Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Snake Catcher & the Snakes

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Mawlana Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (q.s.) related a story of a snake catcher who once went to the mountains.  Due to the winter cold and heavy snow, many very big snakes lay motionless, as if they were dead.  The snake-catcher picked up one of these seemingly lifeless snakes and took it to Baghdad, with the purpose of using it for a show.  Showing it off, he made big claims as to how he had deftly captured the snake, captivating the attention of his audience.

However, when the sun began to shine and its warmth cloaked the snake, the coldness in its body disappeared.  The signs of life were soon apparent and when the snake began to move, the snake-catcher and all those around, fled.  Mawlana ar-Rumi (q.s.) then explained that our nafs is like that snake. With tadzkiyyah and mushaqqat, our nafs becomes frozen.  It appears to be dead.  But give it a little heat from the fire of sin and it will bite again.  A little exposure to some past sins and the nafs swings back to life.

It is foolish to believe we have killed our nafs and, thus, become unmindful.  With some mujahadah, swuhbah of the shaykh, tilawat of the Qur’an, dzikrullah, following the shari’ah and cultivating love for Allah (s.w.t.) and Rasulullah (s.a.w.), the nafs can be frozen.  However, a little taste of sin easily revives the nafs.

Khwaja ‘Aziz al-Hasan Majdzub (q.s.) said most aptly:

“Have no trust in this nafs, O devout one!
Even if it becomes an angel,
Remain distrustful of it.
Look at the snake of your nafs.
As soon as you are negligent here,
It bites there.”


Three Pious Companions

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Sayyid Muhammad Madani al-Jilani (q.s.) related the following incident regarding three righteous men who also happened to be very close friends.

One particular day, three pious men were out taking a stroll when all of a sudden their attention was distracted by a small bird flying towards their way being closely chased by a ferocious large bird of prey.  One of the men immediately jumped up and managed to save the tiny bird from the claws of the predator.  Soon afterwards the pious man who had saved the tiny bird’s life passed away.  The remaining two men observed their departed friend in a dream and asked him how he was judged by Allah (s.w.t.).  He replied, “'Everything was absolutely fine except I got Questioned and Admonished for the time I saved the bird from the claws of the bird of prey.  Allah (s.w.t.) Asked me, when He had Given rizq for the wild bird, why did I deny it.”  Hence they spent much time beseeching Allah (s.w.t.) to Pardon.

Quite sometime later the two remaining compatriots happened to be out together and once again noticed a bird being attacked by a predator flying their way.  Recalling their deceased friend’s account they decided not to intervene.  The time came when the second of the two remaining friends passed away and so appeared in the dream of the final existing man.  When asked how he was judged and treated the reply was, “Everything was absolutely fine except I got Questioned and Admonished for the time I did not save the tiny helpless bird from the grasp and clutches of the wild bird.  Allah (s.w.t.) Asked me, when He Gave me the ability and strength to save the helpless bird why did I not save it.”'  The remaining friend supplicated to Allah (s.w.t.).

And so, the last remaining man missing his two dear friends, set out on his own one day.  To his amazement, a bird was once more being pursued by a bird of prey towards his direction.  Having experienced in his dream, the outcome and fate of both his deceased friends, the pious man quickly got up and ran as fast as he could away from the scene.

Sayyid Muhammad Madani al-Jilani (q.s.)  said, “Allah (s.w.t.) is the Ultimate Judge and the Maker of Orders.  He can Hold us to Account on any one of our actions, for He is not restricted to any law, rather the Rulings have been Created for our restrictions and actions.”


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Beginning of Da'wah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

In Hayat asw-Swahabah, Umm Haram bint Milhan (r.a.), a swahabiyyah was married to ‘Ubadah ibn asw-Swamit al-Answari (r.a.).  Along with her husband, she undertook several trips to foreign countries.  Now her maqam is in Cyprus, and is called the maqam of the pious woman.  The grave of Khalid ibn al-Walid (r.a.), who was born in Makkah, is in Homs.  The maqam of Sa’s ibn Abi Waqqasw (r.a.) is in Canton, China.  He is the maternal uncle of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  That is a long way from home.

The same is the case with the majority of the swahabah of Rasulullah (s.a.w.).  At the time of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) passing, his companions numbered more than one hundred thousand.  However, it is worth noting that if we go to Makkah and Madina, we will find only a small number of graves there.  The reason for this is that these companions left Arabia and spread to various countries far and beyond its borders.  The majority of them breathed their last in various Asian and African countries, where their graves still exist.

Why did this happen?  As recorded in Sirah ibn Hashim, during his last days, the Prophet (s.a.w.) gathered his companions together in the masjid in Madina and addressed them in these words, “Allah has Sent me as His Messenger for the entire world.  So you do not differ with one another.  And spread in the land and communicate my message to people inhabiting other places besides Arabia.”

It was this injunction of the Prophet (s.a.w.) that led to the swahabah settling in foreign lands.  In those countries, they either did business or earned their living by hard work, all the while communicating to their non-Muslim compatriots the message of Islam which they had received from the Prophet (s.a.w.).  Every one of them became an ambassador of Islam.  This resulted in Islam spreading across the globe.  Its evidence can still be seen in the inhabited world of that time.

Islam has since spread all over the world since then.  Now, we are Muslims living amongst non-Muslims.  Each and every Muslim is an ambassador of Islam, whether for good or for ill.  Each one of us is a representative of Muhammad (s.a.w.), Allah’s (s.w.t.) Chosen Representative.  It is important for us to remember that.  So, the next time we meet someone who is not a Muslim, we must remember to show them the beauty of Islam; not by words but by acting as our Prophet (s.a.w.) did.


Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord Knoweth, best who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. (Surah an-Nahl:125)


A Single Old Sock

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

A wise and saintly rich man, sensing his approaching death, called his son to his side and gave him these instructions: “My son, I shall be leaving you very shortly.  On the day when I die, and they have washed my body and come to wrap it in the shroud, I want you to put one of my socks on my foot.  This is my final request of you.”

Soon after this, the old man did indeed die, leaving behind his goods and property, his children and his dependents.  Family, friends, acquaintances and neighbours attended his janazah.  The body had been washed and was almost completely wrapped in the shroud, when the son remembered his father’s wish.  Finding one of his old socks, he handed it to the washer of the dead, saying, “In accordance with my father’s last request, please put this sock on his foot.”

“That is quite impossible,” said the man.  “Such a thing is utterly impermissible in Islam.  I cannot act against the shari’ah.”

Despite this valid objection, the son insisted, “That was my father’s final request; it must certainly be carried out.”

The washer of the dead was unmoved.  “If you won’t take my word for it,’ he said, “go and ask the mufti.  He will confirm what I tell you, that it is not permissible.”

Holding up the janazah, they consulted the mufti, preachers and scholars; all of whom declared that this was not permissible in Islam.  Just then, an aged friend of the deceased interrupted the debate with these words to the son, “My boy, your late father entrusted me with a letter which I was to hand over to you after his departure.  Here, this letter belongs to you.”  So saying, he gave him an envelope.  Taken by surprise, the boy opened the envelope and read out the contents of his father’s letter.

“My son, all this wealth and property I have left to you.  Now you see: at the last moment, they will not even let you give me an old sock to wear.  When you, yourself come one day to be in my condition they will also refuse to let you keep anything but your shroud.  Eight yards of shroud are all you will be able to carry over from this fleeting world into the Hereafter.  So pull yourself together and be prepared.  Spend the fortune I have left you, not for the satisfaction of vain desires, but in ways Pleasing to Allah (s.w.t.), that you may achieve honour in both worlds.”


A Gift after Hardships

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) dispatched an expedition of three hundred men towards the seashore, under the command of Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah (r.a.) in 8 AH.  He gave them a bag full of dates for their rations.  They had been hardly out for fifteen days when they ran short of rations.  In order to provide the contingent with food, Qays ibn Sa’d (r.a.) began buying three camels daily from his own men, to feed the expedition, with a promise to pay on return to Madina.  The ‘amir, seeing that the slaughter of camels would deprive the party of their only means of transport, prohibited him to do so.  He collected the dates that had been left with each person and stored them in a bag.  He would issue one date to each man as his daily ration.

When Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al-Answari (r.a.) later on narrated this story to the people, one of his audience inquired, “How did you manage to live upon one date only for the whole day?”

He replied, “We longed even for that one date, when the whole stock was exhausted.  We were on the verge of starvation.  We moistened the dry tree-leaves with water and ate them.”

When they reached this stage, Allah (s.w.t.) showed Mercy to them for He always Brings ease after every hardship, provided it is endured patiently.  A big fish known as ‘ambar’ was thrown out of the sea for them.  The fish was so big that they lived on it for eighteen days altogether.  They also filled their satchels with the remaining portion, which lasted them right up to Madina.  When the episode was narrated to the Prophet (s.a.w.), he said, “The fish was a Provision Arranged for you by Allah.”


So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily with every difficulty there is relief. (Surah ash-Sharh:5-6)


A Sinner for 40 Years

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

It was narrated that in the days that Musa (a.s.) wandered with Bani Isra’il in the desert, an intense drought befell them.  Together, they raised their hands towards the heavens praying for the blessed rains to come.  Then, to the astonishment of Musa (a.s.) and all those watching, the few scattered clouds that were in the sky vanished, the heat poured down, and the drought intensified.

It was Revealed to Musa (a.s.) that there was a sinner amongst the tribe of Bani Isra’il who had disobeyed Allah (s.w.t.) for more than forty years of his life.  “Let him separate himself from the congregation,” Allah (s.w.t.) Told Musa (a.s.).  “Only then shall I Shower you all with rain.”

Musa (a.s.) then called out to the tribes, “There is a person amongst us, who has disobeyed Allah for forty years.  Let him separate himself from the congregation and only then shall we be rescued from the drought.”

That man, waited, looking left and right, hoping that someone else would step forward, but no one did.  Sweat poured forth from his brow and he knew that he was the one.  The man knew that if he stayed amongst the congregation, all would die of thirst and that if he stepped forward he would be humiliated by the community.  He raised his hands with a sincerity he had never known before, with a humility he had never tasted, and as tears poured down on both cheeks he said, “O Allah, have Mercy on me!  O Allah, Hide my sins!  O Allah, Forgive me!”

As Musa (a.s.) and the people of Bani Isra’il waited for the sinner to step forward, the clouds hugged the sky and the rain poured.  Musa (a.s.) was astonished.  He asked Allah (s.w.t.), “O Allah, you Blessed us with rain even though the sinner did not come forward.”

And Allah (s.w.t.) Replied, “O Musa, it is for the repentance of that very person that I Blessed all of Bani Isra’il with water.”

Musa (a.s.), wanting to know who this Blessed man was, asked, “Show him to me, O Allah!”

Allah (s.w.t.) Replied, 'O Musa, I Hid his sins for forty years; do you think that after his repentance I would expose him?”


