The word “faqr” signifies-fasting in the name and sake of Lord, contentment, persisting and perseverance with fortitude and patience subjugation of despicable elements, total faith in the will of Supreme Being-Allah-God, to practice pure thoughts and to lead a life of truth to achieve a blissful life. One who practices regularly these qualities and leads a pious and virtuous life of dedication and total surrender to Allah-God is a Sufi and a Faqeer. A Faqeer is a totally surrendered soul with deep piety, humility and sincere to the core with absolute love for Allah-God; His Prophets peace be on all of them and for the humanity. They reflect on the inner aspects of man and every quality and feeling is analyzed and achieves self-realization leading to God-Allah’s realization i.e., Marifat e Ilahi. The lower self is conquered, the self becomes purified, and God imposed. Sufis and Faqeers achieve enlightenment and pure “Wilayat” or sainthood and come to be recognized as “Wali Allah” (friend of Allah), Peers, or Peerans. These saints become true personification of all virtues and saviors of humanity. They (Sufi masters) teach their disciples the ways to conquer their lower animal self and lead them to pure love of the Lord for final merger. To discover one’s own self through self-enquiry under the strict guidance of the Master, the Peer, will lead to the knowledge of the greater self, the Lord Almighty and for self-realization. The Lord’s grace is bestowed on the inner self-consciousness, and enlightenment dawns to make the Sufi a true beloved of the Lord.
Sufism is all about the love for the Beloved and His Prophet [peace be upon him]. It is the deep love and test of love which brings Lord nearer than Jugular Vein. “Love is God, God is Love” is a famous adage and idiom. Love emits from heart and mind and is not propelled by a brute mechanical force but by a feeling of willingness, which brings joy and happiness rather than pain of suffering. Pain and suffering accepted voluntarily due to a strong feeling of likeness to a person to whom it is directed in the form of “Love”, does not cause destruction but it propels a person towards a “Life Force” or magnetic force, which is everlasting. Love should be for love’s sake. It is a silent cool stream and its water is pure and sweet. It should neither be poisonous nor be bitter. Love should remove the feeling of bitterness, moroseness, self-possessiveness, hatred and jealousy. Love should bring in us magnanimity and generosity of Sun, truthfulness, simplicity, beauty and grace of Moon, contentment and tranquility of an Ocean, love should make us forgiving, merciful and compromising in all seasons, purity and shine of white snow of Himalayas, vastness of desert and enormous goodwill and everlasting goodness.
With Thee (God Allah) beside me
Life is a trifle
Rudder of faith
Cuts off turbulence
Dampens the spirit
Shackles of Iron
Or wall of bricks
Cannot curb or
Pure and sublime
LOVE’S MANY FACETS
As a seed seeks a safe place to hide
Till it gains strength and sprout to grow
Hearts that are weak or marred by frailties
Need Love to make them strong and pure
Loves lives in souls lofty and true
And shuns the mighty and haughty
Love can never find a place
In hearts that are hard and strong
Loves shines and sparkles in speech
Never adapting a harsh tone
In songs sung with a melodious voice
It reflects itself and is shown
Though love spells special passion for truth
Its magic hold entranced, in its spell,
People of all ages-young and old,
Neither age nor customs their glories dim
In love sympathy flows like a stream
Gushing and flowing with ecstasy
Springs of charm bring out milk and honey
Love cheers up a lonely heart
Though sad and painful the pangs of love
We are told that sweet they are
And that not to have loved at all
To love and lose, it’s better far
To achieve ‘inner peace’ one needs to shun selfishness, self-centeredness, and attachments to wealth, women and property.
