Category Archives: A. Reality of Tasawwuf

The nature, definition, goals and principles of Tasawwuf

Company of the pious

Sayyidi wa sanadi Shaikh Mufti Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve & protect him) said,

Companionship is a great thing.

It comes in a Prophetic saying (Hadith) the gist of which is that sitting with a pious person is like sitting in the company of one who sells (the fragrance) Musk. One will smell the good fragrance just by sitting with him, even if one does not apply any perfume. And sitting in a bad company is like sitting with a blacksmith from whom either a spark will fly onto your clothes and burn them or at least you will have to smell the repugnant smell.

The effect of the companionship of pious elders could be seen in my respected father. As Shaikh Sa’di RA has said:

گِلے خوش بوئے در حمّام روزے

رسید از دستِ مخدومے بہ دستم

بدو گفتم کہ مشکی یا عبیری

کہ از بوئے دل آویزِ تو مستم

بگفتا من گِلے ناچیز بُودم

و لیکن مدّتے با گُل نشستم

جمالِ ہمنشیں در من اثَر کرد

وگرنہ من ہمہ خاکم کہ ہستم

One day, in the (communal) bath,

I received a fragrant piece of mud (used as a form of soap/abrasive) from a benevolent friend

I asked it “Are you Musk or Ambergris?”

“As I’m mesmerized by your alluring fragrance”

It said “I’m a worthless piece of mud”

“But, I’ve spent a long time in the company of (fragrant) flowers”

“The beauty of the companion affects”

“Otherwise my existence is just mud”

Ramadan 1439 malfuzaat collated by Br KaiserNizamani #12

Being human

Sayyidi wa sanadi Shaikh Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve & protect him) mentioned that his respected father Mufti Muhammad Shafee’ Usmani narrated that Hakim Ul Umma (Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi)(Allah have mercy on them) used to say that it is very difficult to become a (proper) human being. I could not become one but Allah showed us true human beings such that now (a beast like) a bull cannot deceive me saying that I am a human being.

Respected Mufti Shafi added that Hakim al Umma used to say this about himself (i.e. that he could not become a true human being) due to his humility, whereas this statement actually applies to me.

After looking at such people we understood how a human being should be like. If someone else comes and says that a human being should be something different, then Inshallah we would not be deceived.

He would also recite a couplet sometimes:

دل میں سما گئیں ہیں قیامت کی شوخیاں

دو چار دن رہے تھے کسی کی نگاہ میں

Unexplicable pleasures are infused in my heart,

I stayed under someone’s supervision for a few days

He also used to stay: “I have not read to many books. But I have observed men of Allah.” Like Shaikh (Rasheed Ahmed) Gangohi, Shayk al Hind, Hakim al UmmaThanvi, (Allah have mercy on them all).

Meaning I stayed in their company for a long time. Their company created a certain temperament and way of thought. After observing their outstanding demeanor, Alhamdulillah the heart does not get attracted to others.

Books give outwardly knowledge, but man is made by man, i.e. with his companionship. How to act on (and implement) on that knowledge is learnt from men.

Ramadan 1439, malfuzaat collated by Br KaiserNizamani #11

Sayyidi wa sanadi Shaikh Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve & protect him) said,

“During my early days of studying in Darul Uloom, the the Darul Uloom was located so far away from the city center that it was like an island cut off from the rest of the world. I would go home on Thursdays, which used to be holiday. Our house had 5 rooms out of which 2 contained cupboards filled with books. My holiday routine was to browse through those books. I would open a book, read a few pages then move on to another book. For some books I would only read the author’s name and few pages, some I would read half and some books complete. All praise is for Allah (Alhamdulillah) I read all kinds of books, including about Seerah, Tasawwuf, etc. After reading all those books I say from the depth of my heart that the books which benefited me most were the Spiritual discourses (Mawaiz) of Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Allah have mercy on him).

My respected father used to encourage me to read the Mawaiz but initially I used to be more interested in literary texts. Also, I would find the language of the Mawaiz too difficult and sophisticated. It wasn’t that I would not understand the language, but I would find it too sophisticated for my taste. I would read them sometimes, but would not find them interesting.

One day I told my respected father the following state of my heart: “Among my elders, the amount of affinity and fondness I find in my heart for respected Shaykh al-Hind (i.e. Maulana Mahmudul Hasan) and Maulana Anwar Shah Sahab Kashmiri is more than for Hakim Al Umma (Allah have mercy on them)”.

It is obvious that all of them are our elders. However, it seemed as if my respected father felt a shock, and replied, (to the near meaning):

“Taqi miyan (میاں), you are still stuck in the knowledge of alfaz-o-nuqoosh (words and designs). You have not even started to have the concern for correction (islah) of your nafs.” He said this with a sense of longing and regret. This is despite my respected father’s deep attachment to those two elders.

