Personality Building & Spiritual Development
Importance of the Company of the Vitreous/Righteous ( Sal’heen)
اَلحَمدُ ِﷲِ وَ کَفٰی وَسَلاَ م عَلٰی عِبَادِہِ الَّذِینَ اصطَفٰی اَمَّا بَعدُ فَاَعُوذُ بِاﷲِ مِنَ الشَّیطٰنِ الرَّجِیمِ بِسمِ اﷲِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحِیمِ إِنَّ فی خَلْقِ السَّموٰتِ وَ الأَرْضِ وَ اخْتِلافِ اللَّیْلِ وَ النَّهارِ لآَیات لاِ ُولِی الأَلْبابِ۔ الَّذینَ یَذْکُرُونَ اللّهَ قِیاماً وَ قُعُوداً وَ عَلى جُنُوبِهِمْ وَ یَتَفَکَّرُونَ فی خَلْقِ السَّموٰتِ وَ الأَرْضِ رَبَّنا ما خَلَقْتَ هذا باطِلاً سُبْحانَکَ فَقِنا عَذابَ النّارِ ۔ و قال اللہُ تَعَالَی اِنَّ فِی ذٰلِکَ لَذِکْرٰی لِمَنْ کَانَ لَہُ قَلْبٌ اَوْ اَلْقَیٰ السَّمْعَ وَ ھُوَ شَھِیْدٌ “۔ و قال اللہُ تَعَالَی قَد اَفلَحَ مَن زَکّٰھَا وَ قَد خَابَ مَن دَسّٰھَا۔
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
(Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of Night and Day,― there are indeed Signs for men of understanding. Men who celebrate the praises of Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth. Ael e Imran 190-191
Verily in this is a Message for any that has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and earnestly witnesses (the truth). Qaf- 37
Truly he succeeds that purifies it, And he fails that corrupts it! Ash Shams -9-10)
Respected Doctor Sahib, elders and my friends,
In our busy world of today, it is seldom that such enlightened gatherings are arranged. Rapid spread of materialism and immodesty are drifting us away from our raison de etre, religion and morality. Notwithstanding these difficulties one must not, however lose hope, because this has not been permitted by Allah Almighty. Undoubtedly Divine help reaches those who seek it, even in the most difficult of times. It has been vividly mentioned in Sura Al- Fatihah that we should associate with those who have been blessed and rewarded and then those who follow in their footsteps. Obviously they are the Messengers of Almighty Allah. But they having departed from this world are not going to return to guide us onto the true path. The Siddiques (True and sincere friends of Allah Almighty) are very few in number. The Martyrs (Shu’hada) are discovered only when they no more are there for us to see. We are only left with the Sal’heen (The virtuous/righteous) to emulate and guide. So it is their company that we must seek. SHazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA) has proclaimed that it is obligatory (Farz e Ain) to be with them, lest the very basic belief (e’man) is lost, what to talk of the rituals (a’maal). Allah Almighty on the need to stand firmly on the belief (e’man) says:-
وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ
(……..and die not except in a state of Islam. Al Imran-102)
It is evident from this that we must strive hard to guard and protect our e’man (faith). To do this, the best recourse is to seek the company of the pious (sal’heen), wherever and whenever it is available. We must also encourage our kith and kin, friends and acquaintances in this quest.
Alhamad o Lillah(Allah be praised),Dr.Fida Muhammad has preserved the convent ( khanqa) of Hazrat Maulana Ashraf (RA).It is at this very place that I started meeting Maulana Sahib and established my relationship with him. You are well aware that in a university, they are many distractions and vices that can lead one astray. It was his company that kept me away from all the ills. We would gather at his place in the afternoons and benefited from his enlightening presence. In his frank and charming style and lighter manner, he would discuss anything from sharing jokes to intricate academic issues. He was very kind and affable to children. This way we kept progressing spiritually as well. Let me tell you, that this place today is big blessing and must be earnestly maintained for posterity. I keep telling his disciples that they must strive to spread his grace (faiz), it being a trust with them. There have been very few people who taught Divinity (Alheyat) and love for Prophet (PBUH) with such devotion and sincerity.
To be affected by Na’at.
Truly speaking the na’at recited here cannot fully express our feelings and sentiments for our beloved Prophet (PBUH).His (PBUH) stature and standing is much beyond our imaginations. During such recitals most of us merely focus on the words; failing to concentrate on its spirit and essence. The couplet you just heard says:-
ایسا کوئی محبوب نہ ہوگا نہ کہیں ہے بیٹھا ہے چٹائی پر مگر عرش نشیں ہے
(There is none, and shall not be a beloved like him (PBUH),
(Who sitting at his earthly mat is present in the heavens.)