Look to the inner Voice
Its light is eternal its joys are multiple
Its grace is divine
It is soothing and pleasing
Its voice is melodious
It has motherly concern and care
It knows your anguish and pain
Listen to it
Sit in silence
In calm stillness
Close your eyes
In your heart recite
La Ilaha Illallah
Mohammadur Rasool Allah
Allah Hu Allah Hu
Allah Hu Allah Hu
Hu Hu Hu
Sincerity touches the heart
Touches every one indeed
Touches infinity surely
Sincerity is pure and simple
It has no choice
It showers no undue favor
It has no prejudice
It has no hate
Sincerity for all
Sincerity is everything
Good and sublime
Sincerity is rare in its kind
It has no beginning
It has no end
It flows and flows
Like a crystal clear stream
The whole aim in the life of a Sufi, a Darwesh, and a Faqeer is to realize the Lord and its Prophet [peace be on him].
NINETY NINE NAMES
Realize the ninety nine names
Ninety nine themes, units and qualities
Of the Lord surrounding you
Of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) within you
The light upon lights, lights all
enlighten your being within it
Repeat all the names on your lips
Inhale him to surcharge you
Let the streams of Love
Flow within to cleanse the being
Let the cream of charity
Flow through the hands of goodness
Purify the mind with crystal thoughts
With honeyed tongue glory thy Lord
With His guidance tread your path
With melodious songs thrill your heart
A SACRED HUMAN HEART
The wilderness and arid desert
With life scarce and dryness all around
The deadly silence and burning sun
Leaves a parching tongue with looks wild
The dangers are grave indeed
The deadly snakes with fangs sharp and deep
A threat to man sans protective
When exposed to nature base
A sacred heart is a pleasure to keep
In it dwells light to illuminate the mind
Filled with faith and hope and Almighty
And seeks Grace and Mercy from dangers many
The gushing springs with endless fountains
Makes the land fertile and enriches it
Man with love and kind heart
Creates fruits of good deeds for all to enjoy.
On purification of heart and soul, a Sufi, a Darwesh, a Faqeer reaches enlightenment.
Dread of supernatural lurks at bottom of heart
Bringing forth fear and harrow
But courage and bravery overcomes them all
Man should not succumb and fall
Evil eye casts a mighty spell
Which can crush stones to pieces
Heart with sound faith, purifies the mind
To withstand the fiendish force
Peace and contentment are divine gifts
To a tortured mind and soul
Being sustained in submission
Will fetch peace in humility
A mind that glimmers with enlightened thought
From its ignorance and fear, take flight
Knowledge and learning are powers
To strengthen the soul, to make beings bright.
The lives of Sufis are beyond their own selves. They are charitable in nature and their charity is beyond all barriers of caste, creed and race.
PRAYER FOR TRANQUILITY
O the praised One, the chosen One
The purified and the sublime soul
The cherished one, the protected one
The privileged one, the gracious one
How shall I please thee, O Loved one?
With my weary condition and wretchedness
With my chill penury and hallowed nature
With my empty head and dark soul
O the enlightened soul, the guided one
Show me the path of enlightenment
Illumine my mind with million lights
Bring me ecstasy and supreme bliss
O my deliverer, O my redeemer
Protect me on all sides and be with me
Let thy glimmer of hope, cherish me
Let peace prevail and tranquility descend.
Sufis are not fundamentalists nor dogmatic nor worldly. They are withdrawn from the rigmarole and humdrum of the world. They are ascetics. There are few among them who take up the work of reformation and for the spiritual elevation of the masses. Masses would flock to them over the exhibition of miraculous powers of curing the sick, warding off the evils praying for rain during draught season. They are gifted with power of speech i.e. gift of the gab, and their discourses would turn the heart of the evil mind masses to goodness and spiritual living. The example is that of Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani (r.a) saint among saints of Baghdad Iraq and Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer India. Sufis have always kept away from political development and never entertained Kings, Nawabs and their couriers. Even in modern times Sufis are averse to politicians and public men. They are not narrow and petty minded but very broad in their vision and actions. They entertain people of all religions in their circles to bless and to help them overcome their difficulties of lives. They pray for one and all and they always rely on prayers as an efficacious remedy to ward off evil. They carry a belief that only through the prayers they can cure people afflicted with incurable diseases and possessed with evil and negative forces.
