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What is the Straight Path?

Ramadan Series 2014, Volume 3

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

1 July 2014 Fenton Zawiya, Michigan

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`alaa fee haadha 'l-masjid.

Salam `alaykum wa rahmatullahi ta`ala wa barakaatuh.

For those who are present and for those who are everywhere, wherever we can reach (online), may Allah bless you this month of Ramadan and bless all of us.

In our series that we began two days ago, this Ramadan Series on Tasawwuf, we are not defending Tasawwuf, but we are trying to shed a light on the one who asassa, laid the foundation of Tasawwuf, the one that Allah gave him the Knowledges of Before and After, `Uloom al-Awwaleen wa ’l-Akhireen! He is the one who laid the structure of, not the word ‘Tasawwuf’, but the structure of Tazkiyyat an-Nafs and Maqaam al-Ihsaan, which became known later as Tasawwuf.

That is important to know, that in the long hadith of Sayyidina `Umar (r), where Jibreel (a) came to the Prophet (s) and asked him about the religion and the Prophet (s) described the Faith, Imaan, as composed of three parts: first is Islam, then Imaan and finally Ihsaan, Moral Excellence.

Islam’s Foundation is Action

It is said that the first part, which is Islam, is ta`atan wa `ibaadatan, obedience and then worship: to obey what Prophet (s) ordered us and to worship, to do what he ordered us to do. And that is why Allah (swt) said in Holy Qur'an:

وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا

Wa maa aataakumu ’r-rasoolu fakhudhoohu wa maa nahaakum `anhu fantahoo.

Leave what Prophet (s) forbade and take what he ordered. (Surat al-Hashr, 59:7)

“Whatever the Prophet (s) came with, take it,” don’t question. He gave us Islam with Five Pillars, so take it; he gave us Imaan with Six Pillars, take it; he gave us Ihsaan, one pillar, take it.

So then what is Islam? Prophet (s) is building the structure, so first he came with structure, which is to say, “Laa ilaaha illa-Llaah,” for people to believe in Allah (swt), to worship Allah, and then when the people said, “Sami`naa wa at`anaa,” Prophet (s) gave them what they need to do, as this part, Islam, means Ita`atan wa `Ibaadah, Obedience and Worship. Obedience is a physical matter, to accept through your whole existence. To obey someone means to accept what he is saying, to accept through your whole existence and `ibaadah, and when you obeyed him, he gave Five Pillars:

1. The first is to make Shahadah, to say, “Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illa-Llah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadu ‘r-Rasoolullah.”

2. And then comes what you can see: Iqaamu ‘s-Salaat, which is a physical activity that you have to do. So first came to tell you have to do a physical activity and praying is a physical activity, `ibaadah, worship is to pray. So prayers, the second pillar of Islam, is a physical activity.

3. The third pillar is: eetaa'u ‘z-Zakaat, to give a donation. How do you give a donation? You have to work to make money and then you part of it to the poor people, and that is a physical activity. Today we say ‘feeding the homeless.’ What is feeding the homeless? [Charity.] What is charity, when you feed the homeless? You have to buy the vegetables, cook the meat, you have to cook the bread, cook the rice, you have to go and look for where there are poor people, the homeless, and give them something to eat. This is a physical activity for the body. So Islam is a physical activity.

4. Then sawmu Ramadan, that is to fast. It is a physical activity. You are prohibiting yourself from eating and drinking, you get tired and you get exhausted, your body is not like when you are eating and drinking, you feel less power. So it is a physical activity. When you train on it, you can fast the whole year. I know some people who used to come to Grandshaykh `AbdAllah, may Allah bless his soul, and may Allah bless soul of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim. He fasted the whole year and only breaks the fast five days a year: the first day of `Eid al-Fitr and the four days of `Eid al-Adha; only five days he breaks fast and year after year, when I knew him I was young and I knew him a long time, when I was with Grandshaykh (q) I saw him fasting the whole year. It is a physical activity that we call in Arabic ar-Riyaadiyoon, PE, Physical Education, when you play tennis, soccer, or whatever, and so when you fast it is a physical activity. In Arabic we call it ar-Riyaadiyoon and those who do physical activity a lot will become accustomed to it. So fasting is also one of the physical activities that you can sense and you can see when you are in the first foundation of Islam, which is the Five Pillars.

