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How to Know the Defects of the Self

Ramadan Series 2014, Vol 9

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

7 July 2014 Fenton Zawiya, Michigan

Nawaytu 'l-arba'een, nawaytu'l-'itikaaf, nawaytu'l-khalwah, nawaytu'l-'uzlah, nawaytu'l-riyaada, nawaytu's-salook, lillahi ta'ala al-`azheem fee hadha'l-masjid

a'udhu billah mina 'sh-shaytani 'r-rajeem Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem

As-salaam 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi taala wa barakaatuh, salaam to all people who are present and to those who are watching, may Allah give us the barakah of Ramadan and the barakah of Sha`ban and the barakah of Rajab,

رجب شهر الله، وشعبان شهري، ورمضان شهر أمتي

Rajabun shahrullah wa Sha`baanu shahree wa Ramadaanu shahra ummatee.

Where the Prophet (s) said: Rajab is Allah's month, Sha`baan is my month and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah. (Abul-Fath ibn Abi Fawaris in his `Amalee from al-Hasan)

Meaning, the month of Rajab is rewarded, Sha`ban is rewarded and Ramadan is rewarded among other months. Yesterday we mentioned the importance of having a murshid. Today we give an example from Holy Qur'an and we mentioned those `ulama who are guides to the ummah, where the Prophet (s) said:

Scholars Inherit Knowledge from the Prophet (s)

العلماء ورثة الانبياء

The (genuine) scholars are inheritors of the Prophets.

And it is said, but not in a hadith:

علما امتي كانبيا بني اسرائيل

The scholars of my nation are like the prophets of the Children of Israel. (Ihya of Imam Ghazali)

And Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (q) mentioned the importance of having a guide. Like you enter a garden and it is beautiful, full of too many nice flowers, but it is full of weeds. What do you do with the weeds? You pull them out. If you cannot pull them you spray them with something so they die. So you do not keep the weeds in a beautiful garden. Allah gave us a beautiful garden, gave us a body that is very well engraved, He engraved us, He created us in perfect ways. He gave us soul, ar-rooh, and He gave us what is good for us, as He said in the Holy Qur'an:

فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا

And (the self’s) enlightenment as to its wrong and its right. (Surat ash-Shams, 91:8)

He inspired the self with its good and its bad, He informed the self with what is good for it and for what is bad, so He said, “This is bad, pull it out, throw it; keep the good.” But you need experience in the garden to know which ones are the weeds and which one is not the weeds.

The Perfect Shaykh is Like an Experienced Gardener

I will tell you story, you might laugh. One day maybe 35 years or more ago, I was at Mawlana Shaykh Nazim’s (q) house, it was 1982 or so, and we were sitting and Mawlana said, “What are you doing?”

And I said, “We are sitting.”

And Mawlana said, “Go and take the weeds out of the garden.”

So I went and looked and saw some bushes. When you find something not nice you use manjara, like a machete, you use that whenever you see something not nice and you cut. I saw these bushes that have some kind of thorns and they are like that (bushy), too many. I cut the first, the second, cut the third, and up to fifteen of them, growing everywhere and after two or three hours I finished.

Mawlana came and said, “Did you do anything?”

And I said, “Yes, I cut all these bushes.”

He said, “Which bushes?”

And I said, “Mawlana, there inside, come to the garden, I’ll show you.”

And he looked and said, “What did you do? These are the artichokes! These are all artichokes!”

I am not experienced, I thought they were weeds so I cut them. So you need when you enter a garden and see something that you don’t know you need a murshid, guide. Allah gave us a garden of knowledge and Allah does not like the lazy servant, Allah likes the one who seeks knowledge.

So Imam Ghazali (q) said, “You need someone who knows Ahwaal an-Nafs, the States of the Self. You need someone to tell you this is correct and this is not.”

Like what happened with me: these were not weeds, these were fruit, they were vegetables to eat, but with ignorance you cut them as you don’t know. So you need someone to tell you, “This is wrong, this is right, eliminate this, take this.” So if you see a stone, you move it by the order of the shaykh and that is why it is not easy to find a shaykh, a perfect one that can know what you are suffering. Sometimes you plant a tree and after a while it dies. Why? Because there are too many weeds around it and they eat it, they take all the nutrients and it dies. So they don’t want you to fall down, meaning, to be in Hellfire, they want you to be in the highest level of Paradise with the Prophet (s).

