“May Almighty God give you pain!”

Am hurriedly and a bit belatedly slaving away on a paper so I mustn’t tarry in the Blogosphere long, but I figured I’d share a quote that just touched me (and caused me to creepily giggle in the middle of a crowded cafe).

Fawaid_alfuad

From the exquisite collection of letters by the famed Chisti Sufi Sheikh Nizam ad-Din Awliya, Fawa`id al-Fuad ("Morals of the Heart"), as beautifully translated and helpfully annotated by Bruce Lawrence:

In this vein the master told a story about `Ali Khokhri.  "`Ali Khokhri lived in Multan.  He never trusted someone unless that person had experienced love or pain.  Even if an individual was pious and devout, he would say: ‘So-and-so is nothing.  He doesn’t have any tears (ishk)!"  The correct word would never come on his tongue.  He would invariably say ishk (tear) instead of `ishq (love)."  With respect to this word, the master recalled the statement of Yahya Ma`az Razi–may God be merciful to him.  "He used to say:  ‘One particle of love is better than the obedience of all humankind and also the entire angelic host!’"  The master also recalled that  Shaykh al-Islam Farid ad-din–may God sanctify his lofty secret–many times would say to whose who came to visit him:  ‘May Almighty God give you pain!’  People would be surprised.  ‘What sort of supplication is this?’ they would ask themselves.  Now it is evident," concluded the master, "what he meant by that supplication [for unless you experience the pain of separation from god, you cannot experience an intense love for Him." 
(Fascicle IV, Assembly 14, pg. 133)

I just love the image of a saint warmly wishing people pain, and the ensuing puzzlement.

Of course, most of us (myself included) live in abject terror of pain, yet some great souls can, like the persecuted Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) or the early Christian martyrs see a higher, ennobling purpose in it.

Hopeless class warrior that I am, I’m sorely tempted to make some contemporary analogies, but I’d best get back to work.

May we all learn to appreciate pain!

Am also reading Sharafuddin Maneri’s Maktubat-i Sadi ("The Hundred Letters") (trans. Fr Paul Jackson), which is comparably inspiring reading.  In fact, I like the Makhdum al-Mulk’s collection of letters even more than Fawa`id al-Fuad, which says a lot.

The only problem is that that they’re both so beautifully written, profound and long that it’s really difficult to get through them quickly to write a paper.  I keep finding myself lingering and re-reading things as the clock ticks pitilessly away.

Like Nizam ad-Din, this also contains a wealthy of unexpectedly vivid aphorisms that have made me inexplicably guffaw in public.  (For example, here’s a great quip concerning, if memory serves, the challenge of taming one’s ego:  "Few can catch a wild ass, but none ever will if they do not try.")

Oh, I have no idea what a "fascicle" is, either.  Sounds like something an ice cream truck sells.

  • http://www.masterofthejinn.com Irving

    Just great :) May Allah indeed give us pain and love and love and love.
    Ya Haqq!

