|Imam Sirhindi: Sainthood not about miracles
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Sainthood not about miracles
Published: September 7, 2008
Posted in: BOOKSHELF
Imam Sirhindi, Sufism
SECOND VOLUME, 92nd LETTER
This letter, written to Sayyid Mir Muhammad Numan ‘quddisa sirruh’, states that being an Awliya means being close to Allahu ta’ala and that being a Wali does not require having khariqas and karamats:
May our hamd be to Allahu ta’ala! Our salams be to those people beloved by Him! I have been praying for the good health of my most beloved brother, Sayyid Mir Muhammad Numan. Reaching the Wilayat [being a Wali] does not require the occurrence of khariqas and karamats. As it is not necessary for the savants of the din to exhibit khariqas (wonders), so it is unnecessary for the Awliya to make a show of khariqas. For, Wilayat means qurb-i ilahi [being close to Allahu ta'ala], and Allahu ta’ala bestows this qurb [closeness] upon His Awliya after fana [that is, after forgetting everything other than Allahu ta'ala]. He may bless a person with this closeness and yet may not inform him with unknown things in this world. Someone else may be both given this and informed of the unknown. And a third person may be given none of this closeness but may be informed of the unknown. The third one is a man of istidraj. His nafs being polished, he is being informed of unknown things, thus being made to fall into the abyss of heresy. The state of such people is declared in the eighteenth ayat of the sura of Mujadala: “They think they are doing something good. Know that they are utter liars. Shaytan has deceived them and led them astray. He has made them forget Allahu ta’ala to such an extent that they neither mention nor remember Allahu ta’ala. They have become the soldiers, the servants of Shaytan. Know that these people who are in Shaytan’s group have missed the inexhaustible blessings. They have been caught by endless torment.” The first and second persons who have been honored with the fortune of qurb are Awliya. Informing about the unknown does not increase or decrease their Wilayat. The difference between them is in respect of the grade of closeness. A Wali who has not been informed of anything unknown may be more advanced and higher on account of the qurb bestowed upon him. Hadrat Shihabuddin ‘Umar Suhrawardi ‘quddisa sirruh’, author of the book Awarif- ul-maarif, is one of the greatest Awliya. All the other Awliya like him. After explaining karamats and khariqas in his book, he says “A Wali of high grade may be given no karamats or khariqas, or, karamats are given in order to increase yaqin (belief). A person blessed with yaqin does not need karamats or khariqas. All these karamats are inferior to the dhikr of Dhat-i ilahi and to the heart’s being ornamented with this dhikr.” Shaik-ul-islam, Khwaja Abdullah-i Ansari, one of the greatest of the Sufiyya-i aliyya, says in his book Manazilussayirin, “There are two kinds of firasat. The first one, the firasat of the men of marifat, is to detect the talents of the disciples and to recognize the Awliya of Allahu ta’ala. The second one, the firasat (clairvoyance) of those who subject themselves to mortification and who polish their nafs by hunger is to know of the secret things about creatures. Most people, not remembering Allahu ta’ala but thinking of the world day and night, search for those who give information about the worldly things which they want to obtain. They deem them great. In fact, they think of them as Awliya close to Allahu ta’ala. They do not even turn to look at the marifats, the true and subtle knowledge of the Awliya. But perhaps they speak ill of them and, saying, ‘If they were Allah’s beloved slaves, they would know about our lost things, about our secret thoughts. A person who knows nothing of our states can never understand the subtle knowledge which is above creatures’; they deny the firasat of Awliya and their knowledge of Allah’s person and attributes. Because of their wrong estimation they are deprived of the correct knowledge and marifats of these great superiors. They are unaware of the fact that Allahu ta’ala has concealed these superiors from the eyes of the ignorant and has made them belong to Him. He has made His Awliya busy not with worldly affairs but with Himself. If the Awliya were attached to men’s deeds and states they would not be worthy of Allah’s presence.” Abdullah-i Ansari wrote much more about this.
I have been told by my master, Khwaja Muhammad Baqi, ‘quddisa sirruh’ that Shaikh Muhyiddin Arabi ‘rahmatullahi alaih’ wrote as follows: “Those Awliya on whom many karamats and khariqas were seen have repented at their last breath of having exhibited them. They have said that they wished they had had no karamats seen.” If the superiority of a Wali were to be measured with his exhibition of khariqas, it would be out of place to repent for them.
Question: When it is not a condition of Wilayat to exhibit wonders, how will the true Wali be distinguished from false shaikhs?
