Who is Muhammad As’ad Arbili?

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Who is muhammad asad arbili? What kind of person muhammad asad arbili ? When did muhammad asad arbili live?

Muhammad As’ad Arbili [1847 – 1931]

Muhammad As’ad Arbil (may Allah have mercy on him) was born in the town of Arbil in the province of Mosul in the hijri year 1264 (1847AD). His father was Muhammad Said Efendi, the shaykh of the Khalidi dervish lodge in Arbil. His grandfather was Hidayetullah Efendi, the khalifa of Khalid Baghdadi. He is a sayyid from both his mother’s and his father’s side[1].

As’ad Efendi completed his studies of the outer sciences at a young age. Since his father had passed away he was not able to get his guidance from him so he affiliated himself with Taha al-Hariri (may Allah have mercy on them both). A year later he graduated from the course for teaching those who wish to join the order. Five years later he began to guide the people from sitting in the position of his teacher who gave him the command to do so.

In 1875 when As’ad Efendi received his ijaza, he went to the Hijaz to perform hajj. While he was at hajj he learned of his shaykh’s death, and he returned to Istanbul. Appreciative dervishes who saw the perfection of his state began to gather around him. When, along with many others, Hoca Yekta Efendi, one of the teachers who used to teach at the Bayazid mosque, noticed his perfect knowledge in the lessons he gave at the Fatih Mosque, they affiliated themselves with him.

News of the superior knowledge, wisdom and virtue of As’ad Efendi began to spread around Istanbul in a short time, and the son-in-law of Sultan Abdulhamid II, Khalid Pasha, invited him to the palace and studied Arabic and the religious sciences under him for one and a half years.

As’ad Efendi had received his ijaza from the Naqshibandiyya but also had an ijaza from Abdulhamid Birifkani of the Qadiri tariqa. He was later appointed to the Kalami Dergah where he continued his guidance. Many of the scholars of Fatih and others affiliated themselves with him and attended his suhbah and circles of dhikr. Among these were those who considered joining a Sufi order to be deviant. As they continued to study under As’ad Efendi they abandoned such bigoted ideas and became sincere followers[2].

Those who frequented the lodge were scholars, leading reciters of the Qur’an, teachers at the mosque, generals, leading rulers, officers, intellectuals and people from all classes of society. High ranking officers, officials and wealthy people sat side by side with the poor and needy in their ragged clothes in a state of true brotherhood.

Seeing the knowledge and spiritual competence of As’ad Efendi, Sultan Abdulhamid Han appointed him to be a member of the Majlis-i Mashayikh[3]. As’ad Efendi was appointed as the head of this majlis during the time of Sultan Mehmed Rashad. Winning the love of Sultan Rashad, As’ad Efendi was sent to hajj as the ‘surra emini’[4].

As’ad Efendi’s efforts and struggles to guide and educate the people were great. He sent his khulafa to the furthest corners of Istanbul and other cities in order to reach and serve a greater number of people.

In addition to his activities at the Kelami Dergah, he would also be active in other dergahs. This is why he had students all over Anatolia, and his influence reached as far as Bosnia and Albania.

As’ad Efendi (may Allah have mercy on him) was a precious friend of Allah. He always had a smile on his face and a sweet tongue and was dignified and honourable. His most distinguishing feature was the humility, modesty, compassion and grace which could also be seen in his own works.

He never saw any existence of its own within himself. He had become enveloped in a state of nothingness and burned with love for Allah and the desire to be reunited with Him. He would address people with compassion and kindness and would always use terms of politeness and courtesy.

As’ad Efendi had a wealth of culture, both physical and spiritual. He was competent in all of the Islamic sciences. He had adorned his spirit with great and elevated virtues. He was also skilled in literature. His poems and verses about divine love were extremely deep.  Let us give an example of a poem written for the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon you) from his Diwan, which consists of poems in four languages:

My Beloved! The spring that fell in love with you is burning in order for Your beauty to become manifest and appear.

The rose is on fire, the  nightingale, the hyacinth and even the earth and the thorn are on fire out of their love for you…

It is the bright light of that blessed face of yours that like the Sun has burned all lovers…This is why the heart is on fire and even these two eyes that cry out of love for you are on fire…

Why be amazed that the heart and body glow and burn out of love and longing for your beautiful face! O my Beloved, come and see the fire that is in my heart!

Is it possible to wash the martyr of love who is burning as such? For the body, the shroud and even fresh water are on fire!

I have abandoned the desire of my heart to be in ease and comfort. For ease is being on fire and pain; fleeing and staying are on fire!”

“My Sultan! Whatever I do, I cannot please this sorrowful heart of mine. For worry is on fire, the one who worries with me is on fire, and even joy is on fire.

Can As’ad hope for ease and peace from his Beloved whilst that rose-faced beautiful Beloved emits the fire of love from his eyes?

As we can see from this example the poems and letters of As’ad Efendi are filled with the expressions from a burning heart. These burning cries that sound out of his sorrowful heart are like an embodied example and a voice of reflection of the words of Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi, who said: ‘I was raw, then cooked, then I burned’.

When the Ottoman Empire came to an end and the Republic was formed, the Sufi lodges were closed and as a result As’ad Efendi decided not to go out into the streets and retreated to his home in Erenkoy.

Having devoted his life to the service of Allah and guiding others, As’ad Efendi (may Allah have mercy on him) was poisoned as a result of the severe oppression he was subjected to, and he was martyred at the age of 84 on the eve of March 4, 1931.