Was the Prophet (s) in need for a guide? No, but Allah made him in need for a guide to teach us and to tell us, He made him in need for Jibreel (a). Why? Can’t Allah send Holy Qur'an to the Prophet (s) without Jibreel (a) ? Yes He can, as He sent to Sayyidina Musa (a); He sent the Tawraat without Sayyidina Jibreel (a), He used to talk directly to Sayyidina Musa (a), but because Allah loves us… because Bani Isra`eel went against what Sayyidina Musa (a) did so Allah gave them a hard time, but Allah is not giving Ummat an-Nabi (s) a hard time, He is sending them to Paradise! That is why He sends us guides.

Allah Wants Us to Be Guided

As-haab an-Nabi are our guides, or else how will we know what Prophet said to them? All the `Ilm al-Hadith came through the Sahaabah (r)! And how did the Prophet (s) live in his houses? We were informed by his wives that the Prophet (s) used to do this and do that and they were teaching the Sahaabah (r) about relationships and how the Prophet (s) was treating his family and his children, or else we won’t know. Allah wants us to be guided.

Muslim Women Who Cover Themselves Carry the Honor of the Ummah

Like today Muslim ladies, mu’min ladies cover, are they going to be in same level as Muslim ladies who don't cover? No. Those who cover are like in the middle of a fire. The others, who look like Westerners, they don’t cover, they are not worried, but the Muslim ladies are worried and they carry this worry because they want Allah to be happy with them. The Prophet (s) said:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : يأتي على الناس زمان القابض على دينه كالقابض على الجمر

Qaala rasoolullah yaatee `ala an-naasi zamaan al-qaabidu `alaa deenihi ka ’l-qaabidu `alaa ’l-jamr.

The one holding his religion firmly in his hand is like someone holding a burning coal. (Tirmidhi)

The people holding the religion are like people holding burning coal in their hands! And also the men, never the Prophet (s) went around bareheaded, without a hat except in `Umrah or Hajj. He always had something covering his head. Not only women must cover their heads, but men have to cover their heads! You go to London today, on Oxford Street where there is shopping area, you see women with niqaab, complete black, and the husband with shorts. You see them, go and see. They are pushing the baby cart in front of them and the man with no cover on his head and with shorts and the lady beside him, his wife, is covered. It is good for the lady and bad for the man. She is protecting her image in front of Allah (swt) that she is covered, as that is an honor Allah gave to Ummat an-Nabi (s). And people come always against the women. What she is carrying you men never can carry! Those who are been guided, they are carrying coal in their hands.

So guides are the ones that will guide you to where you need to go or else you don’t know what to do.

Imam Ghazali (q) said, inna Allah `azza wa jall idhaa arada-allahu bi `abdin khayr yureehi ayba nafsihi. “If Allah wants good for his servant, He will show His servant his defects.”

Sit by yourself facing qibla and think, “What kind of badness do I have?” Allah will give you some answers. But still you will need a guide in order to imitate way of the Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) needed a guide to move from Mecca to Madinah in the desert. And we say to ourselves that we don't need a guide. To know our defects we need someone who has experienced this road and learned all its problems and learned how to reach the other side safely, to tell us what we need to do. You cannot accept a guide who has no knowledge or experience of these roads that guide you to Reality, that guide you to the Prophet (s)!

Most People are Ignorant

And Imam Ghazali (q) said, “The majority of people are ignorant.” If we say that they come against us, but if Imam Ghazali (q) said that, it is good as then you have an evidence.

أكثر الخلق جاهلون بعيوب أنفسهم يرى أحدهم القذى في عين أخيه ولا يرى الجذع في عين نفسه،

Akthar al-khalq jaahiloon bi-`uyoobi anfusihim, yara ahadahum al-qadhaa fee `ayna akheehi wa la yara ’l-jidh`u fee `ayni nafsihi.

Most of people are unaware of their defects. They see themselves, everything is good with them. They look at people and they begin to criticize them, as he is saying, even someone has a small thing in his eye, how it irritates you, some people look at the other people and say, “Oh look, he has a thorn in his eyes!” and they forget they have the tree trunk in their eyes! They are ignorant about their defects in themselves. He sees the pus in the brother’s eyes but never sees the branch in his own eyes, because they all look at others and not at themselves.

This is Abu Haamid al-Ghazali (q) saying this, after years and years of searching and after first denying and then after going into friendship with his shaykh, Yusuf an-Nasaaj (q), he began to find the realities, until he saw the dream in which he saw Allah (swt) directing him.