Now tell me, if we focus and hear this with the ears of our heart (qalb), shall we ever look towards some other being. It is Allah Almighty who has bestowed His beloved Prophet (PBUH) onto us, so then is there a need to look anywhere else- certainly not. This one single factor is sufficient for our salvation. Allah Almighty has emphatically pronounced in Al-Quran:-
قُلْ إِن کُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِی یُحْبِبْکُمُ اللّهُ وَیَغْفِرْ لَکُمْ ذُنُوبَکُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِیمٌ
(Say: "If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." Al e Imran - 31)
So if you are seeking the true love of Allah Almighty, it is ordained on that you obediently follow the Prophet (PBUH).This is a very essential and the most important link, which if missed or ignored can render all our worship worthless.
Avoid Dry Temperament.Some people become temperamentally dry and are devoid of feelings of love and compassion. This adversely affects their worship and ultimately renders it worthless. To illustrate this point, I will refer you the Kharjities uprising emerging in the late 7th century. Despite being very devout in their rituals, they differed about Hadith and Ijma from other Muslims. They considered Quran as the only source of Islamic jurisprudence and guidance. The fourth Caliph Hazrat Ali (RH) directed Hazrat Abbas to go to them for advice. He was cautioned not to indulge in a discussion on Quran with them, but only focus on Hadith. Later when the Caliph, himself visited them, he held a copy of Quran in his hand and said, ”Oh Quran speak to these people, Oh Quran speak to these people.”Utterly surprised the Kharijites inquired as to how The Quran could speak to anybody. Hazrat Ali (RH) replied that this exactly was the manifestation of the dichotomy and contradiction in their beliefs He also added, that had they understood that Al- Quran on its own could not provide guidance to the followers, they would not have revolted. Therefore it is evident that a guide, man of piety and a cleansed heart was needed to explain and reveal the teachings and spirit of the Holy Quran.
A short while ago, I had recited a Quranic verse:-
اِنَّ فِی ذٰلِکَ لَذِکْرٰی لِمَنْ کَانَ لَہُ قَلْبٌ اَوْ اَلْقَیٰ السَّمْعَ وَ ھُوَ شَھِیْدٌ
(Verily in this is a Message for any that has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and earnestly witnesses (the truth). Qaf- 37 )
Herein Allah Almighty has explicitly said that this advice is for those who arrange to listen with their ears.
Please note that it has not been said, that it is for those who read and ponder upon it or those with hearts. Right here, I want to explain the difference between listening and understanding. A person can benefit from Quran by merely looking at it, provided he has rigorously prepared his heart and soul for it. If so his heart will receive and absorb the Divine message. Those with undeveloped hearts will need a spiritual guide/mentor, who possesses a developed heart and an enlightened soul. He will then to be able to refract/transfer this light onto the hearts of his disciples and make them understand the Divine message. It will continue till they themselves are matured to get it and understand it directly. Can you now discern, as to how the deficiency in hearts is made up thorough another heart, which is sufficiently enlightened. Until and unless right guidance is sought, it becomes very difficult to understand the complexities/intricacies of the spiritual world.
Coming back to the evil of the Kharjites disturbance, ultimately The Caliph (RH) was compelled to take military action against them. Hazrat Abdullah Bin Abbas (RH) narrates that when they attacked the Kharjities, they were found reciting Quran in their tents. It sounded like humming of the bees. Marks of prostration were prominently visible on their foreheads. Their bodies had turned thin and lean due to rigorous supplications.
The point I want to highlight here is that, what was missing in their worship which ruined all their deeds. The only missing link was their denial of love for the Prophet (PBUH).So you understand how important it is, to nurture that love in order to succeed. This exactly is what Maulana Ashraf preached and practiced. All those people who remained associated with him understood this subtle point. By the grace of Almighty Allah, today they stand protected. May Allah Almighty protect us all. Amin.
Who is Wise?
The three verses of the Holy Quran, I recited are interlinked and embody the explanation of each other. In the first verse, Allah Almighty in a marvelous way had made a point. May we understand it. Amin.
إِنَّ فی خَلْقِ السَّموٰاتِ وَ الأَرْضِ وَ اخْتِلافِ اللَّیْلِ وَ النَّهارِ لآَیات لاِ ُولِی الأَلْبابِ۔
(Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of Night and Day,― there are indeed Signs for men of understanding. Men who celebrate the praises of Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth. Al-Imran 190-191)
الَّذینَ یَذْکُرُونَ اللّهَ قِیاماً وَ قُعُوداً وَ عَلى جُنُوبِهِمْ
(Men who celebrate the praises of Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth.
