Category Archives: A. Reality of Tasawwuf

The nature, definition, goals and principles of Tasawwuf

Blameworthy morals: removal

Qazi Burhan ud Deen (Allah have mercy on him) said in regards to removal of blameworthy moral characteristics,

‘Understand it by an example. A rodent drops dead in a water well and starts rotting. It pollutes the water. The smell, taste and color of water changes. The water becomes impure (na-pak). The only way to clean this water well is to first locate the rotting rodent carcass and remove it. Then filthy water has to be drained (the amount is as per fiqhi recommendation).

Attempts to clean well, for example by adding more clean water, perfumes, sanitizing chemicals, etc. , but without removing the rodent carcass will remain futile.

The rotten rodent has to be removed. ‘

Madarij as Sulook, Dr Mir Waliuddeen rehmatullah

Similar is our case. The blameworthy morals remain imbedded in our soul. They spoil all the good actions we perform. In spite of all the supererogatory (nawafil) acts of worship, like excessive remembrance (dhikr) of Allah, salah, Hajj, Umrah, financial charities and physical effort etc. our condition does not change for better. The serene and absolute submission to Allah never materializes. The indulgence in sinful continues whenever there is an opportunity and there is hope of any physical pleasure or financial or social gain or loss. God-forbid, this continues forever.

Remember Tasawwuf is tazkiyah. Purification.

The Soul has to be purified from all the blameworthy moral traits.

All the other things in Tasawwuf are ancillary to this main objective.

May Allah make it easy for us all. Ameen!

Blameworthy morals: list

Following is a list of most of the blameworthy morals that need to removed in islah/tazkiyah.

1. Ignorance/جھل

2. Heedlessness/ غفلت

3. Anger/غضب

4. Rancor/حقد

5. Resentful envy/حسد

6. Miserliness/بخل

7. Pride & boastfulness /فخرو افتخار

8. Arrogance/ کبر

9. Conceit/ عجب

10. Illusion/غرور

11. Ostentation/ریا

12. Love of prestige/ حب جاہ

13. Love of power/ حب ریاست

14. Love of material things/ حب مال

15. Disruption of social bonds/ قطع رحمی

16. Prying into privacy of others

17. Long hopes/طول امل

18. Greed/ حرص

19. Bad demeanor/ سُوخُلق

20. Disasters of speech/ آفات لسان: دروغ، کثرت کلام، غیبت، مزاح، نمیمہ

21. Lust/ شہوت

22. Spend-thriftiness/ اسراف

The Degrees of the Soul, p5 + Shariat wa Tariqat

Islah/Tazkiya of what?

In Tasawwuf and sulook what is meant by islah or tazkiya?

It is the cleansing of blame worthy moral characteristics (razail akhlaq) of nafs. That is ridding one’s self from arrogance, anger, show-off, envy, self-admiration, love of money and status, lustful desires, etc.

We focus on betterment of our outwards appearance and worship without paying attention to the removal of above mentioned blame worthy morals.

This is a big mistake!

The biggest obstacle in our path to achieving the pleasure of Allah is our nafs with all its blame worthy characteristics.

It is because of this lapse we see that outwardly pious-appearing  people indulge in impermissible activities whenever they are tempted by a worldly gain or are fearful of worldly loss.

May Allah give us the correct understanding of islah and facilitate it for us effectively. Ameen!

Once we acknowledge this and recognize our blame worthy moral characteristics the next step is to remove them. This is by firm determination, self-control and constant vigilance.

Remembrance of Allah (dhikr) facilitates it. Advice from Shaykh facilitates it further. But both of these are like catalysts. Without the key ingredient of determination and use of self-control they do not work alone.

Sayyidi wa sandai Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve & protect him) repeatedly instructs us that there is no formula of remembrance or litany or amulet to bring about islah. One has to use his determination and self control.

May Allah facilitate this for us all. Ameen!

