Monday, 30 April 2012
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (q.s.) was a person with great patience. After the Battle of Karbala, he was marched to Damascus in chains and in the time of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, he was arrested and chained. He was then forced to walk from Madinah to Syria in chains. With all this, he never complained or said one word about his condition in the Court of Allah (s.w.t.). He instead remained patient and made shukr with every step. It is written in Khazinat al-Aswfiyya’, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin’s (q.s.) most loyal student, Imam Zuhri (q.s.) could not bear to see the Imam in this condition, so he went to ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, and had the great imam released. He then took him back to Madinah.
Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (q.s.) had a very soft heart and always thought of the sacrifice that was given by his father, Husayn (r.a) and all the martyrs on the plains of Karbala. Once, he was walking in the blessed streets of Madinah Munawwarah, when he saw a person placing a goat on the ground, and was sharpening the knife before preparing the animal for slaughter. On seeing this, he became very saddened and thought of the martyrdom of his father. He then began to weep bitterly and asked the man, “My dear Brother! Did you give the goat some food and water or not?” The man replied that he had fed and given water to the goat for the past three days and had also fed it water just before laying in down. On hearing this, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (q.s.) let out a sigh of pain and said, “It is sad, that the people of Kufa did not even care for him like (you care for) the goat. They starved him for three days and nights and then martyred him in this state.” This was recorded in Masalik as-Salikin.
It is reported in Khazinat al-Aswfiyya’ that he used to perform one thousand raka’at of swalah an-nafl every night. One night, whilst he was performing his nawafil, his house caught on fire. The people were rushing around trying to put of the fire, but he continued his swalah with total concentration. After he completed his swalah, the people told him that his house had caught on fire and yet he continued reading without any showing any sign of panic. He replied, “You were trying to extinguish this fire, and I was trying to extinguish the fire of the Hereafter.”
A person once swore at Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (q.s.) and made slanderous remarks to him. In response, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (q.s.) said to him: “If the attributes, you accuse me of, are found in me then I repent to Allah ‘Azza wa Jal and ask for Forgiveness. If the attributes are not found in me, then on your behalf, I ask Allah ‘Azza wa Jal for Forgiveness and Repentance.”
The person saw Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin’s (q.s.) patience and was overwhelmed by it. He stood up, kissed Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (q.s.) on the forehead and said, “May my soul be sacrificed for you! Whatever I accused you of was wrong. I seek forgiveness from you and I request you to pray to Allah Azza wa Jal for the acceptance of my repentance.” And the imam did so.
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is a brief explanation of the Eleven Naqshbandi Principles. These must be known and practiced by the muridun of the Naqshbandi Haqqani. There were originally eight principles formulated by Khwaja ‘Abd al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (q.s.). The last three were later added by Shah Baha’ ad-Din an-Naqshband (q.s.). The Eleven Naqshbandi principles, known in their original Persian as Kalimat-i Qudsiya, the Sacred Words, are a system of guidelines used as spiritual exercises.
The use and deep meaning of these Eleven Principles, is in truth, unlimited. As the murid matures and develops spiritually, he will perceive more and more aspects of each of the Principles. They are secrets because they open little by little, developing the individual who uses them constantly, as guides to self-knowledge and to knowing more and more of the Totality that gives Life to Creation. They are secrets because they are known and used only in schools based on the Order of the Masters of the Golden Chain.
Khwaja 'Abd al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (q.s.) coined the following phrases which are now considered the principles of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order. The language is Persian. Khwaja `Abd al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (q.s.) had four khulafah. The first was Shaykh Ahmad asw-Swiddiq (q.s.), originally from Bukhara. The second was Kabir al-Awliya’, Shaykh ‘Arif Awliya’ al-Kabir (q.s.). He was originally from Bukhara and a great scholar in both the external and internal sciences. The third khalif was Shaykh Sulayman al-Kirmani (q.s.). The fourth khalif was Shaykh ‘Arif ar-Riwakri (q.s.). It is to this fourth khalif that Khwaja ‘Abd al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (q.s.) passed the Secret of the Golden Chain before he passed away on the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal, 575 AH.
The first principle of the Naqshbandi Haqqani Sufi Order is “Conscious breathing”, called Hosh dar Dam. “Hosh” means “mind.” “Dar” means “in.” “Dam” means “breath.” According to Khwaja ‘Abd al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (q.s.), “The wise seeker must safeguard his breath from heedlessness, coming in and going out, thereby keeping his heart always in the Divine Presence; and he must revive his breath with worship and servitude and dispatch this worship to His Lord full of life, for every breath which is inhaled and exhaled with Presence is alive and connected with the Divine Presence. Every breath inhaled and exhaled with heedlessness is dead, disconnected from the Divine Presence.” In another text, he was quoted thus: “Every breath which is exhaled from within must be exhaled with awareness and presence of mind and so that the mind does not stray into heedlessness.”
Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah al-Ahrar (q.s.) said, “The most important mission for the seeker in this Order is to safeguard his breath, and he who cannot safeguard his breath, it would be said of him, ‘he lost himself.’”
Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) said, “This Order is built on the breath. So, it is a must for everyone to safeguard his breath in the time of his inhalation and exhalation and further, to safeguard his breath in the interval between the inhalation and exhalation.” Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) also said, “The foundation of our work is in the breath. The more that one is able to be conscious of one's breathing, the stronger is one's inner life. It is a must for everyone to safeguard his breath in the time of his inhalation and exhalation and further, to safeguard his breath in the interval between the inhalation and exhalation.”
Shaykh Sa’d ad-Din al-Kashghari (q.s.) added, “Hosh dar Dam is moving from breath to breath so there is no heedlessness but rather there is presence, and with each breath that we take should be the remembrance of the Reality."
Shaykh Abu al-Janab Najm ad-Din al-Kubra (q.s.) said in his book, Fawatih al-Jamal, “Dzikr is flowing in the body of every single living creature by the necessity of their breath, even without will, as a sign of obedience which is part of their Creation. Through their breathing, the sound of the letter ‘Ha’’ of the Divine Name ‘Allah’ is made with every exhalation and inhalation and it is a sign of the Unseen Essence serving to emphasise the Uniqueness of Allah. Therefore, it is necessary to be present with that breathing, in order to realise the Essence of the Creator.”
The Name, “Allah”, which encompasses the Ninety-Nine Names and Attributes, consists of four letters, Alif, Lam, Lam and the same Ha’ mentioned above. The people of the Path say that the Absolute Unseen Essence of Allah (s.w.t.) is expressed by the last letter vowelised by the Alif, the Ha’. It represents the Absolute Unseen Essence of the Exalted, Allah (s.w.t.), Ghayb al-Huwiyyah al-Muthlaqa Lillah ‘Azza wa Jal. The first Lam is for the sake of identification, and the second Lam is for the sake of emphasis.
As the seeker becomes occupied with the exercise of the moment, remembering the breath, he turns his attention from remembering the past and thinking of the future, and focuses on each breath until it is expired. Safeguarding our breath from heedlessness will lead us to complete Presence, and complete Presence will lead us to complete Vision, and complete Vision will lead us to complete Manifestation of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Names and Attributes. Allah (s.w.t.) Leads us to the Manifestation of His Names and Attributes and all His Other Attributes, because it is said, “Allah’s Attributes are as numerous as the breaths of human beings.” Securing the breath from heedlessness is difficult for seekers. Therefore, we must safeguard it by seeking forgiveness, istighfar, because seeking forgiveness will purify it and sanctify it and prepare the seeker for the Real Manifestation of Allah (s.w.t.) everywhere.
The soul has long been thought to be in the breath. “For the early thinkers the soul was visualised sensuously as a breath-body.” Awareness of the breath makes us aware of the soul and the inner body, inner self, which belong to the moment. In the Path of the Khwajagan, awareness in the breath is a very important principle. Those in this Path regard it a great transgression to become unconscious of the breathing.
The second principle is “Watching the Step”, Nazar bar Qadam. By this, the seeker must keep his eyes on his feet while walking. Wherever he is about to place his feet, his eyes must be there. He is not allowed to cast his glance about because unnecessary sights will veil the heart. Most veils on the heart are created by the pictures which are transmitted from our eyes to our mind during our daily living. These may disturb our heart with turbulence because of the different kinds of desire which have been imprinted on our mind. These images are like veils on the heart. They block the Light of the Divine Presence. Thus, the awliya’ do not allow their muridun with hearts through constant dzikr to look at other than their feet. Their hearts are like mirrors, reflecting and receiving every image easily. This might distract them and bring impurities to their hearts. The seeker is ordered to lower his gaze in order not to be assailed by the arrows of devils.
Lowering the gaze is also a sign of humility; proud and arrogant people never look at their feet. It is also an indication that one is following the footsteps of the Prophet (s.a.w.), who when he walked never used to look right or left, but used to look only at his feet, moving steadfastly towards his destination. It is a sign of piety when the seeker looks nowhere except towards his Lord. Like one who intends to reach a destination quickly, so too the seeker of Allah's (s.w.t.) Divine Presence seeks to move quickly to the Divine Presence.
Imam ar-Rabbani, Shaykh Ahmad Faruqi as-Sirhindi (q.s.) said in the 295th letter of his Maktubat, “The gaze precedes the step and the step follows the gaze. The Ascension to the high state is first by the Vision, followed by the Step. When the Step reaches the level of the Ascension of the Gaze, then the Gaze will be lifted up to another state, to which the Step follows in its turn. Then the Gaze will be lifted even higher and the Step will follow in its turn. And so on until the Gaze reaches a state of Perfection to which it will pull the Step. We say, ‘When the Step follows the Gaze, the murid has reached the state of Readiness in approaching the Footsteps of the Prophet (s.a.w.). So, the footsteps of the Prophet (s.a.w.) are considered the Origin of all steps.’”
Shaykh Sa’d ad-Din al-Kashghari (q.s.) added, “Looking upon the steps means that the seeker in coming and going looks upon the top of his feet and thereby his attention is not scattered by looking at what he should not look at.” When the beginner's attention is taken by shapes and colours outside of himself, his state of remembering leaves him and is ruined, and he is kept from his objective. This is because the beginner seeker does not have the power of the remembrance of the heart, so when his sight falls upon things, his heart loses its collectedness, and his mind becomes scattered.
Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) said, “If we look at the mistakes of our friends, we will be left friendless, because no one is perfect.”
Watching our step also refers to watching circumstances, feeling when the right time for action or inaction is, and when is the right time to pause. Some have said that Nazar bar Qadam is an expression which refers to the wisdom inherent in one’s natural disposition. Shaykh Fakhr ad-Din al-Kashifi (q.s.) added, “Nazar bar qadam may allude to the seekers travelling through the stages of breaking from existence and putting behind self-love.”
Of the three interpretations, the first refers to beginners’ use of this aphorism; the second refers to those in mid-progress on the Path, and the third to the Attainers.
The third principle is to “Journey Homeward”, Safar dar Watan. This refers to the seeker travelling from the world of creation to the Creator. It is related that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “I am going to my Lord from one state to a better state and from one station to a higher station.” It is said that the seeker must travel from the desire for the forbidden to the Desire for the Divine Presence. Our journey is towards our homeland. We are travelling from a world of illusion to a world of reality. The wayfarer travels from the world of Creation to the Creator. The journey home is the transformation that brings us out of our subjective dream state, so that we can fulfill our Divine Destiny.
Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah (q.s.) wrote in Rashahat 'Ayn al-Hayat, “That travelling which the seeker makes within his human nature. In other words, travel from the qualities of humankind toward the angelic qualities, moving from blameworthy qualities to laudable ones.”
Imam Ahmad as-Sirhindi (q.s.) said, “This blessed expression means travelling within the self. The source of its results lies in putting the final at the beginning, which is one of the characteristics of the Naqshbandi Path. And although this travelling can also be found in other thuruq, it is found only in the end after the ‘travelling on the horizons.’”
“In travelling the horizons,” Imam Ahmad as-Sirhindi (q.s.) was referring to the Qur’an:
We shall Show them Our Portents on the horizons and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth. Doth not thy Lord suffice, since He is Witness over all things? (Surah Fuswswilat:53)
“Travelling on the horizons” is travelling from place to place. At the beginning of the journey, it can mean leaving home to find a guide or teacher. In former times, when the wayfarer had become established in a place, got accustomed to it and become familiar with its people, they took on travelling in order to break down habit and comfort and cut themselves off from renown. They would choose travel in order to experience complete emptying.
It also refers to travelling within oneself, looking at oneself, examining oneself and one's reactions, and how they act upon one. This reflects the stress that the Naqshbandi Order puts on the inner states. The shuyukh have said, “Be an external resident and let your heart travel. Travelling without legs is the best kind of travel.”
The Naqshbandi Sufi Order divides that travel into two categories. The first is external journeying and the second is internal journeying. External travel is to travel from one land to another searching for a perfect guide to take and direct us to our destination. This enables us to move to the second category, the internal journey. Seekers, once they have found a perfect guide, are forbidden to go on another external journey. In the external journey, there are many difficulties which beginners cannot endure without falling into forbidden actions, because they are weak in their worship.
Internal journeying requires the seeker to leave his low manners and move to high manners, to throw out of his heart all worldly desires. He will be lifted from a state of impurity to a state of purity. By this time, he will no longer be in need of more internal journeying. He will have purified his heart, making it pure like water, transparent like crystal, polished like a mirror, showing the realities of all matters essential for his daily life, without any need for external action on his part. In his heart will appear everything that is needed for his life and for the life of those around him.
The fourth principle is “Solitude in the Crowd”, Khalwat dar Anjuman. “Khalwah” means “seclusion”. It means to be outwardly with people while remaining inwardly with Allah (s.w.t.). There are also two categories of seclusion. The first is external seclusion and the second is internal seclusion.
External seclusion requires the seeker to seclude himself in a private place. The seeker, far from people, sits alone in his cell until he comes into contact with the spiritual world. This result comes about because the external senses withdraw themselves and the inner senses extend themselves to signs from the spiritual world. Staying there by himself, he concentrates and meditates on dzikrullah, in order to reach a state in where the Divine becomes Manifest. This is a means for spiritual openings. When we chain the external senses, our internal senses will be free to reach the Divine. This brings us to the second category, the internal seclusion.
The second kind of retreat is the hidden one, where the seeker is inwardly witnessing the secrets of the Real while he is outwardly surrounded by people. Khalwat dar Anjuman is of this second type of retreat: outwardly to be with people, inwardly to be with Allah (s.w.t.). In all our outer activities, we remain inwardly free. We learn not to identify with anything whatsoever. The internal seclusion means seclusion among people. Therein the heart of the seeker must be present with his Lord and absent from Creation while remaining physically present among them. Shaykh Nazhim (q.s.) said, “The seeker will be so deeply involved in the silent dzikr in his heart that, even if he enters a crowd of people, he will not hear their voices. The state of dzikr overcomes him. The Manifestation of the Divine Presence pulls him and makes him unaware of all but his Lord. This is the highest state of seclusion, and is considered the true seclusion, as Mentioned in the Holy Qur'an: ‘Men whom neither business nor profit distract from the recollection of God.’ This is the way of the Naqshbandi Order.”
