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You Will Never Reach Your Destination Without a Shaykh

Ramadan Series 2014, Vol 13

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

11 July 2014 Fajr, 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.

As-salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytaani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmaani 'r-Raheem, wa bihi nasta`een.

Those who are present and those who are far away watching us, may Allah bless you with the blessings of Ramadan and with the blessings of this Friday, the second Friday of Ramadan. The knowledge we were discussing since the beginning of Ramadan is the Purification of the Self, to clean ourselves from all different kinds of bad desires and to be clean in front of Allah (swt) and His Prophet (s). There are many `ulama who mentioned that way, were followers of that way and accompanied the people of that way, the way of Maqaam al-Ihsaan, the highest level of Moral Excellence, as Allah described the Prophet (s) in Holy Qur’an:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلى خُلُقٍ عَظِي

Wa innaka la-`alaa khuluqin `azheem.

You are of the most exalted character. (Surat al-Qalam, 68:4)

The Sahaabah (r) were of perfected character, as the Prophet (s) trained and polished them. They were looking at him, learning from him, accompanied him and gave their lives for him. You cannot give your life to someone if you don’t love them. When you feel love for someone, you give your whole life to them and trust them with everything and this kind of love could be between husband and wife or any other kind. What kind of love do you think the Sahaabah (r) had for the Prophet (s)? They were in the time of the Prophet (s) and seeing him. It is something that cannot be understood, as it is something above us. They were worshippers in night and working for the Prophet (s) during the days. That is why it is very important to go through history and see all these scholars, all these `ulama and inheritors of the prophets, as the Prophet (s) mentioned:

العلماء ورثة الانبياء

Al-`ulamaa warathatu 'l-anbiyaa.

The (genuine) scholars are inheritors of the Prophets.

The Perfect Role Model

We have to find the reason and the reason is so simple. Everyone likes to see a role model and knows that they themselves are not one. You need someone you can follow to take you to Sayyidina Muhammad (s). That is why the Prophet (s) said:

المؤمن مرآة أخيه

Al-mu’min mi'rraat akheehi.

The believer is the mirror of his brother (or sister).

That means he is like a spotlight, there is light coming from his face. That is why people were attracted to Sahaabah (r). So we see what some scholars have said about this way; the way of Gnostics, the way of Purification of the Self, Tazkiyyatu ‘n-Nafs, the way of Tariqah, the way of Tasawwuf. This is not something new. We are going over 1,300-1,400 years back. In the time of the Prophet (s), it was under the title Tazkiyyatu ‘n-Nafs, but later became like a course that goes from beginning to end. So that is why we mentioned the origin of this word at the beginning of this series, as-safaa, purity.

The Prophet (s) said:

اتَّقُوا فِرَاسَةَ الْمُؤْمِنِ فَإِنَّهُ يَنْظُرُ بِنُورِ اللَّهِ ‏

Ittaqoo firasat al-mumin fa innahu yanzhuru bi nooorillah.

Beware of the believer's intuition, for indeed he sees with Allah's Light.

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

“Beware of the gaze of the mu’min for, verily, he looks with the Light of the eyes that Allah gave him.” We also mentioned Imam Abu Hanifa (r), one of the greatest imams. He said, besides what we mentioned yesterday, “If not for the two years that I followed Imam Jaa`far as-Sadiq (r),” the grandson of the Prophet (s) and one of the Twelve Imams, “I would have been lost, because he explained to me the knowledge of Maqaam al-Ihsaan.”

What Shaykh ash-Sha`raani Said about Tasawwuf

It is mentioned by Shaykh ash-Sha`raani (q), who died in 973, about 500 years ago, he has a big maqaam in Egypt:

I took the road of Purification of the Self by myself, without a shaykh, by reading through the books of scholars from over 1,000 years before, such as Risalat al-Qushayriyya , Awaarif al-Mu`aarif, Qoot al-Quloob by Abi Talib al-Makki and Imam Ghazali's Ihya `Ulum ad-Deen. I would read from one book and switch to another, as my ego would say, “Drop that one and read another,” so I was confused. I used to do according to what I understood. I would do the first and read it, then leave it and go to the second and then to the third. I was like someone who enters a tunnel and doesn’t know if they will reach the end or not, as it might have a dead end. Even though I was reading the books, I did not know whether it would take me to a dead end or a way out of the tunnel.

This is the way of the one who has no shaykh: he does not know, as Imam ash-Sha`raani (q) said:

I didn’t know what to do. Then I took a shaykh as they did, such as Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (q), because you don’t know if you will get out of the tunnel or not, but the shaykh knows if there is an exit to the tunnel. To take a shaykh is to give you a shortcut, not to go in a maze and not know whether you will exit or not. The shaykh will tell you if you want to go in a maze, “Take this way,” and how to get you out the quickest. Anyone who did not take a shaykh will go on this road and will be lost for sure; it is like someone who is lost in the desert and will end his life without reaching the goal.