Being excessively cautious in bayiah

Maulana Amin Owrakzai shaheed (Allah have mercy on him) said,

These days people have made Tasawwuf and sulook a petty issue. Bayiah is a mere ritual. Neither the disciple does anything nor does he have an intention to do (in future). Moreover khilafet is bestowed on mediocre actions and capabilities.

Previously searching for a Shaikh was like finding a suitable spouse.

After demise of (my first Shaikh) Maulana Gorghashti I approached Allama Yusuf Binori (Allah have mercy on them) for bayiah. He instructed me to recite salutations (durood) 50,000 times , istegfar 50,000 times and make istekhara every Thursday. After istekhara I saw in dream that Prophet (Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) poured his blessed saliva into my mouth. On reporting this to Shaikh he accepted my bayiah. After he passed away I struggled a lot searching for another Shaikh. After much contemplation and discussion with pious elders I settled for one. On visiting him I was instructed to recite istegfar 127,000 times in a month and do istekhara. Even after that in light of istekhara he guided me to another Shaikh.

To cut the story short, in past for bayiah one had to struggle excessively. Only after that one was able to sit at the feet of Shaikh and be in his company.

Nowadays Pirs visit mureed. Disciple has to do no significant effort. People are encouraged to commit (bayiah) using lame excuses. Shuyuk do not have self-reliance (istegna) and seekers lack yearning. Whereas, in reality a perfect (kamil) Shaikh is always in a state of fear for being accountable to Allah (for guiding others). Then, how can he invite others for his bayiah?

Risala al-Mazhar, Kohat. special issue 2017

Spiritual Progress 

Baba Fareed ud Deen Masud Ganjshakar (Allah have mercy on him) said,

‘Spiritual progress lies in discipline of soul and purification of inner life not in the mechanical performance of prayers. 

If marifa (Gnosis) is desired then anger, jealousy and hatred should be completely wiped out from the heart. ‘

K A Nizami’s ‘The life and times of Shaikh Fareed ud Deen Ganjshakar rehmatullah aleh’

Vivanta Taj, Rebak, Langkawi, Malaysia

Khanqah or shop?

Khawaja Badr ud Deen Ghaznawi (Allah have mercy on him) wrote to his pir-bhai,

One of the servants of diwan (treasurer) had built a khanqah for me and arranged for the boarding and lodging of derwishes. Now a charge of embezzlement has been brought against him I am much worried and disturbed. Kindly pray for his release and welfare of the derwishes

Baba Fareed ud Deen Masud Ganjshakar (Allah have mercy on him) replied,

‘He who does not follow the principle of his master is confronted with such troubles and worries that his heart gets no peace. Who among our masters did ever construct a khanqah for himself and reside there as you have done. It was not the practice of Shaikh Qutub ud Deen or his master Shaikh Moin ud Deen (Allah have mercy on them) to construct a khanqah and set up a shop. Wherever they went or sojourned, they tried to conceal themselves from the people. ‘

K Nizami’s ‘The life and times of Shaikh Fareed ud Deen Ganjshakar’ rehmatullah aleh, page 35

Changing Shaikh

Qazi Sanaullah Panipati (Allah have mercy on him) said,

‘If an individual stayed in the company of a Shaikh with best intentions (husn e eitiqaad) for a duration but did not find it effective (in bringing him closer to Allah) then it is essential (wajib) for him to leave this Shaikh and seek another one. Otherwise it will be (like) his object of worship and goal is Shaikh and not Allah. This is shirk (associating partners with Allah). ‘

Talifaat e Musleh al Umma, volume 2, page 381

Recently a sincere individual inquired regarding his Shaikh who has broken his pledge with his own Shaikh due to some serious issues, like inappropriate interactions with opposite sex and financial fraud. He wanted to know on how to proceed with this new development. 

It should be explicitly clear upfront that Tasawwuf is totally subservient to Shariah. Any negligence in observance of Shariah ruling can not be tolerated in Tasawwuf. 

