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Principles of Discipline Between the Mureed and His Shaykh, Part 3

Ramadan Series 2014, Vol 22

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

20 July 2014 Fenton Zawiya, Michigan

A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytani ‘r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem.

Nawaytu 'l-arba`een, nawaytu 'l-`itikaaf, nawaytu 'l-khalwah, nawaytu 'l-`uzlah,

nawaytu 'r-riyaada, nawaytu 's-salook, lillahi ta'ala al-`Azheem fee hadha 'l-masjid.

أَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ

Atee`oollaha wa atee`oo 'r-Rasoola wa ooli 'l-amri minkum.

Obey Allah, obey the Prophet, and obey those in authority among you. (Surat an-Nisa, 4:59)

As-salaam `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi ta`ala wa barakaatuh. Yawmun jadeed tajalli jadeed, “A new day, new Manifestations,” and may Allah (swt) bless the souls of our teachers! Previously we discussed the three disciplines of the mureed toward the shaykh and what discipline he has to keep in front of his shaykh:

1. To submit to his orders.

2. Not to complain about his decisions.

3. Not to consider him infallible, but to believe he has reached the Level of Irshad, Guidance, to guide the mureed to Allah (swt) and His Prophet (s).

Believing the Shaykh Reached the Level of Perfection

The fourth principle is:

4. The student must believe his shaykh reached the Level of Perfection and is now able to guide people towards their destinies, because he tried his best to reach that level, where Allah said in Holy Qur’an:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

And those who struggle in Our (Way), We will certainly guide them to our Paths, for verily, Allah is with those who do right. (Surat al-Ankabut, 29:69)

Most people think jihad is holy war, but in reality jihad has fourteen specific categories, only one of which is holy war, when the enemy attacks your country and you have permission to defend yourself. Holy war is one concept of jihad and there are thirteen other concepts.

Levels of Jihad

Allah is saying, “Those who struggle in Our Way, for Our Sake, la-nahdiyannahum subulanaa, We will guide them into their own ways.” If one person is struggling in Allah's Way, trying to make himself better by dropping the bad characters and building the good characters, that is jihad. Allah (swt) said, “I will guide this person to My Ways,” subulanaa, plural, meaning “all Our Ways,” so they will reach safety. So these kind of teachers tried their best to make jihad against their egos, against themselves, and that is why Allah opened to them many different ways to guide people. You cannot guide everyone in the same way because we all have different sicknesses, different characters, different mentalities. You cannot guide someone who has a high IQ of 160/170 as someone with an IQ of 90. So everyone has a different way he can follow, as Allah (swt) said:

لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللّهُ نَفْسًا إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ

On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Surat al-Baqarah, 2:286)

Allah (swt) does not load someone more than his capacity and Allah knows your capacity as He gave that knowledge to Prophet (s) for the Ummah and Prophet (s) gave that knowledge to his Inheritors to know the capacity of everyone, how much they can take. Like today they have schools for mentally disabled people. Can you say, “Why do they have a different school? I have to be with them!” No, each one to his ability. So the shaykh must know all the ways and the tricks that Shaytan and devils use to trick us, to take us away from the Way of Allah (swt) and His Prophet (s). So the shaykh’s duty is to bring you back by telling you what to follow from Islam, “Today follow this” and “tomorrow do this,” and he keeps raising you up level after level.

Believing in Your Shaykh

If you have doubts in your shaykh you will not be able to progress, although we said the shaykh might make a mistake, but that is still according to his best intention toward you, so you have to be sincere with your teacher, not like today where students in school are always happy to criticize the teacher, because they don’t open their hearts to believe the teacher will give them more knowledge.

5. The student must show sincerity and piety in following the shaykh and believe what his shaykh tells him to follow.

Also in Islam and other religions, and in the Station of Ihsaan, Moral Excellence, Allah (swt) said to Prophet (s) when He sent Sayyidina Jibreel (a) to ask him about the Station of Ihsaan, Prophet (s) said “It is to worship Allah as if you are seeing Him.” So how is your worship when you think that you are seeing Allah and He is seeing you? Of course you cannot see Him, but you see His Signs.

