Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rabia the pure lover of God


O son, I think I know what Rabia would say if I were to lament to her on how much love has been lost due to my foolishness and ignorance. But a weak woman like myself can't avoid but succumb to her lower nafs sometimes.

Now who could be more sincere than Rabia in admitting 'a selfish love' and distinguishing it with a true love - loving Him for His sake. When Sufyan al-Thawri asked Rabia (d. 801) what was the reality of her faith, she replied, "I have not worshipped him from fear of His fire nor for love of His garden, so that I should be like a lowly hireling; rather I have worshipped Him for love of Him and longing for Him."

She had written as quoted in al-Ghazali's Ihya Ulumuddin:
"I love You with two loves:
a selfish love and a love of which You are worthy.
That love which is a selfish love
is my remembrance of You and nothing else.
But as for the love of which You are worthy
Ah, then You've torn the veils for me so I see You.
There is no praise for me in either love,
but praise is Yours in this love and in that."

Certainly all praise belongs to Him. And we seek His forgiveness for not praising Him enough. But then again how can we praise or love Him when: La ilaha illAllahu yabqa Rabbana wayafna kullu ahada; There is no God but He who is baqa (ever present) and everything else is fana (annihilated)?!

O son, let's pray so that Allah grant us gnosis as He had granted His lover, Rabia.

Reference: The Heritage of Sufism

Friday, October 30, 2009

Forget your dhikr. Forget yourself.


Those who remember their remembrance of God (dhikr)
are more heedless than those who forget their remembrance.
- Abu Bakar Muhammad bin Musa Al-Wasiti

O son, the point is, do your dhikr but do not depend on it. Forget it. Better still, forget yourself and wake up to your Lord. In the words of Abul Hassan al-Aswari:
"Sufism is my forgetting myself and my waking to my Lord."

Reference: The Reflections of the Mystics of Islam

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dare you embrace adversity?


Ah! Do you think that calamity (bala) is given to just anyone? What do you know of calamity? Be constant until you reach a point where you would willingly purchase calamity at the price of your own soul. Did not Shibli refer to this experience by saying: 'O God, all people seek You for your grace and comfort but I seek you for the sake of calamity.'

So wait until the alchemy of 'an attraction from the Divine attraction' begins to transform you. Then you will know what calamity is! Is not this then the true context of the Prophet's saying: "Just as gold is tried by being placed in a crucible over fire, so is the believer tried through disasters and calamities."

...Alas have you not heard the saying of that great master, "The lover's claim to love is insincere unless he enjoys the rebuke of the Beloved"?...Whoever does not endure separation from the Beloved will not attain the pleasure of Union; whoever does not consider the Beloved's insult as a Grace, is alien from the Beloved.

- Ayn al-Qudat in Tamhidat on the high spiritual level of those who embrace adversity. Ayn al-Qudat is a 12th century Sufi Saint, a contemporary of Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani.

Reference: The Heritage of Sufism

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Loving Prophet Muhammad - learning from Abu Bakar and Sajeda


Thursday, 22 October 2009, Janda Baik, Pahang, Malaysia

At the outset of the gathering, everything looked pleasant, typical of a get-together honoring Shaykh Hisham Kabbani. Certainly, his trip to Malaysia this time (his second trip for the year) has been very special with the presence of Hajjah Naziha, his wife and daughter of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Adil Haqqani (the murshid of Naqshbandi 'Aliyah Tariqah).

But the audience on that day couldn't help but also adored young Sajeda - Shaykh Hisham's daughter.

Sajeda sat on the floor next to his father who was sitting on the sofa, facing the ever eager crowd. Accompanying her were two little girls of the Haqqani family - very cute party of three they were.

Shaykh Hisham then began his sohba whilst the audience sat still and quiet. "Nawaitul arba'in, nawaitul iktikaf, nawaitul khalwat, nawaitul riyadah, nawaitul uzlah, nawaitul suluk. It's important to make this intention at the start of any good deeds you do. You are sitting here to listen to some advice, so make niyyat that it will be counted as a part of your forty-days seclusion. No matter how small an amal you do, with this intention, Allah will consider it as significant, InshaAllah." All eyes were on Shaykh Hisham.

"Saidina Abu Bakar (r.a) was the first to do this unique gesture", he said while gesticulating his hands at the same time. The first caliph whose love and loyalty to the Prophet knew no bounds would, according to Shaykh Hisham, touch his shahadah finger with his thumb (both hands), then kiss them and make a circle around his eyes. Abu Bakar as-Siddiq would do this each and everytime the Prophet's name was mentioned. He did this to certify his love for the Prophet s.a.w. What Abu Bakar meant by that gesture was that "he witnessed with the shahadah finger that Muhammad is Rasulullah. With the thumb signifying the unique code in heaven, Abu Bakar was in fact saying 'I witness you are Rasulullah and I'm witnessing and coming with the reality of everything that's coded in my thumb and saying you are indeed Muhammad Rasulullah!' With the two fingers touching, Abu Bakar rubbed them around his eyes; that according to Shaykh Hisham meant that he was also witnessing with another vision and sealing the love he had for Allah and Rasulullah. Abu Bakar would also frequently profess "Sadaqa Rasulullah. Sadaqa Rasulullah..." because of his strong faith in Nabi and everything that the Prophet was saying."

