Conditions of being a Shaykh (Part 4) : More Strict Conditions by Shah Wali Allah

In Al-Qaul Al-Jameel, Shah Waliullah Dehlavi narrated harsher conditions for being a shaikh. The summary of this is mentioned in Al-Shifaa ul-A’leel. Below is mention of some of those conditions for one who takes bayah (i.e., a murshid).

1 .Knowledge of the Quran and hadith, and this does not mean a comprehensive knowledge of the Quran, but sufficient enough that he has understood the Quran through one of the tafasir like Tafsir Madaarik or Jalalain or some other voluminous or summarized tafsir and that he has studied the said tafsir from a learned scholar. He should also be knowledgeable in the field of ahadith that he has studied Kitab Masaabih or Mashaariq and knows the opinions of the scholars on the different ahadith.

The translator (of Al-Qaul Al-Jameel) says that the condition ‘knows the opinions of the scholars’ is to know that any opinion aside from the opinions of the four Imams is a deviation and against the consensus of the Ummah. Shah Abdul Aziz says that one who is informed of the position of scholars (on issues) fulfills the condition of having sufficient knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah.

After this, Shah Waliullah Dehlvi reminds us that the condition for the murshid to be an alim is that the purpose of bayah itself is to guide the murid towards goodness and prohibit him from wrongful things, to break his bad habits and to imbue in him good ones. Then the most important is to get the murid to retain these good habits and practice them in all the different aspects mentioned above. Thus, how can a shaikh who is not an alim and does not possess the knowledge of good and bad, right and wrong, be able to guide a murid to the right path?

The translator says:

Subhanallah! Look at how the situation has changed in our times. The fuqara of today are obsessed with the notion that ilm is unnecessary in tasawwuf and, in fact, think it is a hurdle in this path. They say that Shari’ah is one thing and tariqat is another. How can they say such a thing when all one finds in the books of the past sufiah like Qut-ul-Quloob, A’waarif, Ihya-ul-Uloom, Kimiyah-il-Sa’adat, Futuh-ul-Ghaib, and Ghaniat-ul-Talebeen (by Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani), is that Shari’ah is a condition for tasawwuf and tariqat. Even ignorance cringes at such examples of grave ignorance. They don’t have any idea what is written in the books of the sufiah whose names they chant night and day, more than they recite the Quran.

Maulana Nawab Qutbuddin (the translator of Al-Qaul Al-Jameel) writes in a footnote:

It says, in the book Tariqat Muhammadi that the forefather of the family of sufiah, Shaikh Junaid Baghdadi says,

“Whoever has not memorized the Quran and written ahadith cannot be followed in tasawwuf because this path and knowledge of ours is mutually intertwined with the Quran and Sunnah.”

Another one of his sayings is, “Any tariqat which opposes the Shari’ah is kufr.”

Siri Saqti said, “Tasawwuf is the name of three qualities:

1. The nur of ma’rifat (gnosis) does not extinguish the nur of taqwa.

2. One does not speak the secrets of the bāṭin, if they violate the explicit meanings of the Quran.

3. The karamaat of a person does not transgress the mahaarim (prohibitions) of Allah

Many other sayings of the famous auliya-allah are mentioned in Jaami ul Jaami ul Tafaasir.

Shah Waliullah continues:

Then the murshid must be one who has remained in the company of the mutaqqi ulama, learned adab from them, and diligently studied halal and haram. He trembles in fear when he hears the orders and prohibitions from the Quran and Sunnah, and transforms his sayings, actions, and his whole life in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah. If a murshid is not a scholar it is expected of him to possess that much knowledge as is necessary to ensure he leads his life according to the Quran and Sunnah.

