THE NEED FOR A PEER ( SPIRITUAL GUIDE )
Sufi Chishti Spiritual Guidance, Ajmer Sharif, India
Just like the seeker of knowledge is called a student and the provider of knowledge called a teacher likewise, the receiver of spiritual training is called a ‘Murid’ seeker or devotee [one who has made intent on living a life in total submission to the will of Allah] and its provider [Master] is called a Pir; Spiritual Guide or Shaykh. The Pir is also referred to as a Murshid; one who guides.
In different regions a Pir is given variant names according to the local language, also in different era’s the Pir has been referred by various terms. Sometimes by Hadi [Guide], sometimes Rehbar [also Guide], Bapu and Baba’s. In all case these Masha’ikh have always been connected to the Ahl-e-Sunnat wa’l Jama’at. In other terms the Friends of Allah [Awliya’ Allah] have no link or affiliation with nulled sects. A Pir or Wali is and has connection with the Sunni Jama’at only. A sect or group in which the Messenger of Allah, the families of the Prophet; Ahl al-Bayt or the Noble Prophetic Companions, [Sahaba-e-Kiram] salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa ashabihi wa sallam, are denigrated, the ‘Masha’ikh-e-‘Izam’ do not exist amidst them.
When a person gives his hand in the hand of a learned [Kamil] perfectly accomplished Pir and makes a pledge [initiate a pact], this connection reaches the Blessed Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam’s, presence – this is because each Pir or Shaykh has a Pir – the Seeker has a spiritual relation, a bond with his Mentor [Murshid] who in turn is connected to his Mentor – thus making a chain of succession [silsilah] which finally reaches the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The Murids heart is fortified by the blessings running through him like currents from the power house. When it is produced it flows through the cables and from the cable to the town, from thereon to the house and from the house into the bulb, thus, illuminating the entire house. Likewise, the current of ‘faizan’ emerges from Madinah al-Munawwarah to Baghdad and from Baghdad to Ajmer and from Ajmer to each individual home – consequently illuminating the dark hearts.
It is an obligation [Fard] upon every individual to have faith [Iman] and after Iman there is a need for action [good deeds]. Thereafter, there is another requirement which is the need for a private Pir [Shaykh].
Imam Fakhr ud-Din Razi, rahimahu Allah, who was one of the great Scholars, author of the popular and monumental commentary [Exegesis] of the Noble Quran, i.e. Tafsir al-Kabir, in which he has written a commentary consisting of 350 pages on Surah al-Fatiha alone. One day Imam Fakhr ud-Din Razi announced, “I can adduce 1200 legal cases from the Bismillah alone. And if I wanted let alone 1200 I could even adduce 12000 legal rulings.”
When death approached this great Scholar of his time, the accursed Devil – Shaytan came and stood beside his side and began a debate with him on the Tawhid [Uniqueness – Oneness] of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. The accursed devil Satan asked Imam Razi as to how he believed that Allah is One. Imam Razi gave the proof but the devil rejected that proof. Imam Razi gave further proof but Iblis rejected that too. Imam Razi continued to give evidence after evidence but Shaytan also continued to reject each proof and argument the Imam made to the extent that now the treasures of proofs and evidences began to dry. At the same time, Imam Razi’s Spiritual Guide, Shaykh Najm ud-Din Kubra’, sitting thousands of miles away called out to the Imam and said, “O Razi! Say that you believe in the Oneness of Allah without [the need of] proof.” The Shaykh calls out to the Imam, his Murid thousands of miles away which reaches him and is repeated by Imam Razi. The devil, Iblis having no answer to this faith rendering answer was silenced and in anger ran away. It is hence established that even after acquiring knowledge of the Din [Islam] one still needs to have a Shaykh to protect one’s faith and remain steadfast. In our world, wherever there is a war, the fighting soldiers need a commander, without one there is no war. Whether the war lasts for 2 to 4 days or 4 years, a commander is necessary.
Similarly, man and his war with the devil and with his inner base self [nafs] is not merely for 2 to 4 years rather is at constant war and this is a greater war. Once, upon returning from a battle the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
“We are setting forth towards a greater Jihad [struggle] from the lesser Jihad”
Meaning: the war – struggle against the wishes of the inner base self [nafs] is a war with the devil. This is a more gruesome war and therefore the commander required for such a gruesome war requires a powerful, wise and able mentor – a Shaykh or Pir.
Therefore, it is a Sunna for every Muslim to make a pledge with Allah in the hands of a perfect Pir [Shaykh-e-Kamil] so that he may be guided throughout his life in his struggle to elevate himself, fight his nafs and become a true servant of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. A person who does not have a Shaykh, the devil himself is free to become his Pir, since he has no spiritual guard protecting him from such influence.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A Peer
There are two types of worlds:
[a] ‘Alam-e-amr: This is the world in which the Creator of the Universe says: ‘KUN’ [BE] and everything ‘fayakun’ – [SO IT BE] comes into existence. There is no need for any physical means or causes to take effect. [asbab or ‘ilal]. For example the ruh is from the amr of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
[b] ‘Alam-e-khalq: This is the world of means and causes. Everything in this realm is created by means and causes, contrary to ‘Alam-e-amr. All humanity came into being through the means, wasila of Adam and Hawa’, ‘alayhuma as-salam.