By this time, Sajeda had been standing up for the third or fourth time already. The audience took for granted why this pretty young lady had to do what she did until Shaykh Hisham smiled and patted her head. He said, to the somewhat clueless audience, "Sajeda stood up each time I mentioned the Prophet's name because Shaykh Nazim Haqqani, her grandfather had taught her to do that out of respect for Rasulullah!" Upon hearing this remark from her father, Sajeda broke into tears.

MashaAllah! MashaAllah! Everyone present was absolutely impressed by little Sajeda whose respect for the Prophet was definitely a lot greater than her physique and far beyond her years. What amazed me was that she followed her grandfather's advice even when a girl like her might have been embarrassed to act her beliefs. She did not feel shy at all even though she looked shy, keeping her head down all the time while Shaykh Hisham was giving sohba. Imagine she was facing a crowd of adults, men and women and while everybody was glued to the floor, she just kept standing up each time her father mentioned the Prophet's name. Allahu Allah! From then on everyone, including Shaykh Hisham himself stood up and cries of sallahualaihi wassalam filled the air!

That much we all learned from young Sajeda - a lover of Prophet Muhammad! O son, may Allah plant in your heart and mine the sort of love and respect Sajeda has for Rasulullah s.a.w. Ameen Allahumma ameen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Follow the way of love


If you wish to follow the way of love,
throw your prejudices to the wind
and renounce attachment to things of the body.
Meanwhile, in order not to be a source of evil,
do not give way to resentment
or self-love.
- Fariduddin Attar

Monday, October 26, 2009

Proof of Intelligence


Everything has an essence, and the essence of man is intelligence ('aql) and the essence of intelligence is patience. Therefore, the proof that a man actually possesses intelligence lies in his endurance (tahammul) of the bother and inconvenience caused by his fellow Muslims, conducting himself with kindly moderation with all people, averting the poison of his base passions, overcoming his own folly, levity, short-temper and irascibility.

- Shihab al-Din Umar Suhrawardi in Awarif al-ma'arif
Reference: The Wisdom of Sufism

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How are you?


A wise man said: "Whenever people ask me my condition, I tell them that:
1. I am in agreement with (the decrees of) my Lord.
2. I am engaged in warfare against my nafs (carnal self)
3. I am engaged in enjoining good advice to people and
4. I am engaged with the dunya only to the barest necessity (for survival).

FROM: Al Munabbihat (The Counsel)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The shortest way to God


Abu Said ibn Abi al-Khayr (d. 1049) was asked:
'How many ways are there from creation to God?'
He replied:
"According to one account, there are a thousand ways, according to another, there are as many as there are particles in existence, but the shortest, the best and the easiest way to God is to bring comfort to someone else."

Source: Asrar al-Tawhid / The Heritage of Sufism

Friday, October 23, 2009

Knowledge according to Rumi School of Thought


Below is a summary of an essay by Muhammad Este'lami on 'The Concept of Knowledge in Rumi's Mathnawi' in 'The Heritage of Sufism Volume 1'

Rumi's definition on ilm (knowledge) in his masterpiece Mathnawi is somewhat paradoxical in that it is both similar to and different from the normal convention. Rumi's take on knowledge could give its seeker much more. It is a way of learning and understanding that could lead to peace and spiritual satisfaction. It pertains to an invisible school inside man's heart and the mysteries only visible via inner vision.

Rumi himself was a learned man. He was very well trained in Qur'an, jurisprudence, prophetic traditions, Islamic philosophy and literature. His scholastic knowledge however did not live up to his spiritual expectations. In the 6th Volume of his Mathnawi he wrote:
"Though you believe in the accuracy of the scholastic knowledge, it will not open your inner eyes to invisible existence."

In Mathnawi he defined two categories of ilm. One concerns the visible and material existence and the other is not worldly. The latter will give one comprehension on the Truth or an awareness of an invisible world which is real and eternal. An anecdote below describes this difference better.

A conceited grammarian (nahwi) embarked on a boat and asked the boatman: "Have you ever studied nahw (grammar)? When the boatman said that he had never studied grammar, the nahwi said to him: "O! I feel so sorry for you, half your life has gone for naught." The boatman did not answer immediately and kept silent for a while until the wind cast the boat into a whirlpool. Then the boatman shouted: "Do you know how to swim?" The proud grammarian said that he would never be able to swim. The boatman said: "O Nahwi! Your whole life has gone for naught, because the boat is sinking in this whirlpool."

In response to this story, Rumi said:
"Here what is needed is self-effacement (mahw) not grammar (nahw). If you're effaced from self, then plunge into the sea, and be not frightened of any peril or danger."

For the window to the invisible world to open we need "jurisprudence of jurisprudence" (fiqh-i fiqh), the "morphology of morphology (sarf-i sarf) and the "grammar of grammar" (nahw-i nahw). This knowledge is obtainable "from That Source" (az an sar), a type of knowledge that grows from a Divine root.

The gate of the heart can only be opened by God. And only a master or murshid can guide a disciple. A murshid therefore must be obeyed as a prophet.

"Keep silent, so that you may hear from the speakers,
that which may not come into utterance or into explanation.
Keep silent so that you may hear from the Sun
that which may not come in books or into allocution.
Keep silent so that the Spirit may speak for you.
In the Ark of Noah leave off swimming."

Rumi further described the differences between the two types of knowledge. A man who has inward or esoteric knowledge (ilm-i batin) which is Divine ilm and thus comprehend the mysteries of the invisible existence is a muhaqqiq (realizer). A man who studies the same subject through scholastic programs is a muqallid (imitator) because he merely imitates words without having awareness of their realities or inward meanings.