When Shah Baha’ ad-Din an-Naqshband (q.s.) reached Herat on his journey to Makkah, Amir Husayn (r.a.) arranged a gathering in his honour. At the assembly, Amir Husayn (r.a.) asked him, “Since with your presence there is neither audible dzikr, nor voyaging, nor audition of special music and poetry, what is your Path?”
He answered, “The pure words of the tribe of ‘Abd al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani, which are ‘retreat within the crowd,’ and we follow in their Path.”
“What is retreat within the crowd?” Amir Husayn (r.a.) asked.
“Outwardly to be with the people while inwardly to be with Allah,” replied Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.). Amir Husayn (r.a.) expressed surprise and asked whether this was actually possible. Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) replied that if it were not possible, Allah (s.w.t.) would not have indicated it in a Qur'anic verse which describes those who are not distracted from the remembrance of Allah (s.w.t.) even while in the marketplace.
By men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the remembrance of Allah nor from regular prayer, nor from the practice of regular charity: their (only) fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be Transformed (in a world wholly new) ― (Surah an-Nur:37)
The primary seclusion of the shuyukh of the Naqshbandi Order is the internal seclusion. We are simultaneously with our Lord and with the people. As the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “I have two sides: one faces my Creator and one faces Creation.”
The believer who can mingle with people and carry their difficulties is better than the believer who keeps away from people. On that point, Imam Ahmad as-Sirhindi (q.s.) said, “It must be known that the seeker at the beginning might use the external seclusion to isolate himself from people, worshipping and concentrating on Allah, Almighty and Exalted, until he reaches a higher state. At that time, he will be advised by his shaykh, in the words of Sayyid al-Kharraz, ‘Perfection is not in exhibitions of miraculous powers, but perfection is to sit among people, sell and buy, marry and have children; and yet never leave the presence of Allah even for one moment.’”
Imam Ahmad as-Sirhindi (q.s.) also said, “Khalwat dar Anjuman is derived from travelling in the homeland since if travelling in the homeland is properly accomplished, then retreat within the crowd will properly occur. The seeker within the diversity of the crowd travels in his own land, and the diversity of the horizons finds no way into the meditation cell of his inner self. This treasure will manifest with difficulty at the beginning and with no difficulty in the end. And in this thariqa’, it is the portion of the beginning while in other Paths it is at the end. This is so because the treasure is derived from travelling within the self, which is at the beginning of this Path, while travelling on the horizons takes place simultaneously. This is the opposite of the other Paths which make the travelling on the horizons the beginning and the travelling within the self the end.”
Shaykh ‘Arif Awliya’ al-Kabir (q.s.) explained Khalwat dar Anjuman as follows: “Khalwat dar Anjuman is that state when one is so constantly and completely absorbed in Divine Remembrance that one could walk through the market-place without hearing a word.”
Khwaja ‘Abd al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (q.s.) himself was known to have said, “Close the door of the formality of appointment to shuyukh; open the door of friendship. Close the door of khalwah and open the door of swuhbah.”
Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) emphasised the goodness of gatherings when he said, “Our Path is companionship, and goodness is in the gathering.” He further clarified, “Our Path is in companionship. In retreat there comes fame and with fame comes calamity. Our welfare lies with the assembly and its companionship, on condition that negation is found in one another.” He was referring to physical retreat here.
Sayyid al-Kharraz (q.s.) said:
“In constant communion with the Beloved within, a stranger to the world.
Those endowed with such beauty are rare indeed in this world.”
The fifth principle is “Essential Remembrance”, Yad Kard. For the Naqshbandiyyah, remembrance is practiced in the silent dzikr. We keep Allah (s.w.t.), the Beloved, always in our heart. “Yad” means “dzikr”. “Kard” refers to the essence of dzikr. The seeker must make dzikr by negation and affirmation on his tongue until he reaches the state of the contemplation of his heart, muraqabah. That state will be achieved by reciting every day the negation, “Laa ilaha,” and affirmation, “illa Allah,” on the tongue, between 5,000 and 10,000 times, removing from the heart the elements that tarnish and rust it. This dzikr polishes the heart and takes the seeker into the state of Manifestation. We keep that daily dzikr, either by heart or by tongue, repeating ‘Allah’, the name of His Essence which encompasses all other Names and Attributes, or by negation and affirmation. This daily dzikr brings the seeker into the Perfect Presence of the One Who is Glorified.
The dzikr by negation and affirmation, in the manner of the Naqshbandi Sufi Masters, demands that the seeker close his eyes, close his mouth, clench his teeth, glue his tongue to the roof of his mouth, and hold his breath. He must recite the dzikr through the heart, by negation and affirmation, beginning with the word, “Laa,” “No.” He lifts this “No” from under his navel up to his brain. Upon reaching his brain the word, “No” brings out the word “ilaha,” which means, “god” and refers to any authority, strength or power. The dzikr moves from the brain to the left shoulder, and hits the heart with “illa Allah,” “except Allah.” When that word hits the heart, its energy and heat spreads to all the parts of the body. The seeker who has denied all that exists in this world with the words, “Laa ilaha,” affirms with the words, “illa Allah,” that all that exists has been Annihilated in the Divine Presence.