A Thousand Camels of Grain

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following story is related by Shaykh Habibullah Mukhtar (r.a.) in his book, in the chapter of Generosity.

In the time when ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) was caliph, there was a severe famine.  The people of Madina were suffering due to a shortage of food.  A caravan made up of a thousand camels loaded with a large stock of food grain belonging to ‘Utsman ibn ‘Affan (r.a.) arrived from Sham.  Several merchants offered to buy all of it.  He asked them what profit they would pay.  “Five per cent,” they said.  He answered that he could get higher profit than that.  They began to argue with him, saying that they did not know of any merchant who would offer him more than their quote.

He said to them, “I know of one who repays a profit of more than seven hundred to a dirham.”  He then recited the following verse of the Noble Qur’an:


The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it groweth seven ears, and each ear hath a hundred grains.  Allah Giveth manifold increase to whom He Pleaseth; and Allah Careth for all and He Knoweth all things. (Surah al-Baqarah:261)

“O traders!  Bear witness with me that I donate all this to the poor people of Madina,” said ‘Utsman (r.a.).


Imam Sumbul Yusuf Sinan (q.s.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Once upon a time, Mehmet Jamalattin Efendi (r.a.) requested from his students to bring him some flowers.  All of his students came to the presence of their teacher with various beautiful flowers.  However there was one student, Yusuf Sinan (r.a.), who came with a wilted hyacinth in his hand.  When his teacher asked him about the wisdom behind his attitude, his answer was, “Whichever flower I tried to pick, I heard that they were occupied by the dzikr and tasbih of Allah.  My heart could not accept cutting off their tasbih.  I looked around and saw that this poor hyacinth had come off its stem, so I brought this flower to you.”  Because of this incident, his teacher named him, “Sumbul” which means, “hyacinth”.

This little boy was Imam Sumbul Yusuf Sinan Efendi (q.s.), who passed away in 1529 CE in Istanbul.  He was the murshid and founder of the Sumbuliyyah Sufi order.  Imam Sumbul Yusuf Sinan Efendi (q.s.) said, “The heart of the one who forgets the remembrance of Allah in the turmoil of the world, hardens.  The one whose heart is hardened does not have any taste from his ‘ibadah.”


Raphael the Archangel (a.s.) & His "Lie"

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Only three angels are mentioned by name in the Canonical Scriptures.  They are Michael (a.s.), Gabriel (a.s.) and Raphael (a.s.).  Raphael (a.s.) is mentioned explicitly only in the Book of Tobit.  In contrast, Michael (a.s.) is referenced in the Book of Daniel, the Epistle of Jude and the Book of Revelations while Gabriel (a.s.) is in the Book of Daniel and the Gospel according to Luke.  He is often venerated and patronised as St. Raphael the Archangel.

“Raphael,” in Hebrew means, “God Heals.”  He is recognised as archangel in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  In the Judeo-Christian tradition, he performs all manner of healing.  St. Raphael is presented in the Scriptures as a healing angel.  Among Catholics, he is considered the patron saint of medical workers, matchmakers, and travelers.  Raphael (a.s.) is sometimes shown as standing atop a large fish or holding a caught fish at the end of a line.  This is a reference to Book of Tobit, where he told Tobias to catch a fish, and then uses the gallbladder to heal Tobit’s (a.s.) eyes, and to drive away Asmodeus by burning the heart and liver.

In Islam, Raphael (a.s.) is also known as “Israfil.”  According to the ahadith, he is the angel responsible for signaling the coming of Judgment Day by blowing the trumpet.  According to tradition, the trumpet will be blown three times.  The first blow of the trumpet will signal the beginning of the Last Day.  The second blow will signal the death of every living thing including angels, jinn and humans.  The third and final blow will signal the time when all the souls from all ages will be gathered for Judgement.

The angels mentioned in the Torah are without names.  Raphael (a.s.) is named in several Jewish apocryphal books.  In the Book of Enoch, Raphael (a.s.) bound Azazel under a desert in a place called Dudael.  “Azazel” or “Azazil” is the name of Iblis before he was cast from Heaven.  “Dudael” is Hebrew for “God’s Cauldron.”

Enoch 10:4–6:
4 And again the Lord Said to Raphael, “Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein.  5 And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there forever, and cover his face that he may not see light.  6 And on the day of the great judgment he shall be cast into the fire.

In the Christian tradition, Raphael appears only in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit.  The Book of Tobit is accepted as canonical by Catholics, Orthodox and some Anglicans.  Raphael first appears disguised in human form as the travelling companion of Tobit's (a.s.) son, Tobiah, calling himself, “Azarias, the son of the great Ananias.”  During the adventurous course of the journey the archangel’s protection is advertised in several instances.  They include the binding of the demon in the desert of Upper Egypt and healing the blindness of Tobit (a.s.).

Tobit 12:15
15 “Who am I?  I am the angel Raphael, and my place is among those seven who stand in the Presence of the Lord.”

This is compared to the unnamed angels in John of Patmos’ Revelation.

Revelation 8:2
2 And now I saw seven trumpets given to the seven angels who stand in God’s Presence.

We know of the healing powers attributed to Raphael (a.s.) because of his declaration to Tobit (a.s.) that he was Sent by the Lord to heal him of his blindness and to deliver Sarah, his future daughter-in-law, from the demon Asmodeus, who had abducted and killed every man she married on their wedding night before the marriage can be consummated.

Tobit 12:14
14 And now, for thy healing, for the deliverance of thy son’s wife, Sarah, from the fiend’s attack, He has Chosen me for His messenger.

