Monday, 7 January 2013

Adab of the Thariq

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from Adab of the Thariq.  This is the poem of Shaykh Abu Madyan Shu’ayb al-Maghribi (q.s.), and a poem around it in five-line verse by Shaykh al-Akbar, Shaykh Muhyi ad-Din ibn al-‘Arabi Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Hatimi ath-Tha’i al-Andalusi (q.s.).  Below the poems, the notes are adapted from the commentary, The Model of Success in the Courtesies of the Thariq by the ‘Arif bi Allah, Shaykh Taj ad-Din Ahmad ibn Muhammad ‘Abd al-Karim ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.).

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
O you who seek the pleasure of drawing Near,
If you wish all good to be seen upon you,
The one who is consulted is honest, so listen to the news.
The pleasure of life is only in the company of the fuqara’;
They are the sultans, the masters, and the princes.
People who are content with the simplest clothing and diet,
They never think about this world.  Their chests are free of waswas.
Therefore, keep their company and have adab in their assemblies.
Leave your portion behind you whenever they send you forward.
Take their thariq if you are following them.  Leave your claims.
Be careful, and avoid being critical of what they desire.  Seek their benefit.
Seize the moment and always be present with them.
Know that ridha’ is Bestowed on those who are present.
Be pleased with them; by them you will rise and arrive.
If they keep you, stay.  If they ask you to vanish, disappear.
If they do not feed you, be hungry.  If they feed you, eat.
Cling to silence unless you are questioned.
Then say, ‘I have no knowledge,’ and be concealed in ignorance.
Do not criticise the faults of people, even if it is clear and seen.
Look with the eye of perfection.  Do not find fault with anyone.
Do not look at faults unless you see a clear fault appear in you, but it is concealed.
You will get what you are seeking from adab.
Humble yourself to them, without doubt.  But that is modesty in place of adab.
Lower your head and ask Forgiveness without cause.
Stand apologising in just treatment.
If you want from them a light for the way,
Avoid all the actions that they dislike.  Keep yourself doing good actions.
If a fault appears from you, then apologise,
And lift the face of your apology for what has flowed in you from you.
Praise them with compliments and say, ‘Cure with your reconciliation,
Using the ointment of your pardon the wounds you caused.
I am the one at fault, give me your genuine advice.’
Say, ‘Your insignificant slave is more entitled to your pardon.’
Act kindly in forgiveness and adhere to gentleness, O fuqara’!
Do not fear their himmah if you commit a sin.
Higher and greater is their relationship to you than to cause you any harm.
They are not tyrants that their power will harm you.
Take for granted their goodness for that is their nature.
Fear neither overtaking nor harm from them.
If you wish to tread the Path of Guidance by means of them,
Work hard to immediately satisfy what they demand of you.
Be careful not to put it off until tomorrow.
Always be generous in singing the praises of the brothers
In the senses and the meaning.  Lower the eye if someone slips.
Be truthful with them, avoid unclean ways,
Because they are the people of truth, they are the masters and leaders.
Pardon every one of them who harms you.
Watch the shaykh carefully in his states;
Perhaps a trace of his approval will be seen on you.
Ask the shaykh to make du’a for you.  You may gain from this.
By his barakah, you may obtain what you wish for.
Keep a good opinion of him and realise his true inviolability.
Advance seriousness and leap to serve him.
Perhaps he will be pleased, and beware lest you become irritated.
Keep his advice.  Increase yourself by his guidance.
If he calls you, answer him immediately.
Lower your voice to gentleness in obedience to him.
The Pleasure of the Creator is in his pleasure and his obedience.
 He will be pleased with you, so then beware of leaving it.
Be with him who is diplomatic with the nafs in this time,
For surely the nafs despairs of them, for their trade with people is valueless.
Know that the Path of the People is obscure needing study,
And the state of the one who claims it today is as you see.
It is my right to be sad if they leave me, because I am used to being with them.
I will always be sad when I am cut off from their company.
When will I see them and where will I see them?
When will my ear hear some news of them?
Separation stops me from being worthy of them.
I came from them, so blame me.  I am not blaming them.
O my Lord, Grant me Righteousness,
So that I may spend the night in discourse with them.
Whom do I have to help me, and how is it possible,
For someone like me to compete with them in wells,
About which I do not recognize impurity?
Their glorious deeds are beyond description and number;
The seen ones proving the existence of the unseen ones.
Their glory in this world is by their obedience to Allah.
I love them and treat them gently and I offer them my heart’s blood,
And especially a party of them.
A people who are made leaders of all of Creation,
By their acts of obedience; those who sit with them acquire their courtesies.
He who absents himself from their company, his portion is misery.
A people of noble qualities in wherever they sit,
A fragrance remains in the place after them.
Try to be with them, do not separate from them, and increase in love.
If you absent yourself from them, cry with regret and sorrow.
A group with whom a young man gains honour from being with them.
Taswawwuf is guided by their character in the Paths.
Excellent harmony is theirs that delights my eye.
I pulled the tail of my robe being proud of my love for them,
When they accepted me as a small slave in their love.
Their right is in their love, I am not their equal.
They are the people of my love and my lovers,
Who are among those who trail the coat-tails of might in magnificence.
I cut my heart into pieces, making poetry about their love.
I asked Allah earnestly through them, hoping,
That Allah would Forgive me and all the Muslims together.
May I be Reunited with them in Allah,
And my wrong actions Forgiven and Pardoned in Him.
O everyone who has been in this circle with us,
I ask Allah through them to Erase our sins.
Then blessings be upon the Chosen, Sayyiduna Muhammad,
The best of those who fulfilled and who vowed.”

Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari, (q.s.) said the following “The Praise Belongs to Allah (s.w.t.) Who is Alone in Creating and Organising; the Unique, in Judgement and Decree.  He is the King, Who has no minister in His Kingdom; the Owner, from Whose Dominion nothing is excluded large or small; the Sanctified, in the Perfection of His Attributes from resemblance and similarity; in the Perfection of His Essence far above likeness and representation; and the Omniscient, from Whom nothing in consciousness can be hidden.”


Should He not know ― He that Created?  And He is the One that Understands the finest mysteries (and) is Well-Acquainted (with them). (Surah al-Mulk:14)

He also said, “He is the Knowing, Whose Knowledge Surrounds the beginning and the end of matters; the All-Hearing, Who in His Hearing Distinguishes between the apparent and the hidden sounds; the Provider, Who Conveys nourishment to Creation; the Self-Existing, Who Takes Responsibility for Caring for Created beings in all conditions; the Bestower, Who Grants to the souls the existence of their lives; the All-Powerful, Who Brings them back after their death; and the Reckoner, Who Metes out Reward or Punishment according to mankind’s good or bad deeds on the day they Return to Him.  Glory be to Him Who, by His Generosity, Provides for the servants even before their existence, Provides them with their sustenance whether they accept or deny His Existence.  He Supports everything in existence with His Gift, Maintaining the world by Extending its continuance.  He is Apparent by means of His Wisdom on the earth and His Decree in His Heaven.  I witness that there is no god but Allah Alone, without partner, as a servant of Allah who surrenders to His Decree and accepts His Judgement.  I witness that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is His servant and messenger, the Preferred One over all of His prophets, the Chosen by virtue of his great giving and generosity, the Opener and the Seal, titles Given only to him, the Intercessor for all of mankind when the Real Gathers them for Judgement.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Bless him, his family, and his companions who held strongly to their loyalty to him, and Grant them abundant peace.”

Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) supplicated that Allah (s.w.t.) may Place us, the reader, among the people of His Affection. That He Present us with the Existence of His Nearness, and Give us a taste from the drink of the people of His Love.  That He Secure us from being turned away from Him by a continuous Presence with Him.  That He Connect us to Him through His servants, those upon whom He has Shown special favour by Conferring upon them His Messages.  We must know that He Healed their broken hearts when they came to know that the eyes could not reach Him because of the Light of His Self-Manifestations, tajaliyyat.  He Opened the Gardens of Nearness, then Blew from them upon their hearts spiritual visions of His fragrant breezes.  He Showed them what He had already Prepared for them, so they submitted to His Command.  He Exposed the secret of His kindness, luthf, and thus they left argument and obstinacy, submitting to Him and relying upon Him.

