Guidance and Persuasion by a Fakir and a Scholar
Both Fakir and scholar have not has specific duties to perform. Allah Almighty says:
اُدۡعُ اِلٰی سَبِیۡلِ رَبِّکَ بِالۡحِکۡمَۃِ وَ الۡمَوۡعِظَۃِ الۡحَسَنَۃِ وَ جَادِلۡہُمۡ بِالَّتِیۡ ہِیَ اَحۡسَنُ ؕ ﴿۱۲۵﴾
Meaning: (O Glorious Messenger!) Invite towards the path of your Lord with wisdom and refined exhortation and (also) argue with them in a most decent manner. [16: 125]
In the aforementioned verse Allah Almighty guides three different methods of invitation towards Him.
- Refined exhortation
- Argue in a most decent manner
These three methods belong to three groups of people according to their rank. The first level ‘wisdom’ is of Divine seekers i.e., the Fakirs. The second level ‘refined exhortation’ is of religious scholars and the third level ‘debate in a most decent manner’ is of rulers.
Categories of Knowledge
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) narrates in his book Sirr al-Asrar:
Basically, the calls of esoteric scholars (Sufis) and exoteric scholars are similar which is to invite humanity towards Allah but their strategy is different. The three ways of inviting people towards Allah and imparting knowledge narrated in the verse were collected in the Holy Prophet. No one after him has the strength and capability to execute them simultaneously. Hence the Holy Prophet divided the knowledge in three categories;
The First Category
First category is the knowledge (or wisdom) gained after experiencing spiritual states. It is the crux of all three and is blessed upon true men (seekers of Allah). It gives strength to men of Allah, like the saying of the Holy Prophet is: “The courage of slaves of Allah shatters the mountains.”
Here ‘mountains’ mean callousness which softens by their prayer and tears. Allah Almighty says:
یُّؤۡتِی الۡحِکۡمَۃَ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ ۚ وَ مَنۡ یُّؤۡتَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ فَقَدۡ اُوۡتِیَ خَیۡرًا کَثِیۡرًا ؕ وَ مَا یَذَّکَّرُ اِلَّاۤ اُولُوا الۡاَلۡبَابِ ﴿۲۶۹﴾
Meaning: He blesses with wisdom whom He wills. And he who is granted wisdom (and reason) receives tremendous good. And only those who are endowed with wisdom and insight receive direction and guidance. [2:269]
The Second Category
Second category is the knowledge which is like the skin of first category. It is blessed to scholars of exoteric knowledge and is aimed to preach people with refined exhortation, invite them towards right path and discourage evil. As the Holy Prophet said:
- Scholar preaches people in a refined way whereas ignorant preaches with wrath and beating.
The Third Category
Third category is the outer most crust of knowledge. It is the layer above the second category of knowledge. It is given to rulers and denotes the knowledge of justice and politics. This category is mentioned in the verse as, “And (also) argue with them in the most decent manner.” (Sirr Al-Asrar, Chapter 5)
Fakir Preaches Esoteric Knowledge Whereas Scholar Promotes Exoteric
Scholars and Fakirs are two groups who are trying to promote the religion of Islam. The scholars are promoting the exoteric knowledge of the Quran. While the Fakirs are promoting the esoteric knowledge, which, when found, helps gaining the exoteric knowledge automatically. In short, scholars promote the knowledge of sharia whereas Fakirs promote the knowledge of haqiqah and tariqah.
Sultan Bahoo (ra) explained the difference between a scholar and a Fakir as:
- One is a representative of exoteric knowledge like Prophet Moses. He is at the station where one converses with Allah, but he always remains concerned about sins. Other is the representative of inward knowledge like Khidr. His sight is focused upon righteousness. One who does not possess knowledge like Prophet Moses and Khidr, cannot acquire gnosis of Allah. (Mehak-ul-Faqr Kalan)
A person who only possesses the exoteric knowledge always does every action either due to the fear of hell or to get paradise. He always remains confused between sin and reward. Those who live in the company of such a person, also gain exoteric knowledge only. On the other hand, the company of a Fakir who has esoteric knowledge will bless his disciples with marifa.