In the New Testament, only the archangels Gabriel (a.s.) and Michael (a.s.) are mentioned by name.  Later manuscripts of the Gospel according to John refer to the pool at Bethesda:

John 5:1-4
1 After this came a Jewish feast, for which Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  2 There is a pool in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate, called in Hebrew, “Bethsaida,” with five porches, 3 under which a multitude of diseased folk used to lie, the blind, the lame, the disabled, waiting for a disturbance of the water.  4 From time to time, an angel of the Lord came down upon the pool, and the water was stirred up; and the first man who stepped into the pool after the stirring of the water, recovered from whatever infirmity it was that oppressed him.

This verse is omitted by some manuscripts.  Because of the healing role assigned to Raphael (a.s.), this particular angel is generally associated with the archangel.  In the Book of Tobit, Raphael (a.s.) identified himself to the prophet by a different name.

Tobit 5:17, 18
17 It was indeed no other than the angel Raphael that spoke to him; “What,” he answered, “is it my lineage, not myself, thou wouldst have for thy son’s escort?  18 But set thy mind at rest; my name is Azarias, and a man of renown, Ananias, was my father.”

Did St. Raphael (a.s.) lie?  The name “Azarias” means “God has Brought Aid”, and the name “Ananias” means “God has been Merciful.”  The angel had chosen a name to signify the nature of his office.  Athanasius explained that he was actually wearing the appearance of the living Azarias and was appointed by Divine Providence to represent him; he was, so to speak, Azarias’ second self.  The purpose of concealing his angelic nature was evidently so as to make proof of the elder Tobias’ faith.


The Martyrdom of Khubayb ibn 'Adiy (r.a.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Khubayb ibn ‘Adiy (r.a.) was taken captive and escorted in a procession of thousands which was led by men like Abu Sufyan ibn Harb (r.a.) and Swafwan ibn ‘Umayyah (r.a.), and which included Sa’id ibn ‘Amir (r.a.).  The women and children pushed him to the place set for his death.  Khubayb’s (r.a.) death was to be in revenge for Quraysh losses in the Battle of Badr.  When the assembled throng arrived at the appointed place with him, the prisoner, Khubayb (r.a.) said in a firm but quiet voice amid the shouting of women and children, “If you would, leave me to pray two rak’ah before my death.”

This, the Quraysh allowed.  Khubayb (r.a.) faced the Ka’bah and prayed two rak’ah.  Then, Khubayb (r.a.) faced the Quraysh leaders.  “By Allah, if you thought that I asked to pray out of fear of death, I would think the prayer not worth the trouble,” he said.

He was tied to a wooden cross.  Then the Quraysh set about dismembering Khubayb's (r.a.) body while he was yet alive and taunting him in the process.  “Would you like Muhammad to be in your place while you go free?”

With his blood flowing, he replied, “By Allah, I would not want to be safe and secure among my family while even a thorn hurts Muhammad.”  People shook their fists in the air and the shouting increased.

“Kill him!  Kill him!”

Khubayb (r.a.) lifted his eyes to the heavens above the wooden cross.  And it was then that the sweet voice of Khubayb ibn ‘Adiy (r.a.) was heard.  With a perfect spirituality which held everyone in its spell and caused some to cast themselves down on the earth in fear, he said, “O Allah!  We have delivered the message of Thy Messenger; so tell him tomorrow what has been done to us.  O Allah!  Reckon them by number and kill them one by one, let none of them remain.”  Thereafter, it could not be counted the number of swords and spears which cut through Khubayb’s (r.a.) body.


Short Biography of Khwaja Mu'in ad-Din Hasan Jisty (q.s.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Khwaja Mu’in ad-Din Jisty (q.s.) was born in Sistan, East Persia, also known as Sijistan, around 533 AH, 1138/39 CE, to a well-respected family.  He was a saint of the Indian subcontinent.  He introduced and established the Jisty order in South Asia and significantly contributed to the spreading of Islam there.

He was blessed with direct lineage to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) through his father, Khwaja Ghayas ad-Din Hasan (r.a.), who was a direct descendant of Husayn ibn ‘Ali (r.a.).  His family lineage is as follows: Khwaja Mu’in ad-Din Jisty (q.s.), son of Khwaja Ghayas ad-Din Hasan (r.a.), son of Sayyid Ahmad Hasan (r.a.), son of Sayyid Hasan Ahmad (r.a.), son of Sayyid Najm ad-Din Thahir (r.a.), son of Khwaja ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Husayn (r.a.), son of Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (q.s.), son of Imam Hasan al-‘Askari (q.s.), son of Imam Musa ibn ‘Ali (q.s.), son of Imam ‘Ali an-Naqi (q.s.), son of Imam Muhammad at-Taqi (q.s.), son of Imam Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha (q.s.), son of Imam Musa Kazhim (q.s.), son of Imam Muhammad Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s), son of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (q.s.), son of Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (q.s.), son of Husayn ibn ‘Ali (r.a.), son of ‘Ali (k.w.), son-in-law of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  His father, an accomplished man, was well-educated and trained, and a great Sufi of his time.  His piety and scholarship won him widespread respect and regard, and was held in high esteem by the Sufis of Khurasan.

Khwaja Mu’in ad-Din Jisty (q.s.) was also blessed with direct lineage to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) through his mother, Umm al-Wara’ (r.a.), who was a descendant of Hasan ibn ‘Ali (r.a.).  His great grandfather, Khwaja Sayyid Ahmad Husayn (r.a.), had migrated from Samarra in Iraq and eventually settled in Sanjar, within the region of Sistan.  He was also closely related to al-Ghawts al-A’azham, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.).  It is also said that he had two brothers.