5. Then Hajj, which is one of the most difficult Islamic exercises, especially in these days it is so difficult. Before it was easier: you went to Ka`bah and make tawaaf and you make sa`ee and then went to Mina and `Arafat on horses and it was easier. Today you are stuck with millions and millions of people, but you have to do it. So it is physical activity. It was easier in the past, you went on horses, but now there are millions of people.

So Islam is to pray, to give zakaat, which means you are giving some of your time, you are working and giving the money, to fast, to make Hajj, and the first foundation of the religion is to do these activities, but that is not enough.

Imaan is to Believe in the Unseen

After training us on these activities, Prophet (s) said, “Okay, there is something else here.” Noorun wa Imaan. The second category is Faith, Imaan. What is faith? You cannot see faith, it is something that is hidden. The first part, Islam, you can see, but the second part you cannot see. So the first part, you call it ‘the conscious’, and psychologists studied that a lot. That is what your brain can see every moment. The ‘unconscious’ is what you cannot see, but it comes from time to time. It is something not there; you know it is there, but you cannot interact with it as there is something preventing you, obstacles, which is that faith, to believe. That is why it is called Noor wa `Aqeedah, Light and Belief, to believe in what Allah said to you, although you did not see. Allah said about Imaan:

Aamantu billaahi wa malaa’ikatihi wa kutubihi wa rusulihi wa ‘l-yawmi ‘l-akhiri wa bi ‘l-qadri khayrihi wa sharrihi min Allahi Ta’ala.

I believe in Allah, and His angels, and His Books, and His Prophets, and in the Last Day, and in Destiny, its good and its bad, from Allah the Exalted.

Where can you see Allah? You cannot see the Creator, but you can see His Creation and from seeing His Creation you know He is there. That is Maqaam at-Tawheed, you saw His Oneness in everything, His touch in everything. Look at yourself, let us look at ourselves; every human being is different, how can that happen? Who can do that? Every human being is different from the other, and you can see His touch on every person to make them different from the other. How? Through genes or whatever, and these genes are a heavenly Creation in order to interact with each other, and Allah has planned everything by kun fa yakoon.

So Imaan is something that you cannot see, it is the unconscious, but you have to believe that angels are there. Allah said that, Prophet (s) said that, “wa malaa’ikatihi,” so you have to believe in His angels. Where are His angels? they must be there. Why can the camera see things we cannot see, how does it work? It is not a mirror, it is lenses that reflect on each other and a special light that makes the camera see. Yes, we can see with what Allah gave us of eyes, but the camera can see through electromagnetic waves and that means the waves, the vibrations are the there to make that camera see. So if we have real eyes, as the Prophet (s) said, “When Allah loves His servant, He gives them power to see what others cannot see,” through the Light of the Prophet (s).

So the second category is Noorun wa `Aqeedah, Light and Belief. Noor is the Light that shines in this universe, the Light from which Allah created Creation. It is said that Allah created Creation from the Light of the Prophet (s). He took that Light of the Prophet (s) and put it in Bahr al-Qudra, the Ocean of Power, as described in a very famous hadith, and from it He created Creation from the Light of Prophet (s). Light is constant, always the same speed, except in some different environments that affect it, but originally it is moving at 300,000 km per second and that means with that Light there are too many things we cannot see. So Imaan came to tell us there are Creations there, unseen things there, jinn and angels. That’s why you have to “believe”.

