Take me safely to the other side
O my Murshid, O my Guide,
Take me safely to the other side,
O my Murshid, Lord of the Light,
Take me safely to the other side.
The Shaykh among his community
Is as the prophet in his community,
The guide is to the devout
Like the full moon in the night.
The learned are heirs to the prophets
Leaving behind no silver nor gold,
Love is their quest, knowledge their thirst,
A heavenly kingdom they inherit.
They are sought by eight gates of paradise,
Heavenly hosts in respect lower their wings,
For them earthly beings beg forgiveness,
Men, beasts even the fishes in the seas!
“You have read many books O Shahi,”
Said Shaykh Bishkuti to me,
“Now observe and read internally”
What use is eyesight without inner light?
O my Murshid, O my guide,
Take me safely to the other side,
O my Murshid, Lord of the Light,
Take me safely to the other side.
SUFI DOCTRINES: HOW THE MUREED SHOULD BEHAVE TOWARDS HIS OR HER SHAYKH
Al-Qashani is the author of the Persian handbook of the Sufis the Misbaah al-hidaaya wa Miftaah al-Kifaaya – The Lamp of Right Guidance and the Key to What is Sufficient. This book has been partially translated into English by Wilbeforce Clark while the impression is given that it is the Arabic book of as-Suhrawardi, the ‘Awaarif al-Ma-aarif. I hope to translate the chapter HOW THE MUREED SHOULD BEHAVE TOWARDS HIS OR HER SHAYKH as given in the book of al-Qashani and perhaps later on I’ll see if as-Suhrawardi mentions more.
Know this: It belongs to the most important rules of the mureed that she or he takes care of behaving properly towards her or his shaykh, because of the fact that the guarding of the ways of behaviour creates love in the heart. It so happens that the beauty of your spirit and the perfection of your intelligence can only be seen in the shape of the beauty of your way of behaviour. If you are always courteous towards your shaykh, then because of the love that is created you’ll win a place in the heart of your shaykh and then the eye of the mercy of God will rest on you. God is always looking with the eye of mercy and care on the hearts of His friends. If the mureed finds a fixed place in the heart of her/his shaykh, then the blessings of the always lasting divine mercy will be hers/his. The acceptance by the shaykh will be the sign that he has no objection towards you and is the clear proof of the being accepted by God and His messenger and all the shaykhs who are the linking-pins between your shaykh and the messenger of God.
Some of the duties towards your shaykh you can only realise by showing good manners. By showing respect towards religious scholars and shaykhs, who are your spiritual fathers, you fulfil an important duty and if you would neglect these things then this is nothing else as negligence and disobedience. In the ahadith it is said: “Who does not honour our great ones and who does not show mercy towards our ‘little ones’ and who does not acknowledge the right of our scholars, does not belong to us”. If you neglect the right of your shaykh, who as a mediator represents by his right the right of God, then you also fail in your duty towards God, because “if you show neglect towards your lowest lord, then you will not reach your highest Lord”. The shaykh in the midst of his companions who gives them teachings is like the prophet in the midst of his companions. When the shaykh calls you to the path of the imitation of the messenger of God, then he is the representative of the messenger of God: “The shaykh among his community is like the prophet in his community”.
At the moment there are fifteen rules for the mureeds towards their shaykh present in my spirit. These are both universal as well as particular rules.
The first rule expresses the conviction that only your shaykh should take care of your education, guidance, training and teaching. If you should look towards someone else as being comparable to him or even more perfect than him, then your connection with your shaykh, based on love and inclination, is weak and because of that the words and the spiritual states of your shaykh will have little effect on you. The way by means of which words get through to you and give you a connection with the states of your shaykh, is love. If your love is more perfect, then the more your disposition will be open to be educated by your shaykh.
The second rule implies the fixed decision to persevere in the obedience towards your shaykh. You should know that the door of the divine mercy will only open because of your constancy in obedience and service. Either I give my life at his doorstep or I’ll reach my goal. A sign hereof is that you do not turn away, when your shaykh says no to you and when he keeps you at a distance, because a shaykh often tests you when he scans your spiritual states.
