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Articles on Sufism

 
 
 
Here are some arguments on Sufism and some scholars who were Sufis deep in their hearts!!!

T A S A W W U F :Purification of the Soul

&

Dhikr - Remembrance of God

by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

"IN THE TIME OF THE PROPHET TASAWWUF WAS A REALITY WITHOUT A NAME. TODAY TASAWWUF IS A NAME, BUT FEW KNOW ITS REALITY."

The Islamic Nation today is in need of good scholars who observe the correct teachings of Islam ('alimun 'aamil), trying their best to bring back what has been destroyed of the Islamic religion over the years and who are able to differentiate between right and wrong, halal and haram, and who believe in Haqq and oppose Batil, not fearing anyone on the way of Allah.

Muslims of today have no one to advise them nor guide them in the teaching of their religion and the good manners and behavior of Islam. On the contrary, we see only scholars pretending to know something, imposing their corrupted ideas and beliefs about Islam on everyone. They are at every convention, giving lectures and talks about Islam from a narrow and limited perspective, not according to the guidance the Sahaba of the Prophet nor of the great Imams of Islam nor the consensus of the majority of Muslims.

If scholars would listen to their consciences and return in loyalty and sincerity to Islam without the influence of governments or other powers that control Muslim countries with their money, devoting themselves only to da'wa and irshad and remembrance of Allah and His Prophet (s), then the situation in the Islamic world could change and Muslim life would improve tremendously. Our hope is that in this new Islamic year 1416, Muslims in America and throughout the world will come back together in unity, linked to one rope, Allah's Rope, to establish the Sunnah and the Shari'ah of Prophet Muhammad (s).

If people will look back deeply into history they will find that after the brave work of the Sahaba, (the Companions of the Prophet(s)), Islam spread East and West and to the Far East through the dawa' and irshad of the scholars and followers of Tasawwuf (Sufism), who followed the True Way of the Caliphs of the Prophet (s)--radi-Allahu 'anhum. They were the scholars of true Sufism, which upholds the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah and has never deviated from them.

Islamic zuhd (asceticism) flourished in the first Hijri century and developed into schools that had their foundation and basis of their teachings in the Sunnah and Shari'ah, propagated by zahid scholars who came to be known as the Sufis. Among them were the first four Imams, Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi'i and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, as well as al-Imam Abi 'Abdallah Muhammad AL-BUKHARI, Abul Husain MUSLIM bin al-Hajjaj, Abu 'Isa TIRMIDHI. Others were Hasan al-Basri, al-Junaid, Imam Awzai' And later these included at-Tabarani, Imam Jalaluddin as-Suyuti, ibn Hajar al-Haythami, al-Jardani, ibn Qayyim al-Jawzi, Imam Muhyiddin bin Sharaf bin Mari bin Hassan bin Husain bin Hazam bin NAWAWI, Imam Abu Hamid GHAZALI, Sayyid Ahmad al-Farouqi Sirhindi, to name a few. The Muslim world has come to know Islam through the efforts of these zahid scholars who were known as Sufis because of their loyalty, sincerity and purity of heart.

We are not hiding the fact that at that time, some enemies of Islam came to take an extreme approach, using the name of Sufism, and pretending to be Sufis while spreading strange ideas in order to demolish the true Sufi teachings and poison Muslim ideas about Tasawwuf which the majority of Muslims were following. True Tasawwuf is based on zuhd and Ihsan (purity of the heart). The great Imams of the Muslim world, whose guidance was followed in all Muslim countries, were known to have Sufi masters. Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa, (whose teacher was Ja'far as-Sadiq) Imam Shafi' (who followed Shayban ar-Rai') and Imam ibn Hanbal (whose teacher was Bishr al-Hafi) all embraced Tasawwuf.

All courts and universities of Muslim countries teach from the schools of these four Imams up to today. For example, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Djibouti, and some other countries follow the Shafi'i madhhab. Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Libya and Somalia follow the Maliki school. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and some other countries follow the Hanbali school. Turkey, Pakistan, India, Ceylon, and some of the Russian republics follow the Hanafi school. The Far Eastern Muslim countries follow the Shafi'i school. Most courts of Muslim countries depend for their fatwas on these four schools and all these four schools accepted Tasawwuf.

Imam Malik in his famous saying said, "man tasawaffa wa lam yatafaqa faqad tazandaqa, wa man tafaqaha wa lam yatasawaf faqad tafasaq, wa man tasawaffa wa tafaqaha faqad tahaqaq."

which means: " Whoever studied Tasawwuf without Fiqh is a heretic, and whoever studied Fiqh without Tasawwuf is corrupted, and whoever studied Tasawwuf and Fiqh will find the Truth and Reality of Islam."

At a time when travel was most difficult, Islam spread quickly through the selfless efforts of Sufi travelers well-schooled in the ascetic discipline (zuhd ad-dunya) required of those Allah had chosen for so noble a task. Their life was dawa' and their sustenance was bread and water. Through such abstinence they were able to reach the West and the Far East with the blessing of Islam.

In the 6th and 7th Hijri centuries, Tasawwuf flourished increasingly because of the progress and effort of the Sufi teachers. Each group came to be named after its Sufi teacher, to differentiate it from other groups. Similarly today, each person holds a degree named for the university from which he graduated. Yet it is obvious that Islam remains the same, never changing from one Sufi teacher to another, just as Islam is not changing from one university to another.

However, in the past students were influenced by the good manners and good morality of their teachers. Therefore Muslims were sincere and loyal. But today our scholars are dry and Islam is taught to them in non-Muslim universities by non-Muslims professors (if you are clever you can understand).

Sufi teachers asked their students to accept Allah as their Creator and the Prophet as His Slave and Messenger (s), to worship Allah alone and to leave the worship of idols, to repent to God, to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet, to purify their hearts, to clean their egoes from mistakes and to correct their beliefs in the Oneness of God. And they were teaching them to be honest and trustworthy in everything they did, to be patient and God-fearing, to love others, to depend on God, and all the other excellent manners demanded by Islam.

In order for them to reach all these stations of sincerity and purity they gave their students different prayers (du`a) that the Prophet (s), his Sahaba and the Tabi'een were practicing. They were teaching Dhikr-Allah, the remembrance of Allah, through the reading of Qur'an and dua' and tasbeeh from Hadith, and through the recitation of Allah's Names and Attributes in tahleel, tahmeed, takbeer, tamjeed and tasbeeh, according to many ayats and hadiths of the Prophet about Dhikr. (These can be found in all books of Hadith, including Bukhari, Muslim, Tabarani, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud, etc., under the heading of Dhikr in Islam to which anyone can refer.)

These Sufi teachers (real scholars) refused fame and high positions and money and a materialistic life, not as scholars of our days who run after fame and money. Rather they were zahid and dependent on Allah following His saying: "ma khalaqtul Jinni wal Insi illa li-ya'budoon" -- "We did not create the Jinn nor Mankind except to worship Me."

As a result of their decency and zuhd, they were able to convince wealthy people to build mosques and dormitories (khaniqahs) throughout the Ummah of Islam, offering free food and free lodging. Thus Islam spread quickly from one country to another through khaniqahs and mosques. Such places, in which the poor could eat and sleep and the homeless could find shelter, were a cure for the hearts of the poor and were a connection between the rich and the poor, between black, yellow, red and white, between Arab and non-Arab.

The Prophet (s) said in hadith, "There is no difference between Arabs and non-Arabs except through righteousness."

These places made people to come together from all races and nations. Sufis kept the Sunnah and the Shari'ah. Their history is full of bravery and struggle in the way of Allah, jihad fi sabeell-illah, leaving their countries, seeking the hearts of people in every place to convert as many as possible through one method, which is love. To love everyone without distinctions of race, age and gender. They saw everyone as deserving of respect especially women, the downtrodden and the poor. Sufis were like bright stars, shining throughout the world, encouraging everyone to 'jihad fi sabeel-illah,' striving in the way of Allah, to spread Islam, to help the poor, the homeless and those in need, both far and the near. They reached with their iman, the middle of Asia, up to India, Pakistan, Tashkent, Bukhara, Daghistan, and other areas such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.

True Sufi people never deviated from the Shari'ah and the Sunnah of the Prophet and the Qur'an, regardless of the exuberance of the ecstatic utterances of some Sufis and some explanations that revealed the Greatness of God and the mercy and purity of His Beloved Messenger, Beloved Muhammad (s).

The main two sources of tasawwuf were the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) as it was conveyed through the understanding of Islam of Sayiddina Abu Bakr (radi-Allahu 'anhu) and Sayiddina Ali (karam-Allahu wajhah) who are considered the two sourcemasters of the Sufi orders. Sayiddina Abu Bakr (r) was representing one stream of Tasawwuf. The Prophet has said about him, "whatever God poured in my heart, I poured into the heart of Abu Bakr" "ma sab-Allahu fee sadree shayan illa wa sababtuhu fee sadree Abi Bakrin." (Hadiqa Nadiah published in Cairo, 1313 H. p. 9). Allah said in Holy Qur'an,

'...for God did indeed help him when the unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one Companion: they two were in the cave.' (9, 40).

And the Prophet said in another hadith "the sun never rose on anyone better than Abu Bakr except the prophets." (see Suyuti, History of Caliphs, Cairo, 1952, p. 46).

There are many other hadiths explaining the station of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. The other stream of Tasawwuf came through Sayiddina Ali (r), about whom there are very many hadiths that would take many pages to explain. Finally, the Sunnah of the Prophet and the Shari'ah, which represent obligations, and Ihsan, which represents good manners, were all embodied in the character of the Sufi scholars, beginning with Sayiddina Abu Bakr (r), the first caliph of the Prophet (s) up until today.

