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Translated by Arfan Shah (Sheikhy Notes and Straight Translations)
In the garden of divine love comes sacred breezes and knowledge of the Lord for the hearts of the Gnostics which are raised for them from the container of the chosen in the primordial record. Their essences drank from the well of love, the sweetest drink of union, and that intoxicated the souls in the encompassing of endless light until it became pure light. The veiled by the wells of the other of their humanness and enclosed by covers. This is spiritual training so to manifest to the creator and their substance with the truth. The meaning of this speech is the words of the poet, “What is shed in the concerns of life; but the dust of the gold mines.” In the drop of lofty love we meet a Gnostic who is one of the elite of the Awliyah of Allah (the Exalted). The crown of the Awliyah Imam Sidi Abu Bakr Al-Shibli (may Allah be pleased with him). The soul of the pole flew to the highest horizon and was raised to the rank of the truthful and wailyah; intoxicated in the light of detachment. So he spoke of realities of the oneness of Allah. From what he severed or the peak of illusions and lights of the training the spiritual aspirants. So cling to an increase of spreading light from the spark of gnosis. Perhaps the pull of radiance that flows from the covered veil; from this we arrive to the shores of reality to the horizon of light. So we take the first from this biography of a personality by arriving to introduce a personality. In reality his name is mentioned frequently by Sufi historians, his name is Dalaf Ibn Jahdar Al-Shibli. From this many have the opinion that his name is Jafir Ibn Yunis. It is narrated by Al-Sulami that this last name was in the works of one of his contemporaries. It was seen written on his grave in Baghdad of Imam Al-Shibili. He was born in the year 247 in Baghdad. In any case all of them agree on his agnomen and title that he has become famous for; Sidi Abu Bakr Al-Shibili. He returned to his lord in the year 324; aged eighty seven years old. He was from Khursan originally and was brought up in Baghdad.
His father was gatekeeper for the gate of the caliph Al-Muwaffiq. Al-Shibili was brought up in blessings and honour because of the rank in religion and worldly matters. When completed his studies of the jurisprudence of Imam Malik‟s school; he busied himself by seeking prophetic narrations and many narrate from him. From his narrations is this hadith which is mentioned by Al-Sulami, Abu Sa‟id narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said to Bilal, “Meet Allah in poverty not wealth.” He asked, “O Messenger of Allah how do I do that?” He said, “Do not prevent when asked and do not conceal what you are provided.” He asked, “O Messenger of Allah how is this?” He said, “This is how it is and if not then it is fire.” With narrations of hadith he busied himself with knowledge and he was promoted in his position in the state until he became a patron of Dahavand and Basara1. He became close to the caliph; his prestige and fame spread but the scale was he maintained care and did not see it lasting. It was the beginning of his agreement with the people of the (spiritual) path. He was happy confirm, in his position, his attended a spiritual gathering with Sidi Khayr Al-Nasaj. So he listened to the hadith on knowledge‟s (of the Messenger of Allah) may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him. He began to see astonishing things from the Sheikh of states and breaking of the norms (miracles). Al-Shibli felt that the words of the Sheikh would penetrate deep into his soul and his passion would uncover the period of the neglect of the truth, the master (Allah), as well as opposing the obedience of his master. This caused tears of regret and repentance to flow. He was in a gathering of the Sheikh when the outpouring of deep grief from fear and calamity. Resolute of the past, in the path of his master, he left his post; cast aside his rank and fame in Damavand (place) which severed him from the support of the caliph. He said to its people, “I was a patron of your county so free and begin.” His leaving and severing was a dangerous change in the life of the Gnostic Al-Shibli. He began to feel a strong flow connecting him to Allah that shocked the core of his being. How can one compare the kingdom of the world by the joy of the blessed glance that comes to the servant from the creator? Is it not to Him we begin and to Him our ending? So where do you go if you flee from Allah and whom do you flee to? Promptly Al-Shibili met Imam Junaid, master of the spiritual path. He took from him the principles of the spiritual path and plunged into wayfaring of the honourable group because the group are devoted servants of Allah (the Exalted).
Both in Iraq.
