Allah Ta’ala states:
“He (i.e. man) utters nor a word, but a ready guard is at hand.”
Rasulullah (saws) said:
“He who maintains silence has attained salvation.” Ahmad, Tirmizi
Maalik (rahmatullah alayh) said that it reached him that Eesaa Bin Maryam (alayhis salaam) said:
“Do not speak in abundance other than zikrullah, for your hearts will become hard. Verily, a hard heart is far from Allah, bur you know nor. And, do not look at the sins of people as if you are the overseer. Gaze at your sins as if you are slaves. People are of two kinds: the one who is involved (in sin) and the one who is saved (from sin). Have mercy upon those involved and praise Allah Ta’ala for protection (received).”Taiseer
Abundance of speech hardens the heart thereby eliminating humility and fear. This fact is established by experience. A person becomes distanced from Allah Ta’ala because of the hardness in the heart, but one fails to realize this drift from Allah Ta’ala. The reality of it will be discerned in the Aakhirat. Although the effects of such distance from Allah are detectable here as well, but due to unconcern one fails to realise this. One should not view the sins of others as if one has been appointed over others, but on the contrary one should be concerned with one’s own sins so that compensation could be offered and rectification adopted. Some people are involved in sin and others again have been protected from sin. One should have mercy upon those who have become involved in sin and not despise or criticize them. Admonish them with kindness and make duaa on their behalf. Protection against sins is a safeguard, hence one should not be vain and arrogant if one is saved from sin. On the contrary, one should consider such protection as a ni’mat (favour) of Allah a favour to which one is not entitled, and be grateful.
Taqleel-e-Kalaam (Reducing Speech)
Man’s conversation apparently falls into three categories.
1. Beneficial. 111 such speech is some worldly or Deeni benefit.
2. Harmful. In such speech is some worldly or Deeni harm.
3. Neither beneficial nor harmful. The Hadith describes this third category of speech as laa-ya’ni (futile, useless). On closer examination it will be realized that this third class of speech belongs also to the second category, viz. harmful talk. If SUBHAANALLAAH was uttered once during a time which was squandered in futile talk, then half the pan in the Scale of Anil (deeds) would be filled. If some advantageous or righteous act was done during the time spent in futile conversation, it would have become an expiation for sin and a medium of salvation in the Aakhirat. If not this, then at least such time idly spent could have been expended in some worldly benefit. Rasulullah (saws) said:
“A sign of one’s Islam being healthy is one’s shunning of futile acts and futile talks.”
In Ihyaa-ul Uloom it is mentioned that a reckoning will be taken (in Aakhirat) of laa-ya’ni (futile) speech. There is therefore no certainty that one will be saved from something which will be submitted to reckoning.
The mujaahadah of reducing conversation is more difficult than the mujaahadah of reducing food and reducing sleep. In eating, preparation to a certain extent is involved, moreover, there is a limit to food consumption. Indigestion due to excessive eating will in itself compel one to reduce eating. Similarly, there is a limit to sleeping. On the contrary, conversation requires no effort and no difficulty is experienced in maintaining the tongue in operation. Man resorts to pleasures so as to experience delight and joy. Besides conversation, all other pleasures (hurooz) decrease in enjoyment with greater indulgence. Eating with a filled stomach does not bring about any enjoyment in the food. Excessive sleep too is not enjoyable. But, the enjoyment derived from speaking is limitless. In fact, pleasure increases the more one speaks. Hence, ‘aqleel-e-kalaam (reducing conversation) is the most difficult. Inspite of this difficulty, freedom in it (i.e. in speech) has not been granted because of the evils involved in abundant speech. One becomes greatly involved in sin because of speaking much. Reducing speech has therefore been stipulated as a rukn (fundamental) of mujaahadah.
Reducing speech does not mean reduction in such talk which is necessary. But, it means shunning nonsensical or futile conversation even if such talk happens to be lawful. If this habit is Inculcated then abstention from haraam talks such as falsehood, scandalizing, slandering, etc. will be automatic. Abstaining from unlawful discussion comes within the scope of true mujaahadah – mujaahadah which is compulsory. If one becomes accustomed to refrain from idle (although it may be lawful) talk which falls within the scope of secondary mujaahadah then to a far greater degree will one practise true mujaahadah (i.e. compulsory striving against haraam talk). It is not permissible to shun talk which is necessary since this will result in problems or cause inconvenience and difficulty to the audience.
