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What to Do When You Oppress Yourself

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

15 October 2016 Fenton Zawiya, Michigan

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.

A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytaani 'r-rajeem. Bismillaahi 'r-Rahmaani 'r-Raheem.


Dr. Butch Ware, Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor:

As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. 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.

I cannot express what a pleasure it is to be in your company again and may Allah bless Shaykh Hisham, Grandshaykh `Abdullah al-Fa'iz ad-Daghestani (q) and Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil (q) and all the Awliya, and may Allah raise all of us to be with the Awliya who are ascending with the Prophet (s) constantly, and if we are not doing our dhikr and salawaat we are not able to keep up.

Shaykh Ahmad Tijani Shareef founder of the Tijaniyya Tariqah once said to his disciples that the person who does not achieve ma`rifah risks dying in a state of ‘unbelief’ without knowing it. The purpose of the Naqshbandi, Qadiri and Tijaniyya and all tariqahs is to know Allah (swt), and He said in an authentic Hadith Qudsi [in which Allah (swt) said to Prophet (s)], “Know Me, then you will love Me.”

عرفوني قبل أن تعبدوني فإن لم تعرفوني فكيف تعبدوني

Know Me before you worship Me, for if you do not know Me how can you worship Me?

There are many paths to get to know Allah (swt). Some think that He can be grasped with the intellect, wa na`udhu billah; some scholars think that with discursive study you can come to know who God is. That is a trick, a conceit, that in this time has made an idol of human reason. The great Tijani Shaykh Sayyidina Ibrahim Niasse (q), may Allah bless his soul, who had an encounter with our shaykh [Hisham Kabbani] when he was young, spoke of some of the fallacies that this can lead to in his magisterial tafseer of Holy Qur'an. He talked about a trip to Saudi Arabia where he met scholars who believe they can use their mind to reach knowledge of Allah instead of via dhikr and salawat.

He also mentioned there was one shaykh who kept following him to debate with him and he finally caught up with him in tawaaf and said to him, “In our belief, if someone does not believe that Allah jalasa `ala al-`arsh, sits on the Throne, they are near unbelief.”

To clarify to him this false belief, Shaykh Ibrahim (q) said, “We see in Holy Qur'an Allah mentioned His `Arsh ten times, mentioned His Kursiyy one time and He also mentioned His House, and we are sitting next to His House. If we went inside the House, would we find Him inside?”

The man said, “No” and laughed.

Shaykh Ibrahim then said, “And Allah said, ‘Allah has a she-camel,’ so would you expect to find Allah riding on His camel?”

The man said, “No, of course not” and laughed.

And so the perversion of human reason makes them think they grasp Allah (swt) through their mind. For those who were taught that the way to know Allah is through our heart, Allah is too generous to leave us without guidance to know Him, and no one knew Him better than the Seal of Messengers (s). The Prophet of Allah saw his Lord and the scholars agree the eyes cannot perceive Allah. We have similarly seen that the eye of the intellect cannot perceive who Allah is because it leads to perverse conclusions, as some scholars have concluded. But Allah (swt) said:

ما وسعني أرضي ولا سمائي ولكن وسعني قلب عبدي المؤمن

Neither My Heavens nor My Earth contain Me, but the heart of My believing servant contains Me.

(Hadith Qudsi, Al-Ihya of Imam al-Ghazali)

There was a saint who had seen Allah (swt) in dreams and was told go and see Sayyidina Bayazid al-Bistami (q).

He said, “Why should I see Sayyidina Bayazid al-Bistami (q) when I have seen Allah (swt)?”

That one said, “It is better to see Sayyidina Bayazid al-Bistami (q) than to see Allah (swt) in the dream seventy times.”

He asked, “Why is that?”

They replied, “You are seeing Allah in your state, but Sayyidina Bayazid al-Bistami (q) is seeing Allah in His state.”