  • al-Haj Abdullah bin Abdurahman al-Qadiri al-Chisti al-Athloni

    In the company of Saints
    My sons, Suleiman and Dawood, and I, also took bay’ah. This pledge of allegiance took place at the blessed grave of al-Sayed ‘Abd al-Latif bin Muhammad Yusuf bin Qadi ‘Abd al Rahman al-Habibi. Imam was nearing the end of his life.
    A few days after Imam had connected us to the Qadiriyyah and Chistiyya salasil, I dreamt of myself sitting under the ground-floor balcony in the Masjid al-Haram. I faced the Syrian Corner of the Bait-ullaah, engaging anyone who was available for a chat. He was nearly upon me, when, from the corner of my eye, I noticed Imam Babu approaching. Imam put his right hand into my right hand and led me onto the mataaf. There, about seven metres away from and facing the north-eastern wall of the Bait-ullaah, were six regal-looking men. They were arranged in two rows of three – those at the back stood, and those in front sat on their shins and with their palms on their thighs. By their bulky turbans I could see that they were leaders of men. Some were younger-looking than others. So intent were they in gazing at the Holy Ka’aba, that they paid scant attention to us. Imam pointed me in the direction of the House of Allah and placed me directly to the right of those holy men who were standing.
    Alhamdu-lillaah. I was in very good company and eager to draw from their barakah. That it was set in the Masjid al-Haram confirmed the soundness of the dream. Imam taking my right hand into his right hand (as opposed to our left hands) lent credence to its authenticity. I took it that the dream signified our acceptance into the Qadiriyyah and Chistiyya Sufi orders. Allah, The One Who Shows the right way, Had Guided us.
    Did it serve as an indication that Allah The Most Giving would allow us to visit His Holy House once more?
    About two weeks later, my friend and ’Ibaad-u-Ragmaan Qadiri Jamaa’ah elder Haji Achmat Lalkhen came to visit. He showed me a miniaturised replica of a painting of Indian origin. The original is called the ‘Meeting of the Saints’, the artist unknown. It is one of the most famous in Eastern art. At the top, centre of the picture, was depicted the Holy Qabr of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet). On it also, were the awliya-Allah that I had seen in the dream. I was bowled over. The saints’ names and their places of burial were on the print. They were, clockwise from bottom left, Khwaja Baba Farid al-din Mas’ud Ganj-i Shakar al-Chisti of Pakpattan, Punjab (d. 664AH/1265CE), al-Sayed Qutb al-din Bakhtiyar Kaki al-Chisti of Mehrauli, New Delhi (d. 633AH/1236CE), al-Sayed Gharib Nawaz Mu’ain al-din Chisti of Ajmer, India (d. 1230CE), al-Sayed al-Sultan al-Awliya al-Ghawth al-’Adham ‘Abd al Qadir al-Jilani (d. 561AH/1166CE), Hadhrat Sharif al-din abu ‘Ali Shah Qalandar of Panipat, Haryana, India (d. 724AH/1324CE) and Sheikh Nizam al-din Awliya al-Chisti of Ghiyaspur, a village outside Delhi, India (d. 1324). May Allah, The One Who Brought us from darkness into the light, amply repay these dutiful men for their devotion. Their story has contributed much towards the wonder of Islam and the lustre of Islamic mysticism. Their names are forever emblazoned across the Sufi sky. I am as the dust beneath their feet.
    While those sitting in the dream were awliya-Allah in their own right, they did so out of respect, as those who stood were of the descendents of our Honourable Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet). They reverently sat at the feet of the saadaat also, as at least two of those standing were their asatidhah.
    The dream gave me some idea of the kindnesses that Allah, The One Who Allows without stint to whom He will, Provides to the righteous. This showed clearly that the approach of these friends of Allah was rock solid and that their salasil were watertight. It illustrated also, that Imam’s khilafah was beyond reproach. Imam had been granted khilafat of the Qadiriyyah and Chistiyya tasauwuf orders by Shah Pir Hafith Pasha al-Habibi (d. 1989), the head of the Habibiyyah branch of the Chistiyya Silsilah, in Hyderabad, India, in 1988. The dream handed me an inkling of the stature that Imam Abdullatief “Babu” Parker of Habibia enjoyed in the next life.
    I remembered that straight after we had linked into the chains of Islamic spirituality, Imam had held up to me the same caricatured portrait of only Sayed ‘Abd al Qadir al-Jilani (May Allah, The One Who Opens closed matters to His slaves, Excuse them of blame). I had wondered then why he did that.
    A large copy of the ‘Meeting of the Saints’ hangs in our home. I had bought it from Mr. Feroz Parker of Cravenby Estate.