وَ یَتَفَکَّرُونَ فی خَلْقِ السَّمواتِ ولارضَ
There are indeed Signs for men of understanding
How evidently the indications of the wise men have been enunciated.
What people think of the Zakir’een (Those who remember Allah Almighty).
Generally the zakir’een are considered to be unwise people wasting their time, energy and effort. Parents get worried if one of their children adopts this line. They scold him to stop the practice.
A lucky young lad started visiting Hazrat Gangoi(RA).He was progressing well spiritually. One day his angry father came to Hazrat Gangoi (RA) and complained that his son had been spoiled by him. Hazrat replying in affirmative said, “Anyone who came to him will surely be spoiled; because I too was spoiled by somebody.”
A similar incident happened with Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA). The father of a boy under his tutelage started suggesting things for his son. Hazrat out of sheer courtesy tolerated it for a while. But when this became a frequent practice, Maulana (RA) could not take it any longer. He curtly told the father, “I have not read in any book that if a son chooses a mentor, the Sheikh should become the disciple of his father.”
A similar episode happened with me.A spoiled child visiting me started improving. He grew a beard, started offering prayers and became regular in other rituals. His father was apparently pleased with these developments. However because of some domestic differences with his son, he also started suggesting things for him. Being cognizant of the incidents that I just narrated, I inquired from the father that did he find his son benefiting. On his replying in affirmative, I told him that if desired his son to continue to benefit, then he should it leave it to me. But if he still felt uneasy, he could take his son away. I cautioned him that if the boy returned, he would have then lost his say. I advised him to desist from frequent visits lest his son became suspicious, which would be harmful and restrict his spiritual growth. I also told him that with passage of time the boy would become an obedient son. Alhamad o Lillah, the father understood the point. The boy flourished well, preformed Hajj and is today a helping hand to his father.
A person joined Maulana Ilyas (RA) in his rituals. After some time Maulana felt that the man had progressed and matured. So he advised him to grow a beard, being sunna and a practice of the saints. The man stopped visiting him. After a while Maulana realized his mistake and regrettably remarked, “The loaf was put into a cold oven, and the flour got wasted.” A premature attempt can back fire.
I had said that youngsters who embark on this path are ridiculed these days. Our Prophet (PBUH) has exhorted Muslims to remember Allah Almighty (zikar) frequently and feverously and do it in such abundance that people start calling you mad, insane or a maj’nun and at time a double faced sycophant.
How aptly is this hadith applicable to our world today.
The Two External Lights for Guidance.
Basically there are two sources of guidance. The Quran and Sunna. Prophet (PBUH) said, “I am leaving behind two things, i.e. Quran and Sunna. Till the time you follow them, you shall never go astray.”
Holy Quran reiterates this communication and says that to ponder upon and remember Almighty Allah are signs of wisdom. This being so essential, why we should keep away from it, fearing what others will think of us. In these treacherous times people are discouraged on flimsy pretextes e.g. authenticity of zikr is at times questioned. Don’t bother about the perceptions of others; just follow the path ordained by Allah Almighty and His Messenger (PBUH).Our spiritual elders have amply elucidated the religious practices. Reposing full trust and confidence in their wisdom, walk in their in their footsteps. Once again I will refer you the Kharijities, remember they sapped one link and lost everything.
Our De’en(Religion) is a Proven Successive Continuation.
It is important for us to understand the concept of continuity in our religion (De’en).You might have heard the name of Jamaat ul Muslameen. They do not offer prayers behind an Imam (one who leads in prayers), who does not belong to their creed. In a discussion with one of their members, I raised certain questions:-
• Is it correct that you consider us and our spiritual elders as infidels (mushr’ik)?
• From whom did you receive the Quran? Those who you call non believers or those you do not consider infidels.
• Now if say that you received the Quran from those that you call infidels, then this book is not meant for you; as one cannot follow the non believers. Thus it means that there is no scripture of guidance for you.
• Prove the legitimacy of the Quran for your cult and then explain your beliefs.
Actually I was trying to bring home a cardinal point, that if you cut out the intermediately links, then you land nowhere .Our lineage is thorough two links. One is that of Sharia which has reached us thorough the intermediatories. A question arises here. What is Hadith? Is it possible to act on its dictates, if just one link is sapped? It will result in the absence of continuity; turning it redundant. Despite possession of its text, you can not obey it because of the lack of successive continuation. The second link relates to the company (sub’ht) of our Holy Prophet (PBUH).Here too we find proven successive continuation. All our spiritual lineages (sla’sil) are bound together thorough this arrangement.
