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What is Tasawwuf ?

- Poem
What is Tasawwuf ? Good character and awareness of God. That's all Tasawwuf is. And nothing more. What is Tasawwuf ? Love and affection. It is the cure for hatred and vengeance. And nothing more. What is Tasawwuf ? The heart attaining tranquility which is the root of religion. And nothing more. What is Tasawwuf ? Concentrating your mind, which is the religion of Ahmad (peace be upon him). And nothing more. What is Tasawwuf ? Contemplation that travels to the Divine throne. It is a far-seeing gaze. And nothing more. Tasawwuf is keeping one's distance from imagination and supposition. Tasawwuf is found in certainty. And nothing more. Surrendering one's soul to the care of the inviolability of religion; this is Tasawwuf. And nothing more. Tasawwuf is the path of faith and affirmation of unity; this is the incorruptible religion. And nothing more. Tasawwuf is the smooth and illuminated path. It is the way to the most exalted paradise. And nothing more. I have heard that the ecstasy of the wearers of wool comes from finding the taste of religion. And nothing more. Tasawwuf is nothing but Shari'at. It is just this clear road. And nothing more.
An Anonymous Persian Poem Translated by A. A. Godlas

A Commentary
A Commentary on "What Is Tasawwuf ?" By directly addressing the nature of Tasawwuf, this anonymous Persian poem, "What is Tasawwuf?" contains a number of essential concepts that are helpful in gaining an understanding of Tasawwuf. Direct statements about the nature of Tasawwuf (also known as Sufism) are an important aspect of Sufi literature. The renowned scholar Abu Nu'aym al-Asbahani (Isfahani) (d. 430/1038) included one-hundred and thirty-four such assertions (often in rhymed prose) in his encyclopaedic biographical collection, the Hilyat al-Awliya'.

The great English scholar of Sufism, Nicholson, collected and translated seventy-eight of these sayings. Most recently, Tamar Frank has devoted an article to studying Abu Nu'aym's sayings of this kind. The poem that is the object of this study, in answering the question "What is Tasawwuf ?" makes a number of pithy assertions about the central concepts of Tasawwuf by means of its technical vocabulary. Consequently, in this article we have sought to explain those concepts that may not be obvious even to the educated reader. In explaining these terms, we have relied mainly upon authoritative Islamic sources such as the Qur'an, hadith, and highly regarded Sufi authors.

Good Character [Akhlaq]

The word akhlaq, translated here as "good character," is at best an inexact translation denoting virtuous behaviour that is an outgrowth of spiritual refinement. UTHMAN 'ALI ALHUJWIRI (d. ca. 465/1072), informed us that Abu al-Hasan al-Nuri (d. 295/907-8) stated,
"Tasawwuf is not composed of practices ( rusum) and sciences ('ulum), but it is akhlaq." Data Ali Hujwiri [May Allah be pleased with him], explained that what Nuri meant was that akhlaq should not be thought of as simply good comportment or good character in an ordinary sense. Akhlaq as used by Sufis consists of virtuous behaviour that derives from the fact that the inner being of the Sufi has become cleansed and his or her heart has become purified. How such a Sufi behaves, then, is not so much the product of effort as it is the cresting of a wave, the origins of which is God. Data Ali Hujwiri [May Allah be pleased with him], in explaining Nuri's remark went on to say; If it [Tasawwuf] consisted of practices, it could be acquired by effort (mujahadat), and if it consisted of sciences, it could be gained by instruction (ta'allum but it is akhlaq and it is not acquired until you demand from yourself the requirements ( hukm) of akhlaq, conform your actions to them, and do justice to them. The distinction between practices (rusum) and akhlaq is this, that practices are contrived ( bitakalluf) actions proceeding from particular motives ( asbab), such that their "outer form" (zahir) is at variance with their "inner truth" ( batin); they are actions devoid of essence ( ma'na). Akhlaq, on the other hand, are non-contrived praiseworthy actions not proceeding from particular motives. Their outer form is in harmony with their inner truth; they are actions devoid of pretension.

Awareness of God [Ihsan] The phrase "awareness of God," is my translation of the word ihsan, which literally means "doing what is beautiful." I have rendered it as "awareness of God" in view of the

sound hadith in which the Angel Gabriel [ alayhis Salaam] asked the Beloved Prophet Muhammad [Allah shower His Mercy Upon Him & give Him Peace], "What is ihsan ?" He replied, "Ihsan is that you should worship God as if you see Him; and if you do not see Him, [you should know that] He sees you." The concept of ihsan, with particular attention to its Qur'anic roots, occupies an entire chapter in what is arguably the best book in English on basic Islamic concepts, Murata and Chittick's Vision of Islam.

The first Sufi to compose a compendium on Tasawwuf, Sarraj (d. 378/988-89), linked ihsan to "vigilant awareness" (muraqaba). He stated, "Vigilant awareness is for a servant who indeed knows and is certain that Allah is aware of and knows what is in his heart (qalb) and consciousness (damir). So he stays vigilantly aware of despicable thoughts that [would otherwise] preoccupy the heart and keep it from remembering his Master. Qushayri (d. 465/1072), like Sarraj, saw ihsan to be related to "vigilant awareness" (muraqaba). Specifically, he referred to the aspect of ihsan mentioned in the part of the hadith, "If you do not see him [know] that indeed he sees you" as alluding to "vigilant awareness" because "vigilant awareness" "is the servant's knowledge of the Lord's constant awareness of him."

Love ['Ishq] The lexicographer Jawhari (d. 453/1061), a contemporary of Qushayri defined 'ishq, literally, as "being excessive in love (al-hubb). While the Qur'an speaks of love using a variety of words, it does not use the word 'ishq or any words derived from it. Nevertheless, we do find a derivative of 'ishq being used in the hadith. Ghazali (d. 505/1111) noted a hadith in which the Most Beloved Prophet [May Allah bless him & give him peace] spoke of "intense love" ('ishq): The Messenger of God [May Allah bless him and give him peace] stated, "Whoever feels intense love, is virtuous, keeps his love hidden, and then dies, he will indeed die as a martyr." In a strikingly ecstatic passage in his Alchemy of Happiness (Kimiya-yi sa'adat), alGhazali considers 'ishq as that which arises in the fourth and final stage of practicing the remembrance of God (dhikr). This fourth stage occurs when, the object of the remembrance dominates the heart (and that object is God-Haqq not the remembrance). This is the result of one-pointed love (mahabbat-i mufrad), which is called "intense love" ('ishq). The heart of the lover who is burning with love ( 'ashiq-i garmraw) is always with the Beloved (ma'shuq). It might even occur that on account of the intense degree of preoccupation of the heart with the Beloved, the name of the Beloved may be forgotten. When one becomes so drowned and forgets one's self and everything except God (Haqq) one reaches the beginning of the path of Tasawwuf. Sufis call this condition "passing away" (fana') and "not existing" (nisti); meaning that as a result of the remembrance of God, everything has become non-existent; and such a

person also has become non-existent, namely the one who has forgotten his or her self. Mawlana Rume (d. 672/1273), in his collection of ecstatic poetry, the Divan-i Shams-i Tabrizi, exclaims in praise,

This love is so fine, this love that we have is so fine, O God! So exquisite, so good, and so beautiful, O God!

Zihi 'ishq zihi 'ishq, kah ma rast khudaya, Chi naghz ast u chi khub ast chi zibast khudaya.

While Divine Love might appear to some to be completely distinct from human love, for many Sufis such as Ahmad al-Ghazali (d. 520/1126), Ruzbihan (d. 606/1209), Ibn 'Arabi (d. 638/1240), Rumi, and 'Iraqi (d. 688/1289), there was a continuum from human love to Divine love that the aspiring lover of God could follow. By learning how to love through love of a person, the sincere Sufi could in principle transform his or her love of a person into love of Allah. The contemporary scholars Chittick and Wilson, in the introduction to their translation of 'Iraqi's Lama'at, discussed this relationship of human love and Divine love. Speaking of 'Iraqi's understanding of love, they stated, "There is no irreducible dichotomy between divine and human loveThere is a gradation from the love of forms, which is "apparent love" ('ishq-i majazi) to the love of God, which alone is 'real love' ('ishq-i haqiqi). The lower form of love can be, and for the Sufi is, the ladder to Divine Love."

Affection [mahabba] The word mahabba is derived from the word hubb, both of which commonly mean love and affection. In the Qur'an, both words occur, although hubb is more common. The verbal form of these words, however, is used numerous times in the Qur'an. Two ayas involving love that Sufis frequently quote are; "God will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him" [Qur'an 5:54], and "Say, if you love God, follow me [namely, the Prophet (pbuh)]; God will love you" [Qur'an 3:31]. A hadith qudsi in which mahabba is mentioned was included in the highly regarded Muwatta of Imam Malik (d. 179/795) on the authority of Abu Idris al-Khawlani (d. 80/699-700). He transmitted the following narrative, which contains this hadith qudsi as transmitted by Mu'adh ibn Jabal (d. 18/639) :

"Indeed, I heard the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) saying, 'God said, "My love (mahabbati) necessarily belongs to those who love one another (mutahabbina) for My sake, sit together for My sake, visit one another for My sake, and give generously to one another for My sake."'

From the Qur'anic examples that we have cited, in addition to this hadith, it should be clear that mahabba (affection and love) is an important Islamic principle. In Sufi literature, along with an emphasis on the terms 'ishq (passionate love), we also often see the terms hubb and mahabba (affectionate love).


Itminan-i Qalb

The Heart Attaining Tranquility [Itminan-i Qalb]

On six occasions the Qur'an al kareem links together the roots of the words itminan and qalb. In particular, one aya that is frequently cited by Sufis is in surat al-Ra'd, "Know that hearts find peace through the remembrance of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala" [Qur'an 13:28].

The emphasis in Tasawwuf on the practice of the remembrance of Allah is directly linked with the Qur'anic assertion that hearts become tranquil and find peace by means of remembering and meditating on Allah Almighty. A certain shaykh quoted in the Qur'anic commentaries of Sulami and Ruzbihan said;

"Hearts find peace in it [the remembrance of Allah], because they did not find other than God to be a place for intimacy (uns) and comfort (raha)."










"The hearts of the folk of gnosis only find peace through Allah Almighty and only are tranquil through Him, because their hearts are the place where He looks (mahal nazarihi). Thus, Sufis, as lovers of Allah Almighty, only find peace in their hearts through God and the remembrance of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala.


Jam'-i Khatir

Concentrating Your Mind [Jam'-i Khatir]

The Sufi technical term jam' that I have translated by the word "concentration" is more literally translated as "the state of being gathered"or "collected," sometimes even being rendered as "union." It is often used in contrast to the term tafriqa (separation). Concerning them Qushayri wrote, "Affirming created existence ( khalq) comes about through 'separation;' and affirming Allah (Haqq) derives from 'concentration' or 'gatheredness'. The servant must have both 'concentration' and 'separation.' Whoever has no 'separation' has no servanthood; and whoever has no 'concentration,' has no gnosis (ma'rifa).'"Thus "concentrating one's mind," as we find in the poem, is more than simply the kind of concentration that one uses in one's day to day activities in the world. "Concentrating one's mind" for the folk of Tasawwuf implies the transcendental knowledge of Allah Almighty that is called gnosis (ma'rifa).


Din-i Ahmad

The Religion of Ahmad [Din-i Ahmad]

The religion of Ahmad May Allah Bless him & give him peace is none other than Islam, since Ahmad May Allah Bless him & give him peace is one of the names of the Beloved Prophet Muhammad May Allah Bless him& give him peace , as confirmed in both the Qur'an al kareem and hadith. In surat al-Saff we read;

"Jesus, the son of Mary, said: 'O children of Israel, Indeed I am the Messenger of God sent to you to confirm the truth of what is present of the Torah and to convey to you glad tidings of a Divine messenger who will come after me, whose name is Ahmad" [Qur'an 61:6].