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “A man will be Gathered on the Day of Gathering upon the Diyn of his intimate companion.  So let each one of us look to whom he is keeping intimate company.”  We must be intimate only with someone whose state raises us and whose speech shows us the way to Allah (s.w.t.).  Such a person is the faqir, Stripped of otherness, drawing close to the Master.  There is no sweetness except in his intimacy; there is no happiness except in his service and company.

Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) said, “The pleasure of life is only in the company of the fuqara’.”  They are the sultans, the masters, and the princes.  That is, the spiritual traveler on the way to his Lord and Master has no sweetness in his life except in keeping the company of the fuqara’. The word ‘fuqara’’ is the plural of faqir.  The faqir has stripped himself of attachments, turned away from them.  He no longer has a direction, qiblah, or an intention except Allah (s.w.t.).  He denounces everything other than Him.  He is realised in the reality of ‘There is no god except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’  Thus his companionship causes us to taste the sweetness of the path, thariq.  He pours into each of us hearts a most delicious nectar from the drink of the People.  He acquaints us with the path, cuts short the infliction of punishment, and removes impediments from our heart.  Through his spiritual aspiration, himmah, he lifts us to the highest of ranks.  Whoever is like this is the sultan over the reality, the master over the people of the path, and the prince over the people of inner sight, baswirah.

We must not diverge from his path but as a diligent salik, strive to reach this companion and keep his company and be courteous when sitting in his gatherings.  By the blessing, barakah, of his companionship, he will remove every impediment.  As Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) said:

“Therefore, keep their company and have adab in their assemblies.
Leave your portion behind you whenever they send you forward.”

That is, we must keep the company of the fuqara’ and maintain courtesy with them when attending their gatherings.  Surely, the assembly is the apparent form, shabah, and adab is its soul.  If we unite them, we seize the benefit of keeping the shaykh’s company; otherwise, our companionship is but a corpse.  Is there any hope of attaining benefit from the dead?

One of the most important courtesies of the gathering is leaving our portion behind us.  We do not spend our himmah except in obedience to their orders.  As a result, our efforts will be appreciated.  If we take on this character, we will quickly seize the reward of presence.  Being sincere in this, our degree will rise and our himmah be exalted.  About this, Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) said:

“Seize the moment and always be present with them.
Know that ridha’ is Bestowed on those who are present.”

That is, we should utilise the time being in the company of the fuqara’ and always be present with them in heart and body.  As a result, their spiritual nourishment will easily enter us and their benefits flow over us.  Our outwardness will be made healthy by their courtesies, and our inwardness illuminated by the adornment of their lights.  Surely, by keeping company, qualities are acquired.  If we sit with a sad person, we become sad, and if we sit with a happy person, we become happy.  If we sit with the heedless, heedlessness comes to us.  Surely, misery will not come to someone who keeps the company of these people.  So how can those who serve them, love them, and hold intimate talk with them have any distress?  The best that can be said about this is the following:

“Because of their great rank and honour, my master’s feet are on the heads;
Even if I am not one of them, just by loving them I get rank and honour.”

We must know that this is satisfaction, ridha’.  This station is Bestowed upon those who are present with them by means of adab, excluding the nafs, and by adorning oneself with humility and brokenness.  So we exclude ourselves if we are amongst them.  If we enter their gathering, be low and broken, then we will taste the sweetness of Presence.  We are aided by holding to silence.  The lights of joy will dawn upon us.  Gladness will flow over us. As Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) said:

“Cling to silence unless you are questioned.
Then say, ‘I have no knowledge,’ and be concealed in ignorance.”

