Friday, April 23, 2010


From the Layman’s Desk-7: Miracles –Islamic perspective in brief: Part 3.

In the name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful.

Tasawwuf is not new to Islam:

We need to explain a few more things before we come to the "Miracles".  We noted earlier that Deen consists of Islam, Iman and Ihsan. We further noted that Ihsan is what came to be known later as Tasawwuf.  In other words, the reality of Tasawwuf existed during the time of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam). Those who say that it is borrowed from other discipline simply want to mislead the Muslims.  In the early period of Islam, the followers of Tasawwuf or Sufism were known as Muqarrabin (favourits of Allah) Sabirin (patient ones), Abrar (the virtuous), Zuhhad (the pious), Awliya-Allah (Friends of Allah), Siddiqun (Truthful) which were all the Quranic terms. Therefore, absence of the word “Tasawwuf” or “Sufi” does not indicate that the reality was not there. In fact, the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) was the first Sufi who used to retire to Ghaare Hira for Dhikr Allah. During the early years of his ministry forty-five men of Makkah joined as many others of Madinah the Radiant, took an oath of fidelity to the doctrines of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) and formed a fraternity, engaging themselves in devotion, renouncing the active life of the world and engaging themselves in prayers and meditation. They occupied the verandah of the Masjid and came to be known as the Ahle Suffa, whence came the word “Sufi”.  Earliest mention of those words has been made by Hasan Basri ® (d.110 A.H.) and by Sufyan al-Thawri the Islamic scholar, jurist, Hafiz who learnt various shades of meaning of 'Riya' (Ostentation) from a Sufi.   

The Sufis have also adopted themselves to the pattern of Hazrat Abu Bakr ® in stripping themselves of worldly things; to Hazrat Umar ® in wearing of the patched robe or Muraqqa and rigorously performing religious duties; to Hazrat Uthman ® in resigning their affairs to Allah, sincerity of devotion and sacrificing life and property; to Hazrat Ali ® in endurance of affliction, and in respect to the truth of outward expressions and subtleties of inward meanings, severance of all things from the heart except the remembrance of Allah who keeps his servants in whatever state He wills, and consideration of Divine Providence.

Imam Muhammed Mathum al-Faruqi ® has given us details on the subject in the 59th letter of the second volume of his Maktubat. According to him, all the paths of tasawwuf come from Rasulullah (sall-allahu alaihi wasallam). The superiors of tasawwuf have attained the ma’arif emanating from the blessed heart of Rasulullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) through their Guides in every century. In fact all the external and the internal (spiritual) perfections were attained through the Holy Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam). The external form of command and prohibition was transmitted by the learned scholars of the four schools of thoughts. The hidden knowledge relating to the heart and soul were conducted by the Sufis. Indeed the terms fana’, baqa’, jadhba, suluk and sair-i ila’llah, which were used for attainments on the way of tasawwuf, were first used by the great leaders of tasawwuf.

Imam-e-Rabbani points out that it  is written in the Sahih of al-Bukhari that Abu Huraira (radi-Allahu ta’ala ’anh) said:

‘I filled two cups from Rasulullah (sallallahu ’alaihi wasallam). I have explained the contents of one of them. You would kill me if I disclosed the other.’

{Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 121: where” two cups” are sometimes translated as “two kinds” or as G.F. Haddad  recommends: “Two vessels”. }

Those who don’t believe in Tasawwuf, the above hadith has been the butt of frequent criticism. But it is there in Sahih Bukhari unless it has been expunged.   For brevity's sake, I don't intend to go into background of this hadith shareef.   

It is also written in the Sahih of al-Bukhari that when ’Umar ® died, his son ’Abdullah ® said that nine-tenths of knowledge had died and, seeing that the listeners were confused, added that he meant not the knowledge of fiqh (jurisprudence) but the knowledge of knowing Allah (Gnosis).

Sufi terminologies such as Tawajjuh (thinking deeply) of Allah Most High, the dhikrs of nafi (negation) and ithbat (affirmation) and muraqaba (meditation) existed during the time of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) and that of as-Sahabat al-kiram ® . Although the above terms had not been heard from the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) but he did have the above states {ahwal (pl. of hal, spiritual state)}.