We are the followers of Hazrat Maulana Ashraf (RA).He showed allegiance to his elders to an extent that he even named his books after his mentor (Sheikh) ,Maulana Suliman Nadvi (RA).Then if you read the prose and poetry of Maulana Suliman Nadvi (RA),everything there in one way or another is attributed to his teacher, Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA).In the same way Hazrat Thanvi vividly projects his Sheikh,Hazrat Haji Imdad Makkhi (RA). Hazrat Thanvi has narrated a personal episode. A lawyer who initially opposed him became his admirer. During one of motivational sessions, the lawyer in his exuberance started reciting a couplet in Persian language repeatedly:-
تو مکمل از کمال کیستی تو منور از جمال کیستی (Translation )
Maulana narrates that being young and vigorous at that time, he replied with an equal gusto
من مکمل از کمال حاجی یم من منور از جمال حاجی یم (Translation)
Gentlemen please mark the words.Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA) how candidly has attributed his achievements and stature to his mentor, Hazrat Haji Imdad Makkahi (RA).
Hazrat Maullana Qasim Nanotvi (RA) is amongst the pioneers of Madrasa Dar ul Aloom at Doeband. He was once asked that despite being a learned and renowned scholar, why did he choose Hazrat Haji Imdam Makkahi (RA) who was not a scholar, as his spiritual guide and mentor. Maulana Qasim, a devout follower and a disciple, replied, “Yes I am a scholar, I know the names of fruits like melons, bananas, grapes and oranges, but that is it. I had not tasted any one these fruits, till I came to my mentor, who despite not knowing their names; had tasted every one of them. And then he started giving these to me one by one. It is only then that I learnt, what a banana was and how it tasted and so on...Hajji Sahib may not have known the names, but he had them all in his possession. Whereas I merely knew their name, but possessed none of them”.
Someone may think that I am only talking about the Sufi saints only. So I will now narrate to you the story of Hazrat Ahmad Bin Hanbal (RA), one the great Imams and an eminent scholar of Islamic jurisprudence. He also came across a similar situation, when asked the same question, that as to why despite being so learned, he had chosen to associate with Hazrat Bashr Hafi (RA), who was a total illiterate. His reply was, “I am only a scholar of Quran, but my teacher knows Allah Almighty (Arif Billah) intimately”.
Here I am reminded of another episode. Mufti Muhammad Shafi took his sons, Hazrat Muhammad Rafi Usmani and Mulana Taqi Usmani (Both eminent scholars of today) to Hazrat Dr.Abdul Hai Arifi (RA) for learning. While leaving them there, his parting advice was Dr.Abdul Hai may not be a religious scholar himself, but he makes scholars. So serve him well, to gain what he possesses.
These days such things are seen with contempt and suspicion. Those who remember Allah Almighty (Zakir’een) are ridiculed .Now I will explain as to what happens when you do zikr.
Definition of a Wise Person.
If I ask you all, the definition of an intelligent person. Most of you will term a person wise, who in a short time can maximize his gain with little effort. This being the worldly standard, I will narrate a Hadith.
کَلِمَتَانِ حَبِیْبَتَانِ اِلٰی الرحمٰن خَفِیْفَتَانِ علٰی اللِّسَان ثَقِیْلَتَانِ فِی الْمِیْزَانِ سُبْحَانَ اللّٰہِ وَبِحَمْدِہِ سُبْحَانَ اللّٰہِ الْعَظِیْم This is the last hadith in Bukhari Sharif. The Prophet (PBUH) has stated, “The two verses that are dear to Almighty Allah are light on the tongue and heavy in weight (reward)”.Being light on the tongue means that these are easy to recite; and heavy in weight means that their reward is high. A person reciting things that are dear to Allah Almighty surely becomes dear to Him. So here is a way for us gain much with little effort –which is wisdom. A student may say that he may not be able to do zikr when studying. Do it in your spare time, which every one of us in ample i.e. when walking, sitting leisurely or travelling.It roughly takes five hours to travel to Lahore from Islamabad.”Laa Illaha il Lalla”,can be recited three thousand times in one hour. A traveler has the choice to sleep it out, read something or while away his time aimlessly watching around. On the other hand, anyone who has learnt to do zikr (I emphasize on learning it) can do it fifteen to twenty thousand times during that journey. Now tell me who is wiser? The one who did the zikr or the person who wasted his time.
On a holiday, while working in my office, I invited a security staff member for a cup of tea. On my inquiring as to what he did when standing on duty. He answered, that he did nothing except to watch around. I advised him a short zikr of Darud. Some days later, when I met him again, he told me, that he had taught the zikr to his wife also and both were benefitting from it. Alhamad o Lillah.
Let me assure you that it is not very difficult do zikr provided we pay a little attention and get focused. This way we can profitably utilize our spare times.
What is Reflection?
