Preface from The Golden Words of a Sufi Sheikh.
Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim, in the name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. May the beginning and end and all things be the responsibility of Allah alone. Only Allah, the One of limitless grace and incomparable love, the One who gives us His infinite wealth of grace, knows all the secrets of all the creations in the 18,000 universes. He is the One who created the essence, the manifestations, and the attributes. He created right and wrong, or khair and sharr, permissible and impermissible, or halal and haram, good and evil, heaven and hell. He is the One who knows their secrets. May we praise only Him. May we pray only to Him. May we trust only Him. May our faith, our trust, and our determination become steadfast in our hearts. May that steadfastness grow stronger and become the staff with which we walk through life. May it be the life within our prayers.
Each one of us, every child, must reflect and realize the truth of the statement, “One who has iman, perfect faith, is exalted. One who has iman will receive the undiminishing plenitude of the wealth of God’s grace in all three worlds (the world of the soul, this world, and the next world).”
My beloved brothers and sisters, we are children who have faith in God. All living beings have faith in God. The earth and the sky, night and light, lives that move and lives that do not move, all have faith in God; and God knows the hearts of all creations. He knows all thoughts and all intentions. He knows the speech of the tongue. He knows every part of every creation. The Precious One, the Exalted One who is Almighty God, Allahu ta’ala Nayan, is the Father of all lives. He is the Almighty One, the Able One, the Creator who showers compassion on all lives. He is Rahman and Rahim, the Most Gracious One, the Redeemer. May we have faith only in Him. Amin.
My very precious brothers and sisters, God created insan, true man, as the most exalted of all creations. To this exalted life, God has given exalted wisdom. He has given man seven levels of wisdom: feeling, awareness, intellect, judgment, subtle wisdom, divine analytic wisdom, and divine luminous wisdom. God has fashioned the seven levels of wisdom so that man can know God and understand Him through remembrance, contemplation, prayer, and worship. Human beings have faith in various types of worship and remembrances of God.
There are four steps to prayer: shari’at, tariqat, haqiqat, and ma’rifat. Shari’at is creation, the religion of Zabur, or Hinduism, the section below the navel, the section of earth. When man looks at creation and the manifestations which appear from the earth, he must understand what is right and what is wrong. If he discards what is wrong and accepts what is right, he will come to one point: there is only one God.
Tariqat, the next step, occurs when man’s faith becomes strong. Tariqat relates to the religion of Jabrat, or Zoroastrianism, which represents the region of the stomach, the aspects of hunger, illness, old age, and death, and the section of fire: the hell-fire of anger, hastiness, the differences you feel between yourself and others and the evil actions which follow because of these differences. When man discards everything from this section other than the one point, the point of God, he comes to the level of haqiqat.
Haqiqat is also known as the religion of Injil, or Christianity. It is represented by the region of the chest, the aspect of air, and contains the vapors, gases, jinns, fairies, spirits, angels, and heavenly beings. When a man discards everything in Injil except for one point, the point of God, he takes on the beauty of God and he becomes very close to God.
Next is the level of ma’rifat, or the religion of Furqan (Islam and Judaism), the head, the section of light. Furqan means to understand with wisdom what is perceived by the two eyes, the two ears, the two nostrils, and the mouth, which represent the seven diacritical marks.*
If you know these four steps, understand them, and then pray to Allah ceaselessly, unmindful of the difference between day and night, that is true prayer, the fifth prayer, the prayer of Sufiyyat. Sufiyyat is the state in which there is no day or night. The prayer called Sufiyyat is the prayer in which you do not speak and you do not smile. You speak without speaking, smile without smiling, pray without praying, and intend without in tending, and in this way you control and subdue your countless desires. To speak to God without speaking is Sufism.