So when he went to see Sayyidina Bayazid al-Bistami (q), just the sight of him made him die! That is the reason we cling close to men like Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, because wherever we might stand on the path of our journey our heart is in whatever condition it might be in. The example that helped me understand this is the light of the Sun, and the Prophet (s) is al-Badr at-Tamaam, the Perfect Full Moon which reflects the light of the Sun perfectly. The Wali of Allah is the Perfect Mirror, who reflects the Light of the Prophet (s) perfectly. That is why we are gathered here, as the mission of Awliyaullah is to continue the mission of the Anbiyaa: to bring people out of darkness to light. The darknesses are gathering and they are many, but the Light is one. Die before you die, purify your heart, attach yourself to someone who can guide you and cling close to them so they can polish your heart, because what you get in this life you can’t get in the other, so get it here!

The vision of our Lord is not like our vision in this life. The Prophet (s) said:

أَمَا إِنَّكُمْ سَتَرَوْنَ رَبَّكُمْ كَمَا تَرَوْنَ هَذَا

You will certainly see your Lord as you see this moon. (Bukhari)

As we strive against the four enemies, nafs, hawwaa, Shaytan, dunya, we reach something higher than Jannat al-Firdaws, that is ridwaanullah, the pleasure of Allah (swt). That is better than eight paradises: in that state you are gazing on Allah (swt) with no end. The joys that you receive from gazing at your Lord transcend even the heavenly body we are resurrected in. If we choose a path that is not about fitting the Lord of Heavens between our two ears, take the hands of a guide who knows the way in rain and shine, because we have decided that nothing less than God's good pleasure and our vision of Him will satisfy us, so we have to find a place of concordance with Awliyaullah and with Anbiyaaullah and especially with Seal of Messengers (s)! And to make us skate across the Siraat with no impediment, and gaze upon His Holy Face in this life and the Next, and may He grant for us to be in the presence of His Holy Messenger (s) in this life in the Next.

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani:

MashaAllah, ahsantum. As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. 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.

On behalf of Shaykh `Abdul-Haqq and the rest, and on my behalf, we thank you, Professor, for coming this evening and enlightening us. Your thoughts, your understanding is mashaa-Allah very high, so we have to look like that [upwards].

Alhamdulillah we are sitting in front of people from different backgrounds and this is a namudaj, an example, of how Ummat an-Nabi (s) is going to stand in front of the Prophet (s) on Judgment Day for him to defend them. Yes, everyone is seeking to reach Ma`rifatullah and it is said:

من عرف نفسه فقد عرف ربه

Who knows his self knows his Lord.

That is very simple and tells us we are so far away from Ma`rifatullah, and the only one who was able to know about His Creator was Sayyidina Muhammad (s). As everyone knows, he (s) reached Qaaba Qawsayni aw Adnaa, which might be one centimeter, one millimeter, but it is not uniting with Allah, we do not accept Wahdat al-wujud. That short distance for him in the Divine Presence is like a huge ocean. As much as he approached, ascended, still he is ascending until Judgment Day! He is still ascending, which Awliyaullah and `Ulama know and say, that the Ummah is ascending with Prophet (s). The father does not leave the children alone, so what about Sayyidina Muhammad (s), will he leave the Ummah behind? No!

We have said this, but then a question comes to the mind, to the intellect, not speaking in terms of spirituality but using our intellect, leave spirituality aside for the time being. Al-jannah laa yajooz an yakoona feehaa ayyi khilaaf, Paradise cannot carry anything negative or anyone with sin as it is a pure place, is it not? No sin, no ma`siyya can be committed there as it is pure. So how was Iblees allowed to be there? That is a question. Why was he allowed to come in different forms, sometimes as a snake, sometimes as a peacock, sometimes this and sometimes that, to approach Sayyidina Adam (a)? Sayyidina Adam (a) was and still is pure, because Allah forgave him, so who let Iblees inside? Where were the angels to stop him? Awliyaullah are stunned! What is the biggest hikmah, wisdom, that Iblees was able to enter Paradise and whisper in Sayyidina Adam’s ear and bring him out by sinning, causing him to be sent out? What is the hikmah, the reason?

