Iqazh al-Himam fi Sharh al-Hikam, Chapter Five, Part One
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is taken from the first chapter of Iqazh al-Himam fi Sharh al-Hikam, a commentary on al-Hikam of Shaykh Taj ad-Din Abu al-Fadhl Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.), by Shaykh Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ajibah (q.s.).
This chapter discusses company and the preconditions of it and its adab. Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) said, “If someone’s state does not lift you up, and his words do not lead you to Allah - then do not keep his company!”
The one whose state lifts us up is someone who is such that, when we see him, we remember Allah (s.w.t.). If we see him when we are in a state of heedlessness, he lifts us to a state of wakefulness. If we see him when we are in a state of desire, he raises us to a state of asceticism. If we see him when we are in a state of occupation with disobedience, he raises us to a state of repentance. If we are in a state of ignorance of our Lord, he raises us to recognition of our Lord, and so forth.
The one whose words guide us to Allah (s.w.t.) is the one who speaks by Allah (s.w.t.). He directs us to Allah (s.w.t.) and withdraws from other than Him. When he speaks, he takes all the hearts, and when he is silent, his state raises us to the Knower of the Unseen worlds. So, his state confirms his words and his words are in harmony with his knowledge. The company of someone like this is an elixir which transforms the sources. This is understood from the words of the Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.), “If someone’s state does not life you up, then do not keep his company.” Keep the company of the one whose state will lift us up and whose words will lead us to Allah (s.w.t.).
Company in the Path of taswawwuf is a great matter in the journey to Allah (s.w.t.) according to the Custom of Allah (s.w.t.) and His Wisdom so that one of them said, “The one who has no shaykh has shaythan for his shaykh.”
Another said, “A man is like a tree growing in the wilderness. If it is not cut and pollinated, it is barren.”
Shaykh Shahab ad-Din Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn ‘Umar al-Mursi (q.s.) said, “Whoever has no shaykh in this business has no joy.”
There are four preconditions which the shaykh must have: sound knowledge, clear tasting, high himmah and a pleasing state. Sound knowledge is that by which he is certain of his obligation. He must also know the stations and stages through which the murid passes as well as the delusion and tricks of the nafs. The murid travels through that at the hand of a perfect shaykh and experiences direct taste of that, not imitation, which is what is meant by clear tasting. A high himmah is one which is connected to Allah (s.w.t.) and not to others. A pleasing state is going straight to the best of one’s ability.
He must combine the haqiqah and the shari’ah; jadzb, attraction and suluk, wayfaring. He attracted him by the attraction of the hearts and, through his suluk, brings him out of his state of attraction to going-on. The one who is only wayfaring is outward and is not attracted and does not achieve realisation. The one who is only majdzub does not travel nor arrive. The corruption of his company is greater than its benefit.
He said, in Uswul ath-Thariqa’, “Anyone who has one of five qualities is not valid to be a shaykh: ignorance of the diyn, failing to respect the Muslims, being involved in what does not concern him, following passion in everything and bad character without concern.” So the company of someone like this is pure harm. He indicates this: “It may well be that you are in a bad state - but to keep company with someone worse than you would allow you to see good in yourself.”
If we have a bad state and fall short in our actions and then we keep the company of someone with a worse state than ours, our company with someone with a worse state than ours lets us see good in yourself since we see the good in ourselves in relation of your companion’s shortcoming and imperfection, we therefore believe that we are superior to him because the self is naturally disposed to see its own excellence and witness the shortcomings of others in knowledge, action, or state. This is not the case when we keep the company of someone with a better state than us. Then we only see shortcoming in ourselves, and there is much good in that.