Abu ‘Uthman-e-Hiri [d. 298/910-11; he has been of prime importance in the Sufism of Khorasan] came to Neshapur obeying [his shaykh] Shah-e-Kermani (d. before 300/912-13; he was a mureed of Abu Turab an-Nakhshabi)
to visit Abu Hafs-e-Haddad [d. 270/883-4 or earlier; he was a malamatiyya, that is he followed the path of blame]. When he saw the light of his sanctity, his [= Abu Hafs] blessed look attracted him in such a way that he [= Abu ‘Uthman] became a prisoner in his net. When the time to return had come, he then asked Shah-e-Kermani if he could stay [with Abu Hafs]. At that time he was in the midst of his youth. Abu Hafs however chased him away and said: “You are not allowed to sit in my company”. He then obeyed this decision and retreated, walking with his back towards the door, until the shaykh could no longer see him. Abu ‘Uthman then decided that he would dig a hole near his door and to remain sitting in it and not to come out except if Abu Hafs would accept him and call him. When Abu Hafs saw his honest determination, he called him, made him one of his special companions, married his daughter to him and appointed him as his successor. After the death of this shaykh, he sat for thirty years in his place.
The third rule implies that you submit yourself to the choices of your shaykh. As a mureed you should accept every decision of your shaykh dealing with your person or with your possessions and you should obey every decision being submitted and content. This is the only way that you can win the jewel of his attention and his love. Only by this measuring rod the quality of your sincerity can be determined according to the advice present in the following words [Qur’an 4:65]: “Yet by your Lord, they will never believe until they name you to judge concerning what they are quarrelling over among themselves concerning whatever you have decided, and will accept it wholeheartedly”.
Question: How do you know that you can trust your shaykh (or your shaykh to be if you are not yet his mureed)? As you know there are many charlatans around who are only interested in your money or are eager to increase their power over other persons.
The fourth rule stipulates that you should not criticise [your shaykh]. The mureed should never occupy himself/herself, neither inwardly nor outwardly, with criticising the choices and decisions of his/her shaykh. Each time when something is unclear regarding the behaviour of your shaykh then you should think of the story of Moses and Khidr [see Qur’an 18:60-82), wherein Moses in spite of being a prophet, his great knowledge and his passionate devotion to Khidr, criticised several of the acts of Khidr, but he changed his ideas after hearing an explanation of their inner meanings. If your shaykh does something which you cannot understand, then you should say that it is because of your limited understanding and knowledge and in no way it has to do with a wrong behaviour of your shaykh. Thus you will be free of the possibility that the relationship with your shaykh will suffer and that love may diminish. A mureed of al-Junayd [d. 910 C.E.] asked him a question and then criticised his answer. Al-Junayd then said (Qur’an 44:21): ‘When you do not believe me, then keep away from me’
The fifth rule demands that you decline from making your own choices. The mureed is not allowed to undertake anything – neither religious nor worldly, universal or particular – without finding out what the shaykh wants and chooses. You should not eat nor drink, nor dress yourself, nor give presents, nor sleep, nor take, nor give but with the permission of the shaykh. You should not perform any religious practices without the permission and the specification of your shaykh, like for instance fasting or taking food, voluntary devotional practices or limiting yourself to those practices which are obligatory or the remembrance of God, the recitation of the Qur’an and being absorbed in something. It so happened one night that the messenger passed the house of Abu Bakr and overheard him reciting the Qur’an in his nightly prayers with a low voice. Then he passed the house of ‘Umar and heard him recite the Qur’an in his nightly prayers in a loud voice. When the two of them came to the messenger of God in the morning he asked Abu Bakr why he recited the Qur’an in his nightly prayers in a low voice. He answered: “I listen to the One with Whom I converse”. He asked ‘Umar why he recited in a loud voice. He answered: “I drive away the Satan and I awake the one who is sleeping”. Then he ordered them that they should not recite in a too soft voice nor in a voice that is too loud, they should follow a middle course. Then the Quranic verse 17:110 was revealed: “And pray neither with a loud nor with a low voice, but follow a middle course”. This is a proof that when you have a spiritual guide you should not follow your own insight. This is also true when this concerns a true insight.
The sixth rule implies the observing of the thoughts of your shaykh. The mureed is not allowed to undertake anything, which rejects the thoughts of one’s shaykh. You should not consider them to be of little importance, because you rely on the kindness, the perfect clemency, the friendliness and the forgiveness of your shaykh. What enters the consciousness of shaykhs because of rejection or acceptance has a very strong influence on the person of the disciple.
The seventh rule demands of you that you ask your shaykh to give an explanation of your visions. The mureed should depend on his or her shaykh in regard to the explanation of visions, no matter if they come in your sleep or during your wakefulness. You should not independently decide on your own that there is no harm in them. It is namely possible that such visions come about because of secret desires in your soul, but that you are not able to see them as such and that they are judged to be harmless, which may not be the case. When you however speak about it with your shaykh and your shaykh by his rich knowledge gets really acquainted with it, then you have the opinion of your shaykh to help you to realise it in a practical way when it is harmless. When it may mean an injury, then this has also become clear.
