[These are the rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) in Stanger Masjid, South Africa on Jul 08, 2015]
[Audio is available here]
In addition to bringing one’s life according to Shari’ah, leaving sins through the process and path of tazkiyah, our mashaikh have mentioned three things in particular that will help a person draw closer to Allah swt. If a person brings their life according to Shari’ah, leave their sins through tazkiyah and taqwah, and do these three things, then all of these things combined can bring them the qurb and pleasure of Allah swt.
These three things will be explained over a course of a few sessions.
- I’teba-e-Sunnah – to follow the sunnah of Nabi e Kareem sws
- Kathrat-e-dhikr – to make a lot of dhikr of Allah swt
- Suhbat-e-Shaykh – to be in the company of awliya, mashaikh, siddiqeen and saliheen
Do not underestimate the sunnah. You can never over estimate the Sunnah. The more sunnah you have in your life, the more you will progress on this path. Every single aspect of sunnah will bring you closer to and make you more beloved to Allah swt.
A person must have a craze, be fanatical about sunnah. Fan comes from the word fanatical – in the whole world there are fans of everything else. So can we not be fanatical about the sunnah of Nabi e Kareem sws? It means to be deeply attached to and attracted by the sunnah.
Who really Loves the Blessed Prophet sws?
Nabi sws has said that person who loved my sunnah, deeply desires it, that person loves me. Not just the person who follows sunnah, rather the one who loves it, is the one who loves Nabi e Kareem sws. Continuing the hadith, Nabi sws further said that person who loves me, they will be with me in Jannah.
What does it mean to Love the Sunnah?
Craze means to love it for yourself. Not just to love its poetic expression; not just to love hearing it being recited in poetry – rather to love the sunnah for your own self. And that is true love. Love is possessive. Love means you want it. Every lover wants their beloved. Love is all about their beloved. All love is blind to everything except their beloved. To love the sunnah of Nabi sws means that you want that beloved sunnah and you are blind to every and any other way of life other than the sunnah of Nabi sws.
Importance of Outer aspect of Sunnah
Sunnah has an outer aspect and an inner aspect. Our mashaikh, especially mashaikh e Naqshband, are very firm on the outer aspect of the Sunnah. It was also the position of all of the muhaditheen that when it came fazaail, extra merit and reward, they would accept any hadith as long as it was not forged or fabricated. They would take the hadith even if it had a chance of being sunnah. They would not always wait for certainty.
Yes, in case of Shari’ah, fatwah and fiqh there are many things that we will not tell you unless we know it with certainty. But when it came to beautifying and adorning a person, they would follow anything that even had the probability of being sunnah. This was their level of craze.
Why? Because when something has an 80% chance of being sunnah, we could either follow that or come up with our own way of doing that thing. So why not follow that thing which has an 80% chance of being sunnah? In fact it has been narrated by some people that they had such a craze for sunnah. One of the saliheen did not eat watermelon. Upon being asked why he would not eat it, he replied that it was because he did not know the sunnah way of eating a watermelon.
Craze of the Sahaba ra for the Sunnah
It comes about a Sahabi ra that he had a lot of love for Nabi e Kareem sws. Nabi sws was blessed with a parting of hair in the middle of his sws blessed scalp. That Sahaba ra was black by descent and therefore had curly hair. He was unable to part his hair. One day he had an idea; he took a wire and heated it and burnt with it that section of the hair so he could get the sunnah parting.
In the world today, they have these hot iron curls, and hair straighteners. These people do the same thing out of love for fashion, culture and society. While that Sahabi ra had done this out of love for Nabi e Kareem sws. Our mashaikh e Naqshband prefer wearing white, they always wear an imama as per the sunnah of Nabi sws. They like to carry ‘asaa or staff as it is the sunnah anbiya and sunnah of Musa as and Nabi Kareem sws. Whenever they would find any aspect of sunnah, they would want to follow it.
Craze of Muhaditheen for the Sunnah
This was the mizaj of the Muhaditheen. One Muhadith has written an entire book in Arabic on imamah; about its length, the way of wrapping the imamah. They were desirous of knowing every single last detail about the sunnah of Nabi e Kareem sws.
