The Naqshbandi Haqqani Principle of Nigah Dasht

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The seventh principle of the Naqshbandi Haqqani is “Attentiveness”, Nigah Dasht.  “Nigah” means “sight”.  The seeker must watch his heart and safeguard it by preventing bad thoughts from entering.  Bad inclinations keep the heart from joining with the Divine.  It is acknowledged in the Naqshbandi that for a seeker safeguarding his heart from bad inclinations for fifteen minutes would be a great achievement.  Spirituality is the ability to safeguard the heart from bad thoughts and protect it from low inclinations.  Whoever accomplishes these two goals will know his heart, and whoever knows his heart will know his Lord.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) has said, “Whoever knows, himself knows His Lord.”

One shaykh said, “Because I safeguarded my heart for ten nights, my heart has safeguarded me for twenty years.”

Shaykh Abu Bakr al-Qahthani (q.s.) said, “I was the guard at the door of my heart for forty years, and I never opened it for anyone except Allah (s.w.t.) until my heart did not know anyone except Allah (s.w.t.).”

Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Kharqani (q.s.) said, “It has been forty years that Allah has been looking into my heart and has seen no one except Himself.  And there is no room in my heart for other than Allah.”

This is our struggle with all alien thoughts.  We are always mindful of what we think and do so that we may put the imprint of our immortality on every passing incident and instance of our daily life.  Our life is nothing but moments and we acknowledge what each moment calls for.  It is cautions and we are watchful and aware of what catches our attention. One learns to withdraw attention from the undesirable.  This is also expressed as being vigilant in thought and remembering oneself.

Shaykh Sa’d ad-Din al-Kashghari (q.s.) said, “The seeker must, for one hour or two or whatever he is capable of, hold onto his mind and prevent thoughts of other entering.”

Another description from the Minhaj as-Sa’ir has it that, “Guarding of the special awareness and presence which have resulted from the noble dzikr, so that remembering of anything other than the Real does not find its way into the heart.”

Yet others have written that Nigah Dasht also applies to the time of the dzikr itself.  Nigah Dasht is when the seeker at the time of the dzikr, holds his heart upon the meaning of “Laa ilaha illa Allah” such that thoughts do not find entrance into his heart because if thoughts are in the heart then the result of the dzikr, meaning the presence of the heart, will not manifest.  It has also been said that Nigah Dasht is an expression meaning the prevention of the occurrence of thought at the time one is occupied with the fragrant sentence.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Majid al-Khani (q.s.) said that the meaning of preserving the heart from incoming thoughts is that they lose their hold on the mind.  In this connection, Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah (q.s.) said, “The meaning of preserving the mind is not that the seeker can avoid thoughts at the beginning, but rather that thoughts do not disturb the attendance and presence.  Thoughts can be likened to straw which has fallen onto moving water and yet the water is not prevented from its course.”

Khwaja 'Abd al-Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (q.s.) said, “It is not so that thoughts never enter the heart but rather that at times they do and at times they do not.”

His statement is supported by Khwaja ‘Ala ad-Din al-‘Aththar (q.s.) who reported, “Succeeding with thoughts is difficult or even impossible.  I preserved my heart for twenty years from thoughts, after which they would still appear but they then found no hold there.”


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