A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytani ‘r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem. Alhamdulillahi Rabbi 'l-`Alameen, wa ’s-salaatu wa ’s-salaamu `alaa ashrafi 'l-mursaleena Sayyidina wa Nabiyyina Muhammadin wa `alaa aalihi wa sahbihi ajma`een. Dastoor yaa Sayyidi, yaa Sultan al-Awliya, yaa Qutb al-Mutassarif.
As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Alhamdulillah, all praise be to Allah (swt) that He has favored us, as our teachers say, “We were born and we are from Ummat an-Nabi (s).” Sayyidina Muhammad’s name is al-Muqaddam, “The One Brought Forward from among All Creation.” He is the one in the Divine Presence, al-Mukhaatab, to whom Allah (swt) revealed the Holy Qur'an; Sayyidina Muhammad (s) is the one being addressed.
All that We are Given, Including Pleasure and Knowledge, is from Allah’s Favors
According to our teachers, when Allah (swt) created the Light of Sayyidina Muhammad (s), He (swt) asked, “Who am I and who are you?" and Sayyidina Muhammad (s) said, Anta ‘l-Qahhaar wa anaa `abduka ’l-`ajiz, “You are al-Qahhaar, The Almighty Subduer, and I am Your incapable servant.” The more someone advances towards the Divine Presence, the more they find out that they are incapable and that Allah (swt) is al-Mannaan, The One Who Grants Favors and by Whose permission we advance. It is not by our own power, effort or knowledge, which is all for our ego to find pleasure in, it is from Allah (swt)’s Divine favors so we can find pleasure in praying and learning knowledge.
Sometimes when we read and try to understand we find sweetness in our hearts and we feel good, but it is not because we can pray or worship or because we know something that makes us advance to the Divine Presence; no, it is all from Allah's favor.
Our teachers said that when Allah (swt) gave the knowledge and the realities of the Holy Qur'an to Sayyidina Muhammad (s), He (swt) looked at Creation and chose Sayyidina Jibreel (a) to be the trustworthy one to carry these realities until the time comes to deliver them to Creation. That is why Sayyidina Jibreel (a) brought the Message to all the prophets and messengers, and to the Last Messenger (s) he brought from Allah’s knowledge what was befitting Ummat an-Nabi (s) of that time. These are the teachings of our noble teachers.
So Allah (swt) said, “Yaa Nabi (s)! I am honoring your choice and making Jibreel (a), the one you have chosen, to be the trustworthy one to deliver the Message to Creation.”
إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلُ رَسُولٍ كَرِيمٍ
Indeed, the Qur'an is a word (conveyed by) a noble messenger. (Surat at-Takwir, 81:19)
وَمَا هُوَ بِقَوْلِ شَيْطَانٍ رَجِيمٍ
And the Qur'an is not the word of a devil, expelled (from the Heavens). (Surat at-Takwir, 81:25)
“This knowledge is coming through a noble messenger,” which is Sayyidina Jibreel (a).” Allah (swt) also said Sayyidina Jibreel (a) has power in the Divine Presence, in the Presence of the Owner of the Mighty Throne, he is someone that is obeyed by the angels in Heavens and he is ameen, a trustworthy one.
ذِي قُوَّةٍ عِنْدَ ذِي الْعَرْشِ مَكِينٍ مُطَاعٍ ثَمَّ أَمِينٍ
(Who is) possessed of power and with the Owner of the Throne, secure (in position), obeyed there (in the Heavens) and trustworthy. (Surat at-Takwir, 81:20-21)
So when Sayyidina Muhammad (s) took the realities, Allah (swt) says:
الرَّحْمَنُ عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ
(Allah) Most Gracious! It is He Who has taught the Qur'an. (Surat ar-Rahmaan, 55:1-3)
“Ar-Rahmaan (swt) taught the Qur’an.” Allah (swt) gave the realities to Sayyidina Muhammad (s) before creating humans, because “He taught the Qur’an (`allama 'l-qur'an)” comes before “He created humans (khalaqa 'l-insaan).” So He gave the realities before He created human beings, and messengers and prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, etc. all are human beings. So the realities were first given to Sayyidina Muhammad (s), the Honor of All Mankind, who chose Sayyidina Jibreel (a) to be the trustworthy one to carry these trusts until the time comes when this knowledge would start going into humanity, on the hearts of messengers, prophets, and to the Nation of the Last Messenger (s), Ummat an-Nabi (s), which is us.
