Who is Abu al-Hasan al-Kharaqani?


Who is abu al hasan kharaqani?

Abu al-Hasan al-Kharaqani [963 – 1033]

Abu al-Hasan al-Kharaqani (may Allah have mercy on him) was born in approximately the year 352 after the hijrah (963AD) in the village of Kharaqan to the north of Bustam. He was the son of a farming couple. He was also himself later occupied with farming.

Due to his devotion and his worship, his struggle against his nafs, and his constant state of dhikr and muraqaba, he was called the ‘Shaykh al-‘Asr’, which means ‘The Shaykh of this century’. Many people observed many karamat and other extraordinary acts by him[1].

All of the true Friends of Allah of that time were in awe of him and praised him much[2].

His Life of Worship

From a young age Kharaqani was much given to worship.

In addition to the obligatory acts, he would also perform much supererogatory prayers. Sometimes such a state would come over him that he would feel the need to redo his prayers due to anxiety that he had prayed them in heedlessness[3].

One day Abu al-Hasan al-Kharaqani asked his students:

“What is the most superior and valuable thing?”

They replied:

“O Shaykh, we do not know, give us the answer”.

He replied:

“A heart that is filled with remembrance of Allah at every stage of life, at every time and in every place”[4].

He would also say:

“The Friends of Allah are ever in a state of great sorrow. The reason for this is that they are unable to remember Allah in a way that is worthy of His Glory”[5].

In the same way the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) used to pray as follows:

“…O my Lord, I am incapable of praising You as You are worthy of being praised. You are as You have praised Your own Being” (Muslim, Salat, 222).

The reverence and love that Kharaqani felt for Almighty Allah was so great that he would advise others as follows:

“When you say Allah, do not converse with any who say another word”[6].

He Was Always With Allah

Abu al-Hasan al-Kharaqani was always in a state of contemplation on the manifestations of Divine Greatness and Power and lived his life in a state of ihsan and muraqaba. He also advised his students to do the same. The following words of his reflect his maiyyah that is his consciousness of being with Allah:

“Generally people pray as follows: “O Allah, help us in three places: when we are dying, when we are in the grave and on the Day of Judgement”.

However I say: “My Lord help me always and everywhere”[7].

“Seal your tongue so that it does not speak of that which Allah is not pleased with”.

“Put such a lock on your mouth so that nothing forbidden may pass through it”.

“And place a seal upon all of your other limbs so that they cannot perform any deed with insincerity”[8].

“My Lord! When I offend the people they immediately change their path as soon as they see me (However You my Lord, how merciful are you that) despite our offending You so much, You are still with us”[9].

“Allah, Most High, addresses his servants with the following four things: Their body, their tongue, their heart and their wealth. It is not enough to give one’s body to serving and one’s tongue to dhikr. As long as one does not give one’s everything to Allah and generously spend one’s wealth in the way of Allah, one cannot progress in this path of union”[10].

Reaching Perfection by Purifying The Nafs

On the matter of the purification and education of the nafs Kharaqani (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“Allah brought you to this world pure so do not enter His presence spoiled”[11].

The Holy Qur’an states:

“Those who keep from disobedience to their Lord in reverence for Him and piety will be led to Paradise in companies. Until, when they arrive there, its doors will be opened (as sheer grace from God), and its keepers will welcome them saying: “Peace be upon you! Well you have faired and are purified, so enter it (Paradise) to abide forever!’ (Zumar, 39:73).

“The true Friends of Allah who have reached elevated stations are also raised because they have purified their nafs as well as carried out their deeds with sincerity”[12].

“Just as salat and sawm are obligatory and necessary, so too is removal of conceit, envy and greed from the hearts”[13].

The greatest sign of the acceptance of our worship is that our character is elevated.

“If a flame from the oven happens to catch on to your dress you immediately try to put it out. So how can you allow such evil traits as conceit, envy and ostentation to remain in your heart when they are like fire that will burn your religion”[14].

“Weep much, laugh little; be silent much, speak little; give out much, eat little; keep your head away from the pillow (do not become a slave to sleep and allow your inner world to become cumbersome)”[15].

Kharaqani preferred the state of sorrow and did not approve of the sama and raks[16]. He did not give any importance to outer forms such as special robes or prayer mats.

His Sensitivity Towards Lawful (Halal) Food

Kharaqani had a favoured student who was more superior in his eyes than all his other students. One day he said to his shaykh:

“Master, we have some brothers who own sheep and whose property is therefore lawful. For a long time now they have wished to donate some of their sheep to the tekke”

The shaykh replied:

“I am in such a state of reliance upon and submission to Allah that Allah, Most High, said to me: “I will meet all your needs”. If you promise not to insist again, I will accept these on this one occasion, on the condition that they are lawful…”

They gathered the sheep together and brought them to the shaykh. The shaykh left the tekke and when he moved his arm some of the sheep entered the tekke whilst others fled and escaped to the other side so that no one could make them go in When they investigated they found out that these sheep were not in fact lawfully fed[17].

One night the shaykh’s servant made some pickles. He then placed some herbs that the shaykh had planted with his own hands. It was not in the habit of Kharaqani to eat if he had not prayed the ‘isha prayer. He would say:

 “O Allah, I will not feed my body until I have completed my worship of You in reverence”.

