[These are the rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) in Stanger Masjid, South Africa on Jul 13, 2015]
[Audio is available here]
وَٱلَّذِينَ جَـٰهَدُواْ فِينَا لَنَہۡدِيَنَّہُمۡ سُبُلَنَاۚ وَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَمَعَ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ
As for those who strive in Our way, We will certainly take them onto Our paths, and indeed Allah is with those who are good in deeds. [29:69]
There are 35 lessons in the Naqshband Silsila. The first 5 are called lataif-e-khamsa. Again remember that a part of your batin is called your latifah. The plural of latifah is called lataif. Our mashaikh looked in Qur’an and they found a few words; qalb, ruh, sirr. Then they found another word: wama akhfa. And from that they took out 2 things: khafi and akhfa. And then obviously the word nafs is also in Qur’an.
These are all different points where a person wants to make the dhikr of Allah swt. I was explaining to you the first lesson, which is formally called latifah-e-qalb. Qalb is at the left side of the chest. Understand the location of your physical heart is closer towards the centre of your chest. But the spiritual heart called qalb is closer to the outer side of the chest.
First you will understand this on the basis of trust, and then you will feel this on the basis of your experience when you make the dhikr/muraqaba yourself. Then we mentioned to you that Allah swt uses a word in Qur’an called sadr. Sadr means a person’s breast. Allah swt says in the Qur’an:
أَلَمۡ نَشۡرَحۡ لَكَ صَدۡرَكَ
Have We not caused your bosom to be wide open for you? [94:1]
فَمَن يُرِدِ ٱللَّهُ أَن يَهۡدِيَهُ ۥ يَشۡرَحۡ صَدۡرَهُ ۥ لِلۡإِسۡلَـٰمِۖ
So, whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He makes his heart wide open for Islam [6:125]
Whomsoever’s chest Allah swt expands for deen of Islam, they are on a nur from their Rabb. From that our mashaikh were guided that all of the spiritual aspects of our batin that Allah swt has mentioned in Qur’an, they will be located in our breast, in our torso, in our chest, in our sadr.
The physical heart is there, the lungs are there, the kidney is there, organs are there. This is also the centre of our life. Just like that, it is also the centre of spirituality. Sometimes you may encounter a person who comes up with a strange question. I call it a backward question.
Countering the Question of Similarity Between Hindus’ Concept of Chakras and Islamic Concept of Spirituality
The question is that you are saying these things are inside the chest; the qalb is in there, the ruh, and sirr and khafi. But the Hindus also have chakras. And the Greeks had something similar; and somebody had this and that. So I call it a backward question.
What does that mean? Yes, it is quite possible. And many ulema are actually are of the opinion that a lot of the false religions that exist in the world, historically originally they were some true religion. For example, we know that Allah swt sent prophets to warn every community.
In the Qur’an, we know of those prophets that Allah swt has mentioned. And they were mostly in, what today you call the Middle East. There is no mention in the Qur’an of the prophets and warners sent to China, or sent to India, or sent to Aztec, or sent to America. But we are sure that to every community of insan indeed a warner was sent.
It means that at some point, Allah swt would definitely have sent a prophet, or maybe multiple prophets; like the Bani Israel had thousands of prophets. Maybe even multiple prophets were sent to the people of India, and at some point, they corrupted those teachings. Maybe it was corrupted 50, 70 or 80 percent. But there maybe some elements of truths still there.
For example, Hindus believe in the concept of a ruh. They are not going to call it that necessarily. They also believe that there is more to a human being than just their physical self, and there is some spiritual self inside. To that extent they are correct. But of course what they believe about the reincarnation of the soul, that is incorrect. But the concept itself that a human has a soul that must have come to them through whatever was the revealed religion, and the original prophet or prophets (as) who were sent to that area.
It is quite possible that one of those prophets explained to them the same concept; that you have a qalb, you have a nafs; these things are all situated inside your body. That maybe what later got twisted and they called it Chakra. That is why we call it a backward question.
For example, if you say to someone that I believe in a ruh and they say you believe in that because you are from India. You would say no, this is in Qur’an. This is deen of Islam. The fact that the Hindus also believe in a soul, does not mean that it is wrong.