The eighth rule demands that you give an attentive ear to the words of your shaykh. The mureed should wait and be attentive in regard to everything that comes from the lips of his or her shaykh. He or she should see his tongue as a means of expression of the speech of God and be convinced that he (your shaykh) speaks by means of God and that his speech does not stem from his own desire and that he has reached the station of ‘He is speaking by me’. You should see his heart as a boisterous sea, filled with all kinds of pearls of knowledge and precious gems of gnosis, a sea which every now and then – because of the blowing of the winds of pre-eternal providence – may cast some of these pearls and precious stones on the shore of the tongue. You should therefore take care and be attentive, so that you are not excluded from anything from the words of your shaykh, which may be useful and beneficial to you.
You should also try to harmonize every word of your shaykh with your own state. You should imagine that you are formulating a request for your well-being at the door of God with a receptive tongue and in the measure of your receptivity a speech coming from the unseen descends to you. When you are talking with your shaykh you should keep away from your own ego, you should be far away from hypocrisy by showing your own knowledge and gnosis and by presenting yourself as beautiful and perfect. Because when you try to speak yourself and when you are waiting for the opportunity to talk yourself, then you remove yourself from the position of a mureed and the ear of your heart will become deaf to the words of your shaykh. In their explanations of the reason that the Qur’anic verse 49:1: ‘O, believers! Do not press forward before Allah and His Messenger…’ has been revealed, some commentators have written: There have been people in the company of the messenger of God who – when someone asked him a question – developed the habit to give their own opinion, this until the Almighty by means of this verse from the Qur’an made it clear that this was wrong and forbidden.
The ninth rule demands that you should lower your voice. When you are together with your shaykh you should not speak with a loud voice, as it is not courteous. It is as if you put down the robe of dignity. In order to teach something the following verse in the Qur’an (49:2) has been revealed: ‘O, believers! Do not raise your voices above the prophet’s voice!’ Thereafter their words were difficult to understand as they were lowering their voices too much. That is why the following verse (49:3) from the Qur’an has been revealed: ‘Those who lower their voices in the presence of the messenger of God are those whose hearts God has tested for reverence’.
The tenth rule implies that you do not show negligence in your behaviour. A too free type of behaviour in the contact with your shaykh is not allowed, neither in words nor in deeds, because if you just let it all go then the veil of modesty and the dress of worthy behaviour are taken away and the flow of mercy then gets interrupted. You should use respectful terms when addressing him, so you should say: ‘Sir!’ or ‘O, my Shaykh!’
The companions of the prophet – in the beginning – did not use respectful terms when using his name. They said: ‘Mohammad!’ and ‘Ahmad!’ until this was disallowed in the word of God (see Qur’an 49:2) that was sent down:
“And do not be loud in speaking to him, as you speak loudly to one another, lest your works come to grieve while you are unaware.”
Thereafter they addressed him by using ‘Messenger of God!’ or ‘Prophet of God!’.
Representatives of the Banu Tamim, in order to get him out, shouted out in front of the inner apartments of the prophet: ‘Mohammad! Come out to us!’
Then these elevated words were revealed (Qur’an 49:4-5):
“Those who shout out to you from without the inner apartments, most of them do not understand. Had they waited for you to come out to meet them, it would have been better for them.”
Just like you should not be too free in your speech to your shaykh, you should see it as your duty to honour and respect him in your acts. That is why, when you are in the company of your shaykh, you should roll out your praying-carpet only during the times of the ritual prayers. When listening to Sufi music you should refrain from making movements and you should not call out, and as long as you have the power to control yourself, you should not move when you are in the company of the shaykh. You should also refrain from laughing.
(Please note that the aim of the aforesaid rules is only to realise the proper behaviour in order that teaching and learning can take place. Every Sufi order and every shaykh modifies the above according to the place, the time and the people concerned).
From the website http://www.chishti.ru/d_adab_sheikh.htm
Importance of a good shaykh by Shaykh Abd’al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi Allahu anhu
Al Ghawth al-Adham Shaykh Sayyad Abd’al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi ‘Allahu anhu said: You must work hard to ensure that your hearts are not locked out of the door of His nearness. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must seek the company of a Shaykh who is learned in the law [hukm] and knowledge [‘ilm] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and who will show you the way toward Him. Without seeing the successful [muflih], one cannot succeed. If a person does not seek the company of scholars who put their knowledge into practice [‘ulama ‘ummal], he is a chicken from an egg abandoned by the rooster and the mother hen.
