Sunday, 23 February 2014

Marriages of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (ra)

The Saint had four wives. 

The first wife was from the family of Hazrat Makhdoom Bahu ( Rathi Allahu ‘anh), who was one of the `Khalifas of the great Sufi, Hazrat Sheikh-ul Islam, Sheikh Bahauddin Muhammed Zakhariya Multani (RA). His second and third wife was from his own tribe and family. His fourth wife belonged to a Hindu family of Multan and was given in `niaaz' (marriage) to the saint by Hazrat Sheikh Bahauddin Zakaria(RA). Sultan Bahoo(RA) had renounced all worldly pleasures in his early years, yet he was obliged to marry more than one time ,to honour the `Sunna' of the Holy Prophet Muhammed(PEACE BE UPON HIM). The permission for having more than one wife is based not on conditions of lust, nor on any benefit accruing to the marrying male, but on the principle of sacrifice. The permission is conditioned by ones ability to deal equitably with his wives, which even at the formal level is an extremely difficult condition to fulfill except for those who are thoroughly disciplined, stick to spiritual and moral values above everything else and enter into marriage for spiritual considerations -for the sake of obtaining Devine Pleasure. So in Islam the institution of marriage is a religious matter rather than a worldly matter only and is based on the principle of interdependence of man and woman in ensuring fullness of life for each other through mutual affection, mutual confidence and mutual protection as husband and wife. As the Quran says by using a metaphor of profound beauty:

` They are a garment unto you, and ye are a garment unto them '. (11:187)

Children of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (ra)


Hazrat Sultan Bahoo(RA) had eight children, all boys. They are in order of eldest to youngest: Hazrat Sultan Nur Muhammedur) Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Wali Muhammed (RA)

Hazrat Sultan Lateen Muhammed (RA)

Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Saleh Muhammed (RA)

Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Ishaaq Muhammed (RA)

Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Fateh Muhammed(RA)

Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Shareef Muhammed(RA)

Hazrat Sheikh Sultan Hayaat Muhammed(RA)

The last son passed away in his infancy. All the children were educated in the than institutions of learning.

Physical Characteristics of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (ra)


He is said to have been of medium height. His round shaped head was often shaven showing off a wide and broad forehead. The eyebrows were thick and black. His beautiful black eyes had a look of majestic grandeur and always looked as if they were steeped in divine intoxication. The nose was not very long but was slightly pointed upwards. His cheeks and chin were appropriately shaped, set on a beautiful face, which was neither round nor long. Hazrat Sultan Bahu's (RA) beard was thick and he often dyed it with henna, which enhanced his beauty even more. His chest, which was always filled with divine light, was covered with hair, which was not in excess. His hands, thicker than normal looked very strong. His bone structure was sturdy and strong, covered by flesh appropriate to his structure. His fair and ruddy complexion gave off a piercing brilliance, which was easily recognizable wherever he went. In short his beauty was so luminous that wherever he went people were attracted to his radiant beauty and personality.



Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) was born during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan. The emperor’s rule, known as the golden period of the Mughal's, lasted for 31 years beginning from1036/1628.Historians agree that Shah Jahan was kind and benevolent and held the shari'a in reverence. He was a great builder, especially of beautiful and magnificent mosques. His personal life was blameless and he used to place reliance on the advice of the scholars and the pious around him. His Prime Minister S'ad Ullah Khan `Allami (d 1066/1656) was a noted scholar and educator.

Whatever the view of the personal character of Sha Jahan, his rule was a marked difference from the rule of Amber who had brought about a policy of promoting concepts and rules which were alien to Islam With the liberty and freedom of Akbar's religious beliefs and practices, Sha Jahan only object was to restore the shari'a rather than to persecute believers of other religions. His personal conduct showed as much reverence for religion as his state policy demonstrated

his desire to restore the tenets of Islam. Sha Jahan had conferred on the father of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) an estate in the proximity of the small town of Shorkhote in Punjab Province. The Saint was born in this town in 1039/1631.However,it was during the rule of Aurangzeb, the son of Sha Jahan that Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) lived most of his life.

Prince Dara Shikoh, the son of Sha Jahan began to lean towards the ideas and beliefs of Akbar causing serious misgivings to the Muslim community, for they had been a witness to the indignities heaped on Islam and the muslims during Akbar's rule. So the Muslims were in a way sympathetic to the Prince Aurangzeb, who was God fearing and the defender of the orthodox faith. This provided a golden opportunity to the practical and intelligent Aurangzeb to take advantage of the situation. The final outcome of the war of succession is too well known to be recounted here. Aurangzeb ascended to the throne in 1068/1659 and ruled over the country for almost half a century.

