SULUK ESSENTIALS I
An introductory letter by Hadrat Hafiz Zulfiqar Ahmad An–Naqshbandi (Damat Barakatuhu)
With His Glorious Name
Allah, Allah, Allah
Dear Respected Sister:
As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
May Allahu I keep you in His protection. I received your letter and was very pleased. Know that whenever this faqir receives a letter, he immediately makes a supplication and sends a spiritual reply. Written replies are sometimes delayed because of an extremely busy schedule. You asked about the litanies (dhikr) of the Naqshibandi Mujaddidi tariqa, I have outlined some relevant details below.
Begin by imagining that Allahu I is watching you at every moment and then imagine that your heart is calling “Allah! Allah! Allah!” in all circumstances, whether walking, sitting, or doing your daily activities, you should focus on your heart and make certain that it is concentrating on Allahu I. Your hands should work while your heart remains in remembrance. Our great elders have said that a single moment spent in neglect and inattentiveness should be regarded as a moment spent in a state of disbelief (kufr). Allahu I describes the signs of the intelligent in the Holy Qur’an: “Those who remember Allah standing, sitting and lying on their sides:” (3:19). Aim for such a state throughout your day. This faqir will pray that you reach your goal.
When free from your worldly duties, whether in the morning or evening, make ablution and isolate yourself. Sitting on a prayer rug, close your eyes (to avoid distraction), bow your head, open the window into your heart, and look at your true self.
Drown deep into yourself and find the secret of life.
At least unite with yourself if you refused to be mine.
Man’s world is but play and waste.
Eternal is the wealth of the Hereafter.
Man’s wealth comes and goes like a shadow.
You lose everything, world and Hereafter, when you submit to someone else.
Muraqabah entails waiting patiently for the mercy of Allahu I to descend into your heart. Perform this for ten to fifteen minutes daily. Remain quiet and still, without moving the tongue or limbs, and empty your mind of all thoughts. Focus on the mercy of Allahu I descending into your heart and purifying it from the corrupt and blameworthy. Sit quietly and listen as your heart calls “Allah, Allah, Allah” in gratitude for His mercy. Remember that muraqabah is the essential key to attaining stillness of the mind and the soul.
Not with world, and neither with wealth nor household,
The heart begets peace only with remembrance of Allah
What tranquility is associated with Your name?
Sleep comes (even) on a bed of thorns.
Indeed, it is possible that malevolent and distracting thoughts will enter your mind when you first begin muraqabah. Do not let this deter you. The thoughts that have gathered in your heart over a lifetime will now resurface as you cleanse them through remembrance. How would you face Allahu I had you left this world with a soiled heart? God willing (insha Allah) as you further immerse yourself, your inner self will become purified and you will connect with Allahu I. If you lack spare time for such exercises, then sit for a few minutes on your bed before going to sleep. You will begin to form it a habit.
I can see the portrait of my Friend in my heart
Whenever I lowered my head.
In time you will begin to achieve tranquility through muraqabah. By all means, sit for longer periods of time if you so desire.
The heart searches distressingly for those free days and nights
To sit lost in thoughts of the Beloved
Do not worry if you start dozing off during muraqabah. It may also be performed lying down or leaning against something should the need arise. If you feel uncomfortable closing your eyes when in the company of others, muraqabah may be performed with the eyes open.
Oh my Beloved! Reflections of You are ever in my mind and Your praises on my lips
Where can You hide with the thoughts of Your Face in my heart?
Consider muraqabah and its maintenance more necessary than food and drink. According to a hadith, Allahu I prefers those actions that are consistent, be they however few. Unchained through muraqabah, your heart will gain perception.
Desire an insightful heart from Allah:
Sight of eyes and sight of heart are not the same.
Sometimes you may feel that apprehension and worry remain overpowering despite regular muraqabah. This exercise is not easy but it must be performed. Exert yourself! You may even perform it while traveling by car or bus.
Life is the command of Allah; life is mystery
The pinnacle of living is for the heart to cry “Allah!”
I am confident that your situation will improve with regular muraqabah. If the heart awakens, the eyes will see differently, and the mind will reason differently. Your life will traverse a new path for the sake of Allahu I. People take delight in a deer whose meat emanates fragrance. I hope you attain the fragrance of our true destination.
