The Power of Meditation & Rabithah: The Naqshbandi Way

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.) says most Masters today present the method of meditation to us.  Usually they do not base it on Christianity, Judaism or Islam.  Many people think it is a method which originated within other religions.  That is not the case.  Meditation was a method which was already given to the first man, within the first message, to the first Messenger.

It is mentioned in all our holy books: the Torah, the Gospels and in the Holy Qur’an as a method to reach the Divine Presence.  When we come face to face with our Creator, we leave everything else behind.  Nothing remains except our soul.  Even if someone tried to cut us with a sword, we would be unharmed.  Nothing can touch us physically in such a state.  Normally, our souls are imprisoned in the physical body.  In a perfect state of meditation, our soul covers the physical body and we become a spirit.  Once, while Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.) was meditating, he kept saying, "I am the Truth!"  People around him were offended by this utterance and started attacking him with swords, but nothing happened to him.  They could not touch him.

When Mawlana Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (q.s.) meditates, he would whirl and take off from the ground.  He had full connection with the Divine Presence.  According to our knowledge, meditation has so many steps.  If we keep to those rules, real meditation can come to us at any time.  Everyone must try within the rules which exist in their religion, to praise the Lord first, in the way the prophets taught us.  We sit in a quiet place, preferably in the dark, cover ourselves and withdraw from everything around us.  We should not hear or feel anything.  We must remember we are one within the existence of the Lord Almighty, in the Divine Presence.  Even if it is only for five minutes, it gives us power.  This will then increase in time.  If an assailant looks at us in such state, he will fall down.  We would be mistaken to think that meditation is easy.  It is one of the most potent abilities given to mankind.

The following is extracted from Maktubat, the letters of Imam Muhammad Ma’sum ar-Rabbani (q.s.), the son and spiritual successor of Imam Rabbani Mujaddid ats-Tsani Ahmad al-Faruqi as-Sirhindi (q.s.), the first volume, 72nd letter.  This is regarding understanding the method for spiritual progress and attainment in the Path of the Master of Wisdom, the distinguished Naqshbandi Order

Attaining high spiritual grades requires a strong and affectionate attachment to the elites of the Ahl as-Sunnah.  A true devotee, owing to his affection towards the murshid, receives the faydh coming from the murshid's heart.  Gradually, he becomes like the murshid.  In other Ways, there are mandatory practices such as dzikr, recitations from the Qur'an at stated times, physical hardships and going into forty-day seclusions.  Strong attachment to the murshid is not a condition.  This Way, however, is the way of the swahabah.  In this Order, ifadah and istifadah takes place by way of reflection from heart to heart.  Attending the murshid's swuhbah will do, provided that one shall observe the rules of good manners.  Dzikr, recitations from the Qur'an and doing pious deeds will be helpful.

Attending Rasulullah's (s.a.w.) swuhbah, only on the condition that they had iman, submission and obedience, was enough for the swahabah to attain perfection.  For this reason, the Naqshbandi path leads to perfection faster.  In receiving faydh from the Perfect Guide, it does not make any difference whether a person is young or old or an infant or dead.  Also the perfections given at the end in other Ways are given in the beginning in this Way.

The riyadhat to be performed in this way is to hold fast to the sunnah and to avoid innovations of faith.  Khwaja 'Ubaydullah al-Ahrar (q.s.) states, "The belief held by the disciples making progress in this path is the belief of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah.  Their riyadhat is to obey the shari’ah.  People who do not perform the worships will not receive any faydh.  Nor will they make any progress.  The end of this path is to forget about creatures and to attain permanence in the Divine Presence.  This happiness cannot be attained without excessive affection and jadzbah.  The most powerful vehicle that will make one attain this blessing is the murshid's swuhbah."