The seeker repeats this with every breath, inhaling and exhaling, always making it come to the heart, according to the number of times prescribed to him by his shaykh. The seeker will eventually reach the state where in one breath, he can repeat “Laa ilaha illa Allah” twenty-three times. A perfect shaykh can repeat “Laa ilaha illa Allah” an infinite number of times in every breath. The only goal is Allah (s.w.t.) and that there is no other goal for us. To realise the Divine Presence as the Only Existence manifests in the heart of the murid the love of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and at that moment he utters, “Muhammadar Rasulullah,” “Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah.”
According to Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah (q.s.), “The real meaning of dzikr is inward awareness of Allah. The purpose of dzikr is to attain this consciousness.” The purpose of the dzikr is to keep one’s heart and attention entirely focused on the Beloved in love and devotion. The dzikr is not just repeated as words, but is in the heart.
Remembrance of the tongue becomes remembrance of the heart. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.) said, “At the first stage one recites the name of Allah with one’s tongue; then when the heart becomes alive one recites inwardly. At the beginning one should declare in words what one remembers. Then stage by stage the remembrance spreads throughout one's being — descending to the heart then rising to the soul; then still further, it reaches the realm of the asrar; further to the khafi; to the akhfa.”
The sixth principle is “Returning”, Baz Gasht. This is a state in which the seeker, who makes dzikr by negation and affirmation, comes to understand the Prophet's (s.a.w.) phrase, “My God, You are my goal and Your Pleasure is my aim.” The recitation of this phrase will increase in the seeker the awareness of the Oneness of Allah (s.w.t.), until he reaches the state in which the existence of all creation vanishes from his eyes. All that he sees, wherever he looks, is the Absolute One. The Naqshbandi muridun recite this sort of dzikr in order to extract from their hearts the secret of Unity, and to open themselves to the Reality of the Unique Divine Presence. The beginner has no right to leave this dzikr if he does not find it Manifesting in his heart. He must keep on reciting it in imitation of his shaykh because the Prophet (s.a.w.) has said, “Whoever imitates a group of people will belong to them.” And whoever imitates his teacher will someday find this secret opened to his heart.
The phrase, “Baz Gasht” refers to the return to Allah (s.w.t.) by complete surrender and submission to His Will, and complete humility in giving Him all due praise. That is the reason the Prophet (s.a.w.) mentioned in his invocation, “We did not remember You as You Deserve to be Remembered, O Allah.” The seeker cannot come to the Presence of Allah (s.w.t.) in his dzikr, and cannot manifest the Secrets and Attributes of Allah in his dzikr if he does not make dzikr with Allah’s (s.w.t.) Support and with Allah’s (s.w.t.) Remembrance of him.
Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.) said, “When I reached Him, I saw that His Remembering of me preceded my remembrance of Him.” The seeker cannot make dzikr by himself. He must recognise that Allah (s.w.t.) is the One Making Dzikr through him. The means of this is banishing and dispelling every thought, good or bad, that comes to mind involuntarily during the dzikr.
When performing the dzikr, the heart is required to attain the calm contentment of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) phrase, “My God, You are my goal and Your Pleasure is my aim.” So long as there is any space left in the heart for other interests, such calm contentment cannot take shape, and the dzikr cannot be genuine. Even if this tranquility cannot be attained at the outset, one must not abandon the dzikr, and it is necessary to persist in its performance until this feeling is acquired.
The statement of the Ahl al-Hal is thus: “Beloved, You and Your Approval are my purpose and desire.” This attitude rids one of impure thoughts and distractions. It relates to the Path of Absorption. One aspirant was concerned that he was not sincere, and was ashamed. So, his shaykh took him to a one on the Path of Absorption, and this shaykh informed him that absorption, not hair-splitting, would free him from his problem. The wayfarer realised that in his worry about his dishonesty and shame, his wants and needs, he had been focused on himself, separating himself from his Beloved. He was enamoured with a fancy and neglectful of the Reality.
According to Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah (q.s.), the ‘returning’ means that we have within us the goal of our striving. The seeds of transformation are Sown in us from above and we have to treasure them above all possessions.
The seventh principle is “Attentiveness”, Nigah Dasht. “Nigah” means “sight”. The seeker must watch his heart and safeguard it by preventing bad thoughts from entering. Bad inclinations keep the heart from joining with the Divine. It is acknowledged in the Naqshbandi that for a seeker safeguarding his heart from bad inclinations for fifteen minutes would be a great achievement. Spirituality is the ability to safeguard the heart from bad thoughts and protect it from low inclinations. Whoever accomplishes these two goals will know his heart, and whoever knows his heart will know his Lord. The Prophet (s.a.w.) has said, “Whoever knows himself, knows His Lord.”
One shaykh said, “Because I safeguarded my heart for ten nights, my heart has safeguarded me for twenty years.”
Shaykh Abu Bakr al-Qahthani (q.s.) said, “I was the guard at the door of my heart for forty years, and I never opened it for anyone except Allah (s.w.t.) until my heart did not know anyone except Allah (s.w.t.).”
Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Kharqani (q.s.) said, “It has been forty years that Allah has been looking into my heart and has seen no one except Himself. And there is no room in my heart for other than Allah.”