We need not give any detailed account of the personal character and conduct of Aurangzeb who was acclaimed by his contemporary historians as a believing, pious ruler free from vice. He used to sleep for three hours only, and on awakening use to offer his usual prayers. In the words of a historian...."Every year he goes into a forty days retirement, during which he sleeps on the ground. He fasts and gives alms....Thus in twenty-four hours his rule is to eat once and sleep three hours. His cloths are plain and he wears few ornaments....nothing but a small plume......He wears no strings of pearls ....... and his coats are of a very moderately priced material." Aurangzeb had displayed a concern for the faith from the very beginning. There was not a field of activity-- political , social and moral in which he did not try to bring about improvements. He passed a number of ordinances for restoring the rules of Islam in his administration and bringing the lives of the people into closer accord with the moral teachings of the Quran. These steps earned him the title of `Muhyiuddin'. Allama Iqbal deemed Aurangzeb to be one of the protectors of the true faith in India.

The book `Aurang-Shahi', written by Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) alludes to the meeting between himself and the King Aurangzeb. This incident took place in Delhi during the saint’s days of wandering. His Holiness related his teachings to the King, which were written down by a scribe immediately. The teaching became known as `Aurang-Shahi' and this treatise is still extant today. It contains in its very brief form the teachings, advice and philosophy of the great Saint.

Meeting with Hazrat Sher Shah - 2 Witness's

This fact is well known that Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) passed most of his life in travelling from one place to another. This helped him in concealing his real identity. Many of the miracles wrought by the hands of this great saint have been manifested during his travels.

It was during one of these travels that Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) came to a village where a Sufi saint Hazrat Sher Shah (RA) was well known. At the border area of the village Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) retired to a little hillock where he sat in a state of deep meditation. Immersed in Divine light the saint became oblivious of his surroundings. At that moment some disciples of Hazrat Sher Shah (RA) were on their daily errands of collecting firewood for the kitchen. One of them came close to Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) and offered salaams. Once again Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) demonstrates to us the power of the gaze of a true Faqir of ALLAH. Returning the greeting the saint's `eyes of elixir' irradiated the inward of the disciple, whose heart became alive with the zikr (remembrance) of ALLAH. Crying in ecstasy he fell at the feet of the saint. Noticing this spectacle the second disciple hurried to inquire the condition of his friend. Seeing the saint he too fell into ecstasy. The third disciple raced off to his master, Hazrat Sher Shah (RA) to report on the incident. Sher Shah ( Rathi Allahu ‘anh), together with some of his disciples and dervishes hastened to confront the enchanter 'who had cast a spell over his disciple. He confronted Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) :"Many a Spiritual court have I attended, including the Holy Court of his Holiness Prophet Muhammed (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim). In none of these Courts have I seen you present. You must be an illusionist or trickster and have cast a spell over my disciple. Cease and desist from such action and bring my disciples to their original state or else I will complain about you in the court of his Holiness (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim)." Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) responded " Shah Sahib, you be present in the court of his Holiness and I too will try to be present in the august court of his Holiness (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim). Tomorrow we will meet at this same place and decide on the outcome." Shah Sahib departed promising to meet the next morning.
That same evening, Shah Sahib was blessed to be present in the spiritual court of his Holiness, Prophet Muhammed (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim). Respectfully he looked around the assembly to see if he could see the `enchanter' dervish who had cast a spell over his disciple. Not seeing him in the assembly he thought to himself that tomorrow in the morning we will deal with him. For the moment let me be respectful in this august court.

Suddenly from behind a spiritual curtain (a place which is reserved for the Prophets (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim) household) a beautiful child appeared. The child went straight to the Prophet (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim) and sat on his Holiness lap. The Prophet (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim) of Allah very lovingly and affectionately embraced this beautiful child, stroking him with his blessed hands. The child was similarly blessed by Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq, Hazrat Omar, Hazrat Othman Gann, Hazrat Ali, Imam Hassen and Hussein, various Prophets present in the court, Hazrat Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani and other believers (peace be on them all). Finally the child came to rest in the lap of Sher Shah (RA) who also embraced the child lovingly. Playfully the child pulled at the beard of Sher Shah (RA) with his little hands pulling out two pieces of hair. Thereafter the child of light again returned to the blessed lap of the Prophet (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim) from whence he disappeared behind the curtain from which he had entered.
The next morning Hazrat Sher Shah (RA) accompanied by his companion dervishes went to the agreed meeting place. On meeting Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) he said angrily " Oh dervish, I did not see you present in the blessed court of the Prophet (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim). I looked all around but you could not be seen. So you must be an enchanter and juggler. I once again warn you to give up this trickery otherwise the end will be not good for you."

