Revelation of Mystery (Kashf al Mahjub)

Mystics among the Followers of Companions

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Chapter X

Mystics among the Followers of Companions

(Tabieenتابعین )

1. Awais al-Qarni (may Allah have mercy on him)

He lived in the time of Prophet, but due to two reasons could never see him. Firstly by the ecstasy which overmastered him, and secondly by duty to his mother. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to the Companions that there was a man namely Awais, living at Qarn, who at the Resurrection will intercede for a multitude of my Ummah, as many as the sheep of the Clans of Rabia and Mudar. Then turning to Umar and Ali, (may Allah be pleased with them), he said:

“You will see him. He is a lowly man, of middle height, and hairy. There is a white spot on his left, as large as dirham, which is not due to leprosy, and he has a similar spot on the palm of his hand. When you see him, give him my greeting, and bid him to pray for my Ummah.”

After the prophet’s (peace be upon him) death, Umar and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) came to Mecca, and during the course of a sermon, Umar asked if there was anybody from Najad. People from Najad got up.  Then he inquired if anyone of them belonged to Qarn. Some of them belonging to Qarn stepped forward. He inquired from them about Qarn and after getting positive answer, asked if they knew someone with the name of Awais. They affirmed the presence of Awais and said:

“He is a madman who dwells in solitude and associates with no one. He does not eat what men eat, and he feels no joy or sorrow. When others smile he weeps, and when others weep he smiles.”

Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) wished to see him. They told that he might be found near their camels in a desert. Umar and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) set out in quest of him. They found him praying and waited until he had finished with his prayer. He saluted them and showed them the marks on his side and palm of his hand. They conveyed him the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) greeting and enjoined him to pray for the Muslim Ummah. After they had stayed with him for a while, he said:

“You have taken trouble to come here, now return, for the Resurrection is near, there we will have an unending meeting. At present I am engaged in preparing for the Resurrection.”

After the departure of Companions, people exhibited great respect for Awais. Once people of Qarn came to know about him, he left his native place and came to Kufa where only once he was seen by Harim b. Hayyan. He reappeared during the battle of Suffain and fought for Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and got martyred.

He said that safety is laid in solitude, because the heart of the solitary is free from thoughts of others, and in no circumstances he hopes for anything from mankind. By turning away from others, he becomes one with the One.

Let not imagine, that solitude merely consists in living alone. So long as the Satan associates with a man’s heart, and sensual passion holds sway in his breast, and any thought of this world or the next occurs to him in such a way as to make him conscious of mankind, he is not truly in solitude. It is one and the same whether he takes pleasure in the thing itself or in the thought of it. Thus solitude is that in spite of his association with the people, he is not disturbed in his association with the Truth, but he who is preoccupied with people, may he attain solitude, he remains absent from the Truth. Once love of Allah is inscribed in ones heart, thought of peoples vanishes. Allah said:

أَلَيْسَ اللَّهُ بِكَافٍ عَبْدَهُ

“Is not Allah enough for His servants?” (Q 39:36).

 

2. Harim b. Hayyan (may Allah have mercy on him)

He was among the Sheikhs of the Path of Truth and is an eminent Sufi. He had the association of many companions; therefore, he is counted amongst the Tabieen. He went to Qarn to meet Awais Qarni, but on arriving at Qarn he found him no longer there. He was guided to Kufa but to his deep disappoint, he could not find him there also and he came back to Mecca.  After some time he learned that Awais was living at Kufa. He went there but could not discover him for a long time. At last he set out for Basra and on the way he found him, clad in a patched frock, performing ablution on the bank of the Euphrates. As soon as he came up from the bank of the river and combed his beard, Harim advanced to meet him and saluted him. Awais said:

“Peace be with thee, O Harim b. Hayyan!”

Harim asked that how did he know that he was Harim?  Awais answered: “My spirit knew thy spirit.”

He stayed with Awais for some time, during which Awais mostly talked of Umar and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them). He narrated following Hadith also which he had heard from them:

انما الاعمال بالنيات ولكل امري مانوي

“The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he intended.

Awais said to Harim,

عليك بقلبك

“keep watch over thy heart,” i.e. guard thy heart from thoughts of others.

This saying has two meanings:

-          Make your heart obedient to Allah by self mortification,

-          Through contemplation make yourself obedient to your heart.

These are golden principles, therefore, it is the work of novices to make their hearts obedient to Allah in order to purge themselves from familiarity with vain desires and passions, and sever them from unseemly thoughts, and fix them on the method of gaining spiritual health, on the keeping of the commandments, and on contemplation of the signs of Allah, so that their hearts may become the shrine of Love.

