Am I fit to follow the Sufi path?

(Notes from listening to Hazrat Asad Rasool ( circa 1996)

Mosque ceiling, Uzbekistan1. Do not believe Shaitan (or your doubts) when he says, “you are not fit for this”. Use will power to sit regularly in meditation.

2. We are separated from Nature and from Truth and therefore from God.

3. What are the needs of people? They wish to be relieved from mental tension (suffering).

4. There are two kinds of cure (as in medicine), symptomatic and causal.

5. The cause of our suffering is estrangement from God.

6. Overcoming this estrangement requires the development of true spirituality. This is not the same as “spiritualism” or the cultivation of “cultic” practices or beliefs.

7. True spirituality is hard to define. In this Sufi path it is attainable via transmission from the teacher. The teacher is able to transmit the means of receiving blessings from the Almighty just as the transmitter enables the broadcast of TV programs.

8. Just as the TV receiver needs to be “tuned in”, in the same way the student of the Sufi teacher needs to be able to receive the blessings.

9. The aim of this is not the gaining of spiritual “powers”. The aim is only to achieve closeness to God.

10. God is merciful, and if we take one step towards him he takes 10 steps towards us.

11. This closeness can also be achieved by the love of the student for the teacher.

12. The teacher “offers up” the love received from the student towards God. In this way the teacher acts as a sort of channel by which the student can get closer to the Almighty, or the Holy Essence.

13. At the first step of the meditation the student turns their attention to the “heart”.

14. The heart then itself turns towards the Divine Essence (the Centre of the universe, the life spring of the universe, the essential energy of the universe).

15. There is something in the heart, which knows how to turn towards the Centre, just as a flower turns to the sun.

16. But we have first to turn towards the heart for this second stage to happen.

17. There is then a softening and an expansion of the heart which takes place.

18. This is both literally and metaphorically true.

19. The softening and expansion generates what we call “light”. The light imparts a lightness of being, and it can also enlighten.

20. The softening enables greater sympathy and empathy for others.

21. The softening also involves a vulnerability to others. This vulnerability can open a point of weakness, which relates to humility, when we consider ourselves “unfit” for this path, because we become aware of our failings and inconsistencies.

22. We need at these points to remind ourselves that we are “fit enough”, and capable of overcoming obstacles in our path. Because as we desire closeness with God, God responds by moving closer to us.

Sufism attempts to light candles in the darkness

candle“Dedicated practice of Sufism makes for an increasingly integrated and transformed human being. Such a person can only benefit his or her community and society as a whole. There is, I am sorry to say, a pressing need for such people – for people who, while fulfilling their outer responsibilities, are also inwardly attentive and refined. Our societies need people who act from their hearts, with hearts that are refined and loving.

No-one can change the world single-handedly. Each person can change himself or herself and, having done so, influence others to do the same. Sufism is not now, nor has it ever been, a mass movement. It operates on an individual level. It attempts to light candles in the darkness. In this way, Sufism yields a particular harvest within society. Today, more than ever before, society needs the fruits of that harvest.”

(From Hazrat Azad Rasool, Turning toward the heart, 2002 p.20.)

Shortening the Path

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

Remembering Allah

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

‘for those involved in remembrance and devotional practices’

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.

Companionship of the Group

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

Can You Swim?

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

Making Supplication (dua)

Supplication, making a request, to Allah can be made both within and after the conclusion of the prayer as well as any other appropriate time. The necessity of performing regular supplication is established in a hadith related by Abu Huraira, where the holy prophet (pbuh) said, ‘Whoever does not supplicate to Allahinvokes His wrath’ (Tirmidhi). This because supplication implies an attitude of humility and reliance on the part of the supplicant, towards the Almighty. Continue reading