OF THE MUREED
Hajj Mustafa Ali
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
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.
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
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 lifes
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
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
This can only be achieved by the
practice of will full submission to the path. And this is the beginning of
adab to yourself.
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 Allahs hiddyat and your lower self., reacting to the
impulses of Shaytanic influence. It is through the Shaykhs 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
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
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.
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 ones 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 its own true
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 maarifat,
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
The Ruby by Rumi
At breakfast tea a beloved asked her lover,
"Who do you love more, yourself or
"From my head to my foot I have become
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
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
A pharaoh claims divinity and is brought
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
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
Your stoniness will decrease; your ruby
nature will grow.
The signs of self-existence will leave your
and ecstasy will take you over.
Become all hearing like an ear and gain a
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
To everyone who suffers,
perseverance brings good fortune.
The Prophet has said that each prostration
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 Allahs remembrance, and inspires
your heart through the Quran, in his revealing its inner meanings.
Surely on Allahs 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 Shaykhs counsel, ensure that you have investigated the matter yourself
thoroughly and taken counsel with your brothers first.
Do not go to the Shaykhs 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 breeds 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:
is recommend that you arrive at the gathering several minutes early.
Avoid being late.
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.
must be in wudu while attending a halaqa
of dhikr, or at anytime you may be in
the presence of the Shaykh.
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.
with your attention focused on the meanings of the tasbih
that is being recited.
your awareness in the area of your heart.
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
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.
to the Shaykhs 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.
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
Gatherings of dhikr are not a
spectators 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.
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.
If there is food being served after a gathering, begin eating when the Shaykh
begins and finish when he finishes.
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.
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.
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
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 Shaykhs voice. You
should be so keenly focused on the Shaykhs position that if he should address
you, you would be instantly available.
Some Points Regarding the presence of Women at Dhikrs.
Men and women should sit in separate circles.
should only serve women and visa versa.
attire at gatherings should be modest, with hair covered. First time female
visitors should be encouraged to wear hair coverings.
women should always have one of the female
murids look after them, all through their visit.
can attend dhikrs while menstruating,
as long as the venue is not in a mosque.
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.