Sunday, August 28, 2011


From the Layman’s Desk-14.
Continued-  Part 18.  

The Awliya-Allah:

[Besides visiting the Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam)and other Anbiya (a.s.), the Sahaba and the martyrs, the Muslim majority also visit the graves of the Awliya-Allah.  Hence this brief discussion here.]      
Those whom Allah has particularly graced are defined as "the Prophets, the Siddiqs, the Shuhada', and the Righteous" (Qur’an 4:69)  in that order.    Allah also mentions in the Holy Qur’an: “Behold! verily on the friends of Allah (i.e. Awliya Allah)  there is no fear, nor shall they grieve;[10:62].

This word, “Awliya” appears in the Holy Quran over 200 times with different forms in different context and also means “Patronage, ”Protection,” and even “Intimacy”. The Holy Qur’an also categorises the believers as ‘Muqarrabin’ (i.e. those brought near or favourties of Allah), Sabireen (Patient Ones), Muttaqoon (God-conscious) Abrar (the Virtuous), Zuhhad (the Pious ones), Siddiqun (the Truthful ones), Saalihoon (the Pious Ones), Qanitoon (The Obedient Ones), Mohsinoon (The Doer of Good),  Zakiroon (Those who remember Allah much),  Muminoon (the Believers),  besides using the word Awliya-Allah.  These qualities are found in the Awliya-Allah. Scholars tell us that an Arabic word has a number of meaning, but for simplicity, let’s restrict ourselves to the meaning of “Awliya” as the plural of “Wali” or Friend of God or Saint, and the word Wali being derived from “Wilaya” which means nearness or closeness (‘Qurb’) or Sainthood. All the Awliya Allah belong to the Ahl as-Sunnah wal Jama’at, and anyone belonging to any other sect cannot be Awliya because they have beliefs contrary to the teachings of Sayyadina Rasoolallah [sal Allahu alayhi wasallam].  This is a speciality of those who have travelled on the path of Tasawwuf, and attained nearness to Allah.  A tradition reported in Musnad of al-Bazzaaz, with a fair (Hasan) chain on the authority of Anas ®, which is also cited by Sakhawi, says that the Prophet [sal Allahu alayhi wasallam] said: Allah has servants who know (the truth about people) through reading the signs (tawassum).  The above hadith has been reported by others too.  
The Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wassallam) too spoke of these blessed personalities and even used the term “Abdal” (which is the plural of the word “Badal” and means “Substitutes”.  They are referred to as 'Substitutes' since, whenever one of them dies, Allah immediately substitues him with another.)  Some hadiths mention that there will always exist 40 such persons on earth, each of whom is blessed like Ibrahim (a.s.).  Allah (swt) redeems His human servants from disasters for their sake. They are called Abdal. They do not attain to that degree by performing salaah, fasting, or giving zakaah.” Ibn Mas’ud ®  asked, “Ya Rasoolallah [sal Allahu alayhi wasallam]  by what means do they attain that degree?”  “They attain it by being generous, and by advising muslims,” said the Beloved Prophet [sal Allahu alayhi wasallam].   Hadhrat Ali (ra) once warned his followers not to curse the people of Damascus with whom they were at war, saying:  'Do not curse the people of Sham (Damascus and surrounding areas), for among them are the Abdal through whom Allah sustains you, bestows His mercy upon you and makes the rains fall upon you.'  Then there hadiths stating that there are  certain worshippers of Allah who are neither prophets nor martyrs but the prophets and martyrs will envy them on the Day of Judgment  and how they will also intercede with Allah on the Day of Judgment and carry thousands of Muslims to Paradise.   They (the people) asked: Tell us, Apostle of Allah,who are they? He replied: They are people who love one another for the spirit of Allah (i.e. the Qur'an), without having any mutual kinship and giving property to one. I swear by Allah,their faces will glow and they will be (sitting) in (pulpits of) light.  They will have no fear (on the Day) when the people will have fear,and they will not grieve when the people will grieve.  He then recited the following Qur'anic verse: "Behold ! Verily for the friends of Allah there is no fear,nor shall they grieve." [10:62].
As for the hierarchy of the saints such as Aqtab, Nuqaba, Awtad, Akhyar, Abrar, Abdal and so on, Shaykh Gibril F. Haddad informs us: However, the terms "ghawth", "qutb" and the like to mean individuals among the Awliya' may have been devised as a convention among later scholars (see, for example, the treatises by al-Suyuti in al-Hawi lil-Fatawi and Ibn `Abidin in his Rasa'il) and are not binding upon the Muslims as terminology. As the scholars say, "la mushahata fil-mustalah," meaning: "Don't nag about how we call things."  Be that as it may, we need to remember that although all the Awliya-Allah are equal as far as Wilayah is concerned, they differ as far as status is concerned.
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an; And He embraces (yatawalla) the pious (salihin).” [al-A’raf, v.166]. Hence a Wali is one whom Allah has embraced and taken him under his care thereby protecting him from falling into sin.  Islamic scholars therefore say: The condition of a Nabi is to be sinless (ma’sum) and of a wali is to be protected (mahfudh) from sin. This also means a Wali observes the rights owed to Allah (swt) in all circumstances whether good or bad, showing complete respect to the Shariah because authentic Tasawwuf never overlooks it. In a hadith the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him)reported that Allah, the Most High, said, " There is nothing better (as a means) for my slave to come closer to me than continuous observance of all I have made obligatory (ma iftaradtu ‘alayhi) on him". The earlier ‘ulama even went to extent of including, in addition to the obligations (fards), all the sunnah’s of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam)and even all the aadaab of the Shari’ah, the non-observance of the latter even prompted Hadhrat Ba Yazid Bistami (reh.) to ignore a man who was supposed to be a Wali on the ground that he spat in the Mosque.  In the words of this great Awliya:  "This man cannot be trusted with a single adab of the aadaab of the Shari’ah, so how can he be trusted with the secrets of Allah! "
Ibn al-Jawzi said: “The Friends of Allah and the Righteous are the very purpose of all that exists (al-awliya wa al-salihun hum al-maqsud min al-kawn), they are those who learned and practised with the reality of knowledge... Those who practise what they know, do with little in the world, seek the next world, remain ready to leave from one to the other with wakeful eyes and good provision, as opposed to those renowned purely for their knowledge.” [Ibn al-Jawzi's, Sifat al-safwa (Beirut ed. 1989/1409) p. 13, 17.]