In the 13th Century Hijri (the 19th A.C.) a new school appeared, influenced by the teachings of two scholars of Islam of the 7th C. Hijri, (14th A.C.). This school was a new school in Islam, which though based in the Hanbali school was different from it in 'aqida. Though this school also accepted Tasawwuf, it kept a much more restrictive and narrow interpretation of what is allowed in Islam than the first Four Schools.

Lately, the followers of this school had deviated from the original teachings of the founders of the school and have exaggerated to great extremes in invoking accusations against Muslims based on the fatwas of modern scholars, who have taken the most literalist and restrictive view of Islam and come against the mainstream of Muslims. And these new beliefs have spread very quickly in this century with the support of a minority of Muslims who have their own beliefs and their own interpretation of the Qur'an and Sunnah.

These people are now fighting Sufism and trying to demean the bravery and efforts of the Sufis in spreading Islam througout the world during the preceding 1300 years.

As a Muslim Nation, we respect all schools in Islam without discrimination. But in return we don't accept that anyone impose his ideas on us, as we are following beliefs acceptable to the majority of Muslims, who accept Tasawwuf.

In America, we are surprised to see of 1400 years of Islamic history and culture denied and rejected by a minority of scholars with their own point of view, as if the past 1400 years of scholars' following the Sufi schools and the four madhahib did not exist and had never existed.

For our brothers and sisters information we are presenting the names of some of the countless modern scholars following Sufi schools and the four madhahib, who represent the majority of Muslims througout the Islamic world:

Mufti of Egypt, Hassanain Muhammad al-Mukhloof, member of Muslim World League,
Muhammad at-Tayib an-Najjar, president of Sunnah and Shariah Intl. and President of Azhar University,
Shaikh 'Abdallah Qanun al-Hassani, President of the Morocco Scholars and Deputy of the World Islamic League,
Dr. Hussaini Hashim, Deputy of Azhar of Egypt and General Secretary of the Research Institute of Mecca,
as-Sayyid Hashim al-Rafai, former Minister of Religion in Kuwait,
as-Shaikh Sayyid Ahmad al-Awad, Mufti of Sudan,
ash-Shaikh Malik al-Kandhalawi, President of the League of Islamic Scholars in Pakistan and President of Ashrafiya University,
Ustaz Abdul Ghafoor al-Attar, President of Saudi Arabian Society of Authors,
Qadi Yusuf bin Ahmad as-Siddiqui, Judge of the High Court of Bahrain,
Muhammad Khazraji, Shaikh Ahmad ibn Muhammad bin Zabara, Mufti of Yemen,
ash-Shaikh Muhammad ash-Shadili an-Nivar, President of Shariah University in Tunisia,
ash-Shaikh Khal al-Banani, President of the Mauritania Islamic League,
Shaikh Muhammad Abdul Wahid Ahmad, Minister of Religious Affairs of Egypt,
Shaikh Muhammad bin Ali Habashi, President of the Islamic League in Indonesia,
Shaikh Ahmad Koftaro, Mufti of Syria,
Shaikh Abu Saleh Mohammed al-Fattih al-Maliki of Ondurman, Sudan,
Shaikh Muhammad Rashid Kabbani, Mufti of Lebanon,
ash-Shaikh as-Sayyid Muhammad al-Maliki al-Hassani, Professor of Shari'ah and teacher in the two Holy Mosques, Makka and Madina,
and many many more throughout Arab and other Muslim countries.

Oh our beloved brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, Islam is tolerance (hilm), Islam is love, Islam is Peace. Islam is humbleness, Islam is perfection. Islam is zuhd, Islam is Ihsan. Islam means relationships. Islam means family. Islam is sisterhood and brotherhood. Islam means equality. Islam is one body. Islam is knowledge. Islam is spirituality. Islam has external as well as internal knowledge. ISLAM IS SUFISM. SUFISM IS ISLAM.

Finally, Islam is Light that Allah has sent to us through his final Messenger Muhammad (s), who is the True symbol of love, the symbol of external and internal knowledge, the symbol of mercy to all human beings. He is our means to God. He is the intercessor for everyone, without doubt and this is expressed in all books of fiqh.

Dhikr - Remembrance of God

Dhikr is the means by which Stations yield their fruit, until the seeker reaches the Divine Presence. On the journey to the Divine Presence the seed of remembrance is planted in the heart and nourished with the water of praise and the food of glorification, until the tree of dhikr becomes deeply rooted and bears its fruit. It is the power of all journeying and the foundation of all success. It is the reviver from the sleep of heedlessness, the bridge to the One remembered.

The shaikhs strive to remember their Lord with every breath, as the angels are always in the state of dhikr, praising Allah. One of our shaikhs said, "I remembered You because I forgot You for a moment, and the easiest way for me is to remember You on my tongue." If the seeker will mention his Lord in every moment, he will find peace and satisfaction in his heart, he will uplift his spirit and his soul, and he will sit in the Presence of his Lord. The Prophet (s) said in an authentic hadith mentioned in Ahmad's Musnad, "The people of Dhikr are the people of My presence." So the gnostic is the one who keeps the dhikr in his heart, and leaves behind the attachments of the lower worldly life.

Mention of Dhikr in the Qur'an

Dhikr is mentioned in many places in the Holy Qur'an, and in most verses, what was meant by the word dhikr is tasbih, glorifying; takbir, exalting; tahmid, praising; and praising and praying upon the Prophet (s).

Allah said in Surat al-Baqara, 152: "Remember Me and I will remember you." [2:152]

He said in Surat ali cImran, 41, "...and remember your Lord much and glorify Him in the evening and in the early morning." And again, 191, "Those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides..." [3:41, 191]

He said in Surat al-Racd, 28, "Those who believe, and whose hearts find their rest in the remembrance of Allah--for, verily, in the remembrance of Allah hearts do find their rest." [13:28]

And He said in Surat al-Ah zab, 35, "...and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him..." And again, 41,42, "O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance; and glorify Him morning and evening." [33: 35, 41-42]

There are many, many other verses of Qur'an mentioning dhikr. Imam Nawawi said in his book, "Futahat ar-Rabbani cala-l- Adhkar an-Nawawiyya," vol. 1, p. 106-109, "All scholars of Islam have agreed on the acceptance and permissibility of Dhikr by heart and by tongue, for the adult men and women, for children, for the one who has ablution, and for the one without ablution; even for the woman during her menses. Moreover, dhikr is allowed by all scholars in the form of tasbih, tahmid, takbir and praising and praying for the Prophet (s)."

Dhikr polishes the heart and is the source of the Divine breath that revives the dead spirits by filling them with the Blessings of Allah, decorating them with His Attributess, and bringing them from a state of heedlessness to the state of complete wakefulness. If we keep busy with Dhikrullah, happiness and peace will be granted to us. Dhikr is the key to happiness, the key to joy, and the key to Divine Love.

Mention of Dhikr in the Sunnah

According to Bukhari, Abu Musa al-Ashcari related that the Prophet (s) said, "The difference between the one who makes dhikr and the one who doesn't make dhikr is like the difference between the living and the dead."

Tirmidhi narrated from Anas (r) that the Prophet (s) said, "If you pass by the Paradises of Heavens stay there." They asked, "Ya Rasul-Allah, what are the Paradises of Heavens?" He said, "The associations of Dhikr!"

Bukhari narrated in his book from Abu Huraira that the Prophet (s) said, "Allah, Almighty and Exalted, has angels who seek the people of Dhikr. If they find the people of Dhikr they encompass them until they reach the first heaven. And Allah asks his angels, 'What are my servants doing?' The angels say, 'O Allah, they are praising You and glorifying You and they are making Dhikr.' Allah says, 'Did they see Me?' The angels answer, 'No, they didn't see You.' Then Allah asks, 'How would it be if they were to see Me?' The angels reply, 'O Allah, if they were to see You, they would be making more praise of You and more glorification of You and more Dhikr of You.' And Allah asks 'What are they asking for?' The angels say, 'They are asking for Your Paradise.' Allah asks, 'Did they see My Paradise?' The angels answer, 'No, Our Lord.' Allah continues, 'How would it be if they saw My Paradise?' The angels reply, 'They would be more attracted and more eager to reach it.' Then Allah asks them, 'Of what are they afraid?' And the angels say, 'They are afraid of hellfire.' and Allah asks, 'How would it be if they saw my Hellfire?' and they reply, 'They would be running more and more away from it and asking more and more protection from it.' Then Allah said,' I am making you all My witnesses: that I am forgiving them of all their sins.' Then one angel asked, 'O our Lord, there is among these people one who is not from them, he came only to ask for something from one of them.' Allah said, 'Those are my beloved ones who are making My Dhikr. Anyone who comes into their circle will be forgiven, and I am forgiving him.'"

In Bukhari and Muslim it is narrated from Abu Huraira that the Prophet (s) said, "As my servant thinks about Me so will I be for him. I am with him if he will remember Me. If he calls on Me in himself I will call him in Myself, and if he calls on Me in a group of people, I mention him in a better group in My presence. If he approaches Me one handspan, I will approach him one arm's length; if he approaches Me one arm's length, I will approach him by a cubit; if he comes to Me walking, I will come to him running."

Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah narrated on the authority of Abi Darda that the Prophet said, "Do you want me to tell you of your best deeds, and the most honored and praised and sanctified to Your Lord, and the highest in its reward; better than spending gold and better than meeting your enemy and cutting their necks in the jihad?" They said, "Yes, Ya Rasulallah." He said, "Dhikrullah."

