Oct 31, 2014


pp. 28-31


A general covenant was taken from us by the Messenger of Allah (ت) that we will honor the ‘ulama’ and exalt them and dignify them, since we do not see we have the strength for remunerating them even if we give them all we possess or we serve them the entire life. This covenant has indeed been abandoned by most of the current seekers of knowledge and the novices of the path of Sufism, eventually we will hardly ever see anyone among them fulfils ones duty (in respect of the) rights of his teacher. This is a great malady in respect of the din notifying the contempt for knowledge according to the command of one (ص) who commanded us to exalt the ‘ulama’, but then one of them began to boast about his master such that his master began to flatter him and adulate him so as to silence him. There is no power and no strength except in Allah, the Exalted, the Great.

Indeed it has reached us that Imam al-Nawawi that he invited his master Kamal al-Irbili to have a meal with him, but he said, “‘O, my master excuse me from that, for I have a shara‘i excuse’ and then he left it (unattended).  Then some of his brethren asked him, ‘what is that excuse?’ then he replied saying: ‘I fear that I precede the eye of my shaykh at the morsel (luqmah) and I start eating it without realizing it’”[1]. 

He, may Allah be pleased with him, when he leaves for lesson to study under his shaykh used to tell the truth about him along the way according to what he could by saying, ‘O, Allah veil from me the fault of my teacher so that my two eyes will not fall on his short comings and do not convey that about him to me from anyone whom Allah is pleased with.’ Then of the least of my slip is the bad mannerism of you, O, my brother, with your shaykh that you prohibit his benefits. As such either he will hide them from you out of hatred towards you or that his tongue will find it difficult to express the elucidation of the meaning for you. Therefore you will not be able to obtain from his speech anything which you depend on it as a sanction for you. But when a person who observes his mannerism with him accompanies him he will utter words to him due to the occurrence of his sincerity and his mannerism with him. Therefore, he will know that it is a must for the student to address his master with reverence, bowing one head in respect and lowering one’s glance just as he addresses the kings and never argue with him, knowing the manner of seeking benefit from him at some other time except by way of introduction, thus saying, ‘O, my master, we heard you deciding for us yesterday the opposite is of this, so what do you rely on of the decision now so that we can memorize it? And it’s like from among the words in which the fragrance of mannerism is evident. Likewise he must not marry the wife of his shaykh regardless of whether she was divorced during his lifetime or after his death. Likewise it is not incumbent on him to run after his job, or his seclusion or his house after his death let alone during his lifetime except for shara‘i inevitability which is preferred over the mannerism with the shaykh. Likewise it is not incumbent to run after any one of the companions of his shaykh or his neighbor let alone his children, for the obligation on every student is to protect his self from all that which changes the idea of his shaykh in his absence and his presence.

(We have elucidated on this more) in this book also in the course of (discussion) on the covenant on sales. So refer to it. Likewise we have elaborated our discussion on the statements of the ‘ulama on that in the Covenants of the Spiritual Mentors).

And Allah is Mighty and Wise.

Al-Bukhari narrates:   أن صلى الله عليه وسلم  كان يجمع بين الرجلين في قتلى أحد يعني في القبر ثم يقول أيهما أكثر أخذا للقرآن فإذا أشير إلى أحدهما فقدمه في الحد  “that the Prophet (ص) used to combine two men in respect of those who were killed in ‘Uhd, meaning, in the grave, then he will say which among them is more in respect of holding fast to the Qur’an, and when he is indicated towards any one of the two he would place him before in the grave”.

I say: the meaning of كونه أكثر أخذا للقرآن “he being more in respect of holding fast to the Qur’an”, that is more in acting according to it of mid-night awake and keeping away from prohibition, etc.

Al-Tabrani and al-Hakim narrate, and said it is valid according to the condition of Muslim, a marfu‘ hadith: البركة مع أكابركم Blessing is with your elders.

Imam Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban in his Sahih narrate a marfu‘ hadith: ليس منا من لم يوقر الكبير ويرحم الصغير  He is not of us who does not respect the elders and show compassion to the youngsters.
And in a narration attributed to Imam Ahmad, Al-Tabrani and al-Hakim in a marfu‘ hadith: ليس من أمتي من لم يجل كبيرنا ويرحم صغيرنا ويعرف لعالمنا حقهHe is not of my ummah (community) who does not revere our elders and show compassion to our youngsters and acknowledge our scholar his right.

And in another narration: ويعرف شرف كبيرنا “and acknowledge the eminence of our elders”.

Al-Tabrani narrates a marfu‘ hadith: تواضعوا لمن تعلمون منه  “show humility to one from whom you have learned” [2].

Al-Tabrani narrates yet another marfu‘ hadith:   ثلاثة لايستخف بهم إلا منافق : ذو الشيبة  في الإسلام ، وذو العلم والإمام المقسط  “Three (people) will not be looked down upon except a hypocrite: “Young in accepting Islam, Possessor of Knowledge and the Just ruler”. 

Imam Ahmad and al-Tabrani narrate through a good chain (isnad hasan) from ‘Abd Allah b. Bishr saying I heard a hadith since long: إذا كنت في قوم عشرون رجلا أو أقل أو أكثر فتصفحت وجوههم فلم تر فيهم رجلا يهاب في الله عزوجل فاعلم أن الأمر قد رق   “If you were in a community of twenty men or less or more and you have greeted them by embracing their faces (musafahah) and you did not see in them a person who did not fear (or show reverence to) Allah, then know that the matter has indeed become pitiable.

Al-Tabrani narrates a marfu‘ hadith: لا أخاف على أمتي إلا ثلات خصال فذكر منها و أن يروا ذا علم فيضيعونه  ولا يسألون عليه  “I do not worry about my community except three qualities and he mentioned among them is that they narrate from possessor of knowledge but they neglect him not do they ask about him”.

Allah the self-Glorified and the Self-Elevated is all Knowing.


[1] Modern lifestyle is fast replacing some of the sunnaic practice of the Prophet. For instance eating in a sahn (large plate serving at least three to four people). In traditional Muslim society this practice is still in vogue. The purpose is to train the people on the adab of sharing food and the manner of eating. I spent many of my spiritual retreats in the company of my shaykh and fellow disciples in this manner.
[2] It is reported that 'Ali b. Abi Talib, كرم الله وجهه (may Allah ennoble his countenance), used to say أنا عبد لمن علمني حرف واحد "I am a servant to one who taught me a single letter"

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