Khwaja Mu’in ad-Din Jisty (q.s.) was born specifically in Sanjar, within the region of Sistan in modern-day Iran.  Another source says he was born in Isfahan.  At the time of his birth, Sistan and its surrounding lands were experiencing unprecedented bloodshed and plunder at the hands of Tatars, and other rebels.  These invaders had taken advantage of the weak government of Sultan Ahmad Sanjar.

Due to the upheaval, Khwaja Ghayas ad-Din Hasan (r.a.) decided to leave Sistan for a safer place.  They migrated to Khurasan, then a great hub of intellectual and economic activity and was home to learned ‘ulama and reputed Sufis.  There were rich gardens and canals along with flourishing agricultural fields.  Khwaja Ghayas ad-Din Hasan (r.a.) settled down in the vicinity where he bought an orchard along with a windmill.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) was brought up in Khurasan and received his early education at home.  By the time he was nine years old, he had committed the Holy Qur’an to memory.  Subsequently, he was admitted to a maktab, where he concentrated primarily on the ahadits and fiqh, and completed his education very early.  He was about fifteen years old when his father passed away in 544 AH.  He was heart-broken.  Prior to his father’s death, the Tatars had entered Khurasan and ransacked the province.  Hardly a year had passed since the death of his father, when the Tartars once more pillaged Khurasan.

It is said that one day, between the months of Sha’ban and Dzu al-Hijjah, when Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) was working in his orchard, a pious dervish and majdzub, Shaykh Ibrahim al-Qandusi (q.s.), came and took his seat under the shade of a tree.  When Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) saw him, he brought a bunch of grapes and presented it to his guest.  The visitor ate the grapes and was delighted.  He then took something out of his bag, chewed it, then offered it to his young host.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) ate it without any hesitation, and at once the light of wisdom and knowledge dawned upon him.  Immediately he disposed of all of his worldly belongings and distributed the money amongst the poor.  Having broken all the ties with worldly affairs, he set off for Samarkand and Bukhara, then the great centres of learning for religious education and knowledge.  After the death of his father, he had inherited a grindstone and the orchard, which constituted his source of income. He sold his grindstone and the orchard and distributed the proceeds of these amongst the needy and the indigent.

Baghdad, Samarkand, and Bukhara were then celebrated centres of Islamic learning.  From Khurasan, he proceeded to Samarkand and then to Bukhara, where he pursued higher studies.  He stayed there for about five years, from 544 AH / 1150 CE up to 550 AH / 1155 CE, continuing his education up to the age of twenty.  He counted among his teachers the two outstanding scholars of his time, namely, Mawlana Husam ad-Din al-Bukhari (r.a.) and Mawlana Sharaf ad-Din (r.a.).

When Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) had acquired sufficient knowledge, he travelled widely in search of a murshid.  He reached Iraq in 551 AH / 1156 CE where he met the renowned saint, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.) in Baghdad for the first time.  On meeting Khwaja Jisty (q.s.), Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.) prophesied, “This young man will be a great figure of his time.  He will be a source of inspiration and a centre of devotion and the focus of affection of myriads of people.”

Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) left Iraq for Arabia, and from there he proceeded to Harun in Iran.  In Harun, he had the unique privilege of meeting the famous saint, Khwaja ‘Utsman al-Haruni (q.s.), who accepted him as his disciple.  He spent two and a half years in the service of Khwaja ‘Utsman al-Haruni (q.s.), and eventually won the approval of his murshid.  He was given the permission to accept disciples himself and was appointed a caliph.

He left Harun for Baghdad, where he met Shaykh Abu Najib as-Suhrawardi (q.s.).  In 555 AH / 1160 CE, he travelled to Syria where he met a Shaykh Ahad Mahmud al-Wahidi al-Ghaznawi (q.s.).  He then proceeded to Kerman, and from there he returned to Baghdad, and then proceeded to Hamdan.  On his way to India, he visited Tabriz, Astarabad, Bukhara, Kharqan, Samarkand, Memna, and Herat.  He finally reached Multan on the tenth of Muharram of 561 AH / 1165 CE.  He then left Multan for Lahore where he spent time at the tomb of Imam ‘Ali al-Hujwiri (q.s.), better known as Data Ghanj Bakhsh.  On his return journey, he visited Ghazni, Balkh, Astarabad, and Rey.  On reaching Baghdad, he offered his respect to his murshid, Khwaja ‘Utsman al-Haruni (q.s.), who was then in Baghdad.

Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) himself described the details of his being initiated as a murid a second time in the following words: “I, Mu’in ad-Din Hasan of Sanjar, well-wisher of all the faithful, had the honour of meeting His Holiness, Khwaja ‘Utsman al-Haruni in the mosque of Khwaja Junayd in Baghdad.  His Holiness was surrounded by inspired dervishes.  When this humble being bowed low in due deference, my murshid, Khwaja ‘Utsman al-Haruni asked me to offer two genuflections, which I did.

Then his holiness asked me to sit with my face towards the Ka’bah.  He asked me, next, to recite Surah al-Baqarah.  I did as I was asked.  Further, his holiness commanded me to recite benedictions to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) twenty-one times.  I obeyed.  Then His Holiness stood up and, holding my hand in his, lifted his face towards the sky and said to me, ‘Come, let me cause you to reach God.’