"Between the realizer and the imitator, there are many differences. The former is like David and the imitator is only an echo (not a song, not a singer)."

Tahqiq is another term which describes knowledge of the real (Eternal Existence) gained through spiritual realization. Taqlid or imitative knowledge refers to what is taught in the schools.

"Conventional knowledge is only for sale or self-advertisement. When it finds a purchaser, it glows with delight. The purchaser of real knowledge is God. And for such a knowledge, the market is always flourishing."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kneeling at the feet of Shaykh Ismail


Oh what a blessed name
the father I so love
the prophet we all admire
THE saint of 'Big Island' and beyond
whose barakah cure hearts in mire

Ismail bin Abdul Qadir lived from 1463 - 1520 CE
Sultan al-Ariffin Shaykh - honors of a Sufi
Murshid to Wali Songo and many more
A saint who could walk on water
In the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad his ancestor
Laurels as great as al-Jilani's his great grandfather

In the leagues of tariqah he's master
Shattariah, Chistiah, Qadiriah and Naqshbandi
Made hijrah from Baghdad to Malacca
Accompanied by Shaykh Yusuf Siddiq his teacher
In his 30s he marked 1495 a crucial year
Leader and healer for many a seeker

Thank you
O Sultan al-Ariffin Shaykh Ismail
for the invitation

I will not say more than that
let my whispers to you
remain a secret
I cherish deep in my heart

To that one fish swimming and jumping
escorting the boat ride
Thanks for the kind gesture
I sure felt welcomed
to kneel at the feet of our forefather
- Ezza Ismail

Commemorating the ziyarah to Shaykh Ismail's Maqam in Pulau Besar ('Big Island'), Malacca, Malaysia led by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani on 20 October 2009. Also present was Hajjah Naziha (Sh. Hisham's wife/daughter of Shaykh Nazim Haqqani - pic below, in pink scarf).

All historical facts are based on a book published by Malacca Museum. Credit: Ahmad Azam Madinah al-Nur blog

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Realization of God


"The realization of God is given to one who craves it in anguish."
- Mansur al-Hallaj in Diwan

"Sufis reach realization of God by adoring His nature, calling on Him saying, Kull-i shayin Há l-i kull, which means, 'Everything will perish except His own Face.' They look upon all names and forms as the means of realizing the One, the only Being."
- Hazrat Inayat Khan in 'A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty'

"Sufism speaks essentially of three elements: the nature of God, the nature of man and the spiritual virtues, which alone make possible the realization of God and which alone can prepare man to become worthy of the exalted position of ahsan taqwim, of becoming the total theophany of God's names and qualities.
- Seyyed Hossein Nasir in Sufi Essays

Pic credit: Rabia of Haqqani Fellowship

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Love is Lovely - Shaykh Nazim Haqqani


O son, it was, needless to say, lovely that I chanced upon this chapter from Mawlana Shaykh Nazim's book at Kinokuniya yesterday. And Alhamdulillah today I found the same entire chapter posted on a blog of a fellow Naqshi from Down Under (Aaisha of 'The Haqq'). May Allah bless her for it and may a thousand more souls be touched from reading these brilliant words of Mawlana. Ameen.

Love is lovely to the Lord and to His servants. If you do anything with love it should be accepted by your Lord, and He should make it tasteful for you. If you love your work it will be easy for you to do, if not, it will only be a burden. The Lord says: “I am not in need of your worship, I am only seeking the love with which it is offered.”
Oh servants of the Lord, Oh believers, you must not overlook this point. Don’t be like slaves rowing in the galley of a ship – if you pray, you must pray with love not by force, as if a slavedriver were standing over you with a whip! Allah never appreciates such forced devotions. Now we are trying to perform all the practices but forgetting to ask for Divine Love, so we are becoming like mechanical robots, or like people performing gymnastics. Allah has asked us to engage our bodies in His worship and in service to His creation through charity and good deeds, but what must be the fruit of those actions? If the fruit is not love it is a bitter fruit and is rejected. If our worship causes Love of God to grow in our hearts, then we must keep to that practice and continue on our way; and if we are keeping the company of a spiritual teacher, and find that through keeping his company love of God is awakening in our hearts, then we must follow him closely. The Love of God is not easy to attain, for we cannot imagine Him; therefore, He Almighty has made the Prophets apostles of His Love.
Allah’s Beloved, the Seal of Prophets, Muhammad, upon whom be peace, was such a pure medium for the transmission of that love that the hearts of his companions were overwhelmed with his love, and were transported to the love of God. He was the representative of Allah, who is the Absolute Truth; therefore, the Prophet declared: “Who has seen me has seen the Absolute Truth”. When a delegation of non-Muslims came to visit Medina, they were amazed at the love and respect shown to the Prophet by his companions. When they returned home they said to their leader: “We have met many emperors, kings and tribal chiefs, but never have we seen one whose subjects or courtiers treated him with such sincere love and devotion. How can this be?” They were not able to comprehend the secret of this love, as their egos caused them to deny Muhammad’s prophethood.
The love of the companions towards the Prophet was such that they used to say to him: “I am ready to sacrifice for you even my mother and father”, which, for the Arabs, is much stronger than saying: “I would sacrifice myself for you”. And in reality many of them underwent nearly unbearable hardships for the sake of their belief in the mission of the Holy Prophet: exile, disinheritance, boycott, torture and death.