Both Bukhari and Muslim, in their authoritative collections of hadith, reported that the Most Beloved Prophet May Allah Bless him & give him peace , stated; "I am Muhammad and I am Ahmad; and I am the effacer ( mahi) who effaces disbelief. And I am the gatherer ( hashir), who will gather people behind me [on the day of resurrection]; and I am the final one ( 'aqib) [after whom there will be no other Prophets].



Contemplation [Fikr]

Contemplation (fikr or tafakkur) is an important aspect of the methodology of Islam in general and Tasawwuf in particular. In both the Qur'an al kareem and the sunnah, people are instructed by Allah to contemplate. In surat al-Nahl, Allah [Almighty is He] states;

"And we have revealed to you this [revelation as a] reminder ( al-dhikr), so you will make clear for humankind what has been revealed to them and so that they will contemplate'' [Qur'an al kareem 16:44].

Similarly, in surah al 'Imran, we read,

"Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are indeed signs for all who possess [awakened] hearts, those who remember Allah [Exalted is He] when they stand, sit, and lie down and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth" [Qur'an 3:190-91].

One hadith that clearly expresses the significance of contemplation in the sunnah was cited by Imam al Ghazali,

"An hour's worth of contemplation is better than a year's worth of worship."

Contemplation is so important in the Qur'an, sunnah, and Tasawwuf that Ghazali devoted an entire "book"(kitab) in his Revival of the Religious Sciences to it.



Certainty [Yaqin]

The classical Sufi doctrine of certainty involved three degrees: the knowledge of certainty ('ilm al-yaqin), the eye of certainty ('ayn al-yaqin), and the reality of certainty (haqq al-yaqin). Hujwiri (d. ca. 465/1072) discussed them in the following manner:

"By 'ilm al-yaqin the Sufis mean knowledge of (religious) practice (mu'amalat) in this world according to the Divine commandments; by 'ayn al-yaqin they mean knowledge of the state of dying (naz') and the time of departure from this world; and by haqq al-yaqin they mean the unveiling (kashf) of the vision (of God) that will be revealed in Paradise, and of its nature. Therefore, 'ilm al-yaqin is the rank of religious scholars ('ulama') on account of their correct observance of the divine commands, and 'ayn al-yaqin is the station of gnostics (maqam-i 'arifan) on account of their readiness for death, and haqq al-yaqin is the annihilation-point of lovers (fana'gah-i dustan), on account of their rejection of all 'existent beings and things' (mawjudat)"

In these three degrees of certainty, one clearly sees a hierarchy of states of consciousness, one which corresponds to a three-fold hierarchy of human identity: the scholars, the gnostics, and at the highest degree, the lovers.

According to a later Sufi, Najm al-Din Razi (d. 654/1256), "certainty" arises when one strives to become aware of the spiritual world, while living in accordance with shari'a. If one simply tries to use one's rational mind, one will fall into mere philosophy and unbelief. The key to certainty is the practice of shari'a, which leads to the awareness that everything is a manifestation of an attribute of Allah. In the following passage, Razi discusses the nature of certainty:

But [in contrast to the mere philosopher and the heretic] the possessor of true felicity nourish[es] the seed of the spirit in accordance with the law of Shari'at until all his senses attain perfection. He will then perceive, through his outer and inner senses, all the three hundred and sixty thousand realms that constitute the material and spiritual worlds (mulk va malakut)He sees every atom in each of these worlds to be a manifestation of one of the divine attributes containing within it one of Allah Almighty's signs; he removes the veil from the face of the manifestations, and the beauty of God's signs is displayed to him. [As the poet Abu al-'Atahiya stated,]

In every thing is a sign (aya) of His pointing to the fact that He is One (ahad).

This is the threshold of the world of certainty (iqan)Then the pure essence of Allah may be known in its unity, and the attributes ( sifat) of divinity may be contemplated with the eye of certainty ('ayn al-yaqin)."

Razi makes it very clear: in order to follow the path that leads to certainty and the awareness of the very "essence of God,"one must discipline and perfect one's senses by means of shari'a, and one must be aware that there is nothing in existence that does not derive from an attribute of Allah Almighty.

Khuld-i Barin
The Most Exalted Paradise [Khuld-i Barin]

one of the many terms in Islamic languages for paradise, which can be spoken of as consisting of various degrees. The highest degree of paradise is sometimes referred to as khuld-i barin. Some writers of Sufi literature such as the author of the poem about which we are remarking have seen Tasawwuf as a path to the highest degree of paradise, a path that is more certain than that offered by Islam in general, since Tasawwuf is more demanding and rigorous, going beyond the minimum degree of conformity to Allah's will required in Islam. Other Sufi writers have used terms for paradise as metaphors alluding to aspects of Tasawwuf or to experiences encountered on the Sufi path. In this way, Sufis bring paradise into this life or, conversely, they raise up to paradise an aspect of this life. An example of such a metaphorical usage is expressed by the Persian poet Hafiz, who has written perhaps the best known couplet using the term "the most exalted paradise"(khuld-i barin):Rawda-yi khuld-i barin khalvat-i darvishanast
Maya-yi muhtashimi khalvat-i darvishanastThe garden of the most exalted paradise is the retreat of solitude of the dervish. The substance of magnificence is the retreat of solitude of the dervish.

Khuld is

Ecstasy and "finding" [Wajd]

Literally, the word wajd means "finding," but for the Sufis it also means a moment of ecstasy in which one experiences an unveiling and hence a "finding" - of some aspect of Allah Almighty's reality. Ruzbihan (d. 606/1209) defined wajd as, "The heart's perceiving the sweetness of contact with the light of " eternality before time" ( azaliyat), the purity of witnessing, and the delight of the [Divine] address. Wajd is often portrayed as the intermediary stage of a three-stage process consisting of tawajud, wajd, and wujud.

Qushayri defines tawajud as "willfully seeking to have wajd ; one in this state does not actually possess true wajd." Concerning wajd itself, Qushayri wrote, "Wajd is that which encounters your heart, entering [it and coming] over you, without will or effort on your part." Abu al-Husayn al-Nuri stated, for twenty years I have gone between wajd (ecstatic finding) and faqd (loss). Namely, when I find my Lord, I lose my heart; and when I find my heart, I lose my Lord." Qushayri defined the third stage, wujud, as being that which
occurs "after one progresses beyond wajd;" [it is truly realized only] "after the cessation of human qualities (khumud al-bashariya), because human qualities cannot remain present during the manifestation of the sovereignty of the Truth ( sultan alhaqiqa)." A succinct summary of each of these three stages was expressed by Qushayri's shaykh and father-in-law, Abu 'Ali al-Daqqaq: "Tawajud necessitates the rebuking of the servant; wajd necessitates the drowning of the servant; and wujud necessitates the annihilation of the servant." Hence, as one advances from tawajud to wajd and wujud, one experiences a progressive dissolution of one's egocentricity and a surrendering of one's identification with one's self.

Suf Pushan
Wearers of Wool [Suf Pushan]

In Persian the literal meaning of the word sufi would be translated as "suf push"(wearer of wool). Hence the phrase in the poem "wearer of wool" is synonymous with Sufi's. It is generally agreed that the first Sufis were pious, ascetic Muslims who were called Sufis because they wore clothes of coarse wool (suf) rather than more refined garments. These early Sufi ascetics were following the example of the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam, who (as reported by Ibn Sa'd [d. 230/845] through reliable transmitters) was known to wear woollen garments. Moreover, the great hadith scholar Bayhaqi (d. 458/1066), in his Shu'ab al-iman, includes numerous reports about the virtues of wearing suf. In one report the Most Beloved Prophet of Allah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam states; You should wear clothes of wool (suf). [In so doing,] you will find the sweetness of faith in your hearts."
In spite of the criticism leveled against this and other reports that the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam wore wool, the isnad of Ibn Sa'd's report mentioned above was not criticised and appears to be flawless. Hence in wearing wool the Sufis were not departing from the record of the sunnah of the Beloved of Allah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam.

Taste [Dhawq]

Generally, one's spiritual proclivity or capacity is referred to by the term "taste" (dhawq). More specifically, Qushayri (d. 465/1072) hierarchically defined dhawq (tasting) along with shurb (drinking), and a less commonly used term riyy (being quenched). He stated,These terms denote the fruits of 'theophany' (tajalli), the results of unveilings
(kushufat), and the appearances of inrushes (waridat) that they [meaning the Sufis] experience. The first of these is 'tasting,' then, 'drinking,' and then 'being quenched.' One who is characterized by dhawq (tasting) tries to be intoxicated (mutasakir). One who is characterized by shurb (drinking) is intoxicated (sakran). And one who is characterized by riyy (being quenched) is sober (sah). The sense of the term "taste" in the poem "What is Tasawwuf ?" seems to have both the general meaning and the more

specifically Sufi sense as noted by Qushayri. The general meaning is conveyed in the expressions the "taste for religion," where the sense is that the Sufis' "appreciation" for religion is the basis for their ecstasy. The more specific meaning of which Qushayri speaks is alluded to in the poet's linking together these two hierarchical states of consciousness ("taste" and ecstasy"). The poet states that "ecstasy" is derived from "taste," implying that Sufi ecstasy only comes about after a firm foundation in the appreciation of and commitment to following the religion (namely Islam). Hence the poet says, "I have heard that the ecstasy of the wearers of wool (suf) comes from finding the taste for religion.

Shari'at Tasawwuf is nothing but shari'at

A problem that arises in the final couplet of "What is Tasawwuf ?" is that in equating Tasawwuf and shari'a, the poet brings up and then resolves an apparent tension between Tasawwuf and shari'a. Such a tension, however, exists only to the degree that one defines these two terms as being mutually exclusive. While various extremists persist in excluding one from the other, we do have many inclusive statements - such as that of the poet of "What is Tasawwuf ?" in which Tasawwuf and shari'a are interwoven, similarly defined, or equated. Qushayri (d. 465/1074), for example, defined "shari'a" as "assiduous observance of servanthood." Defining Tasawwuf in a comparable fashion, Abu al-Hasan al-Shudhili (d. 656/1258) stated: "Tasawwuf is training the self (nafs) through servanthood and subjecting it to the commands (ahkam) of Lordship." Supporting the close relationship between Tasawwuf and shari'a, the Sufi Abu Yazid alBistami (d. 260/874) asserted that observing the shari'a was a touchstone for judging a person's spiritual degree: "Were you to see a man who performs miracles such that he ascends into the air, do not be deceived by him. Instead, observe how well he is following the Divine commands, abstaining from what is prohibited, keeping within the limits set by God, and observing the shari'a."Similarly, Abu al-Husayn al-Warraq (d. before 320/932), asserted the futility of trying to reach God without conforming one's actions to shari'a and the sunna: "A servant will only reach Allah through Allah and by being in harmony with his loved one [the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Almighty upon him)] through his laws ( shari'a). And whoever believes that he can follow a path without emulating (al-iqtida) [the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Almighty upon him)] will become lost, on account of imagining that he is being guided."Undoubtedly, for all but a minority of Sufis throughout history, carefully observing the shari'a has been a crucial and on-going component of their spiritual practice. One way of understanding the interrelationship of Tasawwuf and shari'a was expressed by the Kubrawi Sufi, Najm al-Din Razi (d. 654/1256). Using the term tariqa (path) to denote Tasawwuf as Sufis commonly do he clarified its relationship to shari'a: "The shari'at has an outer (zahiri) and an inner (batini) aspect. Its outer aspect consists of bodily deeds The inner aspect of the shari'at consists of deeds of the heart ( qalbi), of the inner mystery (sirri), and of the spirit (ruhi) and is called the tariqat. "Hence, for Razi, the tariqa (or Tasawwuf) is not separate from shari'a, it is, rather, its inner dimension.

