Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Rebuking the Unjust Ruler

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from Shaykh Muhammad ibn Yahya at-Tadhifi’s (q.s.), Qala’id al-Jawahir, as translated by Shaykh Muhtar Holland.

Shaykh Abu al-’Abbas al-Khadir al-Husayn al-Mawswili (q.s.), who said, “One night, we were in the schoolhouse of our shaykh, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.), in Baghdad.  While we were there, along came Imam al-Mustanjid bi-Allah Abu al-Muzhaffar Yusuf, the son of Imam al-Muqtafi li-‘Amrillah Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad al-’Abbasi.  He saluted the shaykh with the salaam, and told him that he had come to seek his wise advice.  He then set down before him a large sum of money, contained in ten vessels, borne by ten of his personal servants.

‘I have no need of this,’ said the shaykh, but the visitor insisted that he must accept it, and pressed the matter with great urgency.

The shaykh then grasped one vessel in his right hand, and another in his left.  They were the best and finest of vessels, by the way.  He squeezed them extremely tightly, until they began to drip with blood.  Then the shaykh said to his visitor, ‘O Abu al-Muzhaffar, do you not feel any sense of shame before Allah (s.w.t.), that you should take wealth from the people and offer it to me?’

He fainted when he heard this, and the shaykh went on to say, ‘By all that is due to Allah, were it not for the sanctity of his ancestral connection with Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.), I would have let the blood go on flowing all the way to his house!’”

The Authority of the Prophet's (s.a.w.) Verdicts

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Imam Ahmad Ridha al-Qadri (r.a.) commented on is the authority of the verdicts given by the Prophet (s.a.w.).  He said the Prophet (s.a.w.) possessed the power to give a verdict on the external and internal reality of a case, azh-zhahir wa al-bathin, but he often gave a verdict on the outward condition.  This is so because the shari’ah governs the external aspect of our lives.  

As recorded in Sunan al-Bayhaqi, there was once a person was caught stealing and he was brought to the sacred court of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  He said, “Behead him.”

Abu Bakr (r.a.) said, “Ya Rasulullah!  He was caught only for theft.”

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Cut off his hands.”  His right hand was amputated.

After some time, the same person stole again, and his left foot was cut off.  He stole again and his left hand was cut off.  The fourth time he stole again, his right foot was cut off.  On the fifth occasion, he stole something with his mouth.  Abu Bakr (r.a.) then said, “How true was the initial verdict of Prophet (s.a.w.) - behead him!”  The end result is the reality of his superior insight and perception.

Finding the Ocean

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

“When it comes to religion, paths and faith;
Each one of us is as if a homeless waif.
We all begin at the same house on a hill.
And seek a return to the ocean until,
We are dissolved in it an encompassing embrace.
Yet we have turned that sojourn into a race.

There are many paths that take us home,
But people argue on roads best to roam.
And supposing there is a group that agreed a route,
They would bicker on the method of return to boot.
And supposing they all agreed to take a car,
Surely a fight on the colour and make by far.

And if that all be done and tried,
And the vehicle of choice they did decide,
But every single one wants to take the wheel.
A meaningless title they want with zeal.
And by this time, they did forget the return.
And that Loving Embrace they did truly spurn.”

Terence Nunis

Adab of the Sincere Seeker

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from Adab al-Murid asw-Swadiq by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Buzaydi (q.s.), and translated by Ustadz Mokrane Guezzou.

Of the proper manners of the seeker is not to convey repugnant words which would change the hearts of the brethren or of any ordinary persons, let alone the hearts of those who make remembrance of Allah (s.w.t.) from amongst his brothers or the heart of his shaykh.  This is the case even when the seeker sees a certain necessity in conveying these words.  He should avoid such words and consign the matter to Allah (s.w.t.) and be convinced that Allah (s.w.t.) has already Informed the shaykh of them.

Whosoever is not convinced that his shaykh is informed of this, and of what is even greater, will never be illumined about the secret of the path, even if he remains with the folk of Allah (s.w.t.) for years.  The door of spiritual illumination is veneration and it is through this door that propriety originates.