Khanqas: A Sufi Master would have a “khankhah” a monastery for his disciples who are given teachings on finer aspect of spiritualism. Every monastery, ‘astana or khanqah’ as it is called would have a “langar” common kitchen for preparing the food for the poor. The langar of Ajmer e shareef saint is still famous. Every day hundreds are being fed free from the langar. A Sufi Master who succeeds to a khanqah is referred to as “Sajjada Nisheen” i.e. one who sits on a prayer mat. They would have a circle of disciples and followers, who would receive a regular daily training on inner spiritual development.
Sufis and Sama: Audition of music set to divine songs is regular feature of Sufi gatherings or majlis. That is how Qawwalis have come into vogue. The Qawwals are specially trained singers. The Hindustani music, the musical instruments like sitar and sarod, table and tambourine are the invention of Sufis like Amir Khusroo a disciple of Saint Khawaja Nizamuddin Awliya of Delhi.
Sufis and Literature: The Sufis pen their thoughts in ecstatic poems. The Dohas of saint Kabir Das, the famous Matnawi of Maulana Rumi, the poetry of Hafiz of Sheeraz, Sheikh Saadi, Maulana Abdul Rahman Jami, Fariduddin attar and scores of them is still famous though centuries old. They are read and re read in Sufi circles and by all people.
Urdu Language came into limelight with poetry penned in that language by Sufis like Ali Dakhani, Khawaja Band e nawaz, Meer Dard, Mirza Ghalib, Allama Iqbal and many hundreds of them.
Sufis – Art and Literature: The Naqshbandi order of Sufis are famous for Calligraphy. They have brought out works of art, miniature paintings and works of architecture, which are wonders today.
Influence of Sufism in India: Great Sufis like Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, Baba Fariduddin of Pak Patan, Bakhtiar Kaki, Nizamuddin Awliya and Chirag dilli of Delhi influenced greatly the minds of masses with their miraculous powers and magnetic personality. Thus started the Bhakti Movement in India. Saints like Sant Kabir Das, Mira Bai, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya and hundreds of saints, yogis were able to bridge the gap between the Hindus and Muslims.
Advent of Sikhism: Guru Nanak the founder of Sikhism was deeply influenced by Sufi Masters. He took up to ascetic life and wandered all over India and Middle East with his Muslim disciple Mardana, who sang divine songs composed by him. Guru Nanak founded the religion of Sikhism on the belief of One Single Unitary God and on the basis of brotherhood of man. The Guru Grant Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs, comprises poems of Guru Nanak and of many Sufi saints like Baba Farid, Sant Kabir Das. Sufi poetry decreed and condemned mere ritualism but encouraged true love for the Divine Master. The Sufi poetry dealt on divine love, compassion, mercy, charity and on brotherhood of man.
Urs of Sufi saints: The Sufi saints who have attained in all respects and have merged with the Lord are revered. Their tombs venerated. The disciples and followers flock to their tombs to seek redemption to their problems both worldly and divine. They are considered as divine interceders. In India in every nook and corners are the tombs of Sufi masters. Their descendents and followers carry on the work of Sufis to keep alive the teachings of the Sufi Masters. They celebrate annually a festival known as “Urs.” Urs means the union of the saint with the Lord, the final merger. Their day of demise is remembered as Urs. The Urs of Ajmer saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti is being celebrated since centuries. People from every nook and corner assemble on the stipulated dates at Ajmer. Lakhs gather and the saint is venerated on the Urs days. There will be qawalis and langars – poor-feeding. Sufis consider that on Urs days divine blessings dawns on them. That is known as ‘Baraka or Barakat’ through the intercession of the saint. Special blessings and benediction is granted on the Urs days. Sufis feel that on their participation on Urs days, they get spiritual elevation and blessings. . It is the understanding of the common man that their vows are fulfilled and their worldly problems are solved on their participation in the Urs. The sick get cured, the unmarried girls find their matches, the unemployed find their jobs and so on and so forth.
