Revelation of Mystery (Kashf al Mahjub)
The Rules of Companionship Affecting Residents
Chapter XXIII (e)
The Rules of Companionship Affecting Residents
When a Dervish chooses to reside and not to travel, he is bound to observe the following rules of discipline:
- When a traveler comes to him, he must meet him with respect and joyfully and treats him like an honored guest and considers him to be amongst the guests of Abraham (may blessings of Allah be on him). He should serve him in the fashion as Abraham used to serve and sets before him whatever food he has, as Abraham used to do, “brought out a fated calf” (Q 51:26), and because of respect Abraham would never ask his guests that from where had they come and where they intended to go and who were they?
- The dervish should only think in his heart the guest has come from Allah and would be leading to Him and should recognize him only as servant of Allah.
- If the guest likes to live alone he should be given some vacant place and if he desires company he must consort with him unceremoniously in a friendly and sociable manner.
- At night when he lays on his bed the resident dervish should massage his feet, but if the traveler should say that he is not accustomed to it, the resident for fear of causing him annoyance must not insist.
- Next day, he must take him to the cleanest bath available. Must not keep his clothes at some dirty place and neither employ any stranger to serve the guest.
- He should scrape his back, knees, sole of the feet and hand with the intention that by cleansing his guest he would also be cleansed from all the evils.
- If resident has sufficient means, he should provide a new garment for his guest, otherwise, he need not trouble himself, but he should wash his guest’s clothes so that he may put them on when he comes out of the bath.
- The next day he should invite his guest to visit some spiritual elder or Imam, who may be in the town, but he must not be compelled, for seekers of the Truth are not always masters of their own feelings, as Ibrahim Khawwas on one occasion refused the company of Khidr (may blessings of Allah be on him), who desired his companionship, for he was unwilling that his feelings should be engaged by anyone save Allah.
- It is not praiseworthy that resident dervish should take his guest to salute worldly men or to make him to attend their sick and funerals. Such resident who is greedy and hopes to make travelers an instrument of mendicancy and for the purpose conduct him from house to house, it would be better for him to refrain from serving any guest from the very beginning, for it would save the guest from humiliation.
I never felt more troubled and inconvenient during my traveling than from ignorant servants and impudent resident dervishes who during my stay with them would conduct me from house to house of different nobilities such like Khawajas and Farmers. Although apparently I would never make a complaint of that but I always felt great aversion going with them. I then vowed that, if ever I became resident, I would not behave towards travelers with such immodesty. There is no other benefit one might derive from associating with ill-mannered persons except that about whatever one feels ill, he develops habit of resigning from such activities.
If a traveling dervish stays for some days and makes worldly demand, the resident is bound to meet his wants immediately. But if the traveler is a pretender and low-minded, then the resident is not bound to comply with his un-genuine wants, for dervishhood is the path of those who have renounced the world and if he is a seeker of the world then he should meet his desires by visiting bazaar or beg services from kings. What business has a dervish to associate with devotees if he needs worldly things?
Once while Junaid and his disciples were occupied in some ascetic discipline, a traveling dervish came to them. They took sufficient pain to entertain him. When food was placed before him, he demanded some additional thing from them. Junaid said to him, “You should have gone to the bazaar, for you belong to the market, and you have no concern with convent and the mosque.”
Once I set out from Damascus with two dervishes to visit Ibn al-Muala. He was living at village Ramla. We decided among ourselves that each of us should think of the matter concerning which we were in doubt, in order to see that the Sheikh might tell us our secret thoughts and solve our difficulties. I thought to desire from him the poetry and intimate supplications of Hussein b. Mansur. One of my dervish companions thought that he would desire him to pray that his disease of spleen might heal and the other companion thought of desiring from him a kind of sweetmeat. As soon as we arrived, Ibn al-Muala commanded that a manuscript of the poems and supplication of Hussein should be presented to me, and laid his hand on the belly of the invalid so that his illness was eased, and said to other dervish, “The desired sweetmeat is eaten by soldiers, you are dressed as a saint, and the dress of a saint does not accord with the appetite of a soldier. Choose one or the other.”
In short, the resident is bound to serve traveling dervish who is committed to Allah and not desirous of his share thereof. If he is devoted to his own interests, then the other should act against his desire. When he renounces it, then his friend ought to satisfy him, so that both of them remain on right path and may not lose their way.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had made brotherhood between Salman (al-Farisi) and Abu Dhar Ghaffari (may Allah be pleased with them), both were leading men among the people of the Veranda and eminent spiritualists. One day, when Salman came to visit Abu Dhar at his house, his wife complained to Salman that her husband neither ate by day nor slept by night. Salman told her to fetch some food, and said to Abu Dhar, “O brother, I desire you to comply with my wish since this fasting is not incumbent on you.” Abu Dhar complied. And at night Salman said, “O brother, I beg you to sleep for your body and your wife has a claim upon you, as well as thy Lord.”
Next day when Abu Dhar went to the Prophet (peace be upon him), he said, “Abu Dhar, I say the same thing as Salman said to you yesterday: verily, your body has a claim upon you.”
What Abu Dhar abandoned, Salman got ready to abode for his share and left his own regularities. Anything done on this principle is right.
Once while in Iraq, I got occupied in seeking wealth and recklessly spending it, and ran into debt. Everyone who wanted anything turned to me, and I got entangled in that how could I accomplish their desires. An eminent Sheikh wrote to me:
“O son! Beware lest you distract your mind from Allah by satisfying the wishes of those minds who are engrossed in vanity. If you find any heart of higher degree than you, there is no harm in serving him, otherwise, do not distract yourself, for Allah is sufficient to take care for His servants.”
By acting on his advice in a very short time I got free from that entangle.