End of the 1st condition

Conditions of being a Shaykh (Part 3)

Al-‘Arif Billah Ash-Shaykh Sayyidi ‘Abdul ‘Azīz ibn Al-Siddīq Al-Ghumārī Al-Ḥasanī r.a. said in his book “Kashf al-Raib ‘an Abyāt al-Junaid tawadha`a bimā` al-ghaib”

Know that it is not a condition in this Imam whom you place as an Imam to follow in your path to Allah ta’ala to be an ‘ālim of the outward sciences, a faqīh who is well-versed of the uṣūl and furū’. Rather, the condition as established by the knowers of Allah is tha he be an ‘ālim and an ‘ārif of the inward fiqh, has traversed its ways and know through experience its masāil or problems that’s all..

Most of the knowers of Allah only have the amount of outward knowledge sufficient for them to perform their obligations and its concomitant rulings. Despite that, they are like lofty mountains in the knowledge of Allah ta’ala whose limit is not known for example, Ash-Shaykh Al-Imām Al-‘Arif Al-Humām(the possesor of high himma) Sayyidi ‘Ali Al-Jamal Al-‘Imrānī, r.a., and his student, Al-Imām Al-Humām Mawlay Al-‘Arabī Al-Darqāwī, and his student the most illuminated pole,Sayyidi Muhammad Al-Būzaydī r.a.. Their likes are numerous in every time and age. These people do not have any involvement in the outward science and they were not known to delve into fiqh or fatwa of its issues. However, they are despite that oceans in ma’rifah, experts in the sciences of the realities and imāms in the path of the elect.

Imāms in the outward sciences are alos produced by them for example the great ‘Arif, Ahmad ibn ‘Ajiba r.a. who was an Imām of his age in the outward sciences and heahs many valuable works in them, the most important of which is the tafsir Al-Baḥr Al-Madīd in which he gathers in it between the outward exegesis and the sufi allusions. He has close to 80 works and I have by the grace of Allah come across some of them and benefitted from them. (Ibn ‘Ajiba) despite his mastery of teh outward sciences said, “I did not come to know Allah until I took the path at the hands of Shaykh Buzaydi,” despite him being an ‘ummiy in the outward sciences.

Likewise, Ash-Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ḥarrāq r.a. who has a huge involvement in the sciences, he was knowledgeable of literature, language and poetry, his poems indicate his level of expertise in the field in his era. Despite this, he did not escape from the darkness of whims and his ego because of his knowledge until he became associated with the great master Mawlay Al-‘Arabī r.a. who had no knowledge of the outward sciences nor the rulings of the furu’.


Original Arabic:

2- وفي هذا المعنى يقول شيخنا العارف بالله الشيخ سيدي عبد العزيز بن الصديق الغماري الحسني رضي الله عنه في كتابه “( كشف الريب عن أبيات الجنيد توضأ بماء الغيب )”

” الذي شرح فيها أبيات الجنيد توضأ بماء الغيب قال عند قول العارف الجنيد : (وقدم إماما كنت أنت إمامه) ” مانصه :

أ – ” واِعْـلَـمْ أنَّـه لا يُـشترط في هـذا الإمامِ الـذي تُــقـدِّمُـه إِمـامـاً وتَــأتَــمُّ به في سَيْـرِكَ إلى الله تعالى، أنْ يكونَ عالِــماً بِـعِـلمِ الـظاهِـرِ، فـقـيهاً مطَّـلِعاً على الأصول والفـروع، بل المشروطُ فـيه كما قَــرَّره العارفـون هـو أنْ يَـكـونَ عالِـماً وعـارفـاً بالـفـقـه الباطن، قـد سلَكَ سُـبُـلَـه وَخَـبــرَ مسائِـلَـهُ لا غَـيْـر.