The person who sees something in the brethren and conveys it to the shaykh is himself the one who is really heedless of Allah (s.w.t.), and is, further, worse than all his brothers.  Had this person been busy with the remembrance of Allah (s.w.t.), he would have been blind to the fault of others.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Imam ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad (q.s.) on Intention

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Imam ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad (q.s.) wrote the following on intention.  “You must, O my brother, improve the soundness and sincerity of your intentions, examine them, and reflect well before embarking on your actions.  For intentions are the bases of deeds; according to them your deeds will either be good or ugly, sound or unsound.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) has said, ‘Deeds are only according to intentions; each man has that which he intended.’

You must, therefore, utter no word, do not action, and decide no matter without the intention of drawing nearer thereby to God and seeking the Reward He has Assigned, through His Beneficence and Grace, to intended act.  And know that drawing nearer to Him can only be done through the obligatory and supererogatory devotions that He has Indicated through His Messenger (s.a.w.).

A sincere intention may change the merely licit into the devotional, for means are judged according to their ends.  For example, one may eat to get the strength to perform devotions, or sleep with one’s wife to obtain a son who would worship God.

It is a condition of the sincere intention that behaviour does not belie it.  For instance, a man who seeks knowledge claiming that his intention is to practice and teach it will be proved insincere in his intention if, when he becomes able to, he does not do so.

Or a man who pursues the world and claims that he is doing so only that he may be independent of other people and be able to give charity to the needy and help his relatives will be proved ineffectual in his intention should he not do so when able.”

The Muslim Convert Pledge

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Here are a few simple rules I keep to maintain sanity in a messed up ummah.  It would be especially useful for new converts to Islam.

Converting to Islam means I am a Muslim. I did not leave my cultural and ethnic heritage and become Arab, Pakistani, Somali, Turk, Malay, Kurd or whatever nationality.

As a Muslim, the myriad cultural and historical baggage of the community are not suddenly my issues.  I have personal, family and immediate religious needs to be addressed.  Whilst I understand there are tragedies in the Muslim world, I am not going to leave everything behind and get involved in things I do not fully understand because ‘everybody’ is doing it.

I understand religion to be like a car.  And every driver is a soul.  I will not judge the car on the basis of the driver.  I do not see Islam on the basis of Muslims.  Rather, if there is any doubt, I try to find a reference in the Prophet (s.a.w.).

I will try my best to find a good teacher and ask Allah (s.w.t.) for one.  And I will study the religion to the depths so that I can know my God.  This is also my shield against the next idiot and his personal fatwa with no basis in the religion.

I will never cease making supplication and have constant conversation with God.  Surely, if I turn to Him, He will never forsake me.

Finding God First

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Many years ago, one of the sisters I barely spoke to contacted me and asked me out for tea.  She had just converted to Islam but encountered some severe issues and the husband to be left.  She said that she thought I was easy to talk to.  Several weeks later, she informed me that she had decided to leave Islam and asked me how to go about it.  And I helped her.  And then she asked if we could still be friends if she was not Muslim, and I said I had no problem with that.

And then months later, she contacted me and said she believed in God but could not accept the prophet.  It was the usual issues: the marriage to ‘Aishah (r.a.), the polygamy issue, the hijab and so forth.  And I said believing in God is good enough.  And then I never heard from her for a year or so.  And then she contacted me and asked me for a good book on sirah.  And I recommended Shaykh Martin Ling’s (q.s.), ‘Life of Muhammad’.

And this pattern continued regarding the odd questions here and there.  And then one day, she said she wanted to retake the shahadah.  So I arranged for it.  And then she wanted to attend a class.  And I made the arrangements also.  And then one day, just as I had not heard from her in a very long time, we happened to meet somewhere and she asked me why I never told her what to do, what to wear, tell her to pray and fast or anything.  And my reason is simple: she had not found her God, what use is there to think about the forms of the religion?  There is no use in learning so much texts and reading so many books and attending so many lectures if one is unable to recognise the human soul.  Muslims do not do that.  They like to throw the book at people.

Guarding the Heart & the Tongue

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following section on guarding the heart and the tongue is by Imam al-Ghazali (r.a.) and extracted from his Ihya’ ‘Ulum ad-Din.

