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Adab of The Mureed  Adab

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By: Hajj Mustafa Ali

Adab of the Mureed 

The Path is nothing but Adab courtesy. 

There is an adab due to everything in creation. There is an adab due to your brothers on the path. There is an adab due to the Shaykh. The entire matter is the adab due to yourself. 

The first is arrived at by following in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), his family, the awliya ‘ullah, and those who represent them. 

The second is that you honor your brothers and sisters on the path. You avoid seeing their faults by recognizing them first in yourself. You cover their faults in public and private. You see them as mirrors reflecting to you meanings regarding yourself. You must prefer what you have for your brother to yourself. Their mistakes are better than the right actions of others, in that they act with pure intentions; learn from their mistakes and move on the path, having gained understanding and wisdom from their actions.  If they should make an error they return their actions to Allah in ‘istighfar’, seeking His covering them from their consequences. 

The adab to the Shaykh is service, waiting, patience, listening and wanting what your Shaykh wants, as if it were your wanting. 

Lastly the entire matter is adab to yourself. 

We have been brought into this life for one purpose that is to know our creator. 

Allah says in a hadith Qudsi ‘I was a hidden treasure wanting to be known, so I manifested creation so as to be known’. 

The entire purpose of this life’s experience is self-knowledge. Knowledge of the self leads to the knowledge of the source of the self. 

The Prophet Muhammad says: “He who knows himself, knows his lord”. 

Allah has designed within us the ability of cognition. It is this ability of self-awareness that separates us from the animals and all other forms of creation. With this ‘gift’ of cognition and self awareness, comes the ability to choose at any given moment courses of action that present themselves in situations as we inter-relate with creation. Written in each of these instances are possibilities to either be drawn closer to realization or knowledge of the self or its opposite. 

These possibilities have not been left to chance. Allah has manifested clear guidance through the revelations and enlightened behavior of the Prophets and their inheritors. They represent the measure by which one aspires to attain the highest potential and fulfillment of the divine purpose. 

Allah says in the Qur`an: "I have raised a Prophet from amongst yourselves”

He, the Prophet is “one of us”. His light and final advent was designed and intended before the creation came into being. His appearance historically, and his presence amongst us is this pre-creational intention become manifest. His light has always been present in the human gene pool and arose at the appointed time. His Prophetic light and being ness is our true nature. In following his example we are raised to our highest potential. We can never achieve his station. What we can achieve is our highest through the following of his behavior and realizing its inherent meaning. 

Guidance is none other than behaving in a manner consistent with the Prophetic behavior, and through adherence to that mould, evolve out of the cocoon of darkness and ignorance, into the light of true self-realization. 

This can only be achieved by the practice of “will full” submission to the path. And this is the beginning of adab to yourself. 

Adab to yourself is to submit to what Allah has intended for you and not what is dictated by the habits of the self and their inclinations to follow the whispering of the Shaytan. 

The only way to accomplish this task is to take the company of a living Shaykh who can help you discriminate between what is from Allah’s ‘hiddyat’ and your lower self., reacting to the impulses of Shaytanic influence. It is through the Shaykh’s guidance and the company of a practicing community that saves your languishing in self-involvement and transforms you into the divinely intended purpose. Understanding and submitting to this, is the adab to yourself. 

Allah says in the Qur`an: "Those will prosper who purify themselves". (87:14) 

‘What good befalls you is from Allah, and whatever evil befalls you is from yourself’. (4:79) 

Your entire relationship with creation, your brothers and sisters, your Shaykh is all for this purpose. It is in this realization and will full practice, that lays the foundation of adab to yourself’. 

Allah says in the Qur`an: "I did not create Jinn or Man, but to worship Me."

Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri says: 

"You have to be present all the time, visibly, physically, mentally. If you are not, rectify it. You must catch yourself instantly. Do not delay. If you delay you will become fossilized and it will be more difficult. It is all about being available to any situation as a full-grown human being, with faith and good opinion and optimism, with inner realization that you have come from that total ocean of infinity and to that ocean of infinity you are returning.  In between is a tiny little flicker!"

Adab to the Shaykh 

Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib said: 

“It is obligatory on every murid who seeks the presence of Allah to take the living Shaykh. The proof of this obligation is in the words, may he be exalted, “Oh trusting-ones, fear Allah, and be with the truthful ones.” 

Mureed is derived from irada (will) and it depends on sincerity (ikhlas). The true meaning of murid is one who has stripped himself of his own will and accepted what Allah wills for him. 

Ibn ‘Ata-llah, may Allah be pleased with him, says in his “Hikam’ 

“Do not accompany one whose state does not change you and whose speech does not guide you to Allah.”