Do not underestimate the outer of sunnah. We were teasing some of our South African friends that we will have to bring some gear for you from Pakistan; some imamas, some jubbas for the young men.
First Example on the Importance of Outer Sunnah – The Police Officer Makeover
If we take a 25 year old ordinary person. And I tell him that I am going to change you. This is what tazkiyah is; to change someone. I want to change his outlook and persona and the way he thinks about himself. I want to change the way he acts.
I say I want to make you a police officer. He will say I am not a police officer. So I will tell him that I am going to make you a police officer. I will tell him first change the clothing; I will tell him that I am going to put the uniform on you. Then I say I want to put this badge on you. Then I say I want to put holster on you. Then I want to put handcuff in the holster. Slowly I am outfitting him. Then I will say I want to put this police officer cap on you. Then I say change these shoes! I will put on the official police boot shoes on you.
When I put him in front of the mirror and he looks at himself, believe me he will start feeling like a police officer. I changed his outward; I did a makeover on him. When outer changes, the inner person starts changing. Then I tell him you must patrol. I put him in another car with a special label on the car. I put decals on the car. I put the big words “Police” on the car. I put sirens on the car and get done a special paint on it.
What am I doing? All of this is owtward change, I have done nothing to his innerself. When he sits in the car, I will change the inside of the car. I will change the dash, I put the radio and siren button. By the time I am done with changing his dress, his car, and the inside of his car, he is ready to be a police officer. I did not change anything inside him, the creature inside the uniform is the same. I changed everything about his zahir. Believe me, just with these outwardly changes, the person inside begins to change.
He will start acting and behaving like a police officer. He will walk with authority and command. He seeks to instill justice. He starts feeling like a police officer.
The same is the effect of outer sunnah, in fact it is infinitely more over here. The noor and power of the Sunnah of Nabi e Kareem sws can make over a person.
Second Example on the Importance of Outer Sunnah – A Story of Unlawful Love
Once there was a person, his story has been narrated in books. It was a story of unlawful love. There was a very handsome man who fell in love with a Princess and the Princess also fell in love. However, they could not meet because the the king was protective of his daughter. She used to be in a palace, and the boy was an ordinary person therefore he could not come to the palace.
One day the Princess sent him a message through carrier. In this day and age it is so easy to send the message. Back then you had to find a special carrier and bribe them to keep it a secret. Now with the fitnah of cellphone it has become so easy. The princess sent the message that I have an idea on how we can meet for the sin of zina. She said that my father likes the pious people, he loves awliyah Allah. He visits the waliUllah even from remote outskirts of the town and sometimes he takes me to visit them as well. And if he is really impressed with them then he can even let me visit them alone.
When the young man received this message, he starting putting the outward clothing of a pious person on and took a tasbeeh. Inward creature is the same. He just gave himself an outward make-over. Then he went to the outskirt of the town and built a small area for himself and started engaging himself in ibadah of Allah swt. As time passed, people got to hear about him. Soon he became famous as a pious man and the word about him spread. When the word reached the king, he also went to visit him and asked him for duas. The king was impressed by this pious young man and mentioned this in his royal family. The Princess requested the father that I also wish to go. The king gave her permission.
Next day when the Princess went in her royal entourage, she went in the dwelling and then she went inside and said oh my lover I am here. The young man said who are you? She said O my lover I am here. It is because of me you are looking like this and doing all of this. He said oh woman I have forgotten you. I have tasted the pleasure and joy of dhikr and ibadah. Now I have no need for you.
What happened here? He just did a complete outward make-over, and that outward effected his innerself.
Now think, if a person takes up the sunnah of Nabi e Kareem sws, not due to wrong intention, but the true intention that they are the seeker on the path of pleasure of Allah swt and they do it to get closer to Allah swt, then imagine how much effect this sunnah will have on them. They will start acting and talking like sunnah. They will behave like sunnah. It means they will start behaving like Nabi e Kareem sws.
Third Example on the Importance of Outer Sunnah – Hadith on Wearing an Imama
Nabi sws said that you should wear imama (turban), it will increase you in hilm and your ability to absorb and tolerate things. Imama is just a piece of cloth but Nabi sws said it will effect your heart. It will make your heart have more zarf and tahammul.
