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This blogspot is a medium to share my thoughts and adventures apart from promoting my books. Below are the books which have been written or authored and published by myself.


"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Mencari Diri dan Erti".

ISBN 983-42031-0-1, Jun 2006


"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Membela Syiar yang Asal"

ISBN 983-42031-1-x, May 2007


"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Sirih Pulang ke Gagang?"

ISBN 978-983-42031-2-2, November 2007


It is interesting to note that while these books were written in Malay it has gained enough attention to merit being part of the collections of the American Library of Congress and National Library of Australia. Look here and here.


While the first three books were published by my own company, the fourth titled "Rumah Azan" was published in April 2009 by a company called Karnadya with the help of the Malaysian national literary body Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. It features beautiful pictures along with stories behind selected mosques which could be related to the history of Islam and the Malays alongside the formation of the Malaysian nation. Look at the article A collaboration of old collegemates - the book "Rumah Azan".


My fifth book "Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and Malay Sultanates", an English translation and adaptation of the Malay book "Ahlul Bait (Keluarga) Rasulullah SAW dan Kesultanan Melayu" authored by Hj Muzaffar Mohamad and Tun Suzana Othman was published early 2010. Look here... My 5th book is out! Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and the Malay Sultanates... . For more information check out my Malay blogspot CATATAN SI MERAH SILU.



Like my fourth book "Rumah Azan", the sixth book "Kereta Api Menuju Destinasi" is also a coffee-table book which is published by the company Karnadya with the cooperation of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (the main Malay literary body in Malaysia). Coming out January 2011 it features pictures and stories on the adventure travelling by train to all of Peninsular Malaysia along with the interesting places which could be reached this way.


My seventh book "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" in turn is a coffee-table book which is written, editted, designed and has pictures taken by me. Coming out of the factory October 2011, this book which combines family history with history of places such as Singapura, Johor, Batu Pahat, Muar and in fact the history of the island of Java and England has been reviewed with me interviewed live in the program Selamat Pagi Malaysia at RTM1. Look at the article Siaran langsung ulasan buku "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" dan temu ramah di Selamat Pagi Malaysia. Some selected contents have been featured in Sneak peek "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah".


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The "Berpetualang ke Aceh" series of novels could be obtained in e-book form. Enter http://www.e-sentral.com/, click general novel and go to page 4. You can also type the word "Aceh" at the search box. Or click straight Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

An essay on Tok Kenali

Assalamualaikum, peace be upon you dear readers. Today while going through my old files in search of a collection of mystical proses written by Sheikh Hamzah Fansuri the venerated 17th century saint of Aceh (written in Malay), I accidently came across an English essay fetched from the web sometime ago. The essay is on another mystical figure but of a later time, the highly-respected Tok Kenali who graced the Islamic scene of early 20th century Kelantan. His was a story of scholorship interwoven with tales of miracles... Nevertheless I feel like sharing the essay in this blogspot, so here goes...
TOK KENALI (MUHAMMAD YUSOF) (1870 –1933)