Sultanul Arifeen Sultan Bahu (RA) replied: " Oh Sher Shah. How many witnesses do you need according to the Sharia that I was present in the court of his Holiness." Sher Shah retorted " two witnesses." Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) took out the two pieces of hair which belonged to Shar Shah (RA) saying: " here is my proof of me being present in the august court of the Prophet (Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallim)." Recognising the hair of his beard, Sher Shah (RA) immediately apologised to the great saint. Thereafter they both retired into seclusion to discuss the deeper secretes and meanings of the spiritual path. On the request of Sher Shah ( Rathi Allahu ‘anh), Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) blessed him with higher realms of spiritual knowledge and some say that he was blessed with khilafat also. Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) further counselled him to carry on his work by bringing people to the reality of the truth.

The Tree That Moved

It is narrated in `Munaqabi Sultani' that Hazrat Muhammed Siddiq (RA) and some of his companions had sojourned for a while at the tomb of Hazrat Sultanul Arifeen Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA). In those days, at the entrance to the tomb of the saint stood a large berry tree. 

One day a blind man on his way to the tomb had injured himself with a trunk from this tree. Seeing his condition, the dervishes gathered at the precincts of the tomb to consider what should be done to avoid such an injury again. After due consultation it was decided to cut the tree. But as all the dervishes who were staying there at the time were live hearted saints, they decided to seek `spiritual guidance' from Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA) on the matter.

That very night `khalifa' Muhammed Siddiq (RA) was blessed with a vision of Hazrat Sultan Bahu (RA), who told him not to cut the tree. He was informed that the tree would relocate itself to the northern side of the tomb, an area which was behind the head side of the tomb. That very night Hazrat Muhammed Siddiq (RA) informed the other dervishes of his vision and retired to his cell again. The next morning to everyone’s surprise the tree had relocated to the northern side of the tomb. 

This tree still stands there today, its branches protruding outwards towards the heavens, as a monument to demonstrate to us the reality of the saints of Allah.....that these are the men of knowledge. The writer had himself seen this tree on his first visit to the tomb in 1982.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

On the Art of Dying while Living.

If you wish to learn the art of dying while living

Go and sit in the company of the mystics.

If someone splatters you with dirt,

Be like a dung-hill, take it without reproach.

Let them hurl abuse at you

accept it in humility.

Bear complaints, censure, blame, calumny with patience

For the sake of the Beloved.

Our strings are in the hands of the AlMighty,

Let us live in submission to His Will.

On the Truth of Love.

Like the lion that kills in the forest

And a hawk that preys in the farmyard,

Love destroys all impurities of the heart

Better than a goldsmith can purify gold.

Lovers are always awake.

They are free from appetites of the flesh,

And they have conquered death.

But only those lovers are truly alive, O Bahu,

Who offer their heads at the altar of God.

On God-Reliance.

Build the ship of faith and bravely sail across.

Do not mind the pain that results in happiness.

Inscribe on the tablet of your heart

The writ of the Holy Quran:

"From suffering comes ease and comfort."

Absolute is the Lord, He is accountable to none.

O Bahu, let us offer Him his due

Through prayer and the tears of penitence.

On Renunciation.

You will be able to renounce the world

Only when you find the treasure of devotion.

True renunciation will only occur

When you beg for the Lord’s Grace

In the begging bowl of your heart.

Deep have I drunk from the ocean of Oneness,

Yet my soul always thirsts for more.

Only tears of blood can pave the way to God;

O Bahu, none but the ignorant will take this lightly.

On The Hypocrisy of External Piety.

Thoroughly blacken the face of priestly wisdom,

And dump it in the sewer.

The Kalima has adorned you like a diamond necklace

Let the guile of religious formalities beguile those who have sold their souls to them.

The Kalima has manifested itself within me;

The fear of death is now banished from my heart.

It was my Master, O Bahu, who gave me to drink

From the cup that held the water of Life.

On the Imperative need for Purification.

If you don’t have the Master’s presence within,

You will not attain acceptance in God’s court.

Useless is all prayer, futile is all chanting.

You can fast, you can pray the whole night through

To supplement your daily prayer;

You can also perform numerous acts of charity;

But if your heart is not purified,

You will not feel God’s presence within.

If you have not died before your death,

Chanting in group prayers will avail you nothing.

On the Nature of True Pilgrimage.

The garden of my heart has so blossomed

That it puts the charming narcissus to shame.

Manifested within me is the holy Kaaba;

Blessed with the purity of love, my heart rejoices.

I circle the inner Kaaba with fervent love;

In ardent devotion I yearn

For the blessing of my Beloved’s presence.

The veil is now lifted, my pilgrimage is complete.

In His mercy, O Bahu, lies the way to remission.

On the Finitude of Mortal Life.

The soul has come to lodge in this body

A desolate wilderness,

A rapidly crumbling bank of the river of time.

It will collapse tomorrow, if not today.

Lodged on the edge of such a shore,

How can a traveller sleep in peace?

For where sand and water meet,

No embankment can hold, O Bahu.

On the Signs of "Fuqr" or Poverty.

Their eyes sleepless, their faces pale,

Lovers constantly sigh in grief.