Islam and Sufis
If you ask Sufis to which religion they profess; they would answer that their religion is Islam and their Master is Prophet Mohammad [peace be on him], the last Prophet and his nephew Ali (r.a), the fourth caliph is the leader of saints. They would relate a chain of Sufi masters reaching to Hazrat Ali (r.a) the fourth caliph and Prophet Mohammad [peace be on him].
But the present sect of Muslims ruling Saudi Arabia are called Wahabis or Salafi, named after their leader Mohammad ibne Abdul Wahab. They are puritans and strictly adhere to the canonical aspects of Sharia of Islam. They condemn Sufis in the strictest terms and call them heretics, ‘bidaties’ or innovators, the corrupt ones. They look down upon Sufis and have gone to the extent of calling them ‘Kafirs’ or un-believers or idol worshippers.
Sufis deny this charge and claim to be the true followers of the Prophet [peace be on him]. The word Sufi means the purified. Sufis believe that the purpose of life is to shed the animal consciousness, then perfect the moral consciousness to the stage of divinity by elevating the soul to the divine self or merger with the Almighty. This Sufi way of life is condemned by the Wahabis and their ilk like Tableeghi Jamaat and Jamat e Islami. Sufis are being persecuted in Middle East, Iran, Turkey and in all the countries where Wahabism and fundamentalism is gaining ground. In India also the majority of the common Muslims have come under the strong influence of Wahabism, Tableeghi Jamat, Jamat e Islami and Ahl e Hadeeth. However, the soil of India is very rich and Sufism will flourish forever and ever in Hindustan.
Contribution of Sufis to Development of Science and Law
Sufis dedicate their lives for seeking the knowledge and for attaining divinity. They are pioneers in setting up the foundation for the study of science, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, numerology, physics, alchemy and many subjects. They laid the foundation for Islamic Jurisprudence and logic. To name a few personages are Averos, Ibn e Sina. Ibn e Rushd, Ibn e Batuta, Omar Khayam, Imam Hanifa, Hambal, Shafi, Maliki, Imam Ghazali and scores of personalities. The contribution of Sufis for building up literature like poetry, works in prose is immense.
The Sufis Imitators and Frauds
It is in the nature of humanity to imitate the real gems and pearls among the famous identities and personalities. It is so with the Sufis also. Sufis acquired a prominent position in society. It created jealousy among the incompetent and the corrupt. A large number of fraudsters, imposters and imitators have brought bad name to the real Sufis. A group of astrologers, numerologists, exorcists, ‘amils and kamils’ pass off as Sufis to trick the humanity for making quick money. Such persons are now abounding all over the country. Because of their ill reputed activities, the adversaries of Sufis, especially the Wahabis have been persecuting the Sufis all over the world. Almost all the terrorist activities are carried out by the Wahabis, who have taken up to arms and underground activities. Sufis shun violence and are peace loving people and their message is of love and affection and to spread the message of brotherhood of man.
Sufis by their practices and contributions of their mind and heart on the oneness of being, bring about a transformation in their inner consciousness. They put up all their efforts to transform the inner ego, and the ‘ahankara’ (pride, ego) to a divine self by meditation and self-attainment.
Sufism, Myth or Mysticism?
Another false propaganda raised by this bogey of Wahabies, Ahl e Hadeeth, Jama’aties and their chronics is that Tasawwuf or Irfan is a myth and mysticism and not a reality and not Islam. This has been effectively dealt with by Shaikh Hisham Kabbani of the Naqshbandi Sufi order. A few excerpts taken from his book are noted below.
Imam Abu Hanifa said "If it were not for two years, I would have perished. For two years I accompanied Jafer as-Sadiq (RA) and I acquired the spiritual knowledge that made me a knower in the Way (i.e. Sufism)." [Ad-Durr Al-Mukhtar, Vol. 1, p43)
It is also mentioned in the book Ad-Durr Al-Mukhtar that Ibn Abidin rahmatullahi alaih said, “Abu Ali Dakkak, one of the Sufi saints, received his path from Abul Qasim an-Nasarabadi, who received it from Shibli, who received it from Sari as-Saqati, who received it from Maruf al-Kharqi, who received it from Dawud at Tai, who received the knowledge, both the external and internal, from Imam Abu Hanifa rahmatullahi alaih, who supported the Sufi spiritual path.”
