendence. This is achieved through the esoteric state of Qalb(Heart), which discerns Him and assures man of His Omnipresence.
The majority of the early Muslims belonged to a poor class who were slaves of the Makkans through generations. They were tuned towards instinctive and unqualified obedience of their masters. When they professed Islam, the Makkan masters employed all means of torture to dissuade their helpless and destitute slaves. Through inhuman persecution, they demanded their slaves to renounce the Absolute Unity of Allah. The newly converted Muslims replied that it was not possible for them to comply because they knew for sure that Allah was actually, absolutely One. Their hearts had achieved that state where they perceived Allah to be present before them. Had their hearts been veiled from Divine Presence (as ours have been) they could not have resolutely withstood that suffering and may have succumbed to it – may Allah forgive us! Our hearts are so unmindful of Him that we sin, steal and lie, right in His Presence. On the other hand, we never sin in the presence of other human beings, even children, due to fear of disclosure and subsequent humiliation. If we are equally convinced that our Lord is ever Present with us, we would never dare to sin. This conviction is absent from our faith because even when our intellect accepts this fact, our hearts remain void of Divine observation. Hearts that perceive Divinity, behave differently!
I read in the biography of Ba Yazid Bustami-rua that once he went for Hajj. Travelling was difficult during those times; people went on foot or on camels and horses. Now, air travel has reduced the time and increased the comfort, and the House of Allah always remains full of pilgrims, day and night, throughout the year, like in the Hajj season. However, during earlier times it was possible to get a moment of solitude in the Inviolable Precinct. Ba Yazid Bustami-rua went there at night hoping to worship alone. As he entered, he heard the Angel’s shout, “Get out of My House!” He froze with fear and thought that it was he, who was the target of Divine retort. But, he instantly observed a man, going round the K’abah and frantically crying “I am present, O my Lord! I am present”. After a few moments, he again heard the angel shout, “Get out, don’t pollute My House, don’t make any noise here!” When that man passed in front of Ba Yazid-ruahe was shivering from top to toe. Ba Yazid-rua held him by the arm and said, “Why are you bent upon getting the whole world destroyed? Don’t you hear the Divine reprimand?” The man replied, “Isn’t it me who is being addressed? If you can hear it, why can’t I?” Ba Yazid-rua said, “Then, why don’t you get out? Why are you inviting destruction for the whole area?” The man said, “I would leave but I know of no other door to go and cry at! Whether He accepts or rejects, He is the Only One for me; there is nobody else!” Ba Yazid-rua saw that as soon as the man uttered these words, he was instantly covered by Divine Refulgence and blessing.
An illuminated heart always turns towards Allah, whether He accepts or rejects. But a gloomy heart declines His call for prayers five times every day. That indeed is a great difference. We hear His call, accept it mentally but do not answer it on one pretext or the other. At times we claim that we have more important business to attend or that our clothes are not clean for the prayers or that we feel indisposed. But when the heart is alive, Allah Himself grants it the strength to worship. Then He proudly presents such slaves before the angels who have said that man would work corruption on the earth. “Look at My slaves!” He says, “If there are corrupt ones, well there are good ones like these too! Where can the devil take them? Even when I reproach them, they do not leave My door.” He had similarly addressed Satan on the First Day, Lo! As for My slaves, thou have no power over any of them – 15:42. That is, ‘You have no power over those who become My slaves but if anyone chooses to be your minion, I do not care about him.’
The life of the heart, its light and peace depend upon Allah’s Zikr (remembrance). How can it be acquired? There is a fundamental difference between knowledge given by Prophets and knowledge given by others. A non-Prophet offers only words, but a Prophet also distributes certain invisible feelings along with his words. The beneficence of Prophethood comprises two distinct divisions of knowledge and blessings. Recites His verses unto them and makes them grow (spiritually) and teaches them the Book and Wisdom – 62:2. The religious preaching is followed by purification of the hearts and subsequently knowledge of the Book and Wisdom. Unless the heart is purified, the mind can only remember words but cannot assimilate these feelings. A gloomy heart would definitely command the mind to devour prohibited things and perform sinful acts.