The Prophet (s) said, "Everything has its polish and the polish of hearts is dhikrullah."

Mu'adh bin Jabal (r) said, "Nothing saves you from Allah's punishment except Dhikrullah."

There are many, many other hadith about the benefits and blessings of Dhikr such that it is impossible to quote all of them here.

From the Sayings of Imams and Scholars about Dhikr

Ibn cAbbas (r) said "Allah, Almighty and Exalted, put a limit on all the obligations that He ordered human beings except for Dhikr. For it there is no limit."

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya said in his book, Al-Wabil as-Sa'ib, p. 52, "There is no doubt that the heart oxidizes, just as copper and silver oxidize. Its polishing is the dhikr, which will make it like a white mirror. The oxidation of the heart is due to heedlessness and sin. Its polishing is by means of two actions: repentance and dhikr. If someone's heart is cloudy, the reflections of images will be unclear, he will see falsehood as truth and truth in the image of falsehood (batil). When there is too much oxidization on the heart, the heart will be darkened, and in the darkness the images of the Truth and Reality never appear. The best way to polish it is through Dhikrullah."

Ibn cAta'illah as-Sakandari said, "By Dhikr you leave behind heedlessness and forgetfulness, and you keep your heart Present with Allah, Almighty and Exalted. The best way to approach His Presence is by reciting the name 'Allah,' in the heart or on the tongue, or by reciting any of His Names." [Miftah al-Falah, p. 4]

Abul Qasim al-Qushayri said, "Dhikr is the strongest support in the way of Allah, 'Azza wa Jall. No one can reach the Divine Presence except by continuing to recite Dhikr." [Risalat al-Qushayriyya]

Mulay al-cArabi ad-Darqawi said, "Do not say, 'I am nothing'; neither say, 'I am something.' Do not say: 'I need such and such a thing'; nor yet: 'I need nothing.' But say: 'Allah,' and you will see marvels." [Letters of a Sufi Master]

We see from what has been mentioned that all guides and perfect shaikhs advised the seeker in the Way of Allah to make continuous dhikr in all states of their lives and to keep the company of the people in associations of Dhikr. We see that the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and the scholars are all in accordance on this matter.

The Types of Dhikr

Dhikr can be can be done both silently or aloud. The Prophet (s) encouraged people to do both kinds. Among the scholars of shari'ah and the Sufi shaikhs, some preferred the loud dhikr and some preferred the silent dhikr.

Loud Dhikr

Bukhari narrated that Abu Huraira (r) reported that the Prophet (s) said, "If My servant mentions Me in himself, I will mention him in Myself. If he mentions Me in a group, I will mention him in a group in My presence." We understand from this hadith that to mention Allah in a group indicates loud dhikr. Some scholars determined from this that using loud dhikr is permitted.

Bukhari narrated in his book of hadith, that Ibn 'Abbas (r) said, "In the time of the Prophet (s) the people used to raise their voices in Dhikr."

Bukhari narrated in his book of hadith, that Abu Ma'bad (r), the freed slave of Ibn 'Abbas (r), said: "Ibn 'Abbas told me, 'In the lifetime of the Prophet (s), it was the custom to celebrate Allah's praises aloud after the obligatory congregational prayers.'" Ibn 'Abbas (r) continued, "When I heard the Dhikr, I would know that the congregational prayer had ended."

Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi related that as-Sa'ib (r) preported that the Prophet (s) said, "Jibril came to me and ordered me to order my Companions to raise their voices in takbir."

It is narrated by Bukhari and Muslim and mentioned by Jalaluddin as-Suyuti, from other collections, that 'Ali bin Abi Talib (r) said, "I asked the Prophet (s) one time, 'O Messenger of Allah, guide me to the shortest way to Allah's Presence, and the easiest way to worship, and the best way for Allah, Almighty and Exalted. The Prophet (s) said, 'O 'Ali, you have to be continuously making Dhikrullah, silently and aloud.' I replied, 'O Prophet (s), all human beings are making dhikr. Give me something special.' The Prophet (s) said, 'O 'Ali, the best of what I, and all prophets before me, said is, la ilaha illallah. If all the heavens and earth were placed on one side of the balance and la ilaha illallah were placed in the other, la ilaha illallah would be heavier. Judgment Day will never come as long as there are people on this earth saying la ilaha illallah.' Then I said, 'How should I recite.' The Prophet (s) said, 'Close your eyes and listen to me reciting la ilaha ill-Allah three times. Then you say it three times and I will listen to you.' Then the Prophet (s) said it and I repeated it in a loud voice."

In the narration of Imam Ahmad and Tabarani this hadith is continued, describing how the Prophet taught his Companions the dhikr. "'Ibada bin Samit said that the Prophet (s) said, 'Is there any stranger among you?' And we said, 'No, Ya Rasul-Allah.' He said, 'Close the door.' Then he said, 'Raise your hand and repeat after me La ilaha illallah' We raised our hand and said, la ilaha illallah. Then the Prophet (s) said, 'Praise be to Allah that He sent me to this world with this kalimah, and He ordered me with it, and He promised me the Paradise with it, and He never changes His Promise.' Then the Prophet (s) said, 'Be happy! Allah has forgiven you.'"

Jalaladin as-Suyuti mentioned in an article called "Natijat al-Fikr fi Jahri-dh-Dhikr," the Benefits of Loud Dhikr, twenty-five authentic hadiths which mention doing loud dhikr.

Silent Dhikr

Allah mentioned in Surat al-Acraf, 205, "And remember thy Lord in thy self with humility and fear, and without loudness of speech, in the mornings and evenings; and be not of the neglectful." [7:205]

Imam Ahmad narrated, "Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet (s) said that Allah says, 'I am with my servant when he remembers Me and by his remembrance of Me his lips move." Commenting on this hadith, Imam Nawawi said, "Allah is with the one who remembers Him and calls Him in his heart, and calls Him on his tongue, but we must realize that the dhikr of the heart is more perfect. The rememberer made dhikr of the tongue in order to reflect the occurrence of the dhikr in his heart. When the love of Allah and His Remembrance overwhelms the heart and the spirit, the tongue is moved and the seeker brought near."

Sheikh Amin al-Kurdi said in The Enlightenment of Hearts (Tanwir al-Qulub) p. 522: "The dhikr by tongue, which combines sounds and letters, is not easy to perform at all times, because buying and selling and other such activities altogether divert one's attention from such dhikr. The contrary is true of the dhikr by heart, which is named that way in order to signify its freedom from letters and sounds. In that way nothing distracts one from his dhikr, as the poet says:

With the heart remember Allah, secretly from creation, wordlessly and speechlessly.

That remembrance is best of all: out of it flowed the sayings of the saints.

"That is why our Naqshbandi masters have chosen the dhikr of the heart. Moreover, the heart is the place where the Forgiver casts his gaze, and the seat of belief, and the receptacle of secrets, and the source of lights. If it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is unsound, the whole body is unsound, as was made clear for us by the chosen Prophet (s).

"Something that confirms this was narrated on the authority of cA'isha (r): 'Allah favors dhikr above dhikr seventyfold (meaning, silent dhikr over loud dhikr). On the Day of Resurrection, God will bring back human beings to His account, and the Recording Angels will bring what they have recorded and written, and Allah Almighty will say: See if something that belongs to my servant was left out? The angels will say: We left nothing out concerning what we have learnt and recorded, except that we have assessed it and written it. Allah will say: O my servant, I have something good of yours for which I alone will reward you, it is your hidden remembrance of Me.' Bayhaqi narrated it.

"Also on the authority of cA'isha: 'The dhikr not heard by the Recording Angels equals seventy times the one they hear.' Bayhaqi narrates it."

Mawlana Shaykh Muhammed Hisham Kabbani an-Naqshbandi (Q)

 

 

Wahhabis at the Gate
What are the Saudis up to in the Balkans?
by Stephen Schwartz
12/15/2003, Volume 009, Issue 14

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Skopje, Macedonia


THE MUSLIM HOLY MONTH of Ramadan came and went in the Balkans without serious incident. Nevertheless, the ancient town of
Skopje, war-weary and impoverished after local fighting between Albanians and Slavs in 2001, buzzed with rumors of terrorist conspiracies. In a mild, foggy late-autumn, under a skyline dominated by impressive Ottoman mosques, residents spoke anxiously of the recent suicide bombings in Istanbul and of "special measures" against possible attacks on U.S. and other foreign personnel in Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia.

It is said that Islam has "bloody borders," but in the Balkans the border dwellers are exhausted. Too much blood has already been wasted, and there is no appetite for more.

Among the ethnic Albanian Muslims--especially in western Macedonian regions where they and their Christian fellow-Albanians continue agitating for the right to education in the Albanian language--there is much discussion of infiltration by Saudi-funded agents of the Wahhabi sect. Riyadh continues to send Wahhabi missionaries, in their characteristic beards and archaic Arab outfits, to seek control over Balkan Muslims. And the missionaries continue to fail.

Arben Xhaferi (pronounced Jaferi), leader of the Albanian Democratic party, is considered both the main Albanian patriotic leader in Macedonia and the region's outstanding critic of Wahhabi influence. He spoke with me at his office in Tetovo, in the heart of the ethnic Albanian majority area. The building displayed the trademark sign of recent war in the Balkans: bottles of water for sanitary purposes in the toilet, since the plumbing still has not been restored.