Sufiyyat means to subdue mind and desire, that is, to restrict your own acting in the drama and to control your connection to blood ties, your cravings, illusions, attachments, vanity, envy, anger, the pride of the ‘I’ and the feeling of ‘you’, treachery, deceit, hunger, lust, and obsession. To cut away all these myriad qualities of satan, to pull them out and burn them to ash through wisdom and faith, is Sufism. Once they have been consumed we can begin to pray. In the prayer of Sufiyyat, God has ordained 43,242 sajdahs, or prostrations at the feet of God, per day. The man who performs these will see Allah before his eyes. He will see only Allah and nothing else. His qalb, which is his innermost heart, will see only Allah’s light. His ears will hear only Allah’s sound. His qalb will realize only God’s sound, God’s light, and God’s resonance. His nose will perceive only the fragrance of God. The tongue will speak only to Him in the secret silence, and in this silent speech man will die he must die in Allah. When he dies in Allah in the state in which he speaks without speaking, smiles without smiling, and prays without praying, knowing God without knowing Him that state is Sufism.
In this way, every word must end in God, every breath must end in Him, and every speech must end in Him. Man’s entire life must reach God; that is his true prayer. That is the culmination of the prayer of the Sufi. One who attains the clarity of perfect faith is called a Sufi.
When he cuts away all his earlier states and realizes himself, he becomes a perfected man, an insan kamil, and at the stage in which he loses himself in God, he becomes a Sufi. At the stage in which he is dead to himself, he becomes Muhammad. When he loses himself within Allah, he becomes the Nur, the resplendence of Allah, and his treasure is the Nur Muhammad. God’s powers appear within him and become the light within his eyes and the resonance of God within his ears. His nose smells the fragrance of Allah and his tongue relishes the wonderful tastes of Allah, while God’s kingdom resplends within his heart. The kingdom of God exists and resonates in the prayer within his innermost heart.
My very precious children, the attainments and the potentialities of the Sufi are impossible to describe. To become Sufis we must obtain clarity of faith and wisdom. In this way, little by little, we must remove the darkness which has veiled us. We must untie the ropes which illusion has wrapped around us. We must cut away the connections of blood ties and the desire for land, gold, and women. With the sword of wisdom we must cut away all the energies, cells, and viruses which have been burning us, and then we must burn them.
This is the state in which we can become Sufis. When we say Sufi we mean the state in which one has attained true wisdom. The state of the Sufi is the state in which, having controlled and subdued all the other states, one becomes the resplendent sun, the resplendent light of God. One who is in this state is called a Sufi, and the state is called Sufism, or Sufi-Sun.
With his iman, he will split open and sift everything he sees. He will pierce through it with his wisdom and his firm certitude and determination, without allowing his mind to become fatigued, without allowing his heart to give up. If he can continue to pierce and cut through what is within everything, he will see only Allah. He will see Allah’s wealth, Allah’s powers, Allah’s qualities, and nothing else. In every moment, in every tree, in every flower, and in every blade of grass, he will see only God. In every tree, every fruit, every fragrance, every flower, every bird, every cow, every goat, in whatever he beholds he will see only the secret of Allah, the powers or wilayat of Allah, and the qualities of Allah. When he looks at an ant he will discover Allah’s secrets. When he looks at a fruit he will be amazed and say, “What a wonder! How praiseworthy You are. How subtly You have created the fruit. What flavors it contains!” If he looks at a honeybee he will see how much wisdom it has, how it builds its house, what qualities it has, and how it tastes the honey and shares it with everyone.
In this way we must marvel and praise God, saying, “What a wonder Your creation is.” As we open each thing and look inside, we will find that we can praise only Allah and worship only Him; this is all there is. This is the meaning we must derive when we look at anything. Though we will be able to realize it through what we see, we can understand only through wisdom. And if we do realize that everything must be understood through wisdom we will see that all the explanations we find are the explanations of God’s story, that the things we see are not merely creations but also His story. Everything He has created is His story. If we look inside this storybook of creation we will find His entire history. And if we look inside God’s history we will see only Him, His powers, and His qualities. This is the explanation we must discover. This is why the Messenger of Allah, the Rasulullah (Sal.) has said, “Go even unto China to learn ‘ilm;” learn ‘ilm or divine knowledge, even if you have to go to China to do it.