In summary, it should be clear, then, that in spite of extremist views that see Tasawwuf and shari'a as mutually exclusive, the author of "What is Tasawwuf?" like most Sufis bridges the false dichotomy between Tasawwuf and shari'a. Conclusion
The poem "What is Tasawwuf?" provides answers to a question that has perplexed people since the term first began to be used, over 1200 years ago. Its answers to this question involve technical terms referring to many of the key concepts of Tasawwuf (or Sufism, as it is commonly called today). In this commentary we have not discussed the more obvious phrases and answers expressed by the poet, phrases such as "faith" (iman) and "the affirmation of unity" (tawhid). The terms that we have addressed are the following: good character (akhlaq), awareness of God (ihsan), love ('ishq), affection (mahabba), the heart attaining tranquillity (itminan-i qalb), concentrating one's mind (jam'i khatir), the religion of Ahmad (din-i Ahmad) (peace and blessings of Allah upon him), contemplation (fikr), certainty (yaqin), the most exalted paradise (khuld-i barin), ecstasy (wajd), wearers of wool (suf pushan), taste (dhawq), and the close relationship between Tasawwuf and shari'a. From this study, it should be evident that there are numerous dimensions of Tasawwuf, including actions in the world, consciousness of Allah Almighty, spiritual states and practices, and shari'a.

And nothing more nor less. Imam Malik

Imam Malik (d. 179)

The scholar of Madina, he was known for his intense piety and love of the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam , whom he held in such awe and respect that he would not mount his horse within the confines of Madina out of reverence for the ground that enclosed the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam's body, nor would he relate a hadith without first performing ablution. Ibn al-Jawzi relates in the chapter entitled 'Layer 6 of the People of Madina' of his book Sifat al-safwa: Abu Mus'ab said: I went in to see Malik ibn Anas. He said to me: Look under my place of prayer or prayer-mat and see what is there. I looked and I found a certain writing. He said: Read it. (I saw that) it contained (the account of) a dream which one of his brothers had seen and which concerned him. He said (reciting what was written): 'I saw the Prophet in my sleep. He was in his mosque and the people were gathered around him, and he said: I have hidden for you under my pulpit (minbar) something good -- or: knowledge -- and I have ordered Malik to distribute it to the people.' Then Malik wept, so I got up and left him.(1) Just as Abu Hanifa and Sufyan al-Thawri implicitly asserted the necessity to follow the Sufi path for acquiring perfection, Imam Malik explicitly enjoined tasawwuf as a duty of scholars in his statement:

'He who practices Tasawwuf without learning Sacred Law corrupts his faith, while he who learns Sacred Law without practicing Tasawwuf corrupts himself. Only he who combines the two proves true.'

It is related by the muhaddith Ahmad Zarruq (d. 899), the hafiz 'Ali al-Qari al-Harawi (d. 1014), the muhaddiths 'Ali ibn Ahmad al 'Adawi (d. 1190) and Ibn 'Ajiba (d. 1224), and others.(2)Ibn 'Ajiba explains: Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq said: 'Tasawwuf has over two thousand definitions, all of which go back to the sincerity of one's self-application to Allah... Each one's definition corresponds to his state and the extent of his experience, knowledge, and taste, upon which he will ground his saying: 'Tasawwuf is such-and- such.' It follows that every one of the saints quoted (in Abu Nu'aym's Hilyat al-awliya') who has a part of sincere self-application ( sidq tawajjuh) has a part in tasawwuf, and each one's tasawwuf consists in his sincere self-application. As a rule, sincere self-application is a requirement of religion since it forms both the manner and the content of the acts which Allah accepts. Manner and content are not sound unless sincerity of self-application is sound.

'He approves not unthankfulness in His servants, but if you are thankful, he will approve it in you' (39:7). Therefore Islam necessitates deeds, and there is no self-purification (tasawwuf) without knowledge of the Law (fiqh), as Allah's external rulings are not known except by knowledge of the Law; and there is no knowledge of the Law without self-purification, as there is no deed without sincerity in self-application, and there is neither without belief. Hence the Law requires all of them by definition, just as the body and the soul necessitate each other, as one cannot exist or be complete in the world except in conjunction with the other. That is the meaning of Imam Malik's saying: 'He who practices Tasawwuf without learning Sacred Law...'(3) (1) Ibn al-Jawzi, Sifat al-safwa 1(2):120. (2) 'Ali al-Qari, Sharh 'ayn al-'ilm wa-zayn al-hilm (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqafa alDiniyya, 1989) 1:33; Ahmad Zarruq, Qawa'id al-tasawwuf (Cairo, 1310); 'Ali al 'Adawi, Hashiyat al 'Adawi 'ala sharh Abi al Hasan li risalat Ibn Abi Zayd al musammat kifayat al talib al rabbani li risalat Ibn Abi Zayd al Qayrawani fi madhhab Maalik (Beirut?: Dar Ihya' al Kutub al 'Arabiyah, ) 2:195; Ibn 'Ajiba, Iqaz al himam fi sharh al hikam (Cairo: Halabi, 1392/1972) p. 5 6. (3)Ibn 'Ajiba, Iqaz al-himam 5-6. Source : Tasawwuf Shuyukh by GFH Haddad Url Link :

"O soul. Watch out! Help me with your striving, in the darkness of the nights; so that on the Day of Qiyamah, you will win a good life on those heights."


We recognise them as the seven stages of consciousness or the levels of Self ( Nafs, ego).The Commanding Self (nafs al-ammara), The Blaming Self (nafs al-lawwama), The Inspired Self (nafs al mulhimah), The Satisfied Self (nafs al mutmainnah), The Consenting Self (nafs al radiyah), The Consent-Given Self (nafs al mardiyyah), The Purified Self (nafs al safiyyah). The phrase of "states of Nafs" denotes basically the "stages of consciousness". When the consciousness takes shape in the beginning, it considers all the carnal desires as if they are its own desires because it recognizes itself as a physical body as a result of its database. Thus, it leads a life completely focused on the needs and pleasures of the body. This is identified as the Commanding Self. At that level of understanding, the consciousness recognizes itself as a physical body. While still accepting himself as a body, thinking that his life will never come to an end but go on in some way after the body dies, and that he will experience the consequences of his deeds in this world, the Self begins to feel regret because he realizes his possible wrongdoings while considering his future life after death. This state is described as blaming the Self. As seen above, the Self at both of these levels, that are the states of consciousness, are connected to and focused on the physical body. The consciousness at that state is not aware of its heaven (sama) yet. Its world is the earth (ardh), the physical body. All his delights, concerns and struggles are connected with his ardh, that is his body. If a person's consciousness realizes that it is not in fact a body but a reflection of the universal oneness or an expression of the qualities possessed by the universal oneness, at the level that its capacity allows, such awareness is called as "the Inspired Self" ( nafs al mulhimah) in view of its characterization because such awareness is realized through inspirations ( ilham). At that level of understanding, the consciousness begins getting rid of the idea of accepting himself as a body. He sometimes feels himself as a body and sometimes as something separate from the body. However, what kind of an entity he is at that state of feeling separate from the body is not clear to him yet. Also, that is not a state that can be experienced through knowing. This stage of understanding for the consciousness is the most difficult stage of life. There, the consciousness faces many contradictions. He may sometimes consider himself as a servant, other times as a God, experiencing the odd results of such sensations. The person, who sees himself as God at that stage, may even find the level of sainthood (walayat) as lowering for himself. He may, thus let loose all his values and fall on a completely corporeal life. For people of true faith (muhaqqikun), the act of "reading" begins to be practiced at that level of consciousness. When reading the system, which is called "Sunnat-Allah", is initiated for such a consciousness, then the "why"s of "what" RasulAllah brought opens to him at the level of realization known as "certainty through Haqq (haqq ul yakeen)". He becomes khaneef (worshipfree of a God) at that station. His is "actual belief" in the one named as "ALLAH" at that level. He is purified from the spiritual power of "heartless discovery, unveiling" ( kashf-i zulmani) and possesses the spiritual power of "caring discovery" ( kashf-i noorani). He begins to perceive the

secrets of the Qur'an that rule till Doomsday. He who experiences that spiritual state is called as "arif" (Aware -Gnostic). Almost all the persons whose believers (ahl-al taqlid) among common people assume them to be saints (awliya) and even regard them suitable for the spiritual status of Ghawth, Qutb (chief center authorities of spiritual influence) and are at that realm of consciousness. Those persons may sometimes think themselves as real possessors of those spiritual positions ( martaba) due to their level of comprehension, whereas theirs is yet no more than a small accumulation of water coming down from the fountain of sainthood ( walayat).


Imam Nawawi's Bustan al-'arifin (The Garden of Gnostics), Beirut: Dar al-kitab al-arabi, 1405/1985 p.53-54. Imam Shafi'i said, may God have mercy on him: "Only the sincere one (mukhlis) knows hypocrisy (riya')." This means that it is impossible to know the reality of hypocrisy and see its hidden shades except for one who resolutely seeks (arada) sincerity. That one strives for a long time (yajtahidu azmanan) searching and meditating and examining at length within himself until he knows or knows something of what hypocrisy is. This does not happen for everyone. Indeed, this happens only with the special ones ( alkhawass). But for a given individual to claim that he knows what hypocrisy is, this is real ignorance on his part. I shall mention in this book a chapter, God willing, in which you will see a type of wonder that will cool your eyes. To illustrate the great extent of the concealment of hypocrisy we only need relate the following from the Teacher and Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri [the sufi shaykh], may God have mercy on him, from his 'Risala' with our isnad previously mentioned. He said: "I heard Muhammad ibn al-Husayn say: I heard Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn Ja'far say: I heard al-Hasan ibn 'Alawiyya say: Abu Yazid al-Bistami, may God be well pleased with him, said: I was for twelve years the blacksmith of my ego (haddadu nafsi), then for five years I became the mirror of my heart (mir'atu qalbi), then for a year I looked at what lay between the two of them and I saw around me a visible belt [i.e. of kufr = the vestimentary sign of a dhimmi]. So I strove to cut it for twelve years and then looked again, and I saw around me a hidden belt. So I worked to cut it for five years, looking to see how to cut. Then it was unveiled for me (kushifa li) and I looked at creation and saw that they were all dead. So I recited the funeral prayer over them." I say: That hypocrisy should be as inscrutable as this to the peerless master in this path [i.e. tasawwuf] is enough to show how greatly hidden it lies. His phrase: "I saw them dead" is the apex of worth and beauty, and seldom do other than the Prophet's words, Blessings and Peace be upon him, gather up such wealth of meanings. I shall touch upon its meaning briefly. It means that after he had struggled long and hard (lamma jahada hadhihi al-mujahada) and his ego had been disciplined (tahadhdhabat) and his heart illumined (istanara qalbuhu), and when he had conquered (istawla) his ego and subdued it (qaharaha) and achieved complete mastery over it (malakaha mulkan tamman), and it had subjected himself to him totally, at that time he looked at all created beings and found that they were dead and completely powerless:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

they cannot harm nor can they benefit; they cannot give nor can they keep back; they cannot give life nor can they give death; they cannot convey nor can they cut off; they cannot bring near nor can they take away; they cannot make happy nor can they make sad; they cannot bestow nor can they deprive; they possess for themselves neither benefit nor harm, nor death, nor life, nor resurrection.