This essay proposes to examine the life and contributions of To’ Kenali of Kelantan, whose life coincided with the period when Kelantan was under the Siamese rule and then under the British sephere of influence, after the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. His studies in Islamic traditional education which started in his hometown and then pursued further at Mecca at the Sacred City, with a brief visit to Cairo, making him a revered intellectualand spiritual figure of the country, with such desire for positive changes among his people, led him to pursue an intensive life of Islamic educational and social reforms, with a number of institutions bearing the stamp of either his direct or indirect influence. Inspite of his intellectual attitude directed towards reform, he is intellectually a man of the traditional intellectual Sunni school, much influenced by Imam al-Ghazali, Shafi’i and Al-Ash’ari, affecting reform by a very cautious attitude, without making an intellectual break with the classical intellectual construct of mainstream Islam. Hence, his ability to gain the respect and following among the traditional scholars apart from him being accepted by those among the administrative elite in the state. The writer has to rely on the writers who had already made a study on him, apart from his perusal of some original sources; the interpretations are his own, guided by the facts observed.
His Life:
To’ Kenali (1), that is Muhammad Yusof (frequently referred simply as “Awang”)-may Allah has mercy on him - was born in kampong (village of) Kenali, Kubang Krian, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, the state in the East of Peninsular Malaysia, in 1870. This coincides with the period towards the end of the reign of Sultan Muhammad II of Kelantan. His father Ahmad was a farmer, a simple villager, nevertheless was a man devoted Islamic values. His mother, Fatimah, was a lady with fine character and strong believer of the values and practice of the faith. In the first number of the Islamic magazine Pengasuh (2) of which he was the first editor, he was named as “al-fadil Tuan Haji Awang Kenali”, and Sultan Muhammad IV named him as “Haji Awang Muhammad Yusof Kenali” in his royal address appointing him as one of the members of the Kelantan Islamic Religious Council. He was born about three years after the building of the Muhammadi Mosque of Kota Bharu, which later was to become a very significant center of Islamic learning, making it famous in South-east Asia. (3)
He was born into a poor farmer’s family making a living by planting paddy, with the mother helping in maintaining the household. This family situation living with little means influenced the future Islamic scholar to be man of asceticism and independent ways. When he was five years old his father passed away and he was taken care of by his maternal grandfather.
His educational Background:
At that time there was a strong awareness among the people to educate their children in the field of Qur’anic learning and the Islamic religious sciences. Hence Muhammad Yusof began his education with his own grandfather Che Salled or To’ Leh, who taught him the Qur’an, reading and writing. His grandfather was a man of sufficient learning and piety to be his guide, living with the philosophy of life seeking for the pleasure of his Lord in whatever he does. From his step-grandmother he was influenced by her views about the necessity of being careful concerning food and drink because taking forbidden meals and drink will impair one’s well being in this world and the hereafter.
Due to his love of learning since the earliest years of his life, soon he became proficient in the Qur’anic learning and in reading and writing. The story is being told that even at the early age of seven or eight the To’ Kweng –the title for the village chief at that time - engaged him as a clerk to help him to keep record of the yields from paddy, coconut and durian at that time from which taxes were taken. After the death of this To’ Kweng Ahmad, his son Ismail succeeded him in that post. This occurred some time after 1908 after To’ Kenali’s return from Mecca. (4)
When he was about eight or nine years old (1878-1879) he continued with his education in Kota Bharu, walking twice daily for four miles each way, for attending his classes in the capital, in the state mosque, Masjid Muhammadi. There were a number of religious scholars teaching at the mosque with several hundred students from every corner of the state. The mosque was surrounded by small huts of the students – called pondoks, which constituted the ‘hostels’ for them during their period of studying there. (5)
Among the famous scholars with whom To’ Kenali learned Islamic religious sciences then were: Encik Ismail or Haji Wan Ismail, the father of Dato’ Nik Mahmud, the Perdana Menteri or the Chief-Minister of Kelantan, Tuan Guru Shaikh Muhammad ‘Ali bin ‘Abd al-Rahman, known by the name of Wan ‘Ali Kutan, Tuan Guru Haji Talib Tuan Padang, and Tuan Guru Haji Ibrahim Sungai Budor. (6)
Apart from teaching at the central mosque of the state the scholars also taught in their own homes; for instance Haji Wan Isma’il, To’ Kenali’s first teacher after his grandfather, taught at kampong Banggul, not far from the central mosque; one of Haji Muhammad Yusuf’s fellow students studying under Haji Wan ismail was Idris bin Haji Hassan who in 1921 was appointed as the state mufti holding the post until his demise six years later.
It appears also that Muhammad Yusof studied in the early 1880s under one Haji Ibrahim at his pondok at Sungai Budor, in Kota Bharu. He also studied with Tuan Padang - that is Tuan Guru Haji Taib, originally from Sumatera, Indonesia. (7)

His Life and Education in Mecca:

Mecca is not only the center for the pilgrimage, the rite constituting the fifth pillar of the religion, but it also is a center for Islamic education. Thus for centuries Mecca became a center for advanced studies for these scholars wherein they spent their life in advancing their knowledge and understanding of Islam and at the same time they composed their writings in the Malay Language (called “Bahasa Jawi”) for enriching Islamic literature in that language. There they gained profiency in Arabic and the Islamic religious sciences of tafsir, traditions of the Prophet, fiqh or the Islamic Sacred Law, usul al-din or Islamic Theology and mysticism. Among these scholars can be mentioned such illustrious names like Shaikh ‘Abd al-Rauf al-Fansuri, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Samad al-Falimbani, Shaikh Daud al-Fatani, Shaikh Muhammad Arshad al-Banjari, Shaikh Nawawi Bantani (known for writing his works in Arabic), Shaikh Ahmad Khatib, Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani, and many others. (8)
Teaching in the Sacred Mosque or Masjid al-Haram was done in small groups in circles – in halaqah – as was the practice for centuries; apart from this mosque there was the center of learning at Medina, at the Mosque of the Prophet, -peace and blessings be upon him, and then of course, there was the famous University of Al-Azhar, centered around the Mosque at Al-Azhar. Scholars from the Malay World flocked to these centers, to deepen their studies in the Islamic sciences and Arabic. After their return to the Malay World, they devoted themselves to the dissemination of Islam and its practices.
To’ Kenali must have felt such a great longing to advance in his studies at the sacred city of Mecca. Hence he undertook his voyage to Mecca in 1886, at the young age of about eighteen, and after a difficult journey of six months by sailing ship he set foot on the sacred soil of the Holy City of Mecca to perform the pilgrimage and further his studies.
Since he was from a poor family, he could only make the journey with the financial assistance of his friends and well-wishers in Kota Bharu who collected for him $50.00 (fifty Dollars then) to which his mother added another sum of $22.00 (twenty Dollars); for seven months he was without proper lodging there, and he was able to rest in the evening and at night at the mosque. He was in very difficult circumstances in the land of strangers, and he managed to solve some of his difficulties by cooking for his friends and acquaintances in their picnics in the valleys outside the Holy City. (9)
While he was in Kelantan Muhammad Yusof has already mastered such subjects as Arabic grammar and syntax (nahw and saraf) so that he would be able to follow his classical Islamic learning in the Arabic language. He was ready to follow the instructions in his studies in the Holy City. However, unfortunately because he was in difficult circumstances, he could only follow his lessons by listening, without being able to benefit from reading the texts. As a result, so the story goes, he has to go to the bookshops and ask the permission of the owners to see the relevant books with particular care and attention without buying them. Books in the waqf endowment in the sacred Mosque were also utilized by To’ Kenali to help him in his studies. He was also fortunate because he was able to borrow the texts from his teachers. Possibly because of his patience with his difficult circumstances and poverty he was able to advance very well in his studies due to his diligence and focus.
To’ Kenali’s intellectual horizon seems not to be confined to limited subjects of his studies alone. It appears that he frequently read and scrutinized manuscripts written by Muslim scholars and thinkers which were in circulation in the Muslim World at that time. He liked to examine the materials taught to him and ask questions about them, before being repeated by his teachers, in this manner he made more impressions of the materials of his learning on his mind and heart, and in this way also he was able to make comparisons between the materials learnt with his own experience and understanding. Possibly wide reading and positive critical attitude in his studies made him advance very well in his studies.