He (Jibreel) said, “Tell me about ihsaan.” The Prophet (s) said, “That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you don't see Him then truly He sees you.” (Narrated Sayyidina `Umar, Muslim and Bukhari)

The Shaykh Loves You and Also Tests You to Build You Up

The important thing is that He is seeing you, so how to perfect your prayer and your character, what must you do to make Allah (swt) happy with you? The shaykh knows the tricks of Shaytan that take you away Shaytan; the shaykh is the one in whom we saw all good characters and manners. Why does their teacher send them into seclusion? To give them an experience that they never knew about before.

In the last seclusion I had from Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Adil, may Allah bless his soul, one day before ending the seclusion of forty days, a kind of fear came to my heart and I began to hear the rattle of a snake coming from one corner, then another corner, another corner, and the sound was so high that it makes you worry. They want to know how you will react, so maybe it is a real snake, who knows? Maybe they made you to think there is an actual snake you are hearing. Some people will run away, but when you face your obstacle, don’t run away from it or it will hit you, especially in seclusion. Before you enter seclusion the shaykh tells you, “Anything you see or you hear or feel try to face it, don’t surrender to your fear of it.”

How much Allah (swt) loved His servant with the highest love and at the same time a lot of problems came to the Prophet (s) from his tribe. On one side, the love of Allah (swt) to His Prophet (s) was so immense, He created him before He created all Creation! On other side, as Prophet (s) said, “I was the most abused of all prophets, the most tortured,” and he faced so many difficulties from his tribe. So even prophets faced difficulties, but we expect that if we pray our five prayers we are saved! How did you pray them? Like a rooster pecking at the ground, taking food, always raising and moving his head, thinking our prayers are accepted.

The Shaykh Teaches You How to Resist Distractions in Your Worship

All these gossips come into your prayer and your mind, distracting you. This morning when we prayed Salaat at-Tasabeeh, we read the fifteen tasabeeh and Surat al-Fatihah and then I was going into ruku` but someone said aloud, “SubhaanAllah,” and immediately I knew. What came at that moment? Even something good can take you away from the prayer. I said to myself, “I have read two ‘Qul huwa Allahu Ahad’ in the first raka`at, then in the second raka`at I will read one ‘Qul huwa Allahu Ahad’, so three Qul huwa Allahu Ahad will be rewarded as if reading the whole Qur’an.” That is what came, so I didn’t pay attention, I went to ruku`. So even good thoughts will distract you from the prayer, like when I thought, “Reciting three ‘Qul huwa Allahu Ahad’ equals the entire Holy Qur’an, so we completed the Holy Qur’an, that’s good!” But Allah (swt) doesn’t like that as it is arrogance, pride, although the Prophet (s) said:

قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لأَصْحَابِهِ ‏"‏ أَيَعْجِزُ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يَقْرَأَ ثُلُثَ الْقُرْآنِ فِي لَيْلَةٍ ‏"‏‏.‏ فَشَقَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَقَالُوا أَيُّنَا يُطِيقُ ذَلِكَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ ‏"‏ اللَّهُ الْوَاحِدُ الصَّمَدُ ثُلُثُ الْقُرْآنِ ‏"‏‏

The Prophet (s) said to his Companions (r), "Is it difficult for any of you to recite one-third of the Qur'an in one night?" This suggestion was difficult for them, so they said, "Who among us has the power to do so, O Allah's Messenger (s)?" Allah’s Messenger (s) replied, "To read one time, ‘Allah, The One, The Self-Sufficient Master Whom all creatures need [Suraat al-Ikhlaas]’ is equal to one-third of the Qur'an."

(Narrated Abu Sa`eed Al-Khudree, Bukhari)

So you have to look at the perfection that shaykh has completed this Way in order to reach the Level of Ihsaan, to worship Allah as if you see Him and if not, to know He is looking at you. Awliyaullah worship Allah as much as they can with as little distraction as possible, as they know that Allah (swt) is looking at them.

Grandshaykh (q), may Allah bless his soul, once told a story that the Prophet (s) wanted to show the Sahaabah (r) that they cannot control thoughts that come during `ibaadah, so he called them and said, “Anyone who can pray two raka`ats without any stray thoughts (khawaatir) coming, I will give him my cloak.” And every Sahaabi wants to have the cloak of the Prophet (s), so they began to pray and after they said, “As-salaam `alaykum wa rahmatullaah, as-salaam `alaykum wa rahmatullaah [ending the prayer],” they said, “Yaa Rasoolullah! We were not able, we got thoughts in our prayers.” Then Sayyidina `Ali (r) came, prayed two raka`ats and from the moment he said, “Allahu Akbar [beginning his prayer],” no thoughts distracted him, and when he said, “As-salaam `alaykum wa rahmatullaah,” then as he said the second time, “As-salaam `alaykum wa rahmatullaah,” the thought came, “Which jubba is the Prophet (s) going to give me?” So the Prophet (s) said, “It is over.” Even a good thought can interrupt your worship to Allah (swt), so don’t praise yourself; rather, yourself, “O my ego! You are always giving me a hard time.”

