Category Archives: N. Advice

Criteria for pious company

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Imam Ghazali (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in his book Ihya al Uloom ad Deen,

‘To benefit from the company of an individual it is essential that he has the following five characteristics,
1. Being Intelligent
2. Having exemplary morals (husnekhuluq)
3. Does not openly violates the Islamic laws (fasiq)
4. Is not an innovator (bida’ti)
5. Is not greedy of the the worldly (possessions).’

Ma’arif Muslih al Ummat ra, volume 1, page 131-2

Treatment for useless speech

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A seeker wrote, ‘I have an ailment of useless talking. According to my deficient understanding the reason for this is happiness. That is, whenever I am happy and there are no worries a sort of overwhelming euphoric emotional state develops. In it I speak a lot. Doing so gives me peace. Remaining quite is not possible for me. If I force myself to keep quite I get agitated soon. It is only with talking that agitation is removed, otherwise it stays.

This (useless) talking extends to the mentioning of obscene and back-biting. Until I do this my euphoric state does not normalize.’

Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,
‘The principle of treatment is to remove the cause of illness.

For this ailment the cause is euphoric emotional state. The removal of this is the treatment. This euphoria has to be subdued by its opposite. That is, contemplation and melancholy.

The thing that leads to the strongest level of contemplation and melancholy is death and what happens after it, like events in Barzakh, Day of Judgement, The Bridge (sirat) and the punishments for sinful activities.

Therefore, at the time of emotional frenzy contemplate about these events. If (you find) this contemplation is weak then read from a book on this subject. It is preferable that (in that state) you immediately withdraw yourself into solitude and reflect (muraqaba) or read (muta’la). This will treat the condition promptly.

If due to (general) emotional weakness reflecting or reading become painful secondary to overwhelming dread then reflect on the Prophetic sayings regarding mercy and optimism. This will maintain the balance. The real happiness, which is required as per (قل بفضل الله و برحمة فبذلك فليفرحوا ) will stay and the excessive euphoria, which has to be shunned (لا تفرح ان الله لا يحب الفرحين( will be eliminated.’

Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 3, page 100-1

Treatment for complaining

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A seeker wrote,
Respected Sir, In addition to other spiritual diseases I have is this ailment that I can not endure anything against my desires. Whenever this happens I complain verbally. I try delegating the affairs to Allah (tafweez), however, not having the the determination to control and endure I complain about the perpetrator.

I have firm belief (yaqeen) that whatever happens is from Allah. Moreover, I have conviction that it is futile to be sad and complain about things that are beyond one’s control. However, due to lack of determination I can not resist.

In principle, I am patient and thankful in heart on the decree of Allah. Although there is a tiny bit of feeling that what harm would have occurred if this happened the other way (i.e. according to my desires). All praise is to Allah, criticism never develops in my heart on the matters decreed (muqadderat).

I try not to complain verbally but am unable to achieve this. Sir, please recommend treatment for this.

Hakim al Umma Maualan Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,
‘Whenever you complain verbally about someone then you must mention his/her praiseworthy attributes in public. Eventually there will be some thing to praise (in every individual).’

Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 3, page 100

Dealing with Show off

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A knowledgeable seeker wrote,
‘Showing off (riya) is a deliberate (ikhteyari) action. Therefore, it’s treatment will also be a conscious effort. For example, if in an action there is intention to show off, I will (deliberately) change my intention and make it for pleasing Allah.

If this is enough for getting rid of show off and acquiring sincerity (ikhlas) then there is no need of any further treatment.

Please, let me know if this approach is correct or not.’

Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,
‘This approach is correct and sufficient.
However, it is not enough to merely know this and be able to implement it. Most of the people of this path (sulook) are deceived in this regards.

In fact, it is essential to be consciously aware (of suspicion of show off) and be able to practice this approach for a prolonged duration until it is ingrained (in one’s morals) and a stable state (tamkeen) is achieved. And (in this state the notion of) showing off (riya) does not exist even at the level of the whispering of the lower self (Hadith-e-nafs).

This (understanding) is derived from the saying of Allah in regards to spending (in His way),”The example of those who spend their wealth to seek the pleasure of Allah and to make firm (their faith) from (the depths of) their souls is……..[2:265].” Know that the desired التثبيت is with genuine sincerity of intention.’

Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 3, page 99-100

Treatment of arrogance in belief & practice.

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A seeker wrote, ‘In addition to other blameworthy moral traits I have this one also, that is, I consider, individuals who are either secularly educated, or are scholars (ulema) that are not into (Sufi ways of) remembrance (dhikr o shugal), or are associated with innovator (bidati) Shaikh, or are associated with a Sunna following Shaikh who does not know the ways of treating (spiritual diseases) and does not instruct his disciple like you, to be deficient.
I do not have any reverence for them in my heart.
This conveys in a sense an idea of my superiority and perfection and their inferiority.