The most important support that encompasses the support of the people is from the support that flowed between him and Imam Junaid. This discussion is filled with copious meanings. This is how it was mentioned by the author AlTabr Al-Masbuk that Al-Shibli asked Junaid, “You have spoken us about yourself and what you have of the substance of divine knowledge which does not misguide its possessor nor saddened him. So can it be bestowed or can it be purchased?” Al-Junaid said, “I cannot sell it to you. What would its price be? If I were to gift it to you and you took it cheaply then you would not know its value and but if be provisioned to you its determination which is sign of listening and glad tiding of success. Separate yourself without tribulation of the waves that this encompasses, similar to what we have done. Perhaps you are patient and your companion is success if you seize it. And know our path is the path of struggle and obedience by the speech of the Exalted, “Those who exert themselves for our sake we give them recourse.” So place this passage before your eyes as it is the ascension of what you desire.” Imam Al-Shibili made this his first step in the path that he would take his share of the spiritual path from Imam Al-Junaid, Sidi Al-Sirr Al-Saqati and from others than this. From Sidi Maroof Al-Kharaki who drank from the springs of the Ahl AlBayt; where he took from Sidi Ali Rida and from Dawood Al-Taai from the successors from another side. But it was this link between Sidi Abu Bakr AlShibili and Sidi Abu Qasim Al-Junaid that freed his soul to the path of love (of Allah Mighty and Exalted) separate from limited pales of imagination; it was companionship for wailyah in the path of truth. Each one of them are major figures in the eyes of the afterlife, high in their ranks of places of high raised ranks. It was reached by decree the rank of the Gnostic Al-Shibili that he was amongst the qutbs of the Sufi‟s so he said, “All people have a crown and our crown is Al-Shibli.” It is a true word pronounced by a master of this path. Imam Al-Shibli exemplified this and he is worthy of it because wherever we turn a page we find spiritual struggle and we read portions of knowledge from the Gnostic Al-Shibli. We find, without doubt, paragraphs of light directing to the highness of the personality and great rank. So from the aspect of knowledge, that he had indicated to, by to the hadiths narrated by him. It is narrated by the author of the book of the history of Baghdad by a chain back to Al-Shibili that he said, “I wrote hadith for twenty years and sat with the Jurists for twenty years.” In another place Al-Shibli indicated to himself saying, “I know he has not entered this matter until he has spent all he owns and drown in Euphrates for narrating seventy storages of
writing book.” He memorised Al-Muwwattah and read it to someone and recited it to someone. It was narrated by the author of Al-Risalah Al-Qusharyri that a jurist from the leading jurists was in a circle of knowledge next to the circle of Al-Shibli in the Jama‟a Al-Mansoor and it was said to that Jurist (Abu Imran) that some did not go but to speak to Al-Shibli. So some of the student of Abu Imran once asked Al-Shibli about an issue on menstruation, in shyness, he mentioned the opinions of the scholars in that issue and the differences of opinion. Then Abu Imran stood and kissed the head of Al-Shibli and said, “O Abu Bakr, I have benefited from this question and the ten opinions that I have not heard. As all what I had were three opinions.” Al-Shibili had a high opinion for the path and strong method for the sacred law. It was witnessed by all who heard debates of the jurists. Ibn Bashir used to forbid people from the gatherings of Al-Shibli and hearing his words. Ibn Bashir came once to test him asking, “How much is a fifth of a camel?” AlShibli stayed silent and the majority were with Ibn Bashir. Then Al-Shibili said, “The necessary according to the sacred law is a sheep in what necessitates similar to all of it.” Then Ibn Bashir said, “Do you have an example (proof)?” he said, “Yes.” He said, “From?” He replied, “Abu Bakr the Truthful when he brought all his wealth to the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) and he asked, “Have you not left anything for your family?” He said, “Allah and his Messenger.” Behind the knowledge of Al-Shibli was the knowledge of the scared law taken given by Allah (the Exalted). So Ibn Bashir went away and did not forbid anyone after that from the gatherings of Al-Shibli who was inspired without means (from Allah). He said about the knowledge of the Sufis, “I did not think that in the knowledge of the scholars contained accusation.” So knowledge is acquired and there is no analogy of knowledge with the people of Allah. There is difference between knowledge given by the Creator and that which is taken from creation. There is another tale about the struggle of the Sheikh in his worship and knowledge. Abu Bakr Ibn Mujahid asked about his state and he said, “Goodness is hoped for. I finish a recitation (of Quran) two or three times a day.” Al-Shibili was asked, “O Sheikh, you have finished in that corner thirteen thousand times. There is nothing in it except you have some.” “I was in his lessons for forty three years and did not finish but a forth of the Quran.” The purpose of Al-Shibili was to read the Quran for sake of Allah (the Exalted) as for its reward; he would donate it to whoever he pleased. It is sufficient