The state rises for the one who has the quality of being silent in the company of the people of thariqa’.  According to them, silence is of two kinds: silence of the tongue and silence of the heart.  Both of them must be present in the path.  He who silences his heart while his tongue speaks, speaks with wisdom.  He who silences his tongue and his heart, his secret is Manifest to him, his Lord Speaks with him.  This is the goal of silence.  The speech of the shaykh points to that.  So we must cling to silence unless we are questioned.  If we are questioned, we return to our origin and connection and say, ‘I have no knowledge,’ and cover ourselves with ignorance.  The lights of Knowledge from Allah’s (s.w.t.) Presence, al-‘ilm al-laduni, will rise within us.  Surely, whenever we acknowledge our ignorance and return to our origin, knowledge of the nafs dawns upon us.  If we know it then we know our Lord, as it is related in the hadits, “He who knows himself knows his Lord.”  All of this is from the benefits of silence and adhering to it adab.  So we must be silent and be courteous and cling to the door and we will be amongst His Beloved.

We are advised to rise with high himmah to the door of our Master.  Being realised in our servanthood, His Resplendent Lights will shine upon us.  Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.), indicated this when he said, “Do not look at faults unless you see a clear fault appear in you, but it is concealed.”

That is, we must be realised in our attributes of poverty, inability, and lowliness.  When we are realised in these, we will witness faults but they will be covered.  We will gain the favour of the Attributes of our Master appearing within us, as it has been said: “Glory be to He Who Conceals the secret of servanthood.”  Now we understand from this the secret meaning of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Words:


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for Journey by night ... (Surah al-Isra’:1)

He did not say “His Messenger” or “His Prophet.”

We must be broken and abased by the thariq.  We must not let other than this be seen in our state or speech.  There is nothing we can say that will remove any hindrance from us.  We ask for Forgiveness from anything that comes into our heart concerning servanthood to Allah (s.w.t.).  We fully admit this and stand in fair and just judgement against ourselves.  By this, the highest stations will be reached and our humanity will be enriched.  Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) said:

“Lower your head and ask Forgiveness without cause.
Stand apologizing in just treatment.”

That is, we are to be humble and broken.  We put the noblest of what we have in our head and on what is lowest in the earth thereby achieving the station of nearness.   It has been related in a hadits, “The closest the servant of Allah can get to Him is when he is in sajdah.”  Because the servant of Allah (s.w.t.) approaches Him through humility, brokenness, and discarding human attributes.  We always see ourselves as guilty of committing wrongs, even if there is nothing upon us to show this guilt.  Surely, the servant of Allah (s.w.t.) is never free from fault.  We stand in a state of just treatment for our sins, feeling shame for our evil actions and faults.  If He Deals with an ordinary human being in this manner, wherein His Love for him makes his faults and evil actions seem as good deeds, then how will He treat a true friend, one who realises Him and has no friend other than Him.  This has been mentioned in the hadits, “O Allah, You are the Companion of the traveler, the one who is left behind to take care of family, possessions, and children.”  He one left behind is the khalifah.

We must be ready for this treatment, transaction, with your brothers, the fuqara’, so that it will be for us, a mi’raj, a night journey, referring to the mi’raj of the Prophet (s.a.w.) by which we gain access to a transaction with the Lord of Heaven.  We will gain acceptance amongst mankind and the Creator, and the transaction will be purified for us.  The lights of realities will dawn upon us, as he said:

“If a fault appears from you, then apologise,
And lift the face of your apology for what has flowed in you from you.”
Say, ‘Your insignificant slave is more entitled to your pardon.’
Act kindly in forgiveness and adhere to gentleness, O fuqara’!
Take for granted their goodness for that is their nature.
Fear neither overtaking nor harm from them.”

That is, our state should always be humility, brokenness, seeking pardon, and asking for Allah’s (s.w.t.) Forgiveness, whether we have committed a sin or not.  If a fault is seen upon us, we admit it and ask for Forgiveness.  When someone makes tawbah from a sin, it is as if he has not committed it at all.  This does not mean that we do not sin, rather, it means that you do not persist in sinning.  It has been transmitted that, “With Allah, the moaning of the guilty is better than the humming of those who are glorifying Allah, but with self-admiration and pride.”  Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) wrote in the Hikam, “Sometimes He Opens the door of obedience for you but not the door of acceptance; or sometimes He Condemns you to wrong action, and it turns out to be a cause of arriving at Him,” and “A disobedience that bequeaths humiliation and extreme need is better than an obedience that bequeaths self-infatuation and pride.”  With our admission and asking for Forgiveness, apologise for what has preceded from us, so that will be the cause for erasing the sin and leading to acceptance.  We are to be humble, modest, and broken, and say, “Your slaves are more deserving of your pardon.”  Certainly the slave has no other door than the door of his Master.

Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) said that the fuqara’ are more deserving of pardon.  It is their practice while always remaining kind and generous.  This is their way with their friends and it is natural to them.  How can it not be their disposition since they are taking on the character of their Master.  It has been narrated, “Take on the Attributes of Allah.”

We fear no harm from them, the one in their company, and hold to their coat tails.  “They are the people in whose company one will never feel unhappy or miserable.”  If we know that, we take on their good qualities and are generous with our brothers.  We ignore their mistakes.  In this way, we take the best of their qualities.  He said:

“Always be generous in singing the praises of the brothers,
In the senses and the meaning.  Lower the eye if someone slips.”

That is, we are to be generous to your brothers materially, such as by giving money, or in meaning.  We are not to be stingy with anything that we can give to them, for generosity is the heart of the thariq.  All obstacles will be Removed from the heart of the one who takes on these qualities.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir (q.s.) said, “O brothers, I did not arrive to Allah by night prayers, day fasts, or acquiring knowledge.  Rather, I reached Allah by generosity, humility, and purity of heart.”  These words of the shaykh prove that generosity is the foundation.  And with the addition of humility, planting the seeds of success will be complete for the salik.  If he has these two qualities, his heart will be free of attachment.  All hindrances will be removed from his way.

It has been narrated in a hadits, “Surely there are rooms in Paradise whose outside is seen from the inside and whose inside is seen from the outside.  Allah has Prepared them for the one who is gentle in his speech, feeds others, and is consistent in standing in prayer at night while the people are asleep.”

We have to think deeply about this hadits.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) first mentioned gentleness of speech, pointing to humility, then feeding others, indicating generosity, and finally prayer.  Add to prayer, fasting, as indicated by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir (q.s.), “So, my brother, rise to these glorious deeds.  Then add to them the best of good manners and ignoring the faults of brothers if you see them, looking only at their good actions.”

Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) said in one of his early wisdoms, “Seeing the good actions of the slaves of Allah and absenting oneself from their bad actions is one of the perfections of tawhid.”

Acquiring these honourable qualities make us eligible to be with the shaykh.  So, we get up and move to his door. We observe him with exalted himmah.  Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) indicated this, saying:

“Watch the shaykh carefully in his states,
Perhaps a trace of his approval will be seen on you.”

That is, if we acquire the good manners which have been mentioned and arrive at the shaykh with our poverty and brokenness, holding fast to the traces leading to the steps to his door, observe his states.  We strive for the attainment of his pleasure.  We are broken and submit to him at all times, for he is an antidote and a cure.  Surely, the hearts of the shuyukh are the antidotes of the thuruq.  Anyone who has had the good fortune of reaching him, gets his desires fulfilled by him and is delivered from every obstacle.  We must struggle in witnessing this meaning, for perhaps some traces of his appreciation of our state will be seen upon us.  Some of those who have arrived have said, “Among the most difficult privations is being with the awliya’allah without getting their acceptance.”

If this happens to us, it is caused by nothing other than our impoliteness, not their meanness nor their deficiency.  As Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) said in Hikam, “The matter is not making a request.  What really matters is that it bequeaths good adab.”

A sultan who visited the tomb of Abu Yazid (q.s.) asked, “Is there anyone here who has met Abu Yazid?”  An old man was pointed out to the sultan.  The sultan asked him, “Have you heard anything that he said?”

The old man replied, “Yes, Abu Yazid said, ‘Whoever visits me will not be burned by the Fire of Hell.’”

The sultan was amazed by this, and exclaimed, “How can Abu Yazid say such a thing when Abu Jahl, who saw the Prophet, is burning in the Fire of Hell?”

The old man answered the sultan, “Abu Jahl did not see the Prophet (s.a.w.); rather, he saw the orphan of Abu Thalib.  If he had seen him as the Prophet (s.a.w.), he would not be burning in the Fire of Hell.”