In this scenario people fall into two categories,

1. Mureedeen 

2.  Mujazeen 

The most appropriate thing for mureedeen is to seek a new Shaikh. However, they must not hurry and should be more careful in making sure that they have the true Shaikh this time. Also, they must do it with extreme adab. They must continue their daily routine recitations and dhikr etc. as previously. They must not start a movement against the Shaikh at all. Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve and protect him) emphasized on this last point. They should make dua for Islah of the Shaikh they left. 

The mujazeen (who have permission to initiate others) have to declare openly that they are no more mujaaz. They have broken their baiyet (pledge). They must try for islah (reformation) of the Shaikh. However, their mureedeen and mujazeen must be told that they are now free to seek someone appropriate. They have to recognize that this step is a bigger test for them (in testing their sincerity) than the first one (faltering of their Shaikh).  They should then seek another Shaikh and do as stated above for the mureedeen.  They must remember that Allah does not waste those who are sincere in seeking His pleasure. 

May Allah protect us all from calamities of this path. 

Amin!

Clarification about Ijaza

Ijaza (permission) to initiate mureed is not synonymous with mashikhyet (being a Shaikh). 

Not all mujazeen are Shaikh!

This is especially true for the present day young very fresh mujaazeen (permission holders). 

Both the mujaaz and mureed are confused about this. 

This is because of not understanding the concept of Ijaza. 

Hakimul al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him) has explicitly stated that Ijaza is like graduation certificate. It indicates that the individual has completed the very basic course. It does not mean that this individual is a certified expert in this field. However, if continues his efforts to study further he has the capacity to excel. 

Mujaazeen these days consider Ijaza a certificate of excellence (mashaikhiyet) and are eager to initiate mureed to the extent of shamelessly having agents who act like pimps. 

This is in stark contrast to the example of our pious elders (akabir). On receiving ijaza they felt extreme humility and sense of worthlessness. They wished and tried to keep it secret. Even if someone approached them for initiation they would refer him to someone reliable. Only when forced by elders they would take mureed. And even then with the same feelings of humility and worthlessness and usually not within their Shaikh’s lifetime. 

The hallmark of our akabir is extreme humility in addition to the firm adherence to Sunna. 

A fresh mujaaz of sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Taqi Usmani (Allah protect and preserve him) was instructed in year 2002 by a pious elder in the blessed city of Makkah that the real time to put effort and struggle has just started now. 

We must remind ourselves that graduates working for masters or doctorates can not even think of taking full time jobs or establishing their own setups. Similarly fresh mujazeen should not delve into setting up of khaqahs and enlisting an army of mureedeen.  They should focus on their own self for the time being. 

The naive seekers unaware of these details can not be blamed. However, the awareness of reality has to be highlighted. 

Some of the pious masters of this path (Tasawwuf) have mentioned that an individual should only take up initiating mureed after receiving an explicit  ijaza from Allah and His Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him). (And Allah knows its real meaning and may He by His benevolence make us knowledgeable. Ameen!). 

Karachi 

The signs of good overcoming the evil


Shaykh Al-Shabrawi (Allah have mercy on him) said,

The sign that the good is overcoming the evil is that you see yourself inwardly alive with the reality of faith (eman) and outwardly alive with the sharia of Islam.  This is to have the inner certainty that everything in existence moves according to the Divine will and by the Divine ability, and yet to remain outwardly active in obedience and far removed from all major sins and most minor ones, whether when amongst people or in solitude. 

Degrees of the Soul, p40

Shaikh: Flattery doesn’t count

A spiritual seeker wrote that when he received the Shaikh’s reply he was overwhelmed with joy. An electric current ran through his body making him cry profusely. In this state of ecstasy he composed a poem praising the Shaikh. 

Shaikh Wasiullah Allahabadi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,

I was extremely happy to read your letter. May Allah make me as per the assumptions of people. Ameen!