If Hindus have the same concept, so be it. I have seen it with my own eyes Buddhists in Thailand doing the exact same sajdah that we do; same points on the ground, same way, to the statue of Budha. Are you going to say that the sajdah is also wrong because the Buddhists do it? Do not be fooled by anyone who tries to bring this up.
There were Hindu Gurus and Yogis; they have worked and fasted also because they also understood this. This also might be something that trickled down from their true original religion; that fasting disciplines yourself. They have all types of fasts. They will tell you that our spirituality goes up when we fast, and they are correct.
Imam Rabbani rah explained this in a beautiful way. One thing is to wash a mirror with water, and one is to wash a mirror with urine. What the Hindus do, he says, they are also trying to work on spirituality. But because it is not pure, it is mixed with shirk, it is like washing the mirror with urine, it is najas and impure.
إِنَّمَا ٱلۡمُشۡرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ۬
the Mushriks are impure indeed [9:28]
Deen of Islam has tawhid, so it is like washing the mirror with water. That is why despite all of their efforts and fasting, meditations and spirituality, they still remain on shirk. Najasat is najasat.
Explaining Lataif e Khamsa
In the 5 lataif, first we want to explain to you qalb, ruh, sirr, khafi and akhfa. First I want you to remember their names in the order of the names. These words are all there in the Qur’an. Allah swt says:
فَإِنَّهُ ۥ يَعۡلَمُ ٱلسِّرَّ وَأَخۡفَى
He certainly knows the secret and what is even more hidden [20:7]
Allah swt is Ahkamul Hakimeen. Even mufasireen understood that there is no word Allah swt says wastefully. Every word conveys meaning. So when Allah swt says huwa ma ya’alamun sirr, Allah swt knows your sirr, wa and that which you keep hidden; so these are two separate things. Wao, comes for mughairah. It means that what is before is ghair, what is after is ghair; the two things are differentiated.
Allah swt knows your sirr. So we must do tazkiyah of this khafi and of sirr, just like jurists make qiyas. When they find a hukam, they find a similar case, they apply the rule to the similar case. What is inside me?
Why Sahaba Karam did not need Muraqaba and why we Need it
There’s another backwards question that Sahaba ra did not do it. We are first to say that Sahaba ra did not do it. There’s a long 4-5 hour answer to that question in a workshop called the Bidah Workshop. Short answer is that there are a lot of things that Sahaba ra did not do it.
Take the example of tajweed. At the time of Sahaba ra there were no tajweed courses. They never formally learnt this because they already knew this – it was their language. But we do learn tajweed formally because we need to learn it.
The tafsir, does it have just the ahadith and qaul of Sahaba ra? what’s in 18 volumes? It’s the explanation of the scholar. They will many times explain in a way that Sahaba ra did not explain.
In hadith science, there are different categories given to the chain of narrations of ahadith. Hassan means we cannot say with absolute gaurantee that Nabi sws said it, but we are 80% sure they said it. Hadith sciences were formally developed after Sahaba ra. They never did this hassan and other categories. If we did not have these categories then you will have only the tawatir category left, and 90% of things will be gone from hadith.
Another strong answer to this question is that this dhikr is done for an objective. It’s not a goal. It’s a means to an objective. Sahaba ra did not need a means because they had Nabi sws. They did not need tafsir, or darul uloom, they had Nabi sws. What you get from this dhikr is that your sirr, khafi, ruh etc are purified. Their ruh, sirr, khafi got purified by Nabi sws.
If a soil is dirty, there are 2 ways to purify it. One is to scrub and clean and put water on it. Another method is that the sun comes out and with its heat all traces of najasat are gone. Nabi sws is like sunlight; his noor purified Sahaba ra. Since we do not have Nabi sws so we have to do that scrubbing and cleansing.
Why do other Salasil have different ways of Doing Dhikr
Somebody may ask (advanced) why don’t other salasil do this dhikr? They have other methods. The method of Chisti brothers is mukhalafatun nafs. They beat down the nafs. They eat less, sleep less, talk less. They also do loud dhikr and it is like they are like beating the stains out. This is a method called darb lagana, they are trying to beat the impurity out. That method was also not used by Sahaba ra. Allah swt opened up different methods to reach the same goal.