It was as if As’ad Efendi gave news of what was to befall him and his own martyrdom in the following lines he penned:

It is not possible to wash the martyr of love with so much fire. The body, the shroud and even fresh water is on fire.

May Almighty Allah allow us to be the subjects of his intercession! Amen!  It is only the true Friends of Allah who continue in their guidance after their fleeting life is over. They continue their spiritual life in the hearts of the believers, via their works, their letters, their poems, and most important of all, the perfected people they have trained and guided.

One of the most important heirlooms that As’ad Efendi has left for us are the precious warnings, guidance and words of wisdom found in his letters. We would like to present to you some parts of his Maktubat, which contain his letters of guidance and counsel which give life to the hearts.

Sincerity

“Almighty Allah, who best knows the unknown, expects that the human soul carries out worship in its outer form together with the quality of true spirituality and servanthood in the deepest and most heartfelt manner”[5].

“Receiving benefit from and progressing along the Sufi path is not dependent only on the amount of dhikr and awrad done. It is obvious to those who are competent, that sincerity of the heart and genuine love has a great impact… Those who do not obey Almighty Allah and the sinners, who give no regard to the rulings of the sharia, will never, at any time and in no place, be amongst the people whom the friends of Allah favour and direct their spiritual help towards”[6].

“As is known, sincerity and love come at the head of those virtues that lead to spiritual progress. Eternal bliss and salvation are the fruits of the tree of sincerity and love”[7].

“This poor brother of yours is yet striving to complete the essence of faith. I am striving to utter the kalima-i tawhid with my tongue and with my state. It is difficult to state ‘La ilaha illallah’ as long as there is – in the words of the Sufis – an idol, or a beloved present in one’s heart other than Almighty Allah. Even if it is uttered it is doubtful that it will be accepted or a means of reunion with Allah”[8].

“In a hadith it is stated that “the one who says ‘لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ’ will enter Paradise” but there is another version in which the word ‘mukhlisan’ that is ‘with sincerity’ is mentioned[9]. It is of vital importance to purify one’s heart of diseases such as ostentation, pride, envy, greed and selfishness and purify one’s intentions.

We all know that while there is a disease in the human body in regard to one’s stomach and gall bladder, one cannot receive pleasure from even the most delicious foods nor can one receive any benefit. In the same way, when there is one of the above-mentioned diseases in the heart, or more than one in particular, then outer forms of worship will be of no use in ensuring the pleasure of Allah and His contentment. Allah, Most High, says in the Qur’an: ‘Beware! It is to God alone that all sincere faith, worship, and obedience are due’ (Zumar, 39:3). May Allah bestow upon us that state of sincere servanthood and worship! Amen!”[10]

Imam Zuhri, one of the great scholars from the Tabi’een was asked about the following hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him): “Whoever says لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ» will enter Paradise”. He replied:

“This ruling was given during the first period of Islam, before the revelation of the obligatory acts, and the commands and prohibitions of the religion” (Tirmidhi, Iman, 17/2638).

That is, it is essential to apply all of the rulings of the Book and the Sunnah after one has perfected one’s religion.

Anxiety About the Future

As’ad Efendi drew attention to the real future, which is eternal life or the hereafter, saying:

“Is there any individual amongst the human race, who is distinguished from other creature through his intelligence and his wisdom, who does not wish to meet with success and strive to guarantee his future? Indeed, there is not. But those who do not perceive the true future that is those who do not regard the grave as being the first step on the journey to the hereafter are many indeed. This is my request from my brothers in religion:

  • Let them compare the degrees of importance of the life of this world, which will last for a maximum of one hundred years, to the life of the hereafter, whose infinity cannot be imagined.
  • Just as everyone accepts the truth that in order to obtain worldly peace and attain one’s needs, one needs to spend freely of one’s life and one’s wealth, so too the following is true:

Let them consider that just as it is proven with solid proofs like the verse ‘Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their wealth in return for Paradise…’ (Tawbah, 9:111), happiness in the hereafter and eternal salvation can be obtained by taking great care to follow the standards of the elevated sharia and the tariq and obeying all commands in regards to one’s life and property.

  • Consider the following verse which addresses the people of faith, “O you who believe…Safeguard yourselves and your families (by obeying your Creator’s commands and prohibitions) from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones (by giving yourselves and your family good character and training)’ (Tahrim, 66:6) and consider its importance and take stock of your actions!

There is no doubt that there is no superfluous expression in the Holy Qur’an, the words of the All-Knowing and Wise One. He never commands something which is not absolutely essential.

Everyone knows that there is no possibility of unnecessary talk emerging from people of wisdom and knowledge famous for their literary nature.

May Allah bestow on us knowledge of the hereafter so that, without seeing the darkness of the grave, we perceive the necessity of lighting it up, just as He has given us worldly intelligence, which forces us to buy coal before the intense winter arrives. May He protect us from regret that is futile after death arrives! Amen!”[11].

“The term ‘temin-i istikbal’, used amongst the people of perfection, which has the meaning of securing one’s future, must not indicate those things which complete our limited life in this fleeting world. It is clear that wise people who see reality for what it is, will understand from the term ‘istikbal’, that is the future, that the greatest aim is the life of the hereafter in which everyone will be taken to account for their own actions.