Teachers in the Sacred Mosque (Masjid al-Haram);

Among his teachers frequently mentioned, in the Masjid al-Haram were – among the most outstanding: Tuan Guru Wan Ahmad, his full name being: Ahmad bin Muhammad Zain bin Mustafa al-Fatani. (10) Apart from being a very famous and respectable teacher Shaikh Ahmad – may Allah has mercy on him – is also an important writer, second only to Shaikh Daud al-Fatani. (11). To’ Kenali became a very close student of this mentor who influenced him in his studies and life too. This towering figure in the Malay World who is to be the determining influence on To’ Kenali’s life, as will be seen from his activities later on, deserves more serious attention from researchers on Muslim Thought in this region. The fame of Shaikh Ahmad is still remembered in the Malay World, in Malaysia, Indonesia (especially Sumatera), and Cambodia, and Brunei. It is stated that Shaikh Ahmad changed the name of “Petani” with “p” –“t”-“n” to “f” (fa’) – ta’ (the ‘big’ ta in Arabic)-“nun” –) giving the name from “f-t-n” meaning “to be clever skilful and wise”(12). This is to avoid the meaning of “fitnah” from the old manner of writing it as if it is from “f-t-n” giving the name of “trials” and “dissentions”.
It is known that several other teachers from Patani and Indonesia attracted the attention of To’ Kenali; apart from that there were a number of Arab teachers who attracted his attention.
Among the Arab teachers whose knowledge were benefited by To’ Kenali were: Shaikh Hasbullah from Egypt, Shaikh ‘Ubaid, the mufti of the Maliki school of law, Shaikh Muhammad Amin, the imam of the Hanafi school of law, Shaikh Sayyid Bakri, Shaikh Muhammad Yusuf al-Khayat, Shaikh Sayyid ‘Abdullah bin as-Sayyid Muhammad Salih al-Zawawi, the mufti of Mecca and a teacher in the Sacred Mosque. (13)

