Suluk Majlis, 25th Ramadan, 1436: Getting Closer to Allah swt

[These are the rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) in Stanger Masjid, South Africa on Jul 11, 2015]

[Audio is available here]


يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱذۡكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ ذِكۡرً۬ا كَثِيرً۬ا
O you who believe, remember Allah abundantly. [33:41]

We were telling you of three things that our Mashaikh say that brings a person closer to Allah swt.

It’teba-e-Sunnah

First was it’teba-e-Sunnah; to follow the sunnah of Nabi e Kareem sws, every and any sunnah. Every sunnah brings with it an ocean of belovedness. One drop of sunnah makes a person beloved to Allah swt in the amount of a bottomless, endless ocean.

Imagine if a person does not just adopt one Sunnah, rather adopts all of the Sunnahs, then all of the Sunnahs will attract all of the belovedness of Allah swt. The more a person wants to be beloved to Allah swt, the more they would follow the Sunnah of Nabi e Kareem sws.

Allah swt is the perfect Being, and He made the perfect deen, He sent us the perfect Qur’an, and He gave us the perfect Nabi sws. We chose to be the imperfect followers of that perfect Nabi sws. We chose to be the imperfect worshippers of that perfect Allah swt.

2. Kathrat-e-Dhikr

Second thing is Kathrat-e-Dhikr; to make a lot of dhikr of Allah swt such that you never forget Him.

وَلَا تَكُن مِّنَ ٱلۡغَـٰفِلِينَ
…and do not be among the heedless. [7:205]

Do not ever let yourself be from among those people who forget Allah swt. So strange that actually this is what we are. We are living lives of ghafileen (negligence). If you ask a person, he says I do not remember Allah swt at home, I do not remember Allah swt at my office, I do not remember Allah swt in the market. I do not remember Allah swt in the mall.

So what is going to be the consequence? You are not going to remember Allah swt in Salah. It is guaranteed. I have never met anyone who says I never remember Allah swt outside of salah but I only remember Allah swt inside salah.

The only way you can remember Allah swt inside salah, is when you remember Allah swt outside of salah. But we do not think like this. We just give up. We pray, we do not feel anything, we say okay fine so be it. So be it, I will pray heartless prayers for the rest of my life. What a strange decision to make.

Nobody says it like that, but I am expressing our actions into words. Like they say in English that actions speak louder than words. This is an action of ours that we content ourselves with the heartless prayers. This is why we need our mashaikh to guide us.

Our mashaikh explain that no, do not keep praying like that; do not think it is out of your reach.

ٱذۡكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ ذِكۡرً۬ا كَثِيرً۬ا

…remember Allah abundantly. [33:41]

You can remember Allah swt. But what you will have to do is that you will have to remember Him outside of salah in order to remember Him inside of salah. There is another extreme; that person who always remembers Allah swt outside salah. I have never met anyone like that either; that they say that I always remember Allah swt outside of salah, but I am not able to remember Him inside of salah. It is not possible.

If someone always remembers Allah swt outside salah, they will definitely remember Allah swt inside salah. Now it is clear that the realm for us to make effort is not just in the salah, it is also outside salah. For that we need training;

How to remember Allah swt? When to remember Allah swt? Which dhikr do I make?

If you look at it, there are a lot of ways to do dhikr. You can find huge books on adhkar. Imam Nawawi (rah) has a book called Kitaab-ul-adhkar. It has so many different duas, sentences, kalimat, recitations, recitals. Then there are books and booklets of so many duas and so many adhkar and so many litanies we call them Aurad-o-wazaif.

Making a Comparative Assessment of Different Types of Adhkar

You should want to think about this like you think about your dunya; you make a little comparative assessment. People today for anything, even buying a watch, would say show me two or three more. They would not just go and buy a watch. They would say tell me about the different features, I want to compare and then I will select. Anything you buy practically today, you will have this intention.

So then why do you not want to select the dhikr that is the most beneficial for you? That dhikr that will be the most efficient and most effective. For that you will have to see where does the problem lie. If the problem lies in your tongue, then the most effective dhikr would be the dhikr of your tongue. And if the problem lies in the heart, then the most effective dhikr would be the dhikr of the heart.

Let’s take the example of salah. What is the problem in your salah? Do you have difficulty in reciting surah Fatiha? Are you unable to say Sub’haana Rabbi al-Azeem? Are you unable to say Sub’haana Rabbi al-Aalaa? That is not the problem. The tongue is making dhikr. Tongue can say at-tahiyaatul lillah, tongue can say salawat; tongue is doing all the dhikr perfectly in salah. That means the tongue is not the problem.