Thus, if there is an instant in which we are sorry about the time we wasted from this capital of our life, then it should be the instant that we are distant from dhikr and tafakkur, which guarantee our future. May Almighty Allah prevent you and me from being of those who wasted their time in heedlessness and who later felt great regret! May He accept us amongst those righteous slaves who are mentioned in the hadith ‘When My servant remembers Me, (know that) I am with him” (Bukhari, Tawheed, 15). Amen!”[12]

“What answer will we have to give when Allah, Most High, the Owner of all of the visible and invisible realms, takes us servants to account on the Day saying:

“O My servant! With what nerve did you have to perform a deed which I had forbidden, when your life and your death, your elevation and your falling, your ease and your distress, your health and well-being, in short your every breath, are all in My power?

With what mind did you obey the accursed Satan, the enemy of your salvation and happiness? O My servant! Did you think that I would not see or hear? Or did you consider the shame and respect shown necessarily for a weak servant like yourself to be unnecessary to be shown to Me? When we hear words like these, how can we defend ourselves? By taking help from the super intelligence of a philosopher or the deep legal knowledge of a lawyer? Shame and alas!”[13].

In one of his letters As’ad Efendi wrote a poem which had the following meaning:

 “Your capital in this world is a mere shroud! And I fear that you may or may not be able to take even that!”[14].

Dhikr

As’ad Efendi (may Allah have mercy on him) advised his spiritual children of being in a constant state of dhikr, saying:

“May Almighty Allah illuminate the eye of your heart! Just as there is rose water present in every point of a rose petal, so too may He beautify every atom of your precious body with the pleasant fragrance of love and constant dhikr. Amen!”

Just as Almighty Allah is not unaware of His servants for even a second, He greatly loves those of His servants who never forget Him for an instant by always acting in line with the noble shariah. This is why it is my humble wish that we do not be deprived of this elevated honour. Let us not enter Almighty Allah’s presence with a heart infatuated with carnal desires…”[15].

“Just as all of our subtle centres (lataif) are in need of being purified, it is vital that a traveller on the path of truth needs to ensure that all of his subtle centres are accustomed to performing dhikr.

Just as a person has to clean every part of his body, including every point, when he needs to perform the major ritual ablution (ghusul) so too, the one who wishes to purify his heart, needs to perform dhikr with all of his faculties, in fact with every atom in his body”[16].

“Whoever wishes to serve others and to advance in the degrees of this service need only serve Almighty Allah! Let him deem all other than Him useless, dead and harmful. It is at that point that he will have expressed in truth the statement of ‘La ilaha illallah’ and lived it in his deeds. As you know the honourable name ‘Allah’ gathers within it in all of the Beautiful Names and it is a special name for His elevated Being. In that case, saying ‘La ilaha illallah’ means the following: “There is none other than Allah who bestows bounties, who protects, who gives sustenance… and so on”. Accordingly then, the human being needs to revive his heart with this honourable dhikr in order to become a perfect believer, and take care in etching this elevated word upon his heart”[17].

“The times revived by dhikr and contemplation are causes of ease, peace, calm, prosperity and a spiritual atmosphere for a nation, hence we should pray for the health and well-being of Sufis so they can carry out this duty.  This is why it is natural that I strive to carry out, by His grace, this pure and chaste duty, as long as He gives me life”[18].

Tafakkur (Contemplation)

As’ad Efendi (may Allah have mercy on him) would advise others to contemplate on the Divine wonders of the universe and take heed from them.

Some examples of his tafakkur are as follows:

“How elevated is Almighty Allah who created a clot of blood from a zygote, who created bones from the clot of blood, who dressed those bones in flesh, who gave the human being the most beautiful of forms by completing his human limbs and breathing into him the spirit, thereby, giving him life.

Almighty Allah has appointed two compassionate servants, the mother and father, of the tiny baby who has no power to do anything other than cry. He offers the baby a sweet and pleasant nourishment such as the mother’s milk, which needs no water, no fire, no oil, no salt and no time to prepare. He grows that baby in his own special way and with a new manifestation. How generous an Artist is Almighty Allah who does all of this in the most perfect way!

We should ponder on all of the endless bounties that He has bestowed on us and be grateful for them – our food, our clothing, our decorations, our family, our humanity, our Islam, and civilisation.

In the darkness of the grave and the arena of the Final Gathering, in the turmoil of those people crowded together, there will be no one other than Almighty Allah from whom we expect help and no other Master will we have”[19].

“Shaykh Sadi said it beautifully:

“The clouds, the wind, the Moon and the Sun are constantly working in the skies for you. In that case do not eat even a piece of bread given to you in heedlessness”.

We must strive to reflect and thank Allah Almighty for His countless bounties, who holds the clouds, the rain, the wind, the Moon and the Sun under His command, and who sustains mankind’s livelihood and wellbeing through their effects. May our Lord make us all from amongst such righteous servants! Amen! And may He not make us from amongst those ungrateful slaves who do not appreciate the table of bounties and grace of such a Benefactor”[20].

“What other kind of benefactor can we imagine in this world who favours us in the best way by creating from nothing, our bodies, our limbs, our health and wellbeing, and our food? Which commander – even if it is only a corporal superior to a private soldier – would leave his soldier unpunished and forgive him even though he disobeyed his command time and time again? We are under the command of Almighty Allah, with His names of al-Ghaffar as well as His name of al-Qahhar, and we take shelter in a corner of His kingdom and consume daily from His table of provision. In that case, it is essential that we obey His commands, in accordance with our intelligence, our wisdom and our conscience, and carry out our duty of servanthood to Him. We do not know what will happen on the Day of Judgement. O Allah, make it easy for us and do not make it difficult for us!”[21]

“I like only one aspect of old age. And that is this: many times it occurs to me that time has run out and the date of my journey from this world has arrived. It may be acceptable for you to have worked hard for this world up until, but now what will happen to you? Will you be young again? Wake up! Prepare for the day when you will have to respond to the divine command of “Irji’i” ‘Come back to Me”.

