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
Category Archives: B. Praise worthy morals
The good moral characteristics that are to be developed within one’s self
A spiritual aspirant wrote, Sir! The conditions of wilting and constriction is ever increasing. Weeks and months pass by without experiencing any happiness. It looks like mind and heart are dead. There no solace either in being alone or in gatherings. I’m extremely disturbed by the vacuum and suspension in life. The work is merely for acquiring sustenance there is no aspect of interest in it at all. ……………
……. The wish for dying has not as yet developed, however, life is a burden……………
Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,
‘This condition is called spiritual constriction (qabd). It happens to all (spiritual wayfarers:salikeen ). Outwardly it appears to be an affliction, however in reality it is a blessing.
Its causes are different. Sometimes it is disturbance in normal physiological (bodily) functioning or mixing (in unsuitable company) or seasonal affect or medicinal side effects or (consumption of inappropriate) food or psychological factors, or (excessive) thinking or (overwhelming) sadness or anger. All of these are treated by there opposites.
Sometimes it is due to sinful involvement. It’s treatment is abandoning the sinful and excessive repentance.
Sometimes it to elevate the spiritual status of the aspirant. That is, the deficiency in volitional good actions is compensated by forced spiritual struggle. This increases the spiritual status.
At other times it is to rectify one’s morals (ikhlaq). That is, by observing one’s imperfections there is development of humbleness and humility. This cures many blameworthy morals, like narcissism (ujub), arrogance (kibr) and hard-heartedness (qasawet), etc. .
Sometimes it is a test of love and reverence. That is to see if the individual works only when happy and experiencing enjoyment or continues with good actions when there is no experiencing at all. Because the later condition can only be due to overwhelming love and reverence.
At other times it is leads to attraction (jazb) to the sanctified realm (‘alam al quds) by removing the veils and obstacles.
And sometimes the causes are beyond descriptions.
After this prelude, there are some points of caution,
1. Sometimes various different causes are combined
2. When this (qabd) occurs it is futile to investigate and identify the reasons behind it. Moreover it is detrimental to do so. This is because there is no way to ascertain it definitely. And it will be a wasted effort.
3. The rights of all the possibilities should be fulfilled. That is (practice ) repentance, patience, thankfulness, assigning affairs to Allah (tafweez) , relying on Allah, humility, supplications, turning to Allah, excessive remembrance, being steadfast in good actions, decrease in useless affairs, involvement in activities that relax and strengthen the mind like meeting friends, interaction with spouse and children, consuming one’s favorite foods in moderation. All these must be combined in a efficient way.
4. All of these (above mentioned) activities should be done without the intention of treatment or expecting (a hastened) spiritual opening (bast) or blissful state. These are in themselves (necessary) to be done. One should be ready to be steadfast in fulfilling these rights even if this spiritual constriction prevails till the end of life.
5. Staying away as much as possible from all the astringent and worrisome affairs.
Use of these interventions meticulously, InshaAllah, will result most of the times in spontaneous (physical/tabaii) spiritual opening and for sure in intellectual (‘aqli) spiritual opening.
If there is suspicion of relapse then as per ان عدتم عدنا be ready. Like an individual who get a seasonal fever (every year). He doesn’t despair. He just renews the prescription again (for use).
Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him) said,
‘After bayiah (spiritual allegiance) the things that need to be rectified upfront include, arrogance, negligence in fulfilling the rights of others (huqooqal ‘ebad), envy, hatred, creating adversity (fitna) between people, etc. However, nowadays no restrictions are instructed for these things. Whereas, previous pious elders (Mashāyikh) used to give priority to these things from first day.
The litanies & recitations (wazaif) were instructed after many years.
Moreover, these restrictions were not merely verbal instructions, they recommended various practices to uproot these spiritual ailments from the heart.
Like, if they saw an individual afflicted with self adoration (زینت پرستی) he was instructed to sweep and tidy up the spiritual lodge (khanqah) or streets. Similarly, if they saw arrogance in an individual, he was instructed to tidy up the shoes of people coming to pray. These acts of humility have the ability to create humbleness in heart. ‘
Shaykh Ahmed Zarruq (Allah have mercy on him) said,
‘Although the traveler (salik) must be more cautious after returning to sin he must not give up and despair. After every return, even a thousand time, he must renew his intention to repent.
If the Devil argues: “What is use of a repentance following a repetition of the sin?”, he must be answered, “Just as we made the sin’s repetition a habit, we make the repetition of repentance a habit too. ‘
“Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and do not bless us with mercy, we shall, indeed, be among the losers.”
Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah protect & preserve him) explained that before sending Adam (peace be upon him) on the earth, Allah showed us two examples of mistakes. One mistake was by Iblees when he refused to prostrate to Adam (peace be upon him). When he was asked why he disobeyed Allah he gave logical reasoning to prove that his stance is correct. As a result, he became permanently rejected.