When my respected father said these words, it had effect on me and I started reading Hakim al Umma’s Mawaiz with importance. Later on, when I established Islahi correspondence with respected (Shaikh Dr Abdul-Hayy) ‘Arifi (Allah have mercy on him) he instructed me to fix 1 to 2 pages for daily reading. Alhamdulillah now perhaps there is none of the Mawaiz left which I have not read.”

Ramadan 1439, malfuzaat collated by Br KaiserNizamani #6

Khalwa ma’Allah

A senior seeker presented his Islahi letter to sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve & protect him).

Shaikh asked him regarding his activities. He replied that he manages two Madrasas, teaches three advanced books, writes Fatwa, and is also the Imam and Khateeb of the biggest Masjid of his country.

Shaikh commented that this is a lot of responsibilities and all are Deen. Even with this busy daily schedule, some time (whatever easily possible) should be taken out for seclusion (Khalwat ma’ Allah). (That is being alone with Allah.)

Ramadan 1439, malfuzaat collated by Br KaiserNizamani #2

Purpose of Sharia, tariqat & haqiqa

Shaikh Saad ud Deen Khairabadi (Allah have mercy on him) said,

My dear, do you know what is the purpose of Islamic rulings (Sharia), Spiritual path (tariqat) and Divine reality (haqiqa)?

(Listen) The purpose of them is that an individual becomes truthful in speech, morally upright, relatively harmless, wise, good mannered and a gnostic (arif).

Mujama as Sulook, volume 1, page 232

Being practical and wise

Makhdum Zayn ud Deen Chishti (Allah have mercy on him) said,

The likeness of one who turns away from practical knowledge and busies himself with disputation and rare branches of knowledge is like a sick man with a myriad of illnesses, at the point of death, who finds an intelligent physican; but rather than asking him about the cure for his illness he questions him about the properties of drugs and remedies, and the rare points of medicine.

The Guidance for the Intelligent

Sharia, tariqa & haqiqa

Makhdum quotes from Abu Bakr’s (Allah have mercy on them) book Kibrit al Ahmar,

“and among the folk, the sharia is like a ship, the tariqa like the sea, and the haqiqa like a pearl; so whoever desires the pearl must board the ship, and embark on the sea, and only then will he arrive at the pearl. Whoever leaves this sequence, will not reach the pearl. So the first obligation on the seeker is the sharia, by which is intended what Allah and His messenger have commanded.

The Guidance for the Intelligent

The States of the Heart

Makhdum Zayn ud Deen Malabari al Chishti (Allah have mercy on him) said in regards to fard al ayn (absolute essentials) issues of Islam,

‘The states of the heart, one should know the praiseworthy qualities which one must adopt, and the blameworthy qualities which one must avoid.

As for the praiseworthy traits, they include reliance on Allah, sincerity for Him, praise and thankfulness for His blessings, repentance from one’s sins, fear, hope, abstinence, love, patience, pleasure with His decree, and the remembrance of death.

As for the blameworthy traits, they include greed for food and drink, and a dislike of hunger (given its many benefits such as the purity and softness of the heart, humiliation of the lower self, breaking lusts, and the departure of excessive sleep which prevents worship), eagerness for speech regarding what does not benefit one (the tongue has many faults, the most severe of which are backbiting, lying, and excessive joking and praise), anger, envy, stinginess, love of rank, love of the world, arrogance, pride, and showing off.’

The Guidance for the Intelligent

Tazkiyah is an obligation

Acting upon one’s individual obligation include purifying one’s limbs from sins, and one’s heart from destroying traits such as arrogance, envy, ostentation, enmity, hatred and the like… Knowing the cure for ugly traits of character and then struggling to rid oneself from them is an individual obligation; it is not permissible for one to busy oneself with jurisprudence, disputes or law until one has finished this task.

The Guidance for the Intelligent

Useful knowledge

‘Useful knowledge it is that which,

Increases your fear of Allah,

Decreases your interest in the worldly,

Increases your avidness for the hereafter,

Makes you aware of the faults in your character and your actions so you can correct them, and

Alerts you to the deceptions and plots of Satan.’

The Guidance for the Intelligent

Repentance

It has been said that repentance is remorse for what has passed and clinging to what is pure.

Some say that repentance is moving away from what Allah

has forbidden toward what Allah has commanded.

It has been said that repentance is devotion to the True Reality and shunning created things, and that repentance is sincerity, seeking refuge, and striving persistently with hope.

It has been said that repentance is feeling shame when one makes a mistake, and that repentance is sorrow for what has passed.