This is an exposition of Satan’s mastery of the heart through insinuations, waswasa; the meaning of insinuation, and the cause of its subdual.  It has been seen that the heart is affected by information brought by the five senses, and by internal faculties such as imagination, appetite, anger, and character traits.  The most important influence, however, comes from those random thoughts, promptings and ideas which are projected by the devil into the mind, and distract or confuse it: these are termed khawathir.  To ward these off, man should engage in remembrance, dzikr, of Allah (s.w.t.), and continue with the process of self-discipline and inner purification.

And this is an exposition detailing Satan's entrances into the heart.  The heart is like a castle, and man must guard its entrances against the enemy, who is the Devil.  The main entrances are: irascibility and desire; envy and greed; eating one's fill, for this increases the other desires, causes illness, and reduces one's receptivity to wisdom and desire for worship; love of self-adornment, whether on clothes, furnishings or residence; coveting what others own and control, and hence flattering and deceived them; haste, which, according to the Prophet (s.a.w.), ‘comes from Satan’; money, property, and all other kinds of wealth in excess of one's needs, for wealth creates its own concerns which will distract the heart; avarice and fear of poverty, which will destroy the heart's serene conviction that Allah (s.w.t.) will Provide; fanatical attachment to schools of thoughts and sects, ahwa’, hatred of rival doctrines, and delight in criticising them; studying advanced theological doctrines for which one is not prepared, and hence falling into false beliefs about Allah (s.w.t.); and harbouring a low opinion of other Muslims, which leads to self-satisfaction and backbiting.

The heart must be purified of all these evil traits before dzikr can be effective; otherwise the dzikr will itself be a form of khawathir with no real influence.  Even when these traits are removed, it is necessary to cure oneself of ghaflah, heedlessness and distraction.  If one does not, one will be like patient who derives little benefit from a medicine because he takes it when his stomach is full of food.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Notion of Certainty

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani’s (q.s.) al-Ghunya li-Thalibi Thariq al-Haqq.

As for the notion of certainty, khathir al-yaqin, this is the spirit of faith and the source of true knowledge, for it comes from Allah (s.w.t.).  It is peculiar to a special few of sure conviction who are champions of the truth.  It comes to those who are loved, to those who are sought, to those who are specially selected, to those who pass beyond their own existence because of Allah (s.w.t.) into Him, out of them, to those who are absent from their outer beings, to those whose outer worship has been transformed into the inner kind, apart from the observance of the obligatory duties and those custom based on the exemplary practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.) that are firmly established.

Such people are always in a state of vigilant awareness of their inner beings, while Allah (s.w.t.) is Taking Care of the development of their outer beings, as He has said in His Splendid Book:

“For my protector is Allah, Who Revealed the Book, (from time to time) and He will Choose and Befriend the righteous.” (Surah al-A’araf:196)

He Befriends them and He Provides for all their needs.  He Keeps their hearts occupied with the study of the secrets of the invisible realms and He Enlightens them through the Divine Manifestation in everything that is near.  For He has Chosen them to enjoy His Conversation, and Granted them the special favour of His Intimate Friendship, of being at ease with Him, and of calm repose in His presence.

Is Damnation Permanent?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The Qur’an and ahadits are explicit that there is Hell, that it is indeed filled with fire with flames the size of castles and of such heat that a rider 70,000 years horse journey would feel its heat.  It has both a literal and metaphorical meaning.

On the issue of damnation, there are several opinions of the scholars.  Many scholars, including Imam Ash’ari (r.a.) himself, say that there are those who are Sent to the Fire without hope of Salvation.  And there are opinions that state that the disbelievers, the hypocrites and the polytheists abide in forever.

There are verses in the Qur’an that may be read such.  The words “ila al-abad” is translated as “forever”.  However, it may also be understood as a very long time, beyond human reckoning.  Also, we must also consider the following verses, the Shaykh ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali (r.a.) translation:

Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: there will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs: They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord Willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) Accomplisher of what He Planneth.  And those who are Blessed shall be in the Garden: they will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord Willeth: a gift without break. (Surah Hud:106-108)

We must understand that Allah (s.w.t.) only Promised a gift without end for the dwellers of Paradise.  He has Promised that those in Paradise will not be Removed except to a better place.  And we understand that with regards the hadits that speak of those who see the Face of God, those in the Divine Presence.  Those, the Elect, are in Union with the Divine.

