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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Principles Of Our Path, IV

Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad Cosan
(Taken from a lecture given on May 10, 1997 in Stockholm, Sweden)

(a. General Principles)

4. Dhikr

Having been initiated to the tariqa, what shall we do in order to advance in the path and become a beloved servant of Allah, a walî (a close friend of Allah), a perfect human being, a servant deserving Paradise and to avoid the hellfire?

We wish we are saved from the hellfire. My Lord! Free me from the hell! O my Lord! Save me from the flaming hellfire and keep me away from it. Keep me free and far from it. My Lord, do not put me in hell. Have mercy on me and do not throw me into hell. My Lord, please save me from hell. My Lord, put me among those who deserve Paradise. Make me one of those who witness Your Beauty. Everybody wants these, and that is our purpose: (Ilâhî anta maqsùdî wa ridaka matlûbî) we state our intention: "My Lord, You are my purpose, and I seek Your consent."

What shall we do for all of this? We must do our dhikr duties, for the dhikr is a very rewarding, honorable, valuable, and easy, yet very important worship. The easiest worship is the dhikr, while the most difficult form of worship is Jihad because a person's life and property will be at risk in Jihad. A person in Jihad may loose his life or his worldly earnings and property. That makes Jihad the most important worship. A person could go to Jihad, then the bitter news could reach his home: "He was martyred; covered with blood."

There is also Hajj (Pilgrimage), a worship that involves the body and the money. It requires both health and wealth. It is a difficult worship, too. Yet, the dhikr is more rewarding than the Pilgrimage and Jihad as it was indicated in various ahadith.

There is also Zakâh and Salâh. [Five times a day] Salâh is easy for us, yet you should ask those who neglect it. It is extremely difficult for them to do prayers five times a day. They say, "Could we reduce the number? Can we go to the Friday prayer once a week? Can we only perform the Eid prayers twice a year?" It is difficult for them. In fact, it is not difficult; on the contrary, it is lovable, and honorable.

There is also Fasting. It lasts a whole day. Sometime days are extremely hot, some times cold. It could be difficult, too.

The easiest form of the worship is the dhikr. Not only the healthy individual, but also the sick, the paralyzed, the bedridden, the old and the young, anybody can do the dhikr.

"Sir, this patient has been bedridden for the last three years. Can he, too?" May Almighty Allah grant him health. Poor man has been bedridden. We say he has become "esîr-firâsh," the slave of bed. He cannot even walk to the toilet; the toilet has to be brought to him. May Almighty Allah save all from such an illness. May He keep all of us on our feet and independent of other people's care for basic needs. May He let us live healthy and happy, and leave this world with a perfect belief. As the proverb goes, "three days in bed, followed by death."

Some stay in bed over extended periods of time; consequently, their back gets irritation and wounds. That requires additional care and creates additional discomfort. Such a person will have a hard time staying in bed, over his back, over his abdomen, or on his sides. Yet there would not be much to relieve his misery.

In such a condition, a person can do the dhikr. He can say, "Allah... Allah... Astaghfirullah... Astaghfirullah... Allàhumma salli alâ sayyidinâ Muhammad..." It is the easiest form of the worship.

The salat has to be performed with wudu'. There are conditions for Fasting, Hajj and Zakâh. There is no prerequisite or condition for the dhikr. A person can do dhikr with wudu' and without wudu'.

"Sir, unfortunately, I just broke my wudu'--my hand is bleeding. Can I do dhikr?"

Sure, you can! There is no problem for the dhikr. It is an easy worship, yet it has great rewards.

Additionally, in the tariqa, in the path to perfection, in the path to attain the consent of Almighty Allah, in the path of becoming a friend of Allah, in other words, in the path of Paradise, the most important spiritual nourishment is the dhikr. That is why the dervish, the disciple, has to do his dhikr duty. When he does his dhikr, he receives the illumination in his heart and advances in the path to attain the desired qualities.

Hence one of our principles in the tariqa is doing the dhikr and not neglecting it. Proper observance of the dhikr and carrying out with great desire and zeal are required.

The dhikr is carried out in order to acquire the ability to keep Almighty Allah in mind at all times. It leads a person to that state.

It is stated, (Al-'ilmu bit-ta'allumi, al hilmu bit-tahallumi, adh-dhikru bit tadhakkuri). [The knowledge is with studying, the gentleness/tenderness/humbleness is with acting gently/tenderly/humbly, the remembrance is with mentioning the name.]

A person without knowledge becomes a scholar by studying. He was a child, did not know anything, and started from the alphabet. Now, he is a professor, an expert, and a professor of professors.

Imagine a person who is rude and rough. He would become tender, gentle and softhearted as he starts behaving like one who is. He learns how not to get angry.

A seventy-some years old friend said, "Allah removed the anger from us; alhamdulillah, we do not get angry any more."

Somebody in his presence said something to attract anger, yet not even one line changed on his face. He said, "Allah took the anger away from us." If the same thing were done to me, I would get really angry just like a barrel of gunpowder exploding. He used to get angry in the past. He would warn the person he is dealing with, "I am getting angry now!" His warning would scare the person more than his anger. Now he does not get angry. That means a person can learn how to be calm and gentle as he tries to act gently. Eventually, he becomes a calm and tender person.

Not forgetting Almighty Allah at all, keeping Him in mind at all times... How is it possible? It is possible with the dhikr. The dhikr has rewards and effects on people. As the rewards accumulate, the person starts "flying."

You may have seen the [hot air] balloons with a basket underneath that carry people in it. There is a mechanism that starts blowing the light gas [hot air]. Soon the balloon gets inflated. As the gas is blown, the basket starts moving and rising from the ground.

Just like that, as a person continues doing the dhikr, the rewards continue to accumulate, and the dervish starts seeing the results. That is why the persistence in the dhikr duty is essential. Those who are initiated to the tariqa, who became a dervish, who joined our circle, must continue carrying out the dhikr duties.

During a house meeting, some of the brothers, who were older than us, commented about their spiritual states: "We do not seem to be enjoying the spiritual blessings of the tariqa. There is something missing. What is wrong with us?"

Later on I told our master Muhammad Zahid Kotku (RhA), "We were at a house meeting. Some brothers said such and such things...." He responded, "What can I do for them while they fail to carry out their dhikr duties?" In fact he was given the ability to shape the character of people. We knew examples of it. He stated that without doing the dhikr, no advancement is possible. A novice has to have a daily dhikr duty, and he has to carry on this duty attentively. This is very important.

To Be Continued...


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