Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Alhamdulillahi Rabbil ‘Alameen wa afdhal ul salaato wa atammu tasleem ‘ala Sayyiduna wa Mawlana Muhammad wa ‘ala aalihee wa sahbihee ‘ajma’een.
The blessed resting place of Shaykh Ahmad ibn Ata’illah Raheemahullah
Sayyiduna ‘Taj al Deen’, Shaykh Abu’l Fadl Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al Kareem ibn Ata’illah al Iskandari raheemahullah known simply as ibn Ata’illah al Iskandari – raheemahullah – was born in Alexandria [Iskandariyya], Egypt over 700 years ago. Shaykh ibn Ata’illah raheemahullah were exposed to the Deen at a very young age, and this was pivotal in them later becoming a great Maliki Jurist and a Muhaddith. Although initially they were sceptical of Sufism – although their father was a student of Shaykh Abu’l Abbas al Mursi raheemahullah – this view changed for the better when they themselves set their eyes upon Shaykh Abu’l Abbas al Mursi raheemahullah. Verily, this was the power of the ‘iron gaze’ that the Awliyah e Kaamileen possess.
They are the third Qutb of the golden Shadhili Silsila, their Shaykh was the venerable Shaykh, the great Qutb, Sayyiduna Shihab al Deen Abu’l Abbas Ahmad ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Ali al Mursi raheemahullah who was the disciple of the Qutb of all Qutbs, the Imam of our blessed path and the reviver of Prophetic teaching, Sayyiduna al Shaykh Abu’l Hassan ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah, ibn ‘Abd al Jabbar al Hassani wal Husayni al Shadhili radhi Allahu ‘anh.
It is related that the first thing that Shaykh ibn Ata’illah raheemahullah said to Shaykh Abu’l Abbas al Mursi raheemahullah was “O Master, by Allah I love you”, Shaykh Abu’l Abbas al Mursi raheemahullah replied “May Allah love you as you love me.” It was at this stage that Shaykh Abu’l Abbas al Mursi raheemahullah enlightened Shaykh ibn Ata’illah raheemahullah with beautiful pearls of wisdom by saying:
“There are four states of the servant, not five: blessings, trials, obedience and disobedience. If you are blessed, then what Allah Ta’ala requires of you is thankfulness. If you are tried, then what Allah Ta’ala requires of you is patience. If you are obedient, then what Allah Ta’ala requires of you is the witnessing of His blessings upon you. If you are disobedient, then what Allah Ta’ala requires of you is asking forgiveness.”
It was with these words that the venerable Shaykh inspired Shaykh ibn Ata’illah raheemahullah to become a loyal disciple for more than twelve years. The Shaykh said so beautifully about Shaykh Abu’l Abbas al Mursi raheemahullah that “I never heard the Shaykh say anything in my life which contradicted the Shari’ah.”
The virtue, eloquence, presence and insights that Shaykh ibn Ata’illah raheemahullah had was countless, and it is through this scrupulous character that they had many followers, enabling them to spread the Shadhili way far and wide. They were a Master in the sciences of Shari’ah and the sciences of Tassawuf. Furthermore, they also had a private Zawiyah for their students and disciples, and taught at the al Azhar University and the Mansooriyah Madrassah.
They were a Mujaddid [reviver of the Deen] of their time and had many karamaat [miracles]. One such karamaat was when they were heard speaking from their blessed grave to Kamal al Deen ibn al Hamam who had gone to the venerable Shaykh’s tomb to recite Surah Hud, in turn, Kamal al Deen was also blessed to be buried there. There was also the occasion where one of their disciples saw the blessed Shaykh in three different places when performing the pilgrimage [Hajj] in Makkah al Mukarrama. When he returned he asked people if the Shaykh had left Egypt while he had gone to Hijaaz, to which they all replied that the Shaykh had been teaching at al Azhar and had stayed in the country. They went to see the noble Shaykh, and before they asked the question, the venerable Shaykh asked them who they had seen, to which the disciple replied “O Master, I saw you.” The Shaykh smiled and said “The realised sage fills the universe. If he summoned the Qutb verily he would answer.” [Allahu Akbar!]
Another karamaat that I would like to share is the instance where three men [who were students of the Shaykh] were on their way to attend the noble Shaykh’s majalis [lectures]. One said “If I were free from my family, I would become an ascetic”, the other said “I pray and fast, but I do not see a speck of benefit” to which the third said “Indeed, my prayers do not even please me, so how can they please my Lord?” On arrival to the majlis, the noble Shaykh continued their discourse and in their presence they said “There are among people those who say…” and repeated each and every word the three men said in secret. These are not the words of an ordinary man! For those of us who are familiar with ibn Taymiyyah, it was Shaykh ibn Ata’illah al Iskandari raheemahullah that successfully debated him after ibn Taymiyyah had come to Egypt on release from imprisonment.