Some say that repentance is the return to Allah the Exalted in every instant, thought, and glance, and that repentance is shame that restrains one from sin, and constant tears of remorse.

It has been said that repentance is removing the garment of estrangement and donning the garment of fidelity.

Some say that repentance is the return from blameworthy attributes to praiseworthy attributes, which can only be brought about by seclusion, by holding one’s tongue from useless talk, and by eating lawful food.

It has been said that repentance is a fire in the heart that flares up, and a rift that never mends.

The principles of Tasawwuf, page 17

Tea & sulook

The following is a paraphrase of what the reviver of Sunna (Muhiyyus Sunnah), Maulana Shah Abrarul Haqq of Hardoi (Allah have mercy on him ) said.

‘Every day when I drink tea it brings to mind the similitude of the process of traversing the spiritual path (sulook).

Water and tea leaves individually have their own properties. However, they have to be mixed together under certain special circumstances to make them tea.

First water is to be brought to rolling boil. Then tea leaves are added. They are thoroughly mixed and left to sit alone. This brings out the colors and flavors. Then only tea is ready to be consumed.

Skipping any of the steps of this process will not provide the delicious end results.

In this scenario the similitude of the seeker is like water that wants to become tea. The tea leaves are the company and guidance of the Shaikh. Whereas the process of boiling is the spiritual struggle (mujahidda).

Remember that merely mixing the water with tea leaves is not enough. The water has to be brought to boil. It has to be mixed and left alone for a while. Only then it is able to extract the color and flavor from tea leaves.

Similarly in order to benefit from the company and guidance of the Shaikh the seeker has to do mujahidda. That is abandoning all the sinful and doing the necessary and even extra acts of worship. Only then this association will be beneficial.’

Khanqah e Ashrafiya, Gulshan Iqbal Karachi, 1980s

Learn the lesson/ درس عبرت

For the intelligent, a subtle reference is sufficient…

SubhanAllah, this story is filled with so many lessons for everyone. Please read it with the intention to learn the lessons from the life of Shaikh Abu Abdullah Al-Andalusi (Allah have mercy on him), and also the character of his devoted and loyal students. I pray that Allah grants every reader the tawfeeq to benefit from this and to protect us all from any tests of this sort. Ameen.

Note: Since this is not a formal Arabic written entry, the rules of Arabic have not been enforced such as in the name of the Shaykh, etc.

In Baghdad, the seat of the Islamic State, was a pious saint by the name of Abu Abdullah Al-Andalusi. He was a well-known scholar and muhaddith and twelve thousand disciples sat at his feet. He knew thirty thousand ahadith by heart, and could recite the Quran in all the various modes of Qiraat.

On a certain occasion he was going on a journey and was accompanied with a large crowd of attendants among whom were the well-known Junayd Baghdadi and Shaikh Shibli Rahimahumullah.

Shaikh Shibli continues the story: Our caravan was traveling along safely and comfortably with the grace of Allah, until we passed by an area where Christians were residing. When we reached the Christian village, we searched for water but could not find any. We went about the village and discovered that there were many churches, temples of sun-worship and synagogues. Some of the people worshiped idols and others prayed to the cross. We were amazed at their condition.

We passed all this and reached the outskirts of the village where we found a well and a few girls drawing water for people to drink. Among these girls was one who was exceedingly beautiful. She wore a gold necklace around her neck. When Shaikh Abu Abdullah saw her the color of his face changed. The Shaikh asked the other girls who she was.

They replied: “This is the daughter of the ruler of this village.”
The Shaikh replied: “But, why has her father dishonored her by leaving her to give people water to drink?”
The girls replied: “Her father has done this so that when she marries she will be able to honour and serve her husband. He does not want her to become boastful of her status.”

The Shaikh sat down with his head bent forward and remained silent. For three days he did not eat or drink. He would only perform his Salaah. His disciples and companions did not know what to do or say.

Shaikh Shibli says : ‘I decided to speak to him. I approached him and said, “O Shaikh, your disciples and companions are perplexed with your silence for the last three days. Please speak to us.”

The Shaikh replied: “O people, know that my heart has become filled with love for the girl I saw the other day. It is not possible for me under any circumstances to leave from here.”

Shaikh Shibli replied: “Our leader! You are the spiritual guide of Iraq. Your piety is well-known far and wide. Your disciples number over twelve thousand. By the sanctity of the Noble Quran do not bring disgrace to us and them.”

The Shaikh replied: “O people, my lot has already been sealed by fate. I am nothing. The cloak of sainthood has been removed from me and the signs of guidance have been taken away from me.”

Saying this the Shaikh began weeping bitterly. “Proceed and leave me alone. My fate has been sealed,” he told them.