This, then, characterizes human beings as dead: they are considered dead in all of the above respects, they are neither feared nor entreated, what they have is not coveted, they are not shown off to nor fawned upon, one does not concern oneself with them, they are not envied nor disparaged, their defects are not mentioned nor their faults pursued and exposed, one is not jealous of them nor thinks much of whatever Godgiven favors they have received, and they are forgiven and excused for their shortcomings, although the legal punishments (al-hudud) are applied to them according to the Law. But the application of such punishment does not preclude what we have mentioned before, nor does it preclude our endeavoring to cover up their faults without disparaging them in the least. This then is how the dead are viewed. And if someone mentions human beings in a dishonorable manner we forbid him from entering into that subject in the same way that we would if he were going to examine a person who died. We do not do anything for their sake nor do we leave Him for them. And we no more stop ourselves from fulfilling an act of obedience to God on their account than we do on account of a dead person, and we do not over-praise them. And we neither love their own praise for us nor hate their insults, and we do not reciprocate them. In sum, they are as it were non-existent in all the respects we have mentioned. They are under God's complete care and jurisdiction. Whoever deals with them in such a way, he has combined the good of the next world with that of the lower world. May God the Generous grant us success towards achieving this. These few words are enough to touch upon an explanation for his [Abu Yazid al-Bistami's] saying -- May God be well pleased with him. Blessings and Peace upon the Purified Prophet, his Family, and his Companions


Translated from the following parts of 'Ihya' 'Ulum al-Din' [The Revival of the Religious Sciences]: a] Definitions at the beginning of the book "Kitab sharh `aja'ib al-qalb" [Book of the Explanation of the Mysteries of the Heart] b] Section entitled: "The Soldiers of the Heart" in the same book c] Section entitled: "Shaytan's domination over the heart through whispering [ alwaswas]" in the same book

d] Section entitled: "Proofs..." from the book "Kitab riadat al-nafs wa tahdhib al-akhlaq wa mu`alajat amrad al-qalb" [Book of the training of the ego and the disciplining of manners and the healing of the heart's diseases] a] Meaning of nafs: It has two meanings. First, it means the powers of anger and sexual appetite in a human being... and this is the usage mostly found among the people of tasawwuf [sufis], who take "nafs" as the comprehensive word for all the evil attributes of a person. That is why they say: one must certainly do battle with the ego and break it (la budda min mujahadat al-nafs wa kasriha), as is referred to in the hadith: A`da `aduwwuka nafsuka al-lati bayna janibayk [Your worst enemy is your nafs which lies between your flanks. Al-`Iraqi says it is in Bayhaqi on the authority of Ibn `Abbas and its chain of transmission contains Muhammad ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghazwan, one of the forgers]. The second meaning of nafs is the soul, the human being in reality, his self and his person. However, it is described differently according to its different states. If it assumes calmness under command and has removed from itself the disturbance caused by the onslaught of passion, it is called "the satisfied soul" ( al-nafs almutma'inna)... In its first meaning the nafs does not envisage its return to God because it has kept itself far from Him: such a nafs is from the party of shaytan. However, when it does not achieve calmness, yet sets itself against the love of passions and objects to it, it is called "the self-accusing soul" (al-nafs al-lawwama), because it rebukes its owner for his neglect in the worship of his master... If it gives up all protest and surrenders itself in total obedience to the call of passions and shaytan, it is named "the soul that enjoins evil" (al-nafs al-ammara bi al-su')... which could be taken to refer to the ego in its first meaning. b) God has armed soldiers which He has placed in the hearts and the souls and others of His worlds, and none knows their true nature and actual number except He... [He proceeds to explain that the limbs of the body, the five senses, will, instinct, and the emotive and intellective powers are among those soldiers.] Know that the two soldiers of anger and sexual passion can be guided by the heart completely... or on the other hand disobey and rebel against it completely, until they enslave it. Therein lies the death of the heart and the termination of its journey towards eternal happiness. The heart has other soldiers: knowledge (`ilm), wisdom (hikma) and reflection (tafakkur) whose help it seeks by right, for they are the Party of God against the other two who belong to the party of shaytan... God says: "Have you seen the one who chooseth for his god his own lust?" (25:43) and "He followed his own lust. Therefor his likeness is as the likeness of a dog; if thou attackest him he panteth with his tongue out, and if thou leavest him he panteth with his tongue out" (7:176) and about the person who controlled the passion of his ego God says: "But as for him who feared to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from lust, Lo! The garden will be his home" (79:40-41). Know that the body is like a town and the intellect of the mature human being is like a king ruling that town. All the forces of the external and internal senses he can muster are like his soldiers and his aides. The ego that enjoins evil (nafs ammara), that is, lust and anger, is like an enemy that challenges him in his kingdom and strives to slaughter his people. The body thus becomes like a garrison-town or sea-outpost, and the soul like its custodian posted in it. If he fights against his enemies and defeats them and compels them to do what he likes, he will be praised when he returns to God's presence, as God said: "Those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and

lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary" (4:95). c) The thoughts that stir one's desire are of two kinds... praiseworthy, and that is called "inspiration" (ilham), and blameworthy, and that is called "whispering" (waswasa)... The heart is owned mutually by a shaytan and an angel... The angel stands for a creature which God has created for the overflowing of benefit, the bestowal of knowledge, the unveiling of truth, the promise of reward, and the ordering of the good... The shaytan stands for a creature whose business is to be against all this... Waswasa against ilham, shaytan against angel, success (tawfiq) against disappointment (khidhlan).

The Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam said: "There are two impulses in the soul, one from an angel which calls towards good and confirms truth; whoever finds this let him know it is from God and praise Him. Another impulse comes from the enemy which leads to doubt and denies truth and forbids good; whoever finds this, let him seek refuge in God from the accursed devil." Then he recited the verse: "The devil shows you fear of poverty and enjoins evil upon you" (2:268) [Tirmidhi: hasan; Nisa'i; 'Iraqi did not weaken it]. Imam Hasan al-Basri Rahmatullahi alaih said: "Two thoughts roam over the soul, one from God, one from the enemy. God shows mercy on a servant who settles at the thought that comes from Him. He embraces the thought that comes from God, while he fights against the one from his enemy. To illustrate the heart's mutual attraction between these two powers the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam said: "The heart of a believer lies between two fingers of the Merciful" [Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]... The fingers stand for upheaval and hesitation in the heart... If man follows the dictates of anger and appetite, the dominion of shaytan appears in him through idle passions [hawa] and his heart becomes the nesting-place and container of shaytan, who feeds on hawa. If he does battle with his passions and does not let them dominate his nafs, imitating in this the character of the angels, at that time his heart becomes the resting-place of angels and they alight upon it... The Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam said: "There is none among you in whom there is not a devil" They said: "Even in you, O Messenger of God?!" He said: "Even in me, but God helped me to overcome him and he has submitted to me, so he doesn't order anything except good" [Muslim]... The mutual repelling of the soldiers of the angels and the devils is constant in the battle over the heart, until the heart is conquered by one of the two sides which sets up its nation and settles there... And most hearts have been seized by the soldiers of shaytan, who fill them with the whispers that call one to love this passing world and disregard the next. d) The Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa aalihi wa Sallam said: al-mujahidu man jahada nafsahu fi ta'at Allah 'azza wa jall [The fighter against unbelief is he who fights against his ego in obeying God; Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, Tabarani, Hakim, etc.]... Sufyan al-Thawri said: "I never dealt with anything stronger against me than my own ego; it was one time with me, and one time against me"... Yahya ibn Mu'adh al-Razi said: "Fight against your ego with the four swords of training: eat little, sleep little, speak little, and be patient when people harm you... Then the ego will walk the paths of obedience, like a fleeing horseman in the field of battle."


HAKEEM TIRMIDHI (d. 320 H) ON JIHAD AL-NAFS [FIGHTING THE EGO] Translated from his book 'Aadaab al -muridin' [Rules of Conduct for the Seekers of God]
Ed. Abdulfattah Abdullah Baraka, Cairo: Matba'at as-sa'adat, 1976.

I. Concerning the Murid (seeker) and What Helps or Hurts Him in His Journey to God Most High, and What His First Step Ought to Be. There are two types of murid: Those that seek God's Grace by worshipping Him, fulfilling His commands and avoiding His prohibitions, then turning to perform as many voluntary good works as they can, seeking through them salvation from the fire and attainment of the rewards He has prepared for His workers. Others approach God in worship, fulfill His commands and avoid His prohibitions, then turn to examine their inner self, and they find in their hearts many diseases, such as love of the world (dunya), lust for power, honour, and greatness, greed, the furnace of desires (shahawat), the chatter of vain passions (hawa), ambition, envy, love of praise and compliments--all of them worldly bonds blinding the heart. Such a heart can never find the way to God bearing those stains, because in loving the world he parts with His Lord. He is in love with something God has removed far from Himself and despised. To ask for greatness is to compare oneself with God Most High; in the furnace of desires one faces the greatest seductions; and in the chatter of vain passions lies tyranny itself and aversion to the rights of God the Lord of Might and Majesty. That heart is veiled from wisdom and from the understanding of how God disposes His affairs. Such a person is a prisoner of his ego (asir an-nafs). He performs obligations while attached to the world, he avoids prohibitions while attached to the world, and he generally worships God at his own convenience. This is a servant who must try to found upon sincerity every matter, every action, and every moment, by working on his ego. Whoso desires the reward of God the Lord of Might and Majesty, let him keep to this battle, and let him be sincere in every matter in order to purify his worship.

For whoever seeks God Most High, must take pains and ask for sincerity in the secret of his heart until the door is opened for him. When the door opens and the gift is given, at that time the cost of his journey will be repaid in full. He will be strengthened and continue on his way, and the further he goes the more his gift is increased for him and he continues even further. This does not stop until he reaches God through his heart (hatta yasil ilallah qalban). At that time God appoints him according to his degree and he becomes a Friend of God (waliyyullah). He has made his heart stand still in the presence of God wherefore he received his appointment. From that point he proceeds to works with a heart strong with God's strength and rich with God's wealth, with a faultless ego free from sins and devils. He has parted ways with vain passions and the pursuit of honour and he has purified himself.

JIHAD AL AKBAR FROM SHAYKH HISHAM KABBANI'S, ISLAMIC BELIEFS AND DOCTRINES ACCORDING TO THE AHL AL-SUNNAH : A REPUDIATION OF SALAFI INNOVATIONS The references to the above Hadith are several paragraphs into the excerpt. Apparently its attributability to the Prophet, Salla Allahu alayhi wa Sallam, is weak, but the meaning may be infered from other Hadith and Qur'an. Notably Imam Nawawi has said, as quoted from a previous post: [The scholars from the muhaddiths, the fuqahaa and others said: it is permissible and recommended to act upon the weak hadeeth, which is not fabricated, with regard to excellent and virtuous actions, encouragements and warnings. but as for ruling like halaal and haraam, buying and selling, marriage and divorce, and other than that, then nothing unless it is with regard to taking the safest course in any of that] Allah said: "Those who have striven for Our sake, We guide them to Our ways" (29:96). He has thereby made guidance dependent on jihad. Therefore, the most perfect of people are those of them who struggle the most for His sake, and the most obligatory of jihads (afrad al-jihad) are the jihad against the ego, the jihad against desires, the jihad against the devil, and the jihad against the lower world (jihad al-nafs wa jihad alhawa wa jihad al-shaytan wa jihad al-dunya). Whoever struggles against these four, Allah will guide them to the ways of His good pleasure which lead to His Paradise, and whoever leaves jihad, then he leaves guidance in proportion to his leaving jihad. Al-Junayd al Baghdadi Allah be pleased with him said: "Those who have striven against their desires and repented for our sake, we shall guide them to the ways of sincerity, and one cannot struggle against his enemy outwardly (i.e. with the sword) except he who struggles against these enemies inwardly. Then whoever is given victory over them will be victorious over his enemy. and whoever is defeated by them, his enemy defeats him."Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, al-Fawa'id, ed. Muhammad 'Ali Qutb (Alexandria: dar al-da'wa, 1412/1992) p. 50. Competition and rivalry are allowed towards excellence in worship. In that respect, Allah established levels between the believers in His book and this is clear from countless hadiths also. The reward of jihad is immense as proved by the hadith of the Prophet Salla Allahu alayhi wa Sallam that, if he could, he would ask Allah to bring him back to life so that he would go back and die as a shahid or martyr many times over. And yet, with respect to the present issue, rememberers of Allah -- including perfect scholars who are true knowers of Allah -- are superior to the mujahidin. For example, although Zayd ibn Haritha and Khalid ibn Walid were great generals, their demise was less heavy, in terms of loss for Muslims, compared with that of Abu Musa al-Ash'ari or Ibn 'Abbas. For this reason the Prophet Salla Allahu alayhi wa Sallam explicitly declared the superiority of the rememberers of Allah in the following two authentic hadiths: The Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu alayhi wa Sallam said: "Shall I tell you something that is the best of all deeds, constitutes the best act of piety in the eyes of your Lord, elevates your rank in the hereafter, and carries more virtue than the spending of gold and silver in the service of Allah, or taking part in jihad and slaying or being slain in the path of Allah?" They said: "Yes!" He said: "Remembrance of Allah." Related on the authority of Abu al-Darda' by Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Abi al-Dunya, al-Hakim who declared it sound, and Dhahabi confirmed him, Bayhaqi, Suyuti in al-Jami` al-