From your letter I understood that maybe you have recognized (marifet) me (i.e. as a spiritual mentor). However, let me know wether you have achieved the marifet (gnosis) of the things I tell about this path (tareeq). This is because it is this that really counts. There are numerous individuals who display love (of Shaikh) but very few are cognizant (a’arif of the path). May Allah give you a generous share of this marifet. Ameen!

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The editor commented that this displays Shaikh’s approach to Islah.  The spiritual seeker is not reassured to be content that with verbose praise and flattering speech he may have fulfilled his obligations towards his spiritual mentor and the tareeq. Because most of the time this is  naf’s (lower self’s) snare and deception.  By involving the seeker in play of words it distracts him from real marifet

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This a very common mistake. Sometimes it leads to disaster for both Shaikh and the mureed. Shaikh develops ujub and mureed remains entangled in this poetry and praise, neglecting the real marifet

Moreover, in praising the Shaikh is a very big claim. It means that one himself is of such a great stature that he has recognized the qualities of the Shaikh. 

Prescription for success 

In reply to a seeker who lamented about his assumed bad condition, Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him) replied:
Son! 

معشوق من ست آنکہ بہ نزدیک تو زشت ست

You have despair over your condition while I feel elated. Your condition is a proof of two things which are from the highest objectives (of the path). 

Firstly, recognition of one’s bad condition. 

Secondly, concern to improve one’s condition.

Make four things your habit then I take responsibility that you will not be left deprived:

Firstly, complete your daily dhikr (routine) even if it small in amount, irrespective of finding it interesting.

Secondly, abstain from all sinful involvement with (firm) determination. And repent immediately if you fail (in doing so). 

Thirdly, neither think about past (mistakes) nor future (apprehensions) nor anticipate success (in your spiritual quest) 

Fourthly, keep in regular correspondence (with your spiritual mentor) about your condition, even if there is nothing worth mentioning.

In addition to these, in my opinion (as per ayurdeic medicine) there is affect of  incalescence on your brains. Medical treatment is essential. This has also played a role in this state (Hal). 

After implementing this prescription be carefree. 

من غم تو میخوارم تو غم مخور

برتو من مشفق ترم از صد پدر 

Your considerate well wisher 

Ashraf Ali’

Tarbiyyatus Salik Volume 1, Chapter 5, page 725

Intekhab e Qaiseri

Greater Jihad?

Spiritual struggle, doing good and leaving the sinful esoteric and exoteric actions, has been alluded to as greater jihad (jihad e akbar) in classical Sufi texts. 

Irrespective of the debate of it being a Prophetic quote (Hadith).  Recently I came across a beautiful explanation. 

Shaikh Sayyid Shabbir Kakakhel (Allah preserve him) said that the greatness here is due to the time involved in it. The jihad (armed struggle) with an enemy is for a restricted period of time and eventually ends. Whereas, the spiritual struggle is a lifelong, daily constant squabble. It ends only with death.  

اندریں راہ می تراش و می خراش

تا دم آخر دمےفارغ مباش

JazakAllah 

Question 

Shaikh Wasiullah Allahabadi (Allah have mercy on him) wrote to a disciple ,

‘You are coming (to me) for so many days now, however, neither have you become involved in (religious) work as required nor have you developed the understanding as per my standards. The reason for this is not reading the essential books of Maulana (Ashraf Ali) Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him). Why is this so? This coming (to me) is just in vain or for religious betterment (Islah). 

The (religious/Islah) work starts after acquiring knowledge. What will an individual without knowledge do?

If you have understood something from this write it (back) to me’

Maktubaat e Islahi , wasiyet al Irfan, May 1995, page 19-20

Easy Good Deeds: Book of Sulook

Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (Allah protect & preserve him) gave this book to an individual who had islahi relationship with him and said, 

‘This compilation is for my friends who seek islah (betterment of their religious condition). 

It summarizes the spiritual path (sulook).

Read it thoroughly and try to incorporate it into your daily life.’

Office, Darul Uloom Karachi 1991

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Houston, TX