There is an atsar on the authority of Abu Bakr asw-Swiddiq (r.a.), one of the few places that it is mentioned is in Kashf al-Mahjub of Imam ‘Ali ibn ‘Utsman al-Hujwiri (q.s.).  In it, Abu Bakr asw-Swiddiq (r.a.) said that there will come a time, when the gates of Hell will be hanging on their hinges and Hell will be like a wheat field that has been mown, empty.  It references the hadits of when the Prophet (s.a.w.) spoke after the Isra’ wa al-Mi’raj, where he explained his shafa’at.

In that hadits, the Prophet (s.a.w.) described the different categories of people who are Removed from the Fire through the intercession of the Prophet (s.a.w.), the other prophets, the pious, the parents, the children, the single dzurrat of faith until there remains those in the Fire who have not even that, not even a moment where they remembered God.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said that there would still be multitudes in the Fire.  And then Allah (s.w.t.) will Decree, “Remove from the Fire those which the Hand of God can Hold.”  And that is understood to mean that all are Removed.  By then, the fires would have burned to embers and these souls will be like ashes.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said that these souls will be Thrown into the River Ridhwan and there they will reform again.  And Allah (s.w.t.) will Ask the same Question that was Posed to us when he Drew Forth and Assembled the Children of Adam in ‘Alam Alastu bi Rabbikum: “Am I not your Rabb?”  And they will finally acknowledge.

When thy Lord Drew forth from the Children of Adam ― from their loins ― their descendants, and Made them testify concerning themselves, (Saying), “Am I not your Lord (Who Cherishes and Sustains you)?” ― They said, "Yea!  We do testify!"  (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment, "Of this we were never mindful." (Surah al-A’araf:172)

This hadits also explains our entire purpose of Creation.  We are here to be ‘abdullah all the time; we are to acknowledge in all states, that He is Indeed God, our Nourisher, our Creator and our Sustainer.  We were always Created to Return to Him. Even Heaven will eventually pass away for only Allah (s.w.t.) can Exist Eternally.  We are drops of water in the rivers of time and we must eventually return to the Ocean of Unity, Bahr at-Tawhid.

Imam al-Qushayri (q.s.) on Sincerity

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from Imam al-Qushayri’s (q.s.) “Principles of Sufism”, and translated by Dr. Barbara R. von Schlegell.

Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? ... (Surah az-Zumar:3)

Anas ibn Malik (r.a.) related that the Prophet (s.a.w.) declared, “Rancor will not invade the heart of the Muslim if he conforms to three things: sincerity toward Allah in actions, giving honest counsel to those in command, and keeping to the community of Muslims.”

Sincerity is having Allah (s.w.t.) as one’s sole intention in worship.  It means that one desires nearness to Allah (s.w.t.) by one’s worship, to the exclusion of all else, whether it be making a show before man, trying to earn their praise, or loving to receive glory from them — anything other than desire for nearness to Allah (s.w.t.).  It is said correctly, “Sincerity means purifying actions of any awareness of fellow creatures.”  It is also said, “Sincerity means protecting oneself from the regard of men.”

A hadits states that the Prophet (s.a.w.) related, on the authority of Jibril (a.s.), who related about Allah (s.w.t.) that He Said, “Sincerity is a secret taken from My Secret.  I have Placed it as a trust in the hearts of servants I Love.”

Shaykh Abu ‘Ali ad-Daqqaq (q.s.), the teacher of Imam al-Qushayri (q.s.), stated, “Sincerity is guarding oneself from the opinions of men and truthfulness is cleansing oneself of awareness of self.  The sincere one is not hypocritical, and the truthful one is no conceited.”

Shaykh Dzu an-Nun al-Miswri (q.s.) commented, “Sincerity is complete only by being truthful in it and having patience for it.  Truthfulness is only by sincerity in it and constancy throughout.”

Shaykh Abu Ya’qub as-Susi (q.s.) observed, “When they perceive sincerity in their sincerity , their sincerity is in need of sincerity.”