What has become of these faces

That once beamed of youth and vivacity?

Love is like musk that cannot stay hidden:

Its fragrance cannot but reveal its presence.

Only those who abide in realms beyond space

Deserve to be called "Faqir", O Bahu.

On True Devotion.

I offer my prayer in the temple of my heart

The only true place to worship God.

I stand in supplication, I bow in obeisance,

I tender my prayer without break in repetition.

Hanging between life and death

My heart burns in the fire of separation from Him.

The Path indicated by the Prophet s,w is true, O Bahu:

Following it one can find God.

On Love for The Murshid.

Were my whole body festooned with eyes,

I would gaze at my Master with untiring zeal.

O, how I wish that every pore of my body

Would turn into a million eyes

Then, as some closed to blink, others would open to see!

But even then my thirst to see him

Might remain unquenched.

What am I to do where am I to go?

To me, O Bahu, a glimpse of my Master

Is worth millions of pilgrimages to the Holy Kaaba!

On the Creed of Love.

Believers pray to God for the protection of faith,
But few pray for the gift of His Love.
I am ashamed at what they ask for,
Even more at what they are willing to yield.
Religion is quite unaware of the spiritual plane
To which love can raise us.
O Lord, keep my love for you ever fresh, says Bahu:
I shall mortgage my religion for it.

On the Ignorant versus the Realised.

I have at last, grasped the beginning and the end:

I have seen the whole spectacle of past, present and future

Pass before my eyes,

Within my heart are fourteen realms:

Chambers of light ablaze

With the profusion of God’s radiance.

Those who have not realized God will wander,

Homeless in this world, destitute in the next.

But watch the lovers dance with ecstasy,

As they merge into the Oneness of God.

On the Longing of the Soul for God.

When, at the time of creation,
God separated me from Himself,
I heard Him say: Am I not your God?
"Indeed You are," cried my soul, reassured.
Since then has my heart flowered
With the inner urge to return Home
Giving me not a moment of calm here on earth.
May doom strike this world!
It robs souls on their way to God.
The world has never accepted His lovers;
They are persecuted and left to cry in pain.

On The Ruse of the Ego-Self.

You have read the name of God over and over,
You have stored the Holy Quran in your memory,
But this has still not unveiled the hidden mystery.
Instead, your learning and your scholarship
Have sharpened your greed for worldly things.
None of the countless books you’ve read in your life
Has destroyed your brutal ego.
Indeed, none but the saints can kill this inner thief,
For it ravages the very house in which it lives.

The opening bayt perfumes the senses by the words:

My Master has planted in my heart the jasmine of Allah’s Name.
Both, my denial that the Creation is real
And my embracing of God, the only reality,
Have nourished the seeding down to its core.
When the buds of mystery unfolded
Into the blossoms of revelation
My entire being was filled with God’s fragrance.
May the perfect Master
Who planted this jasmine in my heart
Be ever blessed, O Bahu!


O God whose Secret is in the heart of every man of secret,
whose gate of Grace is open to all,
therefore each person who comes to you with total submission,
never goes back empty-handed.
- Hadhrat Sakhi Sultan Bahu rahimahu Llah -

Only One Ahmed I Know


‘A wedding procession was travelling to Ahmedpur but managed to lose it’s sense of direction there. Worried about their fate, the procession noticed an elderly pious man (Sultān Bāhū rahimahu Llah) wandering in isolation in the dark doing Dhikr. So they approached him in hope that he may re-direct them and they asked,
‘Dear elderly person, can you direct us to Ahmedpur as we’ve lost our way’.
Sultān Bāhū agreed and instructed the convoy to follow behind him. Sultān took a couple of steps and they all landed in Madīna. The leader of the wedding procession approached Sultān Bāhū and said,
‘We wanted to go to Ahmedpur and you’ve bought us to Madīna?’,
to which Sultān Bāhū replied,
‘This is the only Ahmed that I know’.
- salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam -

The Power of Unity


The power of the Unity of the ocean of Divine unification dwells in the heart of a believer. The person, who wishes to attain to the truth and wants to join God, should seek a complete perfect teacher, the master of heart’s treasure. Due to the reflection and impression of the Name of Allah and the remembrance of Allah, the person of Faqir becomes radiant with light. One who is close to the heart, is not deprived of the blessing of God Almighty.

- Hadhrat Sultan Bahu rahimahu Llah -

Become a Lover........


