[These are the rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) in Stanger Masjid, South Africa on Jul 16, 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]
Yesterday, we spoke to you about the mamulaat; that muraqaba and wuquf e qalbi have to be done in the context of backdrop of tilawat e Qur’an, Durud sharif and istighfar. Sixth practice is called Rabita e Shaykh. So in total there are 6 things. What does that mean?
Rabita e Shaykh
- One possibility of rabita e Shaykh is being in suhbah. You can be in a live suhbah, like you came for the Sunnah i’tikaf. If you are from South Africa, it is our expectation that every year you will sit in the Sunnah i’tikaf with us. We come here 2-3 times in a year,so you should come too. You can join us for Hajj, or when we are in England and Pakistan also. You can listen to the live bayans, or you can listen to the recordings. That is all suhbah.
- Second meaning of Rabita e Shaykh is correspondence; what and how often to write? Once every 2 weeks generally, some may write more or less than that. Some times I may write back saying you are writing too much or too less. So basically, write once every 2-4 weeks, plus as and when needed.
What to write in Correspondence
Write about muraqaba, your lesson, whether you are doing it, or not doing it, and if you are doing it then for how long. Write about your general spiritual conditions. You may write the problems which you are struggling with. This is your report of spirituality.
Other times people can write requests for duas or for salam. I rarely stop someone from writing, but every now or then I may tell someone to write less.
Many times what you will write is simply to inform me. There is no response, it keeps me on radar, keeps me up to date, a lot of time is spend reading, we read 98% of WhatsApp and 92% of the e-mails. This way I am informed, and I make dua.
Sometimes you may need feedback, for that you can WhatsApp as opposed to e-mailing. Whatsapp can be both one or two way correspondence. I will get around to WhatsApp 80-85% if you send it again you will probably get a reply.
Also, do not expect to get response when you know I’m extremely busy. Last year, I received messages that were urgent when I was in i’tikaf, so it is a good idea to see where I am. When I am in Pakistan, I am more available. People from other countries also make jam packed programs. So work out between one another. You can ask if I have free time in schedule. I usually do these things on the airplane, in the car or in Pakistan. In terms of 90-98% of resends, I will definitely get back to you.
1. Am I ready for the next lesson?
You think if I keep doing my first lesson then I will be ready for the next lesson. No, if you start getting it a little, then go deep in your lesson. Like a text book. Some of you say I think I felt something in my muraqaba, I think I am ready for the next lesson. No you are not.
If you want to do enough dhikr to take out the sins, then you need to give it more time. You should not be in a rush to progress. Sometimes some people are given 2-3 lessons together also, but that is only because the Shaykh is giving them a lot of work to do because they might not be seeing them soon.
2. Can we give more time to a particular lesson to cure a particular sin?
Some of you had this question because you realized you had a problem and there was a cure for it. Every single latifah, when you do dhikr on it, it does your general tazkiyah, so when you are doing dhikr of qalb it will not only cure your lust, it is curing your whole batin; it will help in your envy, anger and pride also. Lust is its particular. Why do you have pride? You cannot say I have pride because Shaykh did not give me the lesson, you cannot blame it on the Shaykh! Every lesson does tazkiyah of the whole system.
Each latifa nourishes the other. Imagine 5 flowers on the same bed. If you water only one of them, water will go to the whole bed and all the other flowers will also get nourished. Similarly, when you do muraqaba on one lesson, it will help you with all the other areas as well. The climax (of tazkiyah from a particular sin) will be reached when you reach that lesson, all pride will be erased when you reach lesson 5. But when will sin be removed: when you do the first lesson.
3. Is there an entire cure to the sins?
First level of tazkiyah is that a person almost never sins on that feeling. They will never do anything sinful due to lust. You will not act upon it. But once or twice a year, they may slip. But it is still considered tazkiyah because they immediately do tawbah.
Second level is that the feeling is there, but sin goes away completely.
Third level of tazkiyah is that the feeling of sin also goes away. It takes a long time, decades, but it is possible. If a person does a lot of dhikr, and is following sunnah and has taqwah, then it is possible to get that, but one must always have precaution because you will never know whether you have reached this level or not.
Reality is that it is extremely rare to reach this level. As you progress, the feeling will go down, but to say that it has completely gone away, it is very difficult to say that. Even if the feeling goes away, latent feeling remains in them. We can never think any rule of Shari’ah is waved on us.
Shaykh says when Allah swt does not trust your nafs, then how can you trust your nafs? Allah swt gives these rules e.g. woman cannot show her beauty to others than this, this and this person. He says no she is just like a sister to me, her mother is like a mother to me. No, you can still not look at her, even if he is telling the truth, because the potential is always there.
4. Can we not do la ilaha illallah dhikr at all?
You have to do it 3000, 5000, 7000 times when you are on that particular lesson. That huge amount should not be done. If you say sometimes you do it, not at the rigorous level, then it can be done. You can say it every now and then. There is no problem in that. The sabaq means that thousands of times of dhikr will be done later.