When one thinks about such things the nafs is incapable of defending itself and cannot find a reasonable response. May Almighty Allah protect us all! May He save us from heedlessness! Amen!”[22]

“Just as reflecting upon death lightens the sorrow of the calamities that befall us, so too it also makes easy for us our own death. It decreases our love for this world, which only drives us to pain and unsettles us.

Love for and extreme desire for the fleeting property, position and beauties of this world is the main cause of all manner of sin and discomfort. May Almighty Allah purify our hearts of such carnal loves. May He make our hearts places of dhikr and love of Him! Amen!”[23].

First Abandon What is Haram

The friends of Allah advice those who wished to enter the training of tasawwuf to first of all abide by Allah’s commands and prohibitions, and live according to the Book and the Sunnah, and only then would they give permission for them to enter the Sufi path. As’ad Efendi (may Allah have mercy on him) also declared that everything else is connected to this condition. He wrote in one of his letters:

“There are two important reasons for why in the hadith we are told to abandon what is haram first and then perform righteous deeds:

  • ‘Repulsion of harm comes before acquiring benefit’

(That is, to distance oneself from what causes harm is more important and takes priority over attaining what is beneficial. It is not possible to advance spiritually without living the sharia).

2) It is beyond the strength of a person to be able to perform all worship and obey every command. However it is possible for every individual to avoid the prohibited – because they are few in number – and the benefit of this is more comprehensive.

In fact, I can say the most important way of progressing along the Sufi path is to abandon sins. Proof of what we say is that, since it is in the nature of the angels that they do not sin, they do not advance in rank because they are thus deprived of the reward of abandoning sin.

In short, just as abandoning sin serves to advance one spiritually one should also not distance oneself from physical benefit and good. It is not possible to make up for the harm caused to one’s property, life, honour and dignity that comes from disregarding what is forbidden. This is a truth that is accepted by those with discernment”[24].

“(The matters advised in tasawwuf, such as dhikr, tafakkur, suhbah, are like prescriptions that allow one to advance spiritually. If there is something that prevents this medicine from taking effect, then one should go on a spiritual diet and make sure to shun what is not needed).

Some of these are as follows:

1) Acts that are in opposition to the sharia,

2) Love for certain adornments and decorative items which amount to extravagance and waste,

3) Friendship with the people of heedlessness and gloom”[25].

Salat

As’ad Efendi had the following to say about the importance of performing salat with reverence and presence:

“It would be beneficial for the person who wishes to perform salat, or who wishes to attain divine prosperity and be honoured by entering His presence, to think about the following personified example. There is an ancient Arabian custom: Whenever an Arab enters the presence of one of his elders, in the hope of making a request of him, he first of all greets him and then begins to praise and laud him, and say that he is proud to be from his clan. Finally, he makes known his need and makes his request. If the one who performs the salat, conjures up such a scene, and performs his prayer with this analogy in mind, then this will undoubtedly help him perform his prayer properly”[26].

That is the person must realise in whose presence they are standing when they pray and they must then strive to perform their salat in a state of awe, supplication and seeking refuge.

The Holy Qur’an states:

‘O Allah! You alone do we worship and from you alone do we seek help’ (Fatiha, 1:5).

Let us not disregard this verse which is an indication that in order for the servant to gain the right to ask, he must first of all perform his duty of servanthood”[27].

“The one who performs salat must present the tahiyyah, which the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) presented to Almighty Allah, in his own name. We should not read this prayer as if we are relating the words of the prophet. We must read the salam sent by Almighty Allah, the response given by the prophet, and the kalima-i shahada given by the angel Gabriel as if we were stating these ourselves”[28].

Which people are honourable?

“Almighty Allah states: ‘ We have honoured the sons of Adam…’ (Isra, 17:70). What is it about the son of Adam that makes him noble? Is it the physical matter, that is the body created from dirt and water? Or is it the species of mankind which is distinguished from all other creatures by its ability to talk? Of course it is none of these.

Those who are excessive in their unlawful attempts to bring about the lowly desires of their wild nafs, who disregard the sharia and trample on the Sufi path, and who are slaves to their nafs can never be honourable. In the sight of the people of wisdom and conscience, these people are considered completely ignorant.

As for the sons of Adam who are worthy of being called honourable (‘mukarram’), and who adorn their inner and outer selves with beautiful character by purifying their nafs’, who serve the sharia and who are competent in the tariqah – they are the happiest and most fortunate of people”[29].

Humility

Some of the wise sayings of As’ad Efendi in regard to humility, modesty and wretchedness in one’s servitude to Allah are as follows:

“As is known amongst the acts of the slave, the most worthy of being accepted is that of humility. That is, a person should know that they are a weak, lowly and powerless creature and that whatever they possess belongs to Allah and is bestowed on them by His grace. Prostrating, bowing down on the ground, and becoming one with the earth, are all embodied representations of this humility. In addition to this, a person says ‘Subhana Rabbi al’ala’ with his tongue, that is, he absolves Allah of all deficient traits, who is superior to all others in terms of strength, power, property and kingdom”[30].