More Malfuzat - On devoting oneself to Allah

The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) also said, concerning the story of Moses (peace be upon him):
The innermost being [sirr] is the secret of the mystery [sirru's-sirr]. He left his family when he noticed a fire in the direction of the mountain. What did he see? The eye of the head saw a fire [nar], while the eye of the heart saw a light [nur]. The eye of the head saw a creation [khalqan], while the eye of the heart saw a Divine Truth [haqqan].
He said to his household: "Stay here awhile, I notice a fire." (28:29)
It attracted him through his heart, and disposed him to relinquish control of his wife and his children.
"He said to his household, 'Stay here awhile...'" A summons has come from on high. The grappling irons of destiny have snatched the people [of the Lord] away from their wives and their children. O law [hukm], stay in place! O knowledge ['ilm], advance in the name of Allah! O lower self [nafs], stay in place! O heart [qalb] and innermost being [sirr], respond! What a loser is he who fails to grasp this, who does not love this, who does not believe in this! How great his loss, how great his loss! How far apart he must remain! How terrrible for him!
Perhaps I shall bring you news of it. (28:29)
"Stay there where you are, until I bring you news of the path." Because he had in fact strayed from the path. Its signposts were out of his sight. The Archangel [naqib an-nuqaba'] appeared in his presence, although it had never appeared to him before then. As it beckoned to him, it said: "You must wish you had never been created, and that, having been created, you knew what you had been created for!"
O sleeper, you must wake up, for the waters of the flood are all around you. Who is your leader [imam]? On the Day of Resurrection you will be called to give evidence. What is your Scripture [kitab]? Who is your teacher [mu'allim]? Who is your summoner [da'i]? Who is your Prophet [nabi]? You have no noble lineage [nasab]. Those whose lineage is authentic in the sight of Allah and in the eyes of His Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) are the people of dutiful devotion [ahl at-taqwa]. "O Messenger of Allah," someone asked, "who are members of your family?" The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied:
Every dutiful believer belongs to the family of Muhammad [kullu taqiyyin alu Muhammadin].
Hold your tongue, you have no common sense! Your house sits on the River Tigris and yet you are dying of thirst. Just two steps and you would reach the All-Merciful [ar-Rahman]. The lower self [nafs] and creatures [are the two things you need to step away from]. You too, O seeker! Just two steps and you would reach your goal in both this world and the hereafter.
If you wish for success [falah], you must endure with patience the hammer blows of my way of speaking. When my ecstasy [junun] overtakes me, I cannot see you. When the temper [tab'] of my innermost being [sirr] is aroused, the temper of my sincerity [ikhlas], I cannot see your face. I wish to improve you and to remove the dross from your heart. I shall put out the fire [hariq] that threatens to burn your house down, and I shall protect the honor of your womenfolk [harim].
Open your eyes and take notice of what is in front of you. The squads of punishment and chastisement have come to get you. Woe unto you, O stupid fool! You will very soon be dead. All that you are now involved in must fade away and be scattered. This fellow here will have to part [yufariqu] with his children, his home and his wife, and then make friends [yurafiqu] with the dust, the grave, and either the stokers of Hell [zabaniya] or the angels of mercy [mala'ikat ar-rahma]. O passing traveler, O transient, O transferee, O temporary loan!
Glory be to the One who treats you all so kindly [subhana man manna 'alaikum], O you who like to have fun without ever taking notice!
O you who forget your friends, not once a year do you bring me the tiniest trifle, let alone once a month or once a week. Take something for nothing, and tomorrow a million things. I am carrying your burdens, while you are scared that I might give you the job of bearing mine. Only Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) can take care of all my needs.
You say you would travel for a thousand years just to hear one word from me? But why, when the distance between me and you is only a few steps? You are lazy. You are a little ignoramus, a silly little fool. You think you have something to give. How many like you this world has fattened and then devoured! It made them plump with fame and fortune, then ate them up. If we had seen any good in it, you would not have beaten us to it.
Do not all things come home to Allah? (42:53)
As for what we are involved in, it all comes from Allah (Exalted is He).
When the Shaikh had stepped down from the lectern, one of his pupils [talamidha] said to him: "You were quite extreme in your admonition, and you spoke to him very harshly!" But the Shaikh replied: "If my words have had any effect upon him, he will surely come back for more." (The man did in fact attend the meeting [majlis] regularly from then on. He would also visit the Shaikh at other times, outside the formal session, and always behaved with the utmost humility and modesty in his presence. May Allah the Exalted bestow His mercy upon him.)
O Allah [grant us] patience and pardon! O Allah, help us!
If you stand in the presence of any fellow creature, trying to obtain what he has at his disposal, Allah will despise you.
[As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:]
When someone pesters [tada'da'a] a rich man, seeking what he has in his possession, two thirds of his religion are gone.
You have made a habit of trying to scrounge things from your fellow creatures, so you will be in that condition when you have to meet Allah (Exalted is He). One time in the public square I saw a man scrounging from the people, although he had just sold a jubba of silk brocade for twenty-five dinars [gold coins]. So I followed him. He stopped beside a man who was eating harisa, and would not leave him alone until he gave him a mouthful of it. I said to him: "Did you not sell a jubba for such and such a price?" His response was: "I am neglecting my trade because of you!"