Who represented the Holy Prophet after his life on Earth? Those who evoked such love. The Prophet himself described them: “Those who see them are reminded of God”. He who thirsts for Divine Love must seek out such people, but in our time they are mostly hidden, and Islam has come to mean for many people only a set of rules of conduct and forms of worship – an empty shell. Who can derive taste from such a thing? Shall mosques be only gymnasiums? And now the “gym teachers” are opposing Sufi Paths, which are the ways of the heart, ways that lead to the Love of God. Our Lord has given us an instrument that measures not your blood pressure but our “love pressure” and our goal is to make it high!
Yes, seek to improve with every new day, for the Holy Prophet said: “Whoever does not improve with each day is losing ground.” What does this mean? It doesn’t mean that if we pray forty rakaats of prayer today, we should pray forty-one tomorrow and forty-two the next day. No, that is not required, what is intended is that you fill your worship with ever more love of your Lord, so that He will observe: “My servant has sent Me more love today than yesterday. “One of our Grandsheikhs summarised perfectly what I am trying to say: “An atom’s weight of love is worth more than seventy years’ worship without love”.

FROM: Mercy Oceans - Rising Sun by Shaykh Nazim Adil Haqqani
Pic credit: Radiyya of Haqqani Fellowship

Monday, October 19, 2009

Who is a Sufi?


Who is a Sufi you might ask. Below is the answer from Sidi Ahmad Zarruq, a Moroccan Shadhili Shaykh who lived between 1442 to 1493 CE. Translated by Zaineb S. Istrabadi, the following paragraphs are part of Principle 3 and Principle 4 of Qawaid al Tasawuf (Principles of Sufism) which Zarruq authored.
I feel that whosoever has a measure of sincerity in turning towards God has a measure of Sufism, and that the Sufism of everyone is the sincerity of his turning towards God. So, understand this!

The sincerity of turning towards God is conditioned by its being pleasing to God Most High or by that which pleases Him. That which is conditioned is invalid without its condition.
"He approves not unthankfulness from His servants:" so faith is a conditioned that must be fulfilled. "If ye are thankful, He will approve it in you:" so submission is a condition that must be fulfilled.

Thus there is no jurisprudence without Sufism because divine exoteric rules can be known only through jurisprudence. Nor is there any jurisprudence without Sufism for action cannot be carried out without sincerity and turning towards God. Nor can jurisprudence and Sufism be without faith, since neither of the two is valid without it. So all three are necessary because they are attached to one another in principle as souls are attached to bodies: souls have no existence without bodies just as bodies have no life without souls. So, understand this!
Along these lines is the saying of Malik (may God have mercy on him): 'He who follows the path of Sufism while neglecting jurisprudence is a heretic; and he who learns jurisprudence while neglecting the Path commits transgression. But he who combines both, has attained realization.

I maintain that the first is a heretic because of his belief in the doctrine of predestination, which leads to the negation of divine wisdom and general rules. The second committed transgression because his deeds lack any turning towards God through divine wisdom and general rules, a turning that veils him from disobeying God, and also because his deeds also lacks sincerity, which is a condition in acting for God's sake. The third attains to the realization of the Truth in that very same act of holding on to the Truth. So, know this!

ZARRUQ is a nickname given by his grandfather. Derived from azraq ("blue"), his grandfather (or posssibly Zarruq too) had the Berber blue eyes. His parents had died when he was 1 week old, baby Zarruq was then brought up by his maternal grandmother, a saint of Fez, Umm al-Banin.
Source: Zaineb S. Istrabadi's Ph.D thesis dated 1988.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This Station (Conversing with my Lord)

Bridge of Allan, Stirling, Scotland

O Lord, O Lord, O Lord
Where is the train heading?
That I know.
Why You're making me wait so long at this station?
That I'm bewildered!

How dare I complain!
I had emigrated for the sake of my Lord
Inni muhajirun illa Rabbi
That I proclaimed 4 years ago
Now I'm not sure where to go...

Thanks to You
I was a regular on that train in the picture
Bridge of Allan
a beautiful Scottish neighborhood
I called home for a year

You then flew me to Dubai
I thought You're going to make me fly
with promises of the Gulf's gold
But NO!
I had to say goodbye...

Alas, I came to this crossing
Penang Bridge
home sweet home
In my heart, I quietly sing

But Your message rings loud
Whatever You Will, happens!
Seeking solace from the Qur'an
I learned...
"If Allah touches you with harm,
there's no one who can remove it but He.
If He plans benefit for you,
there's no one who can keep back His mercy
for whoever of His servants that He wills..." (Surah Yunus 10:107)

I will...
remain hopeful
for this station
might be the final stop
before I reach my destination
and that is You O Lord!

May I be contented
like Zarruq the learned one,
To al-Hadrami he had written:
"We do not care where we are,
so long as we are numbered
among the beloved ones!"

- Ezza Ismail 13 October 2009

That's me, on being conferred a Master's degree with distinction in 2006 at Stirling University, Scotland. 
Alhamdulillah wa shukru lillah for each and every station.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Advice from Suhrawardi


Shihabudin Yahya Suhrawardi (1155 - 1191 CE), a remarkable Sufi and philosopher from Iran is well known for his Illuminationist Philosophy arising from his book called Kitab Hikmat al-Ishraq (The Philosophy of Illumination).

He also authored Lughati Muran (The Language of the Termites) which explains the knowledge needed by the seeker in knowing God, himself and all creations. The quotation below is from the said book; advice from Suhrawardi for those wishing to attain inner illmunination (ishraq).

