After recognizing the benefit of the companionship of a shaykh [i] who is connected to the Prophet (pbuh) by the transmission of his Light; a noble guide who lives by both sharī’ah [ii] and Truth – for the sincere murīd [iii] who hopes to arrive at the Divine Presence; the importance of being a companion of such a man becomes apparent.
That which endears us to our teacher is as unique as our teacher, himself.
One time I was asking around about what my shaykh enjoyed. What could I give him that would delight his heart; remind him of me in an affectionate way?
“Bring him something to eat; he likes that,” I was told, “especially sweet things. There’s something special in sweets.”
Tasawwuf is all adab*. ~ Abu Hifs al-Naisabouri (may Allah be pleased with him)
I found out much later that when we offer some kind of gift after seeking some advice or receiving some kind of assistance from our teacher; it makes our hearts more receptive to the medicine; it adds efficacy to the cure.
Another time, while sitting with Shaikh Husain, I asked him what he loved most. I asked him what I could give him that would make him think of me, that would endear me to him; keep me in his heart.
“Good behavior,” he answered.
The possessor of adab* can in a short period of time achieve the measure of men. ~Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir Issa
No matter how dissimilar each shaykh is outwardly – his likes and dislikes, what he prefers of food and drink, what delights his eye, how he chooses to spend his time – there seems to be one preference that is universal among all those who have risen in the maqāmat [iv] and received permission to teach…
A Touching Story
One of our great-grandfather shuyukh, founder of the Alawiyyah tarīqah [v], Shaykh Al-Alawiy liked it when his followers would dress well and be clean. It pleased him when they adhered to Islamic attire, let their beards grow and wore their masābih [vi] around their necks. In fact, he used to instruct them to do so.
One time he went to his zāwiyah [vii] in Tlemcān [viii] to visit the fuqāra [ix] there. At that time, many young people from the city had entered the tarīqah. When he arrived, they gathered around him: they sat at his feet, longing to hear from him.
When he noticed their attire, however, he was disappointed to see them wearing western clothes. He advised them to imitate the Sufis in their dress and wear what the righteous wore.
The next time Shaykh Al-Alawi went back to his zāwiyah in Tlemcān, he saw all the youth wearing white turbans. They had let their beards grow and wore their masābih around their necks.
Instantly, he was overwhelmed by a state of great joy. The impact of his murīds’ obedience and action affected him so greatly that when he returned to his own zāwiyah, contemplating their state, a poem came to him:
يَا اهْلَ أَهْلَ وُدِّي حَسْبِيَ رِضَاكُمْ
O Brothers, my dear beloved brothers, your pleasure alone suffices,
شَوْقِي زَادَ فِيـكُمْ مَلَكْنِي هَوَاكُمْ
My yearning for you wells up and my love for you has taken a hold of me.
أَحِبَّـتِي أَنْتـُمْ تَيَّهْنِي مَعْنـَاكُمْ
My loved ones, my mind is bewildered by your essence,
أَبَـى قَلْبِي مِنِّي أَنْ يَنْسَى لِقَاكُمْ
And my heart refuses to forget your meeting.
أَخَذْتُمْ فُـؤَادِي فَذَاكَ فِـدَاكُمْ
You have captured my heart, so that is your ransom,
تَرَكْتُمْ سُهَادِي يُنْبـِي أَنْ هَوَاكُمْ
You have left me with sleepless nights; this is what informs me of my love for you.
So capture your beloved’s heart, O seeker. It is our ransom and our blessing.
Remember, he needs nothing from us. Remember, too, that everything which comes to us through him is given by Him, the Almighty, as a mercy and help, for our benefit.
*adab=good behavior; acting appropriately according to the time, place and situation
[i] a pious person who is able to guide a seeker on the Right Path; able to intoxicate him with Allah’s love and adorn the eyes of his heart with the light of Allah’s closeness and inform him of unseen happenings that he personally witnessed
[ii] sacred, Islamic Law
[iii] a student of a Sufi shaykh and seeker of Truth; in Arabic: (lit) the one who, in his very essence, “desires”
[iv] plural of the Arabic word maqām; spiritual stations
[v] Arabic: (lit) way, road, path, method; a Sufi order
[vi] plural of the Arabic word misbahah; a string of beads, usually consisting of 100 beads, used by Muslims for counting prescribed remembrances/prayers/invocations frequently given by the shaykh.
[vii] Arabic: (lit) corner; Sufi gathering place usually associated with a tarīqah; (It is interesting to note that the tri-literal root of zāwiyah, za-wa-ya or zawā, carries the meaning “to remove; to hide, conceal”)
[viii] a city in the district of Al-Haddādīn, Algeria, North Africa
[ix] A group of Sufi aspirants
[x] http://muridslog.blogspot.com; Al-Fath-ur Rabbani, p.146; The Adab of the Murid, by: Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Issa, translated by: Umar Benhalim, IQRA