Reflection is the determination of a result based on the consideration/analysis of known facts. One knows that in winter exposure to cold can result in sickness. It is also known that warm clothes provide protection. The conclusion is that one must wear warm clothes in winter. So this is reflection. Any person who does not reflect and acts, can be harmed. Let’s reflect on what is in Quran and Hadith on the temporary nature this worldly abode. Everyone has to depart one day, all alone. There he shall be questioned about his performance and deeds. Only the virtuous deeds shall pay off. What are the virtuous deeds? We can all learn about them. The conclusion is that to benefit in the life here after we must do good things. This is reflection. A pious Muslim (mom’in) knows that hell is meant for those who disobey and annoy Almighty Allah by indulging in sins. A sinner, who does not repent shall go to the Hell. So it is essential to save one self from that burning fire. On reflecting we conclude that sins must be avoided. If at all committed, one must immediately repent and seek the forgiveness from Allah Almighty.
When we ponder about the universe around us, a lot is revealed. Humanity is continuously benefitting from the sun. Similarly moon is a source of many bounties from Allah Almighty. Look at its craters and pot holes. If they were not there, the moon would have been like a mirror, reflecting the sun light in just one direction rather than spreading it all around. We cannot look into the sun directly, but when the same light is spread thorough the moon, it becomes soothing and full of charm. Do you realize that by creating these pot holes Allah Almighty has saved us from many ill effects. The air cushion around the earth provides us with oxygen necessary for breathing. The proportions are so correctly balanced that if varied can make us sick. So when we reflect about the nature, many conclusions are arrived at.
رَبَّنا ما خَلَقْتَ هذا باطِلاً سُبْحانَکَ فَقِنا عَذابَ النّارِ (Our Lord! not for naught hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.)
Allah Almighty has called those who remember Him and reflect as ‘Aulalbab’. Zikr (remembrance) leads to reflection which creates understanding and comprehension.
Importance of Correct Comprehension.
In the absence of right understanding, humans tend to make wrong decisions. NASA on its web site has displayed intriguing research about our universe. It compels one to exclaim, “Allah is Great (Allah o Akbar)”.The tragedy, however, is that the Devil (Satan) has led those people astray from the path of Allah Almighty. On every new discovery they feel elated and important. They hardly realize that to discover is easier than creating these objects. Just see that merely discovering the wonders of Allah Almighty makes the scientists feel elevated and proud; think of Him who created them. How great is He. When confronted with this logical argument, these scientists become mum and start offering flimsy excuses. Their usual answer is that science can only explain that how a certain object has been created. Who created it, is not in their domain to answer. The devil has ensured that they never find the truth. While I was in Germany, a newly converted Muslim told me that, coffin carriers were not allowed to ply on normal roads. Special routes had been earmarked for them, in order to ensure that people do not see the dead and are reminded of their end. Another Satanic ploy.
How to Gain the Right Comprehension.
Whereas reflection is a mental exercise, zikr is done through the heart. When you remember Allah Almighty with zikr, your heart develops. A developed heart ensures that the mind is correctly used and right decisions are made. It evident from this, that to gain the correct comprehension, it is essential to remember (zikr) Allah Almighty and reflect.
What is Heart (Qal’b).
اِنَّ فِی ذٰلِکَ لَذِکْرٰی لِمَنْ کَانَ لَہُ قَلْبٌ اَوْ اَلْقَیٰ السَّمْعَ وَ ھُوَ شَھِیْدٌ (Verily in this is a Message for any that has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and earnestly witnesses (the truth). Qaf- 37)
Allah Almighty has categorically stated in this verse that heart (Qil’b) is the pivot and centre point for every good deed. It has been declared as the foundation. It is impossible to seek and do good (khair) without a developed heart. Apparently one’s mind looks adequate to recite and understand the Holy Quran. But to understand the Divine message one has to use his heart – the foundation for good. Maulana Rumi has expressed this in a splendid way:-
قال را بگذارمرد حال شو پیش مرد ےکامل پامال شو Maulana Rumi was not a common person. He was a reputed and an established mufti, which he remained till his death. Allah Almighty had chosen him for a special task.Hazrat Shams Tabrez (RA) got after him. It was then, under his tutelage, that Maulana Rumi was blessed with something extra ordinary. It was so special that had Hazrat Shams Tabrez (RA) claimed the credit, people would not have believed him. This Divine gift, which embraced the heart of Rumi, gave expression to the mystic thoughts of Hazrat Shams Tabrez (RA).The story goes that one day, Hazrat Shams Tabrez (RA) cried in front of his Sheikh and said that where as other people were proficient enough to express their thoughts, he thought himself to be handicapped in doing so. You know a sheikh is like a Divine window, through whom Allah Almighty pours ideas for his disciples. So his Sheikh told him that Allah Almighty shall grant him a voice which the whole world would hear. Maulana Rumi became that voice and spread his thoughts all around the world.