Dhikr of the Heart is beneficial if the Problem Lies in the Heart

This means that heart is the problem. That means that the most effective, most potent, most necessary and beneficial dhikr, in this situation that a person says I do not feel anything in prayer, is the dhikr of the heart. Because the problem lies in the heart.

Let’s suppose you go to a doctor and you say I have knee pain and he injects you in the shoulder. And then he gives you daleel that the whole blood system will eventually make the medicine get to your knee. You would say inject me in my knee directly. Similarly Mashaikh-e-Naqshband inject into the heart directly. This muraqaba and dhikr-e-qalbi injects Allah swt’s name in your heart. Keep injecting Allah swt’s name into your heart and then see what happens.

Keep sitting there (in muraqaba). Something will happen. It is not possible that nothing happens. Allah swt has declared in the Qur’an:

تَبَارَكَ اسْمُ رَبِّكَ
Glorious is the name of your Lord. [55:78]

Full of barakah is the name of your Rabb. It is a fact. It is guaranteed that if you learn how to take this name with your heart, your heart will get barakah, blessings, faiz and noor. Your heart will be connected to Allah swt.

How Can Just the Name of Allah Have Such a Great Effect: A Shaykh’s Response to the Intellectual Mind

One of our teachers in Jamia Ashrafia wrote a whole book just on the barakah of the name of Allah swt. Once when Ibn e Sina heard about the effect of the name of Allah swt, it was too much for his intellectual mind to take. He raised a question in majlis: I don’t understand that how can just a name of Allah swt have such a big effect? The Shaykh listened to the question.

Later he called Ibn e Sina Khar – O Donkey! Now Ibn e Sina’s face was red with embarrassment and insult. Anyway the Shaykh continued with the majlis. After a while he turned to ibn e Sin and said did something happen? Ibn e Sina said yes you called me donkey! The Shaykh then said if just the name of a donkey can have so much effect on you then why can’t the name of Allah swt have an effect!

Not Being Able to Taste the Sweetness of Salah is a Problem

How is it that you pour sugar in milk and it does not get sweeter? Sugar starts coming at adhan, then wudhu then the takbeer Allahu Akbar, and you still do not taste the sweetness. If someone  had this physical problem he would go for a check up that I have lost my taste for sugar. You have to go to shaykh that Shaykh! I have lost the taste of sweetness of Salah.

Is Dhikr the be-all for Everything?

People wonder if dhikr really is the be all for everything like Mashaikh say. It is but not if you are just doing dhikr for some minutes. If a company claims a money-back guarantee on their detergent, and you are clever so you take a speck on the cloth and stain will not go away. What will happen if you try to return their product? They will say no you did not take enough detergent to remove the stain.

Similarly, our Mashaikh say years of anger, lust, envy, pride cannot go away through minutes of dhikr. Same with any medicine. If a doctor says take 500 g daily and you go and take a 100 g pill only. Then you go back to doctor and say that it did not help. He will say you did not take the right quantity.

If you want to do a small amount of dhikr, you can learn that from small booklets. But if you want to fulfil the Qur’anic command of dhikr-e-katheer, you will need a Shaykh. I have never met a person who has learnt dhikr-e-katheer all by himself. Some of the dhikr, they can do it. Yes, there are some tasbeehat but that’s for little dhikr, it is temporary so you can get the dhikr-e-katheer later. But people got lazy and never aimed for the dhikr-e-katheer.

Is it Necessary to Have a Shaykh to Learn Kathrat-e-Dhikr?

If someone asks that in order to learn dhikr why do you need a shaykh. Where is that in Qur’an? Allah swt says:

يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱذۡكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ ذِكۡرً۬ا كَثِيرً۬ا
O you who believe, remember Allah abundantly. [33:41]

 

There are two types of people in Qur’an; those who remember Allah swt a lot and those who make a lot of dhikr and those who are told to make a lot of dhikr. If Allah swt is telling there are people making a lot of dhikr and telling you to make a lot of dhikr then what does common sense tell you? That you should learn dhikr from those people. We take Tafseer from Mufasireen, Fiqh from Fuqaha, Hadith from Muhaditheen we take Dhirk from Dhakireen. This is Ahl-al Sunnah Wal Jama’a. You need to have all four. Tasawwuf is that branch that teaches you how to take dhikr from dhakireen.

