Category Archives: N. Advice

Tasawwur e Shaikh: Ashrafiya Approach 1

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Mufti of Kazakhstan  inquired, ‘The inclination towards purification (tazkiya) of soul and moral characteristics (ikhlaq) is arising in our youth. However, the mentors they approach (for this) instruct them  ‘tasawwur e Shaikh‘ with much emphasis. This is to the extent that they are told to contemplate all the time that I am seeing the Shaikh. Please, guide us on this. Isn’t this  an  overstatement (gulu)?’

Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (Allah protect & preserve him) replied,

‘Tasawwur e Shaikh’ was a form of (spiritual) treatment used by some of the ancient master of Tasawwuf. Its was for the the individual’s who found it difficult to keep the contemplation of Allah (‘s presence, especially) initially. For them some masters prescribed as a form of treatment (of this difficulty) to contemplate about their mentor (Shaikh). This is because the relationship, love and reverence for Shaikh is solely to gain Allah’s pleasure and it easier to imagine an entity one has seen than what he has not seen. Then gradually the masters will guide him to the real objective, that is, contemplation of Allah. Hence, tasawwur e shaikh is not an objective in itself. (It is a stepping stone to the real objective.)

The pious righteously-guided masters (ahle-haqq) who did use this did not make it an integral part of their path. They instructed it individually as needed for a disciple for whom it was suitable paying due considerations to its  conditions and limitations.

Even so, the masters of our path, the pious-predecessors of Deoband did not encourage ‘tasawwur e Shaikh’. This is because sometimes its limits are not maintained and it leads to shirk (associating partners with Allah). However, at the same time they do not castigate the rightly guided masters who did instruct it with its conditions and limitations.

Once Sayyid Ahmed shaheed prescribed ‘tasawwur e shaikh’ for Shah Ismaeel shaheed (Allah have mercy on them).  Shah Ismaeel apologized saying that if I was ordered to do something  even inappropriate (sinful) I would have done it and then repented. But in ‘tasawwur e shaikh‘ I smell shirk. Therefore, I will not do this.

The way of our pious predecessors of Deoband (akabir e Deoband) was that the contemplation of Allah that develops by observing the Sunna practices is sufficient (for a seeker). This is because following the Sunna is the most effective way of gaining Allah’s proximity (acceptance & pleasure).

These days the problem has developed that some mentors consider ‘tasawwur e shaikh’ an essential part of their path (tareeq). They instruct this to all the disciples uniformly even if there is no need for it.  Similar is the story in all of the Tasawwuf. In some quarters the method of treatment (of spiritual maladies) has  been made a goal in itself.

This is the case of gathering of remembrance (ijtemai majalis e dhikr bil jaher)………..’

to be continued

Albalagh,Urdu, volume 51, publication 6-7, (April 2017) page 70-1

Tasawwuf: very basic texts

 
Mufti Maqsid of Kazakistan inquired that in regards to Tasawwuf there are misunderstanding in people here, the younger generation aspires for spiritual betterment (islah). Some approach us for understanding Tasawwuf. Moreover we want to teach our students tasawwuf. What books will be beneficial to do so?

Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (Allah protect & preserve him) replied,

For this purpose in my opinion start with my respected father’s (Mufti Mohammad Shafi, Allah have mercy on him) book ‘Dil ki dunya‘. This is concise text and will be an easy to comprehend introduction of Tasawwuf. This text can be covered in a week or even less.

After that select from Imam Ghazali’s (Allah have mercy on him) books ‘Bidayat al Hidaya‘ or ‘al Arba’een’. The later’s Urdu translation has been published as ‘Tabligh e Deen‘.

Then teach ‘Taleem ud Deen‘ of Hakim al Ummah Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him).

Teaching these text will lead to the understanding of reality of Tasawwuf in a short period of time. It is expected to be achieved in one or two semesters, in-sha-Allah. ‘

Albalagh, volume 51, publication 6-7, (April 2017) page 72

Truthfulness & sincerity

  
“Do not be very strict on yourselves for then Allah will be strict upon you. Verily, a group of people were strict upon themselves so Allah was strict upon them. Their remnants are the (ascetic) people living in the hermitages and monasteries. [Then he quoted the verse,] ‘But the monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them.”‘ Abu Dawud

In explaining this Prophetic saying Shaykh Abdul Haqq Muhadith Dehlawi (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that Shaykh Ahmed bin Abilhawari approached his teacher Shaykh Suleman Darani (Allah have mercy on them) and inquired that the people of Bani Israel strived with such (physical) endeavors and struggles that their skin became like old worn out leather whereas we eat, drink, clothe ourselves and live with comforts and luxuries. My heart is burdened by this luxurious lifestyle and I worry what will be its end result. 

