The Friends of Allah and the Perfected Guides Murshid-i Kamil

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Who is murshidi kamil? Who is the friends of Allah?

Out of all of the human beings that have ever lived, the best in character and the peak of refinement, grace and elegance was undoubtedly the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). All virtues and beautiful character were present in his unparalleled model personality. His heart was like a rose garden filled with beautifully scented roses and delicate graceful flowers. The friends of Allah, who are the heirs of the prophet, are like winds of mercy filtered from that rose garden.

The hearts of the friends of Allah, who applied with the greatest of care and meticulousness the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in their own lives, are like polished mirrors, ever reflecting the brilliant light of the prophetic character. For the leader, master, beloved and sultan of the friends of Allah is the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) himself.

By reaching a state of fana fil rasul, that is annihilating oneself in the love of the prophet, and having tasted real peace and happiness, the friends of Allah, like the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) himself, also do not speak from their own nafs, desires or whims. They are like the ney having distanced and purified from their inner world everything that keeps them afar from Allah. All of the echoes of guidance that are heard from them are taken from the blessed breath of the prophet whose character they have adopted.

It has been said in a hadith qudsi:

“…Almighty Allah becomes the ear with which they hear, the eye with which they see, the hand with which they hold, the foot with which they walk, the heart with which they consider and the tongue with which they speak” (See Bukhari, Riqaq, 38; Haysami, II, 248).

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him), the great Islamic scholar stated in one of his books:

“The awliyaullah (friends of Allah) and righteous people… they are the real purpose of this universe being created. It is they who have delved into the truths of knowledge and acted upon it”[1].

Wherever they are, the friends of Allah are a means of mercy, forgiveness, and blessings. They are with open arms ready to embrace with mercy and compassion all classes of society. They are also like magnets, centres of attraction for the people of faith.

Almighty Allah loves these righteous servants of His, who have adopted His own beautiful attributes and made them beloved to those of his servants whom He has favoured. He says in a verse from the Holy Qur’an:

Assuredly, those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, the All-Merciful will assign for them love (in the hearts of the inhabitants of the heaven and many on the earth, so that they will receive welcome throughout creation…)’ (Maryam, 19:96).

The following story expresses this truth nicely:

Harun Rashid, the Abbasid caliph, was living in Rakka in his glorious palace. One day Abdullah ibn Mubarak (may Allah have mercy on him) arrived. All of the people of the city went out to meet him. The caliph was left practically all alone in the big city. Watching this scene from his balcony, one of the servants of Harun Rashid called out:

“What is this? What is happening?” They told him:

“A great scholar has arrived from the Khorosan. His name is Abdullah ibn Mubarak. The people have gone out to greet him”.

The servant then said:

“This is the real kingdom it is not the kingdom of Harun. This is because in the kingdom of Harun, the workers cannot be gathered together unless the police force them”.

Thus, true kingdom is the love that Allah places in the hearts of people for fleeting kingdoms are destined to come to an end one day. However, spiritual kingdoms continue to live on in the hearts with the same magnificence, even after death.

Throughout history, people have always gathered around these model personalities. These individuals did not distribute wealth or treasure to the people nor any other worldly thing. However they assured peace for their spirits and nourished their spiritual hunger. This is why they continue to live on in the hearts of the people long after their death.

Almighty Allah has bestowed on those of His friends (awliya) that He loves and has made beloved to others, various features according to their states.

For instance He made Shah Naqshiband an unparalleled ocean of benevolence (himmah) through his spiritual disposal and marifatullah (knowledge of Allah); He made some like Majnun wander throughout the desert; He made some of them remain in a continual station of wonder and admiration; others He made speechless in the face of His awesome manifestations and hid them in the seclusion of silence; some He made nightingales of love like Yunus Emre; others, seas of meaning spurting out wisdom from their lips like Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi. There are also some amongst these noble individuals who gathered together all of these attributes within them and so are indescribable (may Allah have mercy on them).

The friends of Allah are, to use the common expression: ‘perfect human beings’ (insan-i kamil). That is, they are the ideal and model personalities desired by Allah. As we just mentioned each wali does not bear the same characteristics. Even though they may be ‘perfect’ themselves, only those of them who are perfect and perfecting, the ‘murshid i kamil’, who are in a state in which they can help others to reach spiritual perfection, are entrusted with and given permission to guide others.