First, we must seek and acquire wisdom. Second, we must develop and strengthen our faith. Third, we must realize that Allah is the only One who exists. Fourth, we must offer prayers of praise, glorifying and worshiping Him.
We must learn certitude of faith and we must develop the wisdom through which to worship Him. Through that wisdom we must discover the right and the wrong in our prayers to Him, understanding that Allah is the One who has no equal and that nothing can be shown as an example to illustrate Him.
Each of us must open his heart, his qalb, and transform it into the Ka’bah, the central place of worship. Placing the Rasulullah (Sal.) before us as our imam, our leader of prayer, we must offer prayers of praise to Allah. To stand face to face before Allah and speak every word to Him directly is the true prayer and the true worship which we must fashion within ourselves. Each of the children must pray in this way. Then wisdom will be our support, prayer will be our wealth, and faith will be the house of our qalb, the Ka’bah.
We must reflect on this and think about it in our prayers. This is the duty of an insan mu’min, the man of true belief, and of an insan kamil, perfected man. When we say Sufi, it means one who has controlled his words, his tongue, and his heart, one who has controlled and stopped all unnecessary actions within himself.
There are so many different kinds of dancing on the stage of the world. Everything dances: goats, cows, trees, shrubs, flowers, leaves, grasses, birds, winged creatures, animals, jinns, fairies, satans, illusions, and darkness. They dance in the sky, on the earth, in the oceans, and on the mountains. But this is not prayer. For one who is a mu’min, a true believer, acting and dancing are not prayer.
All the others dance the drama of illusion and act the acts of hell, seeking the prizes which are advertised on the billboards of hell. All the labels they wear are advertisements for hell. Their fame and their titles and their attainments are the labels which will lead them to hell.
Sufis give up the acting within themselves, burn up even their thoughts of acting, and reach the stage of contentment where they speak without speaking and immerse themselves in God. That is Sufism.
Only when that state is established within us, only when wisdom dawns and God’s ocean of divine knowledge appears within us, only when we have true faith and worship can we reach God, who is the wisdom within wisdom. Only in that state do we become creations who can reach God and speak to Him directly. We must realize this.
The essential requirements are absolute faith and wisdom. Our progress and the states we attain are in accordance with the level of our faith and wisdom. One who has transcended the four steps of shari’at, tariqat, haqiqat, and ma’rifat is a Sufi. One who knows these four steps and knows himself and knows his God is a Sufi. We must acquire the wisdom necessary to reach this state.
God has created everything as an example in order that we may acquire and attain that wisdom. Everyone who is an insan, everyone who is a mu’min, everyone who is an insan kamil, and all of us must realize this. My very precious children, my brothers and sisters, we must realize it. May God protect us.
This book contains many kinds of explanations. It is full of meaningful words which can be understood only by the faith, the wisdom, and the innermost heart of man. If you realize these words with your faith and understand them with your wisdom, you will discover the state which will guide you along your path. Whatever you read about faith, certitude, and determination must be read to strengthen your iman, your absolute belief in God. The fact that Allah is the only One who exists must be firmly impressed within your hearts.
You must begin with this understanding and then search for wisdom with the certitude of determined belief in God. You must search in His guardianship and say, “Al-hamdu lillah , all praise belongs only to God.” Begin your search with “ Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim. Al-hamdu lillahi Rabbil-‘alamin: In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate. All praise is Yours, O Ruler of all the universes.” Having begun in this fashion, you must understand every saying in this book by using your wisdom.
If all of you read this book of Sufi wisdom with open hearts free from doubt, separatism, and discrimination, free from all thought of ‘my race’ or ‘your race’, ‘my religion’ or ‘your religion’, you will realize and understand. You will see that all the children of Adam (A.S.) are one race and that there is no one worthy of worship other than Allahu ta’ala Nayan. Be certain of this. If you think of it with certitude you will realize that even though hundreds of thousands of prophets came to this world they all preached about one God and spoke only His commandments.
