Dust Under Your Feet

13 June 1986

Q: Can you relate to me some trials and tribulations undergone by Friends of Allah?

A: First you must bear in mind that such tests and trials have some purpose behind them. These are either to correct or reform man or if he is not at fault, these are meant to purify and elevate him.

     Friends of Allah have always been tested and tried. The higher their status, the greater are their trials. In fact the Friends of Allah love to be put to these troubles because the reward is much greater. Once Hadrat Ibrahim bin Adham was going towards a certain place. He saw a poor old man sitting on the road at sunset extremely grief-stricken. He asked the old man the reason for his grief.

    He said: “I am a poor laborer and feed my children with the daily wages I earn. But today I have not been able to earn anything. I am sitting here sad and depressed because I have no courage to go home and face my hungry children who usually come running to me in joy saying papa has come with food!”

   Hearing this, the sheikh said: “The blessings of this grief of yours are so great that if you like I can give you the blessings of 70 years of my pure worship to you in exchange.”

   On another occasion, Hadrat Ibrahim bin Adham also said: “Once I was traveling and was extremely tired. I reached a mosque (masjid) in a dark cold night and throw myself on the ground. But soon the keeper of the mosque came and caught me by the leg and dragged me out of the mosque which was built on high ground, and I was rolling on the stairs one after the other. As I rolled over one step, doors of a Divine Kingdom opened to me. Again as I rolled on another step, another domain of spiritual favors was revealed to me, and I was praying to Allah that the steps are endless so that I can get His endless Grace.”

   Once Hadrat Ibrahim bin Adham was asked by a friend to state the event which led to the final opening of the door of Divinity for him, known as FatahulBuh.

   He replied: “Once I was travelling in a boat in an extremely poor shape. I was dressed in rags, my hair was dirty and uncombed, and my whole body was dirty and stinking. That was why everybody in the boat was cutting jokes with me and teasing me. A government soldier was also in the boat. He was also cutting jokes and hurting me. He suddenly got up and asked the sailor as to where he can piss. The sailor said jokingly, “On that beggar.” So he came and started pissing at my head. It was at that time that the gate of Divinity was opened for me.”

   The blessings of hardships are so great that the Auliya Allah (Friends of Allah) always love to undergo hardships, difficulties and afflictions.

Hadrat Rabiya Basri would cry and weep when she did not meet any misfortune for two weeks continuously, saying: “ O My Lord! Have you forgotten this old woman?”

Q: Can you explain the “pressure” felt in the middle of the chest and the forehead during moraqabah (meditation) and other spiritual exercises?

A:You are right, this is “ Faizan” (divine grace/ spiritual inspiration) a seeker receives from Allah  (God Almighty) during moraqabah (meditation) and other spiritual exercises. The more you work the greater the reception will be. Alhamdulillah! (All praise to Allah). You have asked, “ Will this “Faizan” eventually facilitate Allah’s nearness?” The answer is that “this very Faizan is nearness.” Faizan (divine grace/ inspiration) means you are gaining in nearness. Faizan is the name of Divine Nearness (Qurb). The more you work the more is the intensity of Faizan. In other words, the more you work, the more you get closer to Him (God). Now, because there is no end to Divine Being, therefore, there is no end to your journey to Him (God). The most charming part of the show is this that one gets engaged in a perpetual journey to the Almighty or in the Divine Being whose charms are endless! This is also called Fana-fi-Allah (journey in God). “Fi” means “ in “. It is really the journey in God and there is no end to it.

Q: What is Qawwali? What is its significance particularly for a seeker of God?

A. I am glad you have a liking for it. Although it is a controversial issue, qawwali (sufi devotional music / songs) is permissible in our Chisti spiritual order. It is very, very effective in taking the seekers of God to the nearness of the Divine Lord. It is said by our Mashaikh (singular, shaikh/spiritual guide) that an hour’s qawwali is more effective to bring you nearer to the Lord than years of worship. This is because qawwali generates love for the Divine Beloved and burns all other idols in one’s mind to ashes in no time. Since the Islamic devotional songs composed by the Auliya Allah (Friends of God) are the product of their states of Fana-fi-Allah and Baqa-bi-Allah, when you hear them, you are automatically lifted to the high regions in which these songs are uttered. In short, Sufi songs are the product of “hal” (ecstasies) and produce the same thing in the listeners’ heart provided it is purified by doing prayers, fast, salawat, azkar (reciting/ remembrance of Allah), mashaghil (spiritual exercises) and moraqbat (meditation).

Q:You as my spiritual guide asked to work hard and be very regular in my spiritual work. How long should I carry on with the spiritual work?

