Company of Spiritual Guide- A requisite of Faqr (Sufism)
It is a fact that whenever a person gets sick, he seeks cure from a doctor and follows his instructions to feel better. When he desires to gain education, he benefits from a teacher and when he needs to nurture bodily needs, he turns towards the sources of sustenance for attaining food. In essence, to fulfil all human needs one always turns towards the corresponding sources. No one ever got cured from his sickness without consulting the doctor or gained education without going to the instructor. Thus, to sum up, either they are the matters of world or of hereafter, one always needs a guide to accomplish them elegantly.
If we look at the era of Prophethood it becomes evident that Companions of Prophet Mohammad suffered from several social and spiritual diseases. As they obtained the company of Prophet Mohammad as their spiritual guide, not only they attained salvation from these diseases but also attained eternal joy of Divine closeness and vision.
Influence of companionship on one’s life
It is well said that association and sitting have great impact on an individual’s way of life. If he interacts with sinful and impious ones, he himself becomes a victim of moral degradation. With that he loses good attributes gradually without noticing. On the other side one who adopts the company of pious and Fakirs, high spiritual morals thrive in him. He gains good values, perfect faith and Divine recognition and will remain safe from all evils of inciting innerself. For this reason, one’s character and personality are judged by the company he keeps.
In Quran Allah commanded the faithful to acquire a good company. He says:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ کُوۡنُوۡا مَعَ الصّٰدِقِیۡنَ۔ (التوبہ۔119)
Meaning: O believers! Fear Allah persistently, and remain in the company of the truthful. (At-Taubah-119)
Allah addresses His Prophet to acquire the company of the truthful
In the following verse Allah addresses His beloved Prophet and says:
وَ اصۡبِرۡ نَفۡسَکَ مَعَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَدۡعُوۡنَ رَبَّہُمۡ بِالۡغَدٰوۃِ وَ الۡعَشِیِّ یُرِیۡدُوۡنَ وَجۡہَہٗ وَ لَا تَعۡدُ عَیۡنٰکَ عَنۡہُمۡ ۚ تُرِیۡدُ زِیۡنَۃَ الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا ۚ وَ لَا تُطِعۡ مَنۡ اَغۡفَلۡنَا قَلۡبَہٗ عَنۡ ذِکۡرِنَا وَ اتَّبَعَ ہَوٰہُ وَ کَانَ اَمۡرُہٗ فُرُطًا۔ (الکہف۔ 28)
Meaning: (O My servant!) Stay tenaciously in the companionship of those who remember their Lord morning and evening, ardently seeking His pleasure, (keen on the glimpse of His sight, and eagerly aspiring to glance at His radiant Countenance). Your (affectionate and caring) looks must not but focus them. Do you seek the charisma of the worldly life (shifting your attention away from these self-denying devotees)? And (also) do not follow him whose heart We have made neglectful of Our remembrance and who follows but the urge of his (ill-commanding self) and his case has exceeded all bounds. (Al-Kahf-28)
A person of intellect can clearly interpret from the aforementioned verse of sura Al-Kahf that Allah ordered His beloved Prophet Mohammad to adopt the company of those who remember Allah. Then how could this order not implement on umma of Prophet Mohammad?
Difference between good and evil companion in Hadiths
Prophet Mohammad sall’ Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam said:
The example of a pious companion and an evil one is that of a person carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some from him, or you will get a good smell from him, but the one who is blowing a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him. (Al-Bukhari-5534)
Ibn Abbas relates that Prophet Mohammad was once inquired who among companions is a true friend. He replied: “One whose countenance reminds you of Allah. And whose speech increases your good deeds and whose actions remind you of hereafter.”
So who among friends is true in the light of above Hadiths and Quranic verses? Allah has granted wisdom to every human being with which he can differentiate between what is worthy for him and what is not. The need is to ponder on the inward. We need to pay attention whether our surroundings, the company of our friends and dear ones whom we are always trying to please is a source of increase in love for Allah and His Prophet. Does their company remind us of our beloved Allah even for a moment? Indeed, the answer is no!