“Ubaydullah Ahrar, one of the great shaykhs of the Naqshibandiyya tariq considered the prayers of his brothers in religion and righteous servants that he encountered to be a treasure.

“He never relied upon his own deeds or worship in order to attract the mercy or pleasure of Allah. As necessitated by the verse: ‘I only created jinn and man to worship Me’ (Dhariyat, 51:56) deeds and worship can only allow a person to be freed of the rebellion of their nafs and they cannot claim anything more than this! He would always hope for precious means such as prosperity from the prayers of good by others, and the turning of Allah’s wali servants towards him”[31].

“In response to the many great divine bounties such as faith, intelligence, wisdom, our physical body and spiritual faculties, which we cannot estimate in their value, the human being, deficient, and incapable of thanking Allah enough, cannot rise spiritually unless he considers himself as guilty, a sinner and he feels embarrassed. That is, he cannot be an acceptable person in the sight of Allah. As long as he continues to be unaware of the fact that his entire existence is a trust from Allah, his faith in tawheed, that is, in the oneness of the Necessarily Existent One, can never be complete, and he can never be freed of shirk”[32].

The following words of As’ad Efendi which express his own feelings of nothingness before Allah and his humility are worthy of noting:

“Whenever I compare myself to any of the creatures of the universe or to any particle within it, I always find myself below them. I cannot prefer myself even over a sinless weak ant. However, Almighty Allah shows me to be greater than I am in order that my precious brothers receive benefit. This is His will. This is why I praise Almighty Allah. In order to influence those lovers, He creates many frets, melodies and beautiful sounds from the flute, which has no merit of its own. He has power over all things. May Allah give us a good end affair. May He not show our own nafs to be great when we are in need of Him for our every breath! (May He not make us forget that all bounties are a divine favour from Him). May He protect us from the heedlessness of giving a share to our own nafs. Amen!

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would supplicate to Allah as follows:

“O Allah! Make me a servant who is very grateful and very patient! Make me appear little in my own eyes, but great in the eyes of others (so that I can influence and benefit them)” (Haysami, X, 181)”[33].

“I would like to make a request for myself. I have been asking Allah for one month now to bestow perfect faith upon me first of all, and then upon my brothers. This is why I am in need of your prayers. Maybe then I can be successful. When I look at certain signs, I see that I am in intense need of perfect faith. Please explain the situation to any brothers that you meet. Let them not be heedless… Praise be to Allah that He has shown us our faults and not left us in a state of jahl-murakkaba, that is one who does not know that he does not know. ‘That is Allah’s favour which He gives to those He wills’ (Hadid, 57:21)”[34]

One of the sins, in fact, the first sin that leads to the deprivation of the servant in the sight of Allah, is to see an independent existence in oneself, that is egoism” [35].

“It is doubtful that prayers which are made with the pride of the nafs, relying upon one’s strength and power, will be accepted. However if a prayer coincides with a time when the heart feels broken, and one admits the incapacity of one’s nafs and one’s own need, the hope for its being accepted is increased. May Allah make our nafs al ammara ever abased and worried, but our heart and spirit overcome and happy with love of Him. Amen!”[36].

As’ad Efendi wrote the following lines in the 42nd letter:

 “My Lord! The person who attributes to himself superior traits, capacities and skills and who relies upon his own nafs cannot attain Your Grace (For in this lies the danger of conceit, arrogance and pride). In order to attract Your mercy, favour and grace, the human being has no other choice but to admit his own nothingness and powerlessness”.

True Love

On the matter of divine love, As’ad Efendi (may Allah have mercy on him) had the following to say:

“Even though it appears that there is no human being who cannot claim to love the perfect beauty of Allah, it is hard to prove this. Many people have deceived themselves in this matter. If a person wishes to learn the meaning of love let him look at how he treats his own wealth and children. How much time does he spend in thinking about them, never letting them out of his mind, sacrificing everything for them, applying to them for every need, and he abandons comfort and peace of mind in order to obtain them! This is how love should be but a great portion of it should be directed to Almighty Allah. This is because He is the Enduring One, He is the One who gives us everything we have, who provides for us, and who nourishes and educates us.

The Holy Qur’an states:

‘…If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them…’ (Ibrahim, 14:34)

The effort put into everything other than Allah is lost and sometimes even brings harm. In the least it is temporary, it will leave quickly”[37].

Almighty Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:

‘Allah has not allotted to any man two hearts within his breast…’ (Ahzab, 33:4).

That is, Almighty Allah has not given man two hearts, so that he uses one to love Allah and one to love everything other than Allah. The heart, which is where love resides, is one. If the heart becomes attached to one of these, the other loses its importance. This is why a believer with perfect faith who experiences tasawwuf is always required to remember Almighty Allah in his heart, even if his tasks are many”[38].

My ummah, my ummah…

As’ad Efendi made serving others the axis of his life. He struggled for the physical and spiritual salvation of the community of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and encouraged the believers so. One time he said:

“May Almighty Allah make your honourable hearts the dwellings of love and residences of prosperity and blessings! May your love spread to the brothers who you converse with. Those who only think of themselves and are worried only about their own salvation are not worthy of being the heirs of the prophets.