We were astonished. We begged Allah for His protection and we cried until the land beneath our feet became wet with our tears.

We returned to Baghdad. When the people heard of our return, they arrived in large numbers at the outskirts of the city to meet the Shaikh. They saw that he was not with us and asked where he was. We told them the entire story. Many of his disciples died out of grief when they heard of his condition. Others cried in sorrow and disbelief. Many begged Allah to guide the Shaikh to the right path and return him to them. All his places of instruction and preaching were closed down.

We remained in this sad condition for one full year. Finally, I, together with a few companions decided to visit the village again and find out how our Shaikh was doing. When we reached the village we asked regarding him and were told that he was in the woods looking after pigs. We asked: “What has happened?” We were told that he had proposed for the girl in marriage. But, the girl’s father had refused saying that her suitor had to meet certain conditions : he had to follow the same religion as her, he had to become a servant in the church and he had to look after the pigs. The Shaikh had fulfilled all these conditions and was currently seeing to the pigs.

“With broken hearts and tears streaming down our eyes, we went to the woods to find him. He was standing amongst the pigs. Around his waist was a string of beads. On his head was the traditional Christian hat. He stood leaning on the staff that he once used to lean on when delivering the sermon in the mihraab!

When he saw us he bowed his head in shame. We came nearer and said, “Assalaamu Alaikum.” He replied: “Wa Alaikumus salaam”.

Shaikh Shibli then asked: “O Shaikh, what is all this? What has happened to you? What has happened to all your knowledge and virtue?”

The Shaikh replied: “My dear friend and brothers, I am now no longer in control. Whatever Allah has desired for me, has come to pass. I was once amongst His beloved ones. Now He has thrown me very far away from His door. O Beloved ones of Allah, beware of being rejected and distanced from Allah. O Beloved ones of Allah, beware of Allah’s anger and being cut off from Him.”

Then turning towards the heavens he said: “O my Lord, I never expected such treatment from You.” Then he began crying bitterly and appealing to Allah.

Shaikh Shibli also begged Allah in a loud voice : “Only from you do we seek help. Upon You only do we rely. By Your grace, remove this difficulty from us! We have been overcome. Only you can save us!”

When the pigs heard our crying they began to rub their heads in the sand and began to yell so loudly that the mountains appeared to wail. Shaikh Shibli says : “I thought Qiyaamah had come.” The Shaikh continued to cry uncontrollably.

Shaikh Shibli continues: We said to him : “Shaikh, why don*t you return with us to Baghdad?” The Shaikh replied : “How can I? I have to see to the pigs, although I once saw to the hearts of men!”

I asked the Shaikh : “You were a Haafiz of Quraan and you could recite the seven modes of Qiraat. Do you remember anything of the Quraan?”

The Shaikh answered : “I have forgotten everything except two verses of the Quraan: ‘He who Allah disgraces, none can grant him honour. Allah does as He wishes.’ And, secondly, the verse, ‘He who chooses kufr (disbelief) over Imaan (faith) he has certainly gone astray.’

I asked : “You knew thirty thousand ahadith of Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. Do you still remember any?”

He answered : “Only one: ‘One who leaves his faith, kill him!’ ”

Amazed at his condition, we left the Shaikh and headed for Baghdad. However, after we had walked for three days we suddenly saw the Shaikh in front of us. He was coming out of a river, where he had just performed a bath. In a loud voice he proclaimed the shahaadah: “I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship besides Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam is His messenger.”

We could not control our joy and happiness when we saw him. He asked us for some pure clothing which he then wore. He then performed Salaah. We expressed our gratitude to Allah for returning him to us and we asked him what had happened to him.

He replied : “When you left me, I turned to Allah with my former love and affection for Him : ‘O my Protector, I am a sinner and a transgressor.’ Allah forgave me and covered me in His mercy.”

We asked him : “But, why were you put through such an intense trial?”

The Shaikh replied: “When we arrived in the village and saw the temples, synagogues and churches I thought to myself: ‘These people are nothing compared to me. I believe and worship one Allah.’ At that moment I heard a voice from within me saying: ‘This Iman that you have, is not due to your goodness in any way. If you so wish, We will show you right now.’ Immediately I felt as if something left my heart and flew away. That was my Imaan leaving me.”

Shaikh Shibli says: “We were overjoyed. Our caravan arrived in Baghdad with great joy. The Shaikh’s places of teaching and preaching were reopened. In a short while his students numbered over forty thousand. Allah again returned to him his knowledge of Quraan and Hadith and blessed him with further knowledge.” (Al-Mustatraf Fi Kulli Fann An-Mustadhraf)

From: an Noor (edited)

*Mufti Mohammad Shafi (Allah have mercy on him) published the story in Urdu with this tittle.