Subsequently, taking out a miqraz, turned it around on the head of this humble being and placed on my head the four-edged cap and bestowed on me the robe.  Then he asked me to sit. I sat.  He addressed me thus: ‘It is the custom with us that a new entrant has to go through asceticism for one day and one night.  You should complete it in this one day and night.’  I obeyed. Next day, when I attended upon him, his holiness asked me to sit down and recite Surah al-Ikhlasw four thousand times.  I did that.

He asked me, next, to look towards the sky.  I did.  His holiness asked me, ‘How far do you see?’

I replied, ‘Up to the Great Throne.’

Next, he asked me to look towards the ground.  I did.  He asked me, ‘How far do you see?’

I replied, ‘Up to the antipodes.’

Next, he asked me to recite Surah al-Ikhlasw, again, a thousand times.  I did.  He asked me to look towards the sky again.  I did.  He asked me, ‘How far do you see now?’

I replied, ‘Up to the Great Hidden.’

He asked me next to close my eyes.  I did.  He asked me to open my eyes.  I did.  Then, showing his two fingers, he asked me, ‘What do you see therein?’

I replied, ‘Eighteen thousand worlds.’

Later, pointing towards a brick ahead, he asked me to pick it up.  When I did, I found a handful of dananir therein.  He said to me, ‘Go and distribute them amongst the needy and the poor.’  I complied.  When I went to him subsequently, he said to me, ‘Live in our company for some time.’

I replied, ‘I am at your service, master.’”

Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) accompanied his murshid wherever he went.  They left Baghdad for Makkah, and on their way, they stayed for some time in Fallujah. About the visit to Makkah, Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) himself wrote, “Having reached Makkah, we were honoured by the glorious vision of the Ka’bah and by going around it.  My murshid here, too, took my hand in his and entrusted it to God Almighty.  He prayed for my humble self in Ka’bah.  A voice was heard to the effect, ‘We have accepted Mu’in ad-Din.’

Then we reached Madina.  We offered our respects at the Court of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  My murshid said to me, ‘Make your respectful salaam.’  I offered my reverential salaam.

A voice came out saying, ‘Peace be on you also, O Head of the Pious of the Earth and the Sea.’

On hearing this, my murshid said to me, ‘Now, indeed you have reached perfection.’”

Leaving Madina, they stopped in Osh, Badakhshan, and Bukhara on their way to Baghdad.  After staying in Baghdad for some time, Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) once again accompanied his murshid on his tours and travels, visiting Osh, Sijistan, and Damascus.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) met Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.) in Gail, a second time in 581 AH /1185 CE and stayed with him for fifty-seven days.

After having served his murshid on tours and travels for twenty years, Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) was separated from him in Baghdad, when he was fifty-two years of age.  On this occasion, Khwaja ‘Utsman al-Haruni (q.s.) appointed him as his successor, and conveyed to him the holy relics of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).

Of this, Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) himself said, “My murshid gave me the stick that was placed before him and then honoured me by confiding to me the robe, sandals, stick and the prayer carpet.  Then addressing me said thus, ‘These holy relics are the sacred possessions of our spiritual ancestors, which we have received from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and I have given them to you.  You should keep them with you, as we have done.  Whomsoever you may find a real seeker, entrust them to him.  Do not hold any hope from the people.  Live far from the people and aloof from the public and do not demand or ask anything from anybody.’

Having said these words, my murshid embraced me and kissed my head and eyes, and said, ‘I have entrusted you to God.’  Then he went into trance and I departed.”

Khwaja Jisty’s (q.s.) silsilah is traced back to the Beloved Prophet (s.a.w.) as follows: Khwaja Mu’in ad-Din Hasan Jisty (q.s.), disciple of Khwaja ‘Utsman al-Haruni (q.s.), disciple of Haji Sharif Zindani (q.s.), disciple of Khwaja Quthb ad-Din Madad Jisty (q.s.), disciple of Khwaja Naswir ad-Din Abu Yusuf Jisty (q.s.), disciple of Khwaja Abu Muhammad Jisty (q.s.), disciple of Khwaja Abu Ahmad Abdal Jisty (q.s.), disciple of Khwaja Abu Ishaq Shami Jisty (q.s.), disciple of Shaykh Mumshad ‘Uluwi Diynwari (q.s.), disciple of Khwaja Amin ad-Din Habirah (q.s.), disciple of Khwaja Hudzayfah Marashi (q.s.), disciple of Shaykh Ibrahim Adham al-Balkhi (q.s.), disciple of Shaykh Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyadh (q.s.), disciple of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahid ibn Zayd (q.s.), disciple of Shaykh Hasan al-Baswri (q.s.), disciple of ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (k.w.), the son-in-law of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).

After receiving the robe of caliphate from his murshid, Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) travelled again.  He first reached Osh and then moved on to Isfahan where he met Shaykh Mahmud al-Isfahani (q.s.).  He gave the clothes that he was wearing to Khwaja Quthb ad-Din Bakhtiyar Khaki (q.s.), implying that he had accepted him as his murid.  Thereafter, Khwaja Quthb ad-Din Bakhtiyar (q.s.) accompanied him on his travels from the year 583 AH /1187 CE.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) left Isfahan for Makkah the same year.

One day, when he was absorbed in prayers in the Ka’bah, he heard a voice saying, “O, Mu’in ad-Din!  We are Greatly Pleased with you.  You are Granted Salvation.  Ask for anything you may like, so that We may Grant that to you.”

He respectfully replied, “O Great Lord!  Grant Salvation to the followers and disciples of Mu’in ad-Din.”

He received the Reply, “O, Mu’in ad-Din!  You are our Accepted.  I will Give Salvation to your followers and disciples and also to those who may enter your fold until the Day of Resurrection.”