Seek the fellowship of those who enjoy fellowship with the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). What each of you should do, when the night has grown dark and people have gone to bed and their voices are silent, is get up, take an ablution [yatawadda’], perform two cycles of ritual prayer [yusalli rak’atain] and say: “O my Lord, guide me to one of Your righteous servants near to You, so that he may guide me toward You and make me familiar with Your path.” The instrument [sabab] is necessary. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) was quite capable of guiding [His servants] to Him without the Prophets (anbiya)
. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must awaken from your heedless folly. As the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam has said: If someone relies entirely on his own subjective judgement, he will go astray. Try to find someone who will be a mirror for the face of your religion [din], just as you look in the mirror to check the appearance of your outer face, your turban and your hair. Be sensible! What is this crazy foolishness? You say, “I don’t need anyone to teach me,” and yet the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam has said: The believer is the believer’s mirror [al-mu’minu mir’atu ‘l-mu’min].
When the believer’s faith is sound, he comes to be a mirror for all creatures. They behold their religious faces [wujuh adyanihim] reflected in the mirror of his speech, every time they see him and get close to him. What is this craziness? Not a moment goes by without your begging Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) to provide you with more than you already have to eat, to drink, and to wear, with more sexual opportunities and more income. These are not things that could increase or decrease, even if you were to be joined in your plea by every supplicant whose prayers are answered [da ‘in mujab].
Supplication [da ‘wa] will neither increase one’s sustenance by so much as an atom, nor reduce it by an atom. This is a foregone conclusion [mafrugh minhu]. You must devote your attention to doing what you have been commanded to do, and to avoiding what you have been forbidden to do. You should not worry about that which is bound to come your way, because He guarantees that it will come to you. Allotted shares [aqsam] arrive at their appointed times, whether they be sweet or bitter, whether you like them or dislike them.
The people [of the Way] attain to a condition in which they no longer have any prayer of supplication [du’a] or request [su’al] to make. They do not beg (in their prayers)
to gain advantages, nor to get rid of disadvantages. Their supplication comes to be a matter concerning their hearts, sometimes for their own sake and sometimes for the sake of all creatures, so they utter the prayer of supplication without conscious premeditation [fi ghaiba].
‘O ” Allah, endow us with good behaviour in Your company under all circumstances!
[When the believer’s faith is sound], fasting [sawm], prayer [salat], remembrance [dhikr] and all acts of obedience [ta ‘at] become second nature to him, mingled with his flesh and blood. Then he receives protection from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) under all circumstances. The restraint of the law (hukm)
does not desert him, not for an instant, while he is on this course. The law comes to be like the vessel in which he sits, as he travels over the ocean of the power [qudra] of his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). He goes on traveling over it until he arrives at the shore of the hereafter, at the shore of the ocean of grace and the hand of nearness. Thus he is sometimes in the company of creatures and at certain times in the company of the Creator. His work and toil are with creatures, while his relaxation is with the Creator.
From Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, “The Sublime Revelation (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani),” translated by Muhtar Holland (Al-Baz Publishing, Houston, 1992), p. 426-8. (http://www.spiritualfoundation.net/shaykhmureed.htm)
An extract from Al Murid al Salik ; which is a book from Mehboob al Subhani al-Ghawth al-A’zam Sayyadina al Shaykh Abd’ al-Qadir Gailani Radi Allahu ta’ala anhu.
“Whoever relates himself to a Shaykh, in one way or another, thinking that his relationship will free him from something in the Shari’ah, is sorely mistaken.
Tasawwuf is not wearing the patched wool,
Weeping when singers sing,
Shouting, dancing, or enjoying (these things),
Or behaving like a madman;
Rather, tasawwuf is being pure without turbidity
And following the Haqq, the Qur’an, the din
And humbling the self to Allah, feeling unworthy
Sad, for having committed sins throughout life.
Support for this is found in the Book of Allah. The Exalted says in one ayat: “And no bearer of a burden shall bear the burden of another” (6:164); and in another: “And that his striving shall soon be seen; then shall he be rewarded for it with the fullest reward” (53:39-40).
O Murid, you must be calm and your approach to this path must be the pure Shari’ah. Your actions must be in accordance with the glorious Shari’ah both literally and interpretively. The Shari’ah is the cutting edge and the shining sword that protects itself from imperfection. In this meaning, the Chosen One (upon him be peace and blessings) said, “I leave you with a ‘white’ method (al-muhajat al-baydha’), its night is like its day. Deviation from it leads to destruction.” He also said, “I leave with you something which, if you hold to it, you will never go astray: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah.”
 ‘Izz al-Din Mahmud bin ‘Ali al-Qashani [d.1335 CE]
Sahib al-Din Abu Hafs Umar ibn ‘Abdallah Suhrawardi [d.1234 CE],
Ahahith (plural, singular – hadith) Sayings (and actions) of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
 “Tasawwuf can be called the inwardness of Islam” – the English Shaikh Shahidullah Faridi (r.a.) (1915 – 1978)