Saturday, March 11, 2006

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Monday, September 20, 2004

The Sheikh: Revisited

The selection of the sheikh is the most important event in practicing tasawwuf. Due to this importance some concepts needed further discussion; 1. Haste in selecting the sheikh, is a fundamental mistake in Tasawwuf. 2. The sheikh should be visited repeatedly both in private and public to assess the above mentioned characteristics. 3. Taking an oath of allegiance (ba’yaih/ahd) is not essential to confirm the selection of sheikh (at this point in time). After the selection informing him, asking his guidance and following the advice is quite enough. (InshaAllah, we will discuss the concept of ba’yaih/ahd later in detail.) 4. It is more beneficial that even if the sheikh fulfils all of the above mentioned criteria, there exists a natural mutual congeniality (bahemi munasbet) between the mureed and sheikh. This can be described as having a intuitive general acceptance of, and no significant doubts about, the sheikh’s personality, words and deeds. 5. The facts regarding accessibility, language/barrier, ethnic background and madhahib(fiqh) differences should be genuinely considered. 6. It best to avoid the sheikh who places extraordinary importance to customary rituals, like mawlid, hawl, dhikr halaqas in comparison to the obligatory (salah, abstaining from sins and avoiding hurting others, etc). Considering these rituals to be an essential component of Tasawwuf is wrong. 7. It is inappropriate to compare present shuyukh with Sayyedna Junaid or Sayyedna Shibli rehmatulllah alehey. There is hidden arrogance(kibr) in this. That is, I am of such a stature that only someone like Sayyedna Junaid rehmatulllah alehey can be my sheikh. There are shuyukh present at all times that can take care of individuals like us. 8. One should be very cautious of familial sheikhs (customary father-son inheritance of being a sheikh), customary sajjada nasheins (person in charge of mausoleums/khanqah ) and wandering marabouts/spiritually overwhelmed (majzoubs). 9. Importance of consultation with pious elders (istishara) and praying repeatedly for Allah swt’s guidance (istikhara) can not be over emphasized. 10. If by mistake, one gets attached to an unqualified sheikh, it is obligatory to abandon him. Allah swt’s pleasure is the goal; it can not be attained with this sort of sheikh. However, proper Islamic adab (etiquette) should be observed even in this case. A more cautious search should be restarted again. Allah swt guide us all. Ameen! Next: Some Contemporary Shuyukh

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Sheikh

A person starting on the path of Tasawwuf is like ill person seeking treatment. His spirit is afflicted with the diseases of blame worthy internal moral states and is deficient of the healthy praise worthy moral traits. This requires the services of a qualified physician. A physician who can diagnose, treat and follow the course of these spiritual illnesses/deficiencies to prevent relapse and ensure perfect health. This spiritual physician is the SHEIKH. He can be called a pir, mentor or spiritual advisor. He is indispensable. There is agreement between all the various schools of tasawwuf regarding this reality. P.S. No sick person who takes his illness seriously will ever dare to treat himself, especially by just reading books. How does one find a Sheikh? Islam is the religion of Allah swt till the end of time. Means and methods of keeping this religion till that time will always persist. The changes in our socioeconomic & moral conditions, perception of piety and the influence of the worldly environment may make recognition of a true sheikh difficult. But he is here. You just have to look for him. And most importantly ask Allah swt’s guidance in this feat. Scholars have described certain characteristics to look for, in facilitating this search. They are: 1. He should possess the necessary knowledge of the religion (fiqh). 2. His believes (aqaid) must be that of Ahle Sunnah & the demeanor of his actions and habits must be reflective of Sunnah. 3. He must be God-fearing (muttaqi), conscientious and pious in following shariah in his every day life. It is essential that he abstains from all major sins (kabair) and does not persist on any minor sin (saghair). 4. He must have traversed the path of tasawwuf under the guidance of a sheikh himself and have received explicit permission (verbal or written) to teach and treat others. 5. He must be attached to an authentic Silsilah (chain of authority). Their lineage tracing back to Holy Prophet sallalaho alehey wa alehey wasalam without gaps and omissions. 6. The contemporary scholars and unprejudiced sheikhs should hold a good opinion about him and encourage people to benefit from him. 7. The effect of his companionship (suhba) must be a decrease in love of the worldly & an increase in the Love of Allah swt. This is evident by performing good deeds, abstaining from sins and preparing for hereafter. 8. He must be more venerated by intellectual religious folks than by common lay public. 9. The majority of his pupils (mureed) must be following Shariah. Their outward condition conforms to the demands of the Shariah and their behavior is reflective of the inward progress of getting rid of blame worthy traits, especially love of the worldly. 10. He must be sincere in training his disciples (mureed). Working for their spiritual improvement & progress. Not leaving them on their own but correcting them in timely fashion, by words and deeds. Reprimanding them when the need arises. 11. He must not consider himself to be perfect and be satisfied with his present state. He must engage in extra-worship, dhikr, fikr and other devotional practices to keep progressing. 12. He must not be boastful of his piety and faultlessness. For making such declaration is a sign of the blame worthy state: Love of fame and authority. Following qualities are not essential to be present in a Sheikh; 1. Performance of supernatural acts (karamat). 2. Telling in advance about the hidden and upcoming matters. 3. Immediate acceptance of all his prayers (dua). 4. Performing extraordinary actions by his spiritual powers, for example, mind reading, creating an overwhelming emotional condition in mureed, etc. 5. Abandonment of means of earning. If one keeps looking hard enough, he will, inshaAllah, finds such a Sheikh with Allah swt's guidance and help. Until then, he must make it a habit to pray(dua) after each salah:
"O Allah! I want to live by Shariah.
My nafs and satan have overtaken me.
Please, remove these obstacles
and make it easy for me to do so.
Give me the determination & strength for this and
provide me with a Sheikh who can help me in this effort."
Next: The Sheikh: Revisited