First 5 adhakr is making intention of different places: qalb, ruh, sirr, khafi, akhfa. This is where the Shaykh comes in. Shaykh will tell you the second lesson. You cannot start on your own. When you make dhikr of Allah’s name that part gets purified. It means any potential sin of that part gets purified.
Latifa e Qalb: The feeling of lust, physical attraction for ghayr mahram is from the qalb. The more you do dhikr of Allah swt in qalb, the unlawful love will go away. There is a hadith of Nabi sws that for everything is a purifying polish and the purifying polish of heart is the dhikr of Allah swt. The person has to see, if the stain is light you will have to apply very little. If someone has been involved very deeply or with different people then the stain will be very deep and they will have to put in a lot of effort.
Latifa e Ruh: Some people are very flammable. They are reacting, irritable and always distressed, they are always worried. People talk like that, calm down you are stressing me out. His ruh is so stressed that the person in his company is also getting stressed. Suhbah is real. You think a stressful person can effect your ruh but not the pious people? You say, oh when I’m with her something happens to me, but you cannot say that about the pious ones?
There is a positive side of all of these feelings. We have to work to purify them, not to remove them completely. If lust was impure itself, then why are there hoor in Jannah? Nothing impure will be in Jannah, so it is not completely impure, but we have to purify it.
Latifa e Sirr: Sir is materialistic greed – love for the dunya. You can call it hirs. There is a good hirs and there is a bad hirs. Good hirs is being greedy for ‘amal us saleh, that the person wants to act more on the Sunnah. If a person does not feel that then it means they have the bad hirs.
Latifa e Khafi: Khafi is where a person has unlawful envy and jealousy and ghil; malice and spite for other people. All types of hostile feelings for others are from here; negative feelings, critical thinking, all the way to outright hatred. When this latifah is purified, then the pure feelings for others come up, like the noble feelings Nabi sws had for others.
Many times people don’t have positive feelings even for their fellow peer bhai. They would be fighting for the front row in i’tikaf. They think that it should only be me in the first row all the time, that I got here before him, who does he think he is better enough to sit in the first row? Allah swt says:
وَلَوۡ كَانَ بِہِمۡ خَصَاصَةٌ۬ۚ
and give preference (to them) over themselves [59:9]
To prefer others even if you are more needy, more desirous. Why not give others a chance? But when you put together the two of them then you have a clash. Then people make big deal out of little things; it is because of my town, or my rank. No, rather it is just a simple point of tazkiyah. A person who does tazkiyah of their khafi, they are cool, calm and collected with others, they can get along.
Be humble like the earth, don’t you see every piece of land is tolerant and accepting of another piece of soil? You can make a whole garden with one scoop of soil from different countries and mix it all together. They will all merge in.
We should try to get along and be accepting of differences. Chisti brothers do darb across all their lataif; they are beating the impurity to death. There is a game called whack a mole. You knock the nafs down. Another way is pulling it from under. Result is the same. You will get rid of it using either of the ways. Allah swt has blessed this ummah with 2 different ways of doing tazkiyah, and there are many more ways also.
Look at the concern people have, they want to take it out. They want these bad feelings out. It was their passion for tazkiyah. Sahaba ra also had this passion, for everything they would go to Nabi sws because they wanted it out. They were deeply desirious of tazkiyah; fasting in day and doing ibadah at night.
Latifa e Akhfa: Fifth is akhfa, it where a person has ujub, pride, arrogance etc. The greatest Sunnah of Nabi sws is his humility. If you are No. 1 at something it is difficult to be humble. Nabi sws was No. 1 in every way. He said first call me abd. Coming to fatah makkah, he was riding a camel but he lowered himself as much as possible and said Alhamdulillahi wahdah nasara abda – it’s not me who has won, rather it is Allah swt who has helped his slave. This is maqam e mahmood that he sws would humble himself in front of Allah swt like no one else has ever humbled himself before.
