The Life of a True Soofi (1)

The Life of a True Soofi (1)

Some friends who are on the Path of Sulook (Tasawwuf) requested me to outline a programme for them. Initially I didn’t have any topic in mind and the topic they suggested requires khalwat (solitude), I therefore did not give a definite word. This morning, however, the opening verses of Surah Muzzammil crossed my heart. It appears that in these verses the complete way of Sulook is mentioned. Therefore, today, something shall be said about these Aayaat.

Says Allah Ta’ala:

“O One wrapped in a shawl! Stand up the night, except for a portion (of it); half the night or reduce it somewhat or increase it.”

The instructions given in these Aayaat are given directly to Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), but the Ummah is included in the injunction.

The Lover and Beloved Sharing Feelings

Muzzammil means: one who is wrapped in a shawl. Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was deeply hurt at the denial of the kuffaar. He desired that these miserable people accept Imaan for their salvation from the Fire of Jahannam. Instead of accepting Imaan they were in outright denial and they made fun of and opposed the Aayaat of Allah. For this reason Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) in a state of extreme grief, concern and dejection sat down wrapped in his shawl and hence he was portrayed like that in this address to console him.

This is like a person who is overcome with worry due to his enemies conspiring against him and vilifying him. In this scenario when his beloved calls him with words depicting his condition of dismay then understand how much consolation he gets out of this knowing that his beloved understands and shares his grief. The words depicting his external condition serve to bring back joy to his heart. One reason for this is that he realizes that his beloved is sharing his feelings. Similarly, here, Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was addressed in this particular manner to give him comfort, followed by instructions of carrying out some particular deeds and exercising patience over the unsavoury circumstances.

Elsewhere in the Qur’aan, also, this type of instructions is given. Allah Ta’ala says:

“Be patient over what they say and instead recite the Tasbeeh and Tahmeed of your Rabb.”

The scenario here is the same as above where the beloved tells the lover: “My Dear! You speak to me. Look at me. Leave your enemies to speak tripe. Engage in conversation with me. Do this.”

Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was consoled through Wahi, but in his Ummat there are the Ahlullah who are inspired with such comforting words from the unseen.

The Kaamil and Grief

From the word ‘Muzzammil’ a mas-alah is drawn. Earlier we learnt that the reason for Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) donning a shawl was his profound grief and dejection. This shows that a Kaamil (one who is perfect in the Deen) never sheds human feelings and exigencies in spite of his perfection. Like here, Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) became sad over the antagonism of the adversaries.

A difference between us and him, however, is that our grief on such occasions is due to narrow-mindedness and weak temperaments whilst the grief of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was out of extreme care, affection and mercy.

Nevertheless it is proven that a Kaamil never comes out of his natural disposition and this should be so because how then will it be possible to make sabr when hurt or afflicted with some adversity. Sabr means to bear something unsavoury. And when nothing is unsavoury to a person then how is he going to make sabr?

The Ahkaam

Now, after the call of Yaa Ayyuhal Muzzammil the Ahkaam are mentioned. These Ahkaam can be summarized as follows: There are two relationships: one with Khaaliq – the Creator – and one with makhlooq – the creation. The relationship with creation is also twofold; one with friends and one with adversaries.  Several aspects of these relationships pertaining to etiquette and actions are mentioned.

Qiyaamul Lail

The first relationship is with the Creator. Pertaining to this relationship it is stated: “Stand up in Salaat at night, except for a portion of the night.” Here Salaat and an etiquette pertaining to obedience unto Allah Ta’ala are taught, and furthermore, moderation is also alluded to.

The etiquette is that such a time was prescribed for Qiyaamul Lail (standing in Salaat at night), which is neither encumbered with the pangs of hunger nor the loading of the stomach which makes a person feel upset or lethargic resulting in the Qiyaam being difficult to bare. The time prescribed is when there is neither of the two. It is a time when one feels light and happy. There is resemblance to the Malaaikah in this as well for they are not afflicted with hunger, nor do they feel the lethargy of a full stomach. Also, in the dark hours of the night there is peace of mind.

Moderation in this Qiyaam is by not instructing standing the whole night because that is austere. On the contrary, some portion of the night has been left for sleep. And in view of specifying for every occasion and for every circumstance and for every person a regime being unfeasible, thus the words ‘half’, ‘third’, ‘two-thirds’ – as understood from the following Rukoo’ – and ‘less than half or increase it somewhat’, the amount is left to the discretion of the addressed. If he is unable to stand up for a long period then for a short while also. The Hadeeth Shareef says: “any portion of the night.”

The rationale behind this moderation is that constancy can be achieved in this balanced approach, not in excessive exertion.

This Qiyaamul Lail – which means Tahajjud – was Fardh. After the abrogation of its Fardh status it assumed the Sunnat status.  And the evidence of it being Sunnat-e-Mu-akkadah is stronger.

Those who are deprived of Tahajjud Salaat are commonly in error. Some people think that Tahajjud is only during the late hours of the night. Since they find it difficult to wake up at this time they abandon Tahajjud Salaat. Bear in mind that if you cannot get up during the late hours of the night it is still permissible to offer Tahajjud Salaat before sleeping, before the Witr Salaat.

Some think that after Tahajjud one cannot sleep; by sleeping the Tahajjud is nullified. On account of this erroneous notion they, too, do not offer Tahajjud Salaat, whereas to sleep after Tahajjud Salaat is permissible.

In short, the practice of Tahajjud Salaat is necessary for those on the Path of Sulook.

(To be continued, Insha-Allah) – From Seeratus Soofi of Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi Rahmatullahi alaih