Shaykh Suleman Darani (Allah have mercy on him) replied,

‘O Ahmed! What is demanded from us (by Allah) is truthfulness (sidiq) and sincerity (ikhlas) (in our intentions and actions)

Burning and melting (with strenuous endeavors and struggles) is not demanded from us. 

Good deeds performed with sincerity for ten days are better than 10 years of (physical) struggle that burns and melts (the skin). 

The real objective and goal is the pleasure of and acceptance by (radha) Allah. (This can only be achieved with sidiq and ikhlaas.)

As the poet says

من لم یکن للوصال اہلا فکل احسانہ ذنوب ‘

Ashaat alelmaat volume 1, page 473 via Basariyet ki rah say taraqqi 

Ijazet: Who is worthy of it?

 

Murideen used to come to Shaykh al Hadith Maulana Zakariyah (Allah have mercy on him) during Ramadan. During his initial years he used to send them to Hazrat Abdul Qadirahmer Raipuri (Allah have mercy on him)(for them to stay in his blessed company). Regarding this Shaykh al Hadith writes:

“The condition of some of them improved greatly and with the spiritual blessings (tawajjuhaat) of Hazrat Raipuri (Allah have mercy on him) it became even better but some of the residents there said to my guests (i.e. Murideen): “Why hasn’t Shaykh given you permission (of Ba’yat) until now?” This thing became a poison for them as they began to consider themselves something. 

It is a well-established principle in this field (of Tasawwuf) that as long as one considers himself to be incompetent and unworthy then he is successful; but as soon as he considers himself as competent and worthy then he becomes unsuccessful.I have experienced this in many of the friends and close senior murideen (khuddam) of my pious elders.

This incompetent writer was given permission (of Ba’yat) by my Shaykh (Allah have mercy on him) in Dhi Qa’dah 1345H in Madinah Munawwarh. This incompetent writer remembers it clearly that without any exaggeration I held the feet of Hazrat Raipuri (Allah have mercy on him) that please don’t mention it to anyone in India. But Hazrat insisted that he would definitely inform them and began writing to people in India from there (i.e. Madinah Munawwarah).

After coming back to india I did not get the courage to accept anyone’s Ba’yat for a long time. Perhaps it is mentioned somewhere in Aap Beeti that I started accepting for Ba’yat after being scolded by my Uncle (Maulana Ilyas May Allah have mercy on him). Thereafter I went to Hazrat Shaykhul Islam (Hussan Ahamd Madni)and Hazrat Raipuri (May Allah have mercy on them both) several times that if they take consideration of my inability and thus order me to stop accepting anyone for Ba’yat then I will get a way out. But each time they in return scolded me. I remember a saying of Shaykhul Islam (Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni, Allah have mercy on him) that on my request he angrily replied “Who accepts anyone for Ba’yat considering himself to be worthy and competent? The one who does that is himself unworthy and incompetent. The successful one is he who considers himself incompetent at all times”.

Source: Aap Beeti of Hazrat Shaykh-ul-Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyyah Kandhlawi, Volume 2, Page 441-442

Intekhab e Kaiseri

 

Leaving the Shaykh: The proper way to do so

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A individual from Bengal wrote a letter,

I am an illiterate sinful person. I am one of your admirers. Once I requested from you permission to see (listen) Qasd us Sabeel (Hakim al Umma’s  primer on Tasawwuf). However, I could not decide what to select for myself and do (from the instruction given in it) and consultation with you to express my desire was not possible. Due to these reasons I became a mureed of (visiting) Shaykh from Lucknow. He instructed various litanies to me. He is very sweet and soft spoken. Majority of his disciples are from the affluent class, police and security professionals. He visits them with pomp and grandeur and eats freely from their income (irrespective of it being contaminated with impermissible). He instructs the wives and household members of these people directly without any barrier (pardah) in between. He recites over them (for protection or treatment) and touches them for blessings.

In an interpretation of one of my dreams he instructed me to arrange for an individual to go for Hajj in my place as my medical condition does not permit me to do so. When I arranged for the funds he himself volunteered to go. I was happy. Few days later he wrote to me that these funds are insufficient and more money is required. I paid the excess amount. Prior to departure for Hajj he instructed me to pay for his household expenses in his absence. After a long duration (after returning from Hajj) he wrote to me that all the blessed gifts he had brought from Haramain were stolen.