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Methodology of Tasawwuf

Having acknowledged the significance of Tasawwuf in Islam, the endeavor is to practice and live it in our every day life. At this stage two things are essential; A. Repentance (taubah) B. Need of the sheikh/guide/spiritual mentor. A. Repentance: It has 2 components; 1. General Repentance: Here the individual acknowleges all his past sins, mistakes & shortcomings and repents. He leaves these transgressions all together, feels ashamed of disobeying his Lord and makes a solemn determination of not committing them ever again. 2. Comprehensive Repentance: In here he takes account of his life in details. If he has missed any salah, fasts, zakah or hajj, he starts remaking them. If he has financial dues pending, loans, material or money he was not legally entitled to recieve, he repays them. Or acknowleges his mistake and ask forgiveness from the concerned authority. If he had hurt others by his speech or actions he ask their forgiveness. This repentance is very, very essential to gain Allah swt's pleasure and acceptance. If it is not completed thoroughly all other future efforts are wasted. One needs the determination for this repentance. It requires having the resolution to bear all the difficulties (physical or financial) or worldly loss or public disregard that may come in doing so. If he does not have this determination it is evident that he is not looking for Allah swt's pleasure. Hence, he is not a genuine Seeker. Allahuma hafizna (we seek Allah swt's refuge from this). Next:
  • The Sheikh
  • Friday, September 10, 2004

    Example: How the internal moral states form the basis of our bodily worship?

    As mentioned earlier the purpose of Tasawwuf is to develop and cultivate the praise worthy(PWMS) and remove the blame worthy internal moral states(BWMS) (iklaq e batini). Why is this important? Isn’t practicing shariah commands itself sufficient? This is a very intelligent question and if one understands the answer he will not have any doubts regarding the necessity of Tasawwuf. Try to understand this by means of an example; Shariah commands that each and every Muslim should pray five times daily on appropriate time, with the method according to Sunnah. A Muslim, who is unaware of the importance of rectifying the internal moral states and has not worked to develop and refine them in his every day life, may fall into following traps;

    1. Some times he may skip the prayer all together, maybe out of laziness or being busy in worldly affairs. This is reflective that he does not have the love of Allah swt (PWMS) and instead has love of this world (hubb e dunya)(BWMS).
    2. Sometimes he prays to show his fellow Muslims that he is regular in his prayer or a pious person. At other times he thinks that his praying will make him outstand in his community. These are showing off (riya) (BWMS) and mark the absence of sincerity(ikhlas) (PWMS) .
    3. Even if he prays, he does so hastily, without the proper demeanor. This is reflective of absence of love of Allah swt (PWMS) and occupation in worldly affairs (BWMS) .
    4. Sometimes the demeanor of his prayer changes if he notices that someone is watching him. This is show off (riya)(BWMS) .
    5. And when he prays on time and in proper manner, his inner self is absent from that prayer. He is busy thinking about some worldly affair. This is reflective of absence of khashoo (awe/internal quiteness) (PWMS).
    6. At other times he demeanor does not reflect humility before his Lord. This is arrogance (kibir)(BWMS).
    7. Sometimes when he prays he feels he is superior to the other fellow mussalis. This is self praise (ujub)(BWMS) .
    8. At other times he is thinking of his own superiority plus the inferiority of others which is arrogance (kibr)(BWMS).
    9. At times when he see someone better than himself, he thinks that he himself was more deserving of this better trait and whishes that this may go away from that person. This is envy (hasad) (BWMS) .
    10. During his prayer he can not comtemplate that he is standing before his Lord and He is watching him. This is absence of slavehood (ihsan & uboodiyah).
    11. After praying he may boast to others that he prayed or feel superior to them. This is a arogance (kibr)(BWMS) .
    12. Or he may feel dejected by the poor concenteration he had during salah and become disappointed. This is disappointment (yaas)(BWMS) .