"Whatever hinders good is evil and whatever blocks the (spiritual) Path is infidelity (kufr) for men.
To be contented with whatever one's sensual self (nafs) presents and to adapt oneself to it, is impotence on the path of mystical progression (dar tariq-i suluk).
To look with delight upon oneself - even if one have God in mind - is ruination.
Salvation is to turn one's face utterly towards God."

Reference: Essay by Mehdi Aminrazavi in "The Heritage of Sufism"
Further reading on Suhrawardi:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Appreciate His bounties now - Ibn Ata'illah


Ibn Ata'illah as-Sakandari (d. 1309) says:
"He who does not know the value of graces when they are present
knows the value of the graces when they are absent."

Thus, he teaches this du'a in his magnum opus Al-Hikam.
Allahumma arifna nikmataka bidawa miha
wala tu'arif ha lanaa bizawa liha

O Allah, make us recognize Your bounties while we are having them and do not make us recognize them only after You have withdrawn them from us.

Ibn Ata'illah's Tomb at Qarafah Cemetry, Cairo, Egypt

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Inspirations of Sidi Ahmad Zarruq


O son, know that apart from Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi (the founder of Lisan al-Din in 1912) this blog also came into being due to inspirations from Sidi Ahmad Zarruq (1442-1493). It's amazing how the holy spirits are so very alive. Mere thoughts of them could inspire one to do much good. Their barakah live on.

I was moved when I learned that Ahmad Zarruq had written so much that 'it was calculated that from the time of his birth till death, he wrote half a page a day.' (Al-Kuhin). He was not only a prolific writer, a scholar and a jurist, but also an influential spiritual teacher. He was a Shadhili Sufi Sheikh, a contemporary of Muhammad al-Jazuli (author of Dala'il al-Khayrat salawat).

Qawa'id al-Tasawwuf (The Principles of Sufism) is one of Sidi Ahmad Zarruq's more prominent works. The quotations below might have been taken from the same.
Sufism is not a mere thoretical teaching to occupy man's mind like a sort of acrobatic exercise in words and arguments. The practical part of it is the vital core without which the sufi does not deserve his title at all.

The principles of our way are five:
- fear of God in private and secret,
- adherence to the sunnat in word and deed,
- contempt for mankind in prosperity and adversity,
- satisfaction with God in all things great and small and
- having recourse to God in joy and sorrow.

The attitude of the sufi is of a more special kind than that of the jurist. Whilst the jurist represents Islam and seeks out that which removes objection regarding religious practices, the sufi looks for what leads to perfection in performing them.
His attitude to faith (iman) is more special than the theologian, since the latter considers what makes belief correct, whilst the sufi seeks what makes it more certain and firm.
His attitude is more special than both the mufasir (commentator of the Quran) and the muhaddith (traditionist), since these deal with the external structure of the text, whilst the sufi looks at the inner meaning and implication it bears.
May with the barakah of all the sufi saints past and present, we are able to live and breathe their teachings both inwardly and outwardly. Ameen Allahumma Ameen.

Ahmad Zarruq's quotations are from 'The Reflections of the Mystics of Islam', compiled by ZH Sharib.
Ahmad Zarruq's Tomb Pic credit:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where is the Love? - Shaykh Hisham Kabbani


Love comes from the Arabic word Hubb made up of two alphabets Ha and Ba. These two represent secrets. If you combine the two secrets, you get Love.

Ha means hayyat or life. Ba means baqa, subsistence or always being in existent. So love is not just here in this life. It was there before and it will still be there after this dunya.

From Day One when Allah gave us hayyat/soul, that's when He gave us Love. Love came to be when we were asked "Alastu birabbikum?" (Am I not your Lord?) and we answered "Bala!" (Yes).

Love exists ever since.

- Shaykh Hisham Kabbani (Singapore, 11 October 2009)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tawheed Maths by Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Haqqani


"One divided by infinity equals zero.
Everything in front of 1 is nothing.
That is tawheed (unity).
You must understand the unity of the Lord.
So be nothing!
- Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Adil Haqqani, murshid of Naqshbandi 'Aliyyah Tariqah

Pic credit: Zia Aziz of Haqqani Fellowship
Mawlana Shaykh Nazim speaking during his sohba in Lefke, Cyprus, 11 October 2009. His d
aily sohba LIVE broadcasts are courtesy of

Monday, October 12, 2009

Junaid Baghdadi on Trust and Thankfulness


O son, I found this quote scribbled on a page of my book.
Junaid's basic principle on trust in God:
"You are before God
as you were
while God is before you
as He always is."
Junaid Baghdadi's eloquence was discovered by his uncle, Sari al-Saqati, a renowned imam and gnostic (arifbillah) of Baghdad (d.257 Hijrah). Sari took Junaid to pilgrimage when his nephew was only seven years old. At a gathering in Makkah where some 400 shaykhs were discussing the subject of thankfulness, Sari invited Junaid to offer his opinion. The boy responded, saying:
“Thankfulness means that
you should not disobey God
by means of the favour
which He has bestowed on you,
nor make of His favour
a source of disobedience.”
All the four hundred shaykhs were impressed by Junaid's remarkable words.
They thought it was the best definition on thankfulness.
Sari was delighted.
“Boy,” said Sari, “it will soon come to pass that your special gift from God will be your tongue.”
Junaid wept upon hearing his uncle's remarks.
“Where did you acquire this?” Sari asked.
“From sitting with you,” replied Junaid.