It is important to develop ones heart to ensure that the mind woks correctly, otherwise it can get confused. Normally a confused person remains worried and disturbed. The reason is that till the time a heart is developed, the mind remains free. Its decisions do not conform to the Divine system, but follow the dictates of passions and self (naf’s).Like we see happening with the non believers in the Western World. So one has to go to a place where his heart can be developed or else find a preceptor with a developed heart. This is the only way to benefit.
Rectification of Naf’s(self/ego/passion).
Allah Almighty in Sura Shams has sworn on the sun, the moon, the earth, the sky, day and night, finally swearing on naf’s. Allah Almighty says that He has made it into a mix of two things; piety and wickedness. If a person does not adopt the pious part of it, the wicked portion shall turn him into a devil.
We all know that creation of Satan is a manifestation of this reality. Some taking the part with piety (taq’va) can become an envoy for the angels. It has been mentioned in the Hadith that there are some people for the angels pray, ants in their holes pray and fish in rivers pray. Who are those people? They are none else but the pious people.
Allah Almighty in Quran gives the glad tidings and says:-
قَد اَفلَحَ مَن زَکّٰھَا وَ قَد خَابَ مَن دَسّٰھَا (Truly he succeeds that purifies it, And he fails that corrupts it! Ash Shams -9-10)
He who has cleansed his self from vices is successful and the one who leaves his self (naf’s) to passions is certainly destroyed. Wretchedness of naf’s has not been mentioned here, because it is an in built trait and is present there. We all know that water always flows downward. To take it up, it has to be pumped with force and effort. By itself it will never go up, but it flows down on its own. So to be tempted to vices in the nature of self ( naf’s).
وَ ما اُبَرِّی نَفسی اِنَّ النَّفسَ لاَمّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ اِلاّ ما رَحِمَ ربی (Verily, the (human) self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills) Yousaf, 53)
When a person works hard on his self (naf’s e amara) and his heart, his naf’s is elevated to middle position (Naf’s e L’wama). A light attracts him to the good, and then again he is compelled by his naf’s to indulge in vices. On seeing the light once more, he repents and asks for forgiveness. (Even reaching this position is blessing of Allah Almighty, Who has sworn by it). This see saw goes on and on, till the ultimate stage of Naf’s e Mutmian’a is reached.
یا اَیَّتُهاالنَّفسُ المُطمَئنَّة ارْجِعی اِلَی رَبِّکِ راضِیةً مَرضِیةً فَادخُلی فی عِبادی و ادخلی جنتی (To the righteous soul will be Ssaid, "O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back thou to thy Lord well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter thou, then among my Devotees! "Yea, enter thou my Heaven" Al-Fajr, 27-30)
In this unprecedently lucid communication, Allah Almighty has laid down the method to achieve a satisfied naf’s. The verse refers to a person with a contented and satisfied self who happily obeyed the commands of Allah Almighty. Now declaring His acceptance and pleasure, Allah Almighty orders him to join the group of the chosen ones. In actual fact this process had happened in his life time. Then a time comes as has been indicated in Sura Yasin:-
سَلَامٌ قَوْلاً مِن رَّبٍّ رَّحِيمٍ وَامْتَازُوا الْيَوْمَ أَيُّهَا الْمُجْرِمُونَ (And separate yourselves this Day, O ye culprits! Yaseen, 59)
The pious shall be blessed with good wishes (salam) from Allah Almighty and the sinners ordered to get separated. Both shall have their own separate abodes. It is important here to understand the subtle difference. Sins were committed in the time spent on earth. So on the Day of Judgment sinners shall be told their place of punishment. Whereas the virtuous shall be directed to the Jannah. This whole thing lays bare one fact, that it is essential to control the self (naf’s) and develop hearts (qal’b).This can only be done with frequent zikr. Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) said, “Everything needs an instrument to clean it. Zikr is the tool to clean our qal’b.
Company of the Sal’een ( Pious/Virtuous).