Explanation of “Necessary”
“Necessary” here means such a need which if refrained from will result in harm. Therefore, if by refraining from a certain conversation the result is some worldly or Deeni harm, then such talk will be necessary. Example of necessary talk is the conversation that a trader has with customers in order to promote his sales. As long as his talk is in the interests of his trade it will be regarded as necessary. Refraining from such talk will result in worldly loss, hence the Shariat gives permission for such discussion. Such necessary conversation has absolutely no detrimental effect of the heart. The heart does not darken the slightest by such necessary talk. The illustrious Auliyaa have experienced that even a full day spent in necessary talk will not adversely affect the heart. An auctioneer can spend the entire day in selling by means of talking, but such talking will not darken the heart one iota because such talk is regarded as necessary. On the other hand, a single statement spoken unnecessarily will darken the heart.
The Shariat’s prescription of reducing speech does not mean sealing the mouth, but it envisages that the tongue be kept occupied with the tilaawat (recitation) of the Qur’aan Majeed or in Thikr (remembrance) of Allah Ta’ala. In this way the mujaahadah of speech reduction will be most beneficial. By means of this mujaahadah of speech reduction will be most beneficial. By means of this mujaahadah the tongue remains detached from sin; the habit of nonsensical discussion is reduced (or eliminated), and along with it limitless thawaab (spiritual reward) is obtained. By constantly engaging the tongue in Thikr such benefit is acquired, which is unobtainable by maintaining silence.
Prior to speaking, ponder for a few moments. Endeavour to understand whether Allah Ta’ala Who is the Hearer and the See; will be pleased or displeased with what you are about to speak. If this method of contemplation is adopted before speaking, then, Insha’Allah, sinful talk will not emerge from your lips. If after adopting such contemplation, the nafs urges one to indulge in sinful or nonsensical talk, then confront it with courage and suppress the urge. If any unbecoming talk was spoken then compensate immediately for it by making taubah (repenting). If the talk involved abuse to anyone, mockery of anyone, scandalizing or gossiping about anyone, then after taubah obtain the pardon of the person concerned as well. If for some reason it is difficult to obtain the necessary pardon (e.g. the person concerned may be away or may have died) then make Istighfaar (seeking Allah’s Forgiveness) for the person concerned as well as for oneself. Such forgiveness could be asked in the following way:
اَللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْلَنَا وَلَهُ
“O Allah forgive us and forgive him.”
Hadhrat Shaikh Fareeduddin Atraar (rahmatullah alayh) explains most beautifully, perfectly and comprehensively the benefits of maintaining silence. He says:
“In my mind does nor enter any topic nobler than silence. Silence contains so many benefits that they cannot be explained. Silence makes breasts the treasure houses pearls of wisdom. I learnt this hidden secret from the oyster’s shell.”
The drop of water enclosed in the oyster’s shell is transformed into a pearl. Similarly, man’s breast becomes a treasure-house for pearls of wisdom by means of`closure of the lips.
Qillat-e-Ta’am (Reducing food)
Allah Ta’ala states.
“Eat and drink, but do not waste. Verify, Allah does not love those who transgress the limits.”
Rasulullah (saws) said:
“Tasbeeh and Taqdees which are sufficient for those of the heaven will suffice for them (people) too.”
This Hadith means that like Tasbeeh (reciting the Glories of Allah) and Taqdees (reciting the Holiness of Allah) are sufficient for the Malaa-ikah (Angels) in the heavens so will it suffice as nourishment for Muslims. It is narrated that certain saints remained without food for long periods in solitude engaged in Tasbeeh and Taqdees. It is clear from this Hadith that at times Thikr and Tasbeeh are sufficient as nourishment. However, it is not possible to adhere to the methods of food reduction practiced in former times. The people of those days were endowed with great physical strength and despite the great reduction in food they suffered no ill effect and maintained their full concentration in their Ibaadat activities. Their physical strength could be gauged from the type of spiritual exercises (ashghaal) which they practiced. Some of their ashghaal were of such a severe nature that if anyone attempts to practice them today he will find his back breaking. Such an example is Salaat-e-Ma’koos which consists of suspending oneself upside down and in this inverted manner carry out some shaghl (singular of ashghaal).