The sultan understood and admired what the old man said.  This means that Abu Jahl never looked at the Prophet (s.a.w.) with respect and honour, believing him to be the Messenger of Allah (s.w.t.).  If he had seen him with this meaning, he would not be burned with fire.  Abu Jahl looked at him with spite and contempt, believing that he was only the orphan of Abu Thalib, so his seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) did not benefit him.  And if we meet the quthb of the time without adab, this meeting will have no benefit for us.  In fact, it may have more harm in it than benefit.  So we must have adab in front of the shaykh and struggle to travel the best ways of conduct, suluk.  We must apply what we know with seriousness and effort.  With sincerity, we rise to serve him in order to become one of the masters.

“Advance seriousness and leap to serve him.
Perhaps he will be pleased, and beware lest you become irritated.
The Pleasure of the Creator is in his pleasure and his obedience.
He will be pleased with you, so then beware of leaving it.”

All this meaning we rise to serve the shaykh with seriousness.  Perhaps we gain his pleasure and become a master among the masters.  We must be wary of showing displeasure or impatience, for this will spoil what is gained.  We cling to the steps leading to his door, morning and evening, in order to gain his friendship.

If we gain his pleasure, Allah (s.w.t.) will be Pleased with us and we will gain more than what you hoped for.  Being obedient to him leads us to being obedient to our Master and gaining His Pleasure.  In addition, we gain an abundance of his miracles.  We must hold fast to service of the shaykh when we achieve arrival to him.  Joy had engulfed us from all directions when Allah (s.w.t.) Introduced us to him.  “Know that the thariq of the People is obscure and needs to be studied.  The state of the one who claims it today is as you see.”  But, if the Divine Concern helps us, we will win and smell the fragrant breeze from Madinah al-Munawwarah, thaybah, more fragrant than the strongest scent of musk.  Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) said:

“Know that the Path of the People is obscure needing study,
And the state of the one who claims it today is as you see.
When will I see them and where will I see them?
When will my ear hear some news of them?
Whom do I have to help me, and how is it possible,
For someone like me to compete with them in wells,
About which I do not recognize impurity?
I love them and treat them gently,
And I offer them my heart’s blood and especially a party of them.”

The shaykh starts by making the salik look forward to the way of his people.  He informs them that their thariqa is obscure, needing study, and the state of those who claim it today are as you see in this period.  It is as if the himmah of people is weak, and therefore, they lose hope of reaching the Path because it is so obscure and precious, hard of access.  It is as though the Path were from a vanishing age.  The thariqa is only obtained by one individual at a time.  This is the well-known sunnah.  Like valuable jewelry, it is not easily found.  Because of its scarcity, people often think it is non-existent.  The people of the thariqa’ are hidden in the world like Laylat al-Qadr is hidden in the month of Ramadhan, or like the hour of jumu’ah in its day until the seeker makes an effort to reach it.  Surely, he who is serious finds what he is looking for, and he who knocks insistently on the door will go through it.

After he said there must be a shaykh in the thariq, Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) asked, “How can you tell us to find him and serve him when it is said the presence of the shaykh is like red sulphur or a legendary bird?  Who is going to find this bird while it is nonexistent?  How can you order me to reach someone with such a state?”

He replied, “If you are true in your quest, like a child suffering from thirst, you will never be satisfied until you achieve your intention.” The shaykh indicated that the shaykh exists.  How can he not exist while the building of the world is by means of those like him: the world is like a person and the awliya’ are its soul.  Since the world exists, they exist.  But, because of their hiddenness and lack of outwardness, it is judged that they are missing.

If we struggle and are truthful in our quest, we will find what we seek.  We seek Help for that quest from the One Who Knows the unseen.  Surely, gaining what one seeks is not possible except through His Generosity and Kindness.  If He leads us to the shaykh, He Leads us to Himself, as Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) has said in Hikam: “Glory be to Him Who Does not Make the evidence leading to His awliya’, except as an evidence leading to Himself, and Who Does not Lead to them except him whom He Wants to Arrive to Him.”