I will explain the above facts a little further with an analogy. If seed is put in a field which is not ploughed properly and watered; it will not yield any crop. Rather the seed will be wasted. Whereas a field properly ploughed and watered will give good crop. Same is the case with zikr. Those who do not regularly remember Allah Almighty cannot benefit from the company of the pious people. A little benefit might accrue, but to gain sufficiently both things .i.e. meeting sal’heen and zik’r have to be done concurrently. This means frequent contact with your preceptor (Sheikh) is beneficial. In the whole scheme of things his place is very important, being the focal point. If you keep his company, remain in contact and also do zik’r, your heart will be cleaned and it will start glowing. In the books of famous saints it is written, that when sitting in presence of your mentor do not indulge in the verbal zik’r, rather focus on his heart. This way you can also benefit from the blessings/bounties of Allah Almighty pouring there at that moment. This is supposed to be a higher form of zik’r. Anyone who has experienced it can testify its veracity. One of our professors, who taught nuclear physics, would often exhort us to accept on face value some of the things which were then beyond our comprehension. He would say that their meanings would dawn on us with maturity and time. These truths had been enunciated by the famous scientists of the world and as such cannot be false. Today I am telling you to accept what I said a little while ago and soon you will discover the truth. Divine light bestowed onto the heart of the sheikh is the best form of enlightenment. It has no better alternative. People generally doubt and object to the works of ordinary saints. Therefore I had purposely organized a series of lectures from a book,’Imdad as Saluk’, written by the famous scholar and saint Hazrat Gangovi (RA).Under the topic, ‘Unity of Purpose (Wahdat e Matlib), it is written that a disciple (Sali’k) should not engage with anyone else but his own sheikh, because the devil impersonating as a spiritual teacher can lead him astray. This can result in total disaster. In this situation, even Allah Almighty does not help. The reason explained for it logical. The devil has been forbidden to impersonate the Holy Prophet (PBUH).Saints being the obedient followers and personified continuation are the spiritual link with the Prophet (PBUH), especially the sheikh chosen by you for guidance. Therefore the Devil cannot be impersonated him to his disciples. There is a famous saying in Pashto,
چہ پہ یو قدم تر عرشہ پورے رسی ما لیدلے دے رفتار د درویشانو (Just by a foot step they reach the Heavens, I have seen the speed of the Dervishes.)
It refers to the ‘Shataria’ followers who are so absorbed in their mentor that no one else matters to them.
In nut shell, spiritual development is only possible if one is frequent in zik’r and keeps the company of Sal’heen.
Reformation of Naf’s thorough Rigorous Effort (Mujahid’a).
Here we come to an important aspect. Reformation of the self (Naf’s) is only possible through effort (mujhid’a).Once during the month of fasting (Ramdhan),a man confided in me in tears that, he had traversed the complete Naqshbandi path (a Sufi school of practice).Rather than abhorring it, he had TV cable connection now installed at his residence. What should he do? Frankly speaking, I was perplexed as what to tell him. I immediately prayed to Allah Almighty for help. In my answer, that was bestowed onto my heart (qal’b),I told him that so far he had only traversed the path of the heart (qal’b),travel on the path of self reformation of his naf’s had yet to be undertaken. It would only be then that all the vices of passion shall go.
Similar problems are faced by many of us. Because of the failure to tread the path of reformation of naf’s. This needs a strenuous effort. Resultantly people having made sufficient progress fall prey to their passion (naf’s).
These days, mujahid’a has been quit because of its inherent difficulties. There is a need to resume it, in accordance the conditions prevalent today. Reformation is not possible without a rigorous effort. Traditional practices like, ’Qalil Be’aam’and ‘Qalil Mu’nam’ were either reduced or stopped because people could not bear them and fell sick.
A better method of mujahid’a is to fast on alternate days. With passage of time, it will become a routine and one will get used to, it thus making it easier. Let me explain this with an example. A person not used to offering regular prayers initially finds it difficult to begin. Somehow when made to do it the first time, he finds it easier the next time, so on and so forth. When he has gone through the ritual for forty days, it turns into a habit, which then becomes difficult to quit. What had changed in these forty days? Through his effort, the person had compelled his self (naf’s) to obey. Basically mujahid’a is, not to succumb to the dictates of your naf’s (passions).
In reality; mujahida has been built into all our religious rituals .i.e. prayers, fasting, pilgrimage and zakat. Since these have to be compulsorily obeyed, someone doing them correctly needs no extra effort for reformation. The problem is that we do not do them right. During prayers our movements are incorrect, concentration is lacking, we do not understand what is being recited/we recite. Similarly during a fast, we indulge in vices like lying, back biting and eve gazing. Some even watch movies to pass their time. It is precisely for these reasons that recourse to mujahid’a becomes essential.
In a military academy, cadets are put thorough a very tough and rigorous routine, only to bring them up to certain physical and mental standards. This lasts during the period of their training only. Similarly mujahid’a is temporary and is done with a specific purpose in mind. However, the mujahida, in built in the practice of Sharia is perpetual and permanent.
These days, when a person joins a convent (silsa’la), if not found regular in his worship, he is put thorough certain temporary and optional mujahidats ((practices) for reformation.