Those who follow the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), who, on the Day of Judgement, will cry out “My ummah, my ummah” not having any concern for himself, and striving only for the salvation of the servants of al-Rahman, strive to come nearer to Allah by being a good example for others with their entire being, and behind those who they address (by constantly encouraging and guiding them to the truth, to good and to piety). They never incline towards worldly preoccupations that are an obstacle to worship and obedience to Allah. They live independent on all others in a constant state of felicity on account of their reliance on Allah”[39].

Shukur, or gratitude, is not merely saying “O my Lord, I thank you”. On the contrary, it is to use all of the bounties that Allah has bestowed upon us in accordance with the purpose they were created for.  The most acceptable form of gratitude is those acts of social worship and service that are beneficial to one’s fellow believers”[40].

Beware of the Wiles of the Nafs

As’ad Efendi said that one could never be safe from the wiles of one’s nafs, and one needed to be in a state of constant striving against it. He wrote in several of his letters as follows:

“It has been said that “He who knows his nafs knows his Lord”. The follower should not trust in the times when he is overcome with love of Allah and when he sees his nafs reformed during one of his teacher’s talks or in any of the beautiful states that he witnesses in himself. Such beautiful states of perfection are shadow states that come about as a reflection and are not real. In order for these states to be real and to manifest themselves completely, one needs further struggle and efforts to abide by all of Almighty Allah’s commands and prohibitions”[41]. This poor brother of yours can never be satisfied that he has any acceptable deed in the sight of Allah… I can never feel safe from the tricks and wiles of my nafs. May Almighty Allah bestow on all of us true iman and ihsan so that our faith is not mere form only (May Allah enable us to live our faith with good character also!) Amen”[42].

“May Allah make your spirits dominate and enable you to eliminate the desires of your nafs. May he make your intelligence, which is connected to your heart, dominate and defeat your satan”[43].

In accordance with the rule that “The real free person is the one who is the commander (and not the slave) of his nafs”, may Almighty Allah make us commanders over our nafs al ammara (evil-commanding souls) and attain the state of the nafs al mutmainna (contented nafs). May He make us worthy of the beautiful address: Enter among My slaves! Enter My Garden’ (al Fajr, 89:29-30)”[44].

Don’t be Deceived by This World

As’ad Efendi (may Allah have mercy on him), who saw this world as a precious bounty bestowed upon us in order for us to gain the happiness of the hereafter, said:

“When tenants move from one house to another they take all of their belongings and leave nothing behind of what they love. This being the case, how strange it is then that when they enter the house of their grave, where they are in need of everything they are not able to take even a part of their treasured belongings”[45].

“Our time in this world is limited, and does not deserve such importance. However, it is precious because it is the tillage of the hereafter…” A worldly life that has been given to us in order to gain the pleasure of Almighty Allah is esteemable and it is acceptable in the sight of Allah”[46].

“We must abandon vain worldly pre-occupations that are beyond what is absolutely necessary and needed. Running after fleeting and impermanent worldly delusions is like running after a shadow. It is never possible to catch it. If a person spends their precious life in this way, they will have deceived themselves. For when they are required to respond to the majestic command of ‘Return to your Lord’, they will see that all of their efforts were in vain and that they have no provision for the grave, which is their true homeland. Those who strive in the way of the Lord of all the worlds, with the purpose of attaining eternal happiness, will have gained both. Almighty Allah gives from the world in accordance with one’s intention for the hereafter. May Allah, Most High, protect us from wasting our time on vain tasks! May He allow us to spend all of our efforts and aspiration in the way of attaining eternal happiness! Amen!”[47].

As’ad Efendi added to the ode of Shamsuddin Sivasi the meaning of which is below:

 “Beware, that by running after position and rank, you forget your Creator, who knows your every state!  Rush to serve others, and do not forget Allah! Do not be deceived by the crowns and thrones of this world, and its ranks and stations, and forget the pit at the end that is the grave! O heedless one, come to your senses and do not forget the sudden migration, that is death that comes all of a sudden! The path to death is frightening, so do not ignore this path!

“O my eye! Do not look at the world and be deceived by its attractions, adornments and beauties. They will eventually throw your body and your spirit into the prison of tribulations. There is no trace of the pleasure of eternity in the pleasures of this fleeting world. Do not be deceived by this world which pleases you today with a momentary ‘Oh!’ Do not forget that its pain will cause you to say ‘Alas’ (That is, do not turn your hereafter into a source of endless pain for the sake of transient loves and momentary pleasures”[48].

How Can The Community of Islam Progress?

As’ad Efendi gave the following example to explain how the Muslims can advance once more:

“Those who examine the pages of history will openly see that the Arab peoples were made up of many different tribes and clans. Before they were honoured with Islam and enlightened by the light of the Qur’an, there was hatred, animosity, and spite rife amongst them and the bloody feuds and battles of the period of ignorance continued amongst them.

Moreover they were struggling with poverty and need and they were extremely dejected. It was only when the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) illuminated the dark horizons with the bright light of prophethood that the oppression and ignorance was cleansed with the clear waters of marifah. When such an exhausted and dishevelled community took as their guide the Holy Verses, and took as their principles the hadith, spite and animosity gave way to love and devotion, primitiveness became civilised and their poverty was transformed into comfort and peace. By establishing the foundations of justice in this way, they spread the lights of civilisation throughout the world. This was so much so that they were able to raze to the ground the empires of Persia and Rome, which were known by the entire world for their greatness and power. In a very short time their conquest reached the borders of Asia and the south of Europe. They caused the East and the West to bow to their commands and left them in awe of their justice and grace. In this way, they elevated the blessed Name of Almighty Allah. They raised the happiness of man and the peace of the community from the lowest level to the highest of states.