It is to raise the khalq higher and higher by coming against Iblees! If there is no opponent, there are no rewards. There must be an opponent, and that is why we have four opponents against us: nafs, dunya, hawa, Shaytan. If you run away from these four enemies you will be rewarded and when you run to them, you become like them. So any desire you follow, has to be the desire to love Allah (swt) and His Prophet (s), or else you will be with the four enemies. None of us can say we don't have bad desires, every one of us did something in our life and we are still committing sins, but Allah said, “Make istighfaar,” as we spoke about yesterday. If you love Allah (swt), He will open a way for you to know Him! That is what He said in this verse:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Say (O Muhammad), "If you (really) love Allah, then follow me! Allah will love you and forgive your sins, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surat Aali-`Imraan, 3:31)

If you really love Allah, show your love to Prophet (s)! Prophet (s) is the gateway, there is no other way. Allah (swt) is saying it explicitly in the Qur’an. How do you show your love to the Prophet (s)? It is to come to him. It is so easy, so simple. You are zhaalim? Yes. We are all zhaalimun li nafsihi wa zhaalimun li ghayrihi, oppressors to ourselves and to others. Because you are zhaalim, you have the opportunity to reach the Prophet (s), which doesn’t mean you have to be zhaalim to reach him, but Allah gave that example, that when you are doing something wrong, you are oppressing yourself, you have to go to the Prophet (s).

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذ ظَّلَمُواْ أَنفُسَهُمْ جَآؤُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُواْ اللّهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُواْ اللّهَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيمًا

If they had only, when they were unjust (oppressor) to themselves, come to you and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surat an-Nisaa, 4:64)

“When they oppressed themselves, they must go to the gateway.” For example, if you are at an airport with many gateways, there are many ways and you have to see your destination and where you want to go. So you choose dunya or you choose Akhirah: if you want Akhirah, run to the gateway where the Prophet (s) is waiting, change your direction!

Allah (swt) said, “When they oppressed themselves,” and all of us oppress ourselves, so we all have an opportunity to run to Allah, but how? When we sin, and no one can say they didn’t, immediately Allah sends a warning to our heart that we did something wrong and no one can say there is no warning, immediately a warning comes to run to Prophet (s). Whenever you feel that, run to the Prophet (s) to repent! That is why the three who stayed back when they were ordered to accompany the Prophet (s) [as narrated in Holy Qur’an] were given a way to repent. What did Allah say in Holy Qur'an? “When they were oppressors to themselves they come to you, yaa Muhammad, and they ask forgiveness, they repent.”

Who is there waiting for them? They say the Prophet (s) is not haadir, present. But in Arabic they call him ‘haadirun wa naazhirun’ and in Urdu it is ‘haadir wa naazhir, “present and seeing.” Allah says in this verse that the Prophet (s) is haadir, present, because when you sin you are in his presence and you make istighfaar in his presence! The Prophet (s) is present, seeing us, but we are not seeing him as we are veiled.

When the Prophet (s) makes istighfaar on your behalf, what will be left? When Sayyidina Adam (a) sinned, he repented, he asked Allah to forgive him for the sake of Sayyidina Muhammad (s), because wherever he turned his face he saw the name Muhammad, the Light of the Prophet (s) was everywhere! It is not the name only, from that name Light was shining.

رواه عبد الرزاق بسنده عن جابر بن عبد الله بلفظ قال قلت: يا رسول الله، بأبي أنت وأمي، أخبرني عن أول شيء خلقه الله قبل الأشياء. قال: يا جابر، إن الله تعالى خلق قبل الأشياء نور نبيك من نوره

When Jaabir (r) asked, “Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you, oh Prophet of Allah! What is the first thing that Allah (swt) created?” the Prophet (s) said, “The first thing that Allah (swt) created is the Light of your Prophet from His Light, O Jaabir.” (Musannaf `Abdu ’r-Razzaq)

The Light of the Prophet (s) was the first thing created and all angels can see it, and Sayyidina Adam (a) saw it, then he asked for forgiveness for the sake of Muhammad (s).