As we say, Ilaahee anta maqsoodee wa ridaaka matloobee, “O Allah, You are my goal and Your Pleasure is what I seek!” It is like someone who says to you that they will take you to Hajj, but does not know the way. Then another person says, “I will take you to Hajj.” The example of a shaykh is that he will take you directly to Madinatu 'l-Munawwara and Meccatu 'l-Mukarrama, not take you to Azeeziyya and leave you there for ten days and take you to Madinah for only two to three days. What is the benefit of going like that when you need to stay in Madinah longer? At least perform forty prayers there.

Shaykh ash-Sha`raani (q) said:

It is unacceptable for people to go without a shaykh, as they will not reach anywhere. If a shaykh was not needed, then why did most of the scholars of Islam take a shaykh, such as Hujjat al-Islam, Imam Ghazali (q), `Izz ad-Deen ibn `Abdus-Salaam (q) and Imam Nawawi (q), author of Riyaad as-Saaliheen.

Most of the scholars of Islam were in Tasawwuf and had a shaykh, very few did not. Even Ibn Taymiyya was in Tasawwuf and wrote two volumes, `Ilm as-Sulook and `Ilm at-Tasawwuf, but he had some ideas that are not in accordance with Ahlu ’s-Sunnah wa ’l-Jama`ah.

What Imam Shafi`ee Said about Tasawwuf

What did Imam Shafi`ee say? He said as the Prophet (s) said:

حُبِّبَ إِلَىَّ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا النِّسَاءُ وَالطِّيبُ وَجُعِلَ قُرَّةُ عَيْنِي فِي الصَّلاَةِ

In this world, women and perfume have been made dear to me, and my comfort has been provided in prayer. (Narrated Anas, an-Nasaa'ee)

Imam Shafi`ee said, “Allah made me to love three things from dunya:

1. Tark at-takalluf, not to be formal. I am a normal person, a humble one. If people humiliate me or shout at me, it is no problem.

That is why he said in one of his famous quotations:

If a hundred scholars come to debate me I will win on them, but if one ignorant comes to me he will win on me, because if I quote a hadith of the Prophet (s) to an `alim, he will not say no if it is yes and will acknowledge that that hadith exists, but the ignorant one does not, as he says, “Show me the proof.” How am I going to do this? Do I have to carry all the manuscripts of Baghdad and Sham to show him the evidence or is my qawl, word enough that this is the hadith of the Prophet (s)?

Knowledgeable ones know, but ignorant ones do not. Such as tawassul, intercession through the Prophet (s). This is one of the main hadith on this topic and they object it:

أَنَّ رَجُلاً، ضَرِيرَ الْبَصَرِ أَتَى النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ ادْعُ اللَّهَ أَنْ يُعَافِيَنِي ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏"‏ إِنْ شِئْتَ دَعَوْتُ وَإِنْ شِئْتَ صَبَرْتَ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكَ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَادْعُهُ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَأَمَرَهُ أَنْ يَتَوَضَّأَ فَيُحْسِنَ وُضُوءَهُ وَيَدْعُوَ بِهَذَا الدُّعَاءِ ‏"‏ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ وَأَتَوَجَّهُ إِلَيْكَ بِنَبِيِّكَ مُحَمَّدٍ نَبِيِّ الرَّحْمَةِ إِنِّي تَوَجَّهْتُ بِكَ إِلَى رَبِّي فِي حَاجَتِي هَذِهِ لِتُقْضَى لِي اللَّهُمَّ فَشَفِّعْهُ فِيَّ ‏"‏

`Uthman bin Hunaif narrated that a blind man came to the Prophet and said, “Supplicate to Allah to heal me.” He said: “If you wish, I will supplicate for you, and if you wish, you can be patient, for that is better for you.” He said: “Then supplicate to Him.” He said: “So he ordered him to perform wudu and to make his wudu complete and to supplicate with this supplication: ‘O Allah, I ask You and turn towards You by Your Prophet, Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy. Indeed, I have turned to my Lord by means of You, concerning this need of mine, so that it can be resolved, O Allah, so accept his intercession for me. (Tirmidhi)

“The blind man came to the Prophet (s) and asked him, “I cannot see, I cannot pray Fajr behind you, my day is like night. Can you pray to Allah to relieve my blindness? And the Prophet (s) said, “Can you be patient on that?” He said, “No, I cannot be patient on it.” And the Prophet (s) said, “Okay, then go and make wudu and perfect it and then pray two rak`ats and then make this du`a: Allahumma innee atawwajahu ilayk bi nabiyyika Nabi (s) ar-rahmah, ya Muhammad, innee atawajahu bika il rabbee fee haajatee hadha allahum shafi`hu feehi.”

The vision of the blind man was returned with this du`a. This du`a was also used after the time of the Prophet (s), through which many people solved their problems. So this is to show that an ignorant is an ignorant. They come to you and say, “That hadith is not acceptable,” because they don’t like intercession through the Prophet (s). Their teacher and master, Ibn Taymiyya, authenticized this hadith in his book Al-Qaaida al-Jaleela fi ’t-Tawassuli wa ’l-Waseelah, but they are ignorant!