In reality Rasulullah (saws) did not prescribe taqleel-e-ta’aam, but altered the routine rimes of eating and in this way made the intervals between eating times longer. This change of habit (in eating times) and the longer intervals (between eating times) which are difficult upon the nafs, have been considered by the Shariat to be representative of taqleel-e-ta’aam. Among the various forms of mujaahadah, fasting is the best. Hence, the Shariat has given taqleel-e-ta’aam the form of fasting. In the Shariat, reduction of food will therefore be fasting. The other forms of taqleel-e-ta’aam adopted by the people of mujaahadah have no original basis in the Shariat. Eating less and remaining hungry are not forms of mujaahadah of the Shariat. The significance (fadheelat) of hunger mentioned in the Hadith does not refer to voluntary (i.e. self-imposed) hunger, but refers to involuntary hunger – hunger which comes one’s way uninvited. The Hadith consoles such persons of poverty by explaining the virtues of hunger so that they do not worry and suffer unduly.
Patience in the face of such divinely imposed hunger, occasions thawaab and elevation of spiritual ranks. This significance of hunger is similar to the significance of sickness explained in the Hadith. The Hadith mentions thawaab for even sickness, but this does not mean that one has to voluntarily induce sickness. The method of qillate-e-ta’aam mentioned in the book, Tableeghe Deen by Imaam Ghazaali Rahmatullah Alayh, has been forbidden because reduction in food is not the intended purpose of the Shariat, also because the physique of people of today is unlike that of the people of earlier times.
Qillat-e-ta’aam is not an end in itself, but is a means of acquiring an intended aim. This intended aim and purpose is to weaken the animal urge in man, and the aim in weakening this urge is to prevent the nafs from sin. Therefore, if the nafs could be controlled and restrained from sin without reducing food then taqleel-e-ta’aam is not necessary. Furthermore, cheerfulness and joy in Ibaadat are experienced if the body is in the state of health and strength. Experience shows that nowadays the health in most cases suffers as a result of taqleel-e-ta’aam. But, at the same time one must abstain from excessive eating and adhere to moderation. The capacity of people differs, hence moderation will differ for different persons. The guide line in this matter is to eat when hungry and to stop eating when you feel that you can yet eat a few more morsels. In other words, one is allowed to eat to one’s stomach fill, but not to satisfy one’s desire.
Qillat-e-Manaam (Reducing sleep)
Allah Ta’ala says:
“Stand up during the night, but a portion (of the night); half the night or less than half the night.”
The aforementioned aayat commands standing up during the night so that the nafs becomes accustomed to striving. In this way the ability of the nafs (to submit to righteousness) attains strength and perfection. Standing up during the night is most efficacious for bringing the nafs into submission. All forms of Ibaadat, be it Duaa or Qira’t, Namaaz or Thikr and be it external (zahir) or internal (batin), are fulfilled in the proper manner during the night. The meaning of proper external (zahir) discharge of Ibaadat during the night is the proper and correct recital of the words since the time available is ample. The meaning of proper internal (batin) discharge of Ibaadat is that during the night one derives greater pleasure in Ibaadat. This is in fact what is meant by the tongue and the heart conforming.
During the month of Ramadhaan the Shariat has ordered the performance of Taraaweeh Salaat during the night because it envisages taqleel-e-manaam. Like saum (fasting) has its role in taqleel-e-ta’aam, Taraaweeh has its role in taqleel-e-manaam. Like the change of habit (i.e. in eating times) during fasting induces mujaahadah, so too, does the change of habit in Taraaweeh. The general habit prevailing is to sleep after ishaa. The command of Taraaweeh brings about a change in the habit of sleeping, and this changing of habit is difficult on the nafs. This is precisely mujaahadah.