Generally, unless one possess the belief of the Ahl as-Sunnat and obeys Prophet (sallal laahu ‘alaihi wassallam) loving him, his Noble Companions, and his progeny thoroughly as well as loving his inheritors that is the righteous ‘ulema and Awliya-Allah, one cannot derive the ‘Faid’ and ‘Marifa’ from them.  

Awliya Allah are alive in Life after death and they can see, listen, talk and reply to us when we visit their graves.  We have already noted the following Qur’anic verses before too:
  • Think not of those, who are martyred in the way of Allah, as dead. No, they are living with their Lord and are provided with food’. (Aal-e-Imran – 169).
  • Those who die in the way of Allah (swt), do not call them as dead. They are alive, but you do not understand it’. (Al-Baqara – 154).
It is a known fact that the bodies of Prophets, Sahabah and Awliya Allah remain fresh and intact in their Graves.  The Literalists make the above two verses specific to the martyrs who died on the battle-fields whereas it is universally known that the definition of “Martyrs” in Islam has a wide meaning which we need not discuss here except the fact that the Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam has termed “Tazkia Nafs” as the Greater Jihad, and fighting the enemy on the battle-field as the Lesser Jihad.  If that is so then we can deduce the fact that if those who fight the smaller battle are alive, then indubitably those who fight the greater battle are also alive  because every breath of an Arif (one who has recognized his Creator) is a martyr.” The histories of Awliya Allah and the Shaykhs of Ihsan who are the righteous Ulema and inheritors of Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam)show that not only they fought with their Nafs but also fought with their adversaries among the Humans and Jinns/Devils and were responsible for the propagation of Islam to remote corners of the civilized world. Hence all pious Muslims and Awliya-Allah are included within the meaning of those two Quranic verses. 
Imam al-Ghazali says in Ihya al Uloom Vol. IV: “Death cannot destroy the soul, which is the place of Allah’s Ma’rifat, because it is something spiritual.  Death causes the change of the condition of soul, and relieves it from the prison of it’s bodily cage.  It does not end as Allah says “Do not even think of those who are martyred in the way of Allah as dead, BUT THEY ARE ALIVE near their lord and given provision.  They are joyous of what Allah bestowed upon them of his favour and they give good news to those who have not as yet reached them.”  (Surah Al-Imraan, Verse 170).”

