A Shaikh is one who has full knowledge and experience of spiritual ailments (amradh-e-batinah), attributes of vice and virtue (akhlaq-e-razeelah and akhlaq-e-hameedah), their characteristics (khawas) and their effects (ta’theerat). He should further be able to distinguish between their similarities and he must have perfect ability in devising plans and prescriptions for the acquisition of the attributes of virtue and the elimination of the attributes of vice. He has to be aware of the progress and retrogress of these attributes. He must be well versed in the hazards of the nafs and shaitaan, the intuitive senses and feelings pertaining to the angels and the Divine Being. He must be able to distinguish these various intuitive and extra-sensory feelings and perceptions. It is therefore imperative that the Shaikh of tareeqat be one who is qualified in this knowledge, be a mujtahid in this field and possesses natural ability and inherent propensity. if he has acquired the Tareeq by a mere self-study of books on Tasawwuf or by listening from others, he will destroy the mureed whom he is attending, because he will not be in position to correctly diagnose the various states of the mureed.
Shaikh Ibn Arabi (rahmatullah alayh) briefly summarises the signs of a Shaikh-e-Kamil (the perfect and qualified Shaikh) to be three:
1. Deen resembling the Deen of the Ambiya.
2. Prescribing like the physicians.
3. Management and control like that of kings.
The exposition of the above summary is as follows:
1. He should possess the necessary knowledge of the Deen which he must have acquired by either academic pursuit of such knowledge or from companionship with the Ulama-e-Muhaqqiqeen .
2. He must be a deputy (Khalifah) of a Shaikh-e-Kamil attached to an authentic Silsilah.
3. He should be uprighteous and pious.
4. He derived spiritual benefit by remaining for an adequate period of time in the company of the Shaikh. Such “companionship” is either by means of correspondence or by physical presence in the association of the Shaikh.
5. The people of knowledge (i.e. the Ulama) hold him in high esteem, and refer to him.
6. The effect of his companionship (suhbat) is increase in the desire for Akhirat and Divine love as well as detestation for the love of the world.
7. The majority of his mureeds are followers of the Shariat, their conditions conforming with the demands of the Shariat.
8. He is devoid of greed and desire (for worldly gain and benefit).
9. He engages in Thikr and devotional practices.
10. He does not leave his mureeds unfettered, but reprimaands them when the need arises. He treats everyone according to their respective abilities.
The one in whom these attributes exist is worthy of being a Shaikh and he should be considered a wonderful alchemy. His companionship and service to him are in fact priceless treasures. Once these attributes or perfection are found in a Shaikh. one should not be concerned about karamat (miracles) and kushf (inspiration). It is not necessary that these states exist in the Shaikh-e-Kamil nor is it necessary that he be one who does nor himself earn his livelihood.
MUNASABAT (CONGENIALITY) WITH THE SHAIKH
Experience has proven that for gaining spiritual benefit (fuyudh-e-batini), mutual munasabat (congeniality) between the Shaikh and Mureed is a natural condition. Normally benefit is dependant on affection which is the reality! of natural congeniality (munasabat-e-fitri). Sometimes a Shaikh will refer a mureed to another Shaikh because of the lack of such munasabat between them. In doing so the Shaikh establishes either by deduction or kashf (inspiration from Allah Ta’ala) that the mureed has munasabat with a certain Shaikh. In this Path it is essential that munasabat exists between the Shaikh and Mureed otherwise the latter will not benefit. Such munasabat is the basis for the acquisition of benefit and passing on faidh (spiritual grace) to the mureed. Munasabat envisages that there exists between the Shaikh and Mureed compatibility and harmony to such a degree that the mureed discerns no rejection in his heart for any word or act of the Shaikh although he (the mureed) may be afflicted by mental disagreement with any word or act of the Shaikh.
Nevertheless such mental disagreement will not countenance any rejection for the Shaikh in the heart of the mureed. In short, harmony and compatibility are conditional for bay’t. It is therefore essential to first inculcate munasabat. This need is imperative. In the absence of this essential condition, mujahadat (strivings), riyadhat (certain forms of exercises designed to subdue the nafs), muraqabat (meditations) and mukashafat (intuitive revelations) are all futile. In the absence of natural munasabat (tab’i munasabat), the mureed should endeavour to inculcate intellectual (aqli) munasabat, because benefit is dependant on it. For this reason, one should refrain from entering into the bay’t contract until total munasabat has been inculcated.