Few months later he visited our town. In private he demanded significant amount of  money from me. I had a genuine excuse and postponed it by a future promise.

Later he wrote that because of travelling to the blessed Makkah for my sake he became sick on returning and had to spend a lot on treatment. He demanded that I pay that amount. After much struggle I paid a small amount. He was furious.

I shared all these details with a religious friend and he advised that I consult you. It for this reason I am dictating this letter. Please, tell me what to do.

(Letter is edited. The answer is not.)

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

‘All of this results from ignorance (of reality of this path), overconfidence in one’s own opinion (khud raiy), haste and lack of understanding.

Utmost caution is essential in developing a spiritual relationship (with a Shaykh).

As per the principles of Shariah and Tasawwuf it is obligatory (wajib) to break off relationship with this individual.

However, confronting him harshly or criticizing him in the presence of his disciples will lead to commotion and confusion. In this path (Tasawwuf) commotion and confusion are (spiritually) detrimental.

Therefore, with quietness and calm break off relationship with him in your heart. Then seek a pious and accomplished (muhaqiq) spiritual mentor (Shaykh). Do not hurry to become his disciple. You had a (bad) experience (already). Inform him of your condition and follow his instructions. If after doing this (you observe the benefit and) you wholeheartedly desire to do so then there is no objection in becoming his disciple. Though it is not necessary.

I make supplication (duaa) for you. You should also continue making supplication (in this regards).

Tarbiyet us Slaik, volume 3, page 177-80

 

Sexual desires: control them

 

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Musleh al Umma Maulana Wasiullah Allahabadi (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that these days we are shy to mention the topic of sexual desires. It is thought to be something vulgar and beyond the limits of religious decorum. Whereas, our Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) explicitly mentions this topic high lighting the importance of controlling these desires, availing them within the permissible means and warning us about the destruction if they are left unchecked.

Moreover, as quoted above there are many Prophetic supplications asking Allah for assistance in this regards. In spite of being the best of mankind and infallible Prophet  (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) he asked Allah for help. Most likely  he did this to instruct us to be vigilant in this regards and  not to take these desires lightly. Many have fallen into destruction due to them.

Also, we learn from these Prophetic instructions that these desires are powerful, persuasive and difficult to remove with our efforts alone. Divine assistance is required to control them effectively.  For this reason we should make it a habit to ask Allah for help in this regards.

The tip to remember is that Divine assistance comes only to those who keep on trying their best to control these desires.

Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi was aware of the importance of instructing his associates (mureedeen) regarding this topic. He would often recite the following verses,

Save your semen! Don’t let it flow to waste

For it is the (precious) water that creates life when poured in the right place

Majalis e Musleh al Ummat Ra, volume 5, second majlis paraphrased

We have to tackle this issue with more vigilance. The opportunities for fulfilling sexual desires are plentiful and readily available. The newer technologies are developed to guarantee confidentiality and secrecy. The exposure to immoral sexual imagery is abundant. Especially affected are the naïve, curious and immature adolescents. Their developing minds are corrupted and it becomes a lifelong struggle to remove these thoughts or succumb to them.

The only cure for this is by sincere persistent effort and asking Allah for help. These two components result in a vigilant awareness of accountability in front of Allah and this stops an individual from all that is immoral.

May Allah facilitate this for us. Amin!

Dhikr or muraqaba

A seeker requested for a meditation (muraqaba).
Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,

‘Meditations (muraqabaat) are less beneficial these days. Remembrance with contemplation,  either verbally or by reading books is more suitable for the nature of people these days.’

Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 1, page 473

Suhba: One of the benefits 

 
An individual wrote, As per your respected perspective (maslak) I don’t consider feelings or overwhelming states (kayfiyaat) to be the goal. However, sometimes this random thought (waswasa) comes that my deeds and the way I do them is indeed deficient and it would not be rectified without being in the company of my mentor (murshid).

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

‘This thought (of actions being deficient) is most desired. That day will be inauspicious (na-mubarak) when we assume that our deeds are free of deficiencies.

Therefore, do not aspire for suhba for this purpose (that is, to get rid of it).

However, there are many other benefits of suhba including the immense benefit of this thought of being deficient becoming more stronger and quite obvious.’

Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 1, page 439

Sunna: Criterion for Allah’s proximity 

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Quoting 29 verses of Holy Quran Arif-billah Dr. Abdul-Hayy Arifi (Allah have mercy on him) said,

‘It is distinctly evident from these specifications of Allah that an individual who is closest to the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) (by emulating his actions and orders) will come closest to Allah and will be from His beloved servant (abd).