Pic: Tomb of Junaid Baghdadi (830 - 910 CE) in Baghdad, Iraq.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The final ground between man and God - Teachings of Abdullah Ansari

Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (1006 -1089 CE)
Author of Sad Maidan (Hundred Grounds)


We have come to the final ground of the 'Hundred Grounds' (Sad Maidan) identified by Abdullah Ansari being the field between man and God. The hundredth Ground is the Ground of Subsistence (baqa). The Ground of Subsistence arises from the (99th) Ground of Annihilation. God Almighty declares: "God is better, and more subsistent." (Qur'an XX:73)
- God Almighty - and naught else: (for here)...
attachments are severed,
secondary causes overturned,
conventions and norms nullified,
limitations naughted,
understandings wrecked,
history obliterated,
allusions effaced,
expressions negated,
and God, One and Unique abides by Himself, eternally subsistent.

Now these Hundred Grounds are all absorbed in the Ground of Love.
The Ground of Love is the Ground of Friendship. God Almighty declares:"...a people whom He loves and they love Him (Qur'an III:31) and "Say: If you love God..."
Love has three stages:
First of all, Uprightness,
at midway, Intoxication
and finally, Annihilation.
And praise be to God, the First and the Last.
Essay by A.G. Ravan Farhadi
in 'The Heritage of Sufism.
Published by Oneworld Oxford.
Tomb Pic Credit: Imteaz
Related Lisan al-Din post:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Khwaja Abdullah Ansari on 'The Ground of Annihilation'

O son, fana (annihilation) is one rather difficult terminology which frequently pops up in the studies of Sufism. It has to because it is one major pre-requisite in reaching God. Below is the essence of fana as expounded by a venerable Sufi saint of the 11th century - Khwaja Abdullah Ansari of Herat. May with his blessings, Allah unveils to us the reality of our true selves.
The 99th Ground is Annihilation. The Ground of Annihilation arises from the (98th) Ground of Direct Observation (mu'ayana). God Almighty states: "All things perish except His Face. His is the Judgment and unto Him you shall be returned." (Qur'an XXVII: 88)

Annihilation is naughting, and this naughting occurs through three things in three things:

i. Annihilation of seeking in the Found

ii. Annihilation of knowledge in the Known

iii. Annihilation of sight in the Seen

How can 'that which is naught' ever find out anything about 'that-which-eternally-is'? How can Reality - Eternally Subsistent - ever be aligned with a merely nominal perishable phenomenon? What can bind the Worthy to the unworthy?

All save Him are juxtaposed between three things:
yesterday's non-existence,
today which has gone astray and been mislaid and
tomorrow's nullity.

Thus, all save He, are non-existent and yet existent by Him. So all existence is His. The raindrop reached the sea and found therein its mellowing, just as the star by daylight was effaced. Whoever reaches his Lord, has attained his 'self'.
Reference: Essay by A.G. Ravan Farhadi in 'The Heritage of Sufism'. Published by Oneworld Oxford.
Related Lisan al-Din post: The Ground of Direct Observation

Friday, October 9, 2009

Abdullah Ansari on 'The Ground of Direct Observation'


The 98th Ground of the 'Hundred Grounds' (Sad Maidan) is that of Direct Observation (mu'ayana). It arises from the 97th Ground of Contemplation.

God Almighty states: "Have you not observed how your Lord has spread out the shadow?" (Qur'an XXV:45) The meaning of Direct Observation is seeing something in its total perfection, and this consists in three things:
- to regard Love with the eye of compliance,
- to regard the Unique (Being) with the eye of isolation, and
- to regard the Everpresent One with the eye of presential consciousness.

Exposition of the first aspect (to regard Love with the eye of compliance) entails three things:
responding affirmatively to the divine summons to make humble entreaty (to God);
replying to the summons of Divine Grace by soliciting it;
responding affirmatively to the divine summons to make firm one's resolve, and seeking a response to the divine summons made to one's innermost consciousness by soliciting (that summons).

Exposition of the second aspect (to regard the Unique Being with the eye of isolation) entails three things:
(through knowledge of the fact that) He is Unique (as an Agent) in Guidance, to maintain a strictly unitarian profession of faith;
and (through knowledge of the fact that) He is Unique in Knowledge to express one's gratitude to Him alone;
and (through knowledge of the fact that) He is Unique in Protection, to keep oneself devoted to Him exclusively.

Exposition of the final aspect (to regard the Everpresent One with the eye of presential consciousness) entails three things:
Through distance from one's "self", to be near in His Nearness;
Through absence from one's "self", to be present in His Presence;
He is not far from those who resolve to reach Him,
nor lost to those who seek Him,
nor absent from those who devotedly pursue Him.
Pic: Abdullah Ansari's Tomb (enclosed within the wooden structure), photographed by Robert Byron in 1933/1934. Copyright: Courtauld Institute of Art
Reference: Essay by A.G. Ravan Farhadi in 'The Heritage of Sufism'. Published by Oneworld Oxford. Related Lisan al-Din post: The Ground of Contemplation

Thursday, October 8, 2009

'The Ground of Contemplation' - Abdullah Ansari in 'Sad Maidan'


The 97th Ground to reaching God, according to Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (1006 - 1089 CE), is contemplation (mushahada). The paragraphs below are from Sad Maidan (Hundred Grounds), a book that spells out one hundred stations for a salik (seeker/wayfarer) to traverse with the aim of arriving at the Creator.
The Ground of Contemplation arises from the (96th) Ground of Bedazzlement (Dahshat). God Almighty says, "(Surely in that is a reminder) for one who harkens and contemplates." (Qur'an L:37). Contemplation is the removal of obstacles between the devotee and God.