saghir, and Ahmad also related it from Mu'adh ibn Jabal. He also said: "Even if one strikes unbelievers and idolaters with his sword until it breaks, and he is completely dyed with their blood, the Rememberers of Allah are above him one degree."Related on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri by Ahmad (3:75), Tirmidhi (#3376), Baghawi in Sharh al-Sunna (5:195), Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir (6:416), and others. Hadiths On The Jihad Against The Ego The hadith master Mulla 'Ali al-Qari relates in his book al-Mawdu'at al-kubra, also known as al-Asrar al-marfu'a : Suyuti said: al-Khatib al-Baghdadi relates in his "History" on the authority of Jabir: The Prophet came back from one of his campaigns saying: "You have come forth in the best way of coming forth: you have come from the smaller jihad to the geater jihad." They said: "And what is the greater jihad?" He replied: "The striving ( mujahadat) of Allah's servants against their idle desires." Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani said in Tasdid al-qaws : "This saying is widespread and it is a saying by Ibrahim ibn Ablah according to Nisa'i in al-Kuna. Ghazali mentions it in the Ihya' and al-'Iraqi said that Bayhaqi related it on the authority of Jabir and said: There is weakness in its chain of transmission." 'Ali al-Qari, al-Asrar al-marfu'a (Beirut 1985 ed.) p. 127. The hafiz Ibn Abu Jamra al-Azdi al-Andalusi (d. 695) says in his commentary on Bukhari entitled Bahjat al-nufus : Hadrat 'Umar narrated that a man came to the Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam asking for permission to go to jihad. The Prophet asked: "Are your parents alive?" He said that they were. The Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam replied: "Then struggle to keep their rights" (fihima fa jahid) ... There is in this hadith evidence that the Sunna for entering the path and undertaking self-discipline is to act under the expert guidance, so that he may be shown the way that is best for him to follow, and the soundest for the particular wayfarer. For when that Companion wished to go out to jihad, he did not content himself with his own opinion in the matter but sought advice from one more knowledgeable than him and more expert. If this is the case in the Lesser Jihad, then what about the Greater Jihad? Ibn Abu Jamra, Bahjat al-nufus sharh mukhtasar, sahih al-bukhari 3:146. Ibn Hibban relates in his Sahih from Fadala ibn Ubayd: The Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam said in the Farewell Pilgrimage: "... The mujahid is he who makes jihad against himself ( jahada nafsah) for the sake of obeying Allah." Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Tabarani, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, and Quda'i also relate it. The contemporary hadith scholar Shu'ayb al-Arna'ut confirmed that its chain of transmission is sound in his edition of Ibn Hibban, Sahih 11:203 (#4862). AlHaythami related the following version in the chapter on Jihad al-nafs in his Majma' alzawa'id and declared it sound:

The strong one is not the one who overcomes people, the strong one is he who overcomes his ego (ghalaba nafsah).

When the lips are closed, then the heart begins to speak; when the heart is silent, then the soul blazes up, bursting into flame, and this illuminates the whole of life.


MURAQABA is the Sufi word for meditation. Literally it means "to watch over", "to take care of", or "to keep an eye". Metaphorically, it implies that with meditation, a person watches over or takes care of his spiritual heart (or soul), and acquires knowledge about it, its surroundings, and its creator.
Muraqaba Stages of Muraqaba Following are the maqamat (stages) in which sufis have broadly categorised their journey of ascension. This categorization is an arbitrary one, and each level is generally further divided into several sub-levels. During the process of enlightenment, some stages can merge or overlap each other.

Ghanood (Somnolence) This is the starting level of meditation. When a person starts meditation, he enters into a somnolent or sleep state often. With the passage of time, the person goes into a state between sleep and wakefulness. So the person can remember that he saw something, but not specifically what it is. Adraak (experience) With continuous practice of meditation, the sleepiness from meditation decreases. When the conscious mind is not suppressed by sleep and is able to focus, the person can receive the spiritual knowledge from his subconscious mind. At this stage, the person is unable to see or hear anything, but he is able to experience or perceive it. Warood (coming, beginning) When adraak (experience) becomes deep, it is exhibited as sight. The stage of warood starts when mental concentration is sustained and somnolence is at its minimum. As soon as the mind is focused, the spiritual eye is activated. The conscious mind is not used to see through the spiritual eye, so concentration comes and goes. Gradually, the mind gets used to this kind of visions and the mental focus is sustained. With practice,

the visions/experience becomes so deep that the person starts considering himself a part of the experience rather than considering himself an observer.


Kashaf/Ilhaam (unveiling of arcane knowledge) Kashaf, or Ilhaam is the stage where man starts getting information that most people are unable to observe. In the beginning, this condition occurs suddenly without personal control. With practice, the mind gets so energized that it can get this knowledge by will. Shahood (evidence) When a person can get any information about any event/person with his will, this condition is called Shahood. This stage is broadly categorized according to activation of the senses: 1. The person can see things anywhere in the universe 2. The person can hear things anywhere in the universe 3. The person can smell things anywhere in the universe 4. The person can touch things anywhere in the universe (hadith)

Fatah (opening, victory) The peak of Shahood is called Fatah. At this stage, the person doesn't need to close his eyes for meditation. Here the person is freed from both space and time. He can see/hear/taste/touch anything that are present anywhere in time and space.


Fanaa (extinction, annihilation) Main article: Fanaa Through a series of stages (maqamat) and subjective experiences (ahwal), this process of absorbation develops until complete annihilation of the self (fana) takes place and the person becomes al-insanul-kamil, the "perfect man". It is the disintegration of a person's narrow self-concept, social self- and limited intellect (feeling like a drop of water aware of being part of the ocean). The stage is also called Fana fit tawheed ("extinction with the unity"), and Fana fil Haq (Extinction in the reality). Sair illallah (journey towards the God)

Here the person starts his spiritual journey towards the ultimate reality of the universe, i.e. God. Also called Safr-e-Urooji Fana fillah (Extinction of the self in God)

One of the important phases of mystical experience which is attained by the grace of God by a traveller on the mystical path is the state of fana fi Allah, "extinction of the self in God". This is the state where the person becomes extinct in the will of God. It is important to mention that this is not incarnation or union. Most Sufis, while passing through this experience, have preferred to live in the greatest depth of silence which transcends all forms and sounds, and enjoy their union with the beloved. The highest stage of fana is reached when even the consciousness of having attained fana disappears. This is what the Sufis call "the passing-away of passing-away" ( fana al-fana). The mystic is now wrapped in contemplation of the divine essence. (Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, p.60).

Since it is a state of complete annihilation of carnal self, absorbation or intoxication in God, the pilgrim is unable to participate in worldly affairs, he is made to pass into another state known as Fana-al-Fana (forgetfulness of annihilation). It is a sort of oblivion of unconsciousness. Since two negatives make one positive, the pilgrim at this stage regains his individuality as he was when he started the journey. The only difference is that in the beginning he was self-conscious, but after having reposed in the Divine Being, he regains that sort of individuality which is Godconsciousness or absorbation in God. This state is known as Baqa-bi-Allah living or subsisting with God. (Alhaj W.B.S. Rabbani, Gems of Sufi Gnosticism)[1] Sair min allah (journey from the God)
Here the person comes back to his existence. Also called Safr-e-Nuzooli. Baqaa billah (eternal life in union with God) This is the state where man comes back to his existence and God appoints him to guide the humans. This is a state in which the individual is part of the world, but unconcerned about his or her rewards or position in it. This doctrine is further explained in an authentic tradition of the prophet which states that God said: And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks[2] There is another verse from Qur'an , that is used to explain this concept. We (Allah) are nearer to him (man) than his jugular vein (50:6) When Sufis have come out of the Fana fillah state and enter Baqa billah, many of them have produced works of unsurpassed glory, especially in the fields of philosophy, literature, and music. These works have crowned the culture of the entire Islamic world and inspired Sufis and non-Sufis for generations. As the great Persian Sufi poet, Hafiz of Shiraz, who is fondly remembered as the "tongue of the unseen", said centuries ago: "He whose heart is alive with love, never dies.". Allah says about these people in the Qur'an: "Lo, indeed, the friends of God have no fear, nor are they grieved."

DIFFERENT TYPES OF MURAQABA : There are many different kinds of muraqaba that are practiced in various Sufi schools in different parts of the world. Following is a list of the ones commonly practiced. Beginner level muraqabas

1. Muraqaba of light These are usually used for beginners, or for cure of various diseases. Violet Indigo Blue Torquise Green Yellow Orange Pink Red 1. Ehsan

Noor (Invisible Light) Haatif-e-Ghabi (Unhearable sound of Cosmos) Names of God -- For getting acquaintance with attributes of God Allah (Proper name of God) -- Final level of Muraqaba of names of God

Middle Level Muraqabas 1. Moat (Death) -- For getting acquaintance with life after Death Qalb (Heart) -- For getting acquaintance with Spiritual Heart Wahdat (Unity) -- For getting acquaintance with the reason behind cosmic unity i.e. God's will La (Nothingness) -- For getting acquaintance with material lessness, or nonmaterial universe Adam (Pre-existence) -- Next level of Muraqaba of Nothingness. 1. Fana (Annihilation) -- Annihilation of Self, getting acquaintance with the alpha and omega of universe.

High Level Muraqabas 1. Tasawwur-e-Shaykh (Focussing mind on master) -- To facilate the transfer of spiritual knowledge from master to student. Tasawwur-e-Rasool (Focussing mind on prophet) -- To facilate the transfer of Faiz (arcane spiritual knowledge) from prophet to student. For Muslims, this

focussing of mind is done on Muhammad. For people following other religions, their particular holy figures are used to focus mind upon. Tasawwur-e-zat-e-Ilaahi (Focussing Mind on God) -- With the help of this Muraqaba, the student experiences the Tajalli-e-Zaat of God.