Until one has met a living and teaching Shaykh there can only be glimpses of the unitive reality in creational experience. Realization of the unitive reality can only be focused and reflected wholesomely through the exposure to one who is fully realized, and is himself a clear and pure reflector of divine unity. 

A great Shaykh and arif once said: 

“Once you have met your Shaykh you have come to the complete meaning of your life. After this meeting there can only be further unveilings and openings to one’s reality, or may Allah protect us, a covering up of the opportunity and a plunge into darkness.” 

"Mankind was created neither in vain nor by chance: Does man suppose he will be left in futility?" (75:36)

The Shaykh is your inner reality, manifested in experience, as a mirror reflecting to your heart it’s own true nature. 

The Shaykh is your door to the Prophetic beingness. He is like a tuning fork, or resonant cords: when the sound is picked up by another instrument it resonates the same tone. 

In order for this resonance or alchemical transformation to take place, love is required. Without love there is no hope in achieving any illumination. Love is the connective tissue or medium that allows the transmission from the Shaykh to the murid to take place. Love transcends the intellect, yet does not discount it. It breaks all barriers so that the divine light can flow. It is love of the Shaykh that transports the murid to love of the Prophet, and finally annihilates the murid in the ultimate divine love. The completion of this unveiling of love is called ‘ma’arifat’, or illumination of the heart of its divine nature. 

Allah says in a hadith Qudsi: ‘My slave draws near to me in worship; when he loves me, I love him. Than I become the hand by which he grasps and the eye by which he sees. 


The Ruby by Rumi

At breakfast tea a beloved asked her lover,
"Who do you love more, yourself or me?"

"From my head to my foot I have become you.
Nothing remains of me but my name.
You have your wish. Only you exist.
I've disappeared like a drop of vinegar
in the ocean of honey."

A stone has become a ruby,

is filled with the qualities of the sun.

And if it loves the sun, it loves itself.

There is no difference between these two loves.

Before the stone becomes the ruby it is its own enemy. Not one but two exist.

the stone is dark and blind to daylight.

If it says "I," it is all darkness.

A pharaoh claims divinity and is brought down.

Hallaj says the same and is saved.

One I is cursed, another I is blessed.

One I is a stone, another a crystal.

One an enemy of the light, the other a reflector of it.

In its inmost consciousness, not through a doctrine,

it is one with the light.

Work on your stony qualities

and become resplendent like the ruby.

Practice self-denial and accept difficulty.

Always see infinite life in letting the self die.

Your stoniness will decrease; your ruby nature will grow.

The signs of self-existence will leave your body,

and ecstasy will take you over.

Become all hearing like an ear and gain a ruby earring.

Dig a well in the earth of this body,

or even before the well is dug,

let Allah draw the water up.

Be always at work scraping the dirt from the well.

To everyone who suffers,

perseverance brings good fortune.

The Prophet has said that each prostration of prayer

is a knock on heaven's door.

When anyone continues to knock,

felicity shows its smiling face.



Main Attributes of a Shaykh


A true Shaykh is that he appears with an outward light and an inward secret. He elevates you with a glance and secrets flow into the heart of the murid. He is a ‘zahid’ in the world; he is unique in comparison to others and speaks by permission of the Prophet himself. 

His company reveals your hidden faults and heals you simultaneously with a spiritual healing. He is gentle to the wayfarer and has compassion for those in trouble.  He calls you to abandon yourself in Allah’s remembrance, and inspires your heart through the Qur’an, in his revealing its inner meanings. 

“Surely on Allah’s friends there is no fear, nor do they grieve.” (110:62)


Some Guidelines in Keeping Company with the Shaykh 

It is best in the company of the Shaykh to speak little and listen a great deal. 

Only concern yourself with what concerns you and disregard the rest. Always take what comes to you from his company and be satisfied. It is your provision for the moment. 

If the Shaykh has rebuked you or he has pointed out aspects of yourself form, do not fall into emotionality regarding the issue. Always remember the point of keeping company with the Shaykh and his companions is to discover and uncover the ground of yourself, so that its exposure to the light may bring about a transformation. Always remember that Allah is always on a new creation each day, each moment. You do not have to be the same person you were a day ago, or a moment ago. Accept yourself and its faults and move ahead in joy that it was exposed. 

If the Shaykh or his companions should be misinformed about something concerning you, be sure that Allah knows the truth and He will defend you. Allah will inform the Shaykh of the truth in the matter. Always be aware that it is the acceptance of Allah that you seek not His creation, although if you hold to these things you will have both. 