To make one's self obedient to one's heart is the work of accomplished adepts, whose hearts Allah illuminates with the light of His Beauty, and delivered them from all worldly causes and means, and invests them with the robe of proximity, and thereby reveals to them his bounties. Those whom He has chosen to contemplate of Him and to be near to Him, He makes their bodies accordant with their hearts. The former class is master of their hearts, the latter are under the dominion of their hearts. The former retrain their attributes, and the latter have lost their attributes. Quran in this verse says about the truth of this matter: 

إِلاَّ عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ

“Except Thy servants among them, sincere and purified (by Thy grace).” (Q 15:40).

Here some read mukhlisina instead of mukhlasina. The mukhlis (purifying one's self) is active, and retains his attributes, but the mukhlas (purified) is passive, and has lost his attributes. I will explain this question more in detail elsewhere.

The latter class who makes their bodies accordant with their hearts, and whose hearts abide in contemplation of Allah, are of higher rank than those who by their own efforts make their hearts comply with the Divine commandments. This subject has its foundation in the principles of sobriety (Sahw) and intoxication (sukr), and in those of contemplation (mushahida) and self-mortification (mujahida).

 

3. Abu Ali al-Hasan Basri (may Allah have mercy on him)

His name was Abu Ali and according to some, Abu Muhammad or Abu Said. He is held in high regard and esteem by the Sufis. He gave subtle directions relating to the science of practical religion. Once a Bedouin visited him and asked about patience. Hasan replied:

 “Patience is of two sorts:

-          firstly, patience in misfortune and affliction; and

-          secondly, patience to refrain from the things which Allah has commanded us to renounce and has forbidden us to pursue.”

The Bedouin said that he was an ascetic and he had never seen anyone more ascetic than he was. Hasan said:

“O Bedouin my asceticism is nothing but desire, and my patience is nothing but lack of resilience.”

The Bedouin begged him to explain this saying, otherwise he might lose his belief. Hasan replied:

“My patience in misfortune and in my submission (prayer) declares my fear of Hell-fire, and this is lack of strength; and my asceticism in this world is desire for the next world, and this is the quintessence of desire. How lucky is he who takes no thought of his own interest and his patience and his asceticism are for the sake of Allah and not for fear of Hell or desire of Paradise and this is the sign of intimacy.”

He said,

ان صحبته الاشرار تورت سوء الظن في الاخيار

“One who associates himself to the wicked, gets suspicious of the pious.”

It is a very fine saying and fully elaborates the condition of the people of this era.  They got suspicious and disbelieved the honored friends of Allah by adopting company of bad people. The reason of their disbelief is that they associate with pretenders to Sufism, who have only its external forms, and they perceive true Sufis also deceitful and talk all nonsense against them.  They consider every Sufi like the pretender one who possess all bad of the world such like, their actions to be treacherous, their tongues false, their ears listening to idle quatrains, their eyes following pleasure and lust, and their hearts set on amassing unlawful or dubious lucre. They fancy that aspirants to Sufism behave in the same manner, or that this is the doctrine of the Sufis themselves.

The true Sufis wholly act in obedience to Allah, and their each talk is truth, and devoted to love of Allah and their ear do not respond to anything other than truth and their eyes do not see anything but the beauty of Divine.  If evildoers have appeared among them and have adopted their practices, the evil must be referred to those who commit it. What concern they have with these friends of Allah? Anyone who associates with the wicked does so through his own wickedness, for he would associate with the good if there were any good in him. Since Sufis are not in accord to their desire, therefore, either they deny them or they follow those who have denied them. When these hypocrites die their followers also perish.

Alas! Had they come in the courts of the friends of Allah, seen them with the eyes of love, adopted their path and whole heartedly associated with them, then they might have fulfilled their desires of both the worlds and had broken their ties with the mortal things.

 

4. Said b. al-Mussaib (may Allah have mercy on him) 

He was head of Ulama, and Imam of theologians and Sufis and a great saint. He was very well verse on the various branches of religious sciences. Outwardly he looked to be fast but internally he was very pious which is approved in Sufism. He said:

“Be content with a little of this world while thy religion is safe, even as some are content with much thereof while their religion is lost,”

The poverty without harm to religion is better than richness which leads to heedlessness because when poor have an eye on heart he does not find any high handedness of the world and when he sees his hand he finds contentment there. When rich sees his heart he finds high handedness of the world and when he sees his hand he sees doubtful world. That satisfaction of the friends of Allah in His kingdom is better which is free of any heedlessness. When some affliction falls, heedless thanks that they remained safe but the friends of Allah say praise to Allah that affliction did not fall on their faith.   

 It is related that when he was at Mecca a man came to him and said: “Tell me a lawful thing in which there is nothing unlawful.” He replied:

dikr (Praise of Allah) is lawful thing in which there is nothing unlawful, and praise of aught else is an unlawful thing in which there is nothing lawful,” because your salvation lies in the former and your perdition in latter.

 

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