"We cannot accept the endless agitation presenting democracy as opposed to Islam," Xhaferi said. "Albanian Islam faces an immense threat from fundamentalism. We are traditional in our Islam, which for us means pluralism, respect for the other religions represented among us, and repudiation of Arabization. Fundamentalist Islamists preach that there is only one Islam, represented by them, just as Hitler said there could be only one nation under one Führer."

"It is absurd that Wahhabis should come here and demand, in the name of Islam, that we live and dress like them," Xhaferi said. "Albanians will not allow foreigners of any kind to tell us our customs must be abandoned and our behavior determined by Islamic totalitarians. We have our own history, our own culture, and our own Albanian model of Islam, based on interfaith respect and the understanding that religion is private. They will not destroy us."

Xhaferi has paid for his forthright criticism of Islamist extremism, as have others who support him, such as the Skopje newspaper publisher Emin Azemi, whose Albanian-language daily Fakti (The Facts) is among the most professional in the region. Azemi took a strong stand in support of the U.S. liberation of Iraq--Fakti editorialized, "The defeat of Saddam Hussein will be a victory for all humanity." It has also published Xhaferi's anti-Wahhabi polemics.

With Saudi subversives still fanning out in the Balkans, it comes as no surprise that Xhaferi and Azemi's activist stance has earned them anonymous threats. But since the Wahhabis, notwithstanding their hatred of everything modern, use cell phones, Azemi was able to reply to their harassment by printing their telephone numbers in his paper and calling on readers to communicate their opinions to the Wahhabis. And public condemnation of them was extensive.

More startling, however, is the coolness of Western diplomatic and foreign media authorities in Macedonia to efforts to isolate and oppose aggressive Islamism. Azemi and his newspaper are under permanent suspicion for their Albanian patriotism, which is seen as a threat to regional stability--even though Macedonian Slav journalists praised Fakti during the 2001 communal fighting for consistently advocating a cease-fire.

Lately, a group called the International Journalists Network even called on foreign donors to the cause of "media development," including a U.S. group, IREX ProMedia, to establish an Albanian daily that would provide an alternative to the "hardline" Fakti. But for all its considerable problems, Macedonia has general media freedom, and such interference by foreigners is neither necessary nor just.

Wahhabi propagandists seek to cast every conflict as religious. They lump together all the grievances of Macedonia's Albanians as a campaign of self-defense by "the Muslims"--leaving out of the picture the 15 percent of Macedonian Albanians who are Christian, yet seek recognition of their linguistic rights with no less enthusiasm than the Muslims.

For example, a polemic on the Wahhabi website Islamonline, titled "Macedonian Spark Can Incinerate the Region," by Omer bin Abdullah, comments disingenuously, "The Muslims argue that the Albanian language should be the second official language in the country." In reality, it is not the Muslims, but the Albanians who argue this. Non-Albanian Muslims in Macedonia--Turkish, Bosnian, and Slav--have failed to support the Albanians, and the portrayal of Albanian struggles as based on religion is false. These smaller Muslim minorities have historically felt dependent on the Slav Macedonian authorities.

The topic of Wahhabism keeps many Albanian young people preoccupied. With unemployment high, facing an uncertain future and probable discrimination, Albanians do not want to be saddled with a reputation for Islamic extremism. And they are clear on where the truth lies. Students at the European- and U.S.-subsidized Southeast European University of Tetovo expressed disgust with reactionary Saudism, including its primitive repression of women.

Traveling through Macedonia after Ramadan, I encountered distaste for Islamism on all sides--from elderly Albanian men sporting fierce mustaches and speaking of their village laws no less than from fashionably dressed young women who said Saudi Arabia must cease to be the only country in the world that forbids women to drive. I came away struck by the fact that these European Muslims, living in a remote and disregarded country, understand the truth about the Saudi/Wahhabi threat to the Islamic world, and to the world at large--even as many in capitals like Washington continue to deny it.

Stephen Schwartz is the author of The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror."

 

 

Jihad al-Nafs - Fighting the Ego

by
Imam Nawawi

From his Bustan al-`arifin (The Garden of Gnostics), Beirut: Dar al-kitab al-`arabi, 1405/1985 p. 53-54.

Shafi`i said, may God have mercy on him: "Only the sincere one (mukhlis)  knows hypocrisy (riya')." This means that it is impossible to know the reality of hypocrisy and see its hidden shades except for one who resolutely seeks (arada) sincerity. That one strives for a long time (yajtahidu azmanan) searching and meditating and examining at length within himself until he knows or knows something of what hypocrisy is. This does not happen for everyone. Indeed, this happens only with the special ones (al-khawass). But for a given individual to claim that he knows what hypocrisy is, this is real ignorance on his part.

I shall mention in this book a chapter, God willing, in which you will see a type of wonder that will cool your eyes. To illustrate the great extent of the concealment of hypocrisy we only need relate the following from the Teacher and Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri [the sufi shaykh], may God have mercy on him, from his Risala with our isnad previously mentioned.

He said: "I heard Muhammad ibn al-Husayn say: I heard Ahmad ibn `Ali ibn Ja`far say: I heard al-Hasan ibn `Alawiyya say: Abu Yazid [al-Bistami], may God be well pleased with him, said: I was for twelve years the blacksmith of my ego (haddadu nafsi), then for five years I became the mirror of my heart (mir'atu qalbi), then for a year I looked at what lay between the two of them and I saw around me a visible belt [i.e. of kufr = the vestimentary sign of a dhimmi]. So I strove to cut it for twelve years and then looked again, and I saw around me a hidden belt. So I worked to cut it for five years, looking to see how to cut. Then it was unveiled for me (kushifa li) and I looked at creation and saw that they were all dead. So I recited the funeral prayer over them."

I say: That hypocrisy should be as inscrutable as this to the peerless master in this path [i.e. tasawwuf] is enough to show how greatly hidden it lies. His phrase: "I saw them dead" is the apex of worth and beauty, and seldom do other than the Prophet's words, Blessings and Peace be upon him, gather up such wealth of meanings. I shall touch upon its meaning briefly. It means that after he had struggled long and hard (lamma jahada hadhihi al-mujahada) and his ego had been disciplined (tahadhdhabat) and his heart illumined (istanara qalbuhu), and when he had conquered (istawla) his ego and subdued it (qaharaha) and achieved complete mastery over it (malakaha mulkan tamman), and it had subjected himself to him totally, at that time he looked at all created beings and found that they were dead and completely powerless:

    they cannot harm nor can they benefit;
    they cannot give nor can they keep back;
    they cannot give life nor can they give death;
    they cannot convey nor can they cut off;
    they cannot bring near nor can they take away;
    they cannot make happy nor can they make sad;
    they cannot bestow nor can they deprive;
    they possess for themselves neither benefit nor harm,
    nor death, nor life, nor resurrection.

This, then, characterizes human beings as dead: they are considered dead in all of the above respects, they are neither feared nor entreated, what they have is not coveted, they are not shown off to nor fawned upon, one does not concern oneself with them, they are not envied nor disparaged, their defects are not mentioned nor their faults pursued and exposed, one is not jealous of them nor thinks much of whatever God-given favors they have received, and they are forgiven and excused for their shortcomings, although the legal punishments (al-hudud) are applied to them according to the Law. But the application of such punishment does not preclude what we have mentioned before, nor does it preclude our endeavoring to cover up their faults without disparaging them in the least.

This then is how the dead are viewed. And if someone mentions human beings in a dishonorable manner we forbid him from entering into that subject in the same way that we would if he were going to examine a person who died. We do not do anything for their sake nor do we leave Him for them. And we no more stop ourselves from fulfilling an act of obedience to God on their account than we do on account of a dead person, and we do not over-praise them. And we neither love their own praise for us nor hate their insults, and we do not reciprocate them.

In sum, they are as it were non-existent in all the respects we have mentioned. They are under God's complete care and jurisdiction. Whoever deals with them in such a way, he has combined the good of the next world with that of the lower world. May God the Generous grant us success towards achieving this. These few words are enough to touch upon an explanation for his [Abu Yazid al-Bistami's] saying -- May God be well pleased with him.

Blessings and Peace upon the Purified Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

Translated by Dr. Fouad Haddad
Naqshbandi-Haqqani Foundation of Ahl al-Sunnat wal-Jama`at

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Tasawwuf - the Science of Purification of the Heart

Sufism (or more properly, Tasawwuf) is a term for the state of Ihsan, which was described by the Prophet (s) in the very important of Jibril (as), known as Umm ul-Hadith, in which he said,

    "Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you were seeing Him, and even if you cannot see Him, know that He sees you."

For that reason, all scholars, including Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Kathir, accepted Tasawwuf, because it an integral part of Islam and it is in full compliance with Kitabullah and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (s) and in fact is an obligation of Islam. For that reason the sciences of Tazkiyyat an-Nafs (purification of the heart of bad desires and intentions) as another terms which falls under the Science of Tasawwuf, in much the same manner that 'Ilm ar-Rijaal (the Science of Men) which was developed to verify the transmitters of hadith, falls under the study of Hadith, known as 'Ilm al-Hadith. Often known as al-Jihad bin-nafs or the Fight against the Ego, the Science of Tasawwuf is a whole branch of Islam unto itself, with its own fundamental principles (usul), Imams, schools, and methods.