Become a lover, let your heart be like a rock.
If people hurl abuse at you, consider it as a blessing.
- Hadhrat Sultan Bahu rahimahu Llah -

Friday, 7 February 2014

The Status of Fana fi-Shaykh

The Status of Fana fi-Shaykh
The status of fana fi-Shaykh (annihilation in one’s Shaykh or Murshid) is a truly dignified one, and is the first stage of spiritual elevation. It indicates the mureed’s pure nature and firm faith, and shows that they are ready for further enlightenment from Allah and the Beloved Messenger.
The second stage of spiritual elevation is Fana fi-Rasul, and the third & final stage is Fana-fillah which is the utmost level of spirituality.
Attaining the status of fana fi-Shaykh requires the seeker to become one with the will of their Murshid – to the extent that they no longer harbour desires of their own, as all their feelings are harmonized with that of their spiritual guide. It is a truly honourable status where the love for the Murshid becomes so intense that his pleasure is the seeker’s own pleasure, and his displeasure is also the seeker’s displeasure. In this manner, the seeker receives and reflects the fayz of their Murshid in a much more powerful form.
Khwaja Sirri as-Saqti said about the love and devotion between Murshid and mureed, that it cannot be authentic unless one says to the other, “I am you, and you are I.” This indicates the complete absorption of a mureed’s heart, which submits itself completely to the one it loves i.e. the Murshid, who is its master, the one who nurtures it and guides it to Allah and the Beloved Messenger.
• About fana fi-Shaykh, Imam Ahmad Raza Khansays, “One must feel that his Shaykh is present with him at all times, and his heart is under the heart of his Shaykh. While in this state, the spiritual beams of the Beloved Messenger of Allah are beaming onto the heart of his Shaykh which is then reflecting onto the Mureed. If this concentration is correctly perfected and maintained for a period of time, the Mureed will clearly visualize the image of his Shaykh upon whatever object he looks at. This condition intensifies so much that the image of the Shaykh will not part from him even whilst in Salah. The Mureed will find this image wherever he goes.”[al-Malfuz al-Sharif]
This state is perfected when the mureed becomes so absorbed in the tasawwur (observation) of their Murshid that his every move impacts their own actions. Eventually, the Murshid also controls the movements of the mureed and at this stage, the mureed becomes completely annihilated (fana), merging into existence of their spiritual guide. This is a divine reality.
Tasawwur-e-Shaykh, or visualizing one’s Shaykh is an important part of being a mureed. It is also a form of muraqaba prescribed through many tareeqas due to the benefits it has upon the heart of a seeker.
May Allah’s eternal peace and blessings of the highest degree be upon our Master Muhammad, upon his Family and his Companions.

Duties and Respect towards One’s Murshid

Duties and Respect towards One’s Murshid
First and foremost, it is crucial for the mureed to have utmost love, respect and trust towards his Murshid. A seeker cannot gain even a grain of wisdom or blessing unless he has complete adab (respect) for his spiritual guide.
Notice the respect and honour the Noble Companions had for the Beloved Messenger of Allah. They had such deep love and respect for him that they would honour everything associated with him – his belongings, his mannerisms, places he visited etc. They would never raise their voice above his, they would never turn their backs towards him or even look at his blessed face except by glancing, due to their respect for him.
A mureed’s respect for his/her Murshid should be in accordance to the Companion’s level of reverence for the Beloved Messenger - he was their guide to Allah, as one’s Murshid is a guide to the Beloved Messenger.
• Khwaja Shah Baha’uddin Naqshband said, “Good conduct with the Shaykhs is a requirement for every seeker. The Shaykhs are the causes and the means for following in the footsteps of the Prophet.”
It is also extremely important that the mureed adheres to the advice and instructions of the Murshid, without fail or hesitation. Of course, any advice given which is blatantly and without even a shadow of a doubt, in contradiction of the Shari’ah, must be opposed – but a true Murshid will never advise in such a manner.
In the case of a true Murshid, a mureed must understand that even when the advice of their Murshid appears suspicious, these doubts should not be entertained. Often, it is due to the lack of the mureed’s understanding and faith that they are unable to comprehend the wisdom behind the Murshid’s words. Therefore, they should endure with patience knowing that eventually, their doubts will be removed and the truth will be brought to light. The true Murshid has answers which a seeker can only obtain through complete trust.
• Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti said, “Whoever has attained anything achieved it through service (khidmat). It is compulsory upon the mureed not to go against the commands of the Murshid even to the size of an atom.”
There is an incident reported about Imam Junayd al-Baghdadi, who came to the River Tigris and saying “Ya Allah”, began to walk across it as if it was solid ground. One of his followers witnessed this, so the Imam advised him to say “Ya Junayd” and he too would be able to cross. The follower did so, and repeating “Ya Junayd”, he walked across the water – until Shaytan entered his mind. He thought, “The Imam himself is repeating the Name of Allah, whilst he tells me to repeat ‘Ya Junayd’. Surely, this is shirk! Will I not repeat the Name of Allah too?”
So he disregarded the words of his Murshid Imam Junayd, and began to say “Ya Allah”. Immediately, he plunged into the depths of the water beneath him and began to drown. Imam Junayd rescued him and he told him what had happened. The Imam replied, “You have not yet understood or attained the status of Junayd and yet you tried to comprehend the Reality of Allah!”
• Sayyidina Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, “You should heed to the commands of the Shaykhs and act on them. They will guide you on the path of Allah since they have already travelled on this path.”[Al-Fathur Rabbani, pg. 150]
Therefore, the mureed must ensure that they are consistent in reciting the awrad (or wird, wazaa’if, or daily zikr) prescribed to them by their spiritual guide. This is of utmost importance; the Murshid is a healer or physician who recommends the appropriate antidote necessary for the seeker. He knows the seeker’s state better than the seeker themselves, so trust in his knowledge and remember that he receives guidance from the saints and the Beloved Messenger of Allah.
• Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti said, “Whatever zikr the Murshid has instructed should be read accordingly so that the mureed may attain some spiritual perfection; what the Murshid commands is for the benefit of the mureeds.
A seeker should also show complete loyalty and allegiance towards their Murshid. They should honour the belief that their Murshid is the best guide for them, the most beneficial for them, and that none else can surpass this rank. This loyalty is a part of the respect shown towards one’s Murshid, as it proves the level of trust and belief a seeker has, not just in the Murshid, but also the tareeqa they follow.
Those who are looking for a Murshid to guide them should remember that if a seeker is truly sincere, Allah will guide them to a true Murshid who will elevate and strengthen their spiritual state. InshaAllah, they will be successful if they act upon the words of the Qur’an, “And seek help through patience and prayer...” [Qur’an 2:45]