  • al-Haj Abdullah bin Abdurahman al-Qadiri al-Chisti al-Athloni

    Giving without reserve
    It is with reticence that I write this. I do not wish to place myself on the moral high ground, or to sermonise anyone. This chapter tries to show the truth and importance of dreaming of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger). These words seek to confirm that ours is a Prophet of Mercy, a Witness, and a Bearer of Good Tidings. It also aims to portray the consequence of du’aa in the Masjid al-Haram. It is moreover meant as a method of encouragement for our children to some day continue with the Prophetic Tradition of raising an orphan for the sake of Allah, The One of Unbounded Grace. So that they may by this means know that there is more to life than just prayer and fasting. And that they should give of themselves unreservedly. That they might through it also, temper their adhkaar with compassion.
    We were asleep at the Mashrabiyya Hotel in Khalid bin Walid Street in Shubayka, Makkah al-Mukarramah when, by the Mercy of Allah, I had the most beautiful dream. I saw myself standing in the holy presence of our Truthful Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet). The appearance of Our Holy Messenger matched scriptural records. Our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) was spotlessly dressed in white robes and a white turban. I stared aghast. Our Prophet stood about two meters away and faced me directly. I do not have the words with which to suitably portray this most wonderful man, the Seal of the Prophets. I have never seen anyone so unimaginably holy, so indescribably handsome. I reached for my turban, embarrassed for not wearing it. “Leave it,” I said to myself. “You are in the Company of the Prize of creation.” A brilliance shone from our Guided Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet). Our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) smiled at me. The smile radiated light. I stood alert, too humbled to speak. I wished that the dream would last forever. The heavenly smile lasted between ten and fifteen minutes, it felt like.
    Alhamdu-lillaah. I had never considered myself deserving of such an enormous honour. This was a spiritual experience of the first magnitude. “What does that smile mean?” I asked myself over and over again.
    Part of my da’waat in the Holy Mosque in Mecca, was to ask Allah, The One Who Makes Clear to us His signs so that we may be grateful, to Grant to ourselves the opportunity and blessings of raising an orphan for His sake.
    My wife and I had, over a number of years, tried to adopt a baby by applying at several local agencies, and were given all sorts of excuses which disqualified, and sometimes discouraged us. Reasons given were that we were not married according to South African law, that few babies from local Muslim parents came up for adoption, and the fact that we have children of our own. We were also faced with, what was to my mind, the worse aspect of the South African race laws. These regulations and those administering it, in this case, the social workers, prescribed that a ‘brown’ orphaned child had to be matched with ‘brown’ adoptive parents. A ‘yellow’ baby could only be placed with prospective ‘yellow’ adoptive parents, a ‘white’ orphan could not be raised by ‘black’ adoptive parents, and so on. They played dominoes with human lives. Some social workers were more ready to read the ‘race act’ than others. In an interview and in response to a question on whether we would mind adopting a child from a ‘lower rung’ of the colour scale, I told them that “a nice green one would do.” A jab to my ribs from my wife quickly halted the acid flow down the sides of my mouth. Stirring the ire of our then masters by criticising their political beliefs would not help, she meant. “When the white boss tells a joke, and regardless of its lack of humour – laugh!” she chided me later. Race inequalities existing at the time ensured that hundreds of black orphans went begging in more ways than one. It virtually excluded us from adopting a child. No orphans that matched our race and blood mix were on offer and they weren’t likely to easily present themselves for adoption, we were told. My wife is of Indian (as in “Indian” from India, as opposed to “American” Indian) stock and I am of (well) mixed blood.
    On the morning of Wednesday, 1st June 1994, just three days after arriving back home from Haj, we received a telephone call from Melanie Van Emmenes of the Child Welfare Society. She explained that a five-month old girl had come up for adoption. The baby had earlier undergone successful abdominal surgery and she asked whether we would adopt the child. We jumped at the chance.
    A rush of adrenaline replaced the after-effects of travel. We were rejuvenated. Capetonians usually visit local pilgrims before departure and also on their arrival back home. We excused ourselves from the few visitors and asked my mother-in-law to host them in our absence. My wife and I immediately went to the Adoption Centre in Eden Road, Claremont. We signed the necessary papers.
    Afterwards, we told our children that we were about to receive an addition to the family. We plodded through a maze of red tape in order to legalise the process. (My wife and I had to marry in court because Muslim marriages were not recognised then, believe it or not). A few days later, my wife, brother and I collected the petite infant from a foster-mother in Newfields Estate. I shall never forget the joyous feeling when I first carried the frail waif past the front door. Her name is Makkia. We named her after the great city from which we had just returned.
    Taking her into our home is one of the better things that we have done. Makkia has added a marvellous dimension to our lives. She is part of our life’s-work. I shall always be grateful to the people who had assisted us with the adoption.
    The meaning behind the glowing smile from our Trustworthy Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) had played itself out in the most delightful way. In our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) we have a beautiful pattern of conduct. Like a lamp that spreads light, the Messenger of Allah invites to the Grace of Allah by His leave. Our Divinely-inspired Prophet is the first of the God-fearing. No person is better than him. Our Prophet Muhammad is the leader of the prophets. He is without sin. Our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) is faultless and the foremost of those who submit to the Will of Allah. An exemplar to those who worship God, our Kind-hearted Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) is the beacon of the pious. He is an inspiration to those who are thankful to God and the leader of those who remember Allah. How should I express gratitude to the Holy Messenger of Allah for his kind intervention? I am unworthy of untying the thongs of our Prophet’s sandals.
    Allah, The One Who Is Sufficient For those who put their trust in Him, Had Granted our want through the barakah of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet).
    I’ve been fairly constant about wearing a turban during ’ibaadah since.