Guiding Style of a Scholar
Sultan-ul-Arifeen Sultan Bahoo ra says:
- You must know that the true religious scholars are those who practice what they preach and are thankful to Allah in every condition. They have the privilege of seeing the Holy Prophet (pbuh) every night or once a week or a month or a year. You know some of them and do not know the others. You should respect religious scholars who have learnt the Holy Quran by heart. (Shams-ul-Arifeen)
Sultan Bahoo (ra) advises us to respect the true religious scholars who are the ardent lover of Allah. He says:
- Knowledge and intellect are the great hurdles on the path of Divine love. There is such pleasure in Divine love that if a learned scholar gets a little taste of it, he will forget all his knowledge and will get engrossed in Divine love.
A Fakir Is The Ardent Divine Lover
Meaning thereby religious scholars and their exoteric knowledge has its own importance but intense Divine love is very rare. It is also clear from the above-mentioned quote that the scholars do not have esoteric knowledge. If they might have a little bit of it, then they would have forgotten everything other than Allah and might have started to seek Him. This characteristic only belongs to the Fakirs. The interesting thing is that both are preaching the same religion, but still there is a difference in their guidance and persuasion. The scholars teach the exoteric aspect, and the Fakirs teach the esoteric aspect.
- There are three levels of shahada. The beginner recites it verbally, seeker at middle level verifies it inwardly while the one at final level annihilates himself and gains immortality with Allah. (Sufism – The Soul of Islam)
Scholars Make Muslims And Fakirs Make Mumin
The beginner recites shahada verbally and attains the status of being a Muslim under the guidance of a religious scholar. Whereas reciting shahada by the verification of inward is only possible under the guidance of a Fakir.
Once Prophet Mohammad was distributing war booty. There were some Bedouins who were newly converts. They said to the Prophet, “O Master! We are also true believers hence bless us like you are blessing other believers.” Before Holy Prophet could respond to them, Allah revealed the following verse in answer:
قَالَتِ الۡاَعۡرَابُ اٰمَنَّا ؕ قُلۡ لَّمۡ تُؤۡمِنُوۡا وَ لٰکِنۡ قُوۡلُوۡۤا اَسۡلَمۡنَا وَ لَمَّا یَدۡخُلِ الۡاِیۡمَانُ فِیۡ قُلُوۡبِکُمۡ ؕ وَ اِنۡ تُطِیۡعُوا اللّٰہَ وَ رَسُوۡلَہٗ لَا یَلِتۡکُمۡ مِّنۡ اَعۡمَالِکُمۡ شَیۡئًا ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۴﴾
Meaning: The Bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not believed. Rather say, ‘We have accepted Islam (recited shahada verbally).’ And the belief has not yet gone into your inwards (you have not verified inwardly).” (49:14)
In short, the scholars encourage only outward aspects of each act of worship including shahada, salat, fasting, hajj, zakat etc. Worship through the exoteric knowledge is not the destiny of man, because no one can do such type of worship more than the angels. Allah has given man the status of ‘creations’. Now the question is why humans are best among all the creations? And the answer is that only human beings have specific esoteric capabilities which are not given to any other creations.
Scholar Is Like A Lamp And Fakir Is Like A Sun
Sultan Bahoo (ra) says:
- The religious scholars are like the lamp of religion, while the Fakirs are like the Sun. What is the power of a lamp to spread light in front of the Sun? (Nur-ul-Huda Khurd)
He says in Nur-ul-Huda Kalan:
- Exoteric knowledge is of fourteen types.
Even though exoteric knowledge is of fourteen types but from beginning to end it is limited to study only. If we experiment on it to find out hidden secrets, due to the difference in each person’s intellectual abilities, results will be different. That is why we see contradiction among the scholars and because of this contradiction, there is also a contradiction in their teachings. This creates confusion and divides people into sects. A person starts following the scholar whom he thinks is appropriate. On the contrary, esoteric knowledge gained from Fakirs is same. Therefore, we find no contradiction among them. Hence, a person smoothly walks through the right path.