According to Shah Waliyulla Dehelvi, the four periods of mysticism were to the liking of Allah. During the first and the second century of Islam, the outcome of mysticism and the sum-total of the religion was Ihsan. The second began with Junaid Baghdadi ® when emphasis was put on the acquisition of attributes, i.e ‘Ta’alluq Billah’ (attachment with Allah). The third began with Shaykh Abu Sa’id Fazlullah Ibn abi’l Khayr of Mayhana and with Abu’l Hasan Kharqani ® when on crossing the bar of action the mystics acquired the degree of ‘ Jadhb’ (Absorption). The fourth period began with ibn al-Arabi when other relevant problems of mysticism were discussed (such as “Wahdat al-Wajud or Unity of Being).

In passing it may be noted that later when Ahmad Sirhind Mujaddid Alf Sani confronted the Unity of Being with his own, Unity of Witnessing, (Wahdat al-Shuhud) it was Hazrat Shah Waliullah Dehelvi who brought about the reconciliation between the two doctrines (Maktoob-i-Madani; Lamhaat, Lamha 21).   Care must be taken to remember that the differences, if any, were not theological ones  as between Asharism and Mutazilaism,  but merely "Irfani" (Gnostic) ones.  Earlier it was Imam Ghazali (d.1111 c..) who brought about the reconciliation between the theological Islam and the mystic or sufistic Islam where it was necessary to get rid of evil dispositions, vile qualities and the appetites of the flesh. Then it was for the heart to be cleared of all except Allah - and this could be done by Dhikr-Allah. This could not be acquired by learning but by inward transformation and actual experiencing. That was why Imam Ghazali detached himself from worldly ties and turned wholly to Allah. But that’s another subject. 

That brings us to the importance of loving Awliya-Allah. We have never seen the Awliya-Allah of the past but we do love them for the sake of Allah since they are the beloved of Allah.


We have to remember that Awliya-Allah have strived to help the Ummah of our beloved Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam). Everyone Muslim knows that the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) has clearly indicated that on the Day of Resurrection, Hazrat Uwais al-Qarni ® would intercede for as many people of the Ummah as there were the sheep of Rabia and Muzzer tribe. Before the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) assumed the veil from this material world, he had also asked Hazrat Umar ® and Hazrat Ali ® to seek him and give him his mantle and also ask him to pray to Allah for forgiveness of both of them – which they did. Generally, such is the status of Awliya-Allah.

Hazrat Shaykh Muhiyuddeen Abdul Qadir Jilani Ghousul Azam ® once said that if Allah grants him a station of honour in His sight, he would obtain from his Creator a covenant on behalf of his disciples, to be binding till the Day of Qiyamah, that none of them would die without being in a state of repentance, and that he would be the Surety for them in this regard.

Hazrat Bayazid Bistami ® too states that he had made a resolve to pray for all the creatures. However, then a thought came to him that the station of intercession belongs to the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam). So he observed his manner. He tells us that then he heard a voice saying, because of this one observance of good manners, I have exalted your name so that until the Resurrection, men shall call you the Sultan of the Gnostics.

Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti ® too prayed for the salavation of followers till the Day of Qiyamah (Last Day) and obtained it while he was absorbed in prayers at the Ka’ba shareef in 583 A.H.

Without purifying our heart, it is very difficult to receive “Faiz” from Awliya-Allah. Once when someone asked Hazrat Bayazid Bistami ® the reason why the former had not gained spiritually despite remaining in his company for so long, the Shaykh replied: “It’s because of your ‘Nafs’ (carnal self) which is not under your control. You do not regard honour the same as disgrace. Consider both of them equal.”

There was a person whose mother had been telling him off and on to offer supererogatory prayers (‘nawaafil’) and sit in the company of Bayazid Bistami ®. Like many of us today, he thought that if he has at all to offer additional prayers or do some extra good deeds, why not do it on our own and alone! The answer holds good today as it was then. The Faiz (Divine Effusion) of Allah would come to that person in his individual capacity which is not much compared to that he would get by sitting in the company of Awliya-Allah who have the ‘Qurb” (nearness) of Allah.

Allah has promised us that He will accept the prayers of those whom he Loves. We know that Messengers of Allah, Prophets, Siddiqeen (the Truthful), Shohda (Martyrs), Awliya-Allah (Friends of Allah) and the Saliheen (the Pious and Righteous people) are loved by Allah. “Faiz” and “Marifa” have been over-flowing from Hazrat Imam Jafar Sadiq to the great Sufi Masters and Awliya through Hazrat Abu Bakr ® and to those of other Orders (Silsilas) through Hazrat Ali ®.