In taqleel-e-manaam the Shariat does not stop at mere awakefulness, but instructs the observance of Ibaadat during the time of awakefulness. Allah Ta’ala praises pious servants in the Qur’aan:
“In the latter part of the night they make istighfaar.”
Elsewhere in the Qur’aan it is said:
“They separate their sides from the beds calling their Rabb in fear and hope…”
In other words, they perform Salaat during the night. However the trend of the aayat comprehends all forms of Ibaadat, hence it applies to Duaa and Thikr as well. Furthermore, beside the Deeni benefits in sleeping less, the physical health also benefits. Less sleep creates Nur (celestial light) on the face. The following is the statement of a Muhaddith in this regard:
“The face of one who performs Salaat in abundance during the night becomes beautiful during the day.”
Excessive sleep is detrimental to the physical health as well. It reduces or stunts the capacity of contemplation in a person. This in turn brings about harm in both Deeni and worldly activities. A person who is given to excessive sleeping is never able to be punctual in time.
Moderation in Qillat-e-Manaam
Moderation in this mujaahadah is also desirable. Nowadays this moderation means sleeping at least six to seven hours. If sleep becomes over-bearing then one should not ward it off. In this case postpone your wazeefah (act of Ibaadat) and sleep. The wazeefah should be completed later. If the sleep is not over-powering then one should adopt courage and remain awake. If sleep is warded off when it is really over-powering then the consequence will be harmful to the mind as well as to the body in general. Confused thoughts will arise in the mind and at times one is deceived into believing such confused thoughts to be inspiration (ilhaam). Such a person then considers himself to be a saint. The final result is insanity. Hence, Rasulullah (saws) said:
“When any of you rises in the night and finds that he is unable to recite the Qur’aan properly (due to feeling sleepy), and he does not know what he is reciting, then he should lay down.”
The advice in such cases of sleepiness is to lay down and not to ward off the sleep. Some people who are extreme in their observance of taqleel-e-manaam and other aspects of mujaahadah and do not heed the possibility of harm, should take advice from this Hadith. This Hadith is an admonishment for them. The advice given in this Hadith is two-fold.
1. At times extremism in mujaahadah proves detrimental to the physique.
2. When the words are not recited correctly because of over-powering sleep then the necessary thawaab will not be obtained. Thus remaining awake will serve no beneficial purpose in this case.
Qillat-e-Ikhtilaat Ma’al Anaam (Reducing association with people) Unnecessary association with people should not be augmented. Remember that besides Allah, there are three kinds of association.
1. Praiseworthy association. The Shariah commands this type of association, for in itself it is an association with Allah Ta’ala. Ending such association is not permissible.
2. Detestable association. The Shariat prohibits such association. Ending such association is Waajib (compulsory).
3. Permissible association . This association is neither Ibaadat nor sin. It is not necessary to end such association. Although permissible, there is a need to reduce such association. The instruction to discontinue association refers to detestable and permissible association and not to praiseworthy association. However, in so far as detestable association is concerned, the discontinuance must be total, i.e. such association is to be compulsory ended, and in regard to permissible association the meaning is reduction or limiting such association.
As long as the relationship with the Creator is not well-established and grounded, association with the creation is extremely harmful. The ostensible reason advanced for association with people, viz., fulfilment of their obligations, can be truly fulfilled only if the relationship with the Creator has been firmly grounded. If the relationship with Allah has not been firmly established then neither is the duty to creation fulfilled nor the duty to the Creator. This fact has been proven by the experience of thousands of Auliyaa.
Solitude is permissible, in fact best and advisable (afdhal) for one who has no worldly or Deeni duty pertaining to himself or others to discharge. Such solitude is of greater merit during times of strife and mischief when it becomes difficult to have patience (sabr) in the face of anxiety, agitation, confusion and anarchy. The Ahadith have extolled solitude during such circumstances. Rasulullah (saws): said in this regard:
“. . . a man who takes to solitude on the peak of a mountain. He has goats, he fulfils their right and makes the ibaadat of Allah.”
