Attachments to Bad Characteristics

?بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from the teachings of Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.).

Our Grand shaykh, Shaykh ‘Abdillah al-Fa’iz ad-Daghistani (q.s.) was a fountain of knowledge and what he taught in one moment was completely different from what came in another session.  Those who knew him did not see him resting.  He was teaching and guiding all the time.  This knowledge was intrinsic.  There were no books and he spoke from no prepared notes.  It was as if from nothing that these pearls of knowledge came.  He was like a dam.  When a dam is in danger of overflowing, it is opened and the water directed.  If not, it will overflow or the rivers will overflow.  So, a dam has a purpose and when it fills up, they direct the water to wherever it needs.  The awliya’ are a dam for the knowledge that Comes and they have to empty their hearts in order for more knowledge to come.   That is their characteristic.  They have to speak in an association of others even if that association consists of only two persons.

40 or 45 years ago, there used to be no one with Shaykh ‘Abdillah (q.s.), except one or two muridun at times.  There was no translator and Shaykh ‘Abdillah (q.s.) spoke only Arabic with a bit of Turkish mixed in.  Even if there was only one person, he would give an advice, a swubhah.  The shuyukh try to speak at a level that the normal people can understand.  They do not give knowledge that hearts cannot contain.  This is what was learned from Shaykh ‘Abdillah (q.s.).

What is usually discussed is the very basics.  It is unusual for the shuyukh to open more than that and dive into those Oceans of Oneness, the Maqam al-Ahadiyyah and Maqam al-Wahdaniyyah, the Station of Oneness and the Station of Uniqueness.  That is when they explain the importance of Oneness and the importance of Uniqueness in every Beautiful Name and Attribute that has been Manifested to them at that moment.  Every one of Allah's (s.w.t.) Beautiful Names and Attributes has its Ocean of Oneness and its Ocean of Uniqueness.

This is something of their teachings that is not seen today because there are no people qualified to listen.  Shaykh Nazhim (q.s.) rarely opens from that Ocean these days because one cannot give children much except candies.  You cannot give them diamonds.  In truth, we live in a second time ignorance, al-jahiliyya ath-thaniyya.  It is not mere ignorance that is enwrapping humanity.  It is not ignorance of technology or ignorance of science.  Rather, it is ignorance of the spiritual life that we suffer from.

What the awliya’ say is the key to changing our lives.  The problem is that though they give us the key, and tell us to open our hearts; we say the key is broken.  The key is not broken.  Perhaps the hand is broken or the fingers are broken.  We must discipline ourselves to follow what they do.  We have to rid ourselves of what they ask us to get rid of because it is tab’a an-nafs, character that the ego has been raised upon.

From childhood, we have raised our ego.  It has become acquainted with those habits that we or our parents and family have built upon ourselves.  That is where the problem lies.  We have built ourselves on an affliction from childhood.  Someone whose heart is dead cannot understand spirituality.  The heart is already dead.  There is no container; there is no more life in it.  The problem is that our selves, an-nufus, have already become sick and not merely sick but stubbornly holding on to its habits and its behaviour.  It cannot change it and it does not allow anyone to change it.

The key is to loosen up.  If we know a characteristic is bad, leave it.  That is the key they speak of.  Leave it and we find spirituality and happiness.  Hold on to it and the shaykh is not going to give to you from these spiritual manifestations that come to his heart from Prophet's (s.a.w.) heart.  There is no benefit in giving when our hearts are sick.

Were we to go back to time of Adam (a.s.), it would be apparent to us that from day one, good and evil existed.  Cain was the bad example.  He was holding tight to the characteristics he had acquired, not from Adam (a.s.), but from ShaythanShaythan whispered into his heart, using him as a vehicle.  But Shaythan was not able to come to Abel, who as the good one was taking spiritual direction from Adam (a.s.) directly.  Cain was listening to Shaythan so he could not be listening to Adam (a.s.) and he was not willing to loosen the hold of his ego on him.  As a result, he gave the worst of his sheep for sacrifice.  He did not go with love and give Allah (s.w.t.) the best of what he had.  He did not return his amanah.

As we go forward in time, we see as humanity, the characteristics that we have molded within us through year and years from parents to grandparents to great grandparents to our forebears all the way back to Nimrod and the Pharaoh.  Those were the habits of Nimrod.  He was against Ibrahim (a.s.).  The Pharaoh was against Musa (a.s.).  These habits have not change and they are what we have inherited and they have become like a cancer.  The ego does not want to let it go.  It can only be freed by force.  The awliya’ are there to force the cure.

That is why we come to them with one leg in dunya and the other leg in akhirah.  It is a start. That is like pre-nursery in the Path of God and it builds us up to go to the next level.  To avoid the cancer of the ego, they guide us through these associations from time to time.  The shuyukh do different types of treatments in order to stop that sickness of the ego.  However, the only true cure of the Self is death.

The death, mawt, of the awliya’ is of two kinds, idhthirari or ikhtiyari.  We all die either by force or by choice.  A physical death is a death by force.  Generally, we have no say n the matter.  A death by choice is the door to the next level of spirituality.  It is death to the world.  He who chooses that is entering a door.  It is an open door for any time we want to go back to our origin before our death.  We go with a spiritual death.  We say:

… “To Allah we Belong and to Him is our Return.” (Surah al-Baqarah:156)

We can return at any time we like since the door is always open.

The ones who await normal death do not benefit from this life.  The one who strives against his nafs, is the one who will.  Those who struggle against their ego and try to subdue it, will be undressed of their bad characteristics like one who removes layers of clothing.  It is a prerequisite for the Divine Presence since you cannot have another god before Allah (s.w.t.).  The nafs has to be left behind since it will always claim lordship.  It is the nature of the nafs, the ego to claim such and it is the worst of the many sicknesses of the ego.

The awliya’ try their best to remove these characteristics.   The Prophet (s.a.w.) said the thing he feared most for the ummah is hidden shirk.  This includes riya’, or showing off.  These are the sicknesses of the heart we have to let go off.  And the key to humility is realisation for Allah (s.w.t.) did Say above every knower there is a knower.  Above every station there is a higher station. 

That is why the shuyukh are important.  They say in Arabic that if you have no elder, go to market and buy an elder.  Without an elder you are lost.  The awliya’ guide us to what we need.  The shuyukh in the life of people are very important.  They are needed for people to get good advice.  Those who have no shaykh are hanging like a windmill.  They turn whichever way the wind moves; they have no guidance and no direction.  With a shaykh, there is a direction.  He catches us when we are falling down.  The shaykh knows the tricks of the ego and fixes it immediately.  Shaythan comes and plays with the ego.  Then the shaykh comes and fixes it again.

It is through the shuyukh, the doctors of the heart, that inspiration comes to us as the diseases of the heart are cured.  Without inspiration, we are lost.  We must meet with our shuyukh as much as possible, physically and spiritually.  The more often, the better.  But those who come to take advantage of the shaykh for their own benefit, derive nothing from their proximity.  Only the sincere are Rewarded.

Shaykh Bayazid al-Bistami (q.s.) would go to a shoemaker.  The shoemaker said that in four hours, he was raised and ascended to an extent he would not have been able to do by means of his ‘ibadah if he had been worshipping from time of Adam (a.s.) up to Judgement Day.  We cannot fathom the kinds of ascension we experience through the shuyukh.  And this will not be known except in death; either a forced death or a death by choice.  If we die before we die in dunya, we will be given that advantage and benefit.  And the death by choice can only happen with the death of the ego, the nafs.


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