A:Since there is no end to God’s Beauty, there is no end to our love for Him. We have to love Him and work hard to reach as close to Him as possible. As material food is a permanent affair in our daily life, so is spiritual food a permanent affair.

A Persian poet Saadi says: “ Neither there is an end to His Beauty, nor is there an end to my love. I shall go on drinking deep at the fountain of His Beauty and die like the patient of thirst disease, but the river will go on flowing.”

As a matter of fact, no lover ever wishes to stop worshipping the Divine Beloved. The charms of His nearness are so great that once you taste it, you can never leave it. So there is no question of stopping. We have to go on and on every day, every hour and every moment of our life. In this spiritual journey, contentment is “haram” (unlawful) in this life. One should never be contented at any state of nearness (Qurb).

Q: Is Divine spiritual inspiration (Faizan) received from the shrine of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) or the Friends of God (Auliya Allah) whether passed away or alive is same or different due to physical distance?

A: Although the Holy Prophet (pbuh), the most beloved of Allah or Friends of God to a lesser degree (Auliya Allah) can response to the call from any distance, because Ruh (soul) is not bound by time and space, yet if somebody travels a long distance to visit a shrine, his gesture is approved more by them. They (blessed and pious souls - Moqarrabin) appreciate the efforts of those travel long distances and come to pay homage to them. Therefore, the Divine spiritual inspiration (Faizan) is more than what one gets sitting at home. In short, it does make the difference. Moreover, there is a strong connection of the blessed and pious soul (Moqarrabin) with their bodies after death. On that account too, the visitors of the graves will receive/enjoy stronger Divine spiritual inspiration (Faizan). One has to experience it, to know it! Allah s.w.t (Glory be upon Him)  says in the Holy Quran:

“Allah and His Angels send blessings on the Prophet: O you that believe! Send you blessings on him, and salute him with all respect.” (Chapter 33:56 – Surah Al-Ahzab)

This again is a clear evidence of bountiful divine spiritual inspiration a sincere seeker of Truth (salik) receives for sending abundant of blessings on the Holy Prophet (pbuh) whose most blessed soul is not bound by time and space.

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) in his saying said: “ If you send one selawat (prayer and blessings on the holy prophet) to me, Allah s.w.t responds ten times the blessings to you; if you send ten selawat (blessings) to me, Allah s.w.t responds one hundred times the blessings to you..”

This saying of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) further proves of the Divine spiritual inspiration (Faizan) a sincere seeker of Truth receives while living in this world and of course he will receive/enjoy tremendous showers of Divine spiritual blessings/inspiration upon death. In fact he (the sincere seeker of Truth  conquered death even in this world in consonance with the saying, “ Die before actual Die.”

In short, the blessed and pious souls (Moqarabin) are not bound by time and space. The blessed and gifted sincere seekers of Truth (salik) can receive Divine spiritual inspiration (Faizan) regardless of the physical distance.

Q:Is it permissible to visit graves?

A.Visiting graves has been advised by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself specially on Fridays. There is no harm in taking the children with you to the graveyard. If visiting the graves is good for the elders, it is good for all. Even the females should go. They also are permitted to go there. According to Hadith, sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), women in the beginning were forbidden to visit graves, but later on they were allowed. But the graves of the unbelievers should not be visited. It is harmful!

Q: Can you explain about the construction of structures above the graves? I have seen such structures when I visited Pakistan and India especially on the graves of famous Muslim Saints. There seems to be some differences of opinion on this subject.

A.It is perfectly justified. There is a huge tomb over the Holy Prophet (pbuh) grave, which was constructed by his companions. Action of the companions is an authority for us. Moreover, it is the constructions of structure above the graves like Christians graves which is forbidden in that Hadith, saying of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), but not around the grave. Our structures are around the grave not above the graves. Moreover, we construct tombs not for the dead, but for ourselves to save us from rain, heat and cold. What is the harm? Some people object to “pakka” buildings over the graves and not “kacha.” But they build “pakka” houses for themselves which is also forbidden. If “pakka” houses are allowed to be built by Ulama, “pakka” graves are also allowed.

Q: Can you explain the verse in the Holy Quran, “ you help Me and I will help you.”

A.Allah s.w.t (Glory be to Him) is not in need of anybody’s help. The original word for “help” in the Holy Quran is ‘nasar” which has a variety of meanings. In the present context the word “nasar” does not mean “help” as you help a weak person. It means a sort of co-operation. What Allahu Taala  (Glory to Him, Most High) means is that when you co-operate with Me by implementing My Will, I will help you in your endeavors and make them a success. It also means that when you are engaged in carrying out My mission, I give you success in all your affairs.