فمن أراد أن يعرف عيوب نفسه فله أربعة طرق: الأول: أن يجلس بين يدي شيخ بصير بعيوب النفس، مطلعٍ على خفايا الآفات،ويحكّمه في نفسه، ويتبع إشاراته في مجاهداته، وهذا شأن المريد مع شيخه،

Faman araada an ya`rif `ayoob nafsihi fa-lahu arba`ata turuq: an yajlis bayna yadayy shaykhun baseerun bi-`uyyoobi’n-nafs mutali`in `alaa khufya ’l-aafaat. wa yuhkamahu fee nafsihi wa yatba` ishaaratahu fee mujaahidaatihi, wa haadha shaanu’l-mureed ma` shaykhihi.

If anyone wants to know the defects of himself, he has to sit between the hands of a an yajlis bayna yadayy shaykhun baseerun bi-`uyyoobi’n-nafs. He must sit with a shaykh who knows the tricks and the defects of the self. mutali`in `alaa khufya ’l-aafaat, that that shaykh can see all the tricks of the self, the hidden illnesses, wa yuhkamahu fee nafsihi, and he will make his shaykh a judge on himself to check on him, wa yatba` ishaaratahu fee mujaahidaatihi and he will follow his signals and signs and what he says to him in his struggle in his Gnostic road, wa haadha shaanu’l-mureed ma` shaykhihi and this has to be way of a mureed with his shaykh, to surrender, to be sure his shaykh is teaching him the right way.”

Sayyidina Musa (a) Searched for the Perfect Shaykh and We have the Perfect Shaykh!

And an example for us from the Holy Qur'an is one of the main ayaat that Allah put in Surat al-Kahf, that Sayyidina Musa (a) knew that there is something missing with him. He wanted to experience or to know the problem. What he did? He went with his servant Yusha` to find the one who possesses knowledge. Why? He is a prophet and one of Five Greatest Prophets, Oolu ‘l-`Azam, yet he was seeking a guide. Allah did not send Jibreel (a) to him, so he knew that he needed a guide and he was looking for someone to teach him. With all his knowledge, he felt that it was not enough. What he said?

وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَى لِفَتَاهُ لَا أَبْرَحُ حَتَّى أَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ أَوْ أَمْضِيَ حُقُبًا . فَلَمَّا بَلَغَا مَجْمَعَ بَيْنِهِمَا نَسِيَا حُوتَهُمَا فَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِي الْبَحْرِ سَرَبًا . فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَا قَالَ لِفَتَاهُ آتِنَا غَدَاءنَا لَقَدْ لَقِينَا مِن سَفَرِنَا هَذَا نَصَبًا

Behold, Moses said to his attendant, "I will not give up until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travel." But when they reached the junction, they forgot (about) their fish, which took its course through the sea (straight) as in a tunnel. When they had passed on (some distance), Moses said to his attendant, "Bring us our early meal; truly we have suffered much fatigue at this (stage of) our journey." (Surat al-Kahf, 18:60-62)

He said to his helper, “We got so tired!” It means he was searching for someone that he was not finding, he did not find Khidr (a) so quickly. He said, laqad laqeena min safarinaa haadhaa nasaba “We have been so exhausted from this travel. Too many obstacles! We lost our fish, our food and everything and we are so exhausted and still we did not find what we need.”

It means to find a daleel, a guide, is not so easy. But for us, and some other people, Allah made it so easy that he guided us to Mawlana Shaykh Nazim (q) who guided us in the right direction of Shari`ah. Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim `Adil al-Haqqani an-Naqshbandiyya-Nazimiyya Tariqah, it’s after his name.

So Sayyidina Musa (a) got so tired, that’s why he said to his helper, “Give us our food, we cannot continue any more, it is tiring.” And so it is not simple to say, “I am a mureed.” To say, “I am a lover” is better than to say, “I am a mureed.” Sayyidina Musa (s) did not yet reach the Station of Mureed.

He is a prophet and he is going to a guide to teach him something different. This is Sayyidina Musa (a), with his majestic power and the greatness that Allah gave to him, he was looking for Khidr (a) in order to guide him and direct him. How many days did he walk in the desert with his helper and no luck? Allah gave us on a golden plate! He said, “Love My Prophet and enter Paradise! Say ‘laa ilaaha illa-Llah’ and enter Paradise,” it is so simple.