Most of them embraced trading, some took up a trade, some occupied themselves with agriculture, and a portion entered the professions of scribe or medicine. Each of them served humanity in this way. By making firm the building of brotherhood, they established the foundations of true civilisation. They advanced to such a degree that through their loyalty and their justice they were able to attain true happiness and salvation, surpassing all over non-Muslim communities. May Allah increase their rewards a thousand times over! Amen!

Now at an unbelievably fast rate, this is a time of decline and regression. As a result the hearts are shaken up. Their markets have been dragged to bankruptcy. What a shame! How and where did that progress, which advanced at the speed of lightning, go? What a shame! What happened to that tremendous rise so that this fall at the speed of lightning occurred? What will come of it?  Research shows that there are major differences between these two peak points. I see that the feet of those who research this endless loss, are crippled, and the fields of the specialists are quite narrow.

Almighty Allah says: ‘…If you help Allah, He will help you and make your feet firm’ (Muhammad, 47:7)

I will repeat that if we want the nation of Islam to rise up and the community of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to be elevated, this can only be achieved by submitting to the commands and prohibitions of Allah, the All-Knowing and the Allam, and by embracing the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).

A community that made the sharia of Islam dominate in various lands, and the enlightened tariqah, which protected its thoughts and ideas, will achieve their aim just as the pilgrims are reunited with the Ka’bah, whilst pronouncing ‘Labbayk’ (‘At your service’).

They will be subject to endless happiness just like those who attain that great happiness at the Bayt al Haram. In this way they will have taken their share from the verses that command unity and cooperation. The following saying supports this: “A nation comes about through unity, whilst lawlessness and anarchy come about through dissension and discord”.

Now I pray to Almighty Allah, the One of Absolute Power, and The Ruler, Who governs all things, great and small, that He allows these wishes of mine to reach those insightful and discerning brothers of mine so that our prosperity and blessings can increase. May unity and cooperation and solidarity be established amongst the Muslims. May the foundations of togetherness and unity amongst friends be firmly laid down. In this way, may the nearness and cooperation of the believers allow the influence and soundness amongst them to continue for a long time”[49].

Words of Wisdom

  • “Faith, which is removed from good deeds and worship, and saying in tongue only that one believes, is patently not sufficient to save the person”[50].

Almighty Allah says: ‘Do people imagine that they will be left to say, ‘We have faith,’ and will not be tested? We tested those before them so that Allah would know the truthful and would know the liars’ (Ankabut, 29:2,3).

  • “Our spiritual faculties, which came down from their original and elevated stations and entered the lowly body and which are worthy of being raised once more to the peak of tajarrud, can only advance by continual murakaba[51].
  • Khushu can be obtained by continuing one’s dhikr and tafakkur[52].
  • “There can be no greater means imaginable than sincerity and love nor no virtue such as serving the needy that will allow one to be subject to the great favours and grace of Almighty Allah”[53].
  • “The knowledge that is acceptable to Almighty Allah is the knowledge that is practiced and applied in doing good deeds”[54].
  • “The only thing needed by man is to make himself beloved to Almighty Allah, the One of Absolute Power. Once the person attains the state of love, it is natural that they will then be granted worldly and otherworldly favours”[55].
  • “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was patient and enduring of the pain caused by others to him. His community should be the same”[56].
  • “In order to adorn our outer, we need to follow the sensitive and pure shariah of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). To clean our hearts we need to follow the Sufi methods which are but principles laid down by Him”[57].
  • “The spiritual path (tariqah) is the journey of worship travelled with the aim of coming nearer to Allah”[58].
  • “Whatever the particular tariq may be, the essence and foundation of all of them is the pure sharia. If one’s words and actions are not in accord with the sharia then it is impossible to receive benefit from the tariqat. Such a person is like an ill person who does not listen or follow the advice of the doctor”[59].
  • “The sparks of the fire of anger burn up the harvest of peace and destroy the entire harvest. This is why no intelligent person would indulge in anger…”

One must swallow one’s anger in order to be freed of the sicknesses of the heart, even though it be more bitter than the poison of a snake…”[60].

Almighty Allah says:

“…those (people of taqwa) who give in times of both ease and hardship, those who control their rage and pardon other people – Allah loves the good-doers (Al’i Imran, 3:134)].

  • “Do not be concerned if you are censured for being on the path of Allah. What is the sting of the bee for the one who collects honey?”[61]
  • “One does not fear the thorns in the garden of love. I gather hundreds of rose buds for every thorn”[62].
  • “I take pleasure from the pain of the garden of the dervishes. If I make my pillow a pillow of thorns then I see the Rose in my dream”[63].
  • “If you become a slave to love of gold and silver, then your worth will fall lower than copper. Even if you are like iron, with no value, or a black stone or piece of marble, if you have reached the people of the heart, then you will become a jewel”[64].
  • “The greatest aim is the happiness and salvation of the hereafter. Even the one, who lives for a thousand years and comes to possess many treasures, will perceive their life in this world as a mere dream after death. If he has not been successful in building and illuminating his eternal home, he will be constantly weeping and wailing, squalling in great regret. May Allah give us complete faith and success in building our eternal home! And may He not allow us even one atom of love for this world. Amen”[65].