by Dr. G. F. Haddad with thanks to Sh. Orfan Rabbat Q. "I was wondering if you had any material on muraqabah that you may share, Insha'Allah. I have had a few people ask me about it lately, and felt it a sign to learn more about this concept, for my own development, Insha'Allah, as well as sharing it with those who ask. I would appreciate any help you can offer in this matter." A. Muraqabah means watching over something. In Sufi terminology it means vigilance over one's own actions and thoughts. Shaykh Muhammad al-Khani said in his book al-Bahja al-Saniyya, which is an abridgment of al-Hadiqa al-Nadiyya authored by Shaykh Dawud al-Baghdadi, the student of Mawlana al-Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi: Do know, O you who are seeking to know Allah the Most High, may Allah guide us all, that the belief of our Naqshbandi masters, may Allah Sanctify their pure sara'ir (innermost souls), is that of the group of Sunna, and that their Way is built upon adhering to the rules of the pure Shari`a (Islamic Law), as thus said our Imam (religious leader), al-Ghawth al-Samadani al-Qutb al-Rabbani, renovator of the second millenium, Shaykh Ahmad al-Faruqi al-Sirhindi quddisa sirruh, concerning adhering to the Shari`a: "Know that conforming to any one among the manners (adab) prescribed by Islam, or refraining from a non-recommended action (makruh), even if tanzihi1, is countless times better than dhikr (mention of Allah in the heart or with the tongue), fikr (meditating about the greatness of Allah), muraqaba (watchfulness over one's own actions and thoughts) and tawajjuh (turning the heart toward Allah). Yes if he groups these matters together with this adherence, then he has succeeded greatly indeed." Among the conditions necessary for the murid, according to al-Hadiqa al-Nadiyya2: 1. Not to object in the heart against the shaykh's actions, but to find all possible explanations for them. If such is not possible, the murid must blame it on his own lack of understanding, taking as his example the story of Musa and al-Khadir, peace be upon them both. Objection is most repulsive and the one objecting is not excusable: the veil that results from objection has no cure; lifting it is very difficult, and it particularly results in blocking the channels of fayd (spiritual downpour, abundance) upon the murid; so, brother! do avoid this irremediable ailment. 2. To disclose his thoughts, whether good or bad, to his shaykh, so that he can treat him. The shaykh is like a doctor, and if he is informed about the states of his murid, he performs tawajjuh (turns to Allah) for correcting him and curing his ailments. The

student should not rely on the kashf (unveiling) faculty of his shaykh because kashf may be "colored" and may be mistaken. For the awliya' 3, errors in kashf have the same status as errors in Ijtihad, but no one may act according to kashf, even if correct, and for them no judgment may be based on it unless it is supported by external manifestations. So do remember this as it is precious. 3. To be truthful in his seeking, unchanged by afflictions and hardships, and not diminished by reprobations and vexations. Thus he must have truthful and excessive love4 for his shaykh, more than his own self, possessions and children, believing that he does not get his objective from the worshipped Lord without the intermediary help of his shaykh. 4. Not to emulate any of his teacher's normal actions - unlike his verbal orders (which must be totally obeyed) -, unless so ordered. The shaykh may do some actions according to his own maqam (level) and hal (state), which actions may be a lethal poison for the murid. 5. To perform immediately his orders without ta'wil5 nor delay, for these are among the most important disruptions (of progress in traversing the Way). 6. To do the dhikr (mentioning Allah in the heart), tawajjuh (turning the heart toward Allah), and muraqaba (watchfulness over one's own thoughts) as instructed (through talqin) by his shaykh, and to leave out all other awrad (daily routines of dhikr) except the ones related in the Sunna; because the former were prescribed by the shaykh's scrutiny which is from the light of Allah (the Prophet Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said in an authentic hadith: "Beware the scrutiny of the believer for he looks by the light of Allah"). 7. To see himself as the most lowly of all creatures, not to see that he has any right imposed on anybody, and to discharge his responsibilities concerning his obligations to others by fulfilling or paying them and by severing all attachments to anything other than his aim.

8. Not to betray his shaykh in any matter, but to respect and honor him to the utmost, to fill his own heart by dhikr as instructed, and to drive away ghafla (forgetfulness of Allah) and thoughts (involuntary thoughts, other than dhikr). 9. That his objective from this life or the after life be nothing but the Unique Entity (Allah): not even a hal (state), maqam (level), fana' (annihilation) or baqa'6; otherwise, he would be seeking the perfection of his self (nafs) and its conditions - so he must be like a corpse in the hands of the washing person. Not to rebut the shaykh's words even if the murid is right, but to believe that the shaykh's error is stronger than his own correctness7, and not to advise his shaykh with anything unless he asks him to. 10. To be compliant and submitted to the orders of his shaykh and to whoever he appoints among his other successors or muridin, even if their outward actions are less than his own. 11. Never to disclose his needs to other than his own shaykh. If his shaykh is not present and he is under an afflicting necessity, then he only turns to a righteous, generous and pious man.

12. Not to get angry at anyone because anger kills the light of dhikr, and to _refrain from debating and argumentative discussions with students of `ilm_ (Islamic knowledge) because debating results in forgetfulness (of dhikr) and impurities (of the heart and soul). If he gets angry or argues with anybody, he asks Allah for forgiveness and asks this person to excuse him even if he is right. Not to despise anybody, but whomever he sees, he assumes he is al-Khadir peace be upon him, or one among the honored awliya' of Allah, so he asks him to pray for him (indeed our Prophet Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam mentioned in an authentic hadith the poorly dressed man, pushed away from doors, no one giving heed to him, but if he asks Allah by swearing an oath to Him, Allah will answer him). Muraqaba, derived like mufa`ala (= repetitious efforts), is an independent way for arrival. Thus the seeker must have the knowledge that Allah is overseeing him. Tawajjuh (turning the heart toward Allah) and muraqaba (watchfulness of Allah) are higher and superior than "denial and affirmation", and closer to jadhba (Divine Attraction). By persisting in muraqaba and tawajjuh, the level of Ministry results, administering in the physical and spiritual realms (mulk and malakut) becomes possible as well as clairvoyance of others' thoughts, and it will be made possible for him to enlighten the inner being (of those accepting it) with the light of guidance (by the sole Power of Allah). Whoever persists in muraqaba reaches continuous gathering of his thoughts (as opposed to involuntary scattering) and continuous acceptance by the (sincere) hearts, which is called in the convention of Sufis "Jam` (gathering) and qubul (acceptance)". It was related that al-Junayd quddisa sirruh said: "My teacher in the Way of muraqaba is the cat: One day, I was passing in the street, I saw a cat sitting and watching the hole of a mouse, so absorbed in its hole that not one of its hairs was moving. I was bemused by its concentration and watchfulness, and I was called in my innermost: "O you with the lowly determination! Do not let me be in your purpose less than the mouse, and you, do not be in the seeking less than the cat." So I awoke, adhered to the Way of muraqaba (watchfulness), and achieved the results that I did." NB: The following material contains technical terminology and is for those who follow the Sufi Path only.


- Makruh tanzihi: In the Hanafi Madhhab, it is an action which one is rewarded for leaving out, but not punished nor even blamed for committing. - Written by Muhammad Ibn Sulayman al-Baghdadi - quoting Mawlana Khalid alNaqshbandi - as explained at the end of al-Khani's Foreword to al-Bahja al-Saniyya.
3 2

- Awliya', plural of wali: person beloved by Allah. "Saint."

- The Prophet Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "Those who love each other for the sake of Allah, their abodes in Paradise are visible like the rising planet, eastern or western. It will be said "Who are these?" and it will be answered: "These are the ones who love each other for the sake of Allah `Azza wa Jall."" Narrated from Abu Sa`id alKhudri by Imam Ahmad with a chain of sound narrators as stated by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa'id (10:422).

- Ta'wil: Interpretation, presuming other than the outward meaning.

- Baqa': Remaining with the dhikr of Allah, after fana'. I.e. "abiding" after "selfextinction." - Because of the shaykh's deeper and sounder knowledge in Shari`a (Islamic law) and Tariqa (the Way), the murid has no way of knowing with certainty which of his own opinions are correct, and which are lethal. On the other hand, the murid knows with certainty that his shaykh's counsels, as a whole, form a safer and more solid background than his own. This is the meaning of the saying "the shaykh's error is stronger than the murid's correctness." Of course this in no way implies obeying anybody in what is a definite contradiction to established rules of Islam. In the extremely unlikely event that the shaykh's action 1) does not seem acceptable according the deduction of a single Muslim scholar, 2) does not lend itself to any acceptable interpretation, and 3) the murid is not able any more to discard it from his mind, Then and only then the murid must inquire politely about his teacher's action, remembering his personal conviction that the teacher's knowledge about such matters is deeper than his own, otherwise he should not have taken him for a teacher to start with. In such a case, instead of impolitely interrogating the shaykh about the validity of his action, it would be more polite to academically inquire from the shaykh about the different opinions of scholars concerning the topic itself, remembering in any case to report the incident with Islamic faithfulness: as the murid has seen it, not as he has interpreted it. The murid who thus stops at what he has seen (such as his teacher drinking a dark liquid) would usually find the obvious answer (that it was grape juice) and have no need to ask his teacher anyway (about drinking wine)! Once a student saw his non-married teacher go home at night accompanied by a young woman. It so happened that he soon learned that the shaykh had just gotten married to her. Most muridin do not think twice in such a circumstance, because countless explanations are possible. So how detrimental would it be if the student allows his thoughts to wander in the wrong interpretations, for he would be but contradicting the Prophet's order Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam: "seek for your brother seventy excuses", and not heeding Allah's warning: " ... then let those who contradict the Apostle's order beware: lest trial or grievous penalty befall them (24:63)". Wallahu a`lam - And Allah Knows Best. Blessings and peace on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions.

Muraqabah is knowing that Allah is watching over us. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says, "And know that Allah knows what is in your minds, so fear Him." [2:235] "And Allah is Ever a Watcher over all things." [33:52]

"And He is with you wherever you may be." [57:4] There are many other similar verses stating the same concept. In the hadith of Jibreel alayhis salam when he asked the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam about ihsan (goodness and excellence), the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam replied, "Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him, but since we do not see Him we should know that He sees us at all times."[Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim] The meaning of this hadith is the definition of muraqabah. Namely, the endurance of the servant's knowledge and his conviction and certainty that Allah is watching over his internal and external affairs. To have this knowledge and certainty at all times is called muraqabah. It is the fruit of the servant's knowledge that Allah is his Watcher, Overseeing him, Hearing his utterances, and Observing all of his deeds at all times. Imam al-Junaid Radi Allahu anhu said, "The one firm in muraqabah fears the waste of even a moment for other than his Lord." Hadrat Dhun-Nun Radi Allahu anhu said: "The sign of muraqabah is to favour what Allah has sent down (of the revelation), to glorify what Allah has glorified, and to despise what Allah has despised." Ibrahim Al-Khawass Radi Allahu anhu said: "Muraqabah is the sincerity of both the internal and external to Allah." It has been said that "The best that man may cling to on this road to Allah is muhasabah (reckoning of the self), muraqabah, and governing his conduct with knowledge." The people of true knowledge have unanimously agreed that having muraqabah for Allah in one's hidden thoughts is a means for it to manifest in the deeds and the behaviour externally. So, whoever has muraqabah for Allah in secret and internally, Allah will preserve him in his actions and behaviour, both internally and externally. One of the finest definitions for muraqabah is the following: muraqabah of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is being on the way to Him at all times with over-whelming glorification, inciting nearness and urging joy. The overwhelming glorification is to have the heart filled with glorification of Allah. Such a state makes the servant unconcerned with glorifying others or paying attention to others beside Allah. A servant should always have this state, especially when he is remembering Allah. To be with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala provides one with intimacy and love. If these are not associated with glorification, they may take one outside of the limits of servitude. Any love that is not associated with glorification of the Beloved One is a reason to distance him away from the Beloved and lose His respect. The overwhelming glorification includes five components: walking towards Allah, constantly walking towards Him, presence within the heart for Him, glorification of Him, and being overwhelmed by His glorification to be concerned with others. The inciting nearness is the closeness to Allah that incites the servant to have these five components. This closeness makes him glorify Allah in a manner that he pays no attention to himself or others. The closer the servant becomes to Allah, the more he glorifies Him and the less mindful he will be for others. The urging joy is happiness and glorification. It is the delight one finds in this nearness. There is nothing in this world comparable in any way to the joy and happiness of the heart and the delight of the eye with Allah and His closeness. This is one of the states in Paradise.

A knowledgeable person said, "There are times when I would say that if the people of Paradise can be in a state like this, they are indeed living a good life." This joy, no doubt, urges him to be constant in walking to Allah and oing his best to seek Allah's Pleasure. If one didn't achieve this joy or even a portion of it, then one should doubt their faith and deeds. Faith has grace and sweetness. If one has not tasted it, then one should go back and achieve the true faith and its sweetness. The Most Beloved Messenger of Allah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa 'aalihi wa Sallam mentioned the sweetness of faith in many ahadith, including: "... tasted the taste of faith, those who take Allah as their Lord, Islam as their religion and Muhammad as a Messenger." [Muslim and Ahmad] He also said: "Whoever possesses the following three qualities attains the sweetness of faith: To have Allah and His Messenger dearer to him than anything else, to love a person only for the sake of Allah, and to hate to return to kufr after Allah has rescued him from it like he hates to be thrown into fire." [Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim]


Remembrance of Allah

Page last updated: 24th April 07


About Dhikr
We believe that dhikr is the most beneficial form of practice a person can perform while still alive on Earth. Even though dhikr is translated as "invoke" or "remembrance" of Allah, this translation is extremely insufficient.