The Shaykh Continuously Struggled in Allah’s Way to Know How to Best Guide Their Students

Shuyookh struggle in Allah’s Way in order that Allah will guide them through His Ways, then they know how to guide their students. So you have to look at your shaykh knowing with certainty that he completed his journey and reached that kind of perfection.

The student must believe his shaykh completed his courses, his tarbiyyah and that he is ready now to give irshaad from his shaykh.

That is why he is able to guide students.

And the student must always struggle in getting what he wants, not using the Tariqah for his own benefit; he must be completely above using the shaykh's name for his own benefit.

No one is allowed to use the shaykh’s name for his own benefit. Today in many different branches of Tariqah, students say they reached the highest level of shaykh-hood, but they have not. They use the name of the Tariqah to get benefit in dunya more than to get benefit Akhirah. So they are always looking from a dunya perspective, “Is it going to benefit me in dunya? Yes, of course, as that shaykh is giving many benefits in dunya,” and then they come.

How Sayyidina Khalid al-Baghdadi Established His Following

It was mentioned in the biography of Sayyidina Khalid al-Baghdadi (q), one of the great shaykhs that went to India and took Naqshbandi Tariqah from an Indian shaykh, `AbdAllah al-Dahlawi (q), and then returned to Sham and went to the well-known mountain Jabal Qasyoun, and sat there waiting for people to come and no one came, no one was interested. He waited on the top of that mountain, his maqaam is still there, next to the Maqaam al-Arba`een, the Forty Saints, the Abdaal ash-Sham, Substitutes of Sham, whom Prophet (s) mentioned in many ahadeeth, the awliyaullah that give support to anyone who calls on them. Sayyidina Khalid (q) was waiting, sitting there, but no one came, then one day he saw his shaykh, `Abdullah ad-Dahlawi (q) in the dream. Look how perfect they are! He said, “O my son! You are wasting your time sitting there. Go down to the center of the city to the mosque of Sayyidina Muhiyyidin ibn `Arabi (q)[1].”

Sayyidina Khalid (q) was rich, and his shaykh told him, “Sit there and show people that you have money, coins, and ask if anyone wants to work.”

Sayyidina Khalid (q) gave them one dinar or dirham each and after he gathered 40-50 people they went up the mountain and he gave them suhbat, guiding them to Islam, although they were already Muslim, but he guided them in how perfect their manners and characters, and he introduced them to Tasawwuf, which is how to live in peace and harmony. So they were all happy and at the end of the day they were paid, and in this way he was able to bring a lot of people and they increased. For seven years he did that, not getting tired. Allah (swt) said in Holy Qur’an, ““And those who strive in Our (Way), We will certainly guide them to Our Paths,” and you are struggling in His Way. It is not easy to go down and come up that mountain, he must have been very strong.

Seven years is hadd, the limit years for anything; for zhulum, oppression is seven years. He called them for seven years, then he saw his shaykh in the dream, although he often saw his shaykh in the dream for many other issues, but for this issue he saw him and the shaykh said, “Today don’t go down, no more giving them money,” so he stopped. The people missed the shaykh, as he had built love and affection between them, so they could not leave him and they missed him, then they came to him of their own will without receiving money. After that, Sayyidina Khalid (q) became famous in all Sham and everyone came to listen to him on top of the mountain.

This is the way of awliyaullah, so you have to look at them with piety and sincerity, not only from the perspective of how to take benefits of dunya from them. Of course for Maqaam al-Ihsaan, take as much benefit as you like, open your heart for that, but don’t try to use the names or reputations of awliyaullah so an official signs your paper or gives you land. You have to respect your relationship with your shaykh, not use his name for your own benefit! Today you find in many Tariqahs, although not in all of them, you find some followers use their shaykh's name or even manipulate those who come to the shaykh to get benefit from them. That is not accepted.

