The Story of Dala’il al-Khayrat

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from “The Story of Dala’il al-Khayrat” by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller.

Dala’il al-Khayrat, the most celebrated manual of Blessings on the Prophet (s.a.w.) in history, was composed by the Sufi, wali, Muslim scholar of prophetic descent, and barakah of Marrakesh, Imam Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli (q.s.).  Born and raised among the Gazulah Berbers of the Sus region in southern Morocco, he studied the Qur’an and traditional Islamic knowledge before travelling to Fez, where he memorized the four-volume Mudawwanah by the Maliki mujtahid, Imam Sahnun ibn Sa’id at-Tanukhi (r.a.) and met scholars of his time such as Imam Ahmad az-Zarruq (q.s.), and Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah Amghar (q.s.), who become his shaykh in the thariqa’.

Shaykh Amghar (q.s.) traced his spiritual lineage through only six masters to the great founder of their order, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan ash-Shadzili (q.s.), and thence back to the Prophet (s.a.w.).  After initiating Imam al-Jazuli (q.s.) into the way, he placed him in a khalwah or solitary retreat, where he remained invoking Allah (s.w.t.) for some fourteen years, and emerged tremendously changed.  After a sojourn in the east and performing hajj, Imam al-Jazuli (q.s.) himself was given permission to guide disciples as a shaykh of the thariqa’.

Imam Ahmad asw-Swawi (q.s.) related that, one day, Imam al-Jazuli (q.s.) went to perform his ablutions for the prescribed prayer from a nearby well but could not find any means to draw the water up.  While thus perplexed, he was seen by a young girl who called out from high above, “You are the one people praise so much, and you cannot even figure out how to get water out of a well?”  So, she came down and spat into the water, which welled up until it overflowed and spilled across the ground.

Imam al-Jazuli (q.s.) made his ablutions, and then turned to her and said, “I adjure you to tell me how you reached this rank.”

She said, “By saying the Blessings upon him whom beasts lovingly followed as he walked through the wilds.”

Imam al-Jazuli (q.s.) thereupon vowed to compose the book of Blessings on the Prophet (s.a.w.) which came to be known as his Dala’il al-Khayrat or “Waymarks of Benefits.”  His spiritual path drew thousands of disciples who, aided by the popularity of his manual of Blessings on the Prophet (s.a.w.), had a tremendous effect on Moroccan society.  He taught followers the Blessings upon the Prophet (s.a.w.), extinction of self in the love of Allah (s.w.t.) and His messenger, visiting the awliya’ or saints, disclaiming any strength or power, and total reliance upon Allah (s.w.t.).  He was told by the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a dream, “I am the splendour of the Messengers, and you are the splendour of the awliya’.”  Many Divine Signs were vouchsafed to him, none more wondrous or unmistakable than the reception that met his famous work.

Its celebrity swept the Islamic World from North Africa to Indonesia.  Scarcely a well-to-do home was without one, princes exchanged magnificently embellished copies of it.  Commoners treasured it.  Pilgrims wore it at their side on the way to hajj, and a whole industry of hand-copyists sprang up in Makkah and Madina that throve for centuries.  Everyone who read it, found that barakah descended wherever it was recited, in accordance with the Divine Command:

Allah and His angels, Send Blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe!  Send ye blessings on him and salute him, with all respect. (Surah al-Ahzab:56)

In the post-caliphal period of the present day, Imam Jazuli’s (q.s.) masterpiece has been eclipsed by the despiritualisation of Islam by “reformers” who have affected all but the most traditional of Muslims.  As the Moroccan hadits scholar, Imam ‘Abdullah at-Talidi (r.a.) wrote of the Dala’il al-Khayrat: “Millions of Muslims from East to West tried it and found its good, its barakah, and its benefit for centuries and over generations, and witnessed its unbelievable spiritual blessings and light.  Muslims avidly recited it, alone and in groups, in homes and mosques, utterly spending themselves in the Blessings on the Most Beloved and praising him —until Wahhabi ideas came to spread among them, suborning them and creating confused fears based on the opinions of ibn Taymiyyah and the reviver of his path, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab of Najd.  After this, Muslims slackened from reciting the Dala’il al-Khayrat, falling away from the Blessings upon the Prophet (s.a.w.) in particular, and from the remembrance of Allah in general.”  He wrote this in al-Muthrib fi Awliya’ al-Maghrib.


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