This is our struggle with all alien thoughts. We are always mindful of what we think and do so that we may put the imprint of our immortality on every passing incident and instance of our daily life. Our life is nothing but moments and we acknowledge what each moment calls for. It is cautions and we are watchful and aware of what catches our attention. One learns to withdraw attention from the undesirable. This is also expressed as being vigilant in thought and remembering oneself.
Shaykh Sa’d ad-Din al-Kashghari (q.s.) said, “The seeker must, for one hour or two or whatever he is capable of, hold onto his mind and prevent thoughts of other entering.”
Another description from the Minhaj as-Sa’ir has it that, “Guarding of the special awareness and presence which have resulted from the noble dzikr, so that remembering of anything other than the Real does not find its way into the heart.”
Yet others have written that Nigah Dasht also applies to the time of the dzikr itself. Nigah Dasht is when the seeker at the time of the dzikr, holds his heart upon the meaning of, “Laa ilaha illa Allah” such that thoughts do not find entrance into his heart because if thoughts are in the heart then the result of the dzikr, meaning the presence of the heart, will not manifest. It has also been said that Nigah Dasht is an expression meaning the prevention of the occurrence of thought at the time one is occupied with the fragrant sentence.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Majid al-Khani (q.s.) said that the meaning of preserving the heart from incoming thoughts is that they lose their hold on the mind. In this connection, Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah (q.s.) said, “The meaning of preserving the mind is not that the seeker can avoid thoughts at the beginning, but rather that thoughts do not disturb the attendance and presence. Thoughts can be likened to straw which has fallen onto moving water and yet the water is not prevented from its course.”
Khwaja 'Abd al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (q.s.) said, “It is not so that thoughts never enter the heart but rather that at times they do and at times they do not.”
His statement is supported by Khwaja ‘Ala ad-Din al-‘Aththar (q.s.) who reported, “Succeeding with thoughts is difficult or even impossible. I preserved my heart for twenty years from thoughts, after which they would still appear but they then found no hold there.”
The eighth principle is “Recollection”, Yad Dasht. In this, the reciter of dzikr safeguards his heart with negation and affirmation in every breath without leaving the Presence of Allah (s.w.t.). It requires the seeker to keep his heart in Allah's (s.w.t.) Divine Presence continuously. This allows him to realise and manifest the Light of the Unique Essence, Anwar adz-Dzat al-Ahadiyyah. He then casts away three of the four different forms of thoughts: the egoistic, the evil, and the angelic thoughts. He keeps and affirms solely the fourth form of thought, the haqqani or truthful thoughts. This leads the seeker to the highest state of perfection by discarding all his fancies and embracing only the Reality which is the Oneness of Allah (s.w.t.).
Yad Dasht is the constant awareness in the presence of Allah (s.w.t.). As the shuyukh say, “The complete experience of Divine Contemplation, achieved through the action of objective love.” Those on the Path maintain that when inner love is always present in one’s dealings with the world, then one has achieved this mindfulness. This is the last stage before transformation is completed. The seeker becomes aware that his loss of self will be compensated by objective love. The abnegation of self that leads to this stage ceases to touch the seeker for he discovers the unlimited joy that Truth brings.
Yad Dasht refers to the durability of the awareness of the Real in the Path of Dzawq. In Rashahat 'Ayn al-Hayat, it is stated, “Some have said that this is a witnessing which is the domination of witnessing the Real in the heart through essential love.”
Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah (q.s.) said, “Yad Dasht is an expression meaning the durability of the awareness of the Glorious Real.” He further said, “It means presence without disappearance.”
Regarding the use of the term for the period of the dzikr itself, it has been said, “Yad Dasht is that which the dzakir, during the dzikr, maintains negation and affirmation in his heart in the presence of the Named.”
Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah (q.s.) has described the principles five through eight as following each other in this manner: “Yad Kard refers to the work of invoking. Baz Gasht means turning to the Real in the manner that when saying the fragrant sentence of the dzikr, the seeker follows this in his heart with ‘My God, You are my goal and Your Pleasure is my aim.’ And Nigah Dasht is the holding on to this turning to the Real without words. Yad Dasht means constancy in Nigah Dasht.”
The ninth principle is “Temporal Pause”, Wuquf-i Zamani. Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) said that this consciousness is the maker and guide of the disciple. It means to be attentive to one's state of mind at any given moment and to know whether it is a cause for giving thanks or for repenting. Wuquf-i Zamani is to keep account of one's temporal states, to distinguish presence, hudhur, from absence, ghaflah. Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) described this as self-possession or mindfulness. He added that one should always be grateful when one returns to a state of presence.
In Wuquf-i Zaman, the seeker remains constantly aware of his changing states. Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) explained, “Wuquf-i Zamani is the work of the traveler on the Path; to be attentive of his state, and to know whether it is a cause for giving thanks or for repenting, to give thanks while feeling spiritual elation, and to repent while in spiritual dryness or contraction.” He also stated, “The foundation of the work of the seeker has been established in the awareness of time as seeing at each moment whether the perceiver of breaths is with presence or with forgetfulness.”