salvation to read the words of the Master (Allah) thirteen thousand times. And he did not ask for a price for this because it was for the sake of Allah (the Exalted). So what type of sincerity is this? It is sincerity for the sake of love for Allah (the Exalted) by his servant far from the utterance for reward or punishment. Even then he forced his sides to spiritual exertion then Imam Al-Shibili would see fighting desires as obedience to Allah (the Exalted) then he was honoured with the rank of love then from this to Wailyah. Since Al-Shibili knew the path of the Sufi‟s he severed his soul to agree with the pull of his Master. So the love which plenteous in his heart for Allah denied the least polytheism. When he would reach the limit of self exertion he would apply salt to his eyes to not sleep; so he prescribed himself into the path of the greatest struggle with himself, his passion and would liven the nights. Until the students asked about the lack of sleep and he said to them, “I heard the truth when it was said to me that sleep is heedlessness and whoever is heedless is veiled. This is the reason why I apply salt to my eyes so I do not sleep.” He would spend the night awake in vigilance separating breaths of charm in the worship of Allah. He poured, in the darkness of the night, into a container of fear and remorse; because he loved the divine, who there is no equivalent, to His love in creation. When he was deep in love with creation he would spend with Qais Ibn Ammar to the dark night then how would his love be towards the Creator? Love of the divine has a description that is not known except who has drunk from the predecessors. Al-Shibili once described love saying, “Love is a glass that has radiance and if it dwell in the souls it intoxicates. This is the outward intoxication and love is inward. If that is firm in the senses it kills them.” Another time he said, “Love is an ocean without shore, a night without end, sorrows without relief, illness without cure, tribulation without patience and despair without hope.” This was the value of the love which annihilates (all) love and takes the soul to the beloved. The Wali does not arrive to it except the lights of illumination of his heart as it is a proof and the way. That is why Al-Shibili said, “The path of the Awliyah is love.” This is most of what Al-Shibili began on the pangs of love despite the expanse of the body. One of the students said, “O Abu Bakr, we see your bodily form and emancipation of love?” he composed the following poetry, “My heart is love, I do not know about my body and if I were to know; I would not begin in flesh.” Imam Al-Shibili had ascension in reality was lifted high and he was unable to express it. The expression of the lifting was called in spiritual term the „lofty
rank.‟ Where he was given wailyah and spoke about the blessings which Allah gave him. He was once asked who he was, he said, “The dot below the ba.” This expression is symbolic to his annihilation in the reality of the realities that began in the cosmos. It was informed that the Gnostic Al-Hallaj, he was the closest friend of Al-Shibli and loved him a lot, when he clarified that this rank is when someone is unable to control their intellect and doubts; so what happened to him occurred. When the Gnostic Al-Shibli said, “Al-Hassan Ibn Mansor (Al-Hallaj) and I were one matter except he was manifest and I was hidden.” Al-Shibili spoke about the understanding of Islamic spirituality and the Sufi‟s gave this understanding of a new soul from the opening of love and the reality that he came to know from spirituality. He said, “He was protected from the vision of the universes.” Meaning from the vision of the heart which is veiled in people from universe to universe. Then he said about the Sufi about being cut off from everything, “The Sufi is cut off from everything of creation and connected to the Truth (Allah).” To the Exalted‟s speech, “You were chosen for yourself (Quran).” To, “You do not see me.” It was asked of him, “We have not heard spirituality by this term?” He remained upon this even though it was not connected to his term and threw this expression, “When the Sufi is severed from himself to his