1.Dhikr increases the capacity of brain in the direction of the meaning of words repeated in mind. 2.Dhikr transfers the wave energy generated by brain to the person's soul ( ruh), which is the hologram-like spiritual body of waves, thus, it provides the person with a strong soul in the afterlife.

3.Dhikr develops brain faculties such as comprehension, understanding and assimilation of the meanings of the repeated words. 4.Dhikr brings certainty (yaqeen) about Allah. 5.Dhikr results in realization with the divine meanings. Due to its properties, some of which we pointed out above, dhikr is mentioned as a highly regarded practice in the Qur'an ul-Kareem; and those who do not pay enough attention to dhikr are urgently warned: "And whoever turns himself away from the dhikr of the Rahman, We set a Satan on him, then he becomes his associate. And most surely they turn them away from the true path, but they still think that they are guided aright. (43: 36/37) "Satan has taken them under control and made them forget the remembrance ( dhikr) of Allah; they are the Satan's party, now surely, those who follow Satan will be disappointed." (58: 19) "Practice dhikr of Allah very much." (33: 41) "Whoever turns away from my dhikr, verily for him is a difficult (narrowed down) living, and We raise him on the day of resurrection, as blind." (20: 124) "When you remember (dhikr) me, I am remembering you" (2: 152) "When my servants ask you of Me, I am indeed close to them. I answer the du'a of those when they pray du'a to Me." (2-186) "And certainly the dhikr of Allah is of the highest degree (akbaar)." (29-45) Take a look at Hadrat RasulAllah's words pointing out how very beneficial dhikr is for people: His reply to the question "Which deeds are most favored by Allah?": "To pass away while your tongue is still moist with the dhikr of Allah!"[1] "Would you like me to inform you of which deed of yours is of the highest benefit, which is the purest at the sight of Allah, and which will increase your degrees the most, and which is more beneficial for you than giving away gold and silver, and than encountering your enemies on battlefields and cutting off their necks and they cut off yours in the name of Allah? That is dhikr of Allah, the highest."[2] "No deed can save you from the punishment of Allah more than dhikr of Allah." When asked "Which servant's degree is of the highest merit at the sight of Allah on the Day of Judgment?" he replied:

"The ones who do dhikr of Allah the most!" When asked, "What about the degree of the veteran who fights in the Name of Allah?" He replied: "Even if he fights with infidels and polytheists until his sword shatters and is covered in blood, certainly the degree of the ones who practice dhikr of Allah is of still higher merit" .[3] "It is only by practicing dhikr of Allah that a servant may be safeguarded from Satan." "Of all the things you possess, a tongue which practices dhikr of Allah, a heart full of gratitude and a life partner who supports your faith are of the highest merit." "The example of people who do dhikr of Allah and who don't is like people who are alive and dead!"[4] "Practice dhikr of Allah so much so that people should start to question your madness."[5] "Practice dhikr of Allah so much so that the hypocrites (munafiqun) should think you are doing it to show off." "The mufarridun have surpassed all." They asked, "Who are the mufarridun, Rasul of Allah?" He replied, "Those men and women who are devoted to do dhikr of Allah abundantly. Dhikr puts off their burdens, so that they will come light-footed (agile) in the hereafter."[6] "Satan has his mouth on the hearts of the sons of Adam. When they do dhikr of Allah, he moves away. When they stop the dhikr due to absence of mind, he swallows their hearts!" This hadith involves a simile meaning that as a person practices dhikr of Allah, the jinn stay away from him and they cannot cloud his judgment by inducing misgivings in his mind; but when he stops dhikr, the jinn can exert influence on his mind very easily and control him as they like. "It is the highest merit of all the things that Allah inspires his servants to do dhikr ". "No charitable deed is more meritorious than practicing dhikr of Allah." "The people of heaven will not be upset for anything except for the times they spent on Earth without doing dhikr ." "Whoever does not practice dhikr of Allah very much will get distant from faith." "People will feel disappointment on the Doomsday due to every moment they lived without practicing the dhikr of Allah."

"If a group of people gathers for a meeting, and they leave this meeting without ever doing dhikr of Allah, that meeting turns out to be a reason of disappointment for them on the Doomsday." "Whoever practices dhikr of Allah will be distant from hypocrisy!" Many other hadiths of RasulAllah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam like the ones above, provide us big warnings regarding the practice of dhikr.

[Mu'az ibn Jabal (rahmatullahi alaih) said that the last words I heard from the Rasul of Allah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam were, when I asked him: which deeds are most favored by Allah, he said: "To die and your tongue is moist with dhikr of Allah." [Tabarani and others], and El-Bazzar reported it, with good chain, as follows: Tell me of the best deeds that are most favoured by Allah (bring nearer to Allah)".


[Abu Darda'a (rahmatullahi alaih) narrated that RasulAllah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam said, "May I tell you what is the best of your deeds, which is the purest in the estimation of your King, the deed which is the highest and noblest among your deeds, and is better for you than spending the gold and silver, and is better for you than encountering your enemies and cut off their necks and they cut off yours (i.e. you meet them in jihad)". The Companions said: O Rasul of Allah do tell us. The RasulAllah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam said, "It is the zhikr of Allah, the Most High". (Reported by Tirmidhi and El-Hakim and said: authentic; and by Ahmed with a good chain). And, Imam Malik added in his Muwata'a "Ziad ibn Abi Ziad, and Abu Abdurrahman Mu'adh ibn Jabal, both narrated: "no deed is done by the son of Adam more calculated to save him from punishment of Allah than dhikr of Allah".


[Mu'adh bin Jabal (rahmatullahi alaih) narrated that, the Rasul of Allah Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa Sallam said, "The son of Adam does nothing more calculated to rescue (save) him from punishment of Allah than dhikr of Allah." They said: "O Rasul of Allah is it greater than jihad in the cause of Allah?" He replied: "It is indeed more than jihad in the cause of Allah, even if you strike with your sword until it breaks, then you strike with it until it breaks. He repeated it three times."

[Abu Musa (rahmatullahi alaih) narrated that the RasulAllah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhu wa Sallam said, "The example of the one who do zhikr his Rabb (compared) to the one who does not zhikr his Rabb, is like that of a living creature to a dead one". [Agreed upon]. .

[Abu Saeed El-Khudari narrated that the Rasul of Allah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhu wa Sallam said, "indulge in (do as much of) zhikr of Allah until they say (he is) mad." [Ahmed, Ibn Habban and El-Hakim who said: authentic chain].

[Abu Hurayrah (rahmatullahi alaih) narrated that Rasul of Allah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhu wa Sallam on his way to Makkah, passed by a mountain called Jamadan, so he (RasulAllah) said, "Continue walking (marching), this is Jamadan, the Mufarridun have taken lead (over the rest)". The Companions asked: who are the Mufarridun? He answered, "The men who remember Allah much and the women who do zhikr of Allah much". [Muslim]. And, Imam Ahmed reported the Hadith as follows: " the Companions asked: who are the Mufarridun? He said (RasulAllah) those who debilitate (wear-out) in the zhikr of Allah." And, Tirmidhi reported it as follows: " who are the Mufarridun? He said those who infatuate with the zhikr of Allah; as the zhikr puts off their burdens, so that they will come light-footed (agile) in the hereafter."

Dhikr - Remembrance
Sura Al-Baqara [Yusuf Ali Translation 2:152] Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and reject not faith. 156

Note 156: The word "remember" is too pale a word for zikr, which has now acquired a large number of associations in our religious literature, especially Sufi literature. In its verbal signification it implies: to remember, to praise by frequently mentioning; to rehearse; to celebrate or commemorate; to make much of; to cherish the memory of as a precious possession. In Sufi devotions zikr represents both a solemn ritual and a spiritual state of mind or heart, in which the devotee seeks to realise the presence of God. Thus there is zikr of the mind and zikr of the heart. For beginners the one may lead to the other, but in many cases the two may be simultaneous. There is a subtler distinction, between the zikr that is open, and the zikr that is secret, corresponding to the two doors of the heart, the fleshly and the spiritual. In English some account (very imperfect) of zikr will be found in Hughes' Dictionary of Islam [see below], covering over 14 columns. The following article is an entry under "Zikr" from the "Dictionary of Islam" by T.P. Hughes. T.P. Hughes was an eminent Christian missionary in India in 1888 C.E. We have meddled very little with the original idiom in this essay so as to preserve its oldstyle ambience. However, the grammatical use of (sic) has been used where we obviously have disagreed with the author.- Editor ZIKR Lit. "Remembering." The religious ceremony, or act of devotion, which is practised by the various religious orders of Faqirs, or Dervishes. Almost every religious Muhammadan is a member of some order of Faqirs, and consequently the performance of zikr is very common in all Muhammadan countries; but it does not appear that any one method of performing the religious service of zikr is peculiar to any order. Zikr Jali (Zikr recited aloud) Zikrs are of two kinds: zikr jali, that which is recited aloud, and zikr khafi, that which is performed either with a low voice or mentally. The Naqshbandiyah Order of Faqirs usually perform the latter, whilst the Chishtiyah and Qadiriyah orders celebrate the former. There are various ways of going through the exercise, but the main features of each are similar in character. The following is a zikr jali, as given in the book Qaulu 'l-Jamil, by Maulawi Shah Waliyu 'Ilah of Delhi: "The worshiper sits in the usual sitting posture and shouts the word 'Allah' (God), drawing his voice from his left side and then from his throat. Sitting as at prayers he repeats the word 'Allah' still louder than before, first from his right knee, and then from his left side. Folding his legs under him, he repeats the word 'Allah' first from his right knee and then from his left side, still louder!

Still remaining in the same position, he shouts the word 'Allah ', first from the left knee, then from the right knee, then from the left side, and lastly in front, still louder! Sitting as at prayer, with his face towards Makkah, he closes his eyes and says "La" drawing the sound as from his navel up to his left shoulder; then he says " ilaha" drawing out the sound as from his brain; and last "illa 'llahu," repeated from his left side with great energy.

Each of these stages is called a zarb. They are, of course, recited many hundreds of times over and the changes we have described account for the variations of sound and motion of the body described by Eastern travellers who have witnessed the performance of a zikr."

The Beloved Prophet Visits the Blessed Majlis of dhikr

The Beloved Prophet Muhammad

Salla Allahu 'Alayhi Wa Sallam Visits The Blessed Majalis Of Zikr BY Siddiq Osman Noormuhammad

It is common knowledge among the faithful that the beloved Beloved Prophet Muhammad Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa Sallam visits the majalis-u'z-zikr (assemblies for the remembrance of Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted). He also attends the Mawlidun-Nabi (celebration of his birth). Allahumma Salli wa Sallim 'alayh May Allah's blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes, he comes together with the Ahl al Bayt (His Blessed Household) and his Sahaba (Companions), Rady Allahu 'Anhum (may Allah be pleased with them). Sometimes, he comes with houris (maidens from Paradise). Allahumma Salli wa Sallim 'alayh May Allah's blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes, he comes with the Awliya Allah (Friends of Allah) like Sayyidi wa Imami Gawth u'l A'zam Shaykh 'Abdul Qadir Jilani, Sayyidi wa Imami al-Habib 'Abdallah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad, Sayyidi wa Imami al-Habib Ahmad Mash-hur bin Taha al-Haddad, and Pir Khidr Hayaat, Naf'anAllahu bihim, may Allah make us benefit from them, Aameen. The mashayikh (spiritual masters) who are present at these majalis (spiritual gatherings) have basira (inner sight). They can behold their presence as well as the presence of other rijaal u'l ghayb (men of the unseen) and the malaika (angels). When they behold the beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa Sallam, sometimes they go into wajd (spiritual ecstasy) as a result of which they either

automatically stand up in reverential awe or they start shedding tears of joy on beholding him. Sometimes, they inform those who are close to them of these haqaaiq (spiritual realities). Word soon passes around, as a result of which the faithful are always hopeful that the beloved Prophet Muhammad and the Awliya Allah will attend their majlis (spiritual gathering). Hence, these majalis (spiritual gatherings) are held with great love and devotion.