Khwaja Ya’qub Sharkhi (q.s.), in his explanation of the Names of Allah (s.w.t.), said, “Khwaja,” referring to Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.), “instructed that in the state of qabdh one should seek Allah’s Forgiveness, whereas in the state of basth, one should offer thanks. Close observation of these two states constitutes Wuquf-i Zamani.” Wuquf-i Zamani of the Naqshbandi Path is equivalent to muhasabah.
The tenth principle is “Numerical Pause”, Wuquf-i Adadi. Wuquf-i Adadi is an expression meaning the observation of the number of individual repetitions of the dzikr. Mawlana Nur ad-Din Jami’ (q.s.) said, “Wuquf-i Adadi is the observation of the number of adzkar and of whether this yields results or not.”
According to Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.), “The observation of the number of repetitions of the adzkar of the heart is for gathering thoughts which are scattered.”
According to Khwaja ‘Ala al-Din al-‘Aththar (q.s.), “The important thing is not the number of repetitions but rather the composure and awareness with which one makes them.” According to Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.), this awareness is the first stage of entry into the spiritual world. This could also mean that for beginners, reading about the achievements and states of consciousness demonstrated by those advanced in this practice would be helpful, since in reading about another's state of nearness, one acquires a certain quality of inner inspiration.
For advanced disciples, this technique, which facilitates the initial stages of acquiring inner intuition and inspiration, brings a consciousness of the unity of diversity. This diversity and proliferation is all but a show. The One is Manifest in the all. Diversity, if one looks with open eyes, is naught but unity. There are no doubts for us, though there might be in some minds. Though appearance is in numbers, the substance is but one.
It should be noted that inner inspiration, that understanding which brings the practitioner and people on the Path closer to higher teachings, comes through Divine Grace and is not due to mind discoveries. “Knowledge comes from grace. The difference between Divine Inspiration and Divine Knowledge is that Divine Knowledge comes through internalising the Light of the Essence and the Divine Attributes, while Divine Inspiration is gained through receptivity to inner meanings and those types of instructions which Manifest within the practitioner.”
The eleventh principle is “Pause of the Heart”, Wuquf-i Qalbi. Wuquf-i Qalbi is when the heart becomes aware of Allah (s.w.t.). This marks the awakening of Divine Love. The individual becomes aware that his existence is an obstacle to his final transformation and he no longer fears to sacrifice it because he sees for himself that he will gain infinitely more than he loses.
Wuquf-i Qalbi has been described as having two meanings. One is that the seeker’s heart in the midst of the dzikr is conscious and aware of the Real. On this point, Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah (q.s.) said, “Wuquf-i Qalbi is an expression meaning an awareness and presence of heart toward the Real felt in such a manner that the heart feels no need of anything other than the Real.” This meaning is similar to that of Yad Dasht. Consciousness of the heart refers to the heart Resting with the Beloved, as if nothing and no one else existed.
The other meaning is that there is awareness of the heart itself. In other words, the seeker during the time of the dzikr is attentive to the cone-shaped heart which is the seat of subtlety, and prevents it from becoming unaware during the saying of the dzikr. Shah an-Naqshband (q.s.) did not consider it necessary to hold the breath during the dzikr as is done in some thuruq, even though he considered that practice to have its benefits; nor did he consider essential the Wuquf-i Zamani and Wuquf-i Adadi. But according to the Qudsiyyah, he considered the observance of Wuquf-i Qalbi the most important and necessary because it is the summary and essence of the intention of the dzikr.
“Like an expecting mother bird,
Sit watchfully on the egg of your heart;
Since from this egg will result your drunkenness,
Self-abandoned, uproarious laughter and your final union.”
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following was adapted from Peak of Eloquence, Nahj al-Balagha, the sermons and letters of ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (k.w.) and translated by Ustadz Askari Jafri.
When ‘Ali (k.w.) was asked about faith in religion, he replied that the structure of faith is supported by four pillars endurance, conviction, justice and jihad.
Endurance is composed of four attributes: eagerness, fear, piety and anticipation (of death). So whoever is eager for Paradise will ignore temptations; whoever fears the fire of Hell will abstain from sins; whoever practices piety will easily bear the difficulties of life and whoever anticipates death will hasten towards good deeds.
Conviction has also four aspects to guard oneself against infatuations of sin; to search for explanation of truth through knowledge; to gain lessons from instructive things and to follow the precedent of the past people, because whoever wants to guard himself against vices and sins will have to search for the true causes of infatuation and the true ways of combating them out and to find those true ways one has to search them with the help of knowledge, whoever gets fully acquainted with various branches of knowledge will take lessons from life and whoever tries to take lessons from life is actually engaged in the study of the causes of rise and fall of previous civilizations.
Justice also has four aspects depth of understanding, profoundness of knowledge, fairness of judgment and dearness of mind; because whoever tries his best to understand a problem will have to study it, whoever has the practice of studying the subject he is to deal with, will develop a clear mind and will always come to correct decisions, whoever tries to achieve all this will have to develop ample patience and forbearance and whoever does this has done justice to the cause of religion and has led a life of good repute and fame.