The Student Must See His Shaykh’s Greatness

Even if you are not often in the presence of your shaykh:

6. The student must always view the shaykh as a great shaykh and t`azheemuhu, raise him up, revere him and know the shaykh is observing him.

Then you can better understand what the Prophet (s) said in the hadith of Jibreel (a):

He (Jibreel) said, “Tell me about ihsaan.” The Prophet (s) said, “That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for even if you don't see Him, truly He sees you.” (Narrated Sayyidina `Umar, Muslim and Bukhari)

“To worship Allah as if you are seeing Him.” So when you begin to feel under observation and you begin to correct yourself. What do you think when you believe your shaykh is looking at you? You correct your self better. And what do you think about when you feel the Prophet (s) is looking at you? You feel happy on one side, but on the other you correct yourself more. And what about when you feel Allah (swt) is looking at you? Then for sure you feel afraid, and since we are not feeling that fear in our hearts yet, when you tell yourself that Allah is looking at you, for sure you will feel great fear and you will correct yourself and your manners will improve.

This is a great quote of Imam Tirmidhi (q):

If you are not happy and satisfied with the order of the shaykh and do not feel he is disciplining you, if you rejected that in your relationship with your shaykh, then you will not benefit even from observing the Sunnah of the Prophet (s).”

Don’t Let Your Heart Die from Harming and Rejecting Awliyaullah

If you are not benefitting from the teaching of your shaykh, it means you are not benefitting from Ahlu ‘s-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama`ah, from the Sunnah of Prophet (s) because you are denying and declining the shaykh’s orders as there is no discipline between you and him. You have to keep that discipline, that space in which you must respect him, then you will be able to complete the Sunnah of the Prophet (s).

Sayyidina `Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (q) said:

Anyone that falls down, that does not keep the honor of the shaykh, who harms the honor of the shaykh, Allah will afflict him with the death of the heart.

If he said something against the honor of the shaykh, although he is living in dunya his heart is dead. Today there is not one shaykh safe from attack on the Internet, where they come against the honor of shuyookh, humiliating and demeaning them, criticizing them and sometimes even calling them kaafir. Why? Because they call for love, peace, tolerance, acceptance, harmony when other groups say, “Tasawwuf is bad as it doesn’t keep Shari`ah, it only supports spirituality.” That is false.

So as Sayyidina `Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (q) said, make sure not to let your heart die, as Allah will afflict you with that if you violate this principle of discipline. The remedy is to keep the honor of your teacher; you honor him, like at the end of the semester you present the good teacher with a gift, is it not? So what about al-Warith al Muhammadi, how are you going to show him your love and respect? By presenting a gift. You cannot visit someone empty-handed, you bring flowers or chocolate; so to visit the shaykh, even to glance at him for one second, followers present them with flowers or something to show their love. Those who condemn shuyookh on the Internet forgot all the good things the shaykh did and criticize him for no reason, especially those who deviated from the right way and call everything bid`a, shirk, kufr, haraam.

The Student Must Increase Love to His Shaykh by Loving the Shaykh’s Mureeds

In order for the student’s discipline to flourish, they must show love to their shaykh, and for that to be fully accepted:

7. The condition for the student’s love for their shaykh to increase and be considered real love is that he must respect and love all mureeds of the shaykh.

That is difficult, is it not? You cannot truly love the shaykh if you don’t love all of his mureeds, because you don’t know which one of them at any time the shaykh will send as a test for you. Maybe he sends one of them to type something on the Internet which makes fitna and you begin to hate that person. Then you will be in problem with the shaykh. We are trying to run away from fitna, that is the way of tariqah, to run away from fitna:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ

O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible) and spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? No, you would abhor it! But fear Allah, for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Hujuraat, 49:12)

If You Believe in Allah, Do Not Spy on Others or Backbite Them

“O those who believe, mu’mineen! Try to avoid too many bad doubts,” and don't spy on the mureeds of the shaykh. Leave everyone by himself, because if you spy and you fall into wrong doubts and you spread those doubts, wa laa tajassasoo wa laa yaghtab b`adukum b`adan, “Don't backbite each other. Do you like to eat the raw flesh of your brother?” To destroy his honor and him? Too many around the world have nothing to do but backbite the others and Allah prohibited backbiting: on Judgment Day, He will take your hasanaat and give it to the one you backbite. So if you really love the shaykh, don't backbite the shaykh or his mureeds, build relationships, and if you are not able, back up!