So since Sayyidina Muhammad (s) is al-Muqaddam, The One Brought Forward to the Divine Presence, he is also the one taught and the one who is going to teach: he was the perfect student of knowledge and he was taught in a perfect manner, and now it’s his turn to teach Creation. The audience of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) when he was here on Earth were the Sahaabah (r) and his Holy Family (a). So when the Holy Qur'an was revealed, it addressed the state of the Sahaabah (r), the Holy Family (a) and the Believers coming into Islam and imaan.
The Evolution of Human Beings as Defined in Holy Qur’an
The First Revealed Chapter of Holy Qur’an:
Human Nature is to Push Beyond Limits
As we said previously, there is a chronological order in which the chapters of the Holy Qur’an were revealed depending on the state of humanity at the time of Sayyidina Muhammad (s). First came “Iqraa’”, Surat al-`Alaq was the first chapter revealed to the Prophet (s), in which Allah (swt) told Prophet (s) to tell us that there is something inside us:
كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لَيَطْغَىٰ أَنْ رَآهُ اسْتَغْنَىٰ إِنَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ الرُّجْعَىٰ
No! (But) indeed, man transgresses, because he sees himself self-sufficient. Indeed, to your Lord is the return. (Surat al-`Alaq, 96:6-8)
When we see ourselves, “Verily, there is something inside human beings that will push them to go beyond their limits”, to violate commands and laws, not to obey Allah (swt) and to think of themselves as lords. An ra’aahu, when the human being sees himself, when he thinks he is powerful, then he says, “I am not in need of Allah's guidance, I am not in need of any teacher, because I see myself as the all-knowledgeable and powerful. I can see, act, say, walk, I can do whatever I want!”
So they don't seek heavenly guidance anymore. Our state as humans is that we claim we are not in need of heavenly guidance, that we are masters and controllers on Earth and we can do anything we want, as we see it nowadays with people inventing their own rules, regulations, ordinances, laws and saying, “We don't need the heavenly laws.”
So Allah (swt) revealed the Holy Qur’an to the Prophet (s) that this is the state of insaan, Mankind: “Verily, Mankind will transgress their bounds, when they see themselves they say, ‘We are not in need for guidance,’ and they don't know they are going back to Allah (swt).”
Then at end of the surah, as we made sajda before when we recited it, the Prophet (s) is saying, “O human beings! Don't obey what is inside of you! Listen to me and follow me so you can draw near to Allah (swt).” So this is the definition of humanity: if you have something inside of you, don’t obey it! The audience of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) was the Believers coming into Islam; they were taught to be aware of that thing inside of them and not obey it.
The Second Revealed Chapter of Holy Qur’an:
Disciplining the Nafs and Developing Good Manners
The second chapter in the chronological order of Revelation was Surat al-Qalam, in which Allah (swt) spoke about:
ن وَالْقَلَمِ وَمَا يَسْطُرُونَ
Noon. By the Pen and that which they write. (Surat al-Qalam, 68:1)
Allah (swt) knows best what “Noon” means, but some scholars have said it represents the first letter of “nafs”, the ego, a sign of what was inside of us in the first chapter. Wa ‘l-qalami wa maa yasturoon, “And the Pen and what they are writing down,” which is the destiny, meaning each nafs, lower self inside us has a destiny written for it; humans have to follow a destiny that Allah (swt) has ordained for them in His Infinite Wisdom and Knowledge. We cannot question it, and anyway destiny is ghayb, unknown to us.
مَا أَنتَ بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ بِمَجْنُونٍ
You (O Muhammad) are not, by the Grace of your Lord, a madman. (Surat al-Qalam, 68:2)
“By the favor of Allah (swt), you are not a crazy man.” As our teachers explain, the favor of Allah (swt) was that the Prophet (s) was made to know the destiny of humans, given the power to know the realities of humans, because when Allah (swt) created Creation he showed it to Sayyidina Muhammad (s) and taught him the realities. So the Prophet (s) knew the realities of each Creation one by one: how they are going to be, Believers or unbelievers, happy or unhappy, pious or wicked. He was told and taught what is going to become of us all. So Allah (swt) is saying, “By My favor of teaching you Destiny, verily, you are not the crazy one; actually, you are the most knowledgeable of all of them because you know their destiny, what’s going to happen to them, and you have the highest, utmost, magnificent manners of Holy Qur'an,” as Sayyida `Ayesha (r) said:
كَانَ خُلقُهُ القُرءان
His character was the Qur’an. (Muslim)
So when Allah (swt) is saying, “You are of a high and magnificent status,” and his manners are the Qur’an, that means the Prophet (s) took the realities Allah gave him, because manners are how we behave: if the Holy Qur'an are his manners, it means the Qur’an came from his heart [when it was revealed on him] and became his garment, his dress, his external being. So the Prophet (s) came to teach humanity how to take khuluq, manners, and dress it with the Holy Book.