Imam Malik said, “Whoever studies jurisprudence and does not study Sufism will be corrupted. Whoever studies Sufies and does not study Jurisprudence will become a heretic. Whoever combines both will reach the truth.” (Kashf Al-Khafa Wa Muzid Al-abas, Vol. 1, p341]
Imam Shafi said:
“I accompanied the Sufi people and I received from them three kinds of knowledge:
- They taught me how to speak
- They taught me how to treat people with leniency and a soft heart.
- They guided me in the ways of Sufism.”
[Tanwir Al-Qulub, p405]
Imam Ahmed advising his son said, “O my son you have to sit with the Sufis, because they are like a fountain of knowledge. They recite the remembrance of Allah in their hearts. They are ascetics and they have the most spiritual power.” [Ghiza Al-Albab, Vol1, p 120]
He also said about the Sufis, “I do not know any people better than them.” [Ibid]
This then, is the opinion of the four great Imams of Madhab about the Sufis and indeed they themselves were Sufis in their own right.
But what about the generations after the four Imams, did they accept Sufism or did they discover something objectionable about Sufism.
Imam Ghazali rahmatullahi alaih, the Proof of Islam, said, “I knew it to be true that the Sufis are the seekers in Allah's Way. Their conduct is the best of conduct. Their way is the best of ways. Their manners are the most sanctified. They have purified their hearts from other than Allah and they have made them as pathways for rivers to run receiving knowledge of the Divine Presence.” [Al-Munqidh Min Ad-Dalal, p 131]
Imam Nawawi said:
“The specification of the Ways of the Sufis are five:
- To keep the Presence of Alalh in your hearts in public and in private.
- To follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) by action and speech.
- To keep away from dependence on people.
- To be happy with what Allah gives you, even if it is little.
- To always refer you matters to Allah, Almighty and Exalted.”
[Al-Mazasid At-Tawhid, P20]
So far, all the above mentioned are Imams that the Sunni Muslims (i.e. Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat) accept, what about the opinions of the Imams of the Salafi, Wahhabi and other non-Sunni movements. What do they have to say about Sufis?
Ibn Taymiyah, who deviated from the Ahla Sunnat Jammat and whom the Salafis and Wahhabis take as their Imam, has said, "Sufism is the science of realities and states of experience. A Sufi is that person who purifies himself from everything which distracts him from the remembrance of Allah. [The Sufi] is so filled with knowledge of the heart and knowledge of the mind, that the value of gold and stones will be equal to him. Sufism safeguards the precious meaning and leaves behind the call of fame and vanity to reach the state of truthfulness. The best of humans after the prophets are the truthful ones, as Allah mentioned them in the Quran, 'All who obey Allah and the Messenger are in the company of those on whom is grace of Allah: the prophets, the sincere lovers of truth (siddiqin), the martyrs and the righteous. Ah! What a beautiful fellowship ' [4:69] ... [Sufis] strive to be obedient to Allah. Among them you will find the foremost in nearness by virtue of their striving and some of them are among the People of the Right Hand. [Majmu Afatawa Ibn Taymiyya, Vol 10, P 497]
Ibn Taymiyya has praised Sufis and Sufi practices in many of his books. He himself claims to be a Sufi Shaykh of the Qadri Sufi Order. He says, “I wore the blessed Sufi cloak of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Gilani, there being between him and me two Sufi Shaykhs” [Al Mas'ala At Tabiziyya]. Ibn Taymiyya’s Sufi lineage is given as follows: Shaykh Abdul Abdul Qadir Gilani (RA), Abu Umar Ibn Qudama, Muwaffaq Ad-Din Ibn Qudama, Ibn Ali Ibn Qudama and Ibn Taymiyya. [Majmu Afatawa Ibn Taymiyya, Vol 10, P516]
After Ibn Taymiyya, his great student Ibn Qayyim had this to say about Sufis. He says, “We can witness the greatness of the people of Sufism in the eyes of the earliest generations of Musilms by what has been mentioned by Sufyan atn-Thawri, one of the greatest Imams in the 2nd century and one of the foremost legal scholars.” He said, “If it had not been for Abu Hisham as-Sufi, I would never have perceived the action of the subtle forms of hypocrisy in the self.” (Manzil As-Sa'irin)
Moving on to the Wahhabi leader Ibn Abdul Wahhab, whose followers are generally known as Wahhabis, and his views on Sufis, his son Abd Allah says, “My father and I do not deny or criticise the science of Sufism, but on the contrary we support it because it purifies the external and the internal of the hidden sins which are related to the heart and the outward form. Even though the individual might externally be on the right way, internally he might be on the wrong way. Sufism is necessary to correct it.” [Ad Dia at Al Mukhththafa Didd Ash Shaykh Ibn Abdul Wahab, p 85]
Coming on now to the religious “reformers” of this century, we see that they all praised and agreed with Sufism, however, the followers of these reformers are under the dilution that their leaders denounced Sufism as being out of Islam.