Prophet Mohammad pointed towards the true companions
Who is that companion whose company reminds us of Allah? Prophet Mohammad says about this:
There are people among the slaves of Allah who are neither prophets nor martyred. But on the Day of Resurrection prophets and martyred will wish for status equal to them. Companions asked: “O Prophet of Allah tell us who they are?” The Messenger of Allah said: They are people who love each other only for Allah. They are neither related to each other nor are business partners. Their faces will be effulgent and they will be raised on Pulpits of Light. They will not be afraid when people will be afraid. They will not be grieving when the creation will grieve. He then recited the following Qur’anic verse:
اَلَاۤ اِنَّ اَوۡلِیَآءَ اللّٰہِ لَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَیۡہِمۡ وَ لَا ہُمۡ یَحۡزَنُوۡنَ۔(یونس۔62)
Meaning: Behold! Verily for the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (yunus-28) (Adu Dawud- 3527)
It is now certainly clear that this companionship is that of Saints and Fakirs, for in their company faith enlightens in the soul. One yearns for Divine vision. Love of Prophet Mohammad arises and one understands truly the pure lives of sacred Companions. For this reason, Prophet Mohammad sall’ Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam said:
اَلرَّفِیْقُ ثُمَّ الطَّرِیْقُ
Meaning: First find a companion then set on the journey.
Quotes of Saints emphasizing to join the Company of Spiritual Guide:
Undoublty Companions of Prophet Mohammad sall’Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam reached highest ranks of Divine recognition by adopting his company. After that, Tabi’een (followers of Companions) achieved those ranks by following the sacred Companions. Then Tabi’ al-Tabi’in (successors of Tabi’een) attained the high ranks of Divine closeness and recognition through the companionship of Tabi’een. Then after that Fakirs and Saints attained highest spiritual ranks through the company of Tabi’ al-Tabi’in. Thus, whoever acquires the company of Saints, the light of faith inculcates into his soul and he achieves the presence of Mohammadan Assembly (Majlis-e-Mohammadi) where he benefits from the fountains of Prophethood.
Rumi describes the importance of company of Fakirs in these words:
یک زمانہ صحبت بااولیا
بہتر از صد سالہ طاعت بے ریا
Meaning: A moment spent in the company of Saints is better than hundred years of sincere worship.
Imam Fakhruddin Razi
Imam Fakhruddin Razi writes in the exegesis of sura Al-Fatiha:
Several Saints are of the view that when Allah revealed the verse اِہۡدِ نَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِیۡمَ (show us the straight path), He did not find it adequate, so He added صِرَاطَ الَّذِیۡنَ اَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ (the path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favours).
This is an evidence of the fact that to gain righteousness and unveiling of Divine secrets there is no other way for a seeker than to follow a perfect spiritual guide who would guide him to the straight path and save him from depravity and perdition. The reason is that usually humans are imperfect due to which they are unable to distinguish between right and wrong. Therefore, there must be a perfect spiritual guide whom an imperfect man follows until his imperfection turns into perfection by gaining the light from perfect spiritual guide. This way he elevates to the station of felicity. (Tasawuf ky Roshan Haqaiq)
Shaikh Ibrahim Bajori
Shaikh Ibrahim Bajori says in the exegesis of Johar-e-Tauheed:
- It is extremely beneficent to travel the spiritual path under the guidance of perfect spiritual guide. As all Sufis have consensus upon the rule that; ‘Effect of spiritual state of one perfect man upon thousand men is better than listening sermons of thousand men by one person. A seeker must follow such perfect spiritual guide who is a man of Quran and Sunnah i.e., he knows the inward of seeker even before oath of allegiance (al-bayah). If the spiritual guide follows Quran and Sunna then the seeker must stick to him and remain humble before him. For his beneficence will purge the soul. Only Allah grants guidance to the right path.