The Third Revealed Chapter of Holy Qur’an:
Wake Up and Start Your Journey, Rest but Also Worship Me
In the third chapter, Surat al-Muzzamil, Allah (swt) is saying:
ياأيها المزمل قم الليل إلا قليلا نصفه أو انقص منه قليلا أو زد عليه ورتل القرآن ترتيلا إنا سنلقي عليك قولا ثقيلا إن ناشئة الليل هي أشد وطئا وأقوم قيلا
O you who is wrapped in garments! Stand (in prayer) by night, but not all night, of one-half thereof or less, or add to it (at will), and recite the Qur'an calmly and distinctly, with your mind attuned to its meaning. Indeed, We will cast upon you a heavy word. Indeed, the hours of the night are more effective for concurrence (of heart and tongue) and more suitable for words. (Surat al-Muzzammil, 73:1-6)
Yaa ayyuha ’l-muzzammil, “O the one cloaked in shrouds.” As human beings, we are dressed in the veils of our body with the characteristics of our ego: we burn, kill, lie, cheat, all these are characteristics of the ego. So when the Prophet (s) was given the Qur’an and the good manners, the third chapter is saying, “O humans that are covered!” because He is addressing Nabi Kareem (s) and He is teaching us, “O the ones who are covered with the veils of darkness and ego! Qum, wake up! O Man, wake up and start your journey in the darkness, qumi ‘l-layl, wake up in the night. Start your journey in the darkness of the veils of your ego.”
So the Companions (r) were listening to all of this in the chronological order in which the Qur’an was coming down, and it is the way to Allah (swt) through the Holy Prophet (s): 1) first know what is inside of you; 2) then know that Allah (swt) has written a destiny for you, and; 3) Nabi Kareem (s) was dressed with Holy Qur'an and he came to dress us with it.
So he said, yaa ayyuha ’l-muzzammil, “O the ones that are covered! O the one who is covered with the garments and the veils of the lower self and desires, qum, wake up.” Wake up from what? From sleep, as Sayyidina `Ali (r) said, “We are all asleep. When we die we will wake up and say, ‘O what happened? We should have done this and done that!”
So in the third chapter Allah (swt) is saying, “O Beloved One, O My Habeeb! I gave you the realities of humans. Tell them to wake up, to stand up and start their journey at night in the darkness, illaa qaleela, except a little bit.” Why? Because your body and your ego cannot be in worship 24 hours; you have to rest. That’s why our teachers say, eight hours for worship, eight hours for eating, drinking and working and eight hours for rest. Qumi ‘l-layla illa qaleela, wake up at night except for a little bit. It means, start your journey in the veils of darkness and in your ego except for a little bit, in order to allow your ego to rest and your body to eat and drink, as you cannot push it for 24 hours. Allah (swt) is saying, “I know their capabilities that they cannot be in worship for 24 hours, so let them start their journey but also let them enjoy part of the time by eating and drinking, sleeping and working.”
But how much of it do we give to that? Qumi ‘l-layla illa qaleela, nisfahu, “Wake up in the night,” means, “Walk in this journey during the darkness, half of it.” That means, spend half the amount allotted for the ego and the body in rest, in working, eating, drinking and spend the other half in worship.
Let’s say the night is half of 24 hours, so then our teachers are saying it’s six hours of rest, six hours of eating, drinking and working and the remaining twelve hours for worship. But Allah (swt) is continuing in the ayah, nisfahoo aw unqus minhu qaleela, “either half or less than half.” Less than half are for the powerful ones! Then, it becomes not one-fourth but one-sixth: one-sixth for eating and drinking, one-sixth for working and two-thirds for worship--these are for the strong ones. So eight hours in eating, drinking, sleeping and sixteen hours of worship! Aw zid `alayhi, or the opposite: eight hours of sleep, eight hours of rest and eight hours of worship.
So Allah (swt) is saying that some people who are strong will only sleep, work, eat and drink for eight hours and worship sixteen hours, some will do the eight hour sleep, drink and work, eight hour rest and eight hour worship and some will do the six hour, six hour, six hour, six hour. At the end, it’s all “Wake up in this journey and start acquiring Holy Qur’an’s orders, commandments, adab, manners, `ilm and take away the characteristics of the bad ego” that we have been dressed with.