If Sayyidina Musa (a) was so exhausted, what about his ummah? So exhausted! That is why all nations from Sayyidina Adam (a) through all prophets until Prophet Muhammad (s) are exhausted on the Day of Judgment and that’s why they come to Prophet Muhammad (s) asking shaf`ah for their nations. It is not that easy. But for us, Allah’s Will, “Take it, but follow it.” And what are we doing? We let weeds to grow in our garden and say, “We are shuyookh, give us baya`!” and we don't know meaning of baya`. We give baya, yes, to Grandshaykh (q) and to Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim `Adil (q) and to shaykhs of the Naqshbandi Golden Chain, and to anyone we see who has the character and responsibility to carry us in this life and next. If I take baya` with Shaykh Sulayman, he has to take care of me in dunya and Akhirah, he cannot leave me! He has to be responsible, because he has extended his hand to carry me!

And on what has he given me baya`? I want to know. To take me to the presence of the Prophet (s) in dunya and Akhirah! If you don't take me, what is the benefit? If I give you hundreds of baya`, what is benefit? There counterfeit money, forged, and when you go to the market can you spend them? Even if you have millions, if you collect them, thinking you can give to everyone and in reality they are counterfeit, still you cannot exchange them for a penny. You see it as, “I have have millions,” but in reality, you cannot buy anything and you cannot buy a way to go from one town to another with this counterfeit money. If you have the original one, tell me and I will run for your baya`!

There are many issues in baya`, there are many meanings of baya` and what you give baya` for. We took baya` to Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil (q), asking him to extend his hand to us and, of course, to guide us through this way that Sayyidina Musa (a) wants to reach in order to have more knowledge. He was seeking to find Khidr (a) to reach somewhere, and today we want to reach love of the Prophet (s) and to reach presence of the Prophet (s)! Can you take me to the presence of the Prophet (s)? If you can I will love to take baya`, but if you cannot take me, what is this? If not real, if it is counterfeit, that is like forged money that you cannot spend them. That is why he said, laqad laqeena min safarinaa haadhaa nasaba, “that we got so exhausted from this trip to find the Reality.” And he didn’t say, “We will stop,” he said, “Never mind, we will continue our way,” until they found Khidr (a).

We Don’t Need Counterfeit Shaykhs

فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا

Fawajadaa `abdan min `ibaadinaa aataynaahu rahmatan min `indinaa wa `allamnaahu min ladunnaa `ilma.

So they found one of Our Servants on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our Own Presence. (Surat al-Kahf, 18:65)

They found the one after what? After they got so tired, but they did not back up (retreat). So what did Sayyidina Musa (a) say to Khidr (a)?

قَالَ لَهُ مُوسَى هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَى أَن تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا

Moses said to him: "May I follow you, on the footing that you teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which you have been taught?" (Surat al-Kahf, 18:66)

“Can I follow you? I will follow you.” Hal attabi`uka `alaa an tu`alimanee mimmaa `ulimta rushda, “You have to teach me your way from what Allah has taught you. I will follow you, but you have to teach me and tell me.” Look, a high level prophet is asking another prophet who is not at his level, “I will follow you, but you have to show me the Way!” That is what we are saying, “Don’t give me counterfeit money, we are extending our hands to you to promise to take me to Prophet (s), but if you cannot, don’t cheat me! Can you take me? Don't tell me, ‘My shaykh will take you,’ or then I will take baya` with your shaykh.

That is why in baya` we have to be careful not to make people not know what they are doing, not just saying, “Baya`, baya`, baya`” and you don't know what you are doing. When you take the hand of Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim `Adil (q) or Grandshaykh `AbdAllah (q), you feel you are getting something in exchange since you extended your hand, that you are not going empty. They stamp you, like they put a chip under your skin, they know where you are going. They are jawaasees al-quloob, spies of the heart, they spy on your heart, where you are going.

قَالَ لَهُ مُوسَى هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَى أَن تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا

Qaala lahu moosaa hal attabi`uk `alaa an tu`alimani mimma `ulimta rushdan.

Moses said to him: "May I follow thee, on the footing that thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught?" (Surat al-Kahf, 18:66)

قَالَ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا . وَكَيْفَ تَصْبِرُ عَلَى مَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ خُبْرًا

Qaala innaka lan tastatee`a ma`iya sabran. Wakayfa tasbiru `alaa maa lam tuhit bihi khubran.

(The other) said, "Verily, you will not be able to have patience with me! And how can you have patience with things about which your understanding is not complete?" (Surat al-Kahf, 18:67-68)

He said, “No you cannot, you cannot go along with me, I’m difficult, I do things that you cannot understand! Verily, you cannot, but on one condition: I know you cannot, but on one condition you must not ask me until I tell you the wisdom!”