May trials from Allah confront you
For I see no restlessness in your soul
Reading books leaves you no time to act,
You are indeed a reader but lack action.
Enjoyment in and desire for worship increase manifold when remembrance (dhikr) becomes regular. Having prayed, you will anxiously await the next prayer. You will not view worship and good deeds as burdensome obligations. Rather, they will be gifts toward which you will run.
SALUTATIONS ON THE PROPHET r
Send salutations on the Prophet r one hundred times a day.
اَللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى سَيَّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَباَرِكْ وَسَلِّمْ
Allahumma salli ‘ala sayyidina Muhammad, wa ‘ala ali sayyidina Muhammad, wa barik wa sallim.
O Allah send salutations upon our guide Muhammad, and the family of our guide Muhammad, and bless them and send upon them peace.
Recite this with extreme sincerity, humility and love, as if you are presenting a gift to Allahu I in His distinguished court.
Whose honoured name arrives at my lips O Allah?
The name that caresses my tongue as I call?
Recite the following supplication for forgiveness one hundred times a day with extreme humility and shame, reflecting on your sins:
أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ رَبِّى مِنْ كُلِّ ذَنْبِ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ
Astaghfirullaha rabbi min kulli dhambi wa atubu ilayhi
I seek forgiveness from my Lord for every sin and to Him I turn (in repentance).
If tears of shame and regret do not stream down your eyes then at least assume facial expressions consistent with these states.
May a tear be so true that its falling be accepted by You.
Seeking forgiveness (istighfar) with neglect and laziness is improper, and this lapse in itself merits additional istighfar. One must strive to eliminate these characteristics, he must not merely seek forgiveness for them. Attempt to experience the bliss of crying to your Lord during the pre-dawn prayer (tahajjud) should be blessed with the ability to wake up for it.
Be he Attar, be he Rumi, be he Ghazali
No one begets anything without weeping near the dawn.
Today, most enjoy the delicious tastes of exotics foods, but sadly they are estranged from the delightful tastes of supplicating at the time before dawn (tahajjud). Where have the people who used to spend their nights in sorrow and want?
Your gatherings have ended, those seeking You have gone
The cries and tears of the morn are no more.
Some take pleasure spending the day cleaning their house and making it spackle. Would that they seek forgiveness (istighfar) and perform dhikr a few minutes during the day to clean their hearts as well. My dear sister, darkness fill the world as quickly as the light of righteousness dims and with each passing day this world descends further into ruin.
Those with faith the likeness of Mount Uhud feared lest they lose it at any moment, while we, with paltry faith remain self-confidence that we will die as believers. This gift is a precious treasure that must be guided. How often we overlook the blessing of faith! For this we must seek forgiveness everyday. It is our duty and our pleasure. Allahu I has a fondness for two drops: the drop of blood from a martyr’s body and teardrop of shame and regret from a sinner’s eye.
My Lord has accepted as diamonds
Two drops of my innermost shame.
A mother has intense love for her child and shelters him under all circumstances. A mother’s love is a mountain whose heights cannot be scaled, an ocean whose depths cannot be reached. If a disobedient son falls to his mother’s feet in apology and shame, she will become overwhelmed by her inherent love and will forgive him despite her anger.
Pay attention to the meaning of this narration: the combined love of seventy mothers is miniscule when compared to Allah’s I love for His servants. When tears of repentance shed from our eyes Allah’s I mercy pours forth.
It is related that Allahu I says that His mercy overcomes anything. If someone sins for a thousand years without respite, even then his sins are few when measured against the ocean of Allah’s I mercy. If he repents sincerely, it is accepted and his record wiped clean. Moreover, it is written that Allahu I proclaims that if your sins are greater than all the leaves of all the trees in the world; if your sins are greater than all the stars in the sky; if your sins are more than the foams of the oceans; if your sins are greater than the grains of sand in all deserts, even then your sins are few and His mercy is greater.
Moreover, from Prophetic narration we learn that Allahu I says: My servant, you repented but then regressed, and then repented and regressed again. If you repent and regress a hundred times, even then, My door is open and I will accept your repentance if you come.
RECITATION OF THE HOLY QUR’AN
Read a quarter of a Juz of the Holy Qur’an everyday. Remember women cannot read the Holy Qur’an during those days when they cannot pray. Take as much pleasure in recitation as you do with every spoonful of ice cream, and imaging the essence of the verses descending upon your heart at that very moment.