Evidently following the Sunna (etiba e sunnat) is the soul of worshiping and climax of absolute servant-hood (abdiyet).   

An action in opposition to Sunna is not an act of worship, but it is pure deviation.’

Uswa-e-Rasool-e-akram sallallaho alehey wa alihi wa salam, page 38

Mosque property use

 
An individual presented few dates in plastic cup (kept with water coolers) in the Prophet’s mosque (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him).

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

‘Is this a used plastic cup?’

On receiving a negative response he picked a single date and returned the plastic cup clarifying,

‘It is impermissible to give something that is mosque property to another as a gift.’

Masjid e Nabaawi, exiting Bab Rehmah, after esha, Friday 19 February 2016

Hadith

  

The greatest Imam our master Abu Hanifa (Allah have mercy on him) wrote in his bequest (wasiyet) to his son Hammad that I have chosen five traditions (Hadith) from all the sayings of Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). These are enough for a person to practice the religion.

Our master Prophet Muhammed (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

1. Actions are according to intentions

2. It is from the excellence of a person’s Islam to abandon what does not concern him

3. A believer is not a believer until he is pleased for his brother with what he is pleased for himself

4. The lawful is clear and the forbidden is clear, but between the two are ambiguous matters. Whoever guards himself against ambivalent matters has gone to the utmost limit in seeking to be clear in his religion and honour.

5. The Muslim is one whom others are safe from their tongue and hands.    

(Reference 1,3,4&5 are in Bukhari & Muslim, 2 is in Tirmidhi)

Suhbat e ba awliya, malfuzaat of Sheikh al Hadith ( Allah have mercy on him)

The Lost Art of Dying 



All of us are living to die.

How well prepared are we for this?

How well have we prepared our spouse, children and family to handle it?

Is our state of affairs and a legal will ready ?

Have we made it clear to our physician and next of kin that no heroic measures are to be used in my care? (This is especially so for the elderly >70 years and those diagnosed with a terminal disease.)

A Westerner writes, ‘Dying used to be accompanied by a prescribed set of customs.

Reaffirming one’s faith, repenting one’s sins, and letting go of one’s worldly possessions and desires were crucial, and the guides provided families with prayers and questions for the dying in order to put them in the right frame of mind during their final hours. Last words came to hold a particular place of reverence.’

Sounds Muslim.

Muslims are to be prepared for death all the time.

Our master Prophet Mohammed (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) instructed us to remember often -the destroyer of all pleasures :death. (Tirmidhi, Ahmed, Ibn e Majah)

Most of us are not prepared and in the right frame of mind to handle death. In facing, it especially for the elderly and those diagnosed with a terminal disease, all our effort is to prolong life. This is done at at all measures, irrespective of the pain, suffering and financial burden to the afflicted and those around.

We pay no attention at all to a peaceful departure, accepting the decree of Allah wholeheartedly, a farewell as a believer (khatima bil khair), forgiving others and asking forgiveness from Allah and fellow Muslims, recitation of kalima (There is no God except Allah, Mohammed [Allah’s blessings ans peace be upon him] is His messenger) as their last words by the dying and the chapter of  Yasin from Quran by those around.

This is also a an issue we have to improve upon.

 

Respect for the ‘other side’


Differences of opinion within madhahib (fiqhi schools) is well established reality.

Scholars (fiqaha)have emphatically stated that that there is no proselytizing or censoring of a follower of a different fiqh for doing whatever his fiqh permits (and is impermissible or disliked in our fiqh). These are in the category of wajib and Sunna.

Moreover, differences in peripheral issues (furu) is even more common. These are all in the category of permissible.

In dealing with differences of opinion among scholars the lay individuals do not differentiate between the hierarchy of the categories involved. In addition they start assuming that the ‘other-side’ is ignorant, arrogant or morally corrupt. This is totally wrong.

The habit of forming unsubstantiated assumptions (su-e-dhan) is a spiritual illness.

We have to respect all scholars and fellow Muslims irrespective of our differences. All of them are trying their best to please Allah. They have the best intentions and are trying to the best of their capabilities. Allah will reward them all.

However, in practice we follow the pious ones we love, trust and benefit from.

For a seeker (salik) the involvement in religious polemics is spiritually devastating. It is imperative for his success on this path to consider all others to be superior to himself. And leave all that does not concern him.

May Allah give us the tawfeeq. Amin!