الفتنة نائمة لعن الله من أيقظها

Al-fitnatu naa'imatan la`anallaha man ayqazhahaa .

Fitna is dormant and Allah cursed the one who awoke it. (ar-Rifa`ee in his Amalee)

Fitna is dormant and whoever raises it will be cursed by Allah, so why be under the Curse of Allah?

لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ

Lakum deenukum waliya deen.

To you is your religion and to ours, our religion. (Surat al-Kaafiroon, 109:6)

If you do not agree, say, “You have your own way, I have my own way,” and the other will say, “I have my own way, you have your own way,” but if you agree, alhamdulillah. Both sides must not fight each other for no reason. Fighting for what?

Be Careful not to Raise Your Shaykh above Human Status

That is why Grandshaykh, may Allah bless his soul, said, and it is something big, I cannot say it, but it is a real issue that happens. I forgot it! (Laughter.) In any case, we have to be careful of how we are treating each other because he loves everyone of his followers, so we must be careful not to bring fitna and create something that is not nice. Then:

Don't exceed in your love to a level that you cannot anymore differentiate between love of the shaykh, as Islam wants and Maqaam al-Ihsaan wants and the love that your ego wants. For sure your ego will say to you something that makes that love to become shirk.

I am not saying this against anyone, but as it is mentioned in the book, he said:

“To love his shaykh as it should be, as he likes, but be sure not to diminish the love of other shuyookh.”

You may love your shaykh as much as you like, but don't criticize other shuyookh, saying, “My shaykh is better!” Don’t criticize the status of other shaykhs as there are people who love them. So keep yourself with your shaykh and love your shaykh and that will be enough.


Don’t try through your love to your shaykh that you raise your him in a way to be outside the realm of human beings, as that is only for Prophet (s).

Muhammad basharun wa laysa ka ‘l-bashari huwa yaaqootatun wa naasu ka ‘l-hajari.

Muhammad is a man, but not like other men! He is a gem and human beings are stones.

(Shaykh Muhammad al-Busayri, Burdat ash-Shareef)

“Muhammad (s) is a man but not like other men; he is a gem and people are pebbles.” Prophet (s) is a human being but not a human being; he is subtle, he is someone that Allah created first, he is someone that made Israa wa’l-Mi`raaj so there is no comparison, we cannot compare Prophet (s) to anyone, so don't touch on that issue! For shuyookh, don’t make your shaykh so high that he is not human being as that is falling into a slip of the tongue, a mistake that you cannot undo.. Many people fall into this problem: in describing their shaykh they begin to say things that are un-Islamic. They praise him so much, okay you have to praise him, but in his level as a human being. And you have to love the Prophet (s) as Allah's Messenger and the First of Creation, and you have to love Allah (swt) as the Creator, so don't exceed the limits of love, it has a limit you must not exceed. Don't trespass what does not belong to human beings.

The Final Principle: Look Only at Your Shaykh

After these seven principles, we come to the eighth and last:

8. Don't look at any shaykh but your shaykh.

Yes, you gave baya`, so finished: you cannot revoke your baya`. The shaykh can revoke it, but not you as you have been chained to him, so finished, you cannot run away. I will tell you a true story. One mureed went to China and where to go? He went to the big masjid in Beijing or somewhere and was praying Jumu`ah and had turban on his head.

When he finished, the imam came to him and said, “What is this?”

He said, “A turban.”

The imam said, “Who is your shaykh?” When he saw turban he knew, but he said, “Do you have a shaykh?”

He said, “Yes, I have a shaykh, Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil (q).”

Then the imam opened his wallet, took out a picture and showed it to him and said, “Is this your shaykh?”

He said, “Yes, that is him.”

The imam said, “This is my shaykh. I took baya` online through Sufilive.com.”

That mureed was Firdaws, you know him. So the shaykh with whom you took baya`, you stay with him, don't jump between two or three shaykhs or then your power will be split between the shaykhs, your heart will be split into two and there will be less power. So don't let your heart to be between two shaykhs, you cannot or your love will be less for both sides.

May Allah forgive us and bless us and keep us on the right track of awliyaullah.

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



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[1] The famous wali who wrote al-Futoohaat al-Makkiyya. He wrote many books and many scholars, both shuyookh and `ulama, do not understand his teachings.