Shaikh Mohammad Yousaf
Shaikh Mohammad Yousaf better known as Bilkafi writes in his book Al Nur-e-Mobeen Ali Al-Murshid al-Mu’een:
- One of the effects of the company of Saint is that his sight grants the seeker the remembrance of Allah. That is, a perfect Saint is a strong medium through which a seeker remembers his Lord. This is because he observes Divine Light and disclosures radiating from the face of spiritual guide.
He further says:
- Another benefit of the company of perfect Saint is that he takes the seeker to Allah by blessing him the cognizance of his weaknesses of innerself and persuade him to reject everything other than Allah. Resultantly, the seeker becomes indifferent to his existence and that of creation, neither he turns towards the creation for any loss or gain. Instead all his deeds become for Allah only. This is the true meaning of travelling the path towards the union of Allah.
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani
About the companionship of perfect Fakir, Al-Ghawth al-Azam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani razi Allah anhu says:
- O slave of Allah! Join the company of Saints. Their grandeur is that they give life to the soul with their spiritual sight and attention. Even if the person who they glanced was a Jewish, Christian or a fire worshipper. (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani -Malfoozat-e-Ghausia)
- Adopt the company of such a perfect Fakir who is familiar with the order of Allah and knows inspired knowledge (ilm-al-Laduni) and shows you the path of it. One who doesn’t see successful cannot succeed. Adopt the company of the one who is blessed with the company of Allah. (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani Section 61)
- Sitting in the company of people of Allah is a blessing while sitting in company of strangers who are liars and hypocrites is a curse. (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani Section 55)
- Lovers go to lovers so they can reach their Beloved (Allah). The devotees of Allah love one another only for Allah. Thus, Allah makes them His friends and helps them and grants them strength through each other. They invite the creation towards Allah and become a source of help for each other. (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani Section 17)
Sultan Bahoo says:
- Without a spiritual guide none of the struggles of the seeker are fruitful even if he spends his whole life in hard mystic practices. No one has ever reached Allah without a spiritual guide. It is because a perfect spiritual guide knows every waystation of the inward way. He has the solution of every problem. Infact, perfect spiritual guide is another name for the Divine favour, without the Divine favour no job can be accomplished. A perfect spiritual guide is like a vigilant and skilled captain of the ship who is aware of all the hazards of the way and knows all the methods to overcome them. Without the captain, the ship would surely sink. For a seeker, perfect spiritual guide himself is the ship as well as the captain. One who understands, will understand (Ain-ul-Faqr)
Struggles and Worships remain fruitless without the guidance of spiritual guide
سَے روزے سَے نفل نمازاں، سَے سجدے کر کر تھکّے ھُو
سَے واری مکّے حج گزارن، دِل دِی دوڑ ناں مکّے ھُو
چِلّے چَلیہے جنگل بھَونا، اِس گَل تِھیں ناں پکّے ھُو
سَبھے مطلب حاصل ہوندے بَاھُوؒ ، جد پیر نظر اِک تکّے ھُو
Explanation: To gain gnosis of Allah I performed thousands of voluntary prayers, bowed my head in appeals million times, performed pilgrimage, adopted forty day seclusion for worships and roamed in jungles in search of Reality but remained unsuccessful. However, as soon as I acquired the company of spiritual guide who graced me with his spiritual sight, I attained destination of life.
