Following the Footsteps of the Messenger

Moussem 1992, Granada

By Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi

A’udhu billahi min-ash-shaytan ir-rajim

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

I want to say a little in continuation from the great Salat ‘ala an-Nabi of the Moroccan Shaykh that Sidi Hamid read. We talked yesterday about being the ‘abd of Allah, and we mentioned the hadith qudsi where Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, says, “My slave approaches me by nawafil acts until he loves Me, and when he loves Me, I (Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala) become the hand with which he grasps and the foot with which he walks.” This awakening of the heart and this longing and this desire for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is called ‘ishq.

‘Ishq in Arabic is very interesting. It is like the creeper which creeps up the tree and covers the whole tree with its foliage and its flowers, until it is the tree. In doing so it kills the tree. It is like the tree is the nafs and the creeper is the love of Allah which slowly turns into this other effulgent flowering plant. This is ‘ishq. It is a longing. It is something which in itself devours, burns up the base substance which has the capacity to have this love for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Now because Allah has majesty, has the jalali power, the love of Allah can make the man mad or can destroy him. Many, many stories of the sufis of the East are about people who become possessed with this love. The great example, of course, is the story or metaphor or mithal of Layla and Majnun. The way of the people of the innermost court of knowledge is to take a path to love of Allah which is founded on love of Rasul, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Every path to Allah is dangerous. The path of the love of Rasul is easy. It has two elements. One is praising him, the salat ‘ala an-Nabi. One is praising him to Allah. One is holding him up to Allah with gratitude to Allah.

That is all that is in our wird. It is in the works of Shaykh al-Jazuli. It is in the Salat al-Mashishiyya. Shaykh Ibn al-Mashish says, “Rasulu’llah, peace and blessings be upon him, is the great veil of all creation.” In other words, he is the last form of all the forms because the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “I am the first of the sons of Adam and I say it without boasting.” He is the form of the forms of man to Adam. He is directly, through the Prophets, the son of Adam. He is this perfect form, the completion of the vision of Sayyiduna Adam. Adam, peace be upon him, knew that he was the first and that his fulfilment was in the last, in Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him.

The love of Rasul has this element. It is based on Salat ‘ala an-Nabi on one side and on the other side it is taking on bits, particles of the qualities of Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him. In other words, you celebrate the qualities of Rasulullah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and you practise little bits because Shaykh al-Akbar, Muhyyidin Ibn al-‘Arabi said:

“We cannot copy Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him, we can only follow in the dust of where his feet went.”

It is a very beautiful thing, you see, and this was the adab of the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun: Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali all said:

“We are the followers, we are the caliphs. we are the followers who come after Rasul.”

So that there was a line drawn and then they said:

“I am the representative, nothing more. I am the second caliph, the third, the fourth.”

The Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun were following in the dust of the footsteps of the Rasul, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. You see that the position in them in the minbar is a big sunna because the position in the minbar is again this recognition that the Rasul, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had the highest position. The coming down the steps of the minbar was the identification that they were the followers. This is why now in the mosques they take away the minbar. They are taking away the respect for Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him, and making it a Christian pulpit. The Shi’ites do not use it because they do not recognise the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun in the way that we recognise the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun.

All this is the adab of these great men and the love that they had for Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him. The love of the Sahaba for Rasul, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was something that we will never grasp because they walked with him and talked with him and ate with him and fought with him and died for his path. This was something very exalted, and without it you cannot understand the history of Islam. So these Sahaba had a connection with Rasul that had an adab that was very, very, very fine. For example, there is an incident which demonstrates this. Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him, was always remembering Allah. so his dhikr of Allah was with his tongue, with his members, meaning with all his body, and with his heart. The three dhikrs. One day in Madina, he had a ring on his finger and he found that he was playing with it and turning it around with forgetfulness. In other words, all of him was remembering Allah but these two fingers. Rasulullah was so shocked at this that he took the ring and threw it into the dust because it was the instrument of letting two of his fingers for an instant forget Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

One of the Sahaba saw the ring of Rasul and because they loved him and they all wanted to have it, he put out his hand and another Sahabi stopped him and said, “Would you take something on which his glance has fallen with disapproval?” The man put his hand back. This is the adab and love of the Sahaba for Rasul, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

In the first of the visits to Madina of the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, a man welcomed him into his house and gave him his best room in his little house to spend the night. And he went up on the roof to sleep the night on the roof. Because the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was up in the night making his prayers, he heard this man move. He moved and he stopped, and he moved and he stopped all night long. In the morning the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to him, “You had a very troubled night last night. I hope you got some sleep. What happened?”

He said, “O Rasulullah, you see, I went to a spot on the roof and I thought, maybe he is underneath, maybe I am standing above him. I can’t. So I moved somewhere else and I thought but may he is there. And I could not rest the whole night that I should have my foot over your head.”

This is the love of the Sahaba for Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him. So this was something very special, very high, because it connected the love, hubb, with the adab. Now, we cannot do that because this was the exalted destiny of these people to be alive at the time of Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him. However, one of the gifts of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to the Muslims is that every Muslim has a connection with the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Every Muslim has a connection with Rasul.

You see, you cannot go on Hajj or ‘Umra, but that in Makka or Madina you will not one person, but many, many people who say: “Subhanallah. The Rasulullah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Subhanallah. I had a dream and the Rasulullah came and … etc.”

The Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “The one who has seen me in a dream has seen me because shaytan cannot take my shape.”

So here is this intimate connection with the Rasul in the ghayb. You see, the tawaf is not complete without an act of such special intimacy and adab and purity that you could not have imagined it. The Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, kissed the Black Stone, and for fourteen hundred years billions of Muslims have put their lips on that stone where he kissed it. This is the connection, a spiritual connection, a connection of adab between the Rasulullah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his ‘ibada, and the ‘ibada of all the Muslims. That is why ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, radiya’llahu ‘anhu, said: “I would not have kissed the stone if I had not seen the Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him, kiss the stone.”

So his kissing the stone was not for the stone, but for the sunna of the Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him, having done it. This is the adab and the love that these great men had between them and the Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him. Of course, the highest point of this was that in his teaching he transmitted to them knowledges, but he not only transmitted knowledges, he transmitted secrets. The Qur’an was sent down on him and he gave it to his Sahaba. Also he taught them sciences. He taught on the science of firasa (physiognomy). He taught another the science of dreams. Then also he transmitted even in what we call ‘the way of the people of tasawwuf’. The Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said in a very famous hadith words to the effect:

“Teach people according to their knowledge, according to their understanding.”

He taught Shari’ah to the people. He taught behaviour, akhlaq. He taught mithal to understand tawhid. The Rasulullah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, also spoke in another way to the people close to him. It is not a story of the Sufis. It is in al-Bukhari. It is in the hadith. One day the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was sitting with Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, who was the closest to him and he said, “Ya Abu Bakr, yawm al-yawm!” and the other Sahaba said, “What is this?” and Abu Bakr said, “ALLAH!” and was crying.

So all the Sahaba were jealous and the went to Abu Bakr and they asked, “What is this yawm al-yawm?” And Abu Bakr, radiya’llahu ‘anhu, said, “The Prophet salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was remembering that the yawm al-qiyama is close. It was close – yawm al-yawm”

So here was a language like the language of tasawwuf. Here was the way of speaking straight to the heart, straight to the heart of Abu Bakr. So Abu Bakr understood something in a way they could not understand. It was not for everybody. It was for Abu Bakr. So here again is the connection of love which is between the Sahaba and the Rasul, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Then you get the people who loved him who had not seen him, and you get the famous Uways al-Qarani who had not seen the Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him, but when he heard that he had lost a tooth in the battle, he knocked his tooth out by his love of Rasul, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, just to get that close to him.

These were the marks of these great, great men. So this theme is very vast. This theme has no end, you see, because for every Muslim there is a story of their connection with the Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him. Especially among the people of the Path, the fuqara’, there are many of those stories. Again, every hajji and everyone who has done ‘Umra has some experience of this.

We were on the Hajj the year that Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, rahimahu’llah, died on the Hajj. It was a year with far too many people, probably more people than there has ever been since. It was a very chaotic year and one night in Madina after the Hajj, someone came to me while I was fast asleep and said, “Go quickly to the house of the Rasul. Go the house of the Rasul! Go and cling to the walls of the house of the Rasul. Allah has accepted nobody’s Hajj this year except those who go and cling to the wall of the house of the Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him.”

You know that the Saudis lock up at night. So I woke up everybody who was sleeping and I thought I must take Hajj ‘Abdul-‘Aziz. I went to look for him and he was not in his bed. I said, “What’s the matter?” and he said, “I’ll tell you. Come quickly. I’ll tell you.”

The two of us started to walk through the streets of Madina in the middle of the night at four in the morning. He said, “I had this dream and I was told to get up and go to Rasul, peace and blessings be upon him.”

So the two of us went in the night. As we approached, in the middle of the night, the wall of the Rasulullah, there came from here, from there, from there, one, one, two, two people rushing with this ont heir face, and we all arrived against the wall to make our rak’ats and we all knew we had come with the same message.

This is how Allah has made the connection between the muminun and the Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him. This is absolutely dynamic. The Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:

“I will intercede for my people on Yawm al-Qiyama.”

Intercession in Arabic is shafa’a.

“I will make shafa’a for my people on Yawm al-Qiyama.”

Now, you cannot make shafa’a if you do not know what it is. It is an intimate connection. I say, “I have done this thing.” He says, “I will intercede for you to the King.” So it is a direct connection. Allah forgives, but he had this role of the intercessor for all the wrong actions of his people. Now you have a people who deny this, but it cannot be denied because it is promised by the Rasul, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

Then you see at the very heart of the matter is a strange thing, and this where we make this great divide between the Muslims and the christians, because despite this highest, highest, highest position we have for Rasulullah, peace and blessings be upon him, and despite the secret of Nuru Muhammad, there is this pure tawhid of knowledge about which Sayyiduna ‘Ali was asked, “Did you reach Allah by Muhammad?” He said, “No, if I had gone to Allah by Muhammad, I would have stayed with Muhammad. I reached Allah by Allah.”

This is the secret of the people of dhikr because it is the secret of Ism al-A’dham. Everyone calls to Allah by His Name, but it is the heart of the matter. When he, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was leaving the earth, his last words were:

“To the highest Companion, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.”

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~ by The Murabit Blog on 12/02/2009.

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