As for those who kept to the Sunnah of the Prophet (s), keeping their obligations, and then striving further to keep the supererogatory worship that he showed us and encouraged the believers to perform, it may be that at some point they will reach a level of piety taqwa wherein the Tradition of the Prophet (s) applies to them.

    maa zaala 'abdi yataqaraba ilaya bi-nawafil hatta uhibuh. Fa idha ahbabtahu kuntu sama'ulladhee yasma'u bihi wa basarahu-lladhee yubsiru bihi wa yadah-ulladhee yabtishu bihi wa rijlahu-lladhee yamshi bihi. ...Hatta yakunu Rabbaaniyyan: yaqulu li-shayin ."

This means:

    My Servant does not cease to approach Me with voluntary worship until I will love him. And when I love him, I will be his hearing with which he hears, the sight with which he sees, the hand with which he manipulates and the legs with which he walks....

At that time they will be called the Friends of God, or in Arabic Awliya-Allah. Such people are mentioned in Quran as the special servants of God, about whom God said:

    "Alaa inna awliya-ullahi laa khawfun 'alayhim wa laa him yahzanun." (Yunus, 62)

    "Nay they are the Friends of God, no fear shall come upon them neither shall they greive."

for more information on tasawwuf see: The Great Internet Debate

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Ibn Taymiyya the Sufi Shaikh

Answer to Shaikh Adly, response by Hisham Mohammed Kabbani

To our respected brother Shaikh Muhammad Adly, and to our dear internet readers, we would like to present our final conclusions of the "debate" between myself and Shaikh Adly in the following two parts.

In the first part we will discuss Ibn Taymiyya's views on Tasawwuf. In the second part we will mention some of the views of the Salaf and Khalaf scholars, as well as some relatively modern scholars on the subject of Tasawwuf.

About Ibn Taymiyya and Tasawwuf

Orientalists and Modern Islamists have contributed to the misrepresentation of Ibn Taymiyya as an enemy of Sufis. This has been propounded even more strongly lately by the scholars of the "neo-Salafi" school, whose followers claim to strictly adhere to Ibn Taymiyya's teachings, but who in fact have severely deviated from them in this area of understanding.

However, regardless of the desires of one group or another, the facts provide a clarification of reality: that Ibn Taymiyya accepted Tasawwuf on the condition that it follows shari'ah, and that Ibn Taymiyya himself was not only a Sufi follower, but was adorned with the cloak (khirqa) of shaikhhood of the Qadiri Order.

Let us look more closely at the facts:

FACT #1:

    Ibn Taymiyya's supposed anti-Sufism sentiment is a clearcut misrepresentation of the truth. To conclude that Ibn Taymiyya opposed Sufism/Tasawwuf as a whole, simply because he considered particular activities or statements by some individuals and groups as unacceptable in shari'ah, is like concluding that he opposed the Science of Fiqh because he criticized the viewpoints and practices of certain fuqaha (jurists). This would be more than an exagerration, it is completely inaccurate.

    FACT #2: Ibn Taymiyya received iniation as a Sufi shaikh. The fact that Ibn Taymiyya himself was a Sufi has been conveniently ignored by those who chose to misrepresent him, and with good reason: how could someone say that Ibn Taymiyya opposed Sufism/Tasawwuf and that he was a Sufi/mutasawwif in one and the same breath? Hence the corollary statement to Ibn Taymiyya's alledged anti-Tasawwuf stance is that "he could certainly not have been a Sufi," compounding inaccuracy with speculation.

Clear proof that most of the great 'ulama and the major figures of the Four Schools of Islam were trained in Tasawwuf exists in the specialized biographical books known as "Tabaqat." Tasawwuf was part and parcel of the complete education of a Muslim scholar, from the beginning of the formation of the Islamic curriculum until the gradual weakening and dismantling of the institutions and figures of Islamic higher education in the twentieth century. This resulted in the replacement of the Islamic 'ijaza system (being "licensed" or receiving permission to teach from one's own teacher), with the modern doctoral system of degrees, inherited from the West.

Far from denigrating or attacking the Sufi component of the Islamic sciences like of some of our contemporaries who claim him as their reference, Ibn Taymiyya in fact praised it in his time, endorsed it, participated in it, and acheived its highest formal level, which is to receive the khirqah, the equivalent of the 'ijaza or permission in Sufi terms, from a Sufi shaikh. The khirqah, representing the cloak of the Prophet (s), is passed to a student of a Sufi shaikh, only when he is seen to be fit and fully qualified to pass on the teachings he has acquired from his shaikh in turn to students of his own. In this he as simply one of many among the Hanbali 'ulama who both educated him or were educated by him, to undergo the expected training and instruction in the various disciplines of Tasawwuf appropriate to the scholarly vocation.

Many well-read specialists of Islam are to this day still surprised to hear that the Sufis al-Ansari al-Harawi (d. 481 H.) and 'Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (d. 561 H) were both very strong Hanbalis. When one refers to their biographical notices in Ibn Rajab's [student of Ibn Qayyim] "Dhail 'ala Tabaqat al-Hanabila," one finds al-Ansari referred to as "as-Sufi" and Jilani referred to as "az-zahid." Ibn Rajab's use of these terms in close proximity, indicates their interchangeability.

Ibn Rajab's two volume biographical work covers a period of three centuries, from the middle of the 5th century Hijri to the middle of the 8th.. Identifiable as Sufis are over one-third of all the Hanbalis scholars treated by Ibn Rajab and other sources from the same time period.

The theory, presented by some Orientalists, that Abul Faraj Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597 H) and Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728 H), were antithetical to Tasawwuf does not stand up to scholarly scrutiny. In fact neither of these Hanbali doctors of law qualifies as in any way antithetical to Tasawwuf. Let us examine their record.

Ibn al-Jawzi's work Talbis Iblis is perhaps the most important single factor in keeping alive the notion of this hostility towards Sufism. In reality, this work was not written against Tasawwuf as such at all, nor against Sufis alone. However, it was an indictment of all unorthodox doctrines and practices, regardless of their sources, and opposed any which were innovations in the rule of shari'ah--i.e. not found in the Qur'an and Sunnah, wherever found in the Islamic community, especially in Ibn al-Jawzi's time. It was written against specific innovated practices of many groups, including: philosophers (mutakallimoon), theologians, traditionalists ('ulama al-hadith), jurists (fuqaha), preachers, philologists, poets and Sufis. It is in no way an indictment of the subjects they studied and taught, but was an indictment of specific introductions of innovation into their respective disciplines and fields.

Ibn al-Jawzi has written other works which are not only in favor of Tasawwuf, but present its greatest figures in the most complimentary light. Two works considered as pillars in the field of Tasawwuf are Safwat as-Safa and Minhaj al-Qasidin wa Mufid as-Sadiqin. In addition, full length biographies in praise of the early Sufis have been penned by Ibn al-Jawzi, including Fada'il Hasan al-Basri (The Gracious Character of Hasan al-Basri), and Manaqib Ibrahim bin Adham, (The Good Qualities of Ibrahim bin Adham), Manaqib Bishr al-Hafi, Manaqib Ma'ruf al-Karkhi, "Manaqib Rabi'a al-Adawiyya. In sections of his book al-Muntazam many biographical notices may be found in praise of Mutasawwifeen.

Ibn Taymiyya's Donning of the Qadiri Cloak

As for Ibn Taymiyya, one would search in vain to find in his works the least condemnation of Sufism as a discipline. He opposed the seemingly pantheist descriptions of certain Sufis, known as "ittihadiyya," but he showed his great admiration for the works of the Sufis Junayd Baghdadi, Sahl at-Tustari, Bayazid al-Bistami, Abu Talib al-Makki, al-Qushayri, 'Abdul Qadir Jilani and Abu Hafs as-Suhrawardi.

At present we are in the position to go much farther and show that this allegedly great opponent of Sufism was himself a Sufi, who belonged to more than one tariqat, but especially to that of 'Abdul Qadir Jilani.

In a manuscript of the Hanbali 'alim, Shaikh Yusuf bin 'Abd al-Hadi (d. 909H), entitled Bad' al-'ula bi labs al-Khirqa [found in Princeton, Sorbonne and Damascus], Ibn Taymiyya is found in a Sufi spiritual genealogy with other well-known Hanbali scholars, all except one (Say. Jilani) heretofore unknown as Sufis. The links in this genealogy are, in descending order:

    1. 'Abdul Qadir Jilani (d. 561 H.)
    2.a. Abu 'Umar bin Qudama (d. 607 H.)
    2.b. Muwaffaq ad-Din bin Qudama (d. 620 H.)
    3. Ibn Abi 'Umar bin Qudama (d. 682 H.)
    4. Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728 H.)
    5. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 751 H.)
    6. Ibn Rajab (d. 795 H.)

(Both Abu 'Umar b. Qudama and his brother Muwaffaq received the khirqa directly from Abdul Qadir Jilani himself.)

Further corroboration of two links separating him from 'Abdul Qadir Jilani comes from Ibn Taymiyya himself, as quoted in a manuscript of the work al-Mas'ala at-Tabriziyya (manuscript, Damascus, 1186 H):

    "labistu al-khirqata mubarakata lish-Shaikh 'Abdul Qadir wa bayni wa baynahu 'than"

    "I wore the blessed Sufi cloak of 'Abdul Qadir, there being between him and me two."

Ibn Taymiyya is quoted by Yusuf ibn 'Abd al-Hadi, affirming his Sufi affiliation in more than one Sufi order:

    "have worn the Sufi cloak [khirqata at-Tasawwuf] of a number of shaikhs belonging to various tariqas [min turuqi jama'atin min ash-shuyukhi] , among them the Shaikh 'Abdul Qadir al-Jili, whose tariqa is the greatest of the well-known ones."

    Further on he continues: "The greatest tariqa [ajallu-t-turuqi] is that of my master [sayyidi], 'Abdul Qadir al-Jili, may Allah have mercy on him."