The paths to contemplation are threefold:
First of all, realization of the degree of Wisdom by means of the degree of Knowledge.
Second, attainment of the degree of Purity by means of the degree of Patience (sabr).
Thirdly, realization of the degree of Reality through the degree of Knowing (ma'rifat).

I. Man attains the degree of Wisdom by means of the degree of Knowledge by means of three things:
- putting one's knowledge to good use
- by venerating the Divine Commands and
- faithful adherance to the Sunna (of the Prophet).
>> This is the stage of the sages (hakiman).

II. Man attains the degree of Purity through the degree of Patience by means of three things:
- by abandoning contention
- by renouncing self-direction and
- by considering contentment as necessary.
>> This is the stage of those who are content (with God's will).

III. Man may attain to the degree of Reality through the degree of Knowing by means of three things:
- by reverence (to God) in solitude
- by reproaching oneself for inadequacy in rendering the service (to God) and
- by preferring one's friends above oneself (ithar).
Reference: Essay by A.G. Ravan Farhadi in 'The Heritage of Sufism'. Published by Oneworld Oxford. Related Lisan al-Din posts:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

'The Ground of Unification (tawhid)' - Abdullah Ansari


The ground of unification is the 69th ground or field out of the 'Hundred Fields Between Man and God' - a teaching attributed to Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, a famous Persian Sufi and poet of Herat (1006 - 1089 CE).

The Ground of Unification (tawhid) arises from the (68th) Ground of Exile (Ghurba). Unification is:
(1) to say One
(2) to see One and
(3) to know One.
As God Almighty says: "So know that there is no God but God."

(1) 'To say One' is the beginning of all science, the gateway to all worldly and spiritual knowledge, and the partition between friend and foe. The profession of faith (in divine Oneness = Unification) is the banner, Sincerity the foundation (it is set upon), and Faithfulness its precondition. The profession (of Unification) has three outward and inward aspects:

i. To bear witness that God, the Most Exalted, is Uniquely One in Essence, exempt from association with any spouse, progeny, partner or associate. May He be Magnified and Exalted!
ii. To bear witness that God is Uniquely One in His Attributes, for in these no one bears Him any resemblance. They are His attributes and beyond our reason; the manner and quality of His attributes are incomprehensible and cannot be encompassed (by rational thought), being beyond imagination. He has no associate or likeness (amongs created things) in these Attributes. May He be Magnified and Exalted!
iii. To bear witness that God is Uniquely One in His pre-eternal Names. Whereas these Names can be ascribed to Him in reality, to others they are something borrowed and derivative. Although His created beings also have 'names', His Names are properly Real, being Eternal and anterior a parte ante to creation, and worthy of Him, while the names of created beings are temporal, in keeping with their contingent nature suitable to them. His truly proper Names are 'Allah' and 'Rahman' alone; by these (two) Names no other being may be addressed.

(2) 'To see Him as One' is in (regard to):
i. His decrees
ii. His allotments and
iii. His bounties.

(i) 'To see Him as One and Unique in His decrees' is (the recognition) that, in the allotment of providence, He is One and Unique in His comprehensively infinite pre-eternal Knowledge and all-embracing pre-eternal Wisdom. None but Him has the knowledge and wisdom to realize this. Vision of this is the fruit of wisdom; true realization of this is the fruit of wonderment; the furtherance of this is the fruit of power - which none but Him possesses!
(ii) 'To see Him as One and Unique in His allotments' is (the recognition) that His boons to creation are meted out each according to his proper share and best interest, and provided at the appropriate time.
(iii) 'To see Him as One and Unique in His bounties' is (the recognition) that He alone, in His singularity, is the Provider. He is the Giver and none else. No one but Him is deserving of gratitude and acknowledgement; His is the Power and the Might, and none else but Him possesses the wherewithal to withold or dispense bounty.

(3) 'To know Him as One' is in one's
i. service
ii. 'spiritual interactions' and
iii. will and aspiration.

(i) In service, it is to abjure leadership, to observe sincere truthfulness and to control (stray) thoughts.
(ii) In one's spiritual interactions, is to purify one's innermost consciousness, realize (the essence of) the recollection of God, and to steadfastly maintain one's confidence (in God's grace).
(iii) In will and aspiration; it is losing sight of everything but Him, forgetting everything save Him, and gaining deliverance through the heart's emancipation, from everything save Him.

FROM: An essay by A.G. Ravan Farhadi in 'The Heritage of Sufism'. Published by Oneworld Oxford.
Pic: Ansari's Shrine Complex in Gazargah, Afghanistan.
Related Lisan al-Din post: Abdullah Ansari's "Hundred Grounds"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Abdullah Ansari's "Hundred Grounds"


O son, I pray and I pray I could get hold of the book by Abdullah Ansari and share each of the 100 grounds/fields with you.

Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (1006 - 1089 CE) is a well known Sufi from Herat (Afghanistan) who authored other pertinent works such as the Unveiling of Mysteries (Kashf al-asrar), Dialogues with God (Munajat Namah), Stations of the Wayfares (Manazil al-sa'irin) and Generations of the Sufis (Tabaqat al-sufiya).

'Hundred Grounds' or 'Hundred Fields Between Man and God' (Sad Maidan) lists 100 stages/spiritual stations, requisites for arriving at the Divine Presence.

