Who is Sayyid Amir Kulal?

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Who is Sayyid Amir Kulal? What kind of person Sayyid Amir Kulal? When did Sayyid Amir Kulal live?

Sayyid Amir Kulal [1281 – 1370]

Sayyid Amir Kulal (may Allah have mercy on him) was known as Sayyid because he came from the lineage of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Since Amir earned his livelihood as a potter, he was also known as Kulal. It is estimated that he was born in the year 680[1]. His father was Amir Hamza.

His mother narrates:

“When I was pregnant with Amir I would feel a great pain in my stomach whenever I put something of doubtful origins in my mouth and I was not well until I had brought it up. When this occurred three times I realised that I was pregnant with a blessed child and I took extreme care with what I ate. I waited with great hope for him to come to this world”[2].

Amir Kulal was interested in wrestling when he was young and at a time when he was wrestling in the square in Ramitan, Muhammad Baba Samasi (may Allah have mercy on him) observed him. When asked by his disciples why he was watching a wrestling match, he replied:

“There is a very brave man in this square that many people will be perfected by listening to him speak. I am searching for him”.

At that point Amir Kulal noticed Samasi and was very much affected by his glance. He immediately abandoned the square and followed him. He aligned himself with him and participated in his talks”[3].

Amir Kulal spent approximately twenty years in the company and service of his master (may Allah have mercy on them both). Every Monday and Thursday, he would leave his village of Sukhari where he lived to go to Sammas to listen to his master and serve him. Whilst travelling this long journey he would occupy himself with dhikrullah[4].

Trained by Baba Samasi, Amir Kulal worked in this path in such a state of humility until he reached a rank of perfection and guidance of others, that no one was even aware of his state[5].

He was a dignified Friend of Allah with a sharp eye. However he was extremely humble and soft-mannered. He did not know what it was to object or be obstinate.

His Taqwa and Sense of Justice

One day after performing the Friday prayer in Bukhara, Amir Kulal (may Allah have mercy on him) returned to his home in Sukhari with his disciples. When they arrived at Kalabad they saw a group of people sitting down on the grass. They were sitting around the Sultan Tamerlane. When Tamerlane saw Amir Kulal he immediately went to him and asked him to give him some advice[6].

Then after settling in Samarkand, Tamerlane invited Amir Kulal to Samarkand but he put forth his excuse and did not go. He sent his son to Tamerlane with the following message:

“My son, tell Tamerlane that if he wishes to walk in a path that is pleasing to Allah, Most High, let him not stray from taqwa and justice. Let these be the badge that he wears in order for him to be saved on the Day of Judgement. If he inclines towards this world, then he will not benefit from the prayers that were made for him”.

Despite insisting on favouring him with certain gifts, Amir Kulal’s son did not accept them and said:

“I heard my father say about you: “If he wants to engrave a place in the hearts of the great men of Allah, then let him not stray from taqwa and justice. This is the only way to meet with the mercy of Allah, Most High, on the Day of Judgement”[7].

His Death

Amir Kulal lived a long life and even though he spent some time in Nasaf, he lived most of his life in the village of Sukhara near Bukhara. He passed away on the 8th day of Jamadi al awwal in 772 (28th November, 1370) on a Thursday in the predawn hours. He was buried in Sukhara[8].

With time his village began to be known as Amir Kulal but is now known as Yangi Hayat (may Allah have mercy on him)[9]. There was nothing more than a tall pillar to indicate the site of his grave but in 1996 a tomb was built by a Pakistani.

The most distinguishing features of the Khwajagan, the Masters, were their adab, their dignity, their extreme humility and modesty. For their entire life they took great care in earning their own livelihood with their own hands, and tried to live simple and humble lives. They purposefully did not want great tombs to be built for them after their death, which is why their graves were marked with nothing more than a few simple stones or a wooden pillar or column.

The character of these people of tasawwuf, who made it a principle to shun ostentation, required this. In addition, the fact that these masters did not wear unique or distinguishing clothes was a sign of their state of humility and modesty.

 His Last Words and Testament

When Sayyid Amir Kulal (may Allah have mercy on him) was ill on his deathbed, his last words to his disciples were as follows:

“O my precious students! Never abandon your seeking of knowledge nor following the path of our beloved prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). This is the means to all happiness and bounty for the believer. This is why the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “To seek knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim” (Ibn Majah, Muqaddimah, 17). That is, every Muslim, be they man or woman, is obliged to learn the matters of the religion needed for them. These are as follows:

1) Knowledge about faith and creed.

2) Knowledge about the prayer.

3) Knowledge about fasting.

4) If they are wealthy, they need knowledge of zakat and hajj.

5) They need to know the rights of the parents. The one who wishes Allah to be pleased with him, will please his parents. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allah’s pleasure is gained by gaining the pleasure of one’s mother and father” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 3/1899). This is why it is essential to observe the rights of one’s mother and father.

