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
A student complained of annoying recurrent thoughts (وساوس) regarding ritual purity۔ He added that he was spending to much time in restroom and wasting lots of water. Moreover it was giving him headaches and anxiety.
Sayyidiwasanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah protect & preserve him) replied,
‘Its treatment is to firmly do the opposite of these thoughts. Do not give importance to them. Otherwise they will continue to annoy.
The student requested for a recitation (wazifa) to help him.
Sayyidi instructed him to recite the Prophetic prayer
اللھم اجعل وساوس قلبی خشیتک و ذکرک
And recite surah an naas (Quran chapter 114) often and blow over himself. ‘
Darul Uloom Karachi, office. 26 October 2019. After zuhar.
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).
When the Prophet (ﷺ) got up at night to offer the Tahajjud prayer, he used to say: Allahumma lakal-hamd.
Anta qaiyyimus-samawati wal-ard wa man fihinna.
Walakal-hamd, Laka mulkus-samawati wal-ard wa man fihinna.
Walakal-hamd, anta nurus-samawati wal-ard.
Wa lakal-hamd, anta-l-haq wa wa’duka-lhaq, wa liqa’uka Haq, wa qauluka Haq, wal-jannatu Han wan-naru Haq wannabiyuna Haq.
Wa Muhammadun, sallal-lahu’alaihi wasallam, Haq, was-sa’atu Haq.
Allahumma aslamtu Laka wabika amantu, wa ‘Alaika tawakkaltu, wa ilaika anabtu wa bika khasamtu, wa ilaika hakamtu faghfir li ma qaddamtu wama akh-khartu wama as-rartu wama’a lantu, anta-l-muqaddim wa anta-l-mu akh-khir, la ilaha illa anta (or la ilaha ghairuka).
(O Allah! All the praises are for you, You are the Holder of the Heavens and the Earth, And whatever is in them. All the praises are for You; You have the possession of the Heavens and the Earth And whatever is in them. All the praises are for You; You are the Light of the Heavens and the Earth And all the praises are for You; You are the King of the Heavens and the Earth; And all the praises are for You; You are the Truth and Your Promise is the truth, And to meet You is true, Your Word is the truth And Paradise is true And Hell is true And all the Prophets (Peace be upon them) are true; And Muhammad is true, And the Day of Resurrection is true. O Allah ! I surrender (my will) to You; I believe in You and depend on You. And repent to You, And with Your help I argue (with my opponents, the non-believers) And I take You as a judge (to judge between us). Please forgive me my previous And future sins; And whatever I concealed or revealed And You are the One who make (some people) forward And (some) backward. There is none to be worshipped but you . Sufyan said that `Abdul Karim Abu Umaiya added to the above, ‘Wala haula Wala quwata illa billah’ (There is neither might nor power except with Allah).
“You are our protector, so forgive us, and have mercy on us, and You are the best among those who forgive.”
Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah protect & preserve him) explained that “wali” is one who knows the interests of someone, and safeguards those interests. Here, before making the supplication which follows, it is being said to Allah that “You are our wali”.
This is common throughout the supplications mentioned in the Quran and Hadith, that they often begin with words of praise for Allah. Why is this so? Some ignorant people think that these words of praise are akin to flattery which is done to people of power in this world. Allah has no need of this! Even if the entire world stopped mentioning His praise, it would not cause the minutest decrease in His Greatness!
Rather there are two reasons for doing this:
a) If a slave mentions his difficulties without words of praise to Allah, it is possible that ungratefulness could be involved in that supplication. To save the slave from into falling into ungratefulness, it is made Sunnah to begin the supplication with words of praise for Allah.
b) The words of praise for Allah, such as SubhanAllah (Allah is pure), Alhamdulillah (all praise is for Allah), Allahu Akbar (All is the Greatest) contain blessings, the reality of which will only be revealed in the Akhirah.Saying these words before supplications is made Sunnah so that the slave is not deprived of these blessings when making supplications to Allah.
Ramadan 1440, post zohar dars, Masjid Darul Uloom Karachi,
“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
An individual enquired that some people are very particular and insistent about certain matters which are not explicitly specified in Shariah, e.g. whether to wear a watch on the left or right hand, whether the shirt should be sewn such that when buttoning it the right half is on top or the left half, etc. and some people specify some things to extra detail where it seems Shariah has given a wider scope of action, e.g. some people say that the Sunnah of qailoolah (siesta) will only be fulfilled if one lies down in a particular sleeping pose from a specific time to a specific time.
Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani ( Allah preserve & protect him)replied:
! لا تحجروا واسعاً. (Don’t limit something which is vast) .
If Shariah has not specified something then one should do it according to one’s convenience. Someone asked Imam Abu Hanifah (May Allah’s mercy be upon him) “When I go to take a bath in a river, should I enter the river from the East, West, North or South?” Imam Sahab replied: “Enter from where you hang your clothes.”
Sayyidi jokingly continued: “Just take care that nobody steals your clothes, otherwise you’ll be in trouble.
Intekhab e Kaiseri, Ramadan 1440, DarulUloom Karachi office , post zohar majlis
Somebody asked regarding getting random thoughts (wasawis) of riya (showing off).
Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani ( Allah preserve & protect him) replied that riya is a volitional act. It is done, it does not happen by itself.
So one should not be too worried about getting such stray random thoughts. However, there is a chance that these random thoughts may develop into actual riya. So one should remain cautious at all times and vigilantly take note of what thoughts make one happy. At the same time, one should inform Allah Ta’ala about these stray thoughts and seek His protection (i.e. do ruju ilallah).
Look! I have already told you that ruju ilallahis the key to Tareeqat! Just take this one thing with yourself! Adopt it as your way of life!”
Sayyidiwasanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani ( Allah preserve & protect him) advised,
“Do everything with Ikhlas (sincerity) and supplicating to Allah (rujuilallah). Before starting any work, make dua: “Oh Allah! Give me the ability to do this work with sincerity and in a manner which is according to Your Pleasure.”
Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve & protect him) said,
Ṭarīqah is part of Sharīʿah.
My Shaykh’s Shaykh Ḥakīm al-Ummah Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī Thānawī (d. 1362/1943) revived taṣawwuf and purified it from many innovations that had crept into it. He also prescribed an easy solution for people nowadays who are unable to undertake the sacrifices undertaken by the saints of the past. He prescribed two easy things to keep a firm relationship with Allah Almighty. The first is making abundant Shukr (gratitude) and the second is making abundant supplications.
The first half of Sūrah al-Fātiḥah indicates upon the first whilst the second half indicates upon the second. Hold on to the maʾthūr (transmitted/Sunnah) supplications and establish a firm relationship with Allah. This is an easy prescription.”
Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allahpreserve & protect him) explains that the reason for Imam Bukhārī’s (Allahhave mercy on him) success is not his profound knowledge alone, rather his piety and abstinence are central to this. He performed at least 14,000 rakʿat Ṣalāh whilst authoring his Ṣāḥīḥ. Acceptance is from Allah Almighty. The congregation is advised to keep this third point in mind when studying the Ṣaḥīḥ.
A student asks regarding the lack of experiencing ḥalāwat (sweetness) when reciting the Qurʾān.
Sayyidi wa sanadiMufti Mohammed Taqi Usmani (Allahpreserve & protect him) advises to continue with the recitation, as experiencing sweetness is in itself not an objective, the objective is to please Allah Almighty. If sweetness is experienced then it is welcome, otherwise, it should not deter a person from continuing to recite.