ناں ربّ عرش معلی اُتے، ناں ربّ خانے کعبے ھُو
ناں ربّ علم کتابیں لبھا، ناں ربّ وِچ محرابے ھُو
گنگا تیر تِھیں مول نہ مِلیا، مارے پینڈے بے حسابے ھُو
جد دا مرشد پھڑیا بَاھُوؒ ، چُھٹے کُل عذابے ھُو
Explanation: I searched for Allah and found that He neither resides in the heavens nor in Kaaba. He is not found through reading books and by receiving education nor is He in confined in mosques and places of worships. One cannot reach Him by worshipping in forests. Infact Allah resides in the inward of perfect spiritual guide (confidant of Reality). Since I became the follower of perfect spiritual guide all worries and struggles in search of Reality have come to end. (Abyat-e-Bahoo Kamil)
Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali
- The company of perfect spiritual guide creates the Divine love in the heart. The Holy Prophet was inquired, “Which friend is better?” He replied, “Whose vision reminds you of Allah and whose conversation enhances your good deeds.” (Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali-Life and Teachings)
- A seeker must continue the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat or Ism-e-Mohammad alongwith inscribing Allah’s name on the body (according to the spiritual guide’s command) for having the vision of Allah and presence in the holy assembly of Prophet Mohammad. He should regularly visit his spiritual guide because the company of the spiritual guide is such a place where the Divine light of faith is inculcated into the souls of the followers after the purgation of their polluted hearts. One glance of the perfect spiritual guide is more effective than the invocation and contemplation of six months. If the seeker cannot visit his spiritual guide daily, then he must visit him once in a week or a month with true belief and sincerity because without visiting the assembly of the spiritual guide, even Ism-e-Allah Zaat is not retained in the inward. (Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali-Life and Teachings)
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman
The perfect spiritual guide of the era Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen says:
- Beneficence of Ism-e-Allah Zaatstarts when the seeker first adopts the munificent company of the perfect spiritual guide. (Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen)
- In the history of mysticism, Faqr and spirituality no one has gained gnosis of Allah without taking oath of allegiance on the hands of the perfect spiritual guide. No one became a Fakir and experienced supreme gnosis of Allah without the training of the perfect spiritual guide. Ghazali became renowned after he had left teaching the religious lessons to experience mystical states under the spiritual guidance of Yusuf al-Nassaj. Rumi got legendary after coming in servitude of his spiritual teacher Shams Tabrizi. In short no one in the history of Faqr reached Allah without the guidance and companionship of spiritual guide. (Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen)
Thus, it is clear from Quran, Hadiths and the quotes of Fakirs that adopting the company of chosen men of Allah (perfect spiritual guide) is necessary not only for the betterment of exoteric life but also for the esoteric life.
Incident from the era of Prophethood to clear misconception
Some people object the need of companionship and oath on the hands of spiritual guide in the presence of Quran and Hadith. To clear their misconception, we present an incident from the era of prophethood.
A glorious Companion Abi ibn ka’ab narrates that he was sitting in a mosque that a man entered and began to offer prayer. He recited Quran in his prayer in a manner that I liked it. Then another man came and recited Quran in his prayer in yet another manner which amazed me. When they had finished prayer, we went to Prophet Mohammad and I said: O Messenger of Allah! These two men recited Quran in different manners. Prophet Mohammad ordered them to recite Quran. When they followed, Prophet Mohammad approved them. Abi ibn Ka’ab narrates that seeing this the clouds of doubt and denial occurred in my heart. When Prophet Mohammad saw my state, he struck my chest whereupon I started sweating.
Hence it is clear that even the Companions could not sanctify the inner self merely with the recitation of Quran. They came to the company of Prophet Mohammad where he purified their inwards and trained them.