Shaykh Dzu an-Nun (q.s.) explained, “There are three signs of sincerity: one sees praise and blame from men as being equal; one loses the awareness of doing good works while doing them; and one forgets the claim to reward in the afterlife for good works.”

Shaykh Abu ‘Utsman al-Mighribi (q.s.) remarked, “Sincerity is a state in which the self takes no pleasure.  This is the sincerity of common people.  As for the sincerity of the elect, it comes to them not by their own doings.  Good deeds come forth from them, but they are detached from them.  They neither experience awareness of the deeds nor have any regard for them.  That is the sincerity of the elect.”

Shaykh Abu Bakr ad-Daqqaq (q.s.) asserted, “The defect of sincerity of each one said to be sincere is his own awareness of his sincerity.  If Allah Wishes to Purify his sincerity, He Strips him of being aware of his sincerity, and he becomes truly sincere by Allah, not sincere by himself.”

Imam Sahl ibn ‘Abdullah at-Tustari (q.s.) said, “Only the sincere one knows hypocrisy intimately.”

Shaykh Abu Sa’id al-Kharraz (q.s.) declared, “The hypocrisy of the ‘arifn is superior the sincerity of the muridun.”

Shaykh Dzu an-Nun (q.s.) stated, “Sincerity is what is protected from corruption by the enemy.”

Shaykh Abu ‘Utsman (q.s.) noted, “Sincerity is forgetting thought of Creation through constant attention to the Bounteous Favour of the Creator.”

Shaykh Hudzayfah al-Mar’ashi (q.s.) commented, “Sincerity means that the servant’s actions are the same, outward and inward.”

It is said, “Sincerity is that by means of which Allah is desired and truthfulness is sought.”  It is also said, “Sincerity means blinding oneself to awareness of good deeds.”

Imam as-Sari as-Saqathi (q.s.) observed, “One who adorns himself in the view of men with something that is not his, falls from the Regard of Allah (s.w.t.).”

Imam al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyadh (q.s.) remarked, “To stop performing good works for the sake of men is hypocrisy, and to perform them for the sake of men is polytheism.  Sincerity is that Allah Cure you of both.”

Shaykh Junayd al-Baghdadi (q.s.) said, “Sincerity is a secret between Allah and the servant.  Even the recording angel knows nothing of it.  The Devil does know of it to corrupt it, nor is passion aware of it that it might influence it.”

Shaykh ar-Ruwaym (q.s.) explained, “Sincerity in good deeds is that the one performing the deed wants compensation for it neither in the world nor in the hereafter, nor does he seek goodly treatment from the two angels who question the dead.”

It was asked of Shaykh Sahl (q.s.), “What is the hardest thing on the self?”

He answered, “Sincerity, because it has no share in it.”

When asked about sincerity, one of the Sufis responded, “It means that you call upon no one other than Allah to be a Witness to your doings.”

One of the Sufis related, “I went to Sahl ibn ‘Abdullah in his house on Friday before the prayer.  There was a snake in the house, so I hesitated at the door.  He exclaimed, ‘Come in!  No one attains to the essential reality of faith while he remains fearful of anything on earth.’

Then he asked, ‘Would you like to attend Friday congregational prayer?’

He replied, ‘There is a journey of one whole day and night from here to the mosque before us.’  He took my hand, and after a moment there was the mosque.  We went in and prayed; then we came out.

Sahl stood there, watching the people, and said, ‘Many are the people of Laa ilaha illa Allah, but rare are the sincere.'’”

Shaykh Makhul (q.s.) declared, “Any servant who is sincere for forty days will experience wisdom springing forth from his heart and upon his tongue.”

Shaykh Yusuf ibn al-Husayn al-Hamdani (q.s.) commented, “The dearest thing on earth is sincerity.  How many times have I struggled to rid my heart of hypocrisy, only to have it reappear in another guise!”

Shaykh Abu Sulayman as-Sijistani (q.s.) said, “If the servant is sincere, the abundance of temptations and hypocrisy will cease.”

The Preoccupations of the Aspirants of the Path

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from Qawa’id at-Taswawwuf by Shaykh Ahmad az-Zarruq (q.s.).