6) Sila-i rahim, that is to visit one’s relatives and look out for them.

7) To observe the rights of one’s neighbours.

8) To learn what is necessary for buying and selling.

9) To learn what is lawful (halal) and what is forbidden (haram).

These are matters that everyone must learn. Most people have been ruined because they had no knowledge and because they did not act upon what they knew.

Know well that to love this world, and those who are infatuated with it, is the greatest obstacle in walking in the path that is pleasing to Allah.

Always remember Allah and make mention of Him. In this way, you will not have exchanged your religion for your world. Fear Allah always. There is no act of worship that is more effective than fear of Allah.

Leave everything other than Allah. When you say “La Ilaha” know that there is nothing worthy of worship other than Allah and when you say “Illallah” know that Allah is above all faults and defects.

Know this that it is clean water that purifies one’s clothes and it is dhikr that purifies the tongue. The body is purified by prayer and our wealth is purified by giving zakat.

Your path is purified by having people pleased with you.

Seek sincerity until you become a person of sincerity and seek salvation until you become saved.

The cleanliness of your heart, your tongue and your body is dependent on you eating from what is lawful. Know this well. The stomach of the one who eats from what is lawful is like a pool that collects pure water. Water from this pool is distributed to its surrounds and it is with this water that flowers are grown, and trees give fruit.

Make tawbah! One must repent and have good adab. Repent, as repentance is at the head of all acts of obedience. Repentance is not only with one’s tongue.  It is to be sorry for the sins that one has committed, to refrain from committing that sin again, and to make up for one’s mistake by performing righteous deeds.

Always fear Allah, Most High. Be sorry for the sins that you have committed and weep so much and repent so much that you can truly be called a repenter.

We must regret our sins whilst still in this world and gain our hereafter by carrying out our duty of servanthood. This is the essence of the matter.

True love is to seek Allah’s pleasure and to abandon evil acts, to be loyal to one’s promise, and to fulfil one’s trust, to see one’s faults, to refrain from boasting about one’s deeds, to ignore one’s deeds, and to be ever busy with remembering Allah.

Never embark on any act without invoking the name of Allah (saying Bismillah) so that you will not be ashamed in the hereafter because of that act.

Obey the commands of Allah, Most High. Never distance yourself from seeking knowledge and performing righteous deeds, wherever you may be. Never abandon these, whatever may happen, and whatever difficulty you may encounter.

Carry out your duty of amr bi’l ma’ruf and nahy al an-munkar. Beware of those things that are forbidden by the religion, of matters that are inappropriate and of innovation (bid’a). It is said in a verse from the Qur’an:

‘You who have faith! Safeguard yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones’ (Tahrim, 66:6).

Fear greatly and be extremely cautious of being one of those people who are fuel for the fire of the hereafter.

Fudayl ibn Iyad says:

“On a day when the weather was extremely harsh and cold I saw Shaykh Abdullah. He was wearing very light clothing. Even though it was so cold, he was sweating profusely. I asked him:

“Why are you sweating in such cold weather?” He replied:

“Today a sin was committed in this place. I tried to prevent it but was unable to do so. Now as I look at this place I sweat from the pain and fear of how I am going to be saved from the responsibility on the Day of Judgement”.

And us! We miss countless opportunities to carry out our duty of amr bi’l ma’ruf for ourself and for others. Just look at our state.

The head of all affairs is to cling to the commands of the religion and not transgress the limits placed by Allah, Most High.

The intelligent man ponders on his own state. He abides by the limits and rights of others. There are many verses which inform us of the punishment for those who do not abide by these rights. There is a particular measure that people must abide by, towards Allah and other people…every time and everywhere; whilst looking, speaking, listening, eating, and drinking…

See this opportunity as a treasure and carry out your duties to be a means for your salvation. Work to earn lawful livelihood. Earn only what is enough and avoid waste and miserliness. Act in accordance with the commands of the religion while earning your livelihood and spending your money.

The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“The best of affairs is that which is moderate and of the middle way” (Bayhaqi, Shuab, VIII, 275/5819).

Eat from what is lawful and from your own earnings. If you feel sleepy, sleep a little so that you will have rested in order to perform your worship and be able to obey Allah. But do not sleep without having remembered Allah.

O my students! The reason that people are deprived of their aim and of attaining happiness is that they have abandoned the path to the hereafter and have embraced this deceitful, illusory world. The one who wishes for happiness in the hereafter should have correct belief and should stay away from innovations and from misguidance. Act as if you will be taken to account for everything that you do.

O my friends! There is nothing worse than the believer who is not aware of the path that he is on. This state is evidence that one is heedless. Those things that others are unaware of have been opened up to the serious followers of this path. Their purpose is to seek the pleasure of Allah. This is what they have attained.

