Saturday, May 9, 2009

To each his own - guide

O son, know that Allah is the ultimate Teacher and if you keep your intention pure in wanting to learn a beneficial knowledge that could take you to Him, a rightful guide will come along, bi-iznillah. Abu Yazid Bistami once confessed that one of the four preliminary mistakes he did was that he thought he seeked Him, but the fact was that 'He sought me in order that I would begin to seek Him'. In seeking Him, one travels in search of a guru and sometimes a guru appears almost effortlessly. In any case, whenever you are ready the guru will come.

Somehow, I consider this a sensitive issue because we often hear people make discouraging remarks about this guru, that guru. Of course we cannot avoid getting sensitive when people say negative things about a person who means the world (and more) to us. I for one love my first guide because he was sincere enough to liken me to 'a donkey going round and round turning a mill, thinking that you have traveled a great distance when in actual fact you are not going anywhere'. When he said what he had said to me, my heart knew that he could guide me, so I followed him. When my understanding of the religion have become more sound only then I saw that he has the qualities of a genuine guru:
- when I look at him he reminds me of Allah and my remembrance towards Allah strengthen (this is called tarqiyah).
- when I hear him speak, my knowledge increase (this is the quality of taklim).
- when I observe his acts (amal) and manners (akhlaq) he makes me prefer the akhirah (quality of tarbiyah).
(Reference: Dr Jahid Sidek)

It goes without saying that when you wish to study or get involved in a tariqah, the guru must possess a valid silsilah, the chain of initiation tracing back to Rasulullah s.a.w. This is especially important because your goal in needing a guide now has increased. From an ignorant and a non-practising Muslim, a guide could help you become a devoted Muslim, then improve further to be a Mukmin. The next higher goal is to be a Mukhsin - one who attains the maqam of ehsan where as the Prophet says, one is able to see Him and if one does not see Him one should know that He sees one anyway. We must understand the need to progress across all three: Islam, Iman and Ehsan, for these are the tenets of the religion. So you cannot just stop at being a Muslim or a Mukmin. To achieve the third goal of becoming a Mukhsin, Sheikh Dr Ali Jumuah (the present mufti of Egypt) says 'if you do not have a guru tareqat or suffiyah, you can be a muslim and a mukmin, but you cannot be a mukhsin.'

The challenge is that as we often hear and it is true 'to know Allah is easier than to know a sheikh.' Keep searching and be sure to have one for one who does not have a guru then syaitan is his guru! Then again, Sayyidina Muhammad s.a.w said, "If a believer was on top of a mountain Allah would have assigned an `alim to reach him." So when you find one and your heart will not lie to you, you must treat him with the utmost respect for he is like the Messenger to you, he illuminates the world to you. However, I will not pretend by saying that all gurus are genuine. This path to Allah requires experience and struggle. Therefore, you are bound to stumble every now and then. Should you fall, purify your intention and keep your faith until certainty comes to you. People will have their own opinions about this tariqah, that tariqah, this guru, that guru, do not be too bothered, keep your focus and plod on. Eventually, we WILL meet Rasulullah s.a.w himself, InshaAllah. By God's will, we will know then that we have traveled on the right path. O son, do not ever think that this is too farfetched. Allah rewards each one of us according to our himma (aspiration), so keep your aspirations high. There is nothing wrong in wanting to meet the Prophet. In fact, know that Rasulullah s.a.w is our only gateway to Allah s.w.t.

May Allah bless the soul of all the gurus from whom we have benefited and will continue to benefit from, Ameen, and let's all take heed of this verse from the Qur'an: "Wat taqullah, wa yu'al limukumullah, wallahu bikulli syai in 'aleem." (Al-Baqarah: 282)
And fear Allah. Allah teaches you and Allah knows all things.
And fear Allah. Allah teaches you and Allah knows all things.
And fear Allah. Allah teaches you and Allah knows all things.

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