Allah says in the Quran:
ہُوَ الَّذِیۡ بَعَثَ فِی الۡاُمِّیّٖنَ رَسُوۡلًا مِّنۡہُمۡ یَتۡلُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ اٰیٰتِہٖ وَ یُزَکِّیۡہِمۡ وَ یُعَلِّمُہُمُ الۡکِتٰبَ وَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ ٭ وَ اِنۡ کَانُوۡا مِنۡ قَبۡلُ لَفِیۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ۔(الجمعہ۔2)
Meaning: He is the One Who sent a (Glorious) Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) amongst the illiterate people from amongst themselves who recites to them His Revelations and cleanses and purifies them (outwardly and inwardly) and teaches them the Book and wisdom. Indeed, they were in open error before (his most welcome arrival). (Al Jumu’ah-2)
Harms of revolting from the company of spiritual guide
Allah says in Quran:
وَ یَوۡمَ یَعَضُّ الظَّالِمُ عَلٰی یَدَیۡہِ یَقُوۡلُ یٰلَیۡتَنِی اتَّخَذۡتُ مَعَ الرَّسُوۡلِ سَبِیۡلًا۔ یٰوَیۡلَتٰی لَیۡتَنِیۡ لَمۡ اَتَّخِذۡ فُلَانًا خَلِیۡلًا۔ لَقَدۡ اَضَلَّنِیۡ عَنِ الذِّکۡرِ بَعۡدَ اِذۡ جَآءَنِیۡ ؕوَ کَانَ الشَّیۡطٰنُ لِلۡاِنۡسَانِ خَذُوۡلًا۔(الفرقان۔29-27)
Meaning: And that Day, every wrongdoer will bite his hands (in fury and frustration and) will say: ‘would that I had taken the path (of guidance by joining) the companionship of Holy Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him)! Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had not taken such a one for a friend! Surely, he led me astray from the direction and guidance after it had come to me, and Satan leaves man helpless and forlorn (in the time of distress). (Al-Furqan 27-29)
Some seekers deviate from the right path after adopting it
Now we talk about the people who find the path of righteousness (company of the Universal Divine Man) but then retract following the desires of inciting innerself (nafs). That is, the disciples who pledge allegiance on the hands of perfect spiritual guide but do not benefit from his company. Many people pledge oath but later on revolt from the company of spiritual guide.
- A spiritual guide and a seeker are related like a soul and body. If a seeker stops his contact with spiritual guide after pledging oath, his soul becomes sick. The innovation of soul lies in the vision of spiritual guide. Even a minor displeasure of spiritual guide puts both worlds of seeker in danger. So always be a source of happiness for your spiritual guide.
An arrogant disciple joins the company of spiritual guide for worldly benefits
A disciple who does not consider it necessary to adopt the company of spiritual guide after pledging oath is in fact arrogant. Such a disciple does not look for gaining the pleasure of Divine vision rather, he aims to fix his external and financial conditions. He verifies by tongue the perfection of his spiritual guide and often in the beginning adopts his company out of passion. Then once bestowed, becomes arrogant and begin to consider the company of spiritual guide unnecessary. Or when his faith is tested through trials he starts finding excuses and runs away.
When does a seeker benefits from the company of spiritual guide?
A seeker gains full benefit from the company of his spiritual guide only when he keeps a firm belief in his spiritual guide and does not object at his speech and actions. It is incumbent upon a seeker to obey every command of his spiritual guide with humility and sincerity. As obeying the commands of spiritual guide is a source of gaining pleasure of Allah and his disobedience ruins the deeds of life time. A disciple who loves and adopts the company of his spiritual guide respectfully without objecting any of his actions attains his destiny (gnosis of Allah). Only Allah and his beloved Prophet are familiar with the true grandeur and status of perfect spiritual guide. A disciple cannot dare to understand his status using his limited intellect or consider himself equal in status with his spiritual guide (may Allah forbid).
An incident of disciple of Junaid Baghdadi
Below we relate an incident of disciple of Junaid Baghdadi to describe the importance of company of spiritual guide and harms when avoided.
One of the disciples of Junaid Baghdadi thought he had reached the level of perfection, so it was better for him to leave the company of spiritual guide. Thus, he left his company. One night in a dream he saw that some people came along with a camel. They told him that he should spend the night in heaven. Then they rode him on camel and took him to a place where he saw people with beautiful faces, exquisite victuals and flowing fountains of water. He was kept there till morning. This went on for many days so much so, arrogance and haughtiness took over and his tongue claimed perfection.