  • al-Haj Abdullah bin Abdurahman al-Qadiri al-Chisti al-Athloni

    An Invitation to Paradise
    I performed the istikhaarah salaah on the evening of Thursday, 7th September 1995 and pleaded for guidance from Allah, The One Who Is Above weaknesses. By the Grace of Allah, The One Who Is Most Kind to His slaves, I had the most marvellous dream. In my sleep that evening, I saw myself standing in the venerated presence of, and about two metres away from our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) in the Rauda al-Jannah. The Holy Messenger of Allah (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) was immaculately dressed in pristine white apparel and white turban. I felt entirely insignificant. I was in the company of the fountainhead of virtue. I, also, was dressed in white robes and a white turban, and stood with my back towards the qiblah. Tears of happiness streamed down my cheeks. The Holy Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger), who was sent by Allah, The Creator and Cherisher of all things, as a Warner and a Mercy to the worlds, stood and looked at me. I said in Afrikaans: “Yaa Rasulullaah, ek het vir U kom wys my familie – Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah, en Makkia.” In English, this reads: “O Messenger of Allah, I have come to show to yourself my family – Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah and Makkia.”
    I woke with a song in my heart. Allah had honoured me with the society of the best of mankind. The dream was etched in my memory with an astonishing clarity. I shall never forget it. It was, to me, a precognition of the predestination of Allah, The One Whose Will Reigns Supreme, and an invitation from al-Madinah al-Munawwarah.
    By the words “Yaa Rasulullaah” (“O Messenger of Allah”), I knew that I had definitely dreamt of the Holy Messenger of Allah (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger). I had addressed our Good Prophet with the utmost respect. That I spoke in “kombuis” Afrikaans was enlightening. I had much to think about. The reason for my not mentioning my wife’s name (as part of my family) in the list of introductions to our Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) later became apparent to me – she had introduced herself on our first pilgrimage in 1991! The same could be said for myself – I also had not introduced myself in the dream, as I, likewise, had first travelled to Madinah then. The dream held another eye-opener – I had referred to Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah and Makkia as ‘my family’ and not as ‘my children’ (as we do in the west). In this lay a poignant lesson – although Makkia forms part of our family, she is adopted (and not ours biologically) and therefore not of ‘our children’! For inclusiveness and especially in du’aa, I later familiarised myself with referring to them as ‘my family’, rather than ‘my children’. I would also refer to them as ‘the children’ in du’aa.
    Always thereafter, I wondered why our Cherished Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) did not speak to me in the dream.
    I related my experience to anyone who would listen.
    Islam teaches that a person who dreams of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) has dreamt the truth and has in fact seen the Holy Prophet, and not (mistakenly) anyone else in his or her dream. Based on this reassurance, I believed with certainty that, as long as we held firmly onto the Shari’ah, my family and I would receive divine assistance to get to the Hijaz.
    More than fifteen Jamaa’ah people had gone on Haj in 1997. In 1998, thirty-six persons had performed the holy journey. Twenty-one Jamaa’ah pilgrims had answered the call in 1999. The year 2000 had twenty-five Jamaa’ah Hujjaaj. Just eight people had gone during 2001. This time, more than a hundred went.
    It was a good year, 1422AH. The Haj of that year brought new meaning to the lives of many and helped to heighten the spirit of camaraderie among the members of the ’Ibaad-u-Ragmaan Qadiri Jamaa’ah. Travelling to and staying in the Holy Land has always meant a lot to me. This journey was especially fulfilling. Every day was better than the one before, every moment sweeter than the previous one. Better travelling companions I could not have hoped for.