A man asked Bayazid, "Show me a deed by which I will approach my Lord." He said, "Love the friends of Allah in order that they will love you. Love his saints until they love you. Because Allah looks at the hearts of His saints and He will see your name engraved in the heart of His saints and He will forgive you." For this reason, the Naqshbandi followers have been elevated by their love for their shaikhs. This love lifts them to a station of continuous pleasure and continuous presence in the heart of their beloved.

In his first letter, Shaykh Ahmad al-Badawi ® has indicated that “no one who sits with them (i.e. the Awliya) is wretched,”  as reported in the Sahih.  He quotes a hadith from Sahih Bukhari regarding the evidence against turning away from sitting with them: “Shall I tell you about the three men? One of them took himself to Allah and Allah took him in. The other was shy, so Allah was shy with him. And the other turned away, so Allah turned away from him.” Awliya-Allah are the endless treasure trove, impenetrable fortress, “the universal interspace” and the overflowing sea.

Therefore, we need to seek the company of such emancipated souls. No less a person than Hazrat Fariduddin Masood Ganj-e-Shakhar ® who is known in the sub-continent of India and Pakistan as Baba Farid and is the third Peer-O-Murshid in line of the Chishtiya Silsila, himself used to set out to meet saints, i.e. before he met Hazrat Qutub-ud-din Bhaktiyar Kaki.

“Uth Farida gaun kar duniyaa bekhan jay,
Mat koyee bakshaa milanwajay tuu bhee bakshaa jay”

(Get up O Farid and roam about the world/Maybe in thy wandering ye may meet some emancipated soul, receive his blessings and achieve deliverance.)

Hazrat Baba Farid ® has narrated that a there was a sinful young man who died in Multan. It was revealed in a dream that the young man had been pardoned by Allah for the reason that one day when Hazrat Khwaja Baha-ul-aq Zakarriya Multani was taking a walk, the young man had kissed his hand with utmost respect. It was because of this gesture that he had been pardoned.

On the subject of Loving of Awliya-Allah, this is especially applicable to loving the Ahle Bayt or People of the House of Prophet (sallal laahu alahi wassallam).  According to the prophetic traditions, not loving Hazrat Ali (R) is a sign of a hypocrite (Munafiq) and offending Hazrat Fatimah (R) is offending the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) whose dear daughter she is.  The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) has categorically shown his love for Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain (may Allah be pleased with them both).    According to a Sahih Hadith in Tirmidhi, the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) has said: "When I am loved, then my family members whom I love, should also be loved." 

Loving someone means having affinity with that person and having a strong affection for that person, and accepting the deeds and beliefs of that person.  This should not be confused with the words: "although I have not acted like them.." which appears in Sahih Muslim, in a hadith reported by Anas bin Maalik in addition to the one, that when a person told the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) that "I have made no significant preparation with prayer and fasting and charity, but I however love Allah and His Messenger,' thereupon the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) said: "you would be along with the one whom you love."   These words underline that although I do not possess their strength of belief, their actions, their piety and their powerful proximity to Allah with their devotions, yet with all my faults and shortcoming in controlling my 'Nafs' (carnal soul or the lower self) and striving to do those deeds, I do love them while admitting that I have not acted like them.  Allah tells us: Whoso obeyeth Allah and the messenger, they are with those unto whom Allah hath shown favour, of the prophets and the saints and the martyrs and the righteous. The best of company are they! (Qur'an 4:69).  In fact that this company begins from the Barzakh itself is also proven from the prophetic traditions.  This will definitely bring out the paramount importance of loving those whom Allah has shown His favours though we may not to anything as far as their rank with Allah goes, or we may not even belong to their 'Jamaat', yet by loving them we can expect to be in their august company right after leaving this transitory world.  As Allah says in the next verse: That is bounty from Allah (Qur'an: 4:70).  What a bounty it is! As it has been said “Zikr-ul-Anbiah Ibada tun Wa Zikr-ul-Auliya Kafara tun” i.e. Discussing about the Prophets of Allah is a form of Ibaadah, and discussing the Awliya is atonement. Mercy of Allah descends when His Awliya are discussed.

To continue, Insha Allah….


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