Tareeqa – Spiritual Chain

Tareeqa – Spiritual Chain
The word tareeqa literally means ‘way’ or ‘path’. It terms of Tasawwuf, it refers to the path of spiritual guidance and blessing issued down from the Beloved Messenger, passed along from one righteous personality to another. Silsila is another term used for tareeqa.
As madhabs are the paths for adhering to the Shar’iah, sotareeqas are the paths for adhering to Tasawwuf. They are all correct, as they all lead back to the ultimate source of guidance, our Beloved Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. The saints in every tareeqa are connected to his eminent presence and blessings.
• Imam Ahmad Raza Khan says, “By just having a link with a spiritual order (Silsila) is itself a great fortune and blessing.”
The main tareeqas are Naqshbandi, Qadri, Chishti andSoharwardi. There are also other smaller tareeqas but these are the major ones. Each tareeqa has branches; like a tree, where the roots are one but the branches are many. This is due to how each tareeqa is connected and taught through different saints and their Darbars (sanctuaries, or centres).
The Naqshbandi tareeqa is distinguished in that it is the only one which connects from the Beloved Messenger of Allah to Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddique onwards, whereas all the others connect from the Beloved Messenger of Allah to Sayyidina Ali onwards.
• Mawlana Jami is reported to have said, “The Naqshbandiya lead an extraordinary caravan, for they take their students to the Haram (sanctuary) via a secret, hidden route.”
The Shejra is a chart which shows clearly how the tareeqa has progressed; which Companions and saints it has been passed down from. It clarifies the spiritual connection and authenticity of the guidance a mureed is blessed with through their tareeqa.
There are many virtues associated with reciting one’s Shejra. It encourages the remembrance of the Messenger of Allah, and the Saaliheen (the righteous). This is a method which strengthens hearts and rejuvenates one’s faith.
It also acts as a form of Isaal-e-Sawaab, or virtue for the deceased, which is a means to receive their guidance and fayz. It also brings a mureed closer to the Awliya, so that they are able to receive the blessings and assistance of these saints in times of hardship, as well as during moments of ease.