In regards to the Shadhili way itself, the venerated Shaykh related that:
“The Shadhili people [those within the Tariqa] were shown to Sayyiduna Shaykh Abu’l Hassan al Shadhili who interceded for them, and asked Allah Ta’ala to put them in Jannah.”
They are the author of some of the most sublime books in the history of Islam, indeed the author of books that are still being used to this day! The superb books that are recommended for all of us to read are: Taj al ‘Aroos [the Crown of the Bride]; Miftah al Falah wa Misbah al Arwah [the Key to Salvation]; Kitab al Tanwir fi Isqat al Tadbir [the Book of Illumination]; Lataif al Minan fi Manaqib Abil ‘Abbas al Mursi wa Shaykhihi Abil Hassan [the Subtle Blessings in the Saintly Lives of Abu’l Abbas al Mursi and his Master Abu’l Hassan]; and the magnificent Kitab al Hikam [the Book of Wisdom]. I have compiled some quotes from these books for our benefit inshaAllah. Please understand and reflect upon these advices.
The blessed resting place of Qutb ul Aqtaab Shaykh Abu’l Hassan al Shadhili radhi Allahu ‘anh
Taj al ‘Aroos
“Do you wish to struggle against your lower self as you strengthen it with low desires until it overcomes you?! How ignorant you are!”
“The heart is a tree that is watered with the water of obedience and its fruit is what you find in the outcome: the eye’s fruit is contemplation, the ear’s fruit is listening to Qur’an, the tongue’s fruit is remembrance, and the hands’ and feet’s fruit is seeking goodness. If the heart becomes dry, the fruit falls. If it becomes barren do much remembrances of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. Be not like the sick individual who says: I will not take medicine until I find a cure. It is said to him: you will not find a cure until you take medicine.”
“Struggling does not come with sweetness. The only thing that comes with it is the spear heads of arrows. So, struggle against your lower self as this is the greatest struggle.”
“If you desire repentance, it is necessary upon you not to be void of reflection throughout your life. Reflect on what you have done during your day. If you find obedience, show gratitude to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala for it. If you find disobedience, reproach yourself for that and seek forgiveness from Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala and repent to Him.”
“The likeness of one who prays, without presence of heart, is like someone sending a King, a gift of one hundred empty boxes; thus deserving his punishment. Whoever prays with presence of heart is like someone giving the king a precious sapphire; worth a thousand gold coins. The king will always remember him because of it.”
Miftah al Falah
“The remembrance of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala in the heart is the sword of the novices with which they combat their enemies and repel the afflictions that befall them.”
“Your Saying ‘Allah is Most Great’ does not mean that He is greater than something else, since there is nothing else alongside of Him, so that it could be said that He is greater than it. Rather, the meaning of Allahu Akbar is that He is much too great to be perceived by the senses or for the depths of His Majesty to be reached by reason and logic, and indeed, that He is much too great to be known by an other-than-Him for truly, no one knows Allah but Allah.”
“Invoking the letters of Allah’s Name without presence of mind is invocation of the tongue; invoking with presence of mind is invocation of the heart; and invoking with an absence of self-awareness because of absorption in the Invoked is the invocation of the Self – this is the hidden invocation!”
“The most excellent of those who perform good deeds are those who most often remember Allah in all situations.”
Kitab al Tanwir
“The deeper our need in this world, the higher our potential is in the next world.”
“If you do not know the blessings you have when you have them, then Allah will teach you about them by taking them away from you.”
“We suffer the pains of labour to survive in this world and to find our place in the next world. The deeper our need in this world, the higher our potential is in the next world.”
“Sometimes darknesses come over you in order that He makes you aware of the value of His blessings upon you.”
“If you meet people enmeshed in the worldly pursuits and evil habit, don’t be fooled and don’t condemning them, instead be compassionate toward them. Instead of asking Allah to curse them, pray for Allah to favour them. That is the cure to conceit, which is to love and desire for all what you would love Allah to do to you, mainly that He forgives you and shower His favour and mercy on you.”
Lataif al Minan
“Someone who acquires knowledge in order to gain this world and to achieve status therein may be likened to someone who picks up excrement with a sapphire spoon. How noble the means, and how ignoble the end sought!”
“If you fulfill your commitment to exercise patient endurance, Allah will reward you with forbearance [hilm] so that you will be able to forgive and pardon. He may even reward you – out of the Light of His goodly acceptance – with the wherewithal to have such compassion on the one who wronged you that you call down blessing upon Him and see your prayer answered.”
“When the people of Allah feel afraid, they also feel hopeful, knowing that beyond both their fear and that which has caused their fear are the attributes of the One in Whom they have placed their hope, and of Whose mercy and graces they must never despair. Hence, they rely upon His magnanimity, realising as they do that He has only frightened them in order to cause them to focus upon Him alone, and thereby to bring them back to Himself.”
“Know that when you take pride in a powerful person, this does not mean that you share in this person’s power or high rank. The friends of Allah take pride in the Prophets whose guidance they have followed and whose path they have embraced; however, they do not for this reason share in their power and standing.”