However, on reflection I find this thought without any proof in my heart that what do we know about the status of anyone’s proximity to Allah? I keep in sight my own deficiencies and contemplate about the virtuous actions they perform. Moreover, (I contemplate that) they might have qualities that I am unaware and Allah is pleased with them. And I have deficiencies that I may be questioned about.

After these reflections it can not be ascertained (about myself) that I am superior or accepted (by Allah). However, even then their reverence does not develop in my heart.

Similarly, regarding tutorials and discourses, I like my own. Those delivered by others, especially of few individuals, I find them extremely deficient.

In summary, is this arrogance (kibr)?

Please, help me in getting rid of it.’

Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,
‘This is not arrogance (kibr).

The reflection of all the possibilities (as mentioned) is enough in getting rid of arrogance. However, this is the treatment of belief (‘etiqad) of arrogance. There remains a need of treatment of practice of arrogance in addition.

The practice of arrogance is to deal with them in a derogatory manner.
It’s treatment is that, from these individuals
(1) for the people of truth (ahl-e-haqq) praise them verbally and deal with them with respect.
(2) for the people of fallacy (ahl-e-batil) do not backbite them etc. (or sabotage their other rights as fellow human being) at all, as a pastime , (or) without a genuine reason.’

Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 3, page 98

Distraction

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Hakim al Umma Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) said: If a person (who can afford better) wears cheap and low quality clothing, he … will become preoccupied with his clothes by either (continuously) thinking how low and humble he is or by thinking that his nafs (lower self) is so annihilated, he doesn’t care about dignity and honor. This is also preoccupation in thoughts (which should be avoided).

Maulana Hamood Aleem sahib db

A check list for selecting a Shaikh

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Shaikh Shah Kamal ur Rehman Qasimi (Allah preserve him) said,

My father (Shah Sufi Ghulam Mohammad Hyderabadi, Allah have mercy on him) use to say that there seems to be a connection in the worldly matter of marriage and the religious issue of baiyah. They share the important issue of selection (of the right individual).

In worldly matters the criteria for selection (of a groom or bride) include piety, financial status, (physical) beauty and perfection (of manners & behavior).

Similarly, in religion the ideal criteria for selecting (a Shaikh for baiyah) must include,
1. His state (halaat)
2. His time management (awqat)
3. The blessings (barkat) (of being associated with him)

1. His state (details include)
A. What are his instructions?
B. How close are they to the teachings of Quran and Hadith?
C. What is the state of adherence to the teaching of Quran and Hadith in principle (usooli) and peripheral issues (farui)?
D. How close is he in following the morals and practices of Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)?
E. From what silsilah did he receive the authorization?
F. What is the state of the freshly authorized individuals of this silsilah?
G. What was the state of the recent predecessors of this silsilah?
H. Was the authorization given after formal completion of receiving instruction and training or was it inherited in family tradition?

2. Time management
A. How does he spend his day and night?
B. Has he mastered time management?
C. Is he ibnul-waqt or abul-waqt? That is, if there is time he does remembrance and reflection (zikr o fikr) or when he wants to do zikr o fikr he can find time to do so.
D. How conscientious is he of offering the faraidh on time?
E. Does he have a practical schedule for propagating the truth (in his circle of influence)?
F. What is his state in regards to (tahajjud and other) involvement at the end of night timings?

The blessings (barkaat)
This criteria is being mentioned thirdly, however, a seeker must give priority to it.
A. What are the general blessings of his silsilah?
B. What is the state of individuals attached to him?
C. What are the blessings of Shaikh in particular?
D. Is he genuinely authorized? 

E. Is the training in this silsilah quick or slow?
F. What are the particular manifestation of (Divinely) love (in those attached to this Shaikh)?

These clear criteria are presented to make the selection (correctly).

A important reminder is that the real thing that facilitates receiving spiritual benefit from Shaikh is our congeniality (munasbet) with him.

If there are two flowers with similar color and fragrance pick the one closest to you.

Moreover, never forget that main thing is to receive instruction and be trained.

To recieve this instruction and training baiyah is not an essential enrollment criteria.’

Baiyat, page 30-1

Treatment of anger and boredom

 

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 A seeker wrote, ‘There have been two new developments in my behavior. The first is that I get angry quickly. This leads to humiliating consequences. The other is that I feel a sort of bored (all the time) without any sustainable serenity in my demeanor. Please, make dua for me, that Allah removes these traits from me.’

Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,

The treatment for anger is to reflect on the wrath of Allah and your sinful activities (at the time of anger).

The remedy for boredom is mindful excessive remembrance of Allah (dhikr).

With these (measures your) anxiety will subside. I also make dua (as requested).

Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 1, page 545 

How much dhikr?

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A seeker wrote,’ I have not fixed the number of times I make remembrance (dhikr) (of Allah). When I get disinterested I stop. Counting puts a pressure on my mind to complete what is remaining.’

Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,
‘This is a grave mistake.
Either fix a count or time period.
Leaving it on your own interest is opening the way for procrastination.’

Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 2, page 896

How to deal with worries?