One of our spiritual elders,Maulana Abdul Haq Nafay (RA) suffering from cancer was often visited by Hazrat Maulana Yousaf Banori (RA).He confided to his son, that despite being repeatedly advised to do certain things ( not mujahidas),he had ignored them. Being a chosen person of Allah Almighty, he was being made to suffer to qualify for the higher spiritual pedestal. Any person chosen by Allah Almighty for a higher stature has to be elevated to that pedestal. In case of any deficiencies in his worship, he is put through some sufferings to make up/compensate. This is a Divine tradition (sunat e a’dia).Anyone once accepted by Allah Almighty is never rejected and is compelled to conform to His will.
When Accepted by Allah Almighty.
One of my chain smoking colleagues was a bold, outgoing and a liberal person. You know such persons are averse to advice. I always wanted him to be reformed and prayed for him. Once I was assigned by my Sheikh Hazrat Maulana Ashraf (RA) to type his book ‘Saluk e Suliamani’. My friend was helping me in proof reading the typed script. During the course of this work we arrived at a very emotionally touching part.It was written by Hazrat Suliaman Nadvi (RA) on the demise of Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA).As soon as we finished that part, my friend raised his hands and prayed for mercy and guidance from Allah Almighty. I immediately felt that his prayer had been answered. Anxiously, I started waiting for a change in him. Two months elapsed but there was nothing visible. Getting frustrated, I sent him a word through one of his friends, that since he had been accepted by Allah Almighty; he must reform lest he is brought on a strature. Barely after a month, he met a serious accident and was hospitalized. He was bed ridden for the next six months. During this period, he grew a beard, started praying regularly and doing zik’r. He also read the books of Hazrat Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA).The only thing he did not do was to quit smoking. Then one day, all of a sudden, he gave it up too. On my asking the reason, he said, it had occurred to him, that mouth fouled with smoking was not clean enough to recite the name of the Holy Prophet (Darud).So he quit smoking.
Here a question arises. To transform from an imperfect being to a perfect one, what should be done? Simple answer is that a perfect person is the one who reflects correctly, has clean thoughts, and has a developed qil’b and his naf’s in control. The Prophet (PBUH) had said, “Wise is the one who is in control of his naf’s and strives for the life hereafter. Fools succumb to their passions and hope for forgiveness without repentance.”
A perfect person has his self in control and he continuously strives for the life hereafter. He knows the path to success and reflects on how to tread it. The true path to spiritual glory can be only discovered with cleansing of the qil’b and frequent zik’r. In the same way naf’s is controlled with rigorous effort (mujahid’a).To does both these things a spiritual teacher and a guide is essential. The organized method is that you must choose a person who you match your temperament and suits you. Then associate yourself with him and follow his training schedule. It is very important to find the right sheikh (preceptor) lest you fall into some trap.
Signs of Men of Allah Almighty ( Sheikh e Kamil).
Look for the following eight main indicators in a person before you choose him as your mentor (Sheikh):-
• He should belong to the Sunni School (Ahal – Sunnat wl Jamaat).
• Should possess knowledge of the obligatory rituals (Farz e Ain).
• He must himself be a practicing them.
• He should belong to a recognized convent of the sufi order (Silsila) traced back to the Prophet (PBUH).
• He must have bonfide permission.
• Those under his tutelage should visibly be benefitting from him. Like doctors someone may be very pious himself but may not be able to benefit (faiz) others.
• Putting curtsey and kindness aside, he should only focus on rectification and reformation of his disciples.
• One must be reminded of Allah Almighty in his presence.
If you are seeking a sheikh and find the above signs in a person, accept him without much ado. Do not wait for an exhibition of super natural power or revelations from him. Just ensure that he suits you. In order to determine his suitability for you should spend some time with him. If you start benefitting, then stick with him.
A retired principal of some institution came to me at an age of seventy six. He did not believe in mysticism. I gave him a short zik’r for recitation. Later on, meeting me after three months, he told me that three changes had occurred in him because of the zik’r. Firstly, he had discovered the power of zik’r, although he could not express it to others. Secondly, being an avid reader, he could not do without reading previously, but now he sought solitude for worship and zik’r. Thirdly, putting his hand on the head and then moving it to his heart, he declared that, earlier he was there but the zik’r had brought him here.
Things that one may not believe in have to be accepted when you experience them yourself.
لگی ہو نہ جب تک کسی دل میں آگ پرائی لگی دل لگی سوجھتی ہے
The last and final conclusion is that group together with the friends of Allah Almighty and Insha Allah you shall receive what Allah Almighty wills.
“Be at it, be at it. You shall surely hit it.”
May Allah Almighty bestow on all of us His blessings. Amin.