After the ‘isha prayer, the food was brought and he said:

“There is the scent of doubt coming from this food”.

The next day they went to the garden and saw that some people had allowed some water to flow into their canals in order to water their wheat. Since the canal that led to the shaykh’s garden had been left open some of this water flowed there and his vegetables had been watered with some of this water[18].

There is a hadith which states:

“Beware of the firasah (discernment) of the believer for when he looks he looks with the light of Allah” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 15/3127).

Sensitivity in one’s discernment, insight and taqwa is the art of the heart that is close to Allah

Eating and Speaking Little

Abu al-Hasan al-Kharaqani (may Allah have mercy on him) once said:

“It has been forty years that we did not cook or do anything other than to prepare for guests. From the food that we cooked for our guests we benefitted only as much as to suffice us”[19].

Kharaqani would relate the following story:

One day Luqman Hakim said to his son:

“My dear son, fast today and take note of everything that you say. After you have presented to me everything that you said at night and taken it to account, you may break your fast”.

When the night fell, his son began to account for everything that he said. It had gotten quite late and he was very hungry. Luqman Hakim told him the same thing the next day and his son was again late in breaking his fast. When on the third day the same thing happened again, his son abandoned unnecessary talk on the fourth day. When his father asked him to account for his words he said:

“I did not speak much for fear of having to account for what I said”.

Luqman Hakim said to him:

“Go then and break your fast”.

After relating this story Kharaqani (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“On the Day of Judgement the state of those who abandoned unnecessary talk will be peaceful like that of the son of Luqman Hakim”[20].

His Mercy, Compassion and Serving of Others

Abu al Hasan al Kharaqani once said:

“When the scholar wakes in the morning he wishes to increase his knowledge and when the ascetic wakes he wishes to increase his asceticism. Whilst Abu Hasan is only concerned with bringing joy and happiness to the heart of his brother”[21].

“A believer who reaches the evening without offending his brother in religion is as if he spent the entire day with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). If he offends a believer, Allah, Most High, does not accept his worship that day”[22].

“O Allah! If there is a person more compassionate than me towards Your creation then I will be embarrassed of myself”[23].

“From Turkestan to Damascus, whoever’s finger has been pricked, it is as if my finger has been pricked and whoever has struck their foot against a rock, I have felt the pain. In whosever heart there is sorrow, that heart is my heart”[24].

“O my Lord! I am Your and Your Messenger’s slave in all circumstances and I am the servant of the believers”[25].

“The greatest karamah is to serve the creatures of Allah without feeling fatigue or weariness”[26].

His Advice to Mahmud of Ghazni

When the great Sultan and conqueror of India, Mahmud of Ghazni arrived at the surrounds of the village of Kharaqan, he wished to visit Abu al-Hasan of whom he had heard much praise. He first called one of his men and sent him to Abu al-Hasan with the following command:

“The Sultan of Ghazni wishes to visit you, so come out to greet him with students”. If he hesitates remind him of the verse: ‘Obey Allah and His Messenger, and those who have authority amongst you…” (Nisa, 4:59). His aim was to test Abu al-Hasan’s spiritual perfection, by seeing how he would respond to his instructions.

When the messenger had carried out his duty, Kharaqani said to him:

“Say to Mahmud: “Abu al-Hasan is so occupied with the command to ‘Obey Allah’ that he does not have time to concern himself with you”.

These words deeply affected Sultan Mahmud and he said to those with him:

“Rise and let us go to the Shaykh. This man is different he is not like those we know”.

When they arrived in his presence Sultan Mahmud said to him:

“Give me some advice”.

Kharaqani responded:

“O Mahmud be careful about four things: taqwa, prayer performed in congregation, generosity and compassion towards the people”.

Sultan Mahmud made a request:

“Pray for me”

Kharaqani replied:

“In my five daily prayers I pray as follows: “O Allah, forgive the believing men and the believing women”. You are included amongst those”.

Sultan Mahmud said:

“I want a special prayer”.

Kharaqani responded:

“O Mahmud, may your end affair be mahmud (that is good and beautiful)”. He then stood to take his leave. Sultan Mahmud asked:

“When I first arrived you showed me no favour, now you stand on your feet. What was that state before and now what is this?”

He replied:

“When you first came you came with the pride of a sultan and to test me, but now you leave with a broken heart and with the state of a dervish. The sun of being a Dervish has begun to shine over you”. Before I did not rise for you because you were a sultan but I stand for you now because you are a dervish”.

Many other great men came to visit Abu al-Hasan Kharaqani and many of them became his followers. Ibn Sina (Avicenna) also visited him and was greatly influenced by him[27].

Another of his disciples was Abdullah al-Ansari al-Harawi, the author of Manazil as-Sa’irin, in which he describes the spiritual states and ranks and which has an important place in the history of tasawwuf.

He says:

“I have studied with many teachers in the sciences of hadith, fiqh and other Islamic sciences. My teacher in tasawwuf is however Abu al Hasan al Kharaqani. I would not have reached the truth if I had never met him”[28].