One of our friends in America heard this hadith and he started sleeping with imama also. He wanted to be with imama 24/7. And he did need a lot of hilm. He knew it also so he started doing this. If someone does it with that intention and desire, then incredible things will happen.
The Dangerous Philosophy of “It is not Fard”
Do not underestimate the power of sunnah and do not listen to the talks of the people of this world saying oh what has happened to you? You have become mawlvi, you have become sufi or extreme. There is no need for these things. Do not listen to those talks. Do not listen to the rational presentations of people that oh it is not fard. “It is not fard” this is the most dangerous ideologies that have hit the Muslim world.
If you follow the philosophy of “it is not fard” you will lead a life that is very far from Islam. The only thing that will be left about you is that you pray five times a day, and that also only the faraid. You will pray two raka’at of fajr, four raka’at of zuhr and asr, three raka’at of maghrib, four raka’at of isha, and you will find many madahib that say witr is not fard, so you will not pray witr as well. This is all that you will do in your life.
What a crazy philosophy and a crazy way of talking to people. Many times we explain to people like this: if you say that I will not do Sunnah because it is not fard. Okay, I am a mufti and I will tell you that sunnah is not fard. But sunnah is your Nabi sws.
He sws is your nabi, or is he not? You want to say that also that this is not fard? How far will you go? Are you going to say only believing in Allah swt is fard? Are you going to talk like that next? He is your nabi – Nabi e Kareem sws. This is his sws sunnah. You say it is not fard. I say it is his sws sunnah.
Do you want to be his? Are you his ummati, or are you not? How can you be his sws ummati and not follow his sws sunnah? This is a crazy way of thinking: this is not fard, that is not fard. Do you want to become a big mufti? All of a sudden you want to be a mufti of faraid? That you know exactly what is fard and what is not fard? la hawla wala quwwata illa billah.
This is not the way to act in deen; this is not love. What are you going to do about this hadith: that whoever loves my sunnah, loves me? That is also not fard. And you being together with Nabi e Kareem sws in Jannah is also not fard. That can be a response to you: Do you want Jannatul Firdous? Well, it is not fard for you. Then what will you do?
So do not be confused and deluded by these philosophies. We have Nabi e Kareem sws who removed the need for every philosophy or ideology to ever tempt our hearts. We are from the ummah of Nabi e Kareem sws. It is finished now. We have pledged our hearts and our lives to the sunnah. There is nothing left in this world for us except sunnah.
Sunnah is like the Sky
Our mashaikh used to say that sunnah is like the sky. It means whenever you walk the earth you can always look up and see sky. The canopy of the sky is always there above you. Just like that the sunnah of nabi sws is always there. There is no better mizaj than sunnah of Nabi e Kareem sws. No temperament, no outlook, no personality, no style is greater than the sunnah.
When you go deep in sunnah you will do sunnah that are ghair muqadah as well. Just like wearing the imama is ghair muqadah. Ghair muqada means in Hanafi fiqh that sunnah which if you leave it without any reason it is technically not sinful. But your heart should say that I do not need any reason to follow the sunnah. The only reason for me is enough that he sws is my Nabi sws and I am his sws ummati. He is my Prophet and leader, I am his follower.
What does it mean to take a leader and be their follower? It means all these distinction they are blurred and finished. It’teba e Sunnah is part of your tasawwuf, your sulook, your getting closer to Allah swt. The more sunnah you follow, the more you will progress.
Who will find the Sunnah Beautiful?
لَّقَدۡ كَانَ لَكُمۡ فِى رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ۬ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرۡجُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلۡيَوۡمَ ٱلۡأَخِرَ وَذَكَرَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرً۬ا
There is indeed a good model for you in the Messenger of Allah – for the one who has hope in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah profusely. [33:21]
Allah swt tells us who will find the sunnah beautiful; that person who yearns for Allah swt and yearns for the Last Day. Can you imagine a person who wants the Last Day to come? They are longing for Qiyamah because for them that day is the day they will meet Allah swt.