When Junaid Baghdadi found out about him
People reported the news to Junaid Baghdadi. He stood up and came to his house. Upon asking the disciple stated the whole situation. Junaid Baghdadi said: “Tonight, when you reach there recite لاَحَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّۃَ اِلَّا بِاللّٰہِ الْعَلِیِّ العَظِیْم (There is no might nor power except in Allah) three times.” Hence per usual that night when he reached there, he recited لاحول merely to experiment even though he had become denier of his spiritual guide. Suddenly the people who took him screamed and ran away. He found himself left on pile of filth and waste where there were bones of dead animals all around. He then realized his mistake, repented and turned back in the company of spiritual guide. Nothing is worse for a disciple than to remain deprived of the company of his spiritual guide. (Kashf-ul-Mahjub)
Shaikh Saadi said:
- How can you value the excellence of an accomplished, until you are occupied in your self-esteem.
Invocation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat is mandatory
along with the company of spiritual guide
People of intellect agree that just as soul keeps supremacy over body likewise spiritual training is more important than exoteric training. It is impossible to cover the stages of spiritual training without joining the company of perfect spiritual guide. Just as for physical training it is important to have a book along with an instructor and a medicine along with doctor for treatment likewise for spiritual training Ism e Allah Zaat is necessary along with the company of perfect spiritual guide to purge the soul.
Prophet Mohammad sall’ Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam said:
- There exists a burnisher(cleanser) for everything. The burnisher of inward is the invocation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat.
That is a disciple can never reach the fragrance of gnosis of Allah without invocation (dhikr) and contemplation (tasawur) of Ism e Allah Zaat. It is impossible to achieve Ism-e-Allah Zaat and its beneficence without the company of perfect spiritual guide.
The spiritual successor of Sarwari Qadri chain of Sultan Bahoo and the perfect spiritual guide of the present era Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen says:
- Beneficence of Ism-e-Allah Zaatstarts when the seeker first adopts the munificent company of the perfect spiritual guide. (Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen)
An imperfect seeker criticizes the company of spiritual guide
A disciple who criticizes the glorious and pure company of spiritual guide and the sincere disciples in it due to his limited intellect is a spy and an imperfect disciple. The example of such disciple is that of dirty fly who sits on filthy wound leaving the clean body.
Sultan Bahoo says about imperfect and incompetent seekers:
- Who is a strong seeker? Who is a week seeker? The week seeker is the one who desires worldly wealth and riches from his spiritual guide whereas a strong seeker seeks the path of Reality by sacrificing his wealth and life for it. (Taufeeq-ul-Hidayat)
- A dog is better than the seeker who is insincere, disrespectful, unfaithful and shameless. A disciple who loves this carrion world remains deprived of the desire for gnosis. (Fazal-ul-Laqa)
خام کی جانن سار فقر دی، جیہڑے محرم ناہیں دل دے ھو
آب مٹی تھیں پیدا ہوئے، خامی بھانڈے گِل دے ھو
لعل جواہراں دا قدر کی جانن، جو سوداگر بِل دے ھو
ایمان سلامت سوئی لے ویسن باھو، جیہڑے بھج فقیراں مِلدے ھو
Explanation: Incompetent seekers who fail to become spiritual confidant are clueless to the Divine secret, hence are utterly unaware of the way of Faqr. Moreover, they are like raw earthen pots which have not become uprighteous and steadfast by burning in the furnace of Divine love. Furthermore they are the merchants of glassware and do not know the status and value of ruby and gems, the seekers of Allah, who have reached Oneness travelling the path of gnosis (recognition of these gems i.e. seekers of Allah is the attribute and marvel of the Universal Divine Man). Only those people will return with faith to the hereafter who perseveringly stayed in the companionship of Fakirs in this temporal world.
صحبتِ مرشد سے انحراف کے نقصانات is an Urdu article of the magazine “Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore” for the month of April 2019. Originally penned by Anila Yaseen Sarwari Qadri is presented in English by Sofia Sultan Sarwari Qadri exclusively for the website. Do not forget to visit the original article to which you only have to click the link:
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