Dust Under Your Feet

2 May 1988

Q: Explain briefly the definition of knowledge according to Shah Wali Allah Mohaddis of Delhi.  Briefly explain the Prophet’s outer and inner life?

A: One must know the higher spiritual values of Islam and aspire for the nearness, presence and union with the Divine Beloved

      Shah Wali Allah Mohaddis of Delhi has said, “All knowledge in the world is like chaff or grass and the grain is the knowledge of Divine Essence and Attributes (i.e. zat and sifat) and the core or vitamin of the grain is actual spiritual experience of Divine presence.”

      One must also realize that there are some higher stages of Iman known as nearness, presence and union with the Divine Beloved.

       In the life of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) was full  of spiritual activity, and he enjoyed the highest degree of Allah’s nearness, presence and union which we as his followers are duty bound to aspire for and to achieve.We should copy the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w) outer as well as inner life (Uswa -i-Hasna). The outer part of his life is salat, fast, charity, dress, habits and pious deeds. The inner part of his life is strong love for Allah, His Nearness, Presence and Union which the prophet (s.a.w) and his companions enjoyed. But the exoterics or externalists are contented only with outer part of the prophet’s life and ignore the inner and more important part of his life. It is the spiritualist (Sufi) who aspires for the prophet’s higher spiritual achievements (also known as aspire for the higher spiritual degrees of Iman).

Q:  Is it not right to get angry with tyrants and enemies of Allah s.w.t?
A:  My reply is that it is perfectly right to be angry with the tyrants and enemies of Allah s.w.t, but the people around you, i.e. your family members, pirbrothers/sisters and fellow Muslims are not the enemies of Allah Taala. They are his friends and lovers and therefore deserve love and respect not anger and wrath. It is said in the Quran about the Ashabi-Rasool (Companions of the Prophet), “They are hard on the kafirs and kind to one another”.

         Now the question arises,“Should we not correct the mistakes made by our wives, children and friends?”. The answer is that, correcting mistake is one thing and getting harsh and angry is quite another thing. The great leaders and reformers never get angry or harsh with those who commit mistakes, crimes and sins.They try to correct them most gently, leniently and softly. Even Allah Taala advised Prophet Musa (a.s) to talk gently to Pharaoh when he approached him, because psychologically harshness invites harshness. The words of Quran are: “Go, both of you, to Pharoah, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds. But speak to him (Pharoah) mildly, perchance he may take warnings or fear (Allah).” (Surah Ta Ha: 43 & 44)                             

          Another thing is arrogance which is very common among us, and we all excuse ourselves or justify our arrogance by calling it self-respect. Arrogance is a disease very, very hard to detect. It is in the nature of man to defend himself at all times without knowing that is his Nafs which he is defending. Self-respect is usually considered to be an asset or a good quality by general people and even arrogance is called self-respect by them. They fail to distinguish between the two. Even if self-respect was good, it is bad for a Sufi. What suits a Sufi is self-disrespect, self-criticism, self-condemination, self-negation, self-abregation, selflessness, selfabuse, and self-abasement, not self-respect.
             I know when a person below the rank of a “Perfect  Shaikh” is told to conduct Halqa -i-zikr  his head is turned and he thinks too much of himself. If his hands are kissed, his pride goes up. If people come round him and respect him, he feels proud. This is in the nature of man. But a Sufi has to crush not nourish these things.


             You know there are three kinds of veils between man and God:


i.      Hijabat-i-Zulmani (plural of Hijab which means curtain or veil). Hijabat-i-Zulmani means curtain of darkness which are caused by sins.

ii.     Hijabat-i-Noori (white curtain) which are caused by kashf and karamat (visions) because the seekers’ progress suffers due to visions as well.

iii.   Hijabat-i-Kaifi which means the veils caused by the charms (pleasures) of nearness and Fana, because the moment one starts taking pleasures in his Nearness with Allah and goes in for more pleasures and charms, his progress is hampered.


  A leader is the right and convenient place of Satan to pump arrogance into his brain. One has to be very, very careful. The trouble is that one does not know that his head has turned or he is suffering. He thinks he is all right and nothing is wrong with him. That is why as great as Hazrat Umar (rz) used to request his friends to let know of his fault and shortcomings. He even went to the extent of asking Hazrat Abu Hurrairah to tell him if his name is included in the list of Munafiqin given to him by the Prophet (s.a.w). But when Abu Hurrairah refused to disclose the secret, he get all the more perturbed. That shows how important is self-condemination. If a Sufi is condemned, insulted or disgraced by anybody, he should be thankful to him not get angry.