The teachings of the holy Prophet-saw contained so much strength, that even after fourteen centuries, anybody who professes Islam can still discriminate between right and wrong. It is indeed an extremely strange phenomenon that a person who lives in a jungle, far from civilisation, can instinctively differentiate between lawful and taboo, and between virtue and vice. But then why doesn’t everybody act according to his knowledge? It is because knowledge influences the mind, but the mind cannot transform knowledge into practice. No positive change can occur unless the Qalb(Heart) realises that the Divine Word is addressing it directly. This is through the beneficence of the holy Prophet-saw. As far his teachings are concerned, both direct and indirect recipients were equally benefited. But his blessings were only available to those who found his august company. His blessings instantly elevated everyone who accepted Islam and came to him-saw to the status of Companionship notwithstanding the misdeeds and gross misconduct of his past life. Companionship is not just a label – it denotes the highest level of piety and morality after Prophethood. During the present times, it has become a custom to criticise the Companions we grade them as our equals (or even lower) and criticise them without any reservations. This happens when we are completely ignorant of the exalted status of Companionship; as stated earlier, it denotes the acme of human excellence. The dust raised by the shoes of a Companion is more valuable in the sight of Allah than the collective sainthood of the entire Ummah. Someone asked Imam Abu Hanifah-rua about the relative status of Hadhrat Amir Muawiyah-rau and ‘Umar Bin ‘Abdul Aziz-rua. He replied that Hadhrat Muawiyah-rau was decidedly better. The questioner was amazed and submitted that ‘Umar Bin ‘Abdul Aziz-rua was a Tab’a Tab’i and the holy Prophet-saw had prophesied that he would be the best person of his time in the whole World. The Imam-rua replied, “Millions of such ‘Umar Bin ‘Abdul Aziz-rua can be sacrificed for the dust gathered in the nostrils of the horse which Hadhrat Muawiyah-rau rode while in the company of the holy Prophet-saw – he was a Companion!”
Unquestioned adherence to the holy Prophet-saw is obligatory for the believers. His blessed company purified the beliefs and conduct of his followers to the highest conceivable level. It is the singular distinction of his Companions that their adherence has been made obligatory for the entire humanity for all times to come. And the first to lead the way, of the Muhajirin and the Ansar and those who followed them in goodness – 9:100. There are only two groups in Islam – the group of the Companions and of those who followed them in earnest – there is no third group. The point which merits consideration is that the Companions were neither Prophets, nor they were innocent – then why have they received so much importance? That is because they had completely submitted themselves before the holy Prophet-saw – they represented his will and pleasure. Once someone asked the holy Prophet-saw, “After all, they are human beings and they would interpret your instructions according to their different levels of intellect. What should be done in case of their difference of opinion?” The holy Prophet-saw replied, “Follow any one (of them) and you would be rightly guided.” That is, even with different opinions they would follow the truth and would not go astray and their adherence would lead you to eternal salvation. Their mutual difference is a blessing which provides various courses for the remainders to follow – anyone can adopt the course of his choice.
After the Battle of the Trench, the holy Prophet-saw was commanded to attend to Bani Quraizah. The Companions had not yet laid down their arms when the holy Prophet-saw ordered them to offer their ‘Asar (afternoon) prayers at the location of this tribe. They were hurrying towards their destination which was about six or seven miles away when the prayer time came. Some opined that the prayers should not be delayed because the holy Prophet-saw had only desired them to reach their destination immediately. The other group maintained that the holy Prophet-sawhad explicitly ordered them to offer their prayers at the destination and that they would obey him in letter and spirit even if it delayed their prayers; each group acted according to its interpretation. Upon reaching the destination, the issue was placed before the holy Prophet-saw, he ruled that both groups had acted correctly. Their illuminated hearts were brim with sincerity for Allah and His Messenger-saw; therefore, their actions were not governed by worldly motives or personal impulses. The blessed company of the holy Prophet-saw had granted them this honour. The Quran has described their condition in a strange manner: So that their flesh and their hearts soften at Allah’s reminder – 39:23. It means that each cell of their bodies, from the outermost skin to the innermost compartment of the heart, was constantly engaged in His remembrance. This blessing was naturally available, distributed and acquired in the company of the holy Prophet-saw.
