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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Principles Of Our Path, VIII

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

(a. General Principles)

8. Râbita-i Muhabbet (A loving, respecting and trusting bond)

The eighth principle in our path is the râbita-i muhabbet. It is essential that the novice has love and trust to his shaikh. Imagine a novice who does not like his shaikh, criticizes him, does not trust in him, belittles him, and tries to correct his shaikh... You cannot imagine what the shaikhs of our time hear. A loving, respecting and trusting bond is missing. Without such a bond, no progress is possible.

It is also the manifestation of one principle: Our beloved Prophet said: (Walladhî nafsî biyadihî) "By Allah who has the power over my life, (lâ yu'minu ahadikum) none of you would be a believer (hattâ akûna ahabba ilayhi min wâlidihî wa waladihî) until I am dearer to him than his father and his child are."

Would this be considered as shirk? Would the prophet utter such words if it were shirk? Nowadays, some people object the love towards a shaikh and claim that it is shirk. The hadith above nullifies their claim. It is also stated in the Qur'an: (Qul in kuntum tuhibbûnallâha fattabiûnî yuhbibkumullàh) "O My Prophet, tell them 'If you love Allah, love me and obey me!'" Almighty Allah orders the Prophet: "Do not be hesitant, tell them. Convey them My order. Tell them 'You will not be believers until you love, respect and obey me.' You have a humble and gentle character, so you may not want to tell them on your own, but it is My order. Tell them!"

That is why the Prophet uttered these words: "None of you will be a true believer until you love me more than you love your father and children." Love is essential to be a good believer.

Once one of the companions of the Prophet was abducted and tortured by the pagans in Mecca. They dragged him to a place to kill him. One of the pagans said: "Do you realize that we are doing this to you because you pledged allegiance to Muhammad. Wouldn't it be nice if you were with your family enjoying your life and none of this would have happened? Wouldn't it be nice that you were at your home and Mohammad were in our hands?" Upon hearing this, the companion said: "No! By Allah, I can sacrifice my life for him. I do not want him to be hurt even by a thorn on the feet. I do not care whatever you do to me so long as he is safe and unhurt."

That was how the companions of the Prophet were. They would put their bodies to protect the Prophet against the arrows aimed at the Prophet. They were eager to give their lives for the cause dictated by the Prophet. Whenever the Prophet sent an expedition, they would go with great zeal with hopes that they would become martyrs. They had given all they had including their lives to the Prophet.

Without such a strong bond, it is not possible to advance. Once Hadrat Omar ibn Khattab came to the prophet and said: "O Prophet of Allah, I love you very much. I love you more than anything except my own life."

As the proverb goes, first comes the self, the individual’s own life.

The Prophet responded to Hadrat Omar: "O Omar, a person cannot be a true believer unless he loves me more than he loves his own life."

Hadrat Omar thought for a moment: "What is this life for? Why did I exclude my own life?" He said: "I love you more than my own life, O Prophet of Allah." The prophet said, "Now it is complete."

The Prophet DID NOT respond as "All right Oh Omar! It is a natural phenomenon that a person loves himself more than anything else." Instead, he said, "If you do not love me more than your own life, you will not be a true Muslim Oh Omar."

This is not a matter of joke. It is not shirk, either. Why did the companions love the Prophet? They did because he was the Messenger of Allah. They loved him, for Almighty Allah sent him as a prophet and ordered them to obey him. We love the Prophet because of Allah's order.

Why do we love the Qur'an? We love it because it is from Almighty Allah. Why do we love the Prophet? We love him because he is a Prophet of Allah. Why shall we love the awliyâullah? We shall love them because they are the beloved servants of Allah. We love them all for Allah.

Some people attack us for such a love: "This is not acceptable!"

What else do you want? Would it be a shame, sin, or shirk for a person to love his father?

"Well, naturally a person loves his father and mother."

"Then, would a Murshid-i Kâmil be less than a person’s father? Would he be less significant?" Of course, not.