Wa malaa’ikatihi wa kutubihi--and His Books: it is said there are 114 different Books and some say 1000 Books came on Earth. Wa bi ’l-yawmi ’l-Akhira--and we believe in the Last Day. You don't know, you don’t see that on a calendar, like today they know by calculation when the birth of the new moon is, and before they needed to see it. Now by calculation you know when it is coming without seeing. Before it was only by seeing, which is a physical action, but now it is by calculation and you know. Can you calculate when is Judgment Day? No one knows. Can you calculate when the soul enters the womb of the mother? You cannot. They say they know when the mother is pregnant, yes. They know this and that, but do you know when the soul enters the womb of mother? Can you see that soul? No, but it is there; Imaan tells you it is there.

So when Islam, the first category, connects with Imaan, the birth, this connection as we explained in the beginning about the two different gears that have to synchronize and they are the conscious and the unconscious working together like a gearbox, when they synchronize to each other they connect and when they connect they give you energy, the tires can run the car. What you put there? You put fuel to run the car and the car runs because they synchronize, the differential and the transmission, the transmission with the engine and it moves.

Islam is the physical activity of the religion and Imaan is the subtlety of the religion that you cannot see. When they combine together in a system, they produce something called Ihsaan, the third division of Islam, Maqaam al-Ihsaan. Maqaam al-Ihsaan is the combination of the Six Pillars of Imaan and the Five Pillars of Islam.

Muraaqabah (Observation) and Mushaahadah (Vision)

Included in Maqaam al-Ihsaan are Muraaqabah and Mushaahadah. Muraaqabah is meditation, observance and Mushaahadah is vision. So when they synchronize together they end in something called Muraaqabah and you will be able to contemplate on the creation of Heavens and Earth. That is why the Prophet (s) said:

فإذا أحببته كنت سمعه الذي يسمع به وبصره الذي يبصر به ويده التي يبطش بها

When I love him, I will become the ears with which he hears, the eyes with which he sees.

(Hadith Qudsee, Bukhari)

Allah said, “I will be the eyes that you can see with,” then you have the Maqaam al-Mushaahadah: the Level of Witnessing, the level of seeing what people cannot see. Then you can see, then it is opened for you, because now you have organized and fixed your system, the two sides Imaan and Islam. So now you ended up with Ihsaan, which gives you the Level of Meditation, then your meditation is correct. Not that you are not praying nor fasting, and not making Hajj and say, “I am going to meditate.” No, that is wrong and a philosophy that some beliefs believe in, but that is not acceptable in Islam. Without full prayers and without full zakaat and without Hajj and without fasting Ramadan and without Tawheed, you cannot synchronize the Level of Imaan with the Level of Islam, to give you the power, to give you the vision to see and observe and to meditate. So if you want your car to run, fix your car: Islam, the Five Pillars. If you want your car to run, then fix your faith, Imaan, then both of them will make your car move, then your car will move.

Then you are not sitting, the people see you sitting [in front of them], but you are everywhere through your heart; that’s what they call telepathy, to speak from far, but they did not yet reach to see from far. Sayyidina `Umar (r) [was in Medina and] he was able to see and to speak with his general commander when they were fighting in Sham. He told his commander, Yaa Sariyat, al-jabal! “O Sariya! Look at the mountain, behind you they are coming,” or “Hide yourself behind the mountain!” Sariya (r) was able to hear Sayyidina `Umar (r), but Sayyidina `Umar (r) was able to see Sariya and to speak to him. Different levels.

Ita`at (Obedience) and `Ibaadah (Worship)

If you want to have a real meditation, not an imaginary meditation, you have to do your obligations. What are your obligations? To do what the Prophet (s) gave us to do. What did he give us? `Ita`at wa `Ibaadah, Islam, Obedience and Worship, and Noor wa `Aqeeda, Light and Belief, which lead you to Maqaam al-Ihsaan which is Muraaqabah, meditation [observance], and Mushaahadah, vision [witnessing]. Allah (swt) stressed this so much:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لآيَاتٍ لِّأُوْلِي الألْبَابِ الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىَ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا اطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

Behold! In the creation of Heaven and Earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding, those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting and lying down on their sides, and contemplating the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, (saying), "Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose! Glory to You! Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.” (Surat Aali `Imraan, 3:190-191)