Any aspirant of this path who inclines toward the following preoccupations will perish: horseback riding; general self-interests; occupation with changing social wrongs or with fighting in military jihad while neglecting the acquisition of personal merit and virtue believing that he is in no need of rectifying his own soul or that he can obtain all of the virtues; seeking out the faults of his brothers and others; excusing himself by claiming abandonment of the world; spending all of his time in religious devotion; spending a good deal of time in public gatherings or seeking company, not for teaching or learning but simply for human companionship; inclining toward the people of wealth, claiming he is doing so for religious reasons; preoccupying himself with spiritual matters of the heart before learning the basis of sound transactions or the rectification of his faults; thrusting himself forth as a spiritual teacher without being appointed by a true spiritual master, scholar, or Imam; mindlessly following anyone who says, 'follow me,” whether his words be true or false, without ascertaining the details of his state; belittling someone who is among the people of Allah (s.w.t.), even if he should deem that person insincere based upon some proof he has; inclining toward dispensations and interpretations; putting the inward before the outward; being satisfied with the outward to the detriment of the inward; extracting from one what contradicts the other; being content with knowledge devoid of action or with action devoid of an inward state or knowledge; believing that an inward state suffices without the other two; or having no principle to which he has recourse in his actions, knowledge, states, or religious practices from the accepted principles in the books of the a’immah, such as the books of Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah (q.s.) concerning inward matters, especially at-Tanwir, and, concerning outward manners, the book of Shaykh ibn al-Hajj (q.s.), Madkhal, and those of his shaykh, Shaykh ibn Abi Jamrah (q.s.), as well as of others who follow the same path from among the realised masters.

Any aspirant who is of the above mentioned types is in fact ruined and has no salvation on this path, but whoever holds to the Book and the prophetic practice will be safe and Godspeed arrive.  Protection is from Him Alone, and success is by Him.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said something to this effect:  In the Tablets of Abraham (a.s.), it is written, “An intelligent person should know the age in which he lives; he should hold his tongue and mind his own business.  An intelligent person should have four portions of his day for the following: a portion to take his soul to account, a portion to converse with his Lord, a portion to spend time with his brothers - meaning those who help him to see clearly his faults and direct him to his Lord, and a portion to indulge in his own personal recreation from the permissible appetites of man.

May Allah (s.w.t.) Provide us with that and Help us to fulfill it.  May He always Maintain us in a state of grace, for we cannot survive without His Bestowal of grace and prosperity.  Allah (s.w.t.) is enough for us, and is the Best of Protectors.  May prayers and peace be upon our master, Muhammad (s.a.w.) and his family and his companions.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Mu’adzin of Sefrou

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Signs on the Horizons by Shaykh Michael Sugich.

“I would never have noticed Hajj Muhammad al-Khidhra’a (q.s.) had not one of my companions pointed him out to me in a large gathering of Sufis in Meknes in 1975.  He did not have an imposing appearance.  He was an elderly man in his 70s or 80s, white bearded, with a high forehead and wearing the dark green turban of the Darqawa, lost in the crowd, head bowed, reciting Sufi odes, qaswa’id.  We somehow expect men of spiritual attainment to have an obvious beatific presence.  This is sometimes the case, but more often than not the saints are wrapped in anonymity.

He had been the mu’adzin, the one who delivers the call to prayer, of Sefrou, a small village outside Fes.  He was, I was told, a very great saint.  For many years he had lived in a state of extreme dread, khawf, of God.  This is an exalted and terrible spiritual condition on the Way in which the Sufi is overwhelmed with fear and paralyzed by a direct experience of God’s Majesty, Jalal.  According to Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.), in Futuh al-Ghayb:  ‘al-Jalal produces a disquieting fear and creates disturbing apprehension and overpowers the heart in such an awful manner and its symptoms become visible on the physical body.’