We hear that some parents make their son sit and drink wine. They say, "Come here!" and offer them a glass of hard liquor, "drink this!" They even threaten the child: "If I am your father, you must drink this! C'mon! Otherwise, you will not get my blessing."

"Keep your blessing to yourself! I cannot disobey Allah. I refuse to drink it!"

It happens like this sometimes. The husband turns to his wife: "I am ashamed of you in hijab. Remove your scarf and put some makeup!"

Why is this "sayin bayan" (respectable woman) exposing her body? She thought the word "sayin" (respectable) meant "soyun" (take off your clothes). Why is she wearing a strong makeup? She also thought "bayan" (miss) meant "boyan" (put some paint on). There are some men who want their wives to be that way: "You do not know how to dance and how to put makeup. Why did I marry you? Uncover some part of your body!"

There are such men in the military. Of course there is pressure coming from above, and some officers whose wives wear scarves are expelled from the military. Such a person says, "Expose your body, put your arm in mine. I'll take you to dance and disco." That is not acceptable.
Sometimes parents push their children into committing sin. Unfortunately, there are parents who raise their children to be thieves.

In brief, a murshid-i kâmil is above the parents. If love for the parents is justifiable and legitimate, then the love for the murshid-i kâmil should be stronger.

Here is the reason: (Al 'ulamâu warasathul-anbiyâ') "The scholars, the murshid-i kâmils are the inheritors of the prophets." Prophets do not leave money or property when they depart from this world; they leave knowledge and wisdom. If a person is knowledgeable, has a strong spiritual silsila and a spiritual bond reaching the Prophet AS, then he is an heir of the Prophet. He should be respected.

Without the love for the murshid, no advancement is possible. If he does not love or respect his shaikh, if he considers him an ordinary village man, he makes no progress. Our late master Mehmed Zahid Kotku RhA used to talk with a local accent: "Qardash, arqadashliq 'pek eyi' demekle qàimdir -- O my brother, friendship is maintained with saying 'all right.'" These were local expressions.

Those who did not know him would consider him like Nasreddin Khodja. When they visited, they would talk as though they were talking to an uneducated man. Of course he had a better knowledge about what they talked, yet he would disguise his knowledge. He would listen to them anyway. He would be so gentle and tender not to disappoint or offend the visitors. He would have a deeper knowledge on the issue.

He had many miracles (kerâmat). He would say things about the future: "Don't worry! It is going to happen this way."

When a person receives the knowledge straight from the Lord of the Universe, he will be different from others. If the knowledge does not come from Allah, it does not stay with the person for long. It gets forgotten.

If the knowledge is not coming from Allah without intermediation, as a spiritual revelation, then it would wash off like the makeup put on the face." What happen to the powder and rouge the bride put on last night? She washed her face, and all are gone! Whatever is put on will go away.

(Laysal kuhli kat-takahhul) "Being born with kohled eyes is different from putting kohl later on." Being born with red cheeks is different from putting redness later on. The original is always superior to the imitation.

If the knowledge comes straight from Allah, it lasts and it produces results. If it is not from Allah, it will not have a foundation; it will have something missing or wrong.

Yes, there has to be love towards the shaikh. It is one of the ways to receive enlightenment. If one does not have the love for his shaikh, he should expect nothing despite his waiting.

It reminds me a story. There was a dervish in the kitchen of a tekke. He had worked there for twenty years and thirty years, yet he was still in the kitchen. He thought, "All of those who arrived here after me did have been appointed with some duty someplace. They are carrying out the duty of guidance at various places. I am stuck in the kitchen. I have been setting up the fire, blowing it, cooking food, and making halwa for so many years. I should have made some progress, too."

That was what he thought. "The Shaikh Effendi sent even the young men, who came here long after I did, with a duty outside. He has not given me any such duty. This is not fair!" While he was stirring the cauldron with a large spoon, these thoughts came to his mind. He was put in the kitchen so that he would serve other disciples and earn rewards and make progress in the path.

While having these thoughts, he started experiencing something. The Shaikh Effendi called him. "I am sending you to a location. You will be my successor there. Now go there."