Muhaddith Zakariyah al-Kandhalwi says in the book, Mashaikh-e-Chist: Haji Imdadullah mentioned: “…The Fakir does not die. He is simply transformed from one abode to another. The same benefit which was received from the Fakir’s physical life will be acquired from his grave.” (Eng.translation,p.211)

Allama Shams ad-din ibn an-Nuaym (rah.), a Hanafi scholar, wrote in Kitab ar-ruh, 'Souls may be in a different state other than when they are in their bodies. The souls of awliya' are at Rafiq al-ala and also have a relation with their dead bodies. If a person visits such a wali's grave and greets him, his soul at Rafiq al-ala anwers that person.' This is also noted in al-Imam as-Suyuti's Kitab al-Munjali. All these proofs show that awliya' have powerful tasarruf (disposal) and influence after their death in a way which we may not know.  Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah in his Kitab ar-Ruh writes, "What we have written here is compatible with the Tafseers by some Mufassirs of the fifth Ayat of Surah an-Nazi'at, for example, interpretation of al Baidawi : 'The soul of a Wali goes to the world of Angels when he departs from the body. Then he goes to wander in Paradise's gardens. He keeps a relation with his body, too, and influences it.'"  Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlvi states: "The souls of Awliya-Allah gain more power and spirituality after their death"  (Fatawa Azizia, Vol 2, Page 102).  

The ‘Roohaaniyat’ (spirituality) of Awliya is more powerful than their ‘Jismaaniyah’ (physical existence) and for this reason they can be seen in different places at the same time.  In other words, once the soul acquires the power of establishing  connection with its original position in ‘Aalam-i-Amr’ (the World of Directive Energy), one can appear at different locations at the same time.  According to Muhammad Mathum as-Sirhindi (reh.): “The souls of the awliya' who have died are sometimes seen in their [human figures or] copies in 'alam al-mithal. Because, everything in the world has a copy in 'alam al-mithal. Even more, spiritual, non-material things, too, have copies there. 'Alam al-mithal does not consist of imaginary things. It is an 'alam that exists as this visible, material 'alam does. The souls of awliya' sometimes are seen in the figures of their own bodies and sometimes, without bodies or figures, meet and talk with people's souls….The souls of awliya' (rahimahum-Allahu ta'ala) and pious believers come to their graves and visit their bodies. [Letter no.182, vol.1 Maktubat]

Even whilst living in this world, Awliya-Allah have been known to have been seen at different locations within a short span of time  and this has been admitted even by the opponents since Tayy al-Musaafa is well-established and not disputed.  Ali Ajhuri (d. 1176/1762), an eminent Maaliki scholar from Egypt said:  “A living Wali is like a sword in its scabbard.  After his death, his influence becomes stronger in the manner of a sword that is out of  its scabbard.”  This is quoted by Abu Ali Sanji in Noor al-Hidaaya. 
Abu Dawud narrates (in Kitab al-Jana'iz) that Aisha (R) said that when al-Najashi (the pious king, Negus,  of Abyssinia) had passed away, the Sahaba reported that there was Light emanating from his grave (yura ala Qabrihi Nur).  He was not even a Sahabi but it was believed that he was a Wali.  So, if the Sahaba believed that the Awliya can have "Nur" and blessings at their graves, it does not matter what any 21st century ignorant scholar says!  
An early Ahl-i Hadith scholar, Wahidduzaman Hyderabadi, is said to have believed in the intercession of holy men, both living as well as dead, as well as in the capacity of dead saints to listen to people’s requests. The doyen of the early Ahl-i Hadith, Siddiq Hasan Khan Bhopali (d.1890 c.e.), is said to have been convinced of a mystical light (noor) constantly emanating from his father’s grave. 