The Perfect Guides bear elevated spirits and lofty personalities and have arrived at a state of true knowledge, as a result of their loving obedience to the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him). They are individuals who have completed their spiritual training and reached a degree of competence in guiding others. Having reached such a state, they have then turned towards the people to invite  them to become beautiful servants of Allah, and a worthy community of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), occupying themselves with their spiritual purification.[2] Allah, Most High, has endowed them with marifatullah (knowledge of Allah) and the Divine attributes and appointed them as unique guides for humankind.

There are certain principles of this ‘divine appointment’ which ensures the continuity of the chain of spiritual guides. The following event sheds light on one of the most important of these principles:

Alauddin Attar narrates:

“I was present when Khwaja Bahauddin Naqshiband was nearing his death… Those present were thinking to themselves:

“I wonder who the Master will leave in his place to continue the spiritual guidance of his students”. Shah Naqshiband took this opportunity to say the following:

“Do not cause me any confusion at this time. This matter is not in my hands. Whoever Allah, Most High, appoints will be occupied with your training”[3].

Thus, the continuation of the chain of spiritual guidance takes place through the appointing of another guide to be the spiritual heir of the perfected guide. This appointment is not in the power of the previous guide. This appointment can only be made in the spiritual realm, through the indication and permission given by Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him). That is, it is not enough to be competent in the duty of spiritual guidance, but one also needs spiritual appointment.

Throughout history many of the tariqat have not been able to continue because a spiritual guide has not been confirmed through spiritual appointment. In some tariqat, based on the same wisdom, more than one worthy guide has been given permission. This is the reason for the different branches in the tariqat chain.

On the other hand, being spiritually appointed is a divine favour bestowed on the one who is worthy of it. Even if this duty is bestowed upon one who is not competent in the people’s eyes, this situation actually demonstrates that this individual is in fact competent or will be made competent enough to perform this duty. This appointment can be made for someone who is well known or to one who has remained hidden from the people and sometimes it passes from father to son. Throughout history there have been many father and son prophets. The situation is the same for the chain of Perfect Guides.

For instance Imam Rabbani’s duty was passed on to his son Muhammad Masum and from him to his son Shaykh Sayfuddin.

Thus physical inheritance is not an obstacle to spiritual inheritance. What is important is competence and spiritual appointment.

Perfect Guides are those individuals who have been raised under the guidance of other Perfect Guides like themselves, who have arrived to Allah, and who are knowledgeable in the rulings of the sharia and practice them. They are aware of the hazardous sites of the spiritual journey, the ‘bumps’ in the road, the pits, sharp corners, and endless abysses, the dangerous passes, and the tricks of the nafs and Satan, and are always cautioning their students and advising them in an effort to protect them. They inculcate in them patience, forbearance, contentment and gratitude, thus helping their students reach their goal in safety. Whether present or absent, they try to protect their students from all forms of misguidance. All of their states, actions and words are in meticulous conformance with the commands and prohibitions of the sharia and the adab and rules of tariqa. They themselves avoid physical comfort, pleasure and amusement. They refrain from taking the easy ‘way’ and shun innovations (bid’a). They patiently bear all tribulations and struggles, striving to carry out their acts with meticulousness. They race to help their brother in religion and turn to zuhd and taqwa, sufficing with what is enough and living a non-troublesome life of simplicity. In this way they become embodied examples of the standards that they advise.

In this way the Perfect Guide is in the position of an imam whom his students follow. In none of their states or acts can there be found any conflict with the Book and the Sunnah.

Hence, to follow certain ‘shaykhs’ who do not abide by these principles and yet claim to be shaykhs is very dangerous indeed. Instead of bringing those who follow them closer to Allah, they in fact distance them even further. They become the cause of their squalidness and disaster in place of eternal happiness.

[1]. İbnü’l-Cevzî, Sıfatü’s-Safve, Kâhire 1421, I, 17.

[2]. See Muhammad Parsa, The talks of Muhammad Bahauddin, p. 77-78.

[3]. Ali bin Husayin Safi, Rashahat-i Aynu al Hayat, p. 123-124; Muhammed bin Abdullah Hani, Adab pp. 305-306.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş,The Golden Chain of Transmission Masters of the Naqshinandi Way, Erkam Publications

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