Man, a helpless being, is bogged down in worldly pleasures and the desires of the ego.  He is unaware of the desires of heart and soul.  It is impossible to receive Faydh from Allah (s.w.t.) without a connecter.  Allah (s.w.t.) Sends His Faydh through Rasulullah (s.a.w.).  A murshid al-kamil, through his Masters, receives the faydh continuously streaming out of Rasulullah's (s.a.w.) Blessed heart and scatters it around himself.  What connects one's heart to the murshid's heart is a strong affection and love one has for him.  This love necessitates observing the rules of adab and adapting oneself to one's murshid in worship, habits and manners.

A person who wishes to attain love of Allah (s.w.t.) must be sincere.  He must wish only His Love, find a murshid who will make him attain Him, and attach himself to that murshid.  The bigger the number of people he is attached to, the farther will he get from unity in his wish, in knowledge and love and the more badly will he be deprived from the real Wahid.  The farther he gets from katsrah, the closer will he be to the real unity.

With regards the permissibility of rabithah ash-Sharif, Shaykh as-Sayyid ‘Abd al-Hakim al-Arwasi (q.s.) says it is called rabithah to attach one's heart to and to keep in one's imagination the image of the face of a wali in his presence or absence, who has been qualified with the Qualities of Allah (s.w.t.) and attained to the stage of mushahadah.  Thinking of those who have attained perfection is very useful, as expressed in the hadits, “Allah is remembered when they are seen,” and “Those who are with them do not become rebels“, which are related by Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) and Imam Muslim (r.a.).  A faithful, pure Muslim attains the qualities and ahwal of such a man of Allah (s.w.t.) by thinking of him.  The hadits orders Muslims to stay with pious Muslims, that is, Allah’s (s.w.t.) Beloved servants.  The 'ulama of Bukhara, Khiwa, Samarqand and India have unanimously declared, performed and ordered their students to perform rabithah since 200 AH.  The Allah (s.w.t.) Says in the Qur’an thus:

O ye who believe!  Do your duty to Allah, seek the means of approach unto Him, and strive (with might and main) in His Cause: that ye may prosper. (Surah al-Ma’idah:35)

The Order to 'look for wasilah to attain Him' in this is not bound by any condition but is used in a general sense.  'Ibadah, adzkar, ud’iyyah and the arwah of awliya' are included in this command.  The wasilah is Rasulullah (s.a.w.) is made known in the Divine Command:

Say: "If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will Love you and Forgive you your sins; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Surah Ali ‘Imran:31)

Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) wrote in his Swahih that Abu Bakr asw-Swiddiq (r.a.) said that Rasulullah (s.a.w.) was never away from his heart and mind so much so that he complained that Rasulullah's (s.a.w.) image was in his memory even when he was in the bathroom.  Allah (s.w.t.) Declared:

O ye who believe!  Fear Allah and be with those who are true (in word and deed). (Surah at-Tawbah:119)

Here, 'be with' is not bound by any condition.  It is a general statement.  Therefore, it includes 'being with' the faithful in the material sense as well as spiritual.

Sayyid Ahmad al-Hamawi (r.a.) who passed away in 1686 CE, a Hanafi ‘alim and the annotator of the book Aswbah, noted in his book that the ruhaniyyah of awliya' is more powerful than their jismaniyyah, and they therefore could be seen in different places at the same moment.  He quoted the following hadits as a document for his words: “There are people who will enter Paradise through every gate.  Each gate will call them to itself,' upon which Abu Bakr asw-Swiddiq (r.a.) asked, 'Will there be anyone to enter through all of the eight gates, O Rasulullah?' and Rasulullah (s.a.w.) answered, 'I hope you will be one of them.'  One can appear in different places at the same moment when his soul acquires the power of having connection with his original position in 'alam al-‘amr.  Since the soul's interest in the world decreases then a man dies, his soul becomes more powerful.  It becomes easier for him to appear in different places at the same moment."

It is written in the commentary on Shama'il by ibn Hajar al-Makki (r.a.) and in Tanwir al-Halak by Imam Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuthi (r.a.) that 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas (r.a.) said, “I dreamt of Rasulullah (s.a.w.).  He treated me with favour.  I visited one of his wives after I woke up.  I looked at the mirror.  I saw not myself but Rasulullah (s.a.w.) in the mirror.”  This state is not one of the things peculiar only to Rasulullah (s.a.w.).