When someone has progressed to the ultimate degree of saintship [wilaya], he becomes a Qutb [spiritual axis, pole or pivot]. As such, he must carry the burdens of all creatures put together, but he is given the equivalent of the faith [iman] of all creatures put together, so that he will have the strength to bear what he must bear.
Pay no attention to my long shirt and my headcloth. This is what one wears after death. This is a shroud [kafan], the shroud of the dead. This is what befits me now, after I have been accustomed to wearing coarse wool [suf] and to eating rough or going hungry. I now have a pressing engagement, but not with any of you.
O people of Baghdad, be sensible! O people of the earth, O people of the heavens!
And He creates what you do not know. (16:8)
It is not an affectation. This is an outward appearance [zahir] that has an inner content [batin] to prove its authenticity, and an inner reality that has an outer manifestation to confirm it.
There is nothing worth talking about until your lords [arbab] become one single Lord [Rabb], until your interests become single and the object of your love becomes single. Your heart must be unified. When will the nearness of the Lord of Truth pitch its tent in your heart? When will your heart come to be enraptured [majdhub] and your innermost being [sirr] drawn near [muqarrab], and when will you meet your Lord after taking your leave of creatures?
As Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:
If someone devotes himself entirely to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), He will provide him with everything he needs, and if a person devotes himself entirely to this world, Allah will leave him in its care.
[In the first of these cases], things will occur miraculously [tukhraqu'l-'adat] for his benefit. He will receive what Allah has at His disposal, but only after total dedication to Him with his heart and his entire being [kulliyya].
As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:
If anyone performs an action with the intention of involving someone other than Me [as a partner] in it, well, I am the more Independent of the two partners [ana aghna'sh-sharikain]. It [the action] involves the partner ascribed to Me [shariki] and has nothing to do with Me.
Sincerity [ikhlas] is the believer's plot of land, while his deeds [a'mal] are its surrounding walls. The walls are subject to alteration and change, but not so the ground. Only upon dutiful devotion [taqwa] can a building be firmly based.
If someone should say: "I have dedicated myself to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), but He has not provided me with everything I need," the answer must be: "The fault lies in you, not in the Messenger."
Nor does he [the Messenger] speak from his own desire. (53:3)
Do you know anything at all about Allah (Exalted is He)? No, by Allah! You are all madly in love with this world and its glamour. If you were telling the truth about the claims you make, you would not have to resort to cunning tricks in order to obtain the merest trifle.
Cast your lower self [nafs] into the Valley of Destiny [wadi'l-qadar] until, when its time has come, the top rung of your ladder makes contact with the door of nearness [to the Lord]. You will be welcomed by a face more lovely than all the charming beauty of this world and the hereafter. The fond affection [mawadda] between the pair of you will be complete. All obstacles and intermediaries will disappear. Then you will hear its [the lower self's] call for help from the Valley of His Destiny: "Take charge of the deposits held in trust for you, and make full use of the service I can offer you. I am imprisoned over here, to your detriment or for your benefit." Your nearness [to the Lord] will plead on its behalf, urging a positive response to its request. At this point the hand of knowledge ['ilm] will be extended to it, and the hand of the law [hukm] will come to its aid.
As for your immersion in it [this world] at the outset of your career, before you have mounted any opposition to your natural urges [tab'], your passions [hawa] and your willfulness [irada], in spite of your claim to be numbered among the loved ones [mahbubun] and those who have been drawn near [muqarrabun], this is a regrettable delusion that will hold you back and an unfortunate error that will lead you astray. If you realized that this world was sure to leave you in the lurch, you would not ask so much of it. When your inner [batin] becomes worthy to serve Allah, only then will this world become fit to serve you. Its wine is poison; it may taste sweet at first, but it soon turns bitter. Once it has filtered through into your heart and you have come under its control, it converts into a poison and kills you.
Our predecessors would learn to distinguish between different kinds of notions [khawatir], before withdrawing into secluded retreats [zawaya]. O you who cannot tell the difference between the notion [khatir] of the lower self [nafs], that of the devil [shaitan] and that of the heart [qalb], how can you withdraw into seclusion? The satanic notion prompts one to commit sins of disobedience and to make mistakes; it implants the root of unbelief [kufr], then encourages the sins of disobedience that branch out from it. As for the angelic notion [khatir al-malak], it prompts one to practice worshipful obedience and to perform righteous deeds.
Somebody said to him who was crucified (meaning al-Hallaj): "Give me a piece of good advice!" He replied: "It concerns your lower self [nafs]; if you can control it, [well and good], otherwise it will control you."
If you wish to drink in the company of kings, you had better take to the empty ruins, the wastelands and the deserts, until you sober up from your intoxication, so that you do not divulge their secrets and have them put you to death for it. This is why it is better for them [the people of the Lord] to go wandering about, rather than settle down. This world has been put here as a means of transport, if you wish to meet your Lord.