Khawajah Owais Qarni is famous for his piety, abstinence and love for the holy Prophet‑saw, who had desired that someone should meet him and requested of him to entreat Divine forgiveness for his-saw Ummah and so he directed Hadhrat ‘Umar Faruq-rau to convey his greetings to him. It was a great honour for Owais Qarni and in pursuance of the orders of the holy Prophet-saw, Hadhrat ‘Umar-rau searched for and met him. But despite this singular honour and his special relationship with the holy Prophet-saw, he could not become a Companion because he was unable to physically meet the holy Prophet-saw. These blessings did not fade during the Companions’ times, anybody who accepted Islam and came to them became a Tab’i. The Taba’in also enjoy a distinguished status within the Ummah. Then, all those who found their company became Tab’a Taba’in. Companionship was the greatest blessing but it was distributed without any discrimination. Everybody who accepted Islam and came to the holy Prophet-saw became a Companion; his further attainments depended on his subsequent endeavour and effort but they all commonly shared the title of Companionship. Again there was no precondition to become Tab’i except to attend the august company of a Companion. Similarly the Tab’a Taba’in had only to go to a Taba’i to acquire this status.
Every Muslim is blessed with a heart that can perform Zikr(Remembrance). The Quran and the holy Prophet-saw have repeatedly exhorted the believers to keep performing Zikr (Remembrance) . The Quran has enjoined Zikr (Remembrance) alongside every worship like Salah, Hajj and Jihad. The holy Prophet was himself commanded, “So remember the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself with a complete devotion.” – 73:8. This blessing was similarly distributed down through the ages. Some religious scholars devoted their lives for Tafsir (interpretation of the Quran), some dedicated themselves for Hadith and some others attained excellence in Fiqh (jurisprudence). But despite their diverse fields, all scholars of Tafsir, Hadith and Fiqh used to perform Zikr (Remembrance) and had acquired this blessing. If you look back only fifty years, you would discover that every religious scholar, after completing his education, went to some spiritual master to learn Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . It was only after acquiring this blessing that he set out for religious service. This has been their common practice, without exception. The objection that Zikr (Remembrance) is not necessary is the product of our time only. In reality, the life of the Qalb(Heart) is dependent upon Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) , “Verily, in Allah’s remembrance do hearts find rest.” – 13:28. This Divine Verse asserts that the hearts can find peace only in Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) and nowhere else. The holy Prophet-saw has said that the best provision is the one which just suffices, where one neither borrows nor accumulates and it is sufficient for his needs; and the best Zikr (Remembrance) is the hidden Zikr (Remembrance) and that which illuminates the heart. “There is a cleanser for everything and the cleanser for the heart is Allah’s Zikr”, he-saw is reported to have said.
Religious scholars have spent their lives in the company of those whose hearts performed Zikr (Remembrance) . They ardently endeavoured to absorb these lights in their own hearts and subsequently distributed them to other Muslims, that was the beginning of Shaikhdom in our religion. Most of the present day concepts which ascribe worldly powers to a Shaikh (spiritual guide) are outrightly false. The belief that anyone without a Shaikh would be subjected to distress and affliction is equally unfounded. A Shaikh is also a human being and also undergoes worldly trials and tribulations. How can he alleviate the miseries of others? A real Peer (Shaikh/spiritual guide) is the one who strives to acquire this light of the heart from an erudite spiritual guide and spends his life in total submission to Allah according to the Sunnah of the holy Prophet-saw. Allah grants him the strength to illuminate the hearts of those who come to seek his spiritual attention, such a seeker is called a Mureed(Spiritual Seeker) and the spiritual mentor is known as a Peer (Shaikh)(Spiritual Teacher). If there is no transfer of blessings, then this relationship is unnecessary and of no consequence whatsoever.