Beginning to Understand the Holy Qur’an Changes Our Behavior
Wa rattili ’l-qur'aana tarteela. That is the sign that you need to recite the Qur'an slowly, which means you begin to understand the each verse properly, and when we understand the verses of Holy Qur'an we take it on ourselves and shed the bad characteristics. For example, Allah (swt) says in the Holy Qur’an, “Be truthful,” so we start being truthful and we leave lying. He says, “Be good to your parents,” so we start to be good to our parents and leave being bad to our parents. Some people nowadays don’t even check on their parents, they leave them somewhere and they go! Similarly, “Don’t make partners with Allah,” “Don’t worship idols,” “Don’t do this and that,” etc. So we take on all the orders of Holy Qur'an and we leave our bad characteristics by reciting Holy Qur'an. Qumi ‘l-layla illa qaleela, stand, walk and move by night, in the darkness, by reciting and acquiring the Holy Qur'an.
Inna sanulqee `alayka qawlan thaqeela, “We are going to send down on you [Jibreel] heavy words” that heavy in the Balance, Holy Scale. The teachers say this is valuable speech, “We are going to send you through Jibreel qawlan thaqeelan, a saying that has value and weight, something precious,” not something simple like people say today, “Okay, it’s a Holy Book, but we will do whatever we want.” No, Allah (swt) is saying, “It’s precious and valuable words”, inna naashi’ata ‘l-layli hiya ashaddu wat’an wa aqwamu qeela, because when we start from the darkness with Holy Qur'an and `ilm, Allah (swt) is saying that it is much stronger to go forward with that knowledge. So what we need to do is follow the guidance of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) to humanity, to his beloved Companions (r) and to his beloved Holy Family (a) and do what they did. What did they do?
How to Develop Discipline: The Example of Sayyidina al-Haritha
One day Sayyidina al-Haritha (r), one of the Ansaar from Madinatu ‘l-Munawwara, was walking and Nabi Kareem (s) met him, and this is a very well-known Hadith:
عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ ، قَالَ : بَيْنَمَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَمْشِي إِذِ اسْتَقْبَلَهُ شَابٌّ مِنَ الْأَنْصَارِ ، فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : " كَيْفَ أَصْبَحْتَ يَا حَارِثُ ؟ " ، قَالَ : أَصْبَحْتُ مُؤْمِنًا حَقًّا ، قَالَ : " انْظُرْ مَا تَقُولُ فَإِنَّ لِكُلِّ قَوْلٍ حَقِيقَةً " . قَالَ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، عَزَفَتْ نَفْسِي عَنِ الدُّنْيَا ، فَأَسْهَرْتُ لَيْلِي وَأَظْمَأْتُ نَهَارِي ، وَكَأَنِّي بِعَرْشِ رَبِّي عَزَّ وَجَلَّ بَارِزًا ، وَكَأَنِّي أَنْظُرُ إِلَى أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ يَتَزَاوَرُونَ فِيهَا ، وَكَأَنِّي أَنْظُرُ إِلَى أَهْلِ النَّارِ يَتَعَاوَوْنَ فِيهَا . قَالَ : " أَبْصَرْتَ فَالْزَمْ ، عَبْدٌ نَوَّرَ اللَّهُ الْإِيمَانَ فِي قَلْبِهِ "
Sayyidina Anas (r) related that the Prophet of Allah (s) came upon the youthful companion Harith (r) of the Ansaar and asked, “What state did you awake in the morning, O Harith?” He said, “I woke, O Prophet of Allah, as a true believer.” The Prophet of Allah (s) said, “Certainly, every truth has a reality, so what is the reality of what you say?” He replied, “I have turned away from the (leisures of this) world; I have made thirsty my days and awoken my nights. Now it is as if I am seeing the Throne of my Lord appearing; and it is as if I am seeing the Inhabitants of Paradise as they visit one another; and it seems as if I am seeing the Dwellers of Hell as they howl therein!" The Prophet (s) then said, “You have indeed seen (what you claimed to have seen). Therefore, continue on your state of worship, O servant whose heart Allah has illuminated with faith!”
