Before Salaat al-`Asr
A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytaani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmaani 'r-Raheem.
Nawaytu 'l-arba`een, nawaytu 'l-`itikaaf, nawaytu 'l-khalwah, nawaytu 'l-`uzlah,
nawaytu 'r-riyaadah, nawaytu 's-sulook, lillahi ta`ala fee haadha 'l-masjid.
Ati`ullaha wa ati`u 'r-Rasoola wa ooli 'l-amri minkum.
Obey Allah, obey the Prophet, and obey those in authority among you. (4:59)
Allah (swt) gave everyone someone to love. It means everyone has a lover. Without something that gives you hope, you might not feel your life is a happy life. People always have to feel there is hope in their lives. That is why awliyaaullah give hope to people, because they are doctors of spirituality. They know what the soul is in needand they give that hope. If doctors examine you and find you are sick, they give you hope, especially if you have a sickness related to age; that is a sickness that takes you to death. Psychiatrists and psychologists give hope to their patients. So also religion came to give you hope. And that is why Prophet (s) was giving us hope, that if we are good in this dunya, our goal is that in akhirah we will be saved. And that is why Holy Qur'an always mentions that Allah (swt) will give Paradise to the believers, with rivers of milk and wine and honey. He wants to express the best you get in dunya, you will get (better) in akhirah. That is for our minds to understand. He describes Paradises with rivers of different kinds so you can understand. Allah (swt) will give above rivers, rivers you cannot imagine!
So awliyaaullah also give hope to your soul and to your spirit. Without that hope, we feel cut. That is why most poetry is based on love, because the best hope is to have someone you love and he loves you. For Allah (swt) to show us that love is important, He called Sayyidina Muhammad (s) "Habeebullah", meaning, "Beloved of Allah". Sayyidina Muhammad (s) is the beloved one. Allah (swt) created Sayyidina Muhammad (s) with His love. What does that means? It means too many issues. You cannot say, "Why Muhammad (s)?" Because Allah's (swt) Will, 'irada, is like that. Allah (swt) created Muhammad (s) only for Him, and that is why the Prophet (s) is so happy to say, "I am Your servant and I love You and I want Your love."
Not any other prophet is called Habeebullah. Sayyidina Musa (a) was called Kaleemullah (Who received Allah's Word). Sayyidina Ibrahim (a) was called Khaleelullah (Friend of Allah). Sayyidina 'Isa (a) was called Roohullah (Spirit of Allah). Sayyidina Muhammad (s) was called Habeebullah. That is why we explained before that we can say, "Sayyidina Ibrahim (a) is Khaleelullah," but we cannot say, "Allah (swt) is Khaleel Ibrahim." Arabic language cannot take it. We can say "`Isa (a) Roohullah," but we cannot say, "Allah (swt) Ruh `Isa." We can say, "Musa Kaleemullah," but we cannot say, "Allah (swt) Kaleem Musa." That would be disrespectful. Although they are ulu 'l- `azam, the five important prophets, Allah (swt) didn't give them that distinction; you can say, "Muhammad (s) Habeebullah" and also "Allah Habeebu Muhammad," it is reciprocal.
So that is why what Allah (swt) gave to Sayyidina Muhammad (s), He did not give to other prophets. "Al-Habeeb" is the most near to His lover before everyone. For example, if we are speaking of dunya, your wife or your husband might be the most near, and your children are more near than any other children. You cannot give other children like what you give to your own children. That is what Allah (swt) gave to other prophets, but not to Sayyidina Muhammad (s). He gave Sayyidina Muhammad (s) love and Sayyidina Muhammad (s) is "the Lover"; it work on both sides, from Allah (swt) to His servant and from the servant to his Lord.
When he described the love of Sayyidina Muhammad (s), Imam Busayri (r) knew that reality and greatness. Grandshaykh (q) told me long time ago a story, that when Sayyidina Muhammad al-Busayri (r) was authorized or writing his poetry, it was not like today when people think and write; that poetry was coming out like a fountain. He wrote "Burdatu 'sh-Shareef."