In another Hadith it appears:
“Soon a time will dawn when the best wealth of a Muslim will be goats. He will go with them to a peak of a, mountain and to places where rain-water accumulates. He will flee from mischief taking along his Deen.”
Solitude (i.e. total dissociation from people) is not permissible for one who has some duties and obligations to discharge, whether such duties pertain to others or oneself, and whether it be obligations, e.g. providing maintenance to one’s family when one does not have the ability of Tawakkul (trust in Allah), or Deeni obligations, e.g. the acquisition of necessary Deeni knowledge. Certain Ahadith which prohibit solitude refer to these two states just mentioned. Such an example of prohibition is the case of Hadhrat Uthmaan Ibn Math’un (radhiyallahu anhu). He was forbidden from adopting solitude since he was yet in need of acquiring knowledge of the Deen. At the same time Muslims also were in need of him regarding matters of the Deen, especially in the fields of spreading the Word of Allah and developing Islam.
The above explanation pertains to solitude which is adopted permanently. However, temporary solitude (khalwat) of a few days is necessary for the mubtadi (beginner in Tasawwuf) in the majority of cases.
The Benefits of Solitude (Khalwat)
Among the numerous benefits ensuing from solitude is the abstention from sin provided that in solitude control is exercised over the eyes as well. The ears as well as the heart have to be guarded in solitude. Deliberately the thought of anyone besides Allah Ta’ala should not be introduced into the mind. In the event of any such stray thought entering the mind, the one sitting in solitude should immediately ward off the thought by engaging in Thikrullaah. In such a well-guarded solitude there is indeed great protection against sin.
It is quite manifest that prevention against evil has priority over the acquisition of gain, hence solitude has priority over association. Although association (i.e. with others) has its many benefits, nevertheless many sins follow in its wake. Secondly, qillat-e-kalaarn (less conversation) is difficult with association (ikhtilaat). Only the Siddiqeen and those perfected in spiritualism are able to exercise perfect control over their tongues (as well as other emotions) even ill association with others. In most cases futile and nonsensical discussions take place when one is in association with others. The hearts of those who have no solitude in their time become progressively denuded of anwar (spiritual effulgence).
The Benefits of Association (Ikhtilat)
For certain persons in particular circumstances, association is beneficial. Among such benefits are acquisition (ta’allum) of knowledge and imparting (ta’leem) of knowledge, Ta’leem and ta’allum are dependant upon association (ikhtilaat). Ikhtilaat affords the opportunity of rendering service to creation. The fadheelat (significance and benefits) of. Jama’t Salaat is available by means of ikhtilat. One who has adopted total solitude is deprived of the thawaab of Jama’t and service to creation. Tawadhu (humility) is also the result of ikhtilat. The faidh (spiritual manificence) of the Deen is obtained by means of associating with the Auliyaa.
The Effective Method
Execute every act and duty at its stipulated time. Mundane (worldly) duties in their time and Ibaadat on its time. Even occasional humour and light-hearted talk for pleasing the hearts of Muslims should be resorted to at opportune times. One’s daily life should be conducted in this con- trolled manner. Total solitude is not always ideal because sometimes eagerness and enthusiasm in one are dulled and it then becomes difficult to progress.
Service to creation is extremely beneficial for the Saalik (the one who trods the Path of Spiritual Progress), but his ikhtilat (association) should not exceed his time required for rendering his service to creation. Association in excess to the required measure is fraught with batini (pertaining to the ruh) evils and harm. One should not increase one’s association and connections, for such increase interferes with thikrullah.
One should remain in solitude as long as the heart finds solace and united with Allah Ta’ala. However, when one becomes disturbed and frustrated in solitude as a result of a multitude of thoughts striking the mind, one should withdraw from solitude and sit in company. But, it is essential that the company be pious. The stray thoughts and frustration will be eliminated in such company. In such circumstances ikhtilat (association) is in the same category as khalwat (solitude).
These four aspects (discussed so far), viz., qillat-e-kalam, qillat-e-ta’am, qillat-e-manam and qillat-e-ikhtilat ma-al anam belong to Mujahadah Ijmali. In the ensuing pages will be discussed the kinds of Mujahadah Tafseeli.