Some people who are new to this subject find it difficult to believe that the beloved Beloved Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, actually attends zikr sessions. The mashayikh put them at ease. They tell them that this is a matter of spiritual realities, and that if they don't know about it yet, if Allah wills, they might come to know about it later. But they advise them not deny these spiritual realities because that only creates confusion and discord. And they privately supplicate to Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted, to bestow basira (inner sight) to those who question them so that they also open up to the joys of these waking visions. Since it is common knowledge among the mashaayikh (spiritual masters) that the beloved Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam attends these zikr sessions, one of the Fatiha is: Al-Fatiha ilaa Hadrat i'n Nabiyy Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam Fatiha for the blessed presence of the Noble Prophet Muhammad, Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Al-Fatiha! It is also well-known that the mashaayikh who are elsewhere or who have passed away also attend the majalis-u'z-zikr. Hence there is a Fatiha for the presence of one's own Shaykh as well. It is recited as follows: Al-Fatiha ilaa Hadrat i'sh-Shaykh Naf'anAllahu bihi. Fatiha for the presence of the beloved Shaykh, may Allah make us benefit from him, Aameen. Al-Fatiha! Siddiq Osman Noormuhammad 1422/2001, Toronto.

Ghawth al Azam on Dhikr

What GHAWTH [dhikr].


said concerning the highest of all the degrees of Divine remembrance

When Shaykh Abd 'al-Qadir al-Jilani ( may Allah be well pleased with him ) was asked about the highest of all the degrees of Divine remembrance [dhikr], he said:

"It is that which impresses the heart, by command of the Lord of Truth ( Almighty and Glorious is He) at the moment of His choice, with the perpetuity of everlasting providence ['inaya]. This remembrance [dhikr] is permanent, persistent and enduring. No trace of forgetfulness impairs it, and no heedlessness disturbs it, for the feelings, instincts and thoughts are all involved in the act of remembering. This is the frequent remembrance [dhikr kathir] referred to by the Lord of Truth ( Glory be to Him, and Exalted is He) in His revelation.144 The best kind of remembrance is that which is prompted by the signals received from the All-Compelling Sovereign [ al-Malik al-Jabbar], in the recesses of our innermost beings [asrar]."

Prophet Muhammad
The Muslim ummah is an unique ummah among the whole of mankind: Their Land is One, their War is One, their Peace is One, their Honour is One and their Trust is One.
- Beloved Muhammad Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa 'aalihi wa Sallam

[narrated by Ahmad]

Abu Bakr
'As there is no darkness in the moonlight. So is Mustafa (Muhammad), the well wisher, bright.' - Hadrat Abu Bakr as-Sideeq Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu

Hadrat Umar
"I looked at all friends, and did not find a better friend than safeguarding the tongue. I thought about all dresses, but did not find a better dress than piety. I thought about all types of wealth, but did not find a better wealth than contentment in little. I thought of all types of good deeds, but did not find a better deed than offering good advice. I looked at all types of sustenance, but did not find a better sustenance than patience." Amir al Momineen Hadrat Umar Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu


'He who is greedy is disgraced; he who discloses his hardship will always be humiliated; he who has no control over his tongue will often have to face discomfort'.

A friend cannot be considered a friend until he is tested in three occasions: in time of need, behind your back, and after your death. - Hadrat Ali ibn abi Talib Radi Allahu ta'ala anhu ALSO VISIT SAYINGS OF HADRAT ALI

Uwais al-Qarni
Sleep with the remembrance of death, and rise with the thought that you will not live long Hadrat Uwais al-Qarni radi Allahu ta'ala anhu

Ya Ghawth
When someone asked GHAWTH AL A'ZAM about Sufism [tasawwuf], the Shaykh (may Allah be well pleased with him) explained: "The Sufi is someone who makes that which the Lord of Truth wishes from him the object of his own wish. He renounces this world, so it serves him, and his allotted shares [aqsam] coincide with his needs. He achieves his purpose in this world, before the Hereafter, for his well-being is ensured by his Lord." From; [The sublime revelation, p32]

'Reflect on the work of art and you may attain to the artist'

Truth has been planted in the center of your heart, entrusted to you by God for safekeeping. It becomes manifest with true repentance and with true effort. Its beauty shines on the surface when you remember God and do the dhikr [recitation of Divine Names]. At the first stage you recite the name of God with your tongue; then, when your heart becomes alive, you recite inwardly with the heart.
Ghawth al A'zam [Essential Sufism]

'A person is not worthy of leadership in any capacity at all if he has never memorised or recited the Qur'an on a regular basis and is not familiar with the Hadith at a recognised level. This has to be so because all knowledge for the sincere seeker is totally bound within our Noble Book and the Sunnah of our Most Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa 'aalihi wa Sallam.' (Hadrat Junaid al Baghdadi Radi Allahu anhu)

'To sit in the company of pious people is better than doing good and to sit in the company of evil (immoral) people is worse than doing evil' A sin committed does not harm an individual so much as looking down upon one's own fellow human beings. Hadrat Khawaja Gharib an-Nawaz Radi Allahu anhu

Hasan al Basri
The world is three days: As for yesterday, it has vanished, along with all that was in it. As for tomorrow, you may never see it. As for today, it is yours, so work in it.
Imam Hassan al-Basri Rahmatallahi ta'ala alaih

Imam Shafi'i
Imam al-Shafi'i on Tasawwuf Imam al-Shafi'i Rahmatullahi alaih said: faqihan wa sufiyyan fa kun laysa wahidan fa inni wa haqqillahi iyyaka ansahu (Be both) a faqih and a sufi: do not be only one of them, Verily, by Allah's truth, I am advising you sincerely. [al-Shafi'i, Diwan, (Beirut and Damascus: Dar al-fikr) p. 47] The muhaddith al-'Ajluni also relates in his book Kashf al-khafa wa muzil al-albas (1:341 #1089) that Imam Shafi'i Rahmatullahi alaih said: Three things in this world have been made lovely to me: avoiding affectation, treating people kindly, and following the way of tasawwuf. Ibn al-Qayyim in his Madarij al-salikin (3:128) and al-Suyuti in his Ta'yid al-haqiqa al-'aliyya (p. 15) also relate that Imam al-Shafi'i Rahmatullahi alaih said: I accompanied the Sufis and received from them but three words: their statement that time is a sword: if you do not cut it, it cuts you; their statement that if you do not keep your ego busy with truth it will keep you busy with falsehood; their statement that deprivation is immunity.

To read the full article by Shaykh Gibril Haddad please visit

Rabia al Basri

'I will not serve God like a labourer, in expectation of my wages' O Lord! If I worship You from fear of Hell, cast me into Hell If I worship You from desire for Paradise, deny me Paradise but if I worship You for Your own sake, then withhold not from me Your Eternal Beauty - Rabia al-Adawiya Radi Allahu ta'ala anha

Mansur al Hallaj
Mansur al-Hallaj: Sayings ana'l -Haqq - I am the Truth. (this is the saying which apparently earned al-Hallaj his martyrdom - al Haqq also means God) You know and are not known; You see and are not seen. (Akhbar al-Hallaj 44, 1.4) Your Spirit mixed with my Spirit little by little, by turns, through reunions and abandons. And now I am Yourself, Your existence is my own, and it is also my will. (Diwan al-Hallaj) I find it strange that the divine whole can be borne by my little human part, Yet due to my little part's burden, the earth cannot sustain me. (Akhbar al-Hallaj, 11) I have seen my Lord with the eye of my heart, and I said: "Who are You?" He said:"You." (Diwan al-Hallaj, M. 10) I do not cease swimming in the seas of love, rising with the wave, then descending; now the wave sustains me, and then I sink beneath it; love bears me away where there is no longer any shore. (Diwan al-Hallaj, M. 34) I am He whom I love, and He whom I love is I: We are two spirits dwelling in one body. If thou seest me, thou seest Him, And if thou seest Him, thou seest us both. al-Hallaj, Kitab al-Tawasin, in The Mystics of Islam, by Reynold A Nicholson

al Ghazali

Does money upset the hearts of learned men ? He answered, "men whose hearts are changed by money are not learned'' - Hujjat al Islam Abu Hamid al Ghazali Rahmatullahi alaih

Ibn 'Arabi
While you are alive, your worldy self is like a collector of benefits from Allah's bounties, which come to you from myriads of hands. "I follow the Way of Love, and where Love's caravan takes its path, there is my religion, my faith." - Ibn 'Arabi Rahmatullahi alaih

Ibn Ata'Allah.
"The lights of some people precede their dhikr, while the dhikr of some people precede their lights. There is the one who does (loud) dhikr so that his heart be illumined; and there is the one whose heart has been illumined and he does (silent) dhikr."
Ibn Ata'Allah

"The sincere person is the one who hides his good deeds just like he hides his evil deeds." by Yaqub al-Makfoof

Your remedy is within you, But you do not sense it, Your illness is from you, But you do not perceive it. You presume you are an insignificant entity, But within you is enfolded The entire universe. Thus, you have no need to look beyond yourself What you seek is within you, If only you reflect! --A Sufi Saying

Listen to a friend, and hear a distorted idea of yourself. Listen to your enemy, and also hear something distorted. Friendship is to help us survive and to strengthen us. Opposition makes us stronger. Glasses are a vehicle for the eyes, the eyes are a vehicle for the mind, the mind is a vehicle for insight, and insight is a vehicle for the conscience. The conscience is an outlet through which the spirit can observe, and a vehicle through which it can see.

Amr ibn 'Uthman stated the following in his Book of Love. Almighty God created the hearts seven thousand years before the souls, and He kept them in the Garden of Intimacy. He created the Secrets seven thousand years before the hearts, and kept them in the Degree of Union. Every day God caused the souls to receive three hundred and sixty glances of Grace and to hear three hundred and sixty words of Love. Every day He manifested to the hearts three hundred and sixty delights of Intimacy. Every day He revealed Beauty three hundred and sixty times to the Secrets. So they beheld every thing in the world of being, and saw none more precious than themselves. A vain glory and conceit manifested amongst them. God therefore put them to the trial. He imprisoned the Secret in the soul. He confined the soul in the heart. He detained the heart in the body. Then He compounded in them reason. God sent the Prophets with commandments. Then every one of them set about searching for his proper station. God commanded them to pray. So the body went into prayer; the heart attained Love; the soul achieved Propinquity; the Secret was at rest in Union. Taken from the book: Muslim Saints and Mystics Episodes from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya (Memorial of the Saints) by Farid al-Din Attar Translated by A. J. Arberry

''IF words come out of the heart, they will enter the heart,

but if they come from the tongue, they will not pass beyond the ears''
Essential Sufism

"Here is the candle extinguished and there the living lamp of the Sun! Do mark the difference between the one and the other! ''

Whatever you have in your mind - forget it; Whatever you have in your hand - give it; Whatever is to be your fate - face it! Abu Sa'id (Essential Sufism)

If someone remarks: "What an excellent man you are!" and this pleases you more than his saying, "What a bad man you are!" know that you are still a bad man. Sufyan al Thawri (Essential Sufism) "For one who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends. But for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will become his greatest enemy" ''It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end." Listen to the reed, how it complains of separation ... Mawlana Rume Whatever we perceive in the world around us tends to reflect who we are and what we care about most deeply, as in the old saying, "When a thief sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets."
Robert Frager, Heart, Self & Soul, The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance and Harmony