Explaining Tareeqat

Our pious predecessors had dhikr-e-katheer of tareeqat. They got the dhikr but they knew the Sunnah of Nabi sws was to help and guide others. So they paved a path of marble and diamond and gold. That’s called tareekat. They said I will hold your hand and take you along this path to Allah swt. Because if there are a few people Mashaikh literally do hold the hand of men and take bayah (pledge) from them.
Allah swt says:

ٱهۡدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٲطَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِيمَ
Take us on the straight path [1:6]

O Allah guide us on the straight path. 

Which path?

صِرَٲطَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ
The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace [1:7]

It is the path of people with whom You Allah swt are pleased. So these people are already there on the path whom Allah swt has blessed and they have also been mentioned: Prophets, Siddiqeen, Martyrs, Virtuous believers.

Dhikr is learnt and taught like Fiqh, Qur’an, Tajweed, Shair’ah. You think the most critical thing i.e. how to control lust, how to lower gaze, how to escape from sins, how to get rid of envy, you think this is the only thing that will not be taught? This is the greatest thing to teach and learn.

Difining Role of a Shaykh

Alhamdulillah, right from the time of Nabi sws uptil today it is being taught. Sahaba (ra) taught Tabieen, Tabieen taught Taba-Tabieen and it continues chain by chain right up till today. It’s so strange people get scared from it. If I say I’m alim, mufti I want to teach you Fiqh or that I’m a Qari and I want to teach you Tajweed you say okay.

But if I say I’m a Shaykh, you will say what is shaykh. You know something? You can go to Jannah if you don’t know Tafseer, but you can’t go to Jannah if you don’t have a pure heart.

If you have Qaris and no Shaykh, you will have Hafidh who are murderers, who go on raids. You send your youth to a Qari but not to a Shaykh. You can clearly see those who went through Shaykh and who bypassed Shaykh. People of Durban would know.

We try to explain to them and guide them. It’s not enough to come to a bayan. Bayan gives you direction. You need to be led to that direction. If I tell you that you have to love Allah swt, and you go back now then you will not be led anywhere. You need to follow up and follow through.

Bayan is the beginning. Some of you leave it at the bayan. You come to bayan and you keep beginning at the beginning. If you say your heart was effected, I want love for Allah swt, then how can you not quench this thirst? You will drink by learning dhikr.

Ultimate Benefit of Tasawwuf

Benefit of tasawwuf is that you learn dhikr. One is reading a book, reading Hadith on google and it is quite another thing to learn Hadith from a Muhadith. One is randomly making dhikr on an odd night thinking I will make dhikr now, then I will do in the next Ramadan. It’s not going to work.

I accept that something is better than nothing. If I love you, I want you to have everything. Why should I be content with that you just listen to a bayan? You should not be content with it. It’s doable. Mashaikh hold your hand and guide you all the way. You slip, they help you get up, you are ignorant they give you knowledge, you forget they remind.

So many ulema get trained by Mashaikh. They have the knowledge but they need a guide to guide them along the path. If ulema need the guide, then regular people like you need guide all the more.

In olden days when you had to drive you would have to take out the road atlas, but now mashaAllah you have Shaykh. It might be tomtom or whatever you call it here. You make a wrong turn it will tell you to turn right.

You can drive on your own and you can drive with shaykh. Qur’an and sunnah are map, shaykh is the guide to guide you along the path to get close to Allah swt. It’s a light and simple thing. You get scared and make it a big thing. If in worldly learning someone is weak in studies you take tutions. It’s the same I’m a bit weak in taqwah, in tawbah, sunnah, haya. You get a tution.

Busting the Myth of “I’m too Busy”

If there is a doctor and he is told that you have to work an extra hour, he will say I’ll do it. Shaykh says you have to do an extra hour, he will say I can’t do it. If there is a business man who runs a business. Shaykh says you have to do extra dhikr, he will say no I’m too busy. Business partner will say why not get that extra shop? He will say I’m not busy for that.

Moral of story is that people are not too busy.

Auditor vs. Registered Student

We have observed that the people who have a Shaykh are more likely to do dhikr. Like in university there are auditors, they disappear after a few weeks, they don’t do their readings, they don’t submit papers. Then their are registered students. They come regularly, listen to lectures. In every single  case the auditor learnt less than the regulars.

That’s why we want you to be with a shyakh. You can be an auditor and come to bayans but it will not help you as much. The regular students will try to do dhikr and he will have hope because he knows that he has a shaykh and they will think what if I have a break through? I will tell my Shaykh, he will give me the second step. I will have someone to tell.

You won’t be able to keep moving if you don’t get a Shaykh. This is not a secret society, no cult, no shaykh worship, just by registering no miracle will happen to you. I wish it were as simple like that. Once an old woman came to me and she said please just blow on my grandson so that he becomes pious. I said O old woman! If the blow would work like that I would leave bayan and just walk around blowing over. I wish I had a magic wand but it doesn’t work that way.