On the other hand was the mistake made by Adam and Hawa (peace be upon them both). When they were asked why they disobeyed Allah, they immediately confessed to their mistake and asked Allah for forgiveness. As a result, they became a model for humanity as to what to do when one makes a mistake.
“Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate from the right path after You have given us guidance, and bestow upon us mercy from Your own. Surely, You, and You alone, are the One who bestows in abundance.”
Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah protect & preserve him) explained, among other things:
“This deviation is of two kinds:
1) Deviation in understanding of Deen
As an example, he narrated the following incident:
Once I was in America. A talk used to be conducted after Fajr prayer where people travelling from hundreds of miles away also used to attend. People asked me regarding the matter of Istiwa ‘alal ‘Arsh (Allah’s ascending/sitting on His throne), i.e. is it literal ascending/sitting or figurative. I asked them: “What gave rise to this question in your minds?” They explained that a scholar from Saudi Arabia visits us to give religious talks. He tells us that “‘Aqeedah must be corrected first. And ‘aqeedah will not be correct until and unless you believe that when Allah tells us that he sat on His throne then it is a literal sitting. You will not be a Muslim until and unless you have this belief.”
The state of the people there was that they did not know the rulings of prayer; they were not aware of several matters related to what is Halal (permissible) and what is Haram (impermissible); they were not aware of the rulings of Nikah (marriage) and Talaq (divorce); they were not aware of Islamic etiquettes and the Sunnah (Prophetic) way of doing things. While the people were lacking in knowledge of all these important matters, they were plunged them into the matter of Istiwa ‘alal Arsh.
I told them to let me meet him the next time he visited. We met after Fajr one day. I sincerely asked him: “You have stirred up the matter of Istiwa ‘alal Arsh among these people while they don’t know how to pray correctly; they are not aware about the Sunnah (Prophet) way of doing things; they are not aware about the rulings of Nikah (marriage) and Talaq(divorce); they are lacking in knowledge of Halal(permissible) and what is Haram (impermissible). Is the matter that whether Allah is sitting on His throne literally or figuratively the most important knowledge for these people?
He said this matter is part of ‘aqeedah (beliefs) and ‘aqeedah(beliefs) are more important than actions. I asked him, is this such a belief about which you will be questioned in the grave? Or on the Day of Judgment? Hearing this, he became lost for words. I told him that beliefs are of two types; one type is of those without believing in which a person cannot attain salvation in the Hereafter; another type is of those on which a person’s salvation is not dependent. What unnecessary disputes are you plunging the people into!? After explaining this to him for some time, Alhamdulillah Allah Ta’ala made him understand the point. I asked him to teach people the straight-forward practical teachings of Deen, and that if the same topic is discussed further, people will divide into groups and sects and a Fitna (dispute) will be raised up.
One means of this intellectual deviation is that one attends discourses of all and sundry; one may see that a large crowd attends the lectures of so and so, and begin attending those lectures. This mode of action has the risk that if one begins liking these lectures, e.g. due to the style of the speaker, or his beautiful language, or he mentions certain points which seem attractive, or one is entertained by the lecture, or due to the large crowd attending, then one may begin absorbing all that he says without being able to objectively judge (due to one’s lack of knowledge) whether the lectures contain something which is incorrect.
Rather one should search for a reliable source of knowledge which one trusts and which scholars trust, and they have also spent time in the company of Ahlullah, then stick to it. Our elders say یک در گیر و محکم گیر (Hold on to one door, and hold fast to it). This important principal is known as Tawheed-e-Matlab in the terminology of Tasawwuf.
Sayyidi further explained that becoming famous among the masses is not a sign of being correct and being accepted in the court of Allah. Rather, becoming famous and respected among those having knowledge and understanding of Deen, and then becoming famous among the masses is one of the signs of being correct and being accepted in the court of Allah.
2) Deviation in actions
As a treatment for this, my Shaykh Dr Abdul Hayy Arifi (May Allah’s mercy be upon him) used to say:
“Imagine it is the Day of Judgment. Your deeds are being presented to you. Allah asks you: “Why did you do this when I prohibited you from it? Why didn’t you do that when I commanded you to do it?” Imagine you reply: “Oh Allah! I was weak. I was brought up in an unreligious atmosphere. The environment around me encouraged me towards your disobedience. My nafs and Shaytan overpowered me. My friends and family also spurred me towards your disobedience.”
Now imagine Allah asks you: “Why didn’t you tell me? When I repeatedly told you in the Quran that “Allah is powerful over everything”, did you think I was powerless to help you?”
What reply can you give to Allah? ”
“Do this now while you are alive. Tell Allah all your difficulties and fears in terms of falling into His disobedience and ask His protection. Once you have taken all practical measures to obey Him and avoid His disobedience, and have told Him about your fears and asked Him for protection, then you have done your job.”