Jihad is divided into four branches: to persuade people to be obedient to Allah (s.w.t.); to prohibit them from sin and vice; to struggle in the Cause of Allah (s.w.t.) sincerely and firmly on all occasions and to detest the vicious. Whoever persuades people to obey the Orders of Allah (s.w.t.) provides strength to the believers; whoever dissuades them from vices and sins humiliates the unbelievers; whoever struggles on all occasions discharges all his obligations and whoever detests the vicious only for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.), then Allah (s.w.t.) will take revenge on his enemies and will be Pleased with him on the Day of Judgment.
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Sufism is generally accepted to be the mystical dimension of Islam. Imam al-Hujwiri (q.s.), in the eleventh century, presented several views of the origin of the term, ‘Sufi.’ Some scholars say Sufism is derived from the term 'Ahl asw-Swuffah', or the People of the Bench, which refers to the platform on which the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and the believers used to sit while worshipping Allah (s.w.t.).
Others say that they were named Sufis because of their habit of wearing swuf, wool. The habit of wearing wool next to the skin dates back to the first master of Sufis. While this theory of the derivation of the word does have a foundation in the practices of Sufism, the words of Hadhrat Mir Ghotbeddin Mohammad Angha (q.s.) clarify this point: "While every Sufi wears swuf, not every person who wears swuf is a Sufi." Others have concluded that Sufis were named so because of the swafa, or purity, of their hearts and the cleanliness of their actions. Therefore, the practitioners of swafa are called Sufis, meaning ‘pure-hearted.’
While this allusion by historians is not incorrect, it is incomplete. They have presented the outer form of Sufism, while its inner meaning has been beyond their personal experience. If we look closely at the last three hypotheses, we will note that to be called a Sufi has certain requirements. To be a companion of the Prophet (s.a.w.) surely requires a different mode of action and behavior. It requires purity of heart, spiritual awareness, and sacredness of goal. In essence, the People of the Bench, or the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), must have been aware of the significance of the teachings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and must have been intent on being trained by him, because they wanted to know Allah (s.w.t.). Thus if wearing wool was one of the conditions, they did so. Wearing wool was a mere reminder not to surrender to earthly absorptions. The aim was to reach a state of purity, through which they would be in direct relationship with Allah (s.w.t.), unite with Allah (s.w.t.), be annihilated in Allah (s.w.t.), subsist in Allah (s.w.t.), and then attest to the Oneness of Allah (s.w.t.), as the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) had declared:, laa ilaha il Allah. Reaching this state means that no other but Allah (s.w.t.) is in one's heart. And that is the reality of swafa.
This method of purification through submission to Allah (s.w.t.) and annihilation in Allah (s.w.t.) was termed ma'arifah, meaning acquaintance and cognition. In this context it refers to the cognition of oneself and the cognition of Allah (s.w.t.). The one who teaches this method of cognition is known as the ‘arif, or he who has attained the most exalted state of existence through annihilation and permanence in Allah (s.w.t.). The esoteric wisdom of cognition was transmitted from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) to his cousin and son in-law ‘Ali ibn Abu Thalib (k.w.) and the first Caliph of Islam, Abu Bakr as-Swiddiq (r.a.).
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Once, ‘Abdullah ibn Ja’far ibn Abu Thalib (r.a.) went past an orchard where an Abyssinian slave-boy was working. Someone brought the slave-boy his daily food, three loafs of bread. At the same time, a stray dog came into the garden and stood next to him. The boy threw a loaf of bread to the dog. The dog ate the bread but did not go away. The boy threw another loaf. The dog ate that too but still did not leave. The boy gave the dog a third loaf, thus letting the dog eat the whole of his daily food allotment.
‘Abdullah ibn Ja’far (r.a.), who had been watching this, said to the boy, “How much bread do you get as your daily ration of food?”
“I get three loaves every day,” the boy replied.
‘Abdullah ibn Ja'far (r.a.) asked, “Then, why did you feed the dog all three loaves of bread instead of eating some yourself?”
The boy said, “As you may be aware, there are no dogs living round here. This poor creature must have travelled a long distance to reach here and it must be feeling very hungry. So, I felt ashamed to send it away, without serving it any food.”
‘Abdullah ibn Ja'far (r.a.) said, “What will you have for food today?”
“I shall go without food for a day, which I do not mind,” said the boy.
‘Abdullah ibn Ja'far (r.a.) said to himself, “People criticise you for spending too liberally. You give to the poor generously but you still have something left for yourself, whereas this young boy has preferred to go hungry and gave all of his daily food to a dog. This young boy is far more generous than you are.” After this he went back to the town and after purchasing the boy, the garden and all the other effects therein from the owner, he set the slave-boy free and gave him the garden as a gift.
As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, our Prophet (s.a.w,) once said, “A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Reaching a well he descended into it, drank water to fill and came out, then he saw a dog with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its thirst. The man said to himself that the dog was feeling the same extreme thirst as he had felt a little while ago. So he descended once more into the well, filled his leather hosier with water and came up holding it by his teeth and gave the dog a drink. Allah Appreciated the act of this man and Forgave his sins.”
The Prophet (s.a.w.) was asked, “Messenger of Allah, are we Rewarded for kindness towards animals as well?”
He replied, “There is a Recompense for kindness to every living thing.”