[found in "Al-Hadi" manuscript in Princeton Library, Collection fol. 154a, 169b, 171b-172a and Damascus University, copy of original Arabic manuscript, 985H.; also mentioned in "at-Talyani", manuscript Chester Beatty 3296 (8) in Dublin, fol. 67a.]

Additional evidence of Ibn Taymiyya's connection to the Qadiri silsila (lineage) is found in his lengthy commentary on the seminal Sufi work by his grand-shaikh, 'Abdul Qadir Jilani, entitled "Futuh al-Ghayb." [this is found in a Princeton manuscript, uncataloged, also in Leipzig University Library, Arabic manuscript #223, and Istanbul University, Turkish translation, "Futuh ul-Gayb Hakkinda Yorum"]

The essence of his commentary on "Futuh al-Ghaib" is to show that Sufism, when orthodox, is completely in consonance with the Qur'an and hadith and the consensus of the community [ijma'a]. A Tasawwuf not based on the revealed law is heretical. In his commentary, Ibn Taymiyya upholds ilham, or Sufi inspiration, as evidence stronger than weak analogy [qiyas], or a weak tradition [hadith,] or istis-hab cited by those who are immersed in fiqh, or divergences of the law [khilaf], or the principles and sources of the law [usul al-fiqh]. He places inspiration [ilham] on the level of legally valid evidence on which to base a preference for one action as against another when all other sources fail.

Perfection of the soul, says Ibn Taymiyya, does not consist in mere knowledge. On the contraray, along with the knowledge concerning Allah, there must necessarily be love [mahabba] of Allah, worship of Allah, and the turning back to Him in repentance. Real tawhid consists in worshipping no one but Allah, and worship calls for perfect love [kamal al-hubb], perfect veneration [kamal at-ta'zim], perfect hope, fear, reverence, and respect [kamal ar-raja' wal-khishya wal-ijlal wal-ikram].

We intend to publish a translation of that lengthy commentary by Ibn Taymiyya on Futuh al-Ghaib in the future.

Ibn Taymiyya's Discussion of Tasawwuf in His Majmu'a Fatawa

What Ibn Taymiyya Says About the Term `Tasawwuf'

Here we will mention what Imam Ibn Taymiyya, mentioned about the definition of Tasawwuf, from Volume 11,"At-Tawassuf" of "Majmu'a Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya al-Kubra," Dar ar-Rahmah, Cairo,

    "Alhamdulillah, the pronunciation of the word Tasawwuf has been thoroughly discussed. From those who spoke about Tasawwuf were not just the the Imams and Shaikhs, but also included were Ahmad bin Hanbal, Abi Sulayman ad-Daarani, As-Sirr as-Saqati, al-Junayd al-Baghdadi, Hasan al-Basri, Ma'aruf al-Karkhi, Abdul Qadir Jilani, Bayazid al-Bistami [one of the grandshaikhs of the Naqshbandi Tariqat] and many others. This is a term that was given to those who were dealing with that kind of science [tazkiyyat an-nafs and Ihsan]."

Imam Ibn Taymiyya says:

    "Tassawuf has realities and states of experience which they talk about in their science. Some of it is that the Sufi is that one who purifies himself from anything which distracts him from the remembrance of Allah and who will be so filled up with knowledge of the heart and knowledge of the mind to the point that the value of gold and stones will be the same to him. And Tasawwuf is safeguarding the precious meanings and leaving behind the call to fame and vanity in order to reach the state of Truthfulness, because the best of humans after the prophets are the Siddiqeen, as Allah mentioned them in the verse:
      '(And all who obey God and the Apostle) are in the company of those on whom is the grace of Allah: of the prophets, the sincere lovers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous; Ah! what a beautiful fellowship.'"
      (an-Nisa', 69,70)

Ibn Taymiyya continues:

    "as-Sufi hua fil-haqiqa naw'un min as-siddiqeen. Fahua as-siddiq alladhee ikhtassa bil-zuhadiwal-'ibada."

    which translates:

    "And the Sufi is in reality a kind of Siddiq (Truthful One), that Siddiq who specialized in zuhd and worship."

He continues about the Sufis,

    "some people criticised Sufiyya and Tasawwuf and they said they were innovators, out of the Sunnah, but the truth is they are striving in Allah's obedience[mujtahidin fi ta'at-illahi], as others of Allah's People strove in Allah's obedience. So from them you will find the Foremost in Nearness by virtue of his striving [as-saabiq ul-muqarrab bi hasab ijtihadihi]. And some of them are from the People of the Right hand [Ahl al-Yameen mentioned in Qur'an in Sura Waqi'ah], but slower in their progress. For both kinds, they might make ijtihad and in that case they might be correct and they might be wrong. And from both types, some of them might make a sin and repent. And this is the origin of Tasawwuf. And after that origin, it has been spread and (tasha'abat wa tanawa'at) has its main line and its branches. And it has become three kinds:
      1. Sufiyyat il-Haqa'iq - the True Sufis
      2. Sufiyyat il-Arzaaq - the Professional Sufis (those who use Sufism for personal gain)
      3. Sufiyyat il-Rasm - the Caricature Sufis. (Sufi by appearance only)."

Imam Ibn Taymiyya About Saints and Sainthood

Imam Ibn Taymiyya mentions in volume 11, page 190 of Majmu'a Fatawi Shaikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyya, edition published in Egypt by Dar ar-Rahma:

    "a servant of Allah 'azza wa-Jal, cannot be considered a saint unless he is a true believer. Allah mentions in Qur'an:
      "Now surely the friends of Allah-- they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. Those who believe and guarded (against evil):" (Yunus, 61,62)

He then quotes the famous hadith from Bukhari:

    "My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him."

Imam Ibn Taymiyya About Miracles of Saints

In his book al-Mukhtasar al-Fatawa al-Masriyya, published by al-Madani Publishing House, 1980, page 603:

    "The miracles of saints are absolutely true and correct, by the acceptance of all Muslim scholars. And the Qur'an has pointed to it in different places, and the Hadith of the Prophet (s) have mentioned it, and whoever denies the miraculous power of saints are only people who are innovators and their followers."

He continues in Majmu'a Fatawi Ibn Taymiyya:

    "what is considered as a miracle for a saint is that sometimes the saint might hear something that others do not hear and they see something that others do not see, while not in a sleeping state, but in a wakened state of vision. And he can know something that others cannot know, through revelation or inspiration."

All that Imam Ibn Taymiyya says about the subject of Tasawwuf is found in a large book (volume 11) consisting of 704 pages only about Tasawwuf.

And we would like to mention briefly what he said on page 314, about the hadith Qudsi [i.e. related from Allah Himself]:

    "whoever comes against one of My saints is challenging Me for fighting"

Imam Ibn Taymiyya says:

    "Which means that Allah is expressing: 'I will seek revenge against anyone who comes against My saints like an aggressive lion.'"

He continues on p. 314 quoting Prophet's saying about the saints:

    "you are the martyrs of Allah on Earth."

Imam Ibn Taymiyya About the Unveiling of Appearances

He said:

    "Allah Almighty will unveil to his saints states that have never been given before and give them support without measure.... If that saint will begin to speak from the things of the unseen, past or present or future it is considered from "Bab al'ilm al-khaariq" the miraculous unseen knowledge.... Anything that a saint does which is from unveiling to people or to listeners or curing or healing or teaching knowledge, it is accepted... and we have to thank Allah for it."

Imam Ibn Taymiyya Mentions some Great Shaikhs of Sufism

And we wish to mention some of the shaikhs which Imam Ibn Taymiyya accepted from the well-known Sufi shaikhs. This is found in his volume entitled 'Ilm as-Sulook [the Science of Travelling the Way to God], which consists of the whole of volume 10 of Majmu'a Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya which is 775 pages in length, all of which is about the knowledge of the ways of true Sufism, the Science of Travelling to God, ['ilm us-sulook].

On page 516, the third paragraph he says:

    "the great Sufi shaikhs are the best shaiks to be known and accepted, such as:
      Bayazid al-Bistami [a grandshaikh of the Golden Chain of the Naqshbandi Tariqat],
      Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani,
      Junayd bin Muhammad [the most well-known Sufi]
      Hasan al-Basri,
      al Fudayl ibn al-Ayyad,
      Ibrahim bin al-Adham [very famous sufi, known as Sultan of the Ascetics],
      Abi Sulayman ad-Daarani,
      Ma'ruf al-Karkhi [a well-known Sufi],
      Siri as-Saqati,
      Shaikh Hammad,
      Shaikh Abul Bayyan."

And Ibn Taymiyya continues:

    "THOSE GREAT SUFI PEOPLE WERE THE LEADERS OF HUMANITY, AND THEY WERE CALLING TO WHAT IS RIGHT AND FORBIDDING WHAT IS WRONG."

In Majmu'a Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, published by Dar ar-Rahmat, Cairo, Vol, 11, page 497. Book of Tassuwuf), Ibn Taymiyya says:

    "You have to know that the rightly-guided shaikhs must be taken as guides and examples in the Din, as they are following in the footsteps of the Prophets and Messengers. And the Way (tariqat) of those shaikhs is to call people to Allah's Divine Presence and obedience to the Prophet."

Here we find Ibn Taymiyya calling for people to take a guide and mentioning that each guide has his own method (tariqat) in calling people to the Prophet's ways.