When you remember Allah (swt): you remember Him in your Islam, your Ita`atan wa `Ibaadah, you remember Him in obeying Him and praying to Him; you remember Him in your Faith, your Imaan; you remember him in the State of Ihsaan, Muraaqabah and Mushaahadah. Now you perfected your meditation, because Allah said in Holy Qur’an, Alladheena yadhkuroonallaha qiyaaman wa qu`oodan...not remembering Him by making tasbeeh of “laa ilaaha illa-Llaah” or “Allah, Allah” or “Huwa” or “Haqq” or “Hayy” or “yaa Hafeezh, yaa Mu`een,” whatever of Asmaau ’l-Husnaa, no, not only that, but you have to perform what He ordered you to do. You cannot do dhikr and don't pray, you cannot do dhikr and don't fast! That cannot work. It works from one side, but the second side is not working to combine together. So when you combine the three arkaan, the three posts together, that is the right way, that is at-Tareeq al-Mustaqeem. If you want Siraat ul-Mustaqeem, which means at-Tareeq al-Mustaqeem, you want the Highway, the Right Path, you have to follow these three. Do you follow them? Inshaa-Allah. At-Tareeq al-Mustaqeem is the Correct and Right Way, so from ‘tareeq’ came ‘tareeqah’, it is the name of something, the Highway, meaning, “This is your Way.” That is why Allah (swt) said:

وَأَلَّوِ اسْتَقَامُوا عَلَى الطَّرِيقَةِ لَأَسْقَيْنَاهُم مَّاء غَدَقًا

If they had (only) remained on the (right) Way, We should certainly have bestowed on them rain in abundance. (Surat al-Jinn, 72:16)

“If they keep this Way, this tareeq, this tareeqah,” He mentioned it by name, ‘tareeqat’,“if they keep the way of the Prophet (s), the way to synchronize Ita`at and `Ibaadah with the Noor and `Aqeedah, they reach out to the Highway and they will begin on the beginning of the Highway, which is Maqaam al-Ihsaan, and Allah will guide you, and when He guides them they begin to meditate in the right way and when they remember Him, which means doing what Prophet (s) ordered, you will follow at that time the right meditation and you can say, “I am at the beginning of the line.” Or else you are incorrect; one-sidedness does not work, you need two sides.

Every person has a different way of synchronizing his `ibaadah, worship, and `ita`at, obedience with Maqaam al-Ihsaan, the Station of Perfection. Allah gave everyone a different way and when you perfect your way, you begin to contemplate on Heavens and Earth and when you contemplate you begin to see. Awliyaullah began to see, because of that they were able to see. If you don’t perfect your three posts, Islam, Imaan, Ihsaan, then your religion is not perfect, it is incomplete, it is not perfect, you still have to perfect your religion, and how to do that, we will discuss later.

So that is why Jibreel (a) came to the Prophet (s) asking him in front of the Sahaabah, in order for them to learn by asking question: what is Islam, what is Imaan, what is Ihsaan (in the hadith). These are the heavenly gearboxes that must sync together to give birth to the good manners in Islam, Maqaam al-Ihsaan. That is why Prophet (s) said:

‏انما بعثت لاتمم مكارم الاخلاق

Innamaa bu`ithtu li utammimu makaarim al-akhlaaq.

I have been sent to perfect the best of conduct (your behavior and character). (Bazzaar)

A Stunning Example of Maqaam al-Ihsaan

I will give example from the life of Imam Shafi`ee (r), one of the Four Schools of Thought imams. One day, Imam Ahmad (r) bin Hanbal, who was imam of the fourth school and a student of Imam Shafi`ee (r), sat with Imam Shafi`ee (r) discussing some matters. At that time, Imam Shayban ar-Ra`ee (q) came, and as Grandshaykh (q) said, he was not complete in knowledge of Islam, some scholars say, I tried to find it and made some research on it but I couldn’t find it, they say he even used to make mistakes in reciting Surat al-Fatihah, but that is an aside. When Shayban ar-Ra`ee (q) came, Imam Shafi`ee (r) poured water for him to make wudu, and Imam Shafi`ee (r) is the head of a school of thought and Shayban ar-Ra`ee (q) was a normal person who knows only a little. Imam Shafi`ee poured water for his wudu, which you know is showing so much respect to pour water for him to do wudu. Shayban ar-Ra`ee (q) was a shepherd, looking after a flock.