Visiting Awliya-Allah:
In our previous posts, we already gave details of the Holy Prophet's (sal Allahu alayhi wassallam) visits to the Jannatul Baqi and the graves of Martyrs at Uhud as well as the grave of Ummul Momineen, Hadhrat Khadija ® at the Jannatul Ma’la.  The Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) has commanded us to visit the graves of Awliya Allah, our Shuyooks and parents as frequently as possible, at least once in a week.  It is the tradition of Imams of Fiqh, theology, Muhadditheen  and other important dignitaries of Islam.  Therefore, visiting the graves of prophets and Awliya-Allah is permissible even as it is permissible to visit the graves of ordinary Muslims. 

It is mentioned in the commentary of `Umdat al-Sālik that the soul’s  connection with the grave is never severed, and it is stronger from `Asr on Thursday until sunrise on Saturday, which is why people often visit graves on Thursday afternoon and Friday. [Shaykh Nuh Keller, Reliance of the Traveler]   It is Sunnah to recite Qur'an at the Qubur.  Sitting beside the graves of Sahabah ® and Awliya-Allah or reading Quran, or performing Salah (facing Qibla,  and not the Grave)  is Sunnah.  Moreover, if a Muslim stands in prayer near a grave, then the objective is the pleasure of Allah  and to  offer its reward as a gift to the buried person, and if the latter is among the awliya', then he is praying to Allah to let him attain his station and rank. 

Ziyarah of pious Muslims is proven in the light of Quran and Sunnah.  For example, Surah Kahf (Chapter 18 of the Holy Qur’an) describes the event of Prophet Moses (Musa a.s.) when Allah orders him to visit Awliya-Allah Khidar (a.s.) (whom some scholars regard as propet and some an angel).  This is found from the Verses 60 through 82.  Moses along with his servant then goes out in search of Khidar (a.s.) for knowledge and wisdom.  This is also mentioned in many ahadith shareef.   We should remember that each Prophet’s practice is his sunnah and Prophet’s sunnah is always admissible, permissible and rightful in the eyes of Allah (swt) that is why Allah made it a part of Quran. 
In fact, seeking association of the pious is nothing new.  The Sahaba attained to the highest degree of saintship by attending the companionship of Prophet [sal Allahu alayhi wasallam].  Later, when the Companions saw one another they used to say:  “Would you stay with me for sometime so that I may refresh my Imaan?” (Irshaad at-Taalibeen).  “Faid”, “Ma’rifa”  and “Noor” flows from the hearts of the men of Allah to the hearts of Muslims who love and remember them.  There is abundant evidence in this regard but all of them cannot be mentioned here.

Allah strictly warns all believers to keep company with them when He says: "O believers! Be wary of Allah, and keep company with the truthful!" (9:119) and He enjoins us to follow those who have turned to Him in true and complete repentence (31:15).  Imam Ghazali (d.1111 c.e.) states: "This is property of Awliya-Allah that blessings are found in their speeches, their breath, their clothes, their houses, and in the sand of their feet and at a place where he sits for a day" (Minhajul Aabideen Ma'a Sharha Sirajus Saalikin, Page 529).  Therefore, Jalaludin Rumi (Reh.) says:  “A little time spent in the presence of Awliya is more helpful than a century with Taqwa (piety)!” "Gaining spiritual reflections from Mashaikh and their attention from their life and from their graves are no doubt true". (Al-Muhannad i.e. Aqaid-e-Ulma-e-Deoband By Haji Imdadullah, Page 18.Readers should check out the original al-Muhannad). 