Ibn Taymiyya says on page 499 of the same volume:

    "And the shaikhs whom we need to take as guides are our examples that we have to follow, as when on the Hajj, (the pilgrimage) one needs a guide [daleel] to reach the Ka'aba, these shaikhs are our guide [daleel] to Allah and our Prophet (s)."

Ibn Taymiyya quotes from Bayazid al-Bistami, who said, on page 510, Volume 10:

    "...the great Sufi shaikh Bayazid al-Bistami and the famous story about him when he saw God in a vision (kashf) and said to Him: 'O Allah what is the way to You?' And Allah responded 'Leave yourself and come to Me.'"

Ibn Taymiyya continues quoting Bayazid al-Bistami,

    "I shed my self as a snake sheds its skin."

This quotation is an indication of the need for zuhd (self-denial or abstention from the worldly life), as that was the path followed by Bayazid al-Bistami.

So we see from the above quotes, that Ibn Taymiyya was accepting many shaikhs by quoting them and urging people to follow guides to show the way to obey God and to obey the Prophet (s).

Imam Ibn Taymiyya Explains Those Who are Speaking about Fana'

In Book 2, volume 2, pages 396-397 of Majmu'a Fatawi Ibn Taymiyya, published by Dar ar-Rahmat, Cairo, Ibn Taymiyya speaks about subject of fana' also known is Sufism as annihilation. He said,

    "This state of love is the state of many people that are from the people of Love to Allah 'azza wa jall, they are the people of the love of Allah and the People of the Will (al-Irada) of Allah (it is typical of many of the people that love God and seek Him.) Because that person has vanished in his lover, in Allah 'azza wa jall--through the intensity of the love, because He vanished in Allah's love, not his own ego's love. And he will recall Allah, not recalling himself, remember Allah not remembering himself, visualizing Allah [yastashhid], not visualizing himself, existing in Allah, not in the existence of himself. When he reaches that stage, he no longer feels his own existence. And that is why he says in this state, "Ana al-Haqq" (I am the Truth), or "Subhanee. (Glory to Me!)" and he will say "maa fil jubba ill-Allah" (there is nothing in this cloak except Allah), because he is drunk in the love of God and this is a pleasure and happiness that he cannot control."

Further on Ibn Taymiyya says:

    "This [matter] has in it Haqq and there is in it Batil. But when someone will enter a state with his fervor intense love ('ishq) to Allah, he will enter a state of absentmindedness, and when he enters the state of absentmindedness, he will find himself as if he is accepting the [concept] ittihad. I do not consider this a sin. Because that person is excused and no one may punish him as he is not aware of what he is doing. Because the pen does not condemn the crazy except when he is restored to sanity. And when that person is in that state and he was wrong in what he did, he will be under Allah's address:
      "Rabbana laa tuakhidhna in-nasseeena aw akhtaana" "O Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make mistakes." (Baqara, 286)

"And Allah says in other verse, "wa laa junaaha 'alaykum fimaa akhtaatum bihi" "there is no blame on you if you unintentionally do a mistake."

On page 339, in Volume 10, he says:

    "there is a story of two men who were so respectful and loved each other very much. One of them fell in the water [of the sea] and immediately the other threw himself behind him. Then the first one, who was sinking asked, "what made you throw yourself here?" He said,"I vanished in you. and when I vanished in you I thought you were me and I was you."

And further on he continues:

    "As long as he is not drunk through something that is prohibited, it is accepted, but if it were prohibited, (the intention was bad) then he is not excused."

And he continues (vol 2., page 397):

    "And because of that [situation] many of the saints, like 'Abdul Qadir Jilani, have an excuse, becasue they are in a state of love ('ishq)."

That subject is also mentioned in a whole chapter in detail from page 337 -page 343, entitled:

    al-Fana' alladhee yujad fi kalam as-sufiyya yuffassar bi-thalathat umur

This title means:"the Word of Annihhilation found in Sufism explained in Three Ways." This chapter describes in detail the concept of fana'.

WRAPUP

For now we consider this to be the conclusion of our presentation of Sufism, and as a completion of our "debate" with Shaikh Muhammad Adly.

From what has preceded, including our presentation of the opinions of many different scholars, from Imam Abu Hanifa, through Ibn Taymiyya, and up to the present, such as Ibn Abdul Wahhab, how is it possible that one rejects what all these great and knowledgable scholars have never denied, nay they supported, namely the Science of Tasawwuf? Are we going to consider ourselves and our opinion better than the opinions of Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Qayyim and other great scholars? Are we going to say that the opinion of the students of MSA-Net and SRI and the shaikhs of today, are more valid than Ibn Taymiyya, whose opinions we have mentioned, who have put several large books on the validity and reality of Tasawwuf, and never considered that Tasawwuf as something to be denied in Islam?

The Prophet (s) ordered us to follow the Jama'at, when he said, "'alaykum bi ijma'a al-Muslimeen" ("Hold to the Consensus of the Muslims") and "alaykum bis-sawaad il-'aazam" ("Hold to the Majority"). Who are better representatives of "sawad al-'azaam" and "ijma'a al-Muslimeen" than these great scholars and imams, whom we have mentioned and quoted extensively from here and in articles in the past?

It is as if the students and shaikhs of today are saying "everyone who came before us were wrong and we are right," and this comes from arrogance. So it is better for everyone and for ourselves, and for every true Muslim to read more, to investigate more and to examine more in order to know the truth and reality. And it is unbefitting Muslims to be like parrots, repeating the phrases taught them by their master, which have no reality nor basis in fact.

Muhammad Adly knew and understood that reality, as he is a scholar, given those titles by Azhar and Rabitah, as mentioned in his own c.v. He was unable to answer our questions as he knew that no scholar ever denied Tasawwuf. So how could he accuse Ibn Taymiyya of bida'? Instead he preferred to keep quiet, though we were sending post after post privately to his intermediary on the net asking for some response from his side. This means he was unwilling or unable to give an answer and therefore this is our wrapup of the "debate."

So we respectfully request the readers who are skeptical of our conclusions, and who doubt our quotations and who suspect our scholarship: go and look for yourself--read what Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Qayyim and other scholars of Islam wrote and don't throw out wild accusations.

We are worshipping Allah alone, and praising the prophet Muhammad (s) as a sincere and praiseworthy servant of Allah, and respecting our guides and our shaikhs; not as some would accuse us, of worshipping them. May Allah guide all who read these words to the reality and truth of Islam.

May Allah enlighten all of us to the goodness which is Islam.

From Allah is all guidance,

--Shaikh Hisham Mohammed Kabbani

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Ibn Kathir's Book of Mawlid

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem

We are currently in the process of translating the book Dhikr Mawlid Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi was-salam wa Rida'atihi li ibn Kathir. Written by Shaikh ul-Islam 'Imaduddin Ibn Kathir, a follower of talmeez ash-Shaikh Taqi ad-Din Ibn Taymiyya.

The book consists of 31 pages. We obtained a copy from the Library of University of Princeton, between the many manuscripts there where it was kept in collection under number 4098. Collection 4098 has sixteen different important manuscripts, with "Dhikr Mawlid Rasulullah" being one of them.

That book was written by Ibn Kathir who is a vey well-known scholar from the Salafi school and who was a student of the main Imam and founder of the Salafi school Shaikh ul-Islam, Taqi ad-Din Ibn Taymiyya. When he died, Shaikh Ibn Kathir was buried beside his shaikh, Ibn Taymiyya in the Sufi cemetery in Damascus (al-maqbirat is-sufiyya fi Dimashq).

On the first page of the manuscript, Ibn Kathir says he wrote the book at the request of one of the muadhineen (adhan callers) in the mosque al-Muzaffari in Damascus, mosque of the Hanbalis, in the Salihiyya District --the mosque built by Muzaffar ad-Din Kawkaburi. It was known in Damascus as Jami'a al-Hanabila. At that time Ibn Khallikan, the historian, described the Mawlid of the Prophet (s) as a big celebration, which all scholars of the time used to take as a national holiday and a religious, holiday including Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Kathir. In that mosque was happening a big ceremony for the mawlid. Therefore the muadhins of that mosque, ash-Shaikh 'Imad ud-din Abi Bakr and the Shaikh Badruddin Hassan asked Ibn Kathir to write a book about the permissiblity of Mawlid in Islam.

Being a talmeez (follower) to his shaikh, Ibn Kathir felt it necessary to ask his shaikh's permission for writing such a book. He asked Shaikh Ibn Taymiyya, if he had permssion to write it. Shaikh Ibn Taymiyya gave him permission and encouraged him to do that. This manuscript tells us that Ibn Kathir and Ibn Taymiyya, the great scholars of Islam, were giving permission and authorizing reading of the remembrance of the Mawlid ash-sharif.

In order for the general public to understand, Ibn Kathir wrote it in a very easy language and he included in it what is good to be done in the remembrance of the Mawlid of the Prophet (s), specifically the poetry, the seerah and what is to be said.

Ibn Kathir says in this book, on page 19:

    "The Night of the Prophet's (s) birth is a magnificent, noble, blessed and holy night, a night of bliss for the Believers, pure, radiant with lights and of immeasurable price."

--Shaikh Hisham Muhammad Kabbani

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Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

The Role of Sufi Tariqats in the Balkans (s)

The events of the last two and a half years have brought Bosnia- Hercegovina into the forefront of the attention of the Muslim community world-wide. Nearly every well-informed indivudual has become familiar with the geo-political aspects fo the violent struggle that has engulfed the region. Unfortunately, this unfortunate notoriety has mostly to do with the crimes of aggression committed on the Muslims. Little is still known by the world-wide Muslim Ummah of the rich and spiritual Islamic culture that once thrived throughout the Balkans and its attempt now to do so again.