ب- بل أغلبُ العارفـين لم تَـكُنْ لــهـم مِنْ معـرفةِ عِـلمِ الـظاهـرِ إِلَّا ما يُــؤدُّونَ به فـرائـضَـهُـم وما يَـلْـزَمُ في ذلك مِنْ أحْـكامٍ. ولكــنَّهم كانوا مع ذلك فـي المعـرفة بالله تعالى كالجِـبال الشامخةِ لا يُـدْرَكُ لهـم شـأوٌ في ذلك؛ مثـلُ الشيخِ الإمامِ العارفِ الهُـمامِ سيِّـدِي عَـلِيٍّ الجَمَلِ العِمراني، رضي الله تعالى عنه، وتـلميذِه الإمـامِ الهُـمامِ مولاي العَـرْبِـي الـدَّرْقــاوي، وتـلميذِه القُـطبِ الأنـوَرِ سـيِّـدي محمد البُـوزَيْــدِي رضي الله تعالى عنهما. ومِـثـلهم كـثير في كلِّ عصرٍ وزمانٍ.

فـهــؤلاء لَمْ يَــكـن لهـم قَــدَمٌ في العلـم الظاهـر، ولا عُـرِفَ عـنهم خَـوضٌ فـي فـقهٍ ولا فـتـوَى في مسائلِـه. ولـكـنهم كانوا مع ذلك بُـحوراً في المعـرفـة، فُـرسانـاً في عِـلمِ الحقـيقـة، أئـمَّـةً في طريـق الخَـواصِّ.

وتخَـرَّجَ عـلَى أيـديـهِـم في السلوكِ أئـمَّـةٌ في العِـلمِ الظاهرِ كالعارف الجليل سيِّـدي أحمدَ بنِ عَجِـيبة رضي الله تعالى عنه، وقد كان مِنْ أئمَّـةِ عصرِه في العـلوم الظاهـرة، ولـه المؤلَّـفاتُ النفـيـسةُ القـيِـّمةُ في ذلك، وأهـمُّـها تـفـسيرُ القرآن المُسمَّى: “البَحـرُ الـمَـدِيـد” ، جمَـعَ فـيه بين العبارة والإشارة الصوفـية، ولـه ما يَـقـرُبُ مِنْ ثـمانين تـألـيفاً، قـد منَّ اللهُ تعالى بالـوقـوف علَى بعـضِها وقــرأتُـه واِنـتـفعـتُ به.

ومع هذا التبحُّـرِ في عـلم الـظاهـر، قال رضي الله تعالى عنه: ’’ ما عـرفْـتُ اللهَ تَـعالى حتَّـى سلَـكْـتُ على يَـدِ الشيخِ الـبُـوزَيْــدي ‘‘، مع أنَّـه كان عامِّــيًّا فـي عِـلم الظاهـر.

وكـذلك الشيخ محمد الحَـرَّاق رضي الله تعالى عنه، له الـقَـدَمُ الكـبير في العلـوم، وكان لـه عِـلمٌ بالآداب واللغة والشِّـعْـرِ، وشِـعـرُه يــدلُّ علَى بلوغِـه في عِـلمِ الأدب القـدْحَ المُـعلَّى بيـن أهل عصره ، ومع ذلك ما خَـرَجَ مِنْ ظُـلـمة الهَــوى والوقـوفِ مع نفـسِه لأجْلِ مـا كان عنده مِنَ العِلمِ حتَّى اِتَّـصل بالشيخِ الأكـبرِ مولاي العَـرْبِي رضي الله تعالى عنه، الذي لم يَـكُنْ له أيُّ معرفةٍ بِعِـلم الظاهر وأحكامِ الفُـروعِ؛ بل رسائلُه رضي الله تعالى عنه يأتِـي فيـها بعبارة العامَّةِ والألـفاظِ الدَّارِجَةِ على الألسنَةِ لِبُعـدِها عن الكـتابةِ وقــواعـدِ الـعَربـيـةِ.

Conditions of being a Shaykh (Part 2)

The conditions of the Shaykh-hood, are four: Correct knowledge (‘ilmun saḥīḥ), unadulterated spiritual experience (dhawqun ṣarīḥ), high aspiration (himmatun ‘āliyyah) and a pleasing state (ḥālatun mardhiyyah) as mentioned by Zarrūq r.a.