Imam Shafi`ee (r) said:

Three things in this world have been made lovely to me:

1. To leave formality, being informal;

2. To make my life towards others to be in the best and most easiest way, with kindness;

3. To follow the ways of the Sufi people.

He said this 1,100 years ago. He wanted to be guided and follow the way of Ahlu ‘t-Tasawwuf. It is mentioned that he died in 205 H/820 CE, about 1,200 years ago. He said, “I accompanied the Sufis and received from them but three words:

1. Their statement, “Time is a sword; if you do not cut it, it cuts you.” Meaning, avoid wasting time in entertainment. Time is like a sword, one day it will cut you from this dunya so do good before it will harm you.

2. “If you do not keep your ego busy with truth, it will keep you busy with falsehood.”

Imam Shafi`ee (r) is saying this, who said that he can win over hundreds of `ulama, but not over an ignorant one and who followed the way of the Sufis. We previously mentioned that he was living in Baghdad and wrote his madhhab in the book Al-Umm. When he went to Egypt, he saw more corruption and so changed his madhhab. What kind of corruption we have today and we don’t have such imams, because they don’t want to follow Ahlu ’s-Sunnah wa ’l-Jama`ah, but there still are many, you can find them.

What Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Whom Salafis Follow) Said about Tasawwuf

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (164-241 H./780-855 CE), Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Saffarini al-Hanbali (d. 1188) relates in his Ghidha' al-Albab li-Sharh Manzumat al-Adab from Ibrahim ibn `Abd Allah al-Qalanasi, that Imam Ahmad (r) said about the Sufis, “I don't know any scholars or `ulama, or any other people better than them.”

On Wajd and Dhikrullah

This is the teacher whom the Salafis take from. And he said that someone said to him, “They listen to music and they reach states of ecstasy,” meaning, they sway and move in state of wajd, ecstasy; they are overwhelmed by themselves and move involuntarily in dhikrullah. He said, “Do you prevent them from enjoying an hour with Allah? Let them do what they want.”

“Sit with the People of Tasawwuf”

After accompanying Abu Hamza al-Baghdadi as-Sufi (q), Imam Ahmad came to know them and advised his son, “O my son, you have to sit with the people of Sufism because they preceded us (the scholars) in their knowledge, in their focus and meditation, in their fear of Allah, in their asceticism and in the intensity of their zeal. These are the Sufis.”

Who is Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (r)? He is the imam of one of the Four Schools of Thought. When did he mention the Sufis? Before he died. He lived from 164-241H. He mentioned this 1,200 years ago and today they say that there is no Sufism! Their imam, from whom they take their principles, is saying that you have to follow the Sufis.

What Imam Ghazali Said about Tasawwuf

Imam Ghazali (450-505 H./1058-1111 CE) said 1,00 years ago, “I knew to be true that the Sufis are the seekers in Allah’s Way,” this is Imam Ghazali (q), whose books they now allow to enter their countries, but were previously banned. He said:

Their conduct is the best conduct, their way is the best way and their manners are the most sanctified. They have cleaned their hearts from other than Allah and they have made them as pathways for rivers to run receiving knowledge of the Divine Presence. If all the `ulama, thousands and thousands from all around the world, wise men and judges, and all those who know the secrets of Fiqh, came together in a conference from everywhere to try to change the characters of the Sufis, they will not be able to change them one hair from the way to Allah.

What do we need more than that of the reality of Tasawwuf? So this group is like many other groups coming together, sitting, learning and studying the way to become Ahlu ‘t-Tasawwuf. May Allah (swt) give us the best of their knowledge through our hearts!

What Imam Nawawi Established the Five Principles of Tasawwuf

Imam Yahya ibn Sharaf an-Nawawi. (d. 676), died young at the age of 45, 800 years ago. He is the author of Riyad as-Saaliheen said in his Letters, Al-Maqaasid. He said:

The principles of the way of the Sufis are five: if you learn them and follow them by action and not by speech, you will reach Divine Presence in this life and the Next:

1. To keep the presence and fear of Allah in your heart in public and in private; to be afraid from His Punishment or that you will be far from Him on the Day of Judgment.

2. To follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) by actions and speech.

3. To keep away from dependence on people.

4. To be happy with what Allah gives you, even if it is little.

5. To always refer your matters to Allah Almighty, The Exalted.

Those are the five principles of the way of Tasawwuf according to Imam Nawawi. There are many others, but we will continue next time inshaa-Allah.

Before we end, I would like to prepare for the next speech. It says that everyone needs to follow a Waarith al-Muhammadi, one of the inheritors of the Prophet (s), in order to go up higher, to rise up in the stairs of perfection, to receive the book on disciplines and favors, to find the defects in yourself and the sicknesses of your heart. This is what they need to tell you about. This is what they tell you in Psychology: how to first improve yourself in order to be raised in the stations of Perfection, to improve your character and your behavior, to improve your dunya and Akhirah, to take these courses that teach you discipline and improve your favors, and by these you will find the hidden defects in the heart.

How can you find such a person, as you need him to give you the right way, the right prescription for your future? It is like a patient who looks for a doctor to give him what he needs of medication in order to cure him. Similarly, we have to find a shaykh, as the patient is in need of a doctor, the mureed is in need of a shaykh. What are the characteristics of such a shaykh? We will leave that for next time.

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


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