It is a well-known fact that the first real Islamic presence in the Balkans came after the Ottoman conquests that began in the early fourteenth century and continued until 1683 CE, when the armies of Islam were repulsed from the gates of Vienna for the last time. The complete conquest of Bosnia occurred in 1463 and within a century of this date, nearly seven out of ten Bosnians had become Muslim.

As in India, Indonesia and sub-Saharan Africa, the role of the Sufi Tariqats in the spread of Islam in the Balkans was tremendous. The dervishes of the Balkans, as their modern-day counterparts in America are doing today, spread the love of Islam into the hearts of the largely Orthodox Christian population of the region. Countless generations of Bosnians, Greeks, Serbs, Croats, Bulgar- ians, Albanians and other ethnic groups were drawn into the faith by the sincerity, wisdom and love that typified dervish behavior and practice.

Nearly every large tariqat could be found in the Balkans during the heyday of the Ottoman Empire. First the Naqshbandiyya and second the Qadiriyya were the dominant tariqats in Bosnia-Hercegovina. This was mainly due to the strong Sunni Orthodox estblishment that was well- entrenched there, which emphasized the strong practice of the shari'ah and the establishment of the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) in all aspects of daily and communal life.

The Khalwati tariqat (with its various branches) was also widespread in most of the Balkans. Their tekkes were found in certain regions of Bosnia and Serbia, but their real concentration lay in Albania and Macedonia. The Rifa'i also found popularity among the Albanians of Kosova and Macedonia, the they never really were able to gain a foothold among the sober-minded Bosnians.

The Mevleviyya were primarily a tariqat of the urban upper class, and their tekkes were found in nearly every major city from Thessolonika (Greece) to Budapest. In Sarajevo, the famous Mevlevi Tekke of Benbasa stood until the the communists demolished it in the late 1950's.

On the opposite of the social spectrum lay the Bektashi Order, which was a popular Sufi movement among the rural peasants. This tariqat spread throughout Northern Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria mainly due to the settlements of Turks in the above-mentioned areas of the presence of large Janissary garrisons. The Bektashi later found their stronghold in southern Albania.

Some minor heterodox groups, such as the Hamzawi movement, flourished in Eastern Bosnia in the late sixteenth century, but these were outlawed by the Ottoman authorities due to the fact that they overstepped the bound of the Shari'ah.

Jediler Nakshibandi Masjid and Tekke, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina

The tekkes (zawiyahs) of the Sufi tariqats became beacons of faith and love for the Holy Prophet (s). Unfortunately, the tide of history destroyed much of the tariqats' activity as communism and Serbian Nationalist fanaticism came to dominate the region. As strong- holds of Islamic faith and belief, the Sufi tekkes and mosques were often the primary targets of the Serbian and communist' venom as they have lately also been targetted by their guns.

However, Sufism still survives today, albeit in a much diminished role. In Bosnia, a great revival of tariqah has occurred both prior to and during to the war. In the late 70's through the 80's Sufism enjoyed some small revival, which has grown now due to the war. Many shaikhs of the Naqshbandiyya, Rufa'i and Qadiriyya were active in reviving the spirit of Islam and jihad during these years. Prominent among them was Shaikh Nazim al-Qibrisi, who every in his traveling from London back to Turkey after the month of Ramadan, would visit each and every tekke and mosque on his way through Yugoslavia, spreading the light of his teachings and the Naqshbandi silent dhikr whereever he stayed.

Both the Naqshbandis and the Qadiris are quite active in the Army of Bosnia-Hercegovina, warding off Serb and Croat aggression. Among the generals and commanders are several Sufi shaikhs. And the role of the tariqats in establishing relief convoys from all over Europe to the beseiged regions of Bosnia-Hercegovina are immeasurable.

The teachings and work of the tariqat in daily life of the people are served through the tekkes. These buildings dedicated for spreading the teachings of shari'ah and tariqat, peforming dhikr and feeding the poor used to number in the thousands throughout the Balkan region. Most of them date from Ottoman times, where the great architects and builders participated in their design and construction. Among them were several architected by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. However, during the communist era, most mosques and tekkes fell into disuse and disrepair and now unfortunately, most of them are no longer functional.

In Kosova there are seven functioning Naqshbandi, Rifa'i and Khalwati tekkes. Macedonia has four working Naqshbandi and Khalwati tekkes in operations. In Albania, a revival of the Bektashi, Naqshbandi and Khalwatiyya has taken place within a general Islamic revival.

Celebration of the Mevlud in the Balkans

One of the most enduring legacies of the impact of Sufism in the Balkans is the celebration of the Mawlid an-Nabi (s) or as it is known there, Mevlud. The practice of giving Mevlud celebrations in the region is a well-established and time-honored tradition and it has always enjoyed the support of the 'ulama and other Islamic scholars. Never has there been a question of the legitimacy of the Mevlud. Many important figures in Balkan Muslim history have recognized the importance of the Mevlud, especially in keeping the spirit of Islam and the love of the Prophet (s) alive in the hearts of the people, under the ever-increasing pressure of modern- izing and irreligious propangada.

 

Celebration of the Mawlid an-Nabi (s) in the Balkans

      a talk by Imam Senad Agic

One of the most enduring legacies of the impact of Sufism in the Balkans is the celebration of the Mawlid an-Nabi (s) or as it is known there, Mevlud. The practice of giving Mevlud celebrations in the region is a well-established and time-honored tradition and it has always enjoyed the support of the 'ulama and other Islamic scholars. Never has there been a question of the legitimacy of the Mevlud. Many important figures in Balkan Muslim history have recognized the importance of the Mevlud, especially in keeping the spirit of Islam and the love of the Prophet (s) alive in the hearts of the people, under the ever-increasing pressure of modern-izing and irreligious propangada.

The famous Bosnian leader, Ghazi Husrev Beg stipulated in the registers of his Waqf trusts that 300 dirhams be allotted each year for the expenses of the Mevlud celebration held each Rabi' ul-Awwal in the Sarajevo mosque which bears his name.

It was, and still is quite common in the Balkans, for the Mevlud to be recited not only in mosques or tekkes, but in private homes as well, throughout the month of Rabi' ul-Awwal and even into Rabi' ul-Akhir. In recent times, Mevluds have been given throughout the year to mark important events, such as the opening of new mosques, school graduations, marriage anniversaries and the like. There has even developed a practice of reciting Mevluds on the anniversary of the death of a loved one. Now, during the war, many Muslim families have sent their sons to the front with a farewell Mevlud recital.

The Mevlud has, throughout the centuries, developed from a simple recitation of poetry, to a full and rich program of ilahis (praise of Allah), qasidahs, poetry and na'ats; all of which serve to attract the love of the populace for the Holy Messenger (s).

During a typical Bosnian Mevlud, the mosque or other structure is filled with the smell of incense and rosewater is periodically sprinkled on the attendees. The Mevlud performers, who are usually well-practiced and prepared for the recitation, begin with the recitation of Qur'an, followed by poems and religious songs. At some point candies and sherbet are passed out.

Before the nineteenth century, Bosnian Mevluds were sung solely in Turkish. However, nearly a century ago, Hafiz Salih Gasevic translated the epic Mawlid poem of Suyleyman Chelebi into the Bosnian tongue, retaining the original eleven-meter rhythmn. Chelebi's work was translated into Albanian earlier by Dervish Hasan Zylfo Baba.

Bosnian Mawlid group performing with daff and hearty voices.

 (Photo: Huseyin-dede and Imam Senad Agic) During the Islamic and Sufi resurgence in Bosnia the late 1980's, the Ghasi Husrev Begova Madresa formed a chorus group which became quite popular and its Mevlud performances were held in stadiums and concert halls throughout Bosnia. Popular cassette tapes of the Chorus performances were readily available on the market.

If fact the Mevlud is such an integral part of Bosnian Islamic culture that what could be termed "Mevlud academies" sprung up in the 1970's and 1980's to provide trained recitationists for towns and villages. These practiced Mevlud formats, including Qur'an recitation, lectures on Sirah, singing of religious odes and the recitation of various Mevlud texts, both in Bosnian and Turkish.

This tradition of remembering the Mevlud, has despite the inten- tional massive destruction of Islamic institutions in the current war, continues with great vigor. The primitive terror of the Balkan Serbs has only strengthened the Muslims' hold on their practice of Islam and its traditions. Evidence of this is that this year a large book consisting of a compilation of Mevlud poetry was published in Bosnia and has been gratefully received.

Despite the erosion of many aspects of Islamic life in the Balkans, this love for the Holy Messenger (s) and the remembrance of his birth will hopefully gain for all of this old and battered community his blessed intercession. Amin!

 

About the Author:

Imam Senad Agic
Director - Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago

The writer of this piece is Imam Senad Agic, Imam of the Northbrook Mosque of Chicago and Chairman of the Bosnian Relief Committee of Chicago, where perhaps the most Bosnian refugees in the nation are located. Imam Senad is extremely active in helping the refugees in relocating to their new homes in the US, in collecting donations and supplies for the Muslims in the former Yugoslavia who are in dire need in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Imam Senad studied in Imam Khatib school, having a degree in shari'ah, and has tariqat in the Naqshbandi Order, having taken initiation in 1991 from Shaikh Nazim al-Haqqani al-Qibrisi, and he has initiation in the Qadiri Order.



May Allah s.w. bless our scholars, increase their holy knowledge, and may he be pleased with them. Amin!

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Mevlana Seyh Hisham - Imam Senad ef. Agic