 

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A seeker wrote, ‘I am very worried these days. In spite that I do not want to discuss worldly issues with you, I mention this because it is being felt that this worrying is affecting my religious activities. Neither the daily recitations (wird) are done regularly nor I am being able to get up for tahajjud on time. Often I wake up late. These are adding to my worries.’

Hakim al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,

‘Paying attention to the worrisome state leads to increased apprehension.

When worried instead of paying attention to it, one should become attentive of Allah. This must be with the thinking that Allah is sufficient for me in these conditions and strengthening relationship with Him is the solution to all the troubles. 

By using this strategy the effect of the worries will diminish and eventually vanish completely.

Try it and be at peace.’

Tarbiyat us Salik, volume 1, page 544

Legacy

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4. My legacy (wasiyyat) for myself, family members, and close associates is that every moment of one’s life should be sacrificed in pleasing Allah. One should not displease Allah for a single moment by indulging in any form of impermissible (haram) activity. If a mistake is committed, then one should please Allah by repenting, seeking forgiveness and crying in front of Allah.

5. Always remain in the company of the pious, and keep yourself under the guidance of a Sheikh with whom you have congeniality (munasbet).

6. Adopt extreme piety in financial matters. Always refer to the scholars (Muftis) in issues pertaining to the (questionable) rulings of Shariah.

Wasiyyat of Hazrat rehmatullah aleh

Muraqaba

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Shaikh al Mashaikh Haji Imdadullah mohajir Makki (Allah have mercy on him) instructed,

‘Sit as you sit in the jalsa of salah.
Bow your head forwards towards the knees.

Cleanse your heart (& imagination) from all other than Allah.

Be in the presence of Allah.

Recite أعوذ بالله و بسم الله and three time الله حاضري، الله ناظري، الله معي.
Then contemplate on its meaning.
That Allah is present, watching and is with me.

Put significant effort in this imagination until no awareness remains of other-than-Allah. Even the awareness of his/her own self vanishes.

If this contemplation and knowledge disappears very rapidly (after a session) then muraqaba is deficient.

(It must be acknowledged that) Initially one has to force one’s self to do the muraqaba. Then with persistent effort a time comes when returning back (to being neglectful of this imagination) becomes impossible.
However, one reaches this state gradually. Therefore, one should not abandon the effort due to initial hardship.’

Dhiya al Quloob, page 35
1st Rabi II 1435/1st February 2014

Stages of remembrances & lataif

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Hakim al Umma Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) said,

‘As there are different levels of imagination (when making remembrance of Allah) therefore, to make it concise, clear and to classify them into five stages I use an example;

1. Remembrance is made of a Beloved who is neither present (in front of the the one making dhikr) nor he is aware(that he is being watched). He is absent (from his imagination) and (he is) unaware (of it).

2. Remembrance is made of Him who is in front but faraway and can not be visualized clearly.

3. Remembrance is made of Him who is in front and closer. He can be visualized clearly.

4. He is very close. Observing Him is engrossing. To extent that due to overwhelming love one becomes unaware on himself.

5. This engrossment progress to the stage that one becomes oblivious of this unawareness.

Now I apply the technical known names for theses stages;

1. This is ‘dhikr’. This is because there is only remembrance (of the name) in it.

2. This is ‘hudur‘ (being in presence). This is because the One being imagined is in front and present.

3. This is ‘mukashafah‘ (unveiling). The close proximity of the One being imagined leads to perfect sense of being in the presence and complete unveiling of the details.

4.This is ‘shuhood‘ or ‘mushahidah‘ (witnessing). Technically witnessing is the epitome of hudhur. This leads to overwhelming affection, infatuation and rapture. It is also known as ‘fana‘ (annihilation) because of these engrossing emotions one in unaware of himself.

5. This is ‘mu’ainiah‘ (viewing). This is because it is a hudur that exceeds the technical limits of shuhud. One is oblivious of his unawareness and therefore it is also known as ‘fana ul fana’.

(Applying this further on the schema of ‘lataif‘)

1. The action of latifa al qalb is dhikr (remembrance)

2. The action of latifa al ruh is hudur.

3. The action of latifa al sirr is mukashafah.

4. The action of latifa al khafi is shuhud, mushahida and fana.

5. The action of latifa al akhfa is mu’ainah and fana ul fana.

lataif ashrafiya

Some of the spiritual masters are of the opinion that remembrance (of Allah) must be done in the specified manner to the extent that these five lataif become active individually. That is they perform their actions.

Other (spiritual) masters opine that remembrance (of Allah) should be done only with (latifa)  al qalb to the extent that all the actions (of other lataif) happen. There is no need at all to talk about the specific actions of lataif. They consider focusing on lataif  in detail to be a veil. Also, in the Prophetic saying only qalb has been mentioned in this context.  Moreover, even those who engage in activating these lataif (individually)  acknowledge that there is a interconnection between these lataif. Therefore, making remembrance via al qalb eventually affects and activates the other lataif. This is because these lataif are like mirrors that reflect into each other.’

Bawadir al Nawadir, page 565-6