تَحِيَّتُهُمۡ يَوۡمَ يَلۡقَوۡنَهُ ۥ سَلَـٰمٌ۬ۚ
Their greeting, on the Day when they will meet Him, will be, “Salam”. [33:44]
They are waiting for the day when their Rabb Allah swt will say salam to them! What else do they need? These people must have longing for Allah swt and the Last Day, and they must make a lot of dhikr. Kathrat-e-dhikr is related to it’teba-e-sunnah.
The more dhikr you make, the more you will love the sunnah. If you do not make the dhikr of Allah swt, then you will not have longing for Allah swt, the Last Day, and you also will not find the sunnah so attractive. You will not have that level of craze. Then your attitude would be which sunnah can I leave so I do not get sin.
Try in every Ramadan to increase your sunnah, outer and inward both. you should also try to feel the sunnah feelings of Nabi sws. Try to feel in your heart the way he sws felt; to get the sunnah sabr; sunnah shukr; sunnah tawakul; sunnah love for Allah swt; sunnah character, sunnah adaab, sunnah akhlaq.
Muhaditheen have preserved even how Nabi e Kareem sws used to walk, how he sws smiled, how he dealt with those who were under him sws – like Hadrat Anas ra. It is missing in our life. Many things from sunnah are missing in our hearts. The fastest way to progress on this path is to follow the sunnah.
Miswak is just a small stick to cleanse the teeth but you will be amazed at the ahadith that come about the benefits and barakaat of miswak. If there is so much barakah in just using the tooth stick, imagine how much barakah will be in being head to toe according to sunnah.
How much will Allah swt Love a Person Following Sunnah
Once our Shaykh explained this in a beautiful way that there was once a young boy who used to walk towards school. On his way to school, there would always be an elderly lady who would come out and sometimes she would give her some candy, sometimes some pocket money, sometimes she would kiss him on the cheek.
One day the little boy asked O Aunty why is it that you show me so much love? She replied that I had a son who looked just like you. He passed away in an accident but now everytime I look at you, I also feel that same motherly love for you.
Maybe on the day of Judgement a person shows up who still has some sins in his heart, maybe he still has sins in his book of deeds, but they tried their best to look like the beloved of Allah swt, like Nabi e Kareem sws.
Allah swt may take a look at them, and just like that mother that upon looking at that young boy who resembled her own son, Allah swt is more Merciful than any mother. Allah swt loves Nabi e Kareem sws more than all the mothers love all of their children combined. Then we have hope that maybe if we show up looking like the Prophet sws on the Day of Judgment, then Allah swt’s Mercy will be invoked and maybe Allah swt will say that you look like my beloved prophet sws, then I love you also. It will be very much like that.
Importance of Sunnah on the Path of Sulook
You must follow the sunnah and you must view it as a must for yourself. There is no deep progress on this path without this deep sunnah. There is no amount of dhikr, no amount of time spent with your mashaikh, that can make up for lapse in sunnah. Our mashaikh always tell us these three things: it’teba-e-sunnah, kathrat-e-dhikr and suhbat-e-shaykh; and they always say it in that order. First and foremost is it’teba-e-sunnah.
You should be searching for sunnah and learning sunnah. You should learn about the seerah; you should learn the shamaa’il e sunnah the manners of laughing, smiling, walking, dressing. Seerah, shamaa’il and sunnah; three types of literature. You should learn and listen to it. You should have a craze for the adab and akhlaq of Nabi sws.
One way to express that craze is to make this dua and keep making this dua over and over again to Allah swt at suhoor and aftar and every night. Ya Allah swt make me like Nabi e Kareem sws. Make me the true ummati of that truest Nabi sws. Make me an ummati as good as a nabi he was to us. That is called parity and justice, that is called balance; be as good a follower to him as good a prophet he sws was to you. And he sws was the best of prophets.
حَرِيصٌ عَلَيۡڪُم بِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬
Who (sws) is very anxious for your welfare, and for the believers he is very kind, very merciful. [9:128]
Allah swt said in quran while describing Nabi sws that he is deeply harees and desirous for us. Can we not be harees for his sunnah? This is love. Arabs say that the lover obeys and follows whom he loves.