He said, “Okay.” So there was a chat, a contract they made with each other, and when you take baya` with the shaykh you are taking an agreement that the shaykh will take you to the presence of the Prophet (s) before you leave dunya. When you are leaving dunya, it will be our great pleasure to see Prophet (s).

قَالَ فَإِنِ اتَّبَعْتَنِي فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِي عَن شَيْءٍ حَتَّى أُحْدِثَ لَكَ مِنْهُ ذِكْرًا

Qaala fa ini ittaba`tanee falaa tasalnee `an shayin hattaa uhditha laka minhu dhikraa.

The other saidm "If then you will follow me, ask me no questions about anything until I myself speak to you concerning it." (Surat al-Kahf, 18:70)

“If you agree on my contract that is difficult, then don't question me and follow my orders and I will tell you.”

Sayyidina Musa (a) said, “I agree.”

But what happened? He didn’t follow his orders. wa kayfa tasbeeh ...He said, “You cannot be patient with me. How are you going to be patient on something you don't know?”

قَالَ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاء اللَّهُ صَابِرًا وَلَا أَعْصِي لَكَ أَمْرًا

Moses said, "You will find me, if Allah so wills, (truly) patient, nor shall I disobey you in anything."

(Surat al-Kahf, 18:69)

“No, I will be patient because I believe in you.” So if I believe in you and extend my hand to you to be my teacher you have to tell me if I am on right way or not. If I go on the wrong way, who will tell me how to go back? Mawlana Shaykh (q) spent his whole life advising people every day 2-3 times, always sitting with people one to two hours 3-4 times a day, and keeps doing this like an ocean. Keeps doing this or else how you will be guided? Like you go to school how many hours? Six to eight hours taking courses or classes.

The other said, "If then you will follow me, ask me no questions about anything until I myself speak to you concerning it." (18:70) “Don't ask me, but follow my way. Put your hand and follow my way,” but his nafs does not let him, it begins to question:

قَالَ هَذَا فِرَاقُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنِكَ سَأُنَبِّئُكَ بِتَأْوِيلِ مَا لَمْ تَسْتَطِع عَّلَيْهِ صَبْرًا

He answered, "This is the parting between me and you. Now will I tell you the interpretation of (those things) of which you were unable to hold patience. (Surat al-Kahf, 18:78)

Why Did Sayyidina Musa (a) Go Through All These Tests?

He said, “This is the end here, finished. I will tell you why I did that, but that’s the end, we separate.” Still Musa (a) is thirsty for knowledge, so he told him what was wrong. Why he put hole in boat, why he killed the boy, why he built the wall back (narrated in Surat al-Kahf), we are not going into that, it is a different subject; perhaps tomorrow we can shed light on that. Why he went into these tests? Why did Sayyidina Musa (a) go into these tests with Sayyidina al-Khidr (a)?

Allah ordered him to; he will not go to Khidr (a) without an order. Sayyidina Musa (a) is able to meet him in one moment, but Allah did not make them to meet like that, He gave him some hardship. He wanted him to suffer in order to learn. If you don't suffer you will never learn. So why was Sayyidina Musa (a) put in that test? Because one day he gave a speech to Bani Isra`eel and he was very happy with the outcome, then one man of Bani Isra`eel who did not believe in Sayyidina Musa (a) came to him and said, “I have more knowledge than you! Who is more knowledgeable, me or you?”

Sayyidina Musa (a) looked at him and said, “Who is this one? He is not even my believer! I am more knowledgeable than you.”

Because of that, Allah made him go seeking Khidr (a), saying to him, “There are more knowledgeable than you and if I want to show you My Miracles, this man, Khidr (a), is one of them. Go take from him!”

That was to polish him, because there was no intermediary between Allah and Sayyidina Musa (a), Allah did not make it, Allah used to speak directly. So Allah gave him to learn that, “You think yourself better because you speak with Me directly? No, go and polish yourself and learn more.”

So we ask Allah to keep guiding us on the way of our guides towards the love of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) and towards the love of Allah (swt).

Wa min Allahi ‘t-tawfeeq bi hurmati 'l-Fatihah.

That is why guides are important. Without `alim Ahwaal an-Nafs, a shaykh knowing the tricks of the Self, it is very difficult to reach safety. May Allah forgive us, bi hurmati 'l-habeeb bi hurmati 'l-Fatihah.


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