Scholar Is Unaware Of Divine Secrets
Sultan Bahoo (ra) says:
- Do not seek Divine secrets from an ascetic in the madrasa, because if a worm eats a book, it cannot become a scholar. (Nur-ul-Huda Khurd)
Allama Iqbal says:
فقیہِ شہر بھی رہبانیت پہ ہے مجبور
کہ معرکے ہیں شریعت کے جنگ دست بدست
Meaning: The Islamic jurist in the city has left all his activities becoming confused and has adopted a monastic lifestyle because Muslim scholars belonging to different sects are fighting upon the laws of sharia, reinterpreting and giving them many new forms, which has confused even the jurists so they have withdrawn themselves from unnecessary arguments. (Zarb-e-Kalim)
Fakirs And Scholars Both Are Appointed By Allah To Perform Specific Duties
There are so many differences among the scholars at the matters of sharia that they even impose fatwas of disbelief on each other. Seeing this situation, the real jurists have distanced themselves from them. The scholars and the Fakirs, in their capacities, are performing their assigned duties. Despite the contradictions among scholars, we cannot deny their importance. They are appointed by Allah for the training of the Muslims who are at the initial level. Hence, people at least obey Allah’s commandments by performing exoteric acts of worship.
فَاِذَا اطۡمَاۡنَنۡتُمۡ فَاَقِیۡمُوا الصَّلٰوۃَ ۚ اِنَّ الصَّلٰوۃَ کَانَتۡ عَلَی الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ کِتٰبًا مَّوۡقُوۡتًا ﴿۱۰۳﴾
Meaning: And when (free of fear) you feel secure, establish Prayers (as prescribed). Verily, Prayer is obligatory for Muslims in accordance with the fixed timings. [4: 103]
When a person starts following this command, he will surely try to move on to the next level i.e., the presence of inward. Holy Prophet pbuh said:
Meaning: No salat without the presence of inward.
In short without the presence of inward each act of worship is incomplete. Presence of inward leads to the gnosis of Allah. In fact, Allah Almighty admires and accepts those acts of worship which are done with a pure intention of Divine nearness and vision. But if a scholar is not on this station himself, then how can one attain it under his training?
One Can Gain Divine Love In The Company Of Fakir Only
وَ اذۡکُرۡ رَّبَّکَ اِذَا نَسِیۡتَ ﴿۲۴﴾
Meaning: And invoke your Lord when you forget (everything and even yourself). (18:24)
Oblivion is an esoteric condition. Let’s take an example. Once Majnun, lover of Layla, deeply engrossed in her love walked in front of some worshipers. On which the worshipers expressed their dismay. At this, Majnun said a historical sentence, “I could not see all of you in the love of one Layla, so how did you all see me while worshipping Allah?” This was a point of disgrace for all the worshipers.
In short, Divine love is an esoteric power which can be gained only in the company of Fakirs.
Sultan Bahoo ra says
جتھے رتی عشق وکاوے، اوتھے مناں ایمان دویوے ھوُ
کتب کتاباں ورد وظیفے، اوتر چا کچیوے ھوُ
باجھوں مرشد کچھ نہ حاصل، توڑے راتیں جاگ پڑھیوے ھوُ
مرئیے مرن تھیں اگے باھو،ؒ تاں ربّ حاصل تھیوے ھوُ
Explanation: Where one gram of Divine love is being sold, better barter tons of faith for it because the heights where love can take you, faith is unaware. Nothing is possible without the perfect spiritual guide even if you spend your entire life studying books, secluding yourself or staying up at nights. Remember! Union with Allah is not possible without ‘death before dying’.