The first ten grounds are:
Exercise and

The last ten grounds are:
Time, Self, Unveiling, Joy, Intimacy, Terror, Observation, Seeing, Perishing (fana) and Lasting (baqa).

For now let's look at Ground 1 as quoted from an essay by Ravan Farhadi in the 'The Heritage of Sufism' - a book I had purchased in Glasgow four years ago but only found the time to browse it this morning, Alhamdulillah!
The Ground of Repentance (tawba)
The first ground is the stage of Repentance. Repentance is returning to God. In the words of God Almighty: "Turn unto God in sincere repentance." (Qur'an LXVI:8)
Know that Knowledge is life, Wisdom a mirror, Contentment a fortification, Hope is divine intercession, Recollection (of God) is a medicine, and Repentance is an antidote (for all ills). Repentance is the signpost of the way, the chieftain of admittance (to divine grace), the key to treasure, the Intercessor of Union, the major mediator, the condition for acceptance, and the secret of all joy. The principles of repentance are three: the repentance of the obedient devotee, the repentance of the disobedient sinner and the repentance of the knower.

The obedient devotee repents of overestimating his own devotion; the disobedient sinner repents of underestimating his own subordination and sin; and the knower repents of being oblivious of God's favours conferred on him.
1) Overestimating one's own devotion has three signs: considering oneself worthy of salvation through one's own acts (of devotion), regarding other seekers with disdain, and failing to investigate the flaws of one's own acts (of devotion).
2) Underestimating one's own insubordination and sin has three signs: to consider oneself worthy of God's forgiveness, to be untroubled by persistence in acts of disobedience, and to keep company with bad companions.
3) Being oblivious of God's favour has three signs: ceasing to hold oneself in contempt, highly estimating one's own spiritual state, and ceasing to seek the joy of intimacy with God.

In the next few days, we shall read the grounds of unification (tawhid), contemplation (mushahada), direct observation (mu'ayana), annihilation (fana) and subsistence (baqa) - INSHA'ALLAH. May Allah increase us in knowledge and gnosis.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Recognize the veils - Teachings of Rumi in "Fihi ma Fihi"


We said, "Some with a desire to see You kept saying, 'I wish I could have seen the Master'."

That person will not see the Master in reality just now because the desire he has to see the Master is itself a veil over the Master. At this time he will not see the Master without a veil.

All desires, affections, loves and fondness people have for all sorts of things, such as fathers, mothers, friends, the heavens and earth, gardens, pavilions, works, knowledge, food and drink - one should realize that every desire (such as) desire for food, and such things are all 'veils'. When one passes beyond this world and sees that King without these 'veils' then one will realize that all those things were 'veils' and 'coverings' and that what they were seeking was in reality that one thing.

All problems will then be solved. All the heart's questions and difficulties will be answered, and everything will become clear. God's reply is not such that He must answer each and every problem individually. With one answer all problems are solved. In winter everyone bundles himself up and huddles in a warm place to escape the cold. All plants and trees drop their leaves and fruit because of the biting cold, and they conceal their raiment within themselves lest they suffer from the chill. When spring 'answers' them by manifesting itself, all their different 'questions' with regards to living, growing things and dead things are answered at one blow: the secondary causes disappear. Everything sticks its head out and knows what has caused that calamity.

God has created these 'veils' for a good purpose. If He showed His beauty without a veil, we would not be able to hear it or benefit from it because we are benefitted and strengthened indirectly. You see the sun? In its light we come and go; we see, and we are able to distinguish good from bad. In it we warm ourselves. Because of it, trees and gardens bear fruit. In its heat, bitter and sour unripe fruit becomes ripe and sweet. Under its influence, mines of gold, silver, ruby and sapphire come to be. If this same sun, which is so beneficial indirectly were to come closer, not only would it give no benefit but it would cause the whole world and everything in it to burn up and perish. When God manifests himself through a veil to a mountain, the mountain becomes full of trees and flowers, bedecked with greenery. But if He were to manifest Himself without a veil, the mountain would be crushed and crumble to dust. "But when his Lord appeared with glory in the mount, He reduced it to dust." (Qur'an 7:143)

Here someone said, "But the sun in winter is the same sun as in spring."

"Our intent here, " replied the Master, "is to make a comparison. A consistent parallel is one thing, comparison another."

Even if the intellect, striving with all its might, does not comprehend something, how can it cease to strive? If the intellect ceases its endeavor, then it is not the intellect, because the intellect is by definition that thing, which night and day is restless and in a state of commotion with thought and endeavor to comprehend the Creator - even if He is incomprehensible and inconceivable. The intellect is like a moth and the divine beloved a candle. When the moth hurls himself at the candle, it is inevitable that it burn and perish. A moth is that thing that cannot resist the candle, no matter how much it suffers and burns in agony. Any animal that, like the moth, is unable to resist the candle's light and hurls itself at that light is a 'moth'. A candle into the light of which the moth throws itself but which does not burn the moth is not a 'candle'.

Therefore, a man who can resist God and not strive with all his might to comprehend Him is not a man. A god one can comprehend is not God. 'Men' then is that which is never free of striving: he is that which hovers restlessly around the 'light' of God's Awesomeness. "God" is that which 'burns' man and renders him nought but which no intellect can comprehend.

FROM: The 9th 'Discourses of Rumi' in 'Signs of the Unseen' (based on a translation of Rumi's Fihi ma Fihi published in Tehran in 1330/1952 A.D.)
Picture: The tomb of Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi in Konya, Turkey. Credit: Dinamars.