Origins of the Awrad of All Sufi Orders

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The format of the adzkar and awrad of all Sufi Orders can be traced back to the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  There may be variations amongst the various orders and preferences amongst the shuyukh based on the condition of their followers and the nature of the amal, but in no way is any of it innovated.  The following is adapted from the writings of Shaykh Ibrahim Niyas (q.s.), from Kashf al-Ilbas.  It was initially translated from Arabic by Ustadz Muhammad ‘Abdullahi at-Tijani al-Ibrahimi.

As for the origin of instruction, talqin, of the adzkar and awrad, the source is the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself.  It has been reported by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) in his Musnad, with a sound chain of transmission, and also by Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) and others, on the authority of Shaykh Ya’la ibn Shidad (r.a.) who said his father, Shidad ibn ‘Aws (r.a.), narrated to him, in the company of ‘Ubadah ibn asw-Swamit (r.a.), who verified that he was telling the truth, the following hadits: “We were with the Prophet (s.a.w.), and he asked, 'Are there any strangers among you?’”  He meant if there were any Jews or Christians present.

We answered, 'No, O Messenger of Allah.'

He then ordered that we lock the door, and then he said, 'Raise your hands and say ‘Laa ilaha illa Allah’, so we held our hands up for some time.  Then he said, ‘All praise and thanks is for Allah!  O Allah, You have Sent me with this word and You have Entrusted me with it, and You have Promised me Paradise on account of it, and You do not break Your promise!’  Then he said, ‘Rejoice!  Allah has Granted you all Forgiveness!’”

Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (r.a.) said, the report of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) and Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) is sound with an excellent chain of transmission, but he added the following wording: “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) raised his hands and so we raised our hands as well.  Then he said, ‘Lower your hands and rejoice, because Allah has Forgiven you!’”

It has been reported by Shaykh Yusuf al-Kuzani (r.a.), who is well-known as “al-'Ajami”, in his Risalah that ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (k.w.) once asked the Prophet, “O Messenger of Allah!  Guide me to the shortest path to reach Allah, the easiest on His servants and the most favoured in the Presence of Allah.”

The Prophet (s.a.w.) replied, “O Ali, I advise you to persist in the dzikr of Allah in moments of seclusion.”

‘Ali (k.w.) asked, “Does this virtue of this dzikr depend on its being performed by every human being?'

The Prophet (s.a.w.) replied, “O ‘Ali, the Last Hour will not come as long there is someone on the face of the earth saying 'La ilaha illa Allah'.”

‘Ali (k.w.) then asked, “How am I to perform the dzikr, O Messenger of Allah?'

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Close your eyes and listen to me say it three times, then you say it three times while I listen to you.”  Then the Prophet (s.a.w.) closed his eyes and raised his voice saying, “La ilaha illa Allah,” while ‘Ali (k.w.) listened.  Then ‘Ali (k.w.) said the dzikr three times while the Prophet (s.a.w.) listened.

These two prophetic narrations have also been reported by the author of Kitab ar-Rimah, Shaykh ‘Umar ibn Sa'id al-Futi (r.a.), in which he said that this is what was taught to Shaykh Hasan al-Baswri (q.s.) by ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (k.w.), and he taught it to Habib al-‘Ajami (q.s.), who taught it to Shaykh Dawud ath-Tha’i (q.s.), who taught it to Shaykh Ma’ruf al-Kharkhi (q.s.), who taught it to as-Shaykh Sari as-Saqathi (q.s.), who taught it to Imam Junayd al-Baghdadi (q.s.).  They had been taught by the masters of spiritual training, tarbiyyah, to whomsoever Allah (s.w.t.) has Willed.  This is the origin of teaching the awrad and adzkar.


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