You cannot untie knots, you cannot solve mysteries;
Until such time when the Book descends upon you.
CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE SPIRITUAL GUIDE (SHAYKH)
The summation of these daily prescriptions is that you keep in contact with your spiritual guide (Shaykh) by letter or by phone keeping him apprised of your spiritual condition. Be absolutely candid regarding your condition and abide by his advice. The Gardener is pleased when he sees a plant develop from a seed nurtured with love and care.
Anyone who hopes to be cured from physical ailments must communicate with their physician. Likewise, if you seek to rid yourself of spiritual ailments, you must communicate with your teacher. A teacher is essential for learning any skill or subject.
Know that one who learns without a teacher
Is without a foundation ready to collapse.
May Allahu I reward our teachers and mentors who taught us to walk on the path of Islamic Law (Shariah) and the way (sunnah) of the Prophet r rather than on their own footsteps. Today false and corrupt people without a foundation in the shariah hold position of leadership in mosques and institutions of learning. Their lives are devoid of the sunnah, they are astray and lead others astray. The one who himself cannot swim can hardly save another from drowning and such people only serve to bring ill repute to the name of tasawwuf.
Pay careful attention to these words! The purpose of this pledge (bayah) is to please Allahu I, to adhere to the Messenger’s r sunnah, and to rectify the self. The above mentioned duties are so potent that you will notice a change with a few days of regularity; you will find it easy to adhere to the shariah in your daily life. Be regular and you will live your life in peace. More sugar is sweeter than less, and so we will see how consistently you observe these duties. Convey my greetings to your household.
Wa salam ma’al ikram
Faqir Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi Mujaddidi
SULUK ESSENTIALS II: Faqir AbdulQadr Naqshbandi’s additional notes
- CONSTANT ISTIGHFAR
We should take the hundred prayers of istighfar given in the morning and evening as minimum. We should aim at profuse istghfar day and night even if one is only able to repeat the word Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah.
- Strictly avoiding whatever the illuminating Sharia has declared haram no matter how menial. Haram activities are deadly poison sure to kill the soul and worst of all, destroy our most valuable asset, Iman.
The essence of Ihsan are found in four:
Pious devotion after belief
Strict avoidance of all harams
Mercy and compassion for one and all
And resolute commitment to the afterlife
- Avoiding whatever becomes a door to haram, that is, whatever leads to it, places where haram is being committed and the people who have committed their lives to haram. It is also evil to watch haram being committed, so we need to live our life like a stranger, a prisoner on this earth. We are in the last and worst of ages, even the best friends are somewhat bad, Subhanallah!
- We should be constant in the Dua and Adhkar taken from the sunnah and recommended for our use in the morning and in the night. We should never spend a morning nor go to bed except in the state of gratitude, tawba (repentance) and remembrance. A racer remains restless until the race is rounded off. So we should remain resolute to remembrance (zikr) and repentance until the grave.
- We should take the sunnah coming before and/or after each salat as binding on us. We should do this strictly adapting to the book of fiqh. Anything done outside the sharia is negative even if it is Salat. For example, we do not make nafilat after the Asr Salat nor before Maghrib. A nap taken as sunnah is better than a whole year ibadats done with one’s personal desires. The sacred sunnah is the only criterion to measure man’s success and perfection.
- We should be constant in repeating the most valuable zikr; La ilaha illallah We should target at a thousand in one day. La ilaha illallah is a dual cure, he who repeats it sincerely once gets so much from our Karim Lord, Allahu I.
- Waking up before dawn (fajr) to observe few nafilat of tahajjud is essentials. These are very valuable moments to repeat the words of istighfar and to seek taqwa and Allah’s I eternal pleasure. This worship at the end of night is so valuable that Allahu I made it wajib (compulsory) on His most beloved Prophet r. This is the salat of true lovers who fight sleep and make ibadats for their Beloved, Allahu I.
- We should never forget the late morning nafilat (salatul Duha) even be it two rakaat. Four rakaat is good enough yet in situation of constraint two rakaat also suffice. Man has 360 joints, the sadaqa for all, everyday, is two rakaat of salatul Duha, Subhanallah! Salatu Duha can be up to twelve rakaats. You can do more or less.