    This is just a quick list of deficiencies.

    We should take a moment and think, where do we stand?

    If we do not have these qualities, then is our worship up to the mark of being accepted by Shariah's standards?

    Indeed, these internal moral states are the very soul of bodily or physical form of worship making it capable of being accepted and rewarded.

    Two units of an A'rif (a Muslim who has realized and mastered these internal moral states) is better than 100,000 units of an ordinary Muslim.

    wa ma taufiqi ilabillah

    Next: Methodology of Tasawwuf

    Tuesday, September 07, 2004

    What is NOT Tasawwuf?

    Various misconceptions exist regarding tasawwuf.
    It is of utmost importance that these misconceptions must be cleared upfront.
    This mental re-conditioning is necassary otherwise, ages will pass without success & salvation.
    Some of them are:
    1. Becoming aware of future or hidden affairs (khasf e kuni) or performance of supernatural phenomenon (karamat) is not necessary for tasawwuf.
    2. Salvation is not guananteed in hereafter by itself for any one who claims to be in tasawwuf (one has to strife and follow shariah for it).
    3. Success in wordly affairs or increase in one's income or cure from some illness or fortelling of future events is not promised.
    4. Neither does it entail that by sheikh's spiritual powers (tasarrufat) mureed's condition will improve itself, without his detemination to strife for good works and abstain from sins. [common error].
    5. Nor does it assure that his intelligence & memory may increase for hifz of Quran or religious knowledge.
    6. Nor is there a time limit that such a spiritual state is reached that one finds pleasure in worship, does not get distrubbing thoughts, cries a lot (either from love or fear of Allah swt), or reaches a state where he in unaware of everything else except Allah swt. [This is the most common error].
    7. It is not necessary that one sees lights (anwar) etc. or hears voices during dhikr or shugal (special rememberace techniques)
    8. Nor seeing good and spiritual dreams is necessary.


    The real objective of Tasawwuf

    is to attain

    Allah swt's pleasure.


  • Example: How the internal moral states form the basis of our bodily worship?
  • Sunday, September 05, 2004

    What is Tasawwuf?

    Bismillah The purpose of a Muslim's life is to attain Allah swt's pleasure. To do this successfully, he has to act on the shariah completely. The part of the shariah dealing with external acts of worship has been classified as fiqh. While the part dealing with internal states, character and actions is the subject of disscussion in tasawwuf In summary, acquisition and rectification of internal moral states (iklaq e batini) with adherence to external commands of Shariah is tasawwuf. These internal moral states form the basis of worship performed by our body. They include, A. Acquisition of:
    1. Repentance (taubah)
    2. Sincerity (ikhlas)
    3. Slavehood (abdeyat)
    4. Love of Allah swt (muhabbat)
    5. Awe (khashoo)
    6. Fear (khauf)
    7. Hopefulness (raja')
    8. Humility (tawaduh)
    9. Thanfulness (shukur)
    10. Patience (saber)
    11. Reliance (tawakul)
    12. Dependence (tafweedh)
    13. Acceptance (raz(dh)a)
    14. Abstinence (zuhud) , etc. and

    B. Elimation or rectification of:

    1. Love of the worldly (hubb e duyah)
    2. Love of fame (hubb e jah)
    3. Arrogance (kibr)
    4. Showing off (ria)
    5. Backbiting (ghibah)
    6. Calamities of Tongue: Lying (kazb), carrying tales (namemah), humiliating others, talking harshly & rudly, talking unnecessarilry.
    7. Anger (gazab)
    8. Envy andHatred (hasad wa bugz wa keana)
    9. Being stingy (bkhul)
    10. Being spend-thrift (israf)
    11. Greed (heris), etc.

    These basic concepts should be very clear in regards to tasawwuf.


  • What is NOT Tasawwuf?