Alhamdulillah I’m still amazed at that where Allah swt picked me from and where did He put me. It is great karam of Allah swt. It is a great wisdom of our Shaykh. This is the noor and power of nisbat. It means these great people have a great connection with Allah swt. Sometimes even wondrous things happens.

I spent 12 years sitting in it’ikaf with my shaykh and one night in Australia he turns to me and says this year you are doing it’ikaf in South Africa. I said shaykh I have been doing it in Zambia for the past 12 years. I tried 3 times getting out of this. I was trying anything. Third time I got little reprimanded and scolded for questioning the decision. He said the same way Nabi sws sent Mu’az ibn Jabal (ra) the same way I’m sending you.

For a few days I kept crying to Allah swt. But my only hope is your ikhlas. It’s your attractive force that can take anything out of the shaykh. The tap gets wet if there are good glasses. There are switches but no electricity. But once something is plugged in then electricity comes.

Explaining Bayah

Bayt means to make a commitment to Allah swt. Allah swt said to Nabi sws

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يُبَايِعُونَكَ إِنَّمَا يُبَايِعُونَ ٱللَّهَ يَدُ ٱللَّهِ فَوۡقَ أَيۡدِيہِمۡ‌ۚ فَمَن نَّكَثَ فَإِنَّمَا يَنكُثُ عَلَىٰ نَفۡسِهِ
Those who pledge allegiance with you (by placing their hands in your hand)__ they, in fact, pledge allegiance with Allah. Allah’s hand is over their hands. [48:10]

Even for Nabi sws those making bayah to you are actually making bayah to Allah swt. We intend that I have no hope in myself but I’m putting my hopes in You and I’m taking hold of a shaykh by coming to bayan, listening to their teachings, practising it and through this I hope that my heart will become full of love for you. This is bayah.

[Those taking bayah should do the following]

1. Listen to live bayan.

And listen to recordings especially of it’ikaf majalis even of last year’s done in South Africa. My job and duty is to give bayan and majlis. Your job is to listen with your heart and try to practice those teachings. We have other topics on the website as well. There is Qur’an tafseer too, it is spiritual. Next few days come or listen to broadcast and follow these few day of Ramadan.

2. Practising the dhikr.

Everyday try to recite Qur’an. Try 1 juz, or 1/2 juz, if you are new then start with whatever you can daily. As long as you do it daily it will always increase. Reach average of 1/2 juz.

Then do istighfar 100 times. Like we wash our face, every day clean your heart.

Recite Durud Shareef. Everyday we must revive our connection and show love to Nabi sws. People say I haven’t remembered Nabi sws in weeks. We have to recite durud to express our love for him. 100 times with feelings.

Two dhikrs of the heart: Wuquf e qalbi. Qalb is the spirtual heart, wuquf means you want heart to be stuck on Allah swt. Allah swt says

رِجَالٌ۬ لَّا تُلۡهِيہِمۡ تِجَـٰرَةٌ۬ وَلَا بَيۡعٌ عَن ذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِ
By the men whom no trade or sale makes neglectful of the remembrance of Allah. [24:37]

You can get detailed explanation from the website of last year’s majalis. Always try to have feelings for Allah swt. Remind yourself of Allah swt, that He is watching me, He is with me, He gave me everything etc.

Fifth is that muraqaba. What are you doing in muraqba: More detail on website and in coming days. Do it when you are free. Then sit in any comfortable position. Breathing normal. Heartbeat irrelevant. You want to be remembering Allah swt from your spiritual heart of your ruh. You will just make intention: Ya Allah I want to remember you and so much and intensely that I want to forget everything else in the world.

Focus on Allah’s name.

وَٱذۡكُرِ ٱسۡمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلۡ إِلَيۡهِ تَبۡتِيلاً۬
And remember the name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him with exclusive devotion.  [73:8]

It’s like your heart is silently reading Allah swt’s name, just make the intention and keep sitting with this intention. It will take a few weeks of doing it everyday for 10-15-20 minutes. If you do it daily within a few weeks you will get some feeling. You will start remembering Allah swt and you will begin disconnecting from the world.

The best part is that

فَٱذۡكُرُونِىٓ أَذۡكُرۡكُمۡ
So Remember Me, and I will remember you. [2:152]

You make dhikr of me I Allah swt will make dhikr of you. Allah swt will send hidaya and noor on your heart. You will not feel it, and you might get thoughts, you maybe sleepy, Allah swt will still be remembering you because of your intention and noor will still be coming.


وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ


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