When akhfa is purified, then the ujub, arrogance, belittling and mistreating of others goes away, they get pure humility, sunnah humbleness. What wonderful Allah swt and beautiful mashaikh and method of tazkiyah. Even if we could get one of these qualities, we would be happy. Now you know why we ask you to do a lot of muraqaba. When you will do your lesson for hours daily then it can happen in months and you will get your next lesson. Five lataif are a plan of action. May Allah swt reward the mashaikh, they came up with the course of action, and push us on the course of action. If you only do muraqaba in it’kaf then you will only be stuck on first lesson.
On Knowing One’s Progress
People often ask that how do I know my progress? So strange that the person who is so careless about their downfall in spirituality are so careful about knowing their progress in it. First you should trace your downfall into sin and then think about progress.
The effect of muraqaba is seen outside of muraqaba. We are way below that level to feel anything in muraqaba. If you do not feel anything in muraqaba, but now you find it easy to lower your gaze, you remember Allah swt, you feel something more in salah that is the result you are looking for, that you want to stay longer in masjid. Stop looking for results, just do it.
If you find no other results whatsoever then do more muraqaba. You must do a lot if you want to change. Am I doing it wrong? Is the shaykh wrong? Is the Silsila wrong? No. The only thing wrong is that you are doing it too less and you have to do it more. it is a big thing for me to say, if you do it katheer and stay away from sin, I guarantee you will change. It is not possible that you do not change.
This is in Qur’an it is an inevitable inescapable truth. It is not dhikr, it is katheer that you have to work on. That is your choice. That is why people go to khanqah. People if only had to make 4-5 minutes of muraqaba, they would not need to go to these places. But people realized I’m so soiled I have to spend hours upon hours doing it.
So many people I have met who go for 40 days in jama’a and in hundreds of cases they come back and they do not change. They say when I am on tabligh I do not do sins. It is because you are in a masjid, you are covering it up, you are not purifying it. Jihad is not a substitute for ilm, ilm is not a substitute for tabligh, tabligh is not a substitute for tazkiyah, tazkiyah is not a substitute for jihad/ilm/tabligh etc.
That is why all of effort of deen should be under Awliyah and ulema. The day it falls under regular people, like in jihad also people have their own passions and ideas they are talking to you without the guidance of ulema and wilayah of the awliyah, you can even outright end up being astray.
If a person says I spent 4 months in tabligh and tell me I am not changing, then you need to do your tazkiyah first. You have to tell them openly that I will come back to tabligh but I have to fix myself first, when I fix my lust then my dawah will be more. We want to train and give you better version of them back. It is a great misconception to have a rivalry between tabligh and tasawwuf. In a hospital does the department of cardiology have a rivalry with other departments? A person should go to the department of their disease. If a person has lust, desire, anger, etc they need to get their tazkiyah done.
Every work should be open and public and shared. Then you will see something else. Don’t you see what happened when people who were pure went to tabligh? The tabligh leader is one of the greatest waliUllah of Allah swt in this century. He did phenomenal work for tabligh because he got his wilayah from tasawwuf and ilm from the ulema. More people after completing their tazkiyah should go to tabligh.
And most dangerous thing for tabligh is the same thing that happened to people of darul uloom; they got their degrees along with their pride, and then you have ulema who have pamphlets and fatwas against one another. That is the worst thing that can happen to the work of ilm. The best thing is that people who have tazkiyah they enter the work of deen. I will get into trouble for saying all this today there will be people who will be misrepresenting and misquoting my words, but this needs to be said.
Imagine if all 3 efforts are done by the people who are pure, then what will happen! You should think that I love taking Allah’s name this is the best use of my time. This is naqshbandi mujaddadi silsila. You need a Shaykh to be guided along the path, not just to come for bayan. Try and make effort, you will see the results yourself.
We have seen people put effort and get results, we also saw people who got lazy and only did it for 4-5 mintues, they did not see the results. Shaykh can only guide and encourage, you have to make the effort. Tazkiyah will not come at the expense of any effort of deen, it is impossible. May Allah swt accept us for any path for tazkiyah and may Allah swt take out all of these feelings of pride, lust, greed etc out from us.
وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