Intekhab e Kaiseri
Ramadan 1440, post zohar majlis, MasjidDarulUloomKarachi
“Our Lord, do not hold us accountable, if we forget or make a mistake, and, Our Lord, do not place on us such a burden as You have placed on those before us, and, Our Lord, do not make us bear a burden for which we have no strength. And pardon us, and grant us forgiveness, and have mercy on us. You are our Lord. So then help us against the disbelieving people.”
Sayyid wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve & protect him) explained, among other things:
There are three things being asked at the end of this supplication:
a) وَاعۡفُ عَنَّا “And pardon our sins”.
b) وَاغۡفِرۡ لَنَا “And forgive us”. It is possible that a mistake is pardoned, i.e. Allah is no longer displeased for committing that mistake, but a punishment may still be given as compensation. Here we are commanded by Allah to say: “Oh Allah. Pardon our mistakes and also forgive us and don’t give us any punishment for them.”
c) وَارۡحَمۡنَا “And have mercy on us”. Here we are asking Allah: “Oh Allah! Not only pardon us for our mistakes and not punish us for them, please also give us something from Your Mercy”.
Hazrat explained that a “waqaf” sign is stated in the (Indo-Pak) Mushafs after each of these supplications. While reading a verse after which there is a “waqaf” a pause which is longer than a “saktah” should be made without releasing the breath. This waqaf is for pondering over the meanings of these three supplications. They should not be read without pausing, in which case they would be read without pondering over the meanings of these supplications.
These supplications also teach us that a slave of Allah is required to try his utmost to live his life according to the commandments of Allah. At the same time, he should fear for any mistakes or shortcomings in his efforts and ask Allah for forgiveness over them.
Intekhab e Kaiseri
Ramadan 1440: Post-Zuhr Discourses- Explanation of supplications from Munajat-e-Maqbool
There are many Muslims living and working in countries where there is widespread immodesty. Avoiding interaction with non-Mahram females is almost impossible for them. What should they do to avoid sins of the eyes?
Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (May Allah protect & preserve him) replied:
‘This is a big problem nowadays, no doubt, even in some Muslim countries.
Two things need to be avoided:
1. Intentionally looking at non-Mahram females with the intention to derive pleasure
2. Intentionally thinking about non-Mahram females with the intention to derive pleasure.
Two things are needed to achieve this:
1. Using one’s will power and determination, i.e. forcing oneself against the carnal desires of one’s lower self
2. Asking Allah for protection.
He asked those present:
What do you think? If a slave sincerely asks Allah for protection, will He not grant His protection? Definitely He will grant His protection!
Another individual asked:
I have read in Hakim al Umma Thanvi’s (Allah’s mercy be upon him) discourses that sins of the eyes are so destructive that their effect can cause the beneficial effects of all the recitations, prayers, and other forms of worship become null and void.
If a slave is sincerely doing the two things I have mentioned then nothing will cause his actions to go to waste. Rather, take note– this is not an invitation to sin– but if a person, after making his best effort and sincerely asking Allah for help, slips and commits a sin, then the subsequent Tawba will elevate his status.
My Shaikh Dr Abdul Hayy Arifi (May his secret be sanctified) was a lawyer by profession. But he was uncomfortable with this profession as sometimes he would have to be involved in cases where his role in the case would be doubtful or disliked from Shariah point of view. He finally decided to quit and become a homeopathic doctor instead. He informed Hakim al Umma Thanvi (Allah’s mercy be upon him) about this decision.
Hakim al Umma (Allah’s mercy be upon him) replied:“I was waiting for this.
And now I give you ijazet-e-baiyat.”
Anyway, when respected Dr Abdul Hayy Arifi (Allah have mercy on him) started his clinic all sorts of people would come to him, including women who wore clothes which were contrary to Shariah. He became worried that he left his profession as a lawyer to avoid doing anything contrary to Shariah, now he has fallen into another problem! He wrote to Hakim al Umma regarding his predicament.
Hakim al Umma replied:
Take care of two things:
1. Force yourself to avoid looking at non-Mahram females with the intention of deriving pleasure
2. Sincerely, humbly, and with all humility, ask Allah for protection from falling into his disobedience.
Intekhab e Kaiseri, Ramadan 1440, post zohar majlis, office, Darul Uloom Karachi
“And help each other in righteousness and piety, and do not help each other in sin and aggression.”
“Here, the command is to help each other in righteousness. This helping in righteousness is not limited to any group, party,race, etc., rather we are commanded to help each other on the basis ofthe causebeing righteous. Nowadays onething which can stop someone fromcooperating withothers in righteousness is the desire to get credit for something. So they think that if this good thing happens under the banner of someone else then I will not get credit for it. So they do notcooperate with othersin that good cause.Suchbehaviour is against the command of this verse.”
Intekhab e Kaiseri, Ramadan 1440, post zoharmajlis, Office, Darul Uloom Karachi