According to the basic rules of fiqh and uswul al-fiqh, the 'ulama and awliya' of Rasulullah's (s.a.w.) ummah are the inheritors of his every hal, which are not among his khaswa'isw.  It is not one of his khaswa'isw to call down Blessings upon and to greet Rasulullah (s.a.w.) as if he is in sight by visualising him.  Therefore, it is permissible to imagine, to form in the mind a picture of, a wali and expect help from his soul. Imam Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuthi (r.a.), a Shafi'i scholar, says, 'The twenty-second kind of karamah is that awliya' can appear in forms of different persons,” in his book ath-Thabaqat al-Kubra.  This is validated in the Qur’an.

…then We Sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. (Surah Maryam:17)

'Ulama have interpreted this to mean that the souls of awliya' may appear in various forms.  Allama al-Ja’ili (r.a.), a Shafi'i scholar, wrote in his commentary to Swahih al-Bukhari, "The Devil cannot appear in the shapes of perfect awliya’ who are Rasulullah's (s.a.w.) inheritors, just as it cannot take Rasulullah's (s.a.w.) form."

'Allama Sayyid Sharif al-Jurjani (r.a.), a Hanafi scholar, noted before writing about the 72 groups of Muslim at the end of his book, Sharh al-Mawaqif and in his annotation to the book Sharh al-Mathali' that living or dead, awliya' become visible to their students in various forms and that their disciples receive fa’iz and get much benefit from those images.  Shaykh Taj ad-Din Ahmad ibn 'Ata'Allah al-Iskandari ash-Shadzili (r.a.), a Maliki scholar who passed away in Egypt in 709 AH, wrote in his Tajiyyah that one can get much benefit from a perfect wali when he sees or thinks of him.

'Allama Shams ad-Din ibn an-Nu’aym (r.a.), a Hanafi scholar, wrote in Kitab ar-Ruh, “Souls may be in a different state other than when they are in their bodies.  The souls of awliya' are at Rafiq al-‘Ala and also have a relation with their dead bodies.  If a person visits such a wali's grave and greets him, his soul at Rafiq al-‘Ala anwers that person.”  This is also noted in Imam as-Suyuthi's (r.a.) Kitab al-Munjali.  All these proofs show that awliya' have powerful taswarruf and influence after their death in a way which we may not know.

Khalil ibn Ishaq al-Jandi (r.a.), a Maliki scholar and author of Mukhtaswar, who passed away in 767 AH, wrote, 'The ability to appear in various forms is given by Allah (s.w.t.) to a wali when he becomes perfect.  This is not impossible, because the images that are seen in different shapes are non-material; the body is not seen.  Souls are not material and do not occupy a place in space.”

Disbelieving the teachings and documents which are clearly reported by so many profound 'ulama and awliya' is nothing but disagreeing with the religion and reason.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Bestow reason and justice upon those who classify the Muslims of Ahl as-Sunnah as non-believes or polytheists on account of this belief of theirs.  Shame on those who liken the Muslims who believe this fact to the polytheists who worshiped graves and regarded idols and creatures as creator.

'Umar ibn al-Farid (r.a.), a Maliki and a Qadiri, who passed away in Egypt in 576 AH and was known as Sulthan al-'Ashiqin and whose heart burnt in flames with love and affection for Rasulullah (s.a.w.) and the awliya', praises the superiors of taswawwuf befitting their honour in his famous eulogy, Khamriyyah.

The heretics who are marked as heretic and sufferer of calamity cannot attain the Blessings of being believers no matter how well it is explained and how many documents or even karamah they are shown.  Mawlana 'Abd ar-Rahman Jami’ (r.a.), who passed away in Herat in 898 AH, answers them very well in the following quatrain:

“World's lions are all links of the same chain;
How dare a fox break it with wile?
If a heretic takes awliya' names in vain,
They remain spotless, he proves himself vile.
Only his beard will catch fire if someone tries to blow out 
The torch lit by Allahu Ta'ala.


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