Some of His Karamat

When he was a child, his mother and father would give him his bag of provisions and send him to the pastures to graze the animals. Without telling them he would fast and give out his provisions to the poor people around him. He would come home in the evening and break his fast but nobody would know of it.

When he was a little older they gave him the task of ploughing and planting the seeds. One day he had planted the seeds and was ploughing the land. At that point the adhan was called. He immediately left his plough and stood to pray. When he had finished he saw the cows continuing to plow on their own. He immediately bowed his head in prostration and prayed as follows:

“ O Allah, I have heard that You hide from the people those whom You befriend (Hide me from the people)”[29].

For twelve years Abu al-Hasan would perform the night prayer in congregation and then go to visit the tomb of Bayazid Bistami, the sultan of gnostics, with great respect and manners. He would then be ready at his own tekke for the dawn prayer. In this way he walked three leagues. One day he heard a voice from the tomb of Bayazid saying:

“It is time to guide others”. In great humility he said:

“O Shaykh help me in my task for I am an illiterate man and do not know the shariah properly. I have not learned the Qur’an with its true meaning”.

The voice from the tomb replied:

“O Abu al-Hasan recite: “I seek refuge in Allah…” and the voice began to teach him to read.

By the time Kharaqani reached his lodge, he had recited the entire Qur’an[30]. His knowledge of the Qur’an and the Sunnah increased even more after that day.

One time one of his students asked for permission from Abu al-Hasan to see the ‘the Spiritual Pole of the world’ and then set out to do so. After much effort he saw that Abu al-Hasan fit that category; that he was in fact, the Pole of the world, which made him extremely embarrassed and apologetic. Abu al-Hasan approached his student in great humility and compassion and cautioned him as follows:

“You must hide what you have seen. I pray to Allah to conceal me from the people in both this world and the next”[31].

His Death

When his death was approaching, Kharaqani (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“Dig my grave thirty yards deep because this earth is higher than that of Bistami’s. It is not acceptable that the place where I am to lie be higher than the honourable grave of Bayazid Bistami, neither is it conformable with decorum. He passed away a little while later[32].

The date of his death was the year 425 after the hijra on the Day of Ashura (11th December, 1033).

It is said that his blessed tomb is in the town of Kharaqan, 12km from the town of Bustam in Iran. According to some narrations Abu al-Hasan Kharaqani set out with the Islamic army for jihad and was martyred near Kars and was buried there. There is a tomb in Kars which is attributed to him.

Some of His Wise Words

  • “(At least one of) the limbs of the believer should be constantly occupied with Allah, Most High. A believer should either remember Allah, Most High, with their heart, or with their tongue, or he should see those manifestations of divine greatness that the Almighty wants him to see, or be generous with his hands (with mercy overflowing from his heart), or visit people with his feet, or serve the believers with his entire being, or strive to reach a state of marifah with his mind through contemplation, or do his deeds with sincerity, or fear the terror of the Day of Judgement and warn others about the matter.

I can guarantee that such a person will go to Paradise with complete ease as soon as he raises his head from the grave!”[33]

  • “The dissension that the following two people can create in the religion cannot be achieved even by Satan himself:

1) A scholar greedy for the world,

2) A raw Sufi deprived of knowledge[34].

  • “I do not say that ‘You do not need to perform deeds. However are you the one who is in reality performing the deed that you consider yours or are you being made to do it, this is what you need to be aware of. In fact, the servant carries out his trade with the capital which belongs to Allah (because the One who created everything out of nothing and who is the absolute Doer is Almighty Allah. When you give up your capital to Allah then its beginning is His, its end is His and its middle is His. Your trade profits because of Him not because of You.) There is no path there for the one who sees his share in the market”[35].

• “After faith, Allah, Most High, has not given His servant anything greater than a pure heart and a truthful tongue”[36].

[1]. Dhahabi, Siyer, XVII, 421.[2]. Hujwiri, p. 377.[3]. Attar, Tadhkira, p. 637.[4]. Jami, Nafahat, p. 444.[5]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 248.[6]. Jami, Nafahat, p. 444.[7]. Attar, p. 638.[8]. Attar, p. 627.[9]. Attar, p. 616.[10]. Attar, p. 631.[11]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 258.[12]. Attar, p. 622.[13]. Attar, sp. 629.[14]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 239.[15]. Attar, p. 630.[16] The sama is the ceremony performed by the Mawlawi darwishes, and raks means a spiritual dance (Translator’s note).[17]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 315.[18]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 315-316.[19]. Attar, p. 637.[20]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 265.[21]. Attar, p. 611.[22]. Attar, p. 628.[23]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 247.[24]. Attar, p. 604.[25]. Attar, p. 616.[26]. Name-I Danishwaran-I Nasiri, I, 297.[27]. Attar, p. 597.[28]. Jami, Nafahat, 482.[29]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 280; Attar, p. 593.[30]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 307.[31]. Attar, p. 595.[32]. Attar, p. 639.[33]. Haraqani, Nuru al Ulum, p. 240.[34]. Attar, p. 624.[35]. Attar, p. 625.[36]. Attar, p. 628.

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

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