Answer: In this world the Wali does not have to be known. The true one and the false must be mixed. In this world, the true and the false, the right and the wrong must be mixed with each other. Nor is it a condition for a Wali to know of his own Wilayat. Many Awliya did not know of their own Wilayat. How could others recognize them? And it is not necessary to recognize them, either. Yes, prophets ‘alaihimussalam’ had to exhibit miracles. Thus a prophet was distinguished from a person who was not a prophet. For, it is necessary for everybody to know a prophet’s prophethood. Since the Awliya invite people to the Shariat of their own prophet, the prophets’ miracles are enough for them. If the Awliya invited people to something other than the Shariat, it would certainly be necessary for them to exhibit wonders. Since they invite to the Shariat, it is never necessary that they exhibit wonders. The savants of the din invite everybody to do the commandments written in the books. The Awliya both invite to this and call to the batin of the Shariat. First they invite to the Shariat. Then they show how to mention the name of Allahu ta’ala. They especially ask us to busy ourselves with dhikr-i ilahi all the time, incessantly. By doing so, one’s body will altogether be suffused with the dhikr, and the heart will contain nothing but Allahu ta’ala. Everything else will be forgotten so utterly that one will not be able to remember anything besides Allahu ta’ala however hard he may try to do so. Why should it be necessary for the Awliya to exhibit wonders for these two kinds of invitations? Guiding means to give these two kinds of invitations. Miracles and wonders have no place here. We must also say that a vigilant disciple perceives many of his master’s miracles and wonders as he makes progress on the way of tasawwuf. In that unknown way every moment he has recourse to his [master's] help and is always blessed with his help. Yes, it is not necessary for him [his master] to exhibit wonders to others. But to his disciples he exhibits miracles every moment and wonders come upon them one right after another. Can it ever be that the disciple will not feel the wonders of his master, who has enlivened his dead heart? He has made him attain mushahadas and kashfs. The ignorant think it is a great miracle to enliven a dead man and resurrect him out of his grave. But the great superiors have especially dwelt upon curing sick souls. Khwaja Muhammad Parisa, one of the greatest Sufiyya-i aliyya, notes, “Because most people think of someone who enlivens the dead as great, those who are close to Allahu ta’ala have not wished to do this but have enlivened dead souls and have tried to enliven the dead hearts of their disciples. Indeed, enlivening the dead is of no value when compared with enlivening hearts and souls. In fact, the former is useless, it means to waste time doing useless things. Enlivening a dead man provides him with a few more days to live. But enlivening the heart provides an endless life. The existence of those who are close to Allahu ta’ala is a miracle in itself. Their inviting people to Allahu ta’ala is one of Allah’s compassions. Their enlivening dead hearts is their greatest miracle. Men’s salvation is by means of their existence. They are the most valuable creatures. Allahu ta’ala showers His compassion through them. He sends food by means of them. Their words are medicine. One single compassionate glance they cast at you is a healer. They are jalis-i ilahi. Allah’s gifts and blessings are never absent from the place where they are. Those who are with them are never evil. Those who know them are never deprived.”
The most clear difference distinguishing them from liars is the fact that their words and actions are suitable with the Shariat and that the hearts of those who are with them are filled with the fear and love of Allah and cease to care for other things. These signs are seen on those who are in contact with the Awliya. Those who have no relations with them are deprived of everything.
Translation of a Persian couplet:
A person who is not apt for goodness,
Will not benefit, even if he sees the Prophet.
[Hadrat Ubaidullah-i Ahrar says in Rashahat, "Doing himmat means for an exalted person who has relation with Allah's names to keep the accomplishment of only one thing in his heart. He pays his tawajjuh to that thing. He does not bring anything else to his heart. He wants only that thing to be done. And Allahu ta'ala creates that thing. This is Allah's 'adat. It is also a witnessed fact that things on which disbelievers have paid their himmat have come about. Allahu ta'ala has bestowed this power upon me. But occupying this grade requires adab. And adab, in its turn, means the slave's adapting himself to Allah's will, not adapting Allah to his will. It means to be always under Allah's command and to do himmat when He decrees a command." Khwaja Muhammad Yahya, Hadrat Ubaidullah-i Ahrar's son, says, "There are three groups of those who have tasarruf (power to do himmat, to pay tawajjuh to others). Those who are in the first group use their tasarruf whenever they want in the heart of any person they like and make him reach the grade of fana. Some do not use their tasarruf unless Allahu ta'ala commands. They pay their tawajjuh to people they are commanded to do so to. The third group perform their tasarruf in others' hearts when some attribute, some hal enwraps them."]