Every century Allah, Most High, selects a great man from amongst his beloved servants. In this way he saves everyone from tribulation and disaster.

O  my students! Be a student to such a master. In this way you can attain happiness in this world and the next.

Remain close to the scholars who are like the light-scattering candles of the community of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The Messenger of Allah said:

“The scholars (who have mastered the outer sciences and perfected the inner sciences) are the heirs of the prophets” (Abu Dawud, ‘Ilm, 1).

Beware of not loving knowledge and men of knowledge for this is the way to salvation. Keeping company with the ignorant will distance you from Allah. Stay away from the assembly of those who only act out the outer movements of the sama and who jump and hop. Do not sit with them. Company with them will kill the heart. This is why the masters of this path of ours have stayed away from this matter.

The state of the one who performs a true sama is as though you stab him with a knife yet he would be unaware due to his reverence and ecstasy. If this happens, then that person is truly in a state of the sama.

Stay away from using licence (ruhsah) and act with azimah. Acting upon the ruhsah is the act of weak people. If you want more advice than this look at the advice and writings of Abdul Khaliq Ghujduwani (may Allah have mercy on him). This is enough for now. A mere indication is sufficient for the one with intelligence”[10].

His Words of Wisdom

  • “Even if you spend your nights in worship and your stomach becomes so thin from hunger, you will never attain your purpose if your food and your clothes are not from lawful means”[11].
  • “Abandon the desires of your nafs so that you are not shamed and embarrassed in the hereafter. If you are grateful then Allah, Most High, will give you everything you ask for. Whatever we do in this world we will meet with its recompense in the hereafter.

O friends! Take care and be awake. As long as a person does not give up his desires and his whims, he is like a hunter in whose net no prey falls and who always returns empty handed. If a person forgets Allah, Most High, and delves into heedlessness, he will be subject to tribulation and misfortune.

What a shame that a person who is almost at the end of their life has delved into this world, and become a slave to their nafs and neglected and forgotten the road to the hereafter”[12].

  • “O friends! Be sincere. If you carry out your every task seeking the pleasure of Allah you will be saved. Every act that is done without sincerity is like money that does not have the seal of the sultan on it. Nobody will accept it. But everyone will accept the one which does.

A few deeds done in sincerity are like a great number in the sight of Allah and a great number of acts done without sincerity have no worth in the sight of Allah. Carry out your every act of worship and your every affair with sincerity.

In this way you will be close to Allah and will have gained His pleasure.

Brave is the one who first considers well what he will do and then does it. In this way he will not be of those who are ashamed of what they have done[13].

  • “As long as you are not freed of love of this world and of its ties, then the pot (your body) is of no use. In order to make a pot, they put it into the oven whilst it is complete. Some of the pots that go into the spiritual oven of tasawwuf come out sound and some come out broken (That is, they have not been cleared of their faults, and have not been saved from their carnal desires). We are hopeful yet about those pots that come out broken. We take them out and pound them to dust, mix them up with another clay remake the pot and put it back into the oven. We do this until it comes out sound. That is, we continue to train without wearying or becoming fed up”[14].

• “Look to winning hearts; serve those without strength. Protect the weak and broken-hearted. They are such people that they have no income from the people. Yet most of them leave with complete peace of heart, humility and remain meek. Seek out and find such people and serve them”.

[1]. Mawlana Shihabaddin, Agahi-yi Sayyid Amir Kulal, p. 7-8.[2]. Rashahat, p. 103.[3]. Mawlana Shihabaddin ibid, p. 11. Rashahat, p. 104; Badraddin Sirhindi, Hazaratu al Quds, I, vr. 114b-115a; Muhammad Talib, Matlabu al Talibin, vr. 22a-22b; Majduddin Badahshani, Jami u Salasil, p. 709.[4]. Mawlana Shihabaddin ibid, p. 14.[5]. Rashahat, p. 104.[6]. Mawlana Shihabaddin ibid, p. 28-29.[7]. Mawlana Shihabaddin ibid, p. 30-31; Heyet, Encyclopaedia of Awliya, X, 333.[8]. Mawlana Shihabaddin ibid, p. 60.[9]. Sadriddin Selim Bukhari, Bahauddin Naqshiband Yaki Yetti Pir, s. 12.[10]. See Mawlana Shihabaddin ibid, p. 56-58; Heyet, Encyclopaedia of Awliya, X, 338-342.[11]. Mawlana Shihabaddin ibid, p. 27.[12]. Heyet, Encyclopaedia of Awliya, X, 334.[13]. Heyet, Encyclopaedia of Awliya, X, 338.[14]. Muhammad Parsa, The talks of Muhammad Bahauddin Naqshiband p. 36.

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

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