Criteria of a True Murshid

Criteria of a True Murshid
A true Murshid is one whose own faith is sound enough for him to guide others to the Path. His status as a Murshid must be initiated by orders from his own spiritual guide, who may receive these instructions from preceding saints with the permission of the Beloved Messenger of Allah.
This spiritual chain is known as a Tareeqa (see next heading for details).
Firstly, true Murshid must be a Sunni Muslim who strictly follows the beliefs and creed of the Ahle Sunnah wal Jamaah, the only true path of Islam. He adheres to the ways of the Beloved Messenger, and is guided by the Noble Companions and the Salaf who follow after them. This is absolutely crucial, and without this, he is a danger to the Imaan of those who follow him and a cause for serious corruption in faith.
• Imam Malik said, “Whoever studies jurisprudence (fiqh) and does not study Tasawwuf will be corrupted. Whoever studies Tasawwuf 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, page 341]
Secondly, he must be a knowledgeable scholar or Aalim, with a broad understanding in matters of Deen so that he is able to differentiate between forbidden (haram), acceptable (halal) and everything in between. He will be able to give sound judgements and guide the actions of his followers according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Thirdly, he must display the noble characteristics and etiquettes taught by the Beloved Messenger, and this indicates the purity of his heart. A great Murshid is one who teaches by practical example as well as through his words and advice. He is respected by all due to his character and he instills love for the Sunnah within the hearts of those who follow him.
Fourthly, his spiritual lineage (Shejra) must be that of a true Tareeqa, or spiritual chain; it must be connected, starting from our Master the Beloved Messenger of Allah, to Noble Companions, to Salaf and Awliya after them. Spiritual wisdom, teachings and guidance are passed down from the top in this manner, so one cannot gain any fayz or virtue without these connections.
Additionally, Imam Muhyuddin ibn Arabi teaches that one should not expect a Murshid to perform miracles. This is not a requirement of a spiritual guide or even of a Wali. This is something which many are blessed with by Allah, but is an aspect they wish to conceal due to their humility and noble state.
• Imam ibn Arabi states, “People think that a Shaykh should show miracles and manifest illumination. The requirement of a teacher however, is only that he should possess all that the disciple needs.”
• Regarding this, Mawlana Rumi narrates the following story in his Masnavi:
Seeing a man who was tilling the earth, a fool who was unable to control himself cried out, “Why are you ruining this soil?”
“Fool,” said the man, “leave me alone. Try to recognize the difference between tending the soil and wasting it. How will this soil become a rose garden until it is disturbed and overturned?”
This indicates the importance of the Shaykh who acts as the tiller, testing the mureed by overturning their heart and nourishing their inner soil. This is done to benefit the mureed so that their full inner potential is realized and as a result, they are elevated in spiritual rank and station.