(Ibn al-`Asakir, Jamharat al-Amthal; Ibn al-Mubarak, Kitab al-Zuhd; Ibn Abi Shayba; Tabarani, al-Kabir)
Sayyidina al-Haritha (r) said to the Prophet (s), “Today I really became a believer, haqqan.” Nabi Kareem (s) said, “How? Because for every reality there is a truth. How did you really become a mu’min, a believer?” He said, “Yaa Rasoolullah! As-hartu laylee, I made my nights staying up late [I made my lower self wake up in the darkness in riyaada, the discipline of Holy Qur'an and worshipping Allah (swt)] and I made my day become very thirsty, and now it is as if I’m shown the Throne of my Lord.”
Worship Late at Night, Fast from Love of this World, then Witness Heavenly Openings
The darkness is the ego, so he trained his ego by worshipping and worshipping. Nahaar, daytime, is the light and light is the heart. The heart loves, so he said, “I disciplined my ego through worship and made my heart love none other than Allah (swt), and by doing these two it is as if I am seeing the Throne of my Lord and Ahlu ‘l-Jannah yatazaawaroon, the People of Paradise visiting and loving each other, sitting together, eating with each other, smiling to each other and I’m seeing Ahlu ‘n-Naar yata`aawoon, the People of Hellfire barking at each other [like dogs], fighting and quarreling.”
When we stand up to worship in the middle of the night, as Sayyidina Muhammad (s) is teaching us through the Revelations, then we continue with fasting from love of the world, we become pure, then we will become true Believers and see the Manifestations coming down on the Throne as Sayyidina Muhammad (s) saw when he was in Ascension!
إِذ يَغشَى السِّدرَةَ ما يَغشىٰ
Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in unspeakable mystery!) (Surat an-Najm, 53: 16)
He (s) saw the Manifestations of Allah's Holy Names coming down on Sidratu ‘l-Muntahaa, the Lote Tree, when he was coming back from Mi`raaj. So Sayyidina Haritha (r) saw what Sayyidina Muhammad (s) took him to, to see the Manifestation of the Throne of Allah (swt), the People of Paradise and the People of Hellfire, which is the spiritual station of Haqqu ‘l-Yaqeen. He started to advance in worship and in fasting from love of anything other than Allah (swt), and he saw the Manifestation of the Holy Throne and Ahlu ‘l-Jannah and Ahlu ‘n-Naar.
Prophet (s) said to him, Alzam faqad asabt, “Stay on track, stay on track! You have found the right track.” This is a very well-known Hadith.
Sayyidina al-Haritha (r) also became a shaheed later. It is narrated that his mother came to Sayyidina Muhammad (s) crying and said, “Yaa Nabi (s)! Tell me where my son is so that my heart will be tranquil.” He said, “Don’t worry, O mother of Haritha (r), he is in al-ghuraf, rooms above Paradises!” and she left the presence of the Prophet (s) very happy.
Following in the Holy Footsteps of the Companions and the Ahlul Bayt
When we follow the directions coming through Nabi Kareem (s) like the Companions (r) did, following the chronological order of the surahs, we begin treading in the footsteps of the Companions (r) and the Ahlu ‘l-Bayt (a), which we are supposed to do as they are the pious generations; their footsteps are the footsteps of Nabi Kareem (s) and we start to advance and to be shown more and more. Inshaa-Allah, we continue on this road of our teachers, the road of Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (r), Sayyidina `Ali (r) and the rest of the Companions (r) and Awliya, may Allah be well-pleased with them.
We Seek Allah’s Pleasure by Obeying the Prophet
When Nabi Kareem’s Light was created and from it the rest of humanity was created, our teachers say that Allah (swt) said, “All these human beings [prophets, messengers, saints, pious ones] are seeking my Pleasure and, O Muhammad, I am seeking Your pleasure!” The evidence of this from Holy Qur'an (as my father Mawlana Shaykh Hisham described and it’s all from the teachings of my father) is:
وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَى
And verily, your Lord will give you so that you shall be well-pleased. (Surat ad-Duhaa, 93:5)
“Allah (swt) will to give you and give to you until you are pleased because I am after your pleasure, O Muhammad!” So all of us are seeking Allah (swt)’s pleasure, and Allah (swt) is seeking the pleasure of Sayyidina Muhammad (s)! This is our teachers’ teachings from Holy Qur’an, nothing outside of Qur’an.
May Allah (swt) make Prophet (s) pleased with us as we want the pleasure of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) and we want Allah (swt) to be pleased with us! With the teachings of our shaykhs, inshaa-Allah we are all on this Right Way, seeking the pleasure of Allah (swt) and His Rasool (s).
Wa min Allahi ‘t-tawfeeq, bi hurmati 'l-Fatihah.
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