Seclusion [is appropriate only] after [observance of] all the rules of the sacred law [ahkam ash-shar']. The door of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) cannot be reached without seeking help, and a firm determination to achieve something will make the means available. The door of knowledge ['ilm] is arrived at by the path of the law [hukm]. The law means the [divine] commandments and prohibitions. We therefore accept what the law requires of us; we hear and we obey. At this stage we are exposed to adversities, so this is where the servant needs to be knowledgeable ['alim]. One of us may say: "Why should I have to suffer misfortune, despite my dedication to worshipful obedience?" Our response to him must be: "You need a little knowledge!"
The specialist in the law [sahib al-hukm] is concerned with storing the goods, while the specialist in knowledge [sahib al-'ilm] is concerned with their distribution. The law is associated with the pious abstainers [zuhhad], while knowledge is associated with the champions of truth [siddiqun], the loved ones, the intimate companions. Abstinence [zuhd] is associated with the law, while love is associated with knowledge. The one serves as a business partner [sharik], the other as a minister [wazir].
The ascetic [mutazahhid] is feverish [mahmum], the pious abstainer [zahid] is consumptive [maslul] and he who has real knowledge ['arif] is alive after death. This ascetic has renounced the desires of the flesh and has been fasting, so his lower self [nafs] has caught a fever. The pious abstainer has experienced prolonged renunciation, so his sickness has been prolonged and has caused him to contract tuberculosis. This world has died as far as he is concerned. While he is lying in this condition on the bed of the gracious kindness of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), what should appear at the door of his abstinence but food prepared in many different ways, as well as various styles of clothing hung on pegs! He cannot leave this world until he has received his allotted share in full. The unbelievers [kuffar] and disobedient sinners have not had the decency to seek [their proper due]; they have just helped themselves to things that are unlawful [haram].
Allah (Exalted is He) gave that servant life, then He resurrected him as a different creature. Flesh had withered away, bone had weakened, skin had grown thin. The lower self [nafs] had lost its sweet taste, passion [hawa] had departed and natural inclination [tab'] had been overcome, while the heart contained the spirit [ruh], the inner meaning [ma'na], the direct experience [ma'rifa] and the realization of Divine Unity [tawhid].
Complete dominion belongs to the heart alone, and the Lord of Truth takes care of it. He brings His servant back to life after his death, his carnal desires and appetites having died a spiritual [ma'nawi] death. A symbolic death along with an actual death. Allah brings him back to life after He has shown him what is over there. To the servant He has left dead at His door, He shows the vast scope of His wisdom and His mysteries, the multitude of His soldiers and His subjects. Then, when He has shown him His kingdom and informed him of His secret [sirr], He joins his spirit [ruh] to his body and his outer [zahir] to his inner [batin], so that he may receive his allotted shares [aqsam] in full. Prior to this, even if all the portions of the East and the West had been spread out before him, he could not have taken one single atom from them.
Through a mysterious power [qudra khafiya], an inner will [irada batina] exerted by Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), His Prophets [anbiya'], His saints [awliya'] and the special few [khawass] among His creatures are detached from their worldly desires. Not the slightest trace of carnal desire and willfulness remains within them, so that their inner beings [bawatin] are purely devoted to Him. Then, when He wishes to grant them their allotted shares in full, He creates the life of worldly existence [wujud] within them, so that all the allotted shares may be received.
Jesus (peace be upon him) did not marry; he never took a wife. At the end of time, Allah (Exalted is He) will send him back down to the earth, and He will then marry him to a young woman of Quraish, who will bear him a son.
As for the person with real experience ['arif], he does not receive his portion until after achieving proficiency in both knowledge ['ilm] and abstinence [zuhd], then he collects his allotted shares along with all the rest of you. He regains his worldly appetites after having abstained from them [to be on the safe side] whenever there was any doubt. Once he has acquired knowledge, cold water tastes good to him, while in the eyes of pious abstainers the finest meal seems like drinking wine and eating the flesh of the pig. Many a pious abstainer is shut off by his abstinence from the Lord of Truth, and many a person with real experience is shut off through dwelling too much on his experience [ma'rifa], although this is actually rather unusual and in most cases he is likely to be safe and sound.
As a general rule, your closeness to the sons of this world keeps you far away from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). The right course for you is to concentrate your attention on the hereafter and on worshipful obedience, then you may be saved, while your allotted shares will come to you even if they are unwelcome.
What He requires of you [first of all] is that you stop following your natural tendency [tab'] and put in its place the special concessions [rukhas] allowed by the sacred law [shar']. Then He will instruct you to give up these special concessions bit by bit, until all your actions are in accordance with the strict interpretation ['azima]. Then, if you patiently observe the strict version of the law, love for Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will arise within your heart. Once love is firmly established there, saintship [wilaya] will come to you from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He).