Muhammad Abdul said, “Sufism appeared in the 1st century of Islam and it received tremendous honour. It purified the self, straightened the conduct and gave knowledge to people from the wisdom and secrets of the Divine Presence.” [Mujallat Al Muslim, p 24]
Rashid Rida said,”Sufism was a unique pillar from the pillars of the religion. Its purpose was to purify the self and to take account of one’s daily behavious and to raise the people to a high station of spirituality.” [Ibid, P726]
Abul Hasan Ali An-Nadwi said, “The Sufis initiate people in Oneness and sincerity in following the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW), in repentance from their sins and in avoidance of every dis-obedience to Allah, Almighty and Exalted. Their guides encourage them to move in the way of perfect Love of Allah.” [Muslim in India, pp 140-146]
Abul Ala Mawdudi says, “Sufism is a reality whose signs are the love of Allah and the love of the Prophet (SAW), where one absents oneself for their sake and one is annihilated from anything other than them. It instructs us how to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (SAW).” [Mabadi Al Islam, p 17]
Further he says, “The Shariah and Sufism; what is the similitude of the two? They are like the body and the soul. The body is the external knowledge, the Shariah, and the spirit is the internal knowledge.” [Ibid]
All reference presents in this article have been reproduced from the book The Naqshbandi Sufi Way written by Sheikh Hisham Al-Kabbani of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order.
Is Miracles of Sufis the Work of Devil & Magic?
The Wahabies and their ilks another propaganda is that the miracles that happen when Sufis pray are the acts of Devil and magic. There cannot be a greater lie and false propaganda than this charge. Allah and His Holy Prophet [sallallahu alaihi wasallam] have assured Muslims that their sincere prayers are answered. Holy Quran exhorts the followers to sincerely seek the Grace of Allah. When the purified soul seeks Allah’s Grace and His Bounty, Allah accepts His Friend’s prayers (Wali Allah’s Prayers). Such happenings or changes taking place divinely are surely from Allah and not from devil or magic.
Are the Sufies Mushrikeens?
The reading of the lectures of Hazreth Ghous e Azam raziallahu as compiled in his book “Futuh ul Ghaib” or the “Revelations of the Unseen” would clearly disclose that Tasawwuf , Sufism or Irfan as preached by him; and his preachings have come to be known as “Qadria Silsila”; are within the bounds of Shariat and the fundamentals of Islam. He denounces any deviations, creating bida’ats and indulging in Shirk or Polytheism of any nature. Further studies of all the works of Hazreth Ghous e Azam raziallahu anhu will testify this statement.
Throughout India, Muhammadan Law and its jurisprudence (fiqh) is being applied to all Muslims in all their personal affairs irrespective of the fact as to whether they are Sufies or otherwise. Therefore to say that all Sufies are Mushrikeens is baseless and ill motivated.