5. On walking through earlier lessons
If you want to walk through your earlier lessons because you had done that earlier in the day, still spend 1-2 minutes on them before going to next lesson. Also you cannot do lataif simultaneously like a stereo sound system. Some people when they are planning to sleep they make 1 minutes muraqaba before going to sleep and the entire sleep is counted as dhikr but that is not your muraqaba of the day.
6. Can a person sit in a comfortable chair while doing muraqaba?
If someone says can I sit in a comfortable chair while doing muraqaba, like Nabi sws says that those who make dhikr while reclining. They can do so, there is no problem in how comfortable you are.
7. On skipping dhikr
If you skip dhikr, that is very harmful for you. Imagine a hifz student is doing 2 hours of practice regularly and then he does nothing for ten days. The teacher will say he is finished. He will be setted back at zero. To make sure you don’t miss it, you can erase the zero by writing a five. Sometimes just do it for this reason. Don’t let there be a zero everyday. Five is a decent amount, rather than one or two minutes. You will prevent yourself from sliding backwards.
8. What exactly do we make muraqaba of?
You only make muraqaba of Allah’s name. Allah swt mentions duas with asmaul husna, and when he mentions His name, Allah, the word used is dhikr. So our mashaikh say we should do dhikr with this name.
9. On Qaza of muraqaba
There is no qaza concept of muraqaba, but you can do it to be strict on yourself. If you fall below target, you can catch up the next day by doing some extra. You can make it required on yourself. But on the path of sulook it is not required.
10. Which lesson to give more time to if one has extra time?
If you made intention to sit for one hour at each lesson for 20-20 minutes, and you have another hour, generally it is better to give current lesson more time. But you can do as you want.
11. Does one have to make an out-loud intention before sitting?
In the intention of muraqaba, sometimes we say different things, you can think that but don’t say it out loud like close your eyes, bow your head etc. Generally better to start with intention that you are remembering Allah swt and Allah swt is doing dhikr of my qalb. Some people make intention out loud, but it is an aid to create the understanding, like they do in salah, but if understanding is there then is no need to do it.
12. Which lesson should one give more time to?
You will over time get the hang of this yourself. Generally you be getting to feel which lesson needs more time and which needs less time. There is no set formula or ratio.
13. Is it better to split the muraqaba or do it in one go?
Beginners cant do it for so long so better to break it down. If you can focus for 1 hour, then better to do it at a stretch, the deeper you will go the more tazkiyah will take place.
14. Is it necessary to close the eyes?
We close eyes to forget the world. In salah, which is a prescribed worship, so they keep their eyes open because it is sunnah, even if they concentrate more with eyes closed. But in muraqaba you are free to do what helps you concentrate more.
15. Which place is better to sit?
Don’t restrict muraqba to a particular place. In fact do it a little everywhere. We should try to bring it to all of our spaces. If we only do it in masjid, then we are training ourselves that you will only remember Allah swt in the masjid. Once Nabi sws told sahaba ra to pray sunnah rakat at home saying don’t make your homes graveyards.
16. Can a person do muraqaba in the car?
If you are free then you can even do muraqaba in car with the driver.
17. What if a person has neck pain due to sitting posture?
Neck pain is good, don’t be worried about it. It is perfectly fine. For so many efforts we have experienced physical pain. But it’s only initially, afterwards it will get better. If it gets stiff then in intervals you can try to soften it. If a person feels when I bow my head, it shifts my focus so then one should bow. If it does not matter then it depends on you.
18. Can this be shared with others?
You must openly share it with your family. Depends on a persons family as well. One thing is to tell them that let me do it. Second is that you tell them and make them do it also. But depends if they are ready for it or not.
There is something called tawajjuh, I was going to tell this in another year but because you might have heard about it so I’m explaining it. In tasawwuf there is a concept called tawajjuh you might not fully understand this right now and that’s okay. When shaykh directs spiritual attention of his heart to the spiritual heart of murid, that is called tawajjuh. You can almost imagine it like a dua like O Allah, fill this person’s heart with Your name. Allah swt says in the Qur’an:
وَمِن شَرِّ حَاسِدٍ إِذَا حَسَدَ
And from the evil of the envier when he envieth. [113:5]
It means that as soon as the feeling of envy comes in their hearts, it effects the person whom they have envy for. Similarly, when Shaykh has love, concern in their heart for their murid’s dhikr it also has an effect. One is to direct that envy, that would be stronger. If I dwell on that envy then the power of the emotion would be stronger. Just the same, shaykh takes that power of concern and directs it at a person like directing flash-light on someone.
One young Sahabi ra came to Nabi sws. In those days Nabi sws was asking if anyone has seen a dream after fajr. This Sahabi ra said that I started wishing that I also see a dream, so that when I tell my dream, he sws would turn his special focus on me. It was something there in the focus that he wanted.
All of you should work hard on your muraqaba, wuquf e qalbi and sunnah. We have enough instructions to get to work. Focus on what is known and understood. Don’t let yourself be distracted by what you do not know or do not understand. If you practice on what you know, Allah swt will guide you to what you yet have to understand.