Some scholars intentionally hide the teachings about Divine love because they themselves do not have it. About their behaviour Allah Almighty says in the holy Quran:
فَتُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِبَعۡضِ الۡکِتٰبِ وَ تَکۡفُرُوۡنَ بِبَعۡضٍ ۚ ﴿۸۵﴾
Meaning: Do you believe in some parts of the Book and deny some others? [2: 85]
Difference Between A Fakir And A Scholar
Sultan Bahoo (ra) describes the difference between a Fakir and a scholar in Mehk-ul-Faqr Kalan:
- What is the difference between Fakirs and scholars? True scholars are obedient, follow sharia and are the heirs of the Prophets. Whereas Fakirs are the relinquishers and independent, they are men of invocation and reflection who recite and meditate, have gnosis and are the heirs of Faqr and morals of Prophet Mohammad. They always stay in the company of Allah. The scholars remain busy in acquiring knowledge, its revisions, discussions, and verbosity whereas the Fakirs are engrossed in Divine deeds and enjoy their eternal union with Allah. The station of knowledge and intellect is that of a beginner. The one who is at this level is a reciter. The Fakir belongs to the ultimate level, and he is the man of Divine presence and company. (Sufism – The Soul of Islam)
Guiding Style of a Fakir
In Sufism, Fakir is known as spiritual guide or Murshid and the people who come to him for spiritual training are called disciples or murid. Spiritual guide trains his disciples on the same lines at which the Holy Prophet (pbuh) trained his Companions. About this Allah says in the Quran:
ہُوَ الَّذِیۡ بَعَثَ فِی الۡاُمِّیّٖنَ رَسُوۡلًا مِّنۡہُمۡ یَتۡلُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ اٰیٰتِہٖ وَ یُزَکِّیۡہِمۡ وَ یُعَلِّمُہُمُ الۡکِتٰبَ وَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ ۙ﴿۲﴾
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. [62: 2]
In the aforementioned verse of sura al-Jumu’ah, Allah mentions the calls of Prophet Mohammad pbuh as follows: (1) Recites verses unto them, that is, invites them towards Islam and conveys commands of Allah; (2) purification of innerself and (3) bestows wisdom through inspired knowledge.
Nowadays Muslim scholars do the same, they recite verses before people, invite them to Islam, convey the meaning of the Quran and persuade to follow what it says. Then why masses accepted Islam in the age of Prophet Mohammad but now none because of them? The reason is that he had immeasurable spiritual powers. Hence he raised spiritual ranks of people who visited him by the efficacy of his sacred company or through his words.
The Holy Prophet Spiritually Elevates His Companions By The Efficacy Of His Spiritual Sight
Before accepting Islam, Salman the Persian (ra) had met spiritual leaders of Jews, Christians and fire worshippers but was influenced by none. However as soon as he reached the Holy Prophet (pbuh), he recited shahada upon seeing his sacred face.
Once the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said to Umar ibn Khattab (ra), “None of you will be accomplished in faith till he loves me more than his life, wealth and children.” Listening to this, Umar (ra) said that he did not feel such state. The Prophet asked, “Do you not feel?” This address raised his spiritual status and he immediately said, “Now I feel it.”
One day Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) was designating Muadh ibn Jabal (ra) or some other Companion as the governor of Yemen. Muadh ibn Jabal said to the Prophet, “O Prophet! I do not have the ability to become a governor.” When the Prophet touched his shoulder, he at once exclaimed, “Now I feel the ability within me.” This is called purification of innerself by the spiritual sight.
Fakirs Are The Vicegerents Of The Holy Prophet
Afterwards, the spiritual successors of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) executed the same responsibility. This is the reason why rhetoric of scholars go in vain while even a minute attention of the perfect spiritual guide cleanses devotees’ innerselves due to which their souls become strengthened hence reaching close to Allah crossing many waystations.
Allama Mohammad Iqbal also says that in order to accomplish faith, the cure of Muslims lies in the powerful sight of a perfect spiritual guide:
خرد کے پاس خبر کے سوا کچھ اور نہیں
ترا علاج نظر کے سوا کچھ اور نہیں
Explanation: Intellect has nothing but verbosity, the cure lies in the spiritual sight of the perfect spiritual guide from diseases of the soul e.g., jealousy, rancour, greed, lust, backbiting, slander etc. Thereafter filling the inward with the ardent love for Allah. (Bal-e-Jibril)
A Fakir Grants Invocation Of Ism-e-Allah Zaat
Due to his spiritual powers, the Fakir always takes control of his disciples’ thoughts. Hence, keeps them on the right path and opens the way of observation which makes his disciples aware of esoteric knowledge. Esoteric knowledge is the knowledge of marifa of Oneness and observation of Divine light of the Essence. A spiritual guide always guides his disciples to immerse them in the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat instead of exoteric knowledge. Ism-e-Allah Zaat is the only source of providing gnosis of Allah and permanent presence in the Mohammadan assembly. Exoteric scholars do not have such authority.