    At 6pm on 24th December 2001, we left Cape Town for Johannesburg. Two days later, we left Johannesburg on Flight KQ 0461 for Nairobi and Jeddah. On 27th December 2001, we arrived by bus in Makkah al-Mukarramah from Jeddah. We completed the rites of ’Umrah.
    If monetary outlay was the standard by which such things were measured, the Grand Mosque in Makkah must have ranked as the principal wonder of the world. Billions of Saudi riyal had gone into its expansion and upkeep.
    Brown tiles had replaced the hand-hewed granite stones of the Holy Ka’aba. Embroidered Quranic texts glistened above head-height on the kiswah.
    Falcons had ousted the finches from the Great Mosque. Gliding majestically from the 89-meter-high minarets, these magnificent hunting birds soared elegantly on the warm air currents high above the Masjid al-Haram. They were showing off, I thought.
    At around 16:00 on 2nd January 2002, we went by bus from Makkah to Madinah and reached there the next morning. Al-Masjid al-Nabwi, complete with underground parking and a first floor, had been enlarged to include two inner courtyards. There, big, state-of-the-art, umbrella-shaped sunshades sheltered visitors against the sun. Enlarged to hold more than a million worshippers, the Holy Mosque boasted golden grilles, precast terrazzo cornices and large brass doors. Plush woollen carpets enhanced the stylish décor.
    Underneath the green dome in the Masjid al-Nabwi was the Apartment of A’ishah. The treasures of the heavens and the earth and all its elements could not rival the worth of this Sacred Chamber. Curtained behind ceiling-high partitioning, it held the holy graves of our Selfless Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger), Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and Sayyidina ’Umar al-Faruq (May Allah, The One Who Lives and dies not, Bless them with His Guardianship). Sufis whispered that the burial place of Sayyedah Fatima al-Zahra, the gracious daughter of our Dear Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger), had once formed part of her own apartment and had since been incorporated into the Sacred Chamber. Some people held though, that she lay buried at the entrance of the Jannah al-Baqi.
    After performing the necessary Salawaat, I carefully walked into the Rauda al-Jannah. A heavenly fragrance caught my attention. My mood moved from a state of grace to the very mountain-top of spirituality. Clad in white robes and a white turban, and standing with my back towards the qiblah, I stopped about five feet from the brass lattice that separates one from the holy graves. My spirit rested. I was unable to stop the tears from running into my beard. Choking back my emotions, I managed to greet the Messenger of Allah (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger). I softly added: “Yaa Rasulullaah, ek het vir U kom wys my familie – Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah, en Makkia.” (“O Messenger of Allah, I have come to show to yourself my family – Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah and Makkia.”)
    I also greeted the Holy Prophet’s illustrious companions, Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and Sayyidina ’Umar al-Faruq (may Allah, The One Who Is Best Informed of all things, Comfort them with His Unending Satisfaction).
    Alhamdu-lillaah. My dream of our Free-handed Prophet Muhammad had come true after more than six years. Allah, The One Who Feeds us against hunger and Makes us secure against fear, Had Guided us through the flawless personality of our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger). Our Blameless Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) is the guiding light of those who do good deeds. There is no man greater than him. He is the spirit of truth and the master of those who warn against evil. The most honoured person in the Sight of Allah, our Generous Prophet remains the model that guides others to the straight path. Our Chivalrous Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) is the Sayed of the people of paradise.

  • http://revoltinthedesert.blogspot.com Lawrence of Arabia

    i hope those end of the semester papers are going (or, even better, went) well. you are absolutely right about the beauty of this book. it is probably my favorite islamic volume in the series. thanks for sharing that marvelous passage. best wishes, LoA.


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