If the Shaykh gives you a special practice to do, i.e. a dhikr invocation to recite, act on it immediately. Keep in mind that when Allah inspires a thing in the heart of the Shaykh for a wayfarer on the path, all the angels and unseen forces align with his will and empower that instruction with baraka (blessing). If you do not act on it, that baraka may leave it and you will not sow the complete benefit of the instruction. 

If you have a question or information for the Shaykh, wait until there is an appropriate moment to request his attention. Avoid going after the Shaykh when he has already gotten up from sitting and is leaving towards his abode. 

Do not trouble the Shaykh with worldly matters. Matters of the world only obstruct the potential relationship between you and the Shaykh. Keep them to a minimum. The Shaykh is not above these discussions. He is a householder and experiences the world, like we do. The difference is that he sees the hand of Allah in a matter before it, in it, and after it. It is his state of witnessing that differentiates your state to his. 

Avoid calling the Shaykh on the phone.  If you need to ask the Shaykh a question, make sure it is a real one and not academic. The Shaykh would rather have the murid in front of him, at an appropriate time. Use your common sense at all times. If there is an emergency take whatever action is needed. 

When writing to the Shaykh, avoid long letters.  Be concise and specific in you request.  In any case seeking the Shaykh’s counsel, ensure that you have investigated the matter yourself thoroughly and taken counsel with your brothers first. 

Do not go to the Shaykh’s house without his direct permission. Never come to his house after Maghrib unless you were requested to do so. 

Never sit with your feet pointing directly at the Shaykh. If you have to stretch your legs, then put them behind you. If this does not relieve the discomfort than its is better to get up and stretch out by walking around and then return to your seat. If you have constant discomfort of this nature than when visiting the Shaykh, bring a cloth or Abah to cover your feet. 

When in the company of the Shaykh and his companions, be aware that you do not become overly ‘familiar’ with them. You are in the company of real men, aspiring to imbibe their qualities. Sit straight and attentively. Do not lapse into familiarity by joking or leaning your body back on pillows. Be alert, or you will miss everything. 

Familiarity breed’s contempt; watch out for it. 

Never take instructions from another Shaykh or Murshid unless you have been directed by your Shaykh to do so. You may sit with other Shayukh, take their baraka and wisdom, but not their instruction. This is a precaution to avoid confusion. Each Shaykh has their own ‘taste’ and approach. It is like being under the care of a doctor who practices homeopathy. You are taking his prescription of homeopathic remedies. You meet another doctor who is an herbalist. He sees your condition and prescribes peppermint. The peppermint voids the homeopathic treatment, and as a result you become more ill and confused as to where to turn to for help. 

Do not expect all Shayukh to refrain from instruction, even though they may be aware of your being under the guidance of another. They are often overwhelmed by their perceptions and offer instructions. It is from their overflowing ness. Allah knows the truth of it. 

In any case always seek counsel from your Shaykh in any matter. 

Your relationship to him is like the moon to the sun. You are dark and without light. You move around the earth through phases, sometimes waning and sometimes waxing.  The sun has been alight with nur (light) that has burst from a heart untethered by creation and set free to reflect the divine presence. It does not wane or wax, but remains steady in its divine course. Reflect the light of the sun, take in its warmth and allow it to bring you to fullness. Once you have tasted this light it becomes your own, and you will be on your way to becoming a sun in your own right.


Rules in Attending a Circle of Dhikr 

When attending a circle of dhikr where the Shaykh is present one must observe the following guidelines: 

  1. It is recommend that you arrive at the gathering several minutes early. Avoid being late.

  2. Always sit properly around the Shaykh by forming a complete circle with others. If someone should leave the circle, close the space, leaving no gap, until either they return or another takes their place. Never leave a space between you and another attending the gathering. If the number of people is great and the room is short of space, create circles one within the other.  Do not walk across the middle if you have to leave the circle, rather if you have to move, go around the outside if the circle. Always be aware if others entering the gathering make room for those who arrive so as to incorporate them into the circle.

  3. You must be in wudu while attending a halaqa of dhikr, or at anytime you may be in the presence of the Shaykh.

  4. The murid must be dignified and reflect nobility.  Always attend a halaka  dhikr with the appropriate attire. Wear a robe or long shirt and a kufi/turban. The clothes must be clean, without the smell of body odour. Wearing socks is preferable. Perfume is highly recommended, but avoid synthetic perfumes. Wear a tasbih around your neck if you should have one.

  5. Sit with your attention focused on the meanings of the tasbih that is being recited.

  6. Centre your awareness in the area of your heart.

  7. When you are centred, glance at the Shaykh in an attempt to taste his state. Go with him in his inward journeying and ride his himma as your mount to elevating yourself. This can also be attempted with your eyes closed, by focusing on the heart and bringing the presence of the Shaykh into it.