Ash-Sharīshi said in his ra-iyyah,

“The Shaykh has signs which if absent, then he is merely travelling in the darkness of whims,

If he has no knowledge of the outward nor inward, cast him in the depths of the sea.”

As for outward knowledge, it is only required for the Shaykh to have whatever is enough for himself and what the disciple needs for his journey to his Lord which is the amount that cannot be dispensed with from the rulings of ṭahārah, ṣalāh etc. it is not a requirement for him to be deeply knowledgeable of the Shari’ah. Shaykh Abu Yazīd r.a. said, “I kept company of Abu ‘Ali Al-Musnadi and I would inform him of the matters which help him perform his obligations while he would teach me tauhid and the realities purely.”

It is known that Shaykh Ibn ‘Abbad (Ar-Rundi) was not granted the opening except at the hands of an ‘ummiy man. The tarbiya of many Awliya’ who are ‘ummiy with regards to the outward knowledge has indeed been proven true. As for the inward knowledge, what is sought from it is complete mastery because, the very intended meaning of the term “Shaykh” is the possessor of this (inward) knowledge. The student only seeks the Shaykh, to make him travel and teach him the knowledge of the path and the reality. So the Shaykh must have a complete knowledge of Allah, His Attributes, Names through spiritual experience and unveiling, (likewise) the knowledge of the dangers of path, trickery of the nafs, shaitan, paths of spiritual ecstasies, actualization of the stations as it has been established in his field. The world is not devoid of them as otherwise claimed. Allah knows best.

from Al-Baḥr Al-Madīd, Ibn ‘Ajība

Conditions of qualifying as a Shaykh (Part 1)

1. A Shaykh is a spiritual physician, one who is ill with spiritual ailments cannot treat others

2. Competency, a spiritually healthy person may not be competent, i.e. competent to make others arrive at iḥsān

3. Practicing what he preaches

4. He is a follower of the Sunnah, knows a sufficient amount of the knowledge of Deen

5. Possess the skills to instruct in spiritual matters

6. People are nursed back to health through him.

7. He has spent a considerable amount of time with and benefited from a recognized shaikh, and the ulama and people of intelligence think highly of him, come to him in times of need, and feel an increase in love of Allah and decrease in love of the dunya when sitting in his presence, and the situation of those who sit in his company is continually progressing.

-Hadhrat Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi

The Book of Prayer (Iḥya`Ulumiddin)

Know that a man is not a complete man except through possessing inner faculties (spirit etc.) and physical organs. Some of these organs like the heart, brain and liver are essential to life without which life is not possible. Others like the eyes, hands and feet are secondary needs of life which are required to realise the objectives of life and their absence do not cause death. Other features and organs of man are neither essential for life nor its objectives but are just embellishments like the eyebrow, lashes and beautiful skin tone. If these are missing, the beuaty will be impaired.
Some of these features if they are missing will impair not the beauty but the perfection like for instance details such as arched brows, jet-black hair, symmetrical, well-proportioned figure etc.

Similar to this is the worship of the servant. Its inner faculty or spirit is sincerity and khusyu’. The integrals (arkan) of the prayer like the ruku’, sujud etc. for instance are like the essential organs (heart, liver and brain). The prayer is invalid without them just as man is as good as dead without them.

The sunnahs like doa istiftah, tashahhud awal etc. are like the secondary organs (eyes, feet and hands). Their absence do not affect the prayers validity just like how life is not dependant on these organs but their absence impair the prayer and the person. As for the “haiat” or presentation which comes after the sunnah like the manner of standing and raising of hands etc. they are part of the embellishments like the eyebrows and eyelashes. Finally, the subtleties of comportment or adab in prayer which make perfect the embellishments.

If our ṣolat is a gift given to draw near to the Ultimate Sovereign, in what form are we presenting it to Him?

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