You write in your valuable letter that the sultan of our time has been esteeming Islam, administering justice and observing the commandments of the Shariat. We are pleased to read these. As Allahu ta’ala illuminates countries with their presidents’ light of justice, so He strengthens Hadrat Muhammad’s Shariat with their protection and help. O my dear brother! “The Shariat is under the sword’s protection,” was declared. That is, the Shariat’s spreading and being observed is dependent upon the presidents’ protection and help. [As long as the government is strong enough, everybody will enjoy security of property and life. Also, Muslims living in non-Muslim countries wherein they have human rights and people perform their religious duties freely should not stand against the government or violate the laws because they are given freedom, and also they should not cause fitna or anarchy. They should pay their taxes and debts in time and should be helpful to the government. Scholars of the Ahl as-sunnat advise us to act as we have explained above.] Sad to say, the Indian government’s protection of Muslims had been slack for a long time. And Islam had become weak, too. The Indian disbelievers had shamelessly ruined the mosques and turned them into their own temples and playgrounds. Demolishing the graves of blessed people, they had changed them into parks. While the disbelievers had been frankly committing every sin and every sign of disbelief, the Muslims had been suffering hardships in carrying out Allah’s commands. It being prohibited for the Indian disbelievers to eat and drink during their festivals, they had been preventing the bakers and cooks in the Muslim cities from selling bread and food. In the blessed month of Ramadan, they had been eating and drinking wildly in front of the Muslims at public places. The Muslims could not say anything. It is a shame that we had fallen down into such a weak and wretched situation though the state and government officials were on our side. When esteemed by the authorities, Islam had shone and the highest savants, the superiors of Sufiyya had been loved and respected by everybody. With the authority given by the State, they had struggled for the spreading of the Shariat. As I have heard, when Timur (Tamerlane) ‘alaihirrahma’, the prosperous and victorious amir, was passing a Bukhara street, he saw a number of men shaking off the dust from a number of carpets. He wondered whose they were. Upon finding out that the carpets belonged to Khwaja Naqshiband Bahaeddin-i Bukhari’s ‘quddisa sirruh’ residence, he approached the place and, replete with love and respect for Islam, stood under the dust of carpets, rubbed the dusts of the residence on his face and eyes as if putting on the perfume of musk and amber, and wanted to get honored with the fayd and barakat of those who were on the way of Allah. He is hoped to have died with iman owing to his love and respect for those who were close to Allahu ta’ala. As we have heard, when the news of Timur’s death was heard, one of the Awliya of the time ‘quddisa sirruh’ said, “Timur has died and taken away iman with him.” While reciting the khutba on Fridays, the Khatibs mention the sultans’ names after descending down to the lowest step. Its reason is that the sultans want to show the fact that they are lower than Rasulullah ’sallallahu alaihi wa sallam’ and his four Khalifas. They have it recited in this manner because they deem it unbecoming to have their names mentioned together with the names of those great people. Sajda (prostration) means to put the forehead on the ground, which indicates inferiority, self-humiliation. It is the last grade of humbleness and reverence. For this reason, prostration is done only to Allahu ta’ala. It is not permissible to prostrate oneself before anybody other than He. One day, while our Prophet was going somewhere, a villager came up to him and said that he would have iman in him if he would exhibit a miracle. Sarwar-i ‘alam ’sallallahu alaihi wa sallam’ said, “Go to the yonder tree and tell it that Allah’s Messenger calls it.” When the villager did so the tree left its place and came before Rasulullah ’sallallahu alaihi wa sallam’. No sooner had the villager seen this than he became a Muslim. “O Rasulallah! If you would grant, I will prostrate myself before you,” he said. ‘Before none but Allahu ta’ala should one prostrate oneself. If it were permissible to prostrate oneself before others, I would command women to prostrate themselves before their husbands,” was declared. Some of the savants of fiqh permitted prostration before sultans with the intention of greeting them, but in this respect what would become the sultans is to observe their adab towards Allahu ta’ala and not to permit prostration before anyone besides Allahu ta’ala. Allahu ta’ala has made them superior to and dominant over everything and all others needy in front of them. In gratitude for this great blessing, they must allow prostration, the greatest expression of incapability and self-humiliation, only to Allahu ta’ala, and not make themselves partners with Allahu ta’ala. Though it has been permitted by some savants, they themselves [the sultans], on account of their beautiful modesty, must not permit it. Favors only will be the reward for those who bestow favors. I shall say more when we see each other. Salam to those who are on the right way, who follow the footsteps of Rasulullah ’sallallahu alaihi wa sallam’!
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