Imam Ibn Abideen Shaami (d.1253 A.H.) writes:  "Saints hold differing ranks in the court of Allah and to those who visit them, they benefit them through their spiritual stations" (Raddul Muhtar, vol.1 p.604).  From these writings of the Imam, he has made his belief totally clear that according to their rank, saints gift their visitors with benefit and blessings.
Allama Jaami (D.898 A.H.) writes that Shaykh Abul Harith Awlasi (Reh) said that he had heard much about Hadrat Dhunnun Misri (`alaihir rahmah war ridwan). To clarify a few queries (mas'alas), I intended to visit him. When I got to Egypt I was informed that Hadrat Dhunnun had passed away. Hearing this, I went to his grave and sat in muraqabah. A while later, I felt tired and went to sleep. I saw Hadrat Dhunnun Misri in my dream and asked him my questions. He replied to my questions and relieved my burden. (Nafhatal-Uns, p.193) By writing this incident, Allama Jaami has made clear his belief that to go to the shrines of the saints with a need is permissible. The saints help us through the power bestowed upon them by Allah.

There is Barakah at the graves of the Awliya-Allah.  Graveyards become more blessed and significant when pious people are buried there.  Visiting the graves of Awliya-Allah is the cause of “Zaahiri” and “Baatini” blessings.  It is narrated in Sharhus Sudoor by al-Imam al-Suyuti that Nabi Muhammad (s) said that when you visit the graveyard, you should read Suratul-Ikhlas, Suratut-Takathur and Suratul-Fatiha, and present the reward of the recitations as a gift to the inhabitants of the graves. Nabi Muhammad (s) explains that these souls will then make du'a for you, asking Allah (swt) to forgive you and bless you.  So this then is a command of the Nabi Muhammad (s). We learn from this Hadith that the souls of the departed have the ability to make Du'a for the living, asking Allah (swt) to help the living who are visiting them. If the inhabitant of the grave happens to be a superior soul, one benefits from the Baraka and ‘Nur’. 

According to Imam Fakhr al-Din ar-Razi:  “If a person went to the grave of someone with a strong soul, complete in essence, strong in influence, and stood there for a while, and was influenced by the soil there – the soil that the soul of the dead is attached to – then a mutual attachment occurs between these two souls due their gathering on that soil. They become like two polished mirrors reflecting each other’s rays; all that has been acquired in the visitor’s soul of proof-based knowledge, knowledge gained from effort, and high morals like submission to Aļļah, and being content with what Aļļah has predestined, reflects a light that travels to the soul of the dead host. Likewise, all the knowledge that has been acquired in the dead person’s soul of radiating and complete knowledge reflects light that goes to the soul of the living visitor. In this way this visit is a cause for the occurrence of great benefit and happiness for the soul of the visitor as well as that of the host. This is the basic reason for the religious prescription of visiting graves. It is also not unlikely that there are other secret events that are more subtle and deep than what has been mentioned here. Complete knowledge of the real nature of things is something only Aļļah has. 

According to Muhammad Thana’ullah  al-Uthmani ad-Dehalvi,  the author of Irshaad al-Taalibeen, emanation of ‘faid’  (benefits) from Awliya does not end but even increases when they die, though for a deficient person to receive such ‘faid’ sufficiently, may be seldom possible. 
Lastly, it is is to be remembered that it is evident from a hadith reported in Mishkat (p.154) that Muhammad bin Nu'man (R) narrates that Rasoolullah (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam)  said: "Whoever visits his parents' graves or visits one of their graves every Friday, then he will be forgiven and will be written as being one of the pious". If that is so, then how much more meritorious is the seeking of the company of Awliya-Allah and even visiting their graves! 

To continue, Insha Allah…

No comments:

Post a Comment