Importance of Bayah to a Shaykh

Pledging allegiance, also known as taking bayah or bayt, is a tradition from the times of Beloved Messenger of Allah.
Once such example of this is when the Noble Companions pledged oath to him under the tree. In this incident, each Companion placed their hand in the hand of the Beloved Prophet, and affirmed their faith in the oneness of Allah (tawheed).
This incident is reported in the Holy Qur’an, which states, “Certainly Allah was pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you, [O Muhammad], under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquillity upon them and rewarded them with an imminent conquest.” [Qur’an 48:18]
Importance of Bayah to a Shaykh
The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever dies and did not take an oath of allegiance (to a Muslim leader) has died a death of jahiliyah (ignorance).” [Bukhari, Muslim]
The meaning of taking bayah is to pledge spiritual allegiance & surrender yourself to the supervision of a Murshid/Pir/Shaykh, or spiritual teacher/leader. He leads you to Allah by guiding you through the path of Shar’iah and the teachings of our Beloved Prophet. The Murshid is he who takes others under his guardianship so that he may help them with their deen, often strengthening their hearts with zikr and good counsel.
Taking bayah also acts as a powerful guard against arrogance and pride, as a mureed (a spiritual disciple, follower, a seeker who follows the Murshid as his guide on the path of Tasawwuf) must hold complete adab (respect) and humility where his Murshid is concerned. This orders the nafs towards discipline; it is made to recognise its own worth, reflecting upon the pure state of those close to Allah, realising that true honour is in piety only, and understanding that it has no right to be proud. The nafs also learns to obtain knowledge and guidance from one who is greater in faith, causing it to humble itself. This is the way of the Salaf, who would sit at the feet of their Murshid to correct their own characters (akhlaaq) and achieve purity.
• Sayyidina Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, the Leader of the Saints, explains, “Arrogance, hypocrisy, egoism, are all arrows of Shaytan aimed at your hearts. One should formulate a strategy to defend oneself from this attack.
The correct strategies are explained and demonstrated by the Mashaa`ikh (Teachers). You should heed to their commands and act on them. They will guide you on the path of Allah since they have already travelled on this path. Ask their advice on matters relating to the nafs (lower self), cravings and other weaknesses, because they have also suffered their consequences and are well aware of the dangers and harms of evil desires. They have battled these over a long period of time and can confront, control and defeat them.” [Al-Fath-ur-Rabbani, pg. 150]
Additionally, spending time in the presence of the righteous will cause one to benefit greatly in character and mannerisms. This influence has a powerfully positive effect on a person’s heart and mind, causing them to adopt traits pleasing to Allah.
• Imam Ghazali states in his Ihya Uluum al-Din, “Keep company with those who have firm faith, hear from them the learning of sure faith, follow them always, so that your faith may become firm as their faith became firm.”
The Messenger of Allah said, as an analogy for good/bad company, “The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell…” [Bukhari, Muslim]
The above narration clarifies the importance of righteous company, which can benefit a person in more ways than one – there are numerous other Ahadith about the merits of being with the righteous. Also, the Holy Qur’an states:
“And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance.” [Qur’an 18:28]
Regarding the presence, then, of a Murshid, one who is a scholar of religion and devout in his duties towards Almighty Allah, one should bear in mind the following Hadith of the Noble Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him:
“The best of you are those who, when they are seen, God is remembered.” [Ibn Majah]
This highlights the necessity of being in the company of one’s Murshid who, if he is a true teacher, will have this effect on those who meet him.
• Imam Muhyuddin ibn Arabi states in his book, Kitab Kunh ma la Budda minhu lil-Murid or What the Seeker Needs, “Look for a perfect teacher who will lead you on the Straight Path.”
• Imam al-Shafi said, “I accompanied the Sufiya (plural of Sufi) and I received from them three kinds of knowledge, 1. They taught me how to speak, 2. They taught me how to treat people with leniency and a soft heart, 3. They guided me in the ways of Tasawwuf.”  [Tanwir Al-Qulub, page 405]
• Imam Ahmad advising his son said, “O my son, you must sit with the Sufiya, 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, Vol 1, page 120]
• Imam Abu Hanifa said, emphasizing the importance of sitting at the feet of a spiritual guide and teacher, “If it were not for two years, I would have perished. For two years, I accompanied Imam Jafar al-Sadiq and I acquired the spiritual knowledge that made me a knower in the Way (i.e. Tasawwuf).” [Ad-Durr Al-Mukhthar, Vol. 1, page 43]
It has been agreed upon for centuries that one cannot travel the path of Tasawwuf, or the essential spiritual branch of Islamic belief, without guidance from a spiritual teacher. This knowledge cannot be taught in books, it must be acquired through the guidance of a teacher or Murshid.
• Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi states in his Masnavi, “Butter cannot be acquired without milk, as recognition of Allah (ilm-e-baatin) cannot be obtained without a spiritual guide or Murshid.” And he further states, “Whoever travels without a guide needs two hundred years for a two day journey.”
About him, there is a story regarding the importance of a Murshid.
He, Mawlana Rumi, was not only a poet but also a great jurist, theologian and scholar of the highest accord. One day, as he taught his students in the open courtyard of the Masjid, a poorly dressed dervish stood by and watched. He observed how the Mawlana referred to many handwritten books and texts as he taught, so he enquired as to what they contained. Mawlana Rumi replied, “O Sufi! This contains knowledge which is beyond your understanding, so you continue to read your tasbeeh (rosary).” The dervish was in fact the great Shamsuddin Tabrez, who would soon be his spiritual guide and teacher.
When Mawlana Rumi's attention had gone back to teaching, Khwaja Shamsuddin Tabrez threw all the Mawlana’s books into the nearby pond. The students who noticed this rushed to him and began to beat him. A distraught Mawlana Rumi complained of how his valuable knowledge had all been lost.
"Tell your pupils to leave me alone and I will give back your books," replied Khwaja Shamsuddin. Mawlana Rumi, thinking that this would be impossible, asked his students to leave the dervish alone. Then he watched in amazement as Khwaja Shamsuddin recited ‘Bismillah,’ retrieved the books out of the water and returned them to him intact. He asked him as to how he had done this, to which Khwaja Shamsuddin replied, “This knowledge is beyond your understanding so you continue to teach your pupils.”
The Mawlana then realised his mistake, asked for forgiveness and submitted himself to the presence of this great Sufi dervish. Eventually, time spent at the feet of Khwaja Shamsuddin transformed him from a scholar of religious texts, into a truly devout lover of God.
In Mawlana Rumi’s own words:
“Sad kitaboh, sad waraq, dar nar kun
Aur jaan-o-dil rah, janibeh, dil daar kun.”
Meaning: “Throw all your books into the fire,
And turn with heart & soul towards the pure-hearted (the Awliya).”
Hafiz al-Shiraziaffirms this advice saying, “Do not take a step on the path of Love without a guide. I have tried it one hundred times and failed.”
• If one is lucky enough to reach the presence of a Wali or Friend of Allah, bear in mind the words of Khwaja Shah Baha’uddin Naqshband who said, “There is no friend of Allah on this earth who is not under the special Gaze of Allah. When you sit in the company of the friend of Allah, the fayz (spiritual blessing) that you receive is in fact a reflection of that special gaze.”
The power of this fayz has been known to truly transform personalities, causing even the harshest of criminals and sinners to turn whole-heartedly to Allah in repentance and devotion.
• Sayyidina Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani said, “The heart is the plantation for the Aakhira (hereafter). Sow the seeds of Imaan in your heart. Irrigate, fertilise and mature it with regular good deeds. If there is kindness and energy in the heart, it will be fertile and an abundant harvest will result. Should the heart be harsh and contemptuous, the soul becomes infertile, barren and no crop will be able to grow.
Learn this art of farming by its farmers/experts, the Awliya Allah. Do not think your opinion to be sufficient. Our Prophet says, ‘Seek help in every field from an expert in that field.’” [Al-Fathur Rabbani, pg. 202]