Sultan Bahoo ra says:
- Scholars say that we are the waves of Divine ocean. We neither are Allah nor are we separated from Him. But Fakirs say that we are the Divine ocean. We are not Allah, but we are annihilated in Him and not separat from Him. Therefore, both the scholars and the Fakirs are right. The beginning of the Fakir is the ultimate level of scholars. (Aqal-e-Bedar)
A Scholar Knows The Way To Allah While A Fakir Knows Allah
A scholar knows the way towards Allah, while a Fakir knows Allah. So, what one becomes depends on whose company he or she adopts.
Sultan Bahoo ra says:
- Fakir enlivens the Sunnah and demolishes innovation. He vivifies the inward and kills the inciting self. (Nur-ul-Huda Khurd)
قَدۡ اَفۡلَحَ مَنۡ تَزَکّٰی ﴿ۙ۱۴﴾
Meaning: Indeed, only he who is purified (from the afflictions of his ill-commanding self and pollution of sins) will triumph. [85: 14]
He further says:
قَدۡ اَفۡلَحَ مَنۡ زَکّٰىہَا ۪ۙ﴿۹﴾
Meaning: Indeed, the one who purifies his (ill-commanding) self (from all vain and vicious desires and cultivates in it virtue and piousness) succeeds. [91: 9]
Scholars Don’t Have The Powers To Purify Others
Most of the scholars also give long speeches on purification of innerself, which gives people the impression that scholars also have the spiritual power to purify others. One must know that a scholar only acquires the knowledge of purification through study, but they have not achieved the state of purification. Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen writes in his book “ Prophetic way of Purgation of Innerself” that Fakir has the power of purifying the self. He says:
- The sacred Companions had the purgation of their inner selves done in the presence and spiritual sight of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and he announced that my Companions are like stars, whoever you choose to follow shall lead you to success. That’s how this treasure of Divine light of gnosis of Allah got transferred, only by sitting in their presence and company, from the sacred Companions to Tabi’un and Tabi al-Tabi’in. Because the Prophethood of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) shall remain till the end of existence, he made Fakirs and Arifs (Knowers of Allah) his vicegerents and blessed them with the nur of knowledge of purification of the self so the rest of his umma could also benefit from them. (Prophetic way of Purgation of Innerself)
Fakir Bestows His Disciples With Firmness On Shahada
After the purification of innerself a person performs each act of worship with the presence of inward. He does all these acts purely for the sake of Allah Almighty. Hence, he becomes a Mumin (true believer).
- Confess with the tongue and confirm by the inward.
The seekers who confirm through inward are the most special disciples of a Fakir. In the beginning we explained the need of a scholar for a person to become Muslim by reciting shahada by tongue. Likewise, a Fakir bestows his disciples with firmness on the word of piety (shahada). Allah Almighty says:
وَ اَلۡزَمَہُمۡ کَلِمَۃَ التَّقۡوٰی ﴿٪۲۶﴾
Meaning: And made them firm on the word of piety. [48: 26]
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) says in Sirr al-Asrar:
- ‘Word of piety’ is in fact shahada which is inculcated by the perfect spiritual guide whose inward is purified of everything other than Allah. It is not merely a verbal recitation, although the words are same but there is a clear difference in meaning. If the seed of Oneness of Allah is obtained from an immortal spiritual guide, then one’s inward becomes alive as this seed is the best and perfect. On the contrary the inferior seed does not have the capacity to grow (give life). (Sufism – The Soul of Islam)
Allah has appointed both the scholars and the Fakirs. However, no one has ever attained to the level of a Saint or could have gnosis and vision of Allah without the spiritual training of the perfect spiritual guide. Al-Ghazali (ra) became renowned after he left teaching the religious lessons to experience mystical states under the spiritual guidance of Shaikh Fadl ibn Mohammad al-Farmadi (ra). Rumi became legendary after coming in servitude of his spiritual teacher Shams of Tabriz (ra). Iqbal (ra) became a famous Sufi poet after he received spiritual beneficence from Rumi. Briefly said, no one has ever reached Allah in the history of Faqr and Sufism without a spiritual guide.