THE BENEFITS OF THE COMPANIONSHIP OF A SHAIKH-E-KAMIL
The benefits of association with a Shaikh-e-Kamil are manifold. Among such benefits are:
1. The noble and lofty qualities of the Shaikh slowly develop in the mureed.
2. Even if one is not totally reformed, one will have gained the ability to discern and recognize one’s faults.
3. The mureed follows the Shaikh in character and habit.
4. Attainment of joy and pleasure in Thikr and ibaadat.
5. Enhancement of courage.
6. The obtainal of clarification and contentment from the Shaikh in the event of a spiritual condition settling over the mureed.
7. The mureed will discern his own spiritual condition which becomes manifest in the talks of the Shaikh, such talks being the essence of the masa-il (rules).
8. Increase in the desire to practice virtue.
9. The mureed’s ability becomes manifest to him.
10. Love for Allah Ta’ala increases.
11. Quick attainment of cure for spiritual ailments.
12. Obtaining the dua of the Shaikh.
13. Elimination of doubt and uncertainty as a result of the Nur emanating from the heart of the Shaikh. This Nur has its effect on the mureed. Spiritual darkness is dispelled by this Nur. The reality of all things thus becomes manifest. There are degrees regarding the efficacy of this Nur depending on the degree of fertility of the disposition of the mureed. One of high and noble disposition can attain the full beneficial effect of this Nur by merely looking at such Shaikhs of perfection. In such cases the mureed attains spiritual progress and ranks without even physical association with the Shaikh.
HUQOOQ (RIGHTS) OF THE SHAIKH
1. The mureed should believe that he will attain his goal through the agency of his Shaikh. If the mureed turns his attention elsewhere (i.e. towards another Shaikh while he remains the mureed of one Shaikh) he will be deprived of the spiritual grace and benefit of his Shaikh.
2. The mureed should in all ways be obedient to his Shaikh and render sincere and total service to him. In the absence of the love of the Shaikh there is no real benefit. The sign of love for the Shaikh is immediate fulfilment of his orders. Never follow- an) act without his permission because sometimes the Shaikh resorts to an act which is appropriate for him in view of his rank and spiritual state, but the same act may be a fatal poison for the mureed.
3. Recite the thikr and the wazifas which the Shaikh instructs and refrain from all other forms of wazifas.
4. In the presence of the Murshid, the mureed should direct all his attention towards him. This attention has to be to such a degree that the mureed should not perform even Salaat (in his presence) without his permission.
5. Do not speak with anyone in his presence, in fact, do not pay attention to anyone.
6. Do not stretch the legs in the direction where the Murshid is seated, even if he is not directly in front.
7. Never lodge any objection against the Murshid. If the mureed is unable to understand any act of the Murshid, he should not entertain any misgiving, but should recall the episode of Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) and Hadhrat Khidr (alayhis salaam) and consider that some wisdom must be underlying the act.
8. Never desire the Murshid to display karamat (miracles).
9. If in any doubt, immediately discuss it with the Murshid. Should the doubt after having discussed it still remain, consider it to be the result of your defective understanding. If the Murshid does not respond when the mureed puts forward his doubt, he (mureed) should consider that he is yet not capable of comprehending the explanation, hence the Murshid’s silence. He should await another opportunity for clarification.
10. Inform the Murshid of dreams as well as any interpretation of such dreams which come to your mind.
11. The mureed should not without need and without permission remain aloof from the Murshid.
12. The mureed should not raise his voice above that of the Murshid nor should he speak in loud tones to the Murshid.
13. When necessary, the mureed should speak to the Murshid clearly and be brief and wait with much attention for the reply.
14. Narrate to others only that extent of the Murshid’s talks which is understandable to them. Do not narrate to others such words of the Murshid which they will not be able to comprehend.
15. The mureed should not refute the words of the Murshid even if it seems that the mureed is correct. The mureed should hold the belief that the error of the Shaikh (Murshid) is superior to his (mureed’s) rectitude.
16. The mureed should inform the Murshid constantly of his condition, whether good or bad. The Murshid is the Spiritual Practitioner and prescribes remedies after being informed of the mureed’s condition. The mureed should not maintain silence about his condition depending upon the kashf (spiritual inspiration) of the Murshid for realization of the mureed’s condition. The mureed has to systematically notify the Murshid of his condition.
17. The mureed should not engage in any wazeefah (thikr or form of recitation) while sitting in the company of the Murshid. Such recitation should be in the absence of the Murshid.
18. Whatever batini faiz (spiritual blessing) accrues, the mureed should consider it to be the consequence of the agency of the Murshid even if in a dream or state of muraqabhah (meditation) it appears that such blessing is from a different direction (other than the Shaikh). If in a spiritual state it appears that such batini faiz accrued to the mureed via the agency of another Saint, the mureed should consider that it is some manifestation of his Murshid which has assumed the form of another Saint.