Grandshaykh (q) said that on one day Shaykh Ubaydullah al-Ahrar (r) was going with his students to the Nile. Awliyaaullah like to take their students on a tour, to travel with them. Awliyaaullah of high calibre don't like to go alone; they like to take their students. He was taking with him 700 of his students, and today if you take five people with you, you get tired because everyone has a different mind, so they give hardship to each other and they might fight, "Why are you behind the shaykh? I want to be behind the shaykh." A simple problem. Awliyaaullah like to take them, to check their patience. That is why I take him with me (Ali Elsayed) to give me a hard time. Especially when he sings in English. In Arabic is okay, and English songs for the English people, some of them are okay. (laughter)
So Shaykh Ubaydullah al-Ahraar (r) was with his students and they are crossing the Nile against the stream, by the side of the river and the Nile was streaming down so strongly; Allah (swt) knows how many litres or gallons are moving in a second. I am hearing that Niagara Falls is like 50 million gallons a second. The Nile river is coming from Sudan, might be from Kenya. Some say that it is coming all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. I don't know how it goes up. If you see the globe you see Africa is down and you see the Nile River is flowing north! That is Allah's (swt) Greatness. Usually it goes to the country that is below it, in our minds, but not in Allah's (swt) Creation. They were walking against the current, going upstream. And all of his students were wearing white; adab, discipline, not like all of us, everyone in a different color.
The power of awliyaaullah is that when you sit in front of them, make sure your dress is white. Your soul. They don't look at the clothes we are wearing. They make sure you are under that manifestation of heavenly light. White is heavenly purity. When Prophet (s) went to Mir'aaj, Sayyidina Jibreel (a) gave him milk, wine, and water to choose from, and Prophet (s) chose the milk. Sayyidina Jibreel (a) said, "Yaa Rasulullah, you picked fitra (purity) so your ummah will be clean." So they were going with complete white dress on their souls, and complete white dress on their bodies. And they were sitting with their shaykh. During their travel they pray and sit. Their travel is all worshipness as traveling gives you knowledge; you learn different customs, different people, and so it might be that they have something good which you don't have and they teach you how to deal within different countries, as there are too many different cultures. And as they were going up the Nile River, it became night and they ate and prayed 'Isha. They didn't delay, like today people don't sleep after 'Isha. What do they do? They watch television. They have nothing, except that they watch television or they fight with their wives or the wives fight with the husbands. That is the only time they can fight, as they don't see each other from working. or they go outside. (laughter) Awliyaullah don't do that. 'Isha finished, they do awrad after 'Isha when they have one hour and then sleep.
Allah (swt) gave you a body, you have to take care of it. It is bad adab, disrespectful, when you don't take care of your body. People have to take care of their body as it is trust with them. You cannot eat excessively or dangerously or unhealthy, because your ego likes to eat something that is unhealthy. But your saliva is falling out. When your saliva is coming, don't touch it, especially ice cream and cake. And too much oil and you don't know what kind of oil they are using. Olive oil we use, but now they came with so many different kinds of oil, and too much hormones, and people becoming fat because of too many hormones in their food.
So awliyaaullah take their followers in order to polish their egos. On the way, they give them a hard time. I learned from Mawlana Shaykh (q) when I began to travel with him in 1973 (big travel). One day he said, "We want to go to Istanbul, Turkey." He wanted to go by car from Beirut to Tripoli, then to Istanbul. And I was sick, I had a fever of 106F and he wanted to go the next day. It was difficult! So I said, "Okay, inshaa-Allah." After Fajr he said, "Y'alla," and I was shivering cold with fever but it was not cold. And I was driving and I could not raise my head. Alhamdulillah we passed Tripoli, passed Homs, passed Aleppo, passed Turkish Customs and came to Iskenderun, a 10-hour drive. And Mawlana (q) said, "We will stop here and visit Habeeb al-Najjar," the one who is mentioned in Surah YaSeen,
قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اتَّبِعُوا الْمُرْسَلِينَ اتَّبِعُوا مَن لاَّ يَسْأَلُكُمْ أَجْرًا وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ
qaala yaa qawmi ittabi`oo'l-mursaleen. attabi`oo man laa yasalukum ajran wa hum muhtadoon.