Master; there is not completion in this severance and a part remain from came and its reality. This part is connected to the term. If it is not existence then its specification and non-existence are not worth a term.” As for his manner of those who came to Imam Al-Shibli for spiritual training of the aspirant. He would limit their attachment, constant with Allah (the Exalted), cleaning the heart from turbid lowliness and busying oneself with Allah (the Exalted). From the form of application of this manner is what was mentioned by Imam Al-Sharani from the Gnostic Al-Shibli. He said to his student AlHusari, when he was in the beginnings of the path, “If something occurs to your mind from Friday to Friday something other than Allah then it is unlawful for you to come to me.” This was his spiritual training for wailyah for Allah. The separation of the heart from the world is the first step on the path of arrival. Al-Shibli said, “I am a king where is my kingship? Allah does not veil creation rather it is creation that is veiled from him because of love of the world and his hearts dependence upon the world.” He said, “How can your tawhid be valid when you own things and you see something that you go towards.” So the philosophy of abstinence with Al-Shibili was changing the heart from things to the Lord of everything. At that time it did not harm the Sufi to own worldly things because his heart should be with Allah alone. From another angle it is
what was reported about Al-Shibili was how he saw the world. He had gathering of fuqura and they had been afflicted by poverty and hardship. So he wrote the minister of the caliph, “In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the most compassionate, to commence; the faces we have are something of your world.” So the minister wrote back on a piece of cloth, “O Shibli ask your Master for the world.” So Al-Shibili wrote back, “The world is but something lowly and we do not ask for something lowly except from the lowly. This world is what you have an expression. So whoever wants a consideration then he is the least considered.” So the minister sent to him ten thousand silver coins. Al-Shibili did not do this for seek the world for himself. He only did it to seek the right of the poor in the wealth of the leaders. As for him, he did not have the world. He was engaged in the presence of the Master, seeking his aid and drawing closer. He said, “My Lord, I fled from you, you sought me, if your purpose is to tire me, then I am easy with you, no intimacy with any other, so give me succour from you to you.” Imam Al-Junaid said, “If you turn your matter to Allah then you have ease.” Al-Shibili said to him, “O Abu Al-Qasim, if you were to turn your matter to Allah you would find ease.” Al-Junaid said, “The sword of Al-Shibili distils the blood of the Gnostic absorbed with his Lord.” He said, “Distraction for a blinking of an eye is polytheism in Allah for the people of gnosis.” The Gnostic is talking about himself and his state with Allah (The Exalted) and ask when does the Gnostic witness the Truth (Allah)? He said, “When he begins to witness and annihilates in the present, the senses go and perception disappears.” He said about the reality of divine remembrance (dhikr), “There is no intimacy with the remembrance like the intimacy with the remembered.” He composed the following poetry, “I mention you, not because I have forgotten you for a moment, it is easy to remember on the tongue, I have toiled without causing the death of passion, love makes the heart skip a beat, I do not see anything exist with you present, I witness your presence in all the time, you spoke of its presence without words and your knowing glance without eyes.” When we talk about Imam in gnosis we are raised to a sign of divine love. He became an expression of time of taking lights that ignite the lanterns of the hearts leading the person to journey to the ending. Whatever the pen scribes is not dry spring and not extended sight so to encircle the eye of the sun to encompass its substance. It is but candle of light that is acquired to be seen in the horizon filled with light. So may Allah be pleased with Imam Al-Shibli in the eternal abodes and gather us in the plain of truth with the King and Decree giver.
Source: Bahr Al-Wailyah Al-Muhammadi fi Munqib A‟allam Al-Suffiyyah by Ustadh doctor Juddah Muhammad Abu Al-Yazi Al-Mahdi pages 370 -378.
We pray that Allah accepts this translation, forgives our families, teachers and all the Muslims. May endless and countless blessings be showered upon the final Messenger (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings), always and forever, upon his family, the Awliyah and all the Prophets and Messengers. This translation was completed on 5th Shabban 1434/15th June 2013 by Arfan Shah (Straight Translations and Sheikhy notes).