Allah asked him, “How did you know about Muhammad?”

Sayyidina Adam (a) said, “Yaa Rabbee, I saw his name and Light everywhere in Paradise and from that I knew he is Your Most Beloved, so I asked for his sake.” Allah forgive Adam.

Who made Sayyidina Adam (a) eat from the tree? Not him, he is ma`soom, infallible. We ate from the tree! The reality of the souls of Bani Adam are in the backbone of Sayyidina Adam (a). However many billions and trillions of human beings came on Earth, they are all from Sayyidina Adam (a). Their realities were in his back when he made istighfaar for the sake of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) and Allah (swt) forgave him and all his dhuriyya, descendents. When Awliyaullah think about Allah’s rahmah in this matter they faint, they cannot grasp that when Allah forgave one, He forgave all the Children of Adam! Allah does not lose anything. He is The Generous. He can forgive one, He can forgive everyone. Adam (a) asked for forgiveness for all his descendants, and Allah forgave Adam (a) and all of them, even the zhullaam!

May Allah bless the souls of Grandshaykh `AbdAllah (q) and Mawlana Shaykh Nazim (q), who said that when we were all created in our mother’s womb, our parent’s bad desires were reflected on us and molded us, and that moved Sayyidina Adam’s hands to sin [take the fruit of the Forbidden Tree], it was not from himself! It was us, his descendents, that made him move his hand to eat the fruit and sin! For that reason, Allah forgave him. Also, when he sinned, Sayyidina Adam (a) went into sajda for forty days--some scholars say it was forty years--and he did not rise up until he received forgiveness! Therefore, his istighfaar will be over all of Bani Adam on Judgment Day.

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ

We have honored the Children of Adam. (Surat al-Israa’, 17:70)

“We have honored the Children of Adam,” with the Light of Allah, from which Prophet (s) was created, and Sayyidina Adam (a) was created from Prophet’s Light and carried it in his forehead.

May Allah (swt) guide us to His Ma`rifah; the easiest way is to make istighfaar, then you get Prophet’s istighfaar; he makes istighfaar on our behalf, and then la-wajadoo ’Llaaha, “they would have found Allah.” Why are we not finding? So say, “Astaghfirullah.” Is Prophet (s) present or not? He is present, it is in this verse and every letter in the Holy Qur’an is alive. When you say “astaghfirullah” it is alive and will continue non-stop until the Day of Resurrection. Further, there is no end or waqf (pause in recitation) at that point in the ayah, la-wajadoo ‘Llaaha, but some Awliyaullah and `Ulama pause [because with no pause the verse takes a different meaning]. Are we not finding Allah (swt)? No, we are finding.

In addition, every time you make istighfaar it accumulates and from it Allah creates an angel who makes istighfaar on your behalf until Judgment Day, and from each individual recitation of every angel another angel is created, who then also makes istighfaar on your behalf, so the baraka generates exponentially! In seclusion, Awliya order you to recite daily 24,000 salawaat, 124,000 Laa ilaaha illa-Llah, to recite as much as you can from the Holy Qur'an, but not less than seven juz a day, and many other awraad. For your reward, all that accumulates exponentially from angels created from each of your recitations, and all that benefit is waiting for you on Judgment Day.

Ma`rifatullah is not that simple. Awliyaullah spend their lives to reach the door of Ma`rifatullah.

أنا مدينة العلم و علي بابها

I am the City of Knowledge and `Ali is its Door (or Gate). (al-Haakim, Tirmidhi)

We are not reaching the door yet, may Allah allow us to reach the door.

Wa min Allahi ‘t-tawfeeq, bi hurmati ‘l-haadireen al-Fatihah.


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