He got excited and happy, and said, "Yes sir! By all means." He was so happy, "Good! Now I am authorized to guide people and appointed to a locality."

The Shaikh Effendi called him, "Come here! You are leaving now but with a condition: You have to share with me whatever you earn or acquire there. It will be half and half."

"Sir, money and wealth has no significance for me; all could be yours!'

"No! I do not want it all. One half is yours; the other half is mine. Is it understood?"

"Sir, let all be yours. I am a poor person. I do not have an eye on the money or property."

"No! Half and half."

Finally the dervish accepted the deal, "Yes, sir! As you order." He left.

He went to the locality and got established there. People got to know him as he attended the mosque. He turned out to be a knowledgeable, well-mannered, pleasant person. "A stranger, but a good person," they said. He made friends, and his circle become larger and larger. He started teaching what he knew. He had students, and he became famous in a relatively crowded town.

Years passed like that. One day the ruler of that locality died and people started to look for a new ruler. They wanted a trustworthy, intelligent, experience, knowledgeable, religious, god-conscious person as their ruler. One person suggested the dervish be their ruler. All agreed and he became the ruler of that locality. The dervish became the ruler. There were such dervishes in the history.

The dervish started ruling the country. He was doing a fine job. He improved the economy; the treasury became full, and the locality prospered. Everybody was happy. Meanwhile he got married there and had five children.

One day his shaikh showed up. The dervish was extremely happy. He welcomed Shaikh Effendi, kissed his hand and made him sit in his throne. Everybody was puzzled, "Who is this man for Allah's sake? Our ruler makes him sit in the throne and sits on his knees before him." It was a beautiful display of honor, respect, and love. Everything was excellent.

Having lived in the town for few days, Shaikh Effendi turned to the dervish: "Come here and have a seat. It is good that you worked hard and earn people's love and respect. You became the ruler and rich. You have children. You have mansions, palaces, treasury, and soldiers. Everything is beautiful and orderly. Before you left to come here, we made an agreement. I told you that half of whatever you acquire would be mine. Do you remember?"

"Yes, Sir. I do remember. You can have it all."

"No! The agreement was half and half. I will get one half, you will get the other half."

"All right, Sir."

"Let us start!'

They went to the treasury and divided everything into two. The horses, the fabrics, and everything else were divided by two. Shaikh Effendi was pretty precise in diving things.

He asked, "Is there anything else?"

The dervish replied, "No, Sir!"

"How about the children? Haven't you acquired them here? They are your earnings here, too."

"All right Sir!"

"One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me. That makes four. What is going to happen to the fifth one?"

"Let it be yours, sir!"

"No! It has to be half and half. We are going to split the child from the middle."

"Sir, I give up my share. Please take the whole child."

"No way. We have to cut it into two halves. Bring the cleaver!"

"Oh my God! Is he testing me? Let us see if this man became real old. He went and brought the cleaver. He held the leg of the child. He thought Shaikh Effendi would change his mind at the last moment. When the shaikh lifted the cleaver up, the dervish raised his hand to prevent him, "What kind of shaikh are you?" All of a sudden the dervish found himself in the kitchen of the tekke. It was something like a dream.

What he lifted up was the large spoon with which he was stirring the halwa. He realized that he was in the kitchen and that there was no body around. He felt that he had to turn back. He saw Shaikh Effendi leaning against the door of the kitchen and watching him with a smile on his face.

He said, "Son, while with this head on your shoulders [while you continue thinking this way], you will continue making halwa for a long while." He left the kitchen.

What does this mean? He kept his trust to his shaikh until the last moment, yet he failed at the last moment. It was complete to a point, but beyond that point, he lost the trust.

Some of our murids kept their trust to some point, and then when there was a collision between the love of a party and love of the shaikh, some preferred the party. Well, here, the party is yours. The tekke and the tariqa are mine; the party and the politics are yours.

There has to be love as well as trust towards the shaikh. Without love and trust, no enlightenment or progress is possible. This was a story of that.

To Be Continued...


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