All prophets placed their faith in only the one God. They did not see Him in different forms as many different gods. There is only one God and one family of Adam (A.S.), and the prophets brought the words of that one God. If we, too, have such certitude we will not create separations by seeing differences in religions or races.
If you can open your hearts and read this book of Sufi wisdom with determined faith, your wisdom will be able to absorb certain words and certain meanings. As clarity grows, the darkness of the heart will gradually fade. All the nafs, the base cravings arising from ignorance, will disappear. Attachments will go and the desire for God will grow. His grace and wealth and the treasures of His qualities will resplend within.
As wisdom continues to develop, we grow as human beings. Our hearts become increasingly resplendent as we gain more and more clarity of wisdom, and that resplendence will begin to cut away our darkness and our birth. As birth is cut away, death is cut away. When death is cut away, we will no longer be subject to birth or death, and our lives will become long. When our lives become long, we will realize the state of offering prayers of praise directly to God. We must realize this without the slightest doubt.
All we have learned so far amounts to only a handful of earth. What we have yet to learn is as large as the whole world. There is so much to know about the mysteries and the wealth of Allah. There is so much more to be known and we will learn it only as our wisdom develops. We must proceed slowly, always learning more and more.
There are many meanings in this book. It is not enough to read through it in a superficial manner. Delve into the meaning of each word. If you read it ten times, you will receive ten different meanings. If you read it a hundred times, you will receive a hundred different meanings. That is better than superficial reading. As your wisdom begins to grow, the meanings and explanations will also grow. Read this book with your wisdom. We must all seek wisdom.
There are many other aspects of Allah’s resonance and Allah’s explanations. His rahmat, or benevolence of grace, is limitless; it can never be judged. The power of God’s grace, the words of His Tiru Marai, the Holy Qur’an, and all the words and commandments which He has given to the various prophets are impossible for us to estimate. Even if we turn all the water of all the oceans into ink and make all the trees and wood in all the worlds into pens and try to write His mystery, it would be impossible to complete it. His mystery is immense.
It is said that anyone who touches even one drop of His grace becomes a good one, a good one. If we first become true human beings, then perfected human beings, and finally true Sufis, and if in that state we can touch even one drop of God’s qualities and place it on our tongues, we will perceive the treasure of His grace, the treasure of the three worlds (the world of the soul, this world, and the next world), and the treasure of His qualities. We must endeavor to attain the state in which we can touch at least one drop of His grace. It is an undiminishing, eternal wealth.
My very precious brothers and sisters, may you read this book carefully, without caste, race, or religious prejudice. May each of you read it and understand it from within. Treat this book as a mother, a teacher, a brother, or a sister who can nourish your wisdom. May this book help you in your lives. May the heart of every child who takes up this book and reads it become full and complete. May this book dispel the darkness in the heart, fill it with wisdom, and explain the ways in which to worship God so that we may understand. May it assist you in reaching the state in which you can lose yourselves in God and merge with Him. May you attain that completeness. There is no state more exalted.
May each of you, my brothers and sisters, take this Sufi book and read it. In sha’allah, ma sha’allah, al-hamdu lillah, tawakkal -‘alallah. If God wills it, whatever God wills, all praise belongs to God, may we hand all responsibility over to Him.
May all real responsibilities, the responsibility of divine knowledge, the responsibility of wisdom, the responsibility of faith, and the responsibility of life be given to God. Amin.
M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
*In English, vowels are part of the alphabet, but in Semitic languages vowels take the form of notations above or below the letters, all of which are consonants. Whereas those to whom Arabic was the native language could read the Qur’an with little difficulty in its original vowelless state, those who spoke other languages frequently misvowelled the words or misinterpreted the letter symbols. Thus, the diacritical vowel markings and nuqat, or dots, were developed over several centuries to make it easier for those less acquainted with Arabic to recite the Qur’an properly. In a mystic sense, the diacritical marks are said to give life or sound to the letters which would otherwise be silent. As the openings in the head animate it and take in light and sound, so do the diacritical marks give resonance and life to the Qur’an, also known as Furqan, the criterion of right and wrong.
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