Obey those who ask no wages of you (for themselves) and they are rightly guided. (36:21).
He is buried in a church tomb where you go down 200 steps, very deep. We took a hotel room and slept, but all night I could not raise my head. I said, "I don't know how I am going to drive."
Fajr time came and Mawlana (q) said, "Are you ready?" I said, "Yes Mawlana, let us go to Habeeb an-Najjar." As soon as I went in the car, that illness went away. To travel with shaykh is the way to polish the student, and that is the way to learn or else you are on your own imaginations if you don't accompany and learn from them. So they put you through different types of difficulties to polish your ego, like Ubaydullah al-Ahrar (r), teaching and polishing them. During their travel they might not be able to eat except very dry bread they take with them. They cannot carry with them like what you find today, everything around you. Then they carry in their backpacks dry bread and put it in water and eat it. Did you eat dry bread today? Allahu akbar, they want steak! They want 'stick'! (laughter) Alhamdulillah, that is what we want today, whip us!
So Allah (swt) gave us this body to keep it healthy. To keep it healthy is to eat less food. The stomach is the house of illnesses as the Prophet (s) said, "If you want to be safe from illnesses, eat less." Sayyidina Muhammad (s) said (stands, salawaat), "We are a people who only eats when we are hungry and when we eat, we don't fill ourselves up; we must still feel hunger."
You must not feel full there must still be a space. Grandshaykh (q) said, "You have intestines that must have one-third water, one-third food and one-third air. That is a healthy person. Now we have intestines filled with three-thirds of food and no space for water or air. We are like Vikings! They used to eat and then they put their fingers and vomit (purging) and then eat more. There are people like that today. It is a sickness, bulemia: eat and vomit as they like to eat. But no space. Vomit to empty the stomach, then you can eat.
So they were going up the river, but after a very heavy day of their egos polishing with less food and more walking, they got tired. Today we are not walking, only going everywhere by car. We have to live in different way. But this area has trees and water which is good, nature, but you don't see anyone. No crosswalks (on the roads); they walk by treadmill! (laughter) Look at the laziness. They make you buy something in order not to walk. So going up and taking lessons from both sides, wherever they are moving, they are listening to their teacher's lecture every day. The "computer" of the shaykh is important as he floods you with his speeches, then you feel nothing but the shaykh; nothing but desert of the Nile. That is why awliyah like to stay in remote areas; they feel safe, not safe from burglars, but safe from all kinds of sins. Because if you live in cities, wherever you turn your face there is something haraam. So they live in remote areas, in woods, forests, high mountains in simple, primitive wooden homes. That is to teach the students to live a pure life, as Prophet (s) said, "Live a hard life even if you have plenty of money."
Even if you have the best bed and the best car, the best this and that, still live a life of hardship, as favors will not always be there. It means sometimes you might face a difficulty and if you are accustomed to high level of life, you will feel depressed. To not be accustomed to high life, if you have a bed, sleep on the floor. If you have a cake, don't eat it, don't touch it. What desire of the self comes, don't give in to it. When you give in to it, it is like you give these whales or dolphins when they go in a big aquarium, they make some kind of gymnastics. What do they give them at the end? Fish. They give them something, a candy. Don't give your ego a candy, because it will trick you. You have to keep cutting them down to cut their desires. That is what Ubaydullah al-Ahrar (r) was doing in his trip up the Nile with his followers, in order to teach them a lesson.
We will continue this in the evening inshaa-Allah, bi hurmati 'l-Faatihah.