After paying respects at the Ka’bah, and performing the hajj, he reached Madina and devoted himself to prayers in the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) mosque.  During his stay, he received a mandate from the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), “O, Mu’in ad-Din!  You are a helper of my religion.  I entrust to you the country of Hind.  There prevails darkness.  Proceed to Ajmer and spread there the Gospel of Truth.”

In compliance with this command, Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) left Madina for India.  He continued his journey, passing through Isfahan, Bukhara, Herat, Lahore and Delhi, meeting several prominent Sufis of the period.  He arrived at the barren and desolate land of Rajputana, now known as Rajasthan.  On his way to India, he enrolled large numbers of people into his fold and blessed thousands of others with his spirituality.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) arrived in Ajmer at the age of 52 years, around 587 AH, 1190 CE.

At that time, Ajmer was ruled by Prithvi Raj Chauhan, the renowned Rajput king.  In his court, he had a large number of powerful magicians with Ajai Pal as their leader.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) stayed on a hill close to Ana Sagar Lake, now known as the Chillah Khwaja Sahib.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) wanted to stay at the site where the Awliya’ mosque is now situated but the servants of Prithvi Raj Chauhan did not allow him to do so on the pretext that the camels of Prithvi Raj Chauhan usually sat there.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) thereupon countered, “If the camels sit there, let them sit.”  He then stayed on a Hill close to Ana Sagar Lake and occupied the site now known as Chillah Khwaja Sahib.  The camels returned to their usual place and sat there as usual, but once they sat, they were unable to stand up again.  The Raja was informed.  All the camel-drivers tendered an unconditional apology.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.), accepting the apology said: “Well, go.  The camels now stand.” When they returned, they saw the camels were standing.

When news spread that a very pious dervish had come to Ajmer, people began to flock to him in increasing numbers.  Whoever came to him, received the kindest treatment and blessings.  People were so much inspired by his divine teachings and simplicity that they began to embrace Islam.  Many became his disciples.  Even Ajai Pal submitted himself to the Khwaja Jisty (q.s.), giving up all his magic to became his disciple.

Meanwhile, Shahab ad-Din Ghawri again attacked India.  In 1192 CE, in the 2nd Battle of Tarain, he defeated Prithvi Raj.  When Shahab ad-Din Ghawri came to know of the presence of Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) at Ajmer, he personally came to see him.

Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) left Ajmer for some time and returned again in 588 AH / 1191 CE.  He left for Baghdad in 598 AH /1200 CE, and on reaching Balkh, he accepted Mawlana Ziya’ ad-Din (q.s.) as his murid.  He visited Ajmer a third time in 602 AH / 1206 CE and once again in 610 AH / 1213 CE.

He visited Delhi twice during the reign of Sultan Shams ad-Din Iltutmish.  He reached Delhi in 611AH / 1214 CE and stayed in the khanqah of Khwaja Quthb ad-Din Bakhtiyar Khaki (q.s.), and during his stay, he conferred a robe on to Shaykh Baba Farid ad-Din Ghanj Shakar (q.s.).  When his murshid, Khwaja ‘Utsman al-Haruni (q.s.), paid a visit to Delhi, the renowned poet of Shiraz, Shaykh Sa’adi ash-Shirazi (q.s.) came to Delhi at that time and had the privilege of meeting both saints.

Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) sent his disciples and successors to different part of the land.  A few of his prominent successors include Khwaja Quthb ad-Din Bakhtiyar Khaki (q.s.), Shaykh Farid ad-Din Ghanj al-Ahakar (q.s.), Shaykh Nizham ad-Din Awliya’ (q.s.) and Shaykh Naswir ad-Din Shiragh ad-Dalhi (q.s.).

Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) married at an advanced age.  He married twice.  When he had settled down in Ajmer, Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) had a dream in which the Prophet (s.a.w.) appeared in 590 AH / 1194 CE.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “O Mu’in ad-Din, you are a great preceptor of our religion.  You should not depart from our sunnah,” meaning marriage.  He married Shaykha Ummatullah (q.s.) and they had three children, Khwaja Fakhr ad-Din (q.s.), Khwaja Husam ad-Din (r.a.) and Sayyidah Hafizhah Jamal (r.a.)  His second marriage was with Sayyidah Asmat (r.a.), daughter of Sayyid Wajih ad-Din Mashhadi (r.a.), who was the commissioner of Ajmer in 620 AH / 1223 CE.  The marriage resulted in the birth of Khwaja Zia ad-Din Abu Sa’id (r.a.).

Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) passed away on the 6th of Rajab 633 AH, 16th March, 1236, at the age of 97.  He was buried in the same cell which was the centre for his worship throughout his stay at Ajmer.  Today, his tomb is popularly known as Dargah ash-Sharif.  People of all walks of life and faiths, from all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed and belief; visit this shrine.

Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) simple teachings brought the message of universal love and peace.  He became popularly known as Gharib Nawaz, meaning ‘the friend of the poor’.  This was later reinforced by succeeding Jisty Sufis.  The teachings of Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) have been recorded in several books of taswawwuf.  The essence of his teachings are that the true wali is one who has these three qualities: affectionate like the sun because when the sun rises, it is beneficial to all irrespective of what they are; generous like an ocean because we all get its bounties without discrimination; and hospitality like the earth because are raised and cradled in its lap, and it is always spread below our feet.  The noblest character is possessed by one who is bountiful in poverty; content in hunger, cheerful in grief, and friendly in hostility.  The surest way to ward off the eternal punishment of Hell is: to feed the hungry; to redress the aggrieved; and to help the distressed.