The chain of the tariq of the elevated Naqshibandiyya[66]

Praise and thanks be to the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He placed within it Ahmad Mukhtar (the chosen prophet) (peace and blessings be upon him) to be the light of guidance for all the worlds.

And also the likes of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, Salman Farisi, Qasim ibn Muhammad and Ja’far as Sadiq, and the guide to the spiritual path, Bayazid Bistami also spread the truth.

Abu al Hasan Haraqani is a noble man, Abu Ali Farmadi is a spring of grace and the elevated Yusuf Hamdani is the commander of the army of asfiya.

Khwaja Abdulkhaliq Ghujduwani became the master of Arif Riwgari and Mahmud Anjirfaghnawi. Shaykh Ali Ramitani, Muhammad Baba Semasi and Amir Kulal illuminated the world.

Muhammad Bahauddin Naqshiband, the heir of the throne of tasawwuf and the shah of the worlds, made Alauddin Attar a guide to the people.

Khwaja Yaqub Charkhi and Ubaydullah Ahrar became their successors with Muhammad Zahid who became a spiritual pleasure and joy to the world.

Dervish Muhammad Samarqand and Khwaja Muhammad Imkanagi are the lights of marifah. Through Khwaja Muhammad Baqi Billah the spiritual world found permanence.

With the mujaddid Imam Rabbani Ahmad Faruqi and Muhammad Masum, the strong chain, became the light for the spiritual elevatation of Shaykh Sayfuddin and Sayyid Nur

Shah Mazhar Jan-e Janaan is the master of Shah Abdullah Dahlawi. The hearts of the travellers became pure light through Khalid Baghdadi.

After Sayyid Taha al Haqqari, the one of elevated lineage, our saint Taha al Hariri became the Pole of the awliya.

We too would like to seek refuge in the dergah of those sayyids. O Allah, forgive Your slave As’ad and his brothers in religion…!

[1]. Husayin Vassaf, Safina-yi Awliya, Suleymaniye Library Written Donations Bl., No: 2306, II, 191; Hasan Kamil Yılmaz, “M. As‘ad Arbili”, Friends of Allah from the time of the Companions to our time, İstanbul 1996, IX, 369.[2]. Husayin Vassaf, ibid II, 192; Prof. Dr. Hasan Kamil Yılmaz, The Golden Chain, p. 210-211; DİA, XI, 348.[3]. Majlis-i Mashayikh: This was an institution established in 1866 to inspect the lodges and their regulatory affairs and was connected to the Shaykhulislam.[4]. Surra Emini: This was the official who was sent to the Haramayn every year and who was given the responsibility of the ‘Surra Humayun’. This was an extremely honourable duty and was given to high-ranking officials of the military and bureaucracy, who were known for their religiousness and uprightness.[5]. M. As‘ad Efendi, Maktubat, p. 46, no: 19.[6]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 58, no: 30.[7]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 59, no: 31.[8]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 63, no: 35.[9]. Tabarani, Kabir, V, 197. “When asked ‘What is this sincerity?” the prophet responded: “To protect oneself from that which Allah has prohibited” (Tabarani, Awsat, II, 56).[10]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 150, no: 122.[11]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 6-7, no: 2.[12]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 55, no: 27.[13]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 64-65, no: 36.[14]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 61, no: 33.[15]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 100, no: 69.[16]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 140, no: 112.[17]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 146, no: 118.[18]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 62, no: 34.[19]. See M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 45-46, no: 19.[20]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 53-54, no: 26.[21]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 69, no: 39.[22]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 128, no: 99.[23]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 141, no: 113.[24]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p.. 37, no: 12.[25]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 70, no: 40.[26]. M. As‘ad Efendi, Translation of the Noble Fatiha, p. 2-3.[27]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 6.[28]. M. Es‘ad Efendi, Mektûbât, s. 33, no: 10.[29]. M. Es‘ad Efendi, a.g.e, s. 3, no: 1.[30]. M. As‘ad Efendi, Maktubat, p. 31, no: 10.[31]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 118-119, no: 89.[32]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 121, no: 92.[33]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 122, no: 93.[34]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 130, no: 101.[35]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 138, no: 110.[36]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 158, no: 130.[37]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 67-68, no: 38.[38]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 71, no: 41.[39]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 91-92, no: 60.[40]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 67, no: 38.[41]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 84-85, no: 54.[42]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 104, no: 73.[43]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 80, no: 49.[44]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 43, no: 17.[45]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 16, no: 5.[46]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 103, no: 72.[47]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 111-112, no: 82.[48]. M. As‘ad Efendi, Divan, p. 198.[49]. M. As‘ad Efendi, Maktubat, p. 176-178, no: 142.[50]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 13, no: 4.[51]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 42-43, no: 17.[52]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 95-96, no: 64.[53]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p.. 77, no: 47.[54]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 95, no: 64.[55]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 145, no: 117.[56]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 129, no: 101.[57]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 86, no: 55.[58]. M. As‘ad Efendi, al Risala, p. 4.[59]. M. As‘ad Efendi, Maktubat, p. 159, no: 132.[60]. M. As‘ad Efendi, Divan, p. 72.[61]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 95.[62]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 94.[63]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 96.[64]. M. As‘ad Efendi, ibid, p. 109.[65]. From an unpublished letter by M. As’ad As’ad Efendi written to Commander Bahriya Adhan Efendi.[66]. This Noble Chain of the Naqshi order was written by As’ad Efendi.

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

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