In the present time, Jews, Hindus and even atheists, who do not believe in Allah and His Prophet-saw rule countries, possess wealth and property. If everyone else can have all these worldly facilities and comforts, why can’t a Muslim get his basic provisions of life without a Peer? Allah Himself has proportioned the worldly provisions of everyone and a Peer has absolutely no say in this matter. If someone adopts virtue, Allah arranges his provisions from lawful and permitted means; but if some choose to adopt a sinful life, He directs his provisions through unlawful and wrong ways. But in both cases, each person gets only that which has already been divinely destined for him.
Hadhrat Ali-rau used to visit different areas during his caliphate. One day he was passing through a village when the time for ‘Asar (afternoon) prayers drew near. He arrived at the mosque slightly late, when people were coming out after offering their prayers, so he requested a passer-by to hold his mule so that he could offer his prayers in the mosque. While coming out, he decided to pay two dirhams to the man for this service, but when he came out he found the man missing along with the reins of his mule. He walked to the market to buy another set of reins, where he found the reins of his mule at a shop. “Would you sell them?” he asked the shopkeeper. “Of course, yes!” was his reply. Hadhrat Ali asked, “For how much?” The shopkeeper said, “For two dirhams.” After he purchased the reins, he asked the shopkeeper wherefrom he had procured them. “A man has just sold them to me for one dirham and I sold them to you for two.” Hadhrat Ali-rau said to himself, “I had decided to pay two dirhams to the wretched thief but he chose the wrong way and still got one. This shopkeeper told the truth and earned a lawful profit of one dirham.”
If someone decides to change the course of his life, his decision cannot increase his divinely ordained provisions, only the means of its acquisition are modified according to his new course – he still gets only that which has already been destined for him. A Peer or a religious scholar has simply no say in this matter. A Peer is the one whose own heart is illuminated and he can illuminate the hearts of others. The indication of an illuminated heart is the reformation of one’s belief and conduct and not the mere observation of Divine lights. If the heart rejects unsound belief and conduct, it has come alive and has started doing Zikr (Remembrance) ; otherwise it is still dead. The association with such a Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher) is a sheer waste of time, one should immediately search for another Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher) who is capable of reviving his heart. The speech and conduct of a Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher) should not be oriented towards self exaltation but towards acquisition of Divine Pleasure. He should not covet others’ riches but should earn his sustenance through lawful means. His conduct should corroborate his firm belief in the Omnipresence of Allah. His countenance should reflect Divine Lights and when he bows his head before his Rabb(Lord), the earth should quake with the grandeur of Divine Refulgence. If these blessings are available, this institution of Shaikhdom is of immense value.
The Gracious Lord has given complete freedom of choice in the method of Zikr (Remembrance) , “Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting and reclining.” – 3:191, “And remember your Lord when you forget.” – 18:24. Various Mashaikh(Spiritual Teachers) have adopted different methods of Zikr (Remembrance) for the common aim of illuminating the hearts; there may be many means of transport to reach the same city. Similarly, all these different methods aim at acquiring the Prophetic blessings that were transferred from one bosom to the other and can only be acquired in the company of their custodians. However, this freedom can be exercised within the limits prescribed by the holy Prophet-saw. The adoption of any method prohibited by the Shari‘ah would be incorrect under any pretext.