Keeping in mind the ease of the people who are walking through the right path, it is stated here that perfect Fakir, who has the status of purification, is always one in every era. Moreover, he always belongs to the Sarwari Qadri order. The spiritual heir of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is always in correspondence to the era. While explaining his esoteric spiritual relation with the Holy Prophet (pbuh), Sultan Bahoo (ra) says:
- I did not get formal academic education like Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). We had the Divine knowledge. The Divine experiences revealed such inspirational knowledge upon me inwardly and outwardly that needs several books to be expressed. (Ain-ul-Faqr)
In Risala Roohi Sharif, he says:
دستِ بیعت کرد مارا مصطفیٰؐ
خواندہ است فرزند مارا مجتبیٰؐ
شد اجازت باھُوؒ را از مصطفیٰؐ
خلق را تلقین بکن بہرِ خدا
Explanation: I have taken oath of allegiance at the sacred hands of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and he has declared me his spiritual son. He has allowed and ordered me to persuade and guide people on the path to Allah.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Is The Perfect Fakir Of This Era
The beneficence of Holy Prophet (pbuh), in the form of Sarwari Qadri order, has been transferred to Ali ibn abi Talib (ra). From him, passing through a chain, reached to Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) and then to Sultan Bahoo (ra). The present and 31st perfect Shaikh of Sarwari Qadri order is Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman. By the beneficence of his spiritual sight thousands of Divine seekers have been blessed with gnosis of Allah and permanent presence in Mohammadan assembly.
I would like to conclude with a prayer, “May Allah bestow us with the beneficence of our spiritual guide till the doomsday. Ameen”
Q1: Who is a Fakir?
Fakir (فقیر) comes from the Arabic word Faqr (فقر). He is the one who follows the path of Faqr.
Faqr (فقر) is the path that leads the seeker of Allah to Divine closeness and vision. Prophet Mohammad was blessed with it on the night of Miraj and it is his Sunna. He said:
- Faqr is my pride and Faqr is from me.
Sultan Bahoo (ra) said:
- There are two kinds of Fakirs. One are those who are the men of exoteric ways and others are the men of esoteric ways. Those who struggle exoterically by eating less but are unaware of the inner, will end up in falsehood. Whatever the men of esotericism eat, converts into Divine light twice as much as they eat. The food of Fakirs is light, their esoteric self is like a stove, their inward is the heavenly Kaaba, their sleep is the presence before Allah and their end is forgiven. To them the ascetics are the labourers who struggle to get a place in paradise. (Ain-ul-Faqr)
Q2: What is the difference between a Fakir and a Scholar?
Scholars and Fakirs are two groups who are trying to promote the religion of Islam. The scholars are promoting the exoteric knowledge of the Quran. While the Fakirs are promoting the esoteric knowledge, which, when found, the exoteric knowledge gains automatically. In short, scholars promote the knowledge of sharia whereas Fakirs promote the knowledge of haqiqah and tariqah.
Sultan Bahoo (ra) describes the difference between a Fakir and a scholar in Mehk-ul-Faqr Kalan:
- What is the difference between Fakirs and scholars? True scholars are obedient, follow sharia and are the heirs of the Prophets. Whereas Fakirs are the relinquishers and independent, they are men of invocation and reflection who recite and meditate, have gnosis and are the heirs of Faqr and morals of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). They always stay in the company of Allah. The scholars remain busy in acquiring knowledge, its revisions, discussions and verbosity whereas the Fakirs are engrossed in Divine deeds and enjoy their eternal union with Allah. The station of knowledge and intellect is that of a beginner. The one who is at this level is a reciter. The Fakir belongs to the ultimate level and he is the man of Divine presence and company. (Sufism – The Soul of Islam)