If you are sensible, count yourself among the people of the Fire [of Hell], because this will encourage you to improve your conduct. If you are in fact one of the people of the Garden [of Paradise], you will have demonstrated your gratitude to Him. When you go out of your house, you should feel as if you were going forth to war, as if you might never come back home again. You should also be aware that you are made to suffer because of your acquisitiveness, and be convinced that Allah (Exalted is He) is capable of sustaining you without effort or strain.
The believer [mu'min] is sometimes like a mountain and at other times like a feather, blown about by the winds of His destiny [qadar]; in the face of misfortunes like a mountain, but in the company of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He) like a feather wafted by the winds of His decrees [aqdar].
O people of ours, it is too late for you to fill the role of Messenger [risala] or the role of Prophet [nubuwwa], but there is still time for you to experience saintship [wilaya]!
There can be no access to the King's company as long as one is still attached to worldly existence [wujud]. It seems you must be blind, since you do not see. It seems you must have quenched your thirst, since you do not drink. It seems you must be dead, since there is no movement in you. Woe unto the outcasts who are unaware of being outcasts! You do no good, nor do you help the good people to do good. You are bad; you love a worldly life with no hereafter, an outer [zahir] with no inner [batin]. You will gain no benefit from your important connections, your wealth and your patron. You will soon be dead, and after death you will suffer humiliation.
Should anyone desire glory, the glory belongs to Allah. (35:10)
And [thus it also belongs] to His Messenger [rasul] and to the saints [awliya'] and the champions of truth [siddiqun].
The ocean is this world, the ship is the sacred law [shar'] and the sailor is the grace [lutf] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). Anyone who deviates from following the sacred law will therefore drown in this world, but if someone seeks refuge aboard the ship of the sacred law and makes himself at home there, the sailor will appoint him to be his lieutenant [istanabahu]. He will put him in charge of the ship and everything aboard it, and will make him a relative by finding him a bride from his own family [saharahu]. This is how it will be for someone who forsakes this world, devotes himself to the acquisition of knowledge ['ilm], bears suffering with patience and comes to be the beloved [mahbub] of the sacred law. While he is in this condition, lo and behold, Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) will come and bestow His grace upon him. He will grant him His intimate knowledge [ma'rifa] and invest him with robes of honor specially designed for him. One mark of divine friendship on top of another [wilaya fawqa wilaya]!
In Allah you have ample compensation for the loss of anything other than Him. If something happens to pass you by, do not feel sad about it, for the King disposes of His property as He sees fit. The slave ['abd] belongs to his Master [Mawla], along with everything he owns. Whatever He may take away from you, you will find it again tomorrow [at the Resurrection]. The Fire [of Hell] will say: "Pass through, O believer [mu'min], for your light has extinguished my flames!" Likewise in this world, when faith [iman] has grown strong and one's inner being [batin] has made contact with the nearness of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), along comes the fire of disasters to cause an obstruction on the path of hearts. The fire of conflicts takes its stand on the path of aspirants, then it catches the aspirant [murid] because of the remnants he still carries, traces of worldly attachment and attention to creatures. To those of perfect faith [kamil al-iman] it says: "Pass through, O believer, for your light has extinguished my flames!" They are not injured in this world by arrows that fall from the castle walls. You must conduct yourselves in such a way that neither the fire of this world nor that of the hereafter will be able to harm you.
Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has certain servants whom He calls physicians [atibba']. He lets them live in good health ['afiya], causes them to die in good health and admits them to the Garden [of Paradise] in good health.
When someone really knows ['arafa] Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), he becomes detached from carnal appetites and pleasures. It is only because he is compelled to do so that he accepts all his allotted shares [of worldly goods]. "The neighbor before the house [al-jar qabla'd-dar]." Having won the neighbor, this fortunate person [mubarak] now gains the house, established in possession by the King. The King has said:
You are today in our presence established and worthy of trust. (12:54)
When someone has really come to know Allah, and has been admitted to His presence, he will not reach out with his eyes or his hands toward anything in His kingdom. He is just like a bride ['arus] who has been solemnly escorted to the King. Her food and drink are the nearness of the King. In His nearness she finds the fulfillment of all her desires. When the lower self [nafs] has become obedient, it melts together with the heart, which becomes its jailer. Then the King releases the heart from the prison.
And the king said: "Bring him to me." (12:50)
After his nobility and his good character and good conduct have become apparent, he will be escorted into His presence. He will greet him with noble generosity, draw him near and bring him close, treat him kindly, invest him with robes of honor and address him without an intermediary, saying:
You are today in our presence established and worthy of trust.
He will keep all his attention focused on Himself.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Malfuzat - The utterances of Sheikh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani


Assalamualaikum, peace be upon you readers. By the name of Allah, today I feel like updating this blogspot with excerpts from the Malfuzat, the utterances of the venerated Muslim saint Sheikh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani.
For information, Sheikh Abdul Qadir flourished in Baghdad sometime in the 13th century. His status as a religious person and a man of knowledge (especially the esotoric ones) is so high that he is acknowledged as the Sultanul Awliya, the king of the saints.
It is said that while in an ecstatic state in the midst of giving a lecture in front of thousands of audience, he said something like this: "My foot is upon the neck of every Awliya (saint)."
The tradition goes that every saint, regardless of wherever they are at the time (some even said regardless of which era the saints came from as they are believed to be able to transcend space and time!) immediately prostrate themselves in respect and obesiance.
Now, Sheikh Abdul Qadir himself never kept any of his sayings in record form or wrote any book. The task fell upon the thousands of followers who took pain to record his utterances and such. That is how we came to know of the charismatic words coming out from the king of saints. So without further ado, here is an excerpt from the Malfuzat...

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On vigil

The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) also spoke about His words (Exalted is He):
Keeping vigil by night is more potent in impact. (73:6)
This refers not only to giving up sleep in the ordinary sense, but also to giving up the sleep of involvement with creatures, the lower self [nafs], natural inclination [tab'], passion [hawa] and willfulness [irada]. For its food and drink the heart is left with speaking confidentially [munajat] to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), standing [qiyam] and bowing [ruku'] and making prostration [sujud] in His presence.
Surely you can see that if someone abstains from this world, so as not to be distracted by it from seeking the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), he must likewise abstain from the hereafter, so that it will not distract him from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). He must wish that the hereafter did not exist, because it is so charming, such an obvious mercy. He must make the heart and the innermost being become a face, on the surface of which the contents of his heart are visible. He must want this world to last, because he is worshipping Allah in secret, doing business with Him in secret.
You are in isolation from the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). When will you isolate your heart from creatures and seek the company of the Lord of Truth, going from door to door until there is no door left, from town to town, from heaven to heaven until there is no heaven left?
He [the believer] will bring the Resurrection upon himself. He will stand before the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), reading the records of his deeds, the good and the bad which consign him to the Fire [of Hell]. While he is caught between fear and hope, between falling into the Fire and crossing over it, Allah (Exalted is He) will overtake him with His gracious kindness. He will put out the Fire with the water of His mercy, and the Fire will exclaim: "Pass through, O believer [mu'min], since your light has extinguished my flames!" The passage–a journey that should take three thousand years–will be shortened for him to an instant, and then, when he is near to the palace of the King, he will recover his senses, his volition, his love for His Master [Mawla] and his ardent longing for Him. He will say: "I shall not enter except in the company of the Beloved [Mahbub]."
Do you not see? [As we know from sayings of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)], the miscarried fetus [siqt] will halt at the door of the Garden [of Paradise], saying: "I shall not enter until my parents enter. Where is the neighbor? Where is the witness?"
He will not enter until he is touched by the hand of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and he can go in to meet the Beloved. Then, when he has finally experienced this, he will be sent back into this world, in order to receive his full quota of the shares allotted by destiny [aqsam], so that the [divine] foreknowledge ['ilm] shall not be altered, abrogated and annulled. Your Lord has finished with the work of creation.
[As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:]
No soul shall depart from this world until it has received its allotted share [qism] in full.
You must therefore be dutifully devoted to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and have the decency to look to the Lord of Truth for what you need, instead of to His creatures. The material means [asbab] are a screen.
The King's doors are locked. If you turn away from them, there will be opened unto you a door you can recognize. The door of the innermost being has swung shut [babu's-sirri sara ila sadd], but then it is opened without your own power and strength.
The believer [mu'min] must leave his natural inclination [tab'] behind, moving in the direction of his Lord. As long as he is following this present course, he is exposed to harmful influences affecting his person and his property. He is reverting to his sins, to his bad behavior and to infringing the rules [hudud] of the sacred law [shar'] of his Lord. He must not seek help through supplication [du'a'], nor must he seek help from anyone other than his Lord. No, he must remember his sins and practice self-criticism until, when he has done a thorough job of this, he can resort to acceptance of the decree of destiny [qadar], to surrender [taslim] and entrustment [tafwid] as far as his heart is concerned. Once he is in this state, he will see an open door.
Whoever is dutiful toward Allah, He prepares a way out for him. (65:2)
He puts His servant to the test to see how he will behave:
And We have put them to the test with good things and bad things. (7:168)
The heart of the son of Adam must continue to travel along the path of good and evil, honor and humiliation, wealth and poverty, until he finally acknowledges that all blessings are due to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). This means gratitude [shukr]–and gratitude is an act of obedience [ta'a] performed without moving the tongue and the limbs of the body–and patient endurance of misfortune. He must admit his sins and offenses until, having taken his last step on the good side and his last step on the bad side, there he is at the King's door. He has taken the step of gratitude and the step of patience, with divine help [tawfiq] as the guide. He has seen the King's door, and beyond it he can see things that no eye ever saw, that no ear ever heard of, and that never occurred to any human heart. The alternating sequence of good moves and bad moves is at an end; now comes the turn of conversation, discourse and sitting in company [with the Lord].
Can you grasp this, O 'Iraqi, O camel at the mill, O stupid fool? You go through the motions of ritual prayer [anta fi qiyam wa-qu'ud] without sincerity. You perform the prayers [tusalli] for the sake of other people, and while you are fasting [tasumu] your eyes are on their dishes of food and on the contents of their houses.
O alien to the human race, O straggler from the ranks of the champions of truth [siddiqun] and the Lord's own people [rabbaniyyun]! Do you not realize that I am your goldsmith's furnace, your probe and your touchstone? Do your utmost. Refuse to let me eat from your plate. Unsheathe your sword against me. You do not amount to anything. O little ignoramus, I am twisting your reins. I am giving you good advice and treating you with compassion. I am afraid that you may die an atheist [zindiq], a pretender [mura'i], an impostor [dajjal]-doomed to suffer in your grave the punishment of the hypocrites [munafiqun]. So you must desist from what you are up to. You must strip yourself naked and then put on the clothes of dutiful devotion [taqwa]. You will soon be dead. There is no hostility between me and you. You will have cause to remember what I am saying to you.
The insight of the righteous man [salih] is indicative of his spiritual state [hal]. When someone really knows ['arafa] Allah, his tongue falls silent; he is free from want because of Him, and of Him alone he is in need.
In my childhood, back in my home town, I used to hear someone saying to me, "O blessed one [ya mubarak]." I would run away from that voice, but then in solitude I would hear someone saying to me: "I think well of you."
If you wish for success [falah] you must stick close to me. When you see a person running away from me, you must know that he is a hypocrite.
The believer [mu'min] is such that, when he closes the eyes in his head, the eyes of his heart are opened and he sees what is over there; and when he closes the eyes of his heart, the eyes in his head are opened and he sees the situation of Allah and His dealings with His creatures.
The words of Allah addressed to Moses (peace be upon him) include the following:
I have chosen you above all men to receive My mission and My words. (7:144)
"And I have drawn you close to Me. One day you were shepherding a flock of sheep when one of them strayed off, so you followed after it until you caught up with it. By then you were exhausted, as it was exhausted, so you picked it up and hugged it and you said: 'You have worn yourself out and you have worn me out.'"
The remedy for someone who is separated [from the Lord] is detecting the cause of his separation, turning from it in repentance and confessing it in His presence.
The sinless ones [ma'sumun], those who are protected from every aspect, they do not have creative power [takwin]. Creative power comes in the process of following the path [fi't-tariq]. There is nothing worth talking about until you cross the wastelands, the deserts, the two continents and the two oceans –the continent of creatures and the continent of the self [nafs], the ocean of the law [hukm] and the ocean of knowledge ['ilm] –as well as the shore.
For the people [of the Lord] there is neither night nor day. Their diet is the diet of the sick and their sleep is the sleep of the drowned. Their speech is only out of necessity. When someone really knows Allah, his tongue falls silent, but "when He wills, He resurrects him" (80:22), and then he speaks without instruments, without tools, without preparation, without time for thought, without pretext. There is no difference between his tongue and his finger. Thus there is no wall of separation, no restriction, no door and no doorman, no permission to be granted or sought, no authorization and no dismissal, no Satan and no sultan, no inner core [janan] and no fingertips [banan].