Allah has defined the form and frequency of all obligatory worship. The rak‘at (cycles) of Salah, various recitals therein and the timings of each Salah have all been laid down. Similarly, all details about Hajj and Saum have also been defined. Allah has however, not defined any form and frequency for His Zikr (Remembrance) . There is neither any pre condition nor any time limitation, even ritual purity or cleanliness of garments is not obligatory. It is not mandatory to perform Zikr (Remembrance) in the mosque, although ritual purity and the holy atmosphere of the mosque would definitely attract more blessings. Zikr (Remembrance) must continue at all times, under all circumstances and conditions. It must continue in mosque, in market, standing, sitting or reclining.
However, it is not possible to perform this continuous, uninterrupted Zikr (Remembrance) with the tongue, that is, orally. Every conversation would interrupt Zikr (Remembrance) and finally, during sleep, all organs would become listless and the tongue would also be quiet. But, if someone receives the attention that was distributed in the company of the holy Prophet-saw, it would saturate his heart with Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . Every beat of his heart would reverberate with Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) and his every breath would be modulated with His Name. Each drop of his blood would carry His blessings to every part of the body, So that their flesh and their hearts soften at Allah’s reminder – 39:23. The condition of continuous and frequent Zikr (Remembrance) can be met only in the company of an accomplished Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher) when his attention initiates Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) in every cell of the body. This is our primary need because only this attention can revive our hearts, a live heart observes Divine Splendour according to its capacity. This observation can only be experienced – it cannot be described, words fail to translate these indefinable feelings.
My brother, I am also a simple, delinquent person of the present time – may Allah forgive me and all of us! He blessed me to remain in the company of His Aulia (sing – Wali: lit. friends) for thirty years and I declare that while sitting in the mosque, I had never thought of becoming a Shaikh – I have always been afraid of this appointment. I had gone there for my own reformation but was assigned the responsibility to teach others, it is no favour but my duty to convey this blessing to you. Now, if someone accepts this, it is his sweet pleasure and if someone rejects this, it is his own choice. You have seen policemen on duty in the markets. People abuse them, scorn them and at times pelt them with stones and throw empty bottles at them. Do they run away? Of course not, because that is their duty.
Similarly this is my duty which I must perform under all circumstances. People insult me – some pass verdicts; once I was driven out of a mosque for teaching Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) I do not have to care about the reaction of people nor do I have any expectations from anyone. I repose all my hopes and expectations in my Lord Who has assigned me this duty. I have learnt His name and He has so blessed me, that if you remain with me for a while and perform His Zikr (Remembrance) , you would also get these blessings – this is nothing difficult. It is incorrect to believe that only the son of a Peer can become a Peer – there is no truth in it. Every Muslim is a Shaikh and a Wali(Friend of Divine Being). If every Muslim could become a Companion, why should then Wilayah(Friendhsip with Divine Being) be the lot of a chosen few? There is no discrimination between male and female in this respect; Companionship, the highest title after Prophethood, was also achieved by men and women alike. While mentioning laudable human attributes in the Quran, the Gracious Lord concludes, And the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember Allah much. Here females have been bracketed with males because both are members of the same human race. Therefore, in our Order, every member is permitted to teach Zikr (Remembrance) to the ladies in his house, you can try it yourself. Whenever you give spiritual attention to your mother, sisters, wife or daughters during Zikr (Remembrance) , the hearts of all of them will be illuminated. Life becomes most pleasurable when the entire family, including all of the men, women and children, perform Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . At that moment even the walls, stones and bricks resound with His Name. The holy Prophet-saw has said that such houses appear like stars to the dwellers of the Heavens.
This is a blessing over which you have a claim, you have a share in it and it is your basic requirement as well. You should learn it and adopt it, for the sake of Allah, for the Hereafter and for attaining the good pleasure of the holy Prophet-saw – may Allah bless you! May He grant us His Zikr (Remembrance) during this life, death and Hereafter! May He raise us with His Zikr (Remembrance) on the Day of Resurrection and include us in the ranks of His slaves! Ameen!
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.
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!