You will find that the barakah of the sunnah has traveled all over the world. Same sunnah you can find in Indonesians and Malaysians; same sunnah can be found in Nigerians and Africans; same sunnah reached the Ahl-e-Hind in the Indian Subcontinent; same sunnah entered the Central Asia in Turkish people. You will find people following the same all over in the Ummah.
Nabi e Kareem sws as the Imam of Our Lives
Our mashaikh explain it like this that Nabi sws is the imam of our life. Like you have an imam for our salah. During salah, you follow them and you do whatever they do. If you have not finished reciting yet and the imam goes into ruku, then you will leave your recitation and also go into ruku. If in ruku you had not finished your tasbeeh and imam stands up, then you also stand up.
If the imam makes a mistake in salah and makes extra sajda, even though you did not make mistake, but you will also make sajda. If you make a mistake and he does not, you will say salam without extra sajda following the imam. Just like that Nabi sws is the imam of our life; whatever he sws does, we follow. He sws worships in a way, we worship the same way. He sws wears something in a way, we also wear it in that way. We try to act like Nabi sws in similar situations.
Life of Nabi e Kareem sws as the Greatest Form of Hidayah
This is hidayah and the greatest form of it from Allah swt. Allah swt sent two things for our hidayah: golden book called Qur’an, and a golden heart of Nabi sws. Allah swt sent golden teachings in the form of Qu’ran and Allah swt sent golden lived teachings as the life of Nabi sws.
Hadrat Aisha ra said about Nabi sws that the character and being of Nabi sws is Qur’an. Nabi sws practically demonstrated how to live Qur’an. We should always keep increasing in sunnah.
Making sunnah dua is a part of dhikr. They are in the form of small booklets. Many of you have learned and mastered many text books. And most of the collections of sunnah duas are small booklets. But you still do not know those duas. Is this called craze for sunnah? We have mastered the text books of dunya and we do not even know the booklets of sunnah?
So many people do not even know about the seerah of Nabi sws. It shows we are uninterested. Which battle took place first which happened last? We do not know. What happened in Madinah Munawwarah and Makkah Mukarama? We do not know. If we join Qur’an and Sunnah then we are even more ignorant. We do not know which surah was recited first which were revealed later.
When it comes to dunya we know everything. You know the records of your sports teams. You know the batting average of your athletes. You know the makes and models of your cars. You know about different brands of watches. Some of you are the sports ones, some are cars ones, some are watch ones. You go so deep into the fine print of everything but you do not go into the fine print of sunnah. Mashaikh of Naqshband go deep into the fine print of sunnah of nabi kareem sws. You must adopt the same path.
Story of Hadrat Khwaja Fadhal Ali Qureshi rah
Imam Rabbani Mujaddad Alif Sani Shaykh Ahmed Sirhindi rah was a great lover of the sunnah. We have a shaykh in our silsila Hadrat Khwaja Fadhal Ali Qureshi rah who had a craze for sunnah. He had a sanctuary and Khanqah in Miskeenpur, Pakistan dedicated to dhikr, ibadah and spreading the teachings of love for Allah swt.
Once he was sitting in his Khankah and he came out for majlis. He used to call his students faqir because of this ayah of Qur’an:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ أَنتُمُ ٱلۡفُقَرَآءُ إِلَى ٱللَّهِۖ
O men, you are the ones who need Allah. [35:15]
He addressed his murids and said, O faqirs! Last night I had swear gas in my stomach. I kept tossing and turning, and it was extremely painful for me. I started rolling and rolling until finally Allah swt granted me ease and let the gas exit my body. His students were stunned that what is Shaykh talking about? Where are those pearls of wisdom; where are those comments of tafsir; where are those heart inspiring anecdotes?
Then Shaykh said said O faqirs! Last night I was blessed to have the ziarat of Nabi sws in my dream. He sws said to me that O Fadhal Ali! The kind of mut’tabe Sunnah, the kind of students which you have produced of following sunnah, at this time in the world there is no other group that follows sunnah like your group.
He had told the first thing to lower himself in humility; to show that there is nothing in me; that I am an ordinary mortal. I have gas, I get indigestion. And that this is only the karam and fadhal of Allah swt. This is the craze of it’teba e sunnah of our mashaikh.