He is addressed by various titles in Arabic, Persian, Hindi Urdu and other languages, including Quthb al-Mashaykh al-Barra wa al-Bahr, Pole of the Masters of the Land and the Sea; Habibullah, Beloved of God; ‘Atha ar-Rasul, Gift of the Prophet; Khwaja al-Ajmir, the Master of Ajmer; Khwaja-e-Buzurk, Great Master; Wali al-Hind, Saint of India: Sulthan al-Hind, Spiritual Sovereign of India; Na’ib ar-Rasul fi al-Hind; Deputy of the Prophet in India; Aftab-e-Jahan, Sun of the World; Panah-e-Bekasan, Shelter of the Helpless; and Dalil al-‘Arifin, Proof of the Gnostics.  His thariqa’ is better known as the Chisty Order

Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) was very fond of spiritual music and fell into in a state of rapture when listening to it.  He kept his eyes closed when lost in contemplation, but opened them at prayer time.  Fear of God would cause him to tremble and weep and the dread of the last resting place, the grave, also dominated his thoughts.  Sometimes he felt in an elevated mood and was then so much absorbed and lost in meditation that he was quite unmindful of what was going on around him.  At other times, he was consumed by a pensive mood, and then he would close the door of his tenement in order to devote himself to contemplation.  He had a forgiving nature and showed love, regard, and respect to all, irrespective of caste, creed, or religion.  He was cosmopolitan in outlook, and a man of generous disposition, taking pleasure in helping the poor and the needy.  He was renowned for his hospitality and entertained the people.  Myriads of people of the city, with no ostensible means of subsistence, depended upon his charity.  He himself ate very little, fasting throughout the year, and wore patched clothes.  He would read the Qur’an twice daily.  He took no rest or respite for seventy long years and was very particular about his ablutions.

He took to the path of renunciation and self-abnegation.  He said, “Taswawwuf is a name and not a custom.”  What it means is that by merely being conversant with taswawwuf, mere study, did not make one a Sufi.  It is the inner life that marks one out as a gnostic.  A gnostic must have an exact understanding of Divine Knowledge.  He should surrender his will to the Will of God.  He should be kind, hospitable, and courteous, devoid of any trace of haughtiness or arrogance or superiority.  He should be content, meek and gentle, reposing his utmost trust in God.  The ambition to win disciples and to win applause or fame is foolish and vain.  On the contrary, the essential ambition should be to be nearer to the Friend and to be accepted by the Friend.

He said that a murid must submit his whole self and will to his murshid.  He observed, “The murid should, by sincerely following his spiritual guide, try to reach the place where the spiritual guide himself becomes the comb of his disciple.  A murid then should have, as his motto, service, love of, obedience to, and faith in his murshid in order to attain perfection.”

According to Khwaja Jisty (q.s.), “The path of love is such, that he who treads on it, loses his name and identity.  Love is all-embracing and all-pervading: the lover's heart is a fireplace of love.  Whatever comes in it is burnt and becomes annihilated.  There is no fire greater in intensity than the fire of love.  The sign of true love is manifested in obedience to and the fear of the Friend.”

As regards the repentance of lovers, he said that this is of three kinds: firstly, it is due to shame; secondly, to avoid sin; and thirdly to purify themselves by purging cruelty and enmity from within themselves.”  He also said, “Genuine love rules out the idea of treating the Friend with reserve.  The springs of love are in God and not in us.  Hence, love is Divine.”

He emphasised the importance of prayer and said that it is a great necessity for the development of the soul.  He did not restrict ‘prayer’ in its implications, expressions, and meaning, giving a broad connotation to the word.  According to him, prayer consists of selfless service, sympathy, and empathy.  Thus, helping the weak, the aggrieved, the needy, to feed the hungry, and to have the captive freed all constitute prayers.

He said that to see six things constitutes prayer for the gnostic: to see one’s parents in the morning and greet them with salaam; to see one's own children with love and affection; to see the Holy Qur’an; to see the face of the learned with respect; to see the gates of Ka’bah; and to look towards the face of one’s own murshid and to devote oneself to his service.  According to him, fear, respect, and modesty are the three things that go to make one enlightened.  The perfection of the gnostic depends upon the loss of the self.  A gnostic is said to be perfect only when all barriers separating him and the Friend are dismantled.  Either he lives or the Friend.

He laid great emphasis on renunciation, zuhd; holding that the object should be to have no objective.  To lose an objective is to gain the objective.  A perfect dervish should remove from his heart the stain, stress and the burden of anything and everything.  He should not give place in his heart to anything and anyone except God Almighty Alone.  He should not pursue any other object.  He should desire nothing except God.  According to him, the real fast is the renunciation of all religious and worldly desires.  That was the fast of the zahid.

He said that there are three conditions attached to sama’, spiritual music: these relating to time, place, and community of interest.  It is through sama’ that the nearness of God is achieved.  It confers love on the heart, it gives sincerity to the head, unity to the soul, service to the body, and vision to the eye.

Khwaja Mu’in ad-Din Jisty (q.s.) was a noted poet and left a collection of poems in Persian.  Among his other known books, all originally written in Persian, are Anis al-Arwah, Ahadits al-Ma’arif; Risalah al-Mawjudiyyah; Kanj al-Iswrar; Kashf al-lswrar; and Afaq al-Anfas.  Khwaja Jisty (q.s.) was a source of inspiration and illumination and his discourses reveal great spiritual insight.  They are contained in a book entitled Dalil al-‘Arifin, by his premier caliph, Khwaja Quthb ad-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki (q.s.) of Osh.