According to fuqara’ who knew him at the time, Hajj Muhammad (q.s.) lived for years in a state of paralysis and terror, rarely speaking and weeping copiously.  He constantly trembled with fear and was repeatedly struck by what the Sufis call ‘lightning’, ‘barq’, which is a spiritual event where a powerful electric-like wave shoots from the base of the spine through the neck like a lightning bolt.  When this happens, the faqir should cry out the Name of God, ‘Allah!’, and then lower the eyes and say a blessing on the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  The experience can be shattering and hits certain people on the path from time to time.  In Hajj Muhammad’s (q.s.) case, lightning struck him over and over again for years.  The impact is hard to imagine.  By the time I met him, he had passed through this station transformed, and was now basking in the Beauty, Jamal, and Mercy, Rahmah, of God.  His whole manner was effusive, light and overflowing.  He was childlike, innocent and unreservedly sweet.  Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.)described this condition in Futuh al-Ghayb as the Divine ‘Reflection on the heart of man producing light, joy, elegance and sweet words and loving conversation and glad tidings with regard to great gifts and high position and closeness to Himself…’”

The Mu’adzin of Sefrou III

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Signs on the Horizons by Shaykh Michael Sugich.

“As we climbed up the steep hill from the Old Town to the Nouvelle Ville, I found myself thinking about Hajj Muhammad (q.s.).  I thought to myself, ‘I hope we meet him and I hope he invites me to lunch.’  The moment this thought came to mind – I am not exaggerating – we turned a corner, and standing before us was Hajj Muhammad.

He beamed, kissed our hands and said, ‘Salamskum!  Would you like to come to lunch with me?’  I was overjoyed.  Hajj Muhammad (q.s.) asked us to come the next day and showed us where his house was in the New Town.

I asked Musthafa to join me for lunch the next day.  I needed him to translate for me.  He was not enthusiastic.  He said he was not sure if he could.  I pleaded with him.  In my excitement and to convince him to come with me I said, ‘He is a great saint.’

At this, Musthafa stopped suddenly and scolded me, ‘You mustn’t say that!  If he’s a wali, I’m a wali, you’re a wali!  A wali‘ullah is someone very rare and special.  He’s a sweet old man, but you mustn’t call him a wali’ullah.  This is something very serious.’

I replied defensively, ‘I didn’t make this up.  I’ve been told by people of authority that he’s one of the awliya’.’

Musthafa wasn’t convinced.  ‘I don’t think so,’ he said.

I said, ‘Okay but please come with me tomorrow.’

He said, ‘I’ll see.  I’m not sure.’

The next day, I managed to drag Musthafa out of the zawiyah up the hill to the Nouvelle Ville for our luncheon engagement.  We came to the flat at the appointed time.  Hajj Muhammad’s (q.s.) wife answered the door and said that he had gone out and would be back soon.  She asked us to come back in half an hour.

We retired to a nearby park overlooking Tangier Harbor to wait.  I could see Musthafa was becoming impatient and began to worry that he’d abandon me.  In the park he ran into a friend of his.  I waited for half an hour, looking out over Tangier and the harbour.  Musthafa was engaged in conversation with his friend and showed no interest in returning to Hajj Muhammad’s (q.s.).  I waited as long as I could and then said to Musthafa that I was going on ahead back to Hajj Muhammad’s (q.s.) house.  ‘Please join me when you’re done here,’ I pleaded.  Musthafa said that he might but I was not optimistic.

I made my way back to the block of flats and ascended the stairs to Hajj Muhammad’s (q.s.) flat.  He opened the door when I knocked, beaming, greeting me with ‘Salamskum!’  I greeted him back.  He led me to a sitting room off the entrance and sat me on a couch beside him.  We smiled at each other but could not communicate.  I was incredibly frustrated, but could do nothing.  We looked at each other helplessly.  I could tell he wanted to say things to me, but it was no use.  I prayed that Musthafa would turn up.

Finally, after about 20 minutes, the doorbell rang.  Musthafa had arrived after all.  Hajj Muhammad greeted him with his buoyant ‘Salamskum!’ kissed his hand and led him to the couch, sitting between the two of us.  He then turned to Musthafa with a twinkling eye and said something to him in Arabic, which made Musthafa’s jaw drop.  Musthafa looked over at me, stunned.  I asked eagerly, ‘What did he just say?’

Musthafa said in shock, ‘He said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that I really am a wali‘ullah.’’  I almost burst out laughing.”