It is determined by Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, to make things happen through asbab [sing. Sabab]. The need of means to acquire knowledge by means of a teacher. Upbringing by means of parents. To the extent that even for eating and drinking water in one’s social life, everything is done by means of a wasila, nothing happens directly. Allah, the Almighty, Himself states in the Qur’an;
“O You who believe, fear Allah and seek wasila [means] to reach Him.”
By these Words of the Lord – Allah, it is clear that when reaching and approaching Allah by means of a wasila is fard [compulsory] then what can man – the two legged animal achieve without the wasila [means]?
Salah [namaz] is a wasila [means] of drawing closer to the presence of Allah the Almighty and wudu being the wasila [means] for Salah and water being the wasila [means] of wudu.
We need to have food for survival, to cook the food we need the means of pans or pots. The Pot receives heat from the fire and thus food is prepared. Without such means for food preparation the world will remain without cooked food. Alas! What would happen if there were a few wanting to enter paradise without the wasila of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. How is this possible!
Allah the Almighty, orders:
“O Believers! Fear Allah and remain in the company of the truthful.”
In another statement Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says:
“And on that Day We will call them with their Imams [Mentors, Shaykhs].
From these Words it is evident that Allah the Almighty orders that you seek means – wasila. Seek association [suhbah – companionship] of the Truthful and We will call upon you by your Imams [Shaykhs] whom you followed. Thus we learn that the means and association of a mentor is the best means of gaining closeness to Allah.
Mawlana Jalal ud-Din, Rumi says, “Search for your Shaykh for without a Shaykh this journey is full of tribulation, fear and dangers.”
Regarding the importance of a Shaykh, Mawlana Rumi says: “Without the shade of the Shaykh one cannot annihilate the self [nafs] thus hold firm to the sleeve of a perfect Pir if you seek annihilation of the inner base self [nafs].”
Khwajah Baha’ud-Din said: “My son, love of Allah is not obtainable without a perfect Pir – Kamil Shaykh paving your way.”
Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami, referring to the author of the famous ‘Mathnawi Sharif’ Mawlana Jalal ud-Din Rumi, says: “The Scholar of Rum could not become a Master up until he became the slave of Shams Tabrez.”
THE REALITY OF PLEDGE [BAY’AH]
In the Qur’an al kareem it is stated ;
“Lo! Those who plight their fealty to you, their fealty are actual fact with Allah and the Hand of Allah is over their hands.” [al-Fath: 10]
This verse refers to the pledge – Bay’ah. We also come to know that to take or give a pledge BAY’AT is the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and to give the hand on the Messenger’s [salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] hand is as if he has pledged with Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Unfortunately we are unable to pledge directly upon the hands of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, but we can do it through the khulafa’ vicegerents.
If you are unable to give your hand of pledge directly to the Messenger, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then give your hand of pledge BAY’AT to the hand of the khalifah; vicegerent – mentor [Shaykh]. This is because you can take the services of all things that you would by its actual things. i.e. from the thing to which or who he is a Naib – vicegerent. For example, the vicegerent of wudu – ablution is tayammum. After performing tayammum one can do everything that one can after having done the ablution wudu.
Therefore, to be connected to a Naib; vicegerent of the Messenger, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is in reality a connection to the Messenger and by the means of the Messenger we will be connected to Almighty Allah. We learn that when a seeker – Murid gives his hand upon the hands of a mentor [Shaykh] and pledges with him this is because he is a vicegerent of a Prophet – meaning that in reality he is pledging to non other than the Messenger. By pledging to a Shaykh or Pir the Seeker repents for his sins and makes a firm commitment of loyalty to Allah and His Messenger and he makes the Shaykh his guarantor for his firm intention who holds the post of vicegerent; khalifah of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
After pledging the seeker should annihilate himself to the Shaykh i.e. Fana fi ash-Shaykh, meaning the Murid – Seeker must sacrifice his needs before the priority of his Shaykh’s needs, he does not act against the advice of the Shaykh, shows obedience to the Shaykhs instructions and self-annihilates his being in the Shaykhs being; to occupy day and night according to the Shaykhs advice and hold consistency to the benediction given to him. He practices acts of worships and commits serviency – adopts – Allah-fearingness, self-avoidance and fulfils all of the Shaykhs orders, this occurs when the Murid – Devotee makes him self-annihilated, totally devout and a true devotee-seeker of the Shaykh. Then the Shaykh will bestow his specific compassion and hence take hold of his hands and move him forward in the presence of the Messenger, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Now the Seeker-Murid will by the means – wasila of his Shaykh – Mentor self-annihilate himself to the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and attain devotional annihilation in the Messenger, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and when the Seeker attains this level of devotion, the Messenger, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, will hold out the hand of the specific devotee and with all confidence pass him on before the presence of the Almighty Allah and make his self [nafs] annihilated in the love of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. In reality, this condition is the recognition of Allah’s Unity [tawhid] i.e., the consciousness of the fact that there is no real being in the world other than He.
To attain the level of Fana fi’Shaykh and Fana fi’Rasul it takes great effort and strain and a long time to attain but after becoming Fana fi’Rasul it does not take long to become Fana fi’Allah because it is Rasul Allah, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who helps the devotee to attain the level of Fana fi-Allah – a task much easier for our beloved Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to fulfil.