Craze of our Mashaikh for Sunnah
Our mashaikh wanted to discover more about the sunnah of nabi sws. They had long discussions about the length of the imama; was it 3.5 zira, 7 zira or 12 zira. Then they had long discussions about zira. Ultimately they said that zira means your hand-span so it is relative to everybody. They had long discussions about whether white imama was better or black, or if other color was acceptable.
My own ustaz Mufti Rashid Ahmed Ludhianvi rah, the ulema would know that he wrote Ahsanal Fatawah, he wrote extensively in his works showing the superiority of wearing imama of white color. This was their love. They wanted to discover. They were searching and they wanted to discover more about the sunnah of Nabi sws. We have to reach that level of craze if you really want to succeed on this path.
Countering the Goofy Sufi type of Sufism
There is no tasawwuf without the sunnah of Nabi sws. It cannot happen. There is a fake, fraud, goofy sufi type of sufism out there. But that has nothing to do with the sunnah of Nabi sws. That has to do with other things; concerts, dance and singing, green scarves and embroidery with all types of other embellishments. Even that cannot stay with them. They put it on, they Take it off. Strange life they have.
No Tasawwuf without Sunnah
You should want to go for the pure sunnah. You should want to go for the gold. It is very important aspect of our silsila and tareeqat, it is a very important aspect of deen. May Allah swt give each one of us a craze for sunnah, the full sunnah, the deep sunnah. We should make dua in itekaf invoking this amal that Allah swt you put in my heart to sit for itekaf, which is not fard.
More on the devastating effect of “It is not Fard” Philosophy
Do you know that itekaf is not fard, it is sunnah? If you took the only fard attitude, no itekaf anywhere in the world would take place. You have no idea how devastating this concept is.
With this concept no tawaf would ever take place except in umrah and Hajj. No looking at Ka’aba for you; it is not fard. No going to Madinah Munawwara for you in your life even once. You will never be able to say salam even once. You will never present yourself at the roza once if you take this concept of only doing what is fard. Technically these things are not fardh for you.
Our ulema friends must never allow this sentence to come in the discussion of deen. Especially when teaching students of deen, how can you say this sentence in front of them that it is not fard? What would that world be like?
Do you call this Islam that there is no tawaf around ka’aba, no one ever goes to Madinah Munawwara, no itekaf anywhere in the world? Most people would say it is not fard to pray in jama’a. So everyone would be praying in their homes individually. Adhaan is also not fard, so no adhaan in the world. If I go on and paint this world for you, you will be in horror at what kind of deen I will present to you.
Taking Deen from Sahaba ra – A Deen of Sunnah
Do you want deen of Sahaba ra or deen of some philosophy? Deen of Sahaba ra is pure sunnah. Allah swt mentioned this in Qur’an as well:
فَإِنۡ ءَامَنُواْ بِمِثۡلِ مَآ ءَامَنتُم بِهِۦ فَقَدِ ٱهۡتَدَواْۖ
So, if they believe in the same way as you believe, they will have certainly found the right path. [2:137]
You must take imaan like the imaan of Sahaba ra – they are the benchmark. Allah swt made them the standard of imaan. Take imaan the way they had imaan. What is the distinguishing feature of their imaan? They had a kamil it’teba of sunnah of Nabi sws. Allah swt is guiding us that who should we follow? Sahaba ikram ra. We make dua that Allah swt accepts us for this. May Allah swt grant us sunnah.
We can make dua to Allah swt like this that ya Allah swt! You brought us here in sunnah itikaf. Just like You put in our hearts to come here and kept us here, ya Allah also put in our hearts a desire to love and follow every sunnah. So much so that we can leave our home for it, we can leave our family for it, we can take out time for it, we can leave our salary for it. Just like You put in our hearts the desire to come for sunnah itekaf which is a sunnah of Nabi sws, put in our hearts to follow each and every sunnah.
InshaAllah when you follow this sunnah, then a lot of things will become okay. People say we have a problem with lust, anger, greed. Increase your sunnah. This is the best way to do tazkiya. If you increase your sunnah, Allah swt will increase your haya, your taqwah, your sabr. Keep on increasing sunnah.