After the shaykh mentioned that the thariq is precious and hard of access, and that its people have disappeared, he begins to feel regret for not having met them when he had the chance.  However, his belief that he will not achieve this, and thereby be honoured, is the result of his humility and brokenness and he sees himself as unworthy and lowly.  This is the state of one who knows himself by himself.  He is complete in his knowledge of his Lord.  He is adorned with inrushes, waridat, of His Sanctity into his heart because he does not see for himself any state or speech.  He sees himself less than everything.  This is the complete vision.  The poet said:

“The more knowledge one has, the humbler one becomes;
While the more one’s ignorance increases, the more one feels elevated.
Just as the green branch laden with ripe fruit is easily reached;
While the branch without fruit is out of reach.”

As an example, we look at Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) and his high status in the thariq.  Although twelve thousand muridun have arrived through his tarbiya, spiritual education, look at his humility and abasement.  The branches from the tree of his ma’rifah hang low, descending to the earth of humility and brokenness until he sees that he is not even worthy of meeting with the people of the thariqa’.  This abasement increases his ascension, for the deeper the roots of a tree, the higher it grows.  So we must be humble in the thariqa and take this great lineage from a fully realised ‘arif.  It will remove all obstacles from your way.

After this Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) said, “I love them...”  This meaning: “Even though I am not one of them, I love them.”

He who loves a people is one of them, as stated in the hadits: “A person is with those whom he loves.”  The poet also said:

“I love the righteous people, although I am not one of them;
Maybe I get shafa’ by being with them.
I hate him whose commodity is disobedience;
Even though we are together in this commodity of disobedience.”

These are the qualities of the people and their attributes.  Therefore, their rank is Elevated and their Gifts Increased, as Shaykh Abu Madyan (q.s.) described:

“Try to be with them, do not separate from them, and increase in love.
If you absent yourself from them, cry with regret and sorrow.
A group with whom a young man gains honour from being with them.
Taswawwuf is guided by their character in the Paths.
Excellent harmony is theirs that delights my eye.
I pulled the tail of my robe being proud of my love for them,
When they accepted me as a small slave in their love.
Their right is in their love, I am not their equal.
They are the people of my love and my lovers,
Who are among those who trail the coat-tails of might in magnificence.
I cut my heart into pieces, making poetry about their love.
I asked Allah earnestly through them
Hoping that Allah would Forgive me and all the Muslims together.
May I be Reunited with them in Allah,
And my wrong actions Forgiven and Pardoned in Him.
O everyone who has been in this circle with us,
I ask Allah through them to Erase our sins.
Then blessings be upon the Chosen, Sayyiduna Muhammad,
The best of those who fulfilled and who vowed.”

That is, they are a people of noble qualities and their himmah are great.  Wherever they sit, they leave behind their beautiful fragrant scent.  Wherever they go, the sun of their knowledge shines and hearts are illuminated.  By them, dunya and akhirah are made good.  By their character, taswawwuf leads the eager salik to the thariq.  There, he is able to carry on in his suluk in a praiseworthy manner.  Therefore, theirs is the best gathering.  Everyone who looks, likes what he sees; they work hard to achieve every complete and subtle meaning until the lights of inner sight are adorned with their kohl.

The shaykh also said, “They are the people of my affection and love...”  One only loves one’s own kind, or one with whom there is a kinship.  These words indicate that he is one of them, from the same special clay.  What he has already mentioned of modesty and brokenness is an evidence of his realisation of this glory and pride.  So we ask Allah (s.w.t.) to Lead us to the best of spiritual paths.

Then he made du’a and asked that he be included among them for Allah (s.w.t.).  He asked to be Pardoned for his sins.  We also ask Allah (s.w.t.) the Complete Blessing and Peace upon Our Master, Muhammad (s.a.w.), the Chosen One, the Best of Those Who Fulfilled and Vowed, the Most Noble Neighbour, and upon his family and companions, the righteous masters, the followers, and their followers to goodness until the last day.  These are the best meanings we could get from this poem.  But we admit that we have not fully obtained its meaning.  Our intentions were good and deeds are fulfilled according to intentions.  And Allah (s.w.t.) Knows best.


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