- Keep the company of the pious and other aspirants to piety or remain alone. The majestic Qur’an emphasizes that to acquire taqwa, to improve on taqwa and to remain in taqwa, the company of the pious is not negotiable. You are warned.
- Observe a very strict watch over your gaze. Looking at non-mahram women and their pictures are extremely negative to the heart. Wrong look for once destroy all your spiritual efforts. It is a must to protect your gaze.
- Reduce your food and be contented with moderate dishes. It is essential to eat halal Do not eat until you are hungry and leave the meal table before full satiation. Everybody laugh at a smith who is trying to forge, to mould a cold iron, same for a man seeking spiritual upliftment in full stomach. Know that halal food in moderation is the foundation of blessed ibadats and all acceptable good deeds. Ability to manage this effectively determines where will be your end. A saintly ‘alim t once said:
He who eats much copulates much, he who copulates much his desire increases, he whose desire increases his sin increases and he who progressively increases in sins eventually loses his Iman.
- Observe the fasting of sunnah (Monday and Thursday) or at most one day fast and one day for moderate meal. Fasting is a strength when it is done according to the sunnah; observing the right days, avoiding sins while fasting and breaking the fast with moderate meal.
- Reduce your utterances and make istighfar after your little speech. Tongue is the most potent organ of all and the proper use of the tongue determines how far we travel on the path of taqwa. Silence is a rule, do not forget.
- Read blessed books detailing with adab (due respect) the lives of our pious ancestors. Reading old blessed books like this is essential just as given up all frivolous reading items; novels, sports mag etc. is also mandatory.
- Lower your expectation of worldly fortunes, be contented with little, utilize opportunities without desperation and always keep your death in view. Make sincere effort to throw the thoughts and strong aspirations for the worldly out of your heart. The heart is the throne of Allahu I and it will never remains Allah’s as far as it is covered with zulmah (darkness) of worldly thoughts and blind aspirations.
- Deal with all people, sinners or saints, with good morality. Your conduct is your most potent weapon to bring people to the right. Avoid the deviants in the religion and never keep their company, but pity the sinful Muslims praying for them and inviting them with love. Overlook the harms of all, being kind to them and avoiding aggression. Remember that the axe which cuts down the sandal tree is also perfumed by its scents. A free born requires only a signal, act right.
- ITBA’A SUNNAH
Adapting to the noblest of creation and the best example to humanity in all steps, menial and extremely important, is essential on the path of suluk. In fact, this is the whole goal of Ihsan (tasawwuf, suluk). Adaptation to the sunnah is the only measure of perfection, dreams, miracles etc. are mere illusions. The purpose we set out to achieve is the eternal pleasure of Allahu U and this only possible by adapting to the inward and outward states and perfections of Allahu U most beloved, Rasulu-Karim Muhammad Mustafa (alaihi wa ahlihi salawatu wa taslimah). The ayat-i karima says:
If you want the love of Allah adapt yourself to me, Allahu I loves those who adapt themselves to me.
Then your standing and sitting, your sleep and waking, your eating and your toileting, your wearing and putting off dresses and all your actions and reactions should be modeled after the Sayyed of all Prophets Muhammad Mustafa r.
Be strict on this prescription and you’ll be successful. Whenever you find yourself failing to live up to these duties go back to Allahu U in istighfar and seeking strength from Him. A fruit tree found in a jungle can hardly produce good fruits but the one with a caring gardener will surely do. This is the reason for getting a guide, a Shaykh. A pencil will write effectively only when it founds an experienced hand to handle it. Be firm in your intention, clarify what are bid’as and what are not constantly with your guide, hold on to the sunnah and avoid whatever negates the way of the elders t even by the length of a hair. May our Karim Lord help you and us to your goal. To Him is our request and from Him alone is our expectation. La haola wala quwata illa billah. Wa sallallahu ‘ala Rasulu karim, wa ‘ala alihi wa sahabihi ajmain. Wal hamdulillahi rabbil ‘alamin.
Millions are attracted to crowns of the world
May you alone remain my goal
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Wealth and women have won the hearts
May my desire be You alone
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Tastes of the world have won concerns
May my concern be You alone
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Though I am filthy head to toe
My heart is restless seeking Your grace
* * * * * * * * *
You alone Ya Allah
You alone Ya Allah
You alone Ya Karim
You alone Ya Allah