I remember the trees of my childhood,
Elm trees that are no longer there -
I remember how they made me feel good
When now I fall into despair.
I remember my school and its teachers
As a place that was happy and kind -
I remember the summer sun breezes
In a world that now seems to go blind.
I remember the fields and the hillsides,
The butterflies bright patterned wings -
I remember the wind on the bike rides
And how I would play on the swings.
If you wish your path to be shortened in order to attain realisation swiftly, hold fast to what is ordained (in the Qur’an) and to what is particularly recommended concerning voluntary observances [that is, rites and other observances which are not legally obligatory but which the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) strongly recommended]; learn outer knowledge as is indispensable for worshipping God, but do not linger on it, since you are not required to study this deeply; a deepening of inner knowledge is what you need; and fight against covetousness; then you will see marvels. “Noble character” is nothing else but the tasawwuf of the Sufis, just as it is the religion of religious men. […] Continue reading
Dhikrullah (remembrance of Allah) is of many types and forms including Qur’anic recitation, prayer (salat), supplication (dua), studying Islamic knowledge, meditation (muraqaba), sending salutations (durud sharif) on the Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
The importance, loftiness and benefits of dhikr are stressed repeatedly in both the Majestic Qur’an and hadith sharif. Allah (exalted is He) stresses that we should remember him often and in all circumstances:
O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance; and glorify Him morning and evening. (Qur’an 33: 35, 41-42)
Lo! In the creation of the Heavens and the earth and in the night and day are tokens (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding, such as remember Allah, in standing, sitting, and reclining. (Qur’an 3:190-191)
Then do ye remember Me I will remember you. (Qur’an 2:152) Continue reading
Those treading the Path should strive to follow the method of the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) in everything. Following the Sunna creates much light in the heart. Have patience when anyone says something that displeases you. Do not say anything in haste, especially in anger. Be very careful in the state of anger. Never consider yourself to be perfect or one who possess excellence. Think before speaking.
When you are convinced that in what you intend to say there is no harm, and in it is some benefit or need regarding the world or religion, then only proclaim it. Never speak ill even of an evil person. Do not listen to evil. Do not criticise a dervish who may be overwhelmed by some ecstatic condition and may be saying something that, in your opinion, seems to be in conflict with the religion. Never despise any Muslim even if he happens to be a sinner. Never yearn nor have greed for wealth and honour. As much as is possible remain in the company of those who engage in remembrance. Such association creates light, courage, and love in the heart.
Do not expend much effort in worldly affairs. Do not meet people unnecessarily. When necessity compels you to meet others, meet them kindly and display good manners. As soon as the need has been fulfilled withdraw from company. Remain aloof especially from acquaintances. Search for the companionship of the people of Allah (the pious and saintly ones) or meet with such persons who are not well known to you. Harm from such people is slight. If some spiritual condition occurs in your heart or some amazing knowledge enters the heart, inform your shaykh. Do not request your shaykh for some special devotional practice. Do not inform anyone besides your shaykh of the effect remembrance produces in you. Do not deceive nor beat about the bush when you have realised your error. Confess immediately. In all circumstances have trust in Allah and present your needs only to Him. Request Allah to grant you steadfastness in the religion.
From The Path to Perfection: an edited anthology of the spiritual teachings of Hakim Al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (California: White Thread Press, 2005), pp. 121-122.
This summer I was blessed to visit the seven pirs of Bukhara in Uzbekistan. It is proper adab to visit the eldest first, so the first of these Naqshbandi saints to visit was Hazrat ‘Abdul Khaliq al-GHudjwani (r.a.). His shrine is beautifully restored and has a busy flow of wedding parties, locals paying their respects, and people making pilgrimage from further afield. There is a mosque nearby and a madrassa, restored but unused. Helping us with the August heat, we were blessed with a cooling breeze and a shaded bench from which to offer our salams and sit in muraqabah.
Hazrat ‘Abdul Khaliq (r.a.) was born to an Anatolian princess, a descendant of Imam Malik, and Shaykh ‘Abdul Jamil, (r.a.), one of the most famous scholars of Byzantine times. He was a master of silent dhikr and the first in the silsila to use it. He studied the traditional Islamic sciences throughout his childhood, then jihad an-nafs (the spiritual struggle) under Shaikh Yusuf al-Hamadani (r.a.). He established a school in Damascus where his students mastered fiqh and hadith alongside spiritual practices. Continue reading
May God grant you the grace of good company! A very important need of the disciple is to associate with these people. Such association makes a deep impression. It is a total attack on a person’s temperament and habits, to such an extent that a falcon, by associating with men, becomes wise, and a parrot learns to speak, while a horse, because it associates with men in its training, loses its animal traits and takes on those of men! […] Association overcomes not only innate habits but also one’s created temperament. […] Continue reading
In the old times there were only rowboats to cross the Straits of the Bosphorus in Turkey, not the large boats of today. If you wanted to go from one side to the other, you hired a boat with five or ten other people and paid the boatman to take you across. One day, a professor of geography stepped into one of these boats to cross the straits. Just as the boat set out, the wind started to kick up, and the boat began to sway from side to side. Continue reading
Continuing our trip to the seven pirs of Bukhara in Uzbekistan this summer and after visiting Hazrat ‘Abdul Khaliq al-Ghudjwani (r.a.) we took a cross-country taxi ride to the tomb of Hazrat Maulana ‘Arif Riwgari (r.a.). He was born six miles from Bukhara in the village of Riwakar, where he was also buried. He served his Shaykh tirelessly until attaining the state of perfection and receiving permission to teach others, after which his teachings spread far and wide.
We were greeted with the joy-filled warmth of the tomb’s warden and Imam; I was very touched that although I had only visited once before, some five years earlier, he remembered me. We offered our salams to this great Shaykh and were allowed into the enclosure around the tomb, where we sat for muraqabah. Once again, we were shaded from the direct sun and there was a blustering rural wind that cooled us. It felt very good to return and renew our connection. Continue reading