يذكر القشيري أن الإمام أحمد كان عند الشافعي، فجاء شيبان الراعي، فقال أحمد:"أريد يا أبا عبد الله أن أنبه هذا على نقصان علمه، ليشتغل بتحصيل بعض العلوم. فقال الشافعي: لا تفعل. فلم يقنع، فقال لشيبان: ما تقول فيمن نسي صلاة من خمس صلوات في اليوم والليلة، ولا يدري أي صلاة نسيها، ما الواجب عليه يا شيبان؟. فقال شيبان: يا أحمد! هذا قلب غفل عن الله تعالى، فالواجب أن يؤدب حتى لا يغفل عن مولاه بعد. فغشي على أحمد، فلما أفاق قال له الإمام الشافعي: ألم أقل لك لا تحرك هذا!".

Fa qaal al-imaam ahmad, Imam Ahmad (r) said to Imam Shafi`ee (r), ureedu an unabihu haadhaa `alaa nuqsaani `ilmihi, “I want to make Shayban ar-Ra'ee pay attention to the fact that his knowledge of Shari`ah is not complete and he has to work more on himself to work out and to learn knowledge of Fiqh, `Usool ad-Deen and Tafseer, to study more in order to complete his religion.”

Fa qaalu lahu Shafi`ee, “Laa taf`al!” Imam Shafi`ee (r) said, “Don’t ask him and don’t try to test him, you will look bad, don’t test him, you will look bad!”

Imam Ahmad (r) said, “No, no, I have to do it.” He didn't accept the advice of Imam Shafi`ee (r) and asked Shayban ar-Ra`ee (r), Maa taqoolu fi man-nasiya salaatan min al-khams? “What do you say of someone who forgot to pray one of his five prayers?”

What do you normally do? You make it up, is it not? So what he answered him? He didn’t answer him, (but the answer is) You make it up. fa qaala yaa Ahmad haadhaa qalbun ghaafilan `ani-Llah fal-yu-addab, he said to him,“O Ahmad! I really know now that you have no mind. This is someone’s heart that became heedless of Allah's Presence, from remembering Allah (swt).”

Because you have to remember Allah 24 hours a day, as in the ayah he just recited, qiyaaman wa qu`oodan wa `alaa junoobihim, “standing, sitting and laying down” [3:191]: “standing” is when working, “sitting” is when you are resting, and “laying down” is when you are sleeping.

Shayban ar-Ra'ee (q) continued, “When heedlessness came to you, you forgot your prayers so all your prayers are not accepted, go and make them all up!” Not one you make it up, it means “your heart is dead already so go and wake up your heart and go make all your prayers over!”

That is from the one who has synchronized his State of Islam with his State of Imaan and he can see what others cannot see and hear what others cannot hear!

Faghashiyya `alaa ahmad, then Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (r) fainted!

Why did he faint? If I ask you a question and you answer me, I don’t faint. If a teacher in the class asks you a question and you answer wrong and he makes you look bad, you don’t faint, but he fainted. That means that Noorillahi that is in the heart of Sayyidina Shayban ar-Ra’ee (r) was able to hit his heart and to make him wake up from his drunkeness, drunkeness in Allah’s Love.

And he said yu-addab, “You have to be disciplined by repeating all your prayers, as if you never prayed before! Go and repeat your prayers!”

And then Imam Shafi`ee (r) looked at him when he woke up and said, “Didn’t I tell you, don’t ask him?” because when he asked Shayban ar-Ra`ee (q), the gearbox is working.


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