Teachings of Hakim al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf 'Ali Thanawi & his spiritual successors, particularly 'Arifbillah Dr 'Abdul Hayy 'Arifi (may Allah bless them) and Sayyidi Mawlana Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him) regarding Tasawwuf
Someone asked him: “How can the Orientalists be refuted?”
Shaykh Mustafa Azami (Allah have mercy on him) advised us not to spend our time refuting the Orientalists.
He said that he had spent all his life refuting them, but their objective was not to find the truth, rather to create wrong comments. After you work on displacing the doubts created by them, they’re not going to apologize and mend their ways. Rather, they’ll manufacture a new falsehood. And so, your life will pass in cleaning up the dirt created by them. You should instead work on putting forward the truth. This was the advice he gave us.
While speaking to us, Hoca (Shaykh Mustafa Azami, Allah have mercy on him) told us that when he was student at Al-Azhar, he once went to get some milk. On the wall of the milk seller’s shop, it was written with calligraphy: “The one who cheats, he is not from one of us.” This is taken from a hadith. But the milk seller was adding water to the milk in front of this hadith on his wall.
Everyone laughed upon hearing this.
But Hoca added, “You all too, when you reach the class five minutes late, when you do not prepare well, when you waste time in empty talk during the class, you too fall to the level of the man adulterating milk with water.” Everyone was taken back upon hearing this. A pin drop silence followed.
Till today, I’ve not forgotten those words. I try to fulfill the rights of the class lesson in its true sense. I remind myself that whenever I go late to class, or if I don’t prepare myself well, I fall to the level of the man mixing milk with water.
Hakim al Umma Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Allah have mercy on him) once mentioned the following:
In order for one to inculcate the quality of zuhd (abstinence from worldly pleasures), it does not mean that one completely renounces and gives up all worldly pleasures. Rather, if one reduces his worldly pleasures, this is sufficient for him to acquire the quality of zuhd.
In other words, one should not remain engrossed in the acquisition of worldly pleasures where day and night, one’s concern only revolves around acquiring worldly pleasures, e.g. “I need to prepare such and such delicious meal”, “I need to purchase such and such item from such and such place”, “The rice in a certain place is delicious so it must be brought from there”, or a certain place is renowned and famous for their cream, so one says to people, “Please bring some cream for me from that place.”
In essence, for one to remain engrossed in acquiring delicious food and smart clothing is against the demands of zuhd (abstinence from worldly pleasures). However, if these worldly pleasures and enjoyments come to one on their own, without one making any special effort to acquire them, then in this case, these bounties and worldly pleasures should be regarded as the favour of Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, one should express gratitude to Allah Ta‘ala for receiving this favour.
Similarly, zuhd does not mean that one should eat very little food. In fact, this is not something that is desired in Shari’ah. The reason is that through eating less, one will not be looking after the treasures of Allah Ta‘ala and allowing it to remain full. Similarly, it will not be viewed in the sight of Allah Ta‘ala as it is viewed in the world, that if an employer has to offer a full salary to his employee, and he only takes half, it will be viewed as though he is doing a favour to his employer by taking half. However, in regard to Allah Ta‘ala, this is not the case (i.e. in regard to the limitless treasures of Allah Ta‘ala, one is not doing Allah Ta‘ala a favour by taking less or eating less, rather, Allah Ta‘ala wants us to enjoy what He bestows us with and express gratitude to Him).
At the same time, one should not over-indulge in eating to such an extent that one’s stomach begins to pain and one’s health suffers, due to which one finds difficulty in fulfilling his ibaadaat. Our Hazrat Haaji Saheb (rahimahullah) would often say, in a lighthearted manner, “Look after your body well, but also ensure that you take good work from your body.” In order words, use your body to engage in ibaadaat to the best of your ability.
Shaikh Ahmed Arqam Balkhi (Allah have mercy on him) narrates that once my inner-self (nafs) insisted that I go and join the battle (jihad). I was surprised. In Quran Allah says that nafs commands to do evil and my nafs was telling me to do something virtuous. How can this be possible?
I confronted the nafs and said that most probably you are sick of staying in solitude and want that I go in the army where people will pay respect to me. However, I am going to fight alone (not join the army). Nafs agreed. I became more suspicious. I told him that I will fight without ammunition and die first. He agreed to it also. I told him many similar things and he agreed to all.
I was perplexed.
I prayed fervently to Allah to show me nafs’ deception.
In a vision (mukashafa) I saw my nafs.
He said that every day you kill me several times by not doing what I command, so if you go for Jihad and are killed instantaneously then it will be easier.
Moreover, no one knows about this daily struggle. It is hidden from all. But if you are killed in battlefield everyone will speak highly about you. All will say Ahmed is a martyr (shaheed).
The deception of nafs are complex and deep. They requires consultation with a mentor (murshid).
Tanveer ul Afaq: Shah Turab Ali Qalandar (Allah have mercy on him)
Qutub Alam Shaikh Abdul Qudoos Al Gangohi (d:1537CE. Allah have mercy on him) said,
O Seeker of Truth! If the path of Islam was as easy (as you think) then everyone would become Shibli and Ibrahim bin Adham (Allah have mercy on them). (In reality) Until and unless you are a (true) Muslim from within you can never be a (real) Muslim from outside.
It is grieving and mournful to see these days that world is full of spiritual mentors (pir) and seekers (mureed) but no one can find a (true) Muslim.
What is mentor-seeker (piri-mureedi) relationship nowadays?
It is all idolatry and self-worship!
May Allah save us all from it. Ameen!
This is in reality my own mournful predicament. I tell it so others can learn from it.
Maktubaat e Qudoosiya, letter #111, page 480 (from Urdu translation by Shaikh Capt. Wahid Baksh Siyal rehmatullah aleh)