Once Hazrat Ibrahim bin Adham was going to Haj with a caravan. When they got close to Makka, the people there came to know that the Shaikh was coming. So a large number of Ulama and Mashaikh and nobles came out to receive him. When the Shaikh came to know of it, he walked out and ahead of the caravan all alone to avoid ‘royal’ reception. As he was in ugly dress, nobody was able to recognize him. When the Ulama and Mashaikh of Makka saw him, they did not recognize him and asked him,“Where is the Shaikh?”. The Shaikh replied, “What do I know about the rascal, he may be in the caravan”. Hearing these words, they jumped on him and gave him a good beating. In the meantime, the caravan also arrived. When they were told they were beating the Shaikh himself, they felt ashamed and fall to his feet. So, you see how he arranged to get beaten up to avoid arrogance.

Q: Can you explain the statement, “Treat the Cause Not the Symptoms.”
 A: Our Shaikh (Hazrat Syed Muhammad Zauqi Shah (r)) used to say that a doctor is a fool if he gets angry as to why a patient spoilt his life by eating bad food. His duty is to be kind to the poor patient.

       He also said some Ulama or Mashaikh refuse to enter the room when they are invited, if they see pictures hanging on the walls, and go back home in anger, and feel proud in doing so. They do not realize that the host was a patient of some spiritual disease which they (Ulama and Mashaikh) had to cure as doctors. He used to say that, “I treat the cause and not the symptoms of the disease by cutting the root and not branching”.

        In the end I would say it is very, very difficult to distinguish whether one’s rigidity is due to Nafs or due to righteousness. In any case one must always take the former view and blame himself, rather than justify himself, particularly because our greatest Prophet (s.a.w) used to blame himself and repeat istaghfar 70 times daily although he was born sinless (Maasom).

Q:  Can you explain the Islamic Jihad as compared with Mahatma Gandhi’s policy of non-violence?
A:  Jihad has two types. First one is known as Jihad Asghar (Minor Jihad) and the second type is known as Jihad Akbar (Major Jihad).

      The Prophet (s.a.w) had said Minor Jihad means fight with swords, and Jihad Akbar means Jihad with your ownself, that is, purification of Nafs. Now because the enemies of Islam lack the blessings of Jihad-al-Akbar they are so ruthless in killing Muslims.

       Lanepoole (orientalist) has said, “The day of Muhammad’s victory over his life enemies of Mecca was also his victory overself since he forgave them (Mecca Quraish) all their crimes and occupied Mecca without shedding a drop of blood”. This is the result of Islamic Jihad-al-Akbar, that is, purification of self.

       Gandhi’s policy of non-violence was a smoke screen to deceive the world. But when they gained power they killed the Muslims and are still killing ruthlessly. The Hindu code “Arthshaster” advocates tyranny and ruthless persecution of the opponents like the book of Machivili called “Ilprince” which is the code of ruthless killing in the West. Moreover, it is not Gandhi’s policy of non-violence which won freedom for India as it could never succeed. It was the World War 2 which delivered a shattering blow to the British and they had to go. Non-violence did not succeed. It can never succeed because the world is not inhabited by angels.Vast majority of its inhabitants is of rougues and devils and you have to use the language and arms they (devils) can understand. But Jihad-al-Akbar of Islam came as great Redeemer and benefactor for Mankind. Jihad-al-Asghar works as surgery while Jihad-al-Akbar does the dressing and curing the wounds. There is nothing like it in the world!

        He adopted the policy of non-violence not because of any humanitarian motives, but because he thought violence would bring forth the wrath of the ruling British and because he knew the hindus were coward by nature (due to cow worship, idol worship, tree worship, stone worship, sun worship) and could not possibly fight the British, and if they fought they would be crushed forever. But when it comes to fight with minority of Muslim they shed all cloaks of non-violence and crushed the innocent Muslims in Bihar and Kashmir ruthlessly and Gandhi was watching the bloodshed silently. Where did his non-violence go?


Q:  What are Nafs Ammarah, Nafs Lawammah and Nafs Mutmainnah?
A: Nafs in all these three stages means the state of one’s progress towards God’s Nearness. Nafs Mutmainnah is the final stage of progress, that is, Fana-fi-Allah.