  8. Look for his glance, without being obvious;  be subtle in its seeking, when it meets you, take it in and with openness taste what ever is being offered. It may be sweet, a taste of the inner fountain of joy, or it may be bitter, a reflective look at what is hidden in your heart. Whatever it is, bitter or sweet, see it as a gift and make use of it on your path of self-knowledge.

  9.  Listen to the Shaykh’s voice at all times, harmonise yourself with it. Be alert to him changing the type of dhikr being done. Stop when he stops. Do not sing or recite louder than the Shaykh. This is also true with whoever is leading the dhikr.  If you arrive late and the hadra has already begun do not interrupt the circle, rather sit by the side.

  10. If you are unable to sit still, legs folded, and back straight, do not sit in front or near the Shaykh. It is most important that those who can sit still and be focused surround the Shaykh. It is better for him and you that you remain in the back. If you find yourself in the front, near the Shaykh, then you should have a cloth or aba (cloak) to cover your legs and feet if you should need to stretch them.

  11. Gatherings of dhikr are not a spectator’s sport:  participate in the dhikr fully. If it is diwan, sing it. If you cannot then at least sing the refrain. Every serious murid should have their own copy of the Diwan. If they are not available then borrow one and copy it out by hand.  If it is tasbih than chant aloud. If you cannot participate in this way, than either go to the back, or refrain from attending such gatherings.

  12. While in the presence of the Shaykh keep your tasbih on your neck or in your pocket. Do not handle it while with him. Your doing dhikr with your tasbih in the presence of the Shaykh is a distraction from his presence. It will veil you from the “real” benefit of the moment.

  13. If there is food being served after a gathering, begin eating when the Shaykh begins and finish when he finishes.

  14. Always be concerned that your brothers partake equally of the food placed before you.  If you are cooking, avoid hot and spicy foods when serving the Shaykh. Evening meals should be light with plenty of vegetables and fresh salad.  In any case prior to a dhikr no food should be taken.

  15. At a gathering of dhikr or at any gathering service is of the highest priority. When food is being served, fuqara should compete with each other in its serving. It is an opportunity to receive a great benefit and should be acted upon with the most serious intention. The youngest fuqara’ should serve first, laying the tablecloths and bringing the food. The server should not sit down until everyone has been served. He should then wait again before sitting down, making sure that everyone is well taken care of. Always serve beginning on the right. This is also true when dispensing rosewater or perfume.  A faqir should never wait to be asked to serve. Do not think for a moment that the ones you are serving need your service, especially the older fuqara. It is their generosity towards you that they allow themselves to be served, giving you the opportunity to benefit.

  16. Never bring children to a circle of dhikr.  It is beyond their capacity to grasp the experience and it is a lack of courtesy towards them.  Furthermore their presence at the dhikr reduces others to their level and obstructs the full benefit desired.


Allah say in the Qur`an: "Whoever hopes to meet his Lord should do good deeds and worship none but his Lord” (18:110) 

After the gathering of dhikr is concluded it is important to contain its results. Do not slip into idle conversations, laughter and worldly concerns. The dhikr has an accumulative effect. It is like pouring wine into a jug. If the jug is whole it will contain the wine and it will mature; if it is cracked the wine will seep out and what remains will become bad. 

If the Shaykh remains in the place where the dhikr has been held, it is recommended that the mureed remain until the Shaykh either removes himself or he indicates the end of the gathering by his recitation of Surat ul Fatiha, or gives other clear indications of its termination. 

If you are sitting in the same circle with the Shaykh, be aware of him at all times. It is permissible to carry on conversations with those around you at appropriate moments, but be aware of yourself. Do not allow your voice to be heard over the Shaykh’s voice. You should be so keenly focused on the Shaykh’s position that if he should address you, you would be instantly available.


Some Points Regarding the presence of Women at Dhikrs. 

  1. Men and women should sit in separate circles.

  2. Women should only serve women and visa versa.

  3. Women’s attire at gatherings should be modest, with hair covered. First time female visitors should be encouraged to wear hair coverings.

  4. Visiting women should always have one of the female murids look after them, all through their visit.

  5. Women can attend dhikrs while menstruating, as long as the venue is not in a mosque.

  6. It is important for visitors to realise that attendance of the dhikr will not be to their benefit if their child or children are in need of them.  Tending to your children is dhikr itself, so never be under the illusion that you are missing out on something by tending to them first.  “Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah.”

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Adab of The Mureed  Foreword ] Adab of The Mureed  Introduction ] [ Adab of The Mureed  Adab ] Adab of The Mureed - Dhikr ] Adab of The Mureed - Advice ]