“If Allah desires you to enable you to recognise one of His friends, He will prevent you from looking at the person’s mere humanity and cause you to see, instead, that which makes them one of Allah’s elect.”
“Your Shaykh is not the one whose statements have challenged you; your Shaykh is the one whose spiritual state has roused you to wakefulness.”
“The one in a state of annihilation receives from Allah, while the one in a state of substinence sets forth to others what he has received from Allah.”
“May Allah not allow what we say and hear to become an argument against us. Rather may He cause us, together with you, to be servants who are guided aright by His love, who continue in affectionate devotion to Him and who are blessed with His nearness.”
Kitab al Hikam
“Perhaps, He opened for you the door of worship but did not open for you the door of acceptance; and perhaps, He decreed for you a sin and it became a reason for your reaching Him.”
“When He causes your tongue to supplicate, know that He wants to give you.”
“If you were not to reach Him until after all your bad traits vanish and your claims disappear, you would never reach Him. Rather when He wants you to reach Him, He covers your traits with His traits and makes you reach Him with that which is from Him to you and not that which is from you to Him.”
“Become realized in your attributes and He will strengthen you with His:
Realize your humility and He will strengthen you with His pride.
Realize your incapability and He will strengthen you with His ability.
Realize your weakness and He will strengthen you with His power.”
“Better to look at the defects hidden within you than to look for the unseen worlds that are veiled from you. The Real is not veiled – it is you that are veiled from seeing Him.”
“The root of every act of rebellion, every appetite and every moment of heedlessness is satisfaction with one’s self. The root of every act of obedience, every restraint and every moment of wakefulness is lack of satisfaction with one’s self.”
“Better to keep the company of an ignorant man who is not satisfied with himself than a man of knowledge who is satisfied with himself.
What knowledge does the self-satisfied scholar have?
What ignorance does the ignorant man who is not self-satisfied have?”
“When He opens a way for you and makes Himself known to you, then do not worry about your lack of deeds. He only opened the way for you because He desired to make Himself known to you. Do you not see that while He grants gnosis of Himself to you, you have only deeds to offer Him? What He brings you – What you bring Him – What a difference there is between them!”
“The best you can seek from Him, is what He seeks from you.”
“Your turning to Allah is your turning away from creation.Your turning to creation is your turning away from Allah.”
“Nothing is difficult if you seek it through your Lord Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, and nothing is easy if you seek it through yourself.”
“Among the signs of success at the end is the turning to Allah Ta’ala at the beginning.He who is illumined at the beginningis illumined at the end.”
Sayyidi al Shaykh Muhammad Abu’l Huda al Yaqoubi al Hassani Hafidhahullah
I would just like to finish off with a few words of my beloved and noble teacher, murshid and father, the leader of the Ahlul Bayt in our time, the teacher of the Ulama, the light of this Ummah, the crown of the Scholars, the standard bearer of the Shadhili Tariqa, al Shaykh al Sayyid Muhammad Abul Huda al Yaqoubi, (may Allah protect and preserve him for the sake of the Ummah).
“Some people seek fame, others seek to be unknown and hidden. The best are those who seek Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.”
In regards to the blessed and golden Shadhili way, they have said:
”The Shadhili path focuses greatly on the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as he sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is central to our path. No disciple of the Shadhili tariqa will leave this world without seeing the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in a wakeful state before he leaves this earth.”
They have written the Direction for Seekers seeking to progress in the spiritual path, below is an extract of these magnificent and sublime instructions:
“O vanishing servant delighted in ecstasy, dwelling in the zone of annihilation
To other than the Master: you have to wake up, and swiftly feel your own sensation.
Look carefully! You are you, a contingent being; You could never be He; no union is allowed
He is He: Allah, The Eternal, The Unique – by heart is witnessed by reason is found.
Stay back and uphold this essential contrast; to remove from your mind and your heart this cloud.
The top Sufi Masters clearly distinguished, and warned in this field of the slightest deviation.”
An excerpt from a poem written by Sayyiduna al Shaykh during a flight on 23rd Shawwal, 1432
“We pledged ourselves to love each other for Allah, Our only remedy is the remembrance of Allah, We offer our souls to support this deen of Allah, And guard the covenants of all the people of Allah. We pardon everyone of the creation of Allah, We are pleased with all which comes from Allah, Our brothers! Pray and salute the Messenger of Allah, His family and friends the Soldiers of Allah.”
May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala forgive me for any mistakes in this note, surely all bad is from me, and all good is from Him Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. I pray this humble effort is accepted and i pray that this note is a means of salvation and success for my Shaykh and liege lord, my parents, my family, my honourable teachers, my fellow brothers and sisters on this path, my friends, readers of this note and all the believers. Ameen!
jazAllahu ‘anna Sayyiduna Muhammadan salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallamma ma huwa ahlu
w’alhamdulillahi Rabbil ‘Alameen