الحمد لله و كفى وسلام على عباده الذين اصطفى ، أما بعد :
When we take the name of Allah Ta‘ala excessively, a special bond is developed with the Almighty. In turn, this bond creates a certain special feeling and effect. This is termed as nisbat. Literally, it means bond, contact, or relationship. Every creation has some association or link with Allah Ta‘ala, but that special link is developed only through zikr.
Occasionally, people gather in large groups engaging in zikr and focusing their attention towards Allah Ta‘ala, begging of His forgiveness and mercy. Allah Ta‘ala rewards this gathering by showering His mercy and forgiveness upon each and every individual in that gathering.
By participating in these gatherings, an individual will acquire a form of nisbat. This nisbat is a result of the environment of zikr. But it terminates as soon as we have left the gathering. In the month of Ramadhaan, we engage abundantly in zikr, creating a special spiritual condition, but that condition soon disappears once Ramadhaan ends.
Four Stages of nisbat
It is recorded in Fat-hul-Aziz, under the tafseer of Surah Iqra’, that there are four stages of nisbat.
The first stage is called Nisbat-e-In’ikaasi. In this stage, the spiritual condition of one person is reflected upon another. For example, by sitting in a majlis of zikr, the zikr of one person has an effect on another person.
This can be likened to a person entering a perfume shop. The burning incense and the open bottles of perfume on display will undoubtedly rub off on him. But if this person naively feels that these fragrances are emanating from within him, he is only deceiving himself. As soon as he steps out of the shop, he will cease to perceive these fragrances.
Similarly, frequenting the company of the pious creates a special contact with Allah Ta‘ala, which terminates when we leave their company.
Sometimes, the mashaayikh confer ijaazat (permission to initiate others in sulook) to a person who has reached this stage of nisbat. The reasoning behind this is that he becomes aware of a great responsibility that has been placed upon his shoulders. In this way, he will become stringent on his ma’mulaat (daily prescribed ibaadat), zikr and other spiritual exercises. Resultantly, the desired nisbat with Allah Ta‘ala will be established.
I once enquired from Hadhrat Raipuri رحمة الله عليه, “Hadhrat, what is nisbat?”
“The taufeeq (ability) to carry out A’maal-e-Saalihah (righteous deeds) and simultaneously inculcate Akhlaaq-e–Faadhilah (good character),” explained Hadhrat Raipuri.
“What is Akhlaaq-e-Faadhilah?” he asked. “To inculcate the noble qualities of patience, gratitude, tolerance, generosity, giving preference to others over oneself, etc., and to annihilate the debasing qualities prevalent within oneself. Once this nisbat is attained, a person will gain serenity and peace of mind through his ibaadat.”
Consider the example of two different people. The first person is in an excellent physical condition. He is required to eat frequently to maintain this condition. The different organs of his body convert the food into energy and healthy blood, providing him with the necessary nourishment to sustain his peak physical condition. He relishes eating any type of food.
The second person suffers from a chronic stomach ailment. The food consumed is not converted into energy and healthy blood. In fact, it does not get digested at all. Eating becomes an abhorred action for him. There is no pleasure derived from eating any type of food.
Similarly, the shaikh bestows khilaafat upon that individual who has created an enthusiasm and desire to obey the commandments of Allah Ta‘ala. Defying the commandments of Allah Ta‘ala is contrary to this person’s nature. Breaking the laws of Allah Ta‘ala makes this person restless just as the healthy person becomes restless if he cannot satisfy his hunger.
Two people are performing salaah in congregation. The first person’s attention is focused upon his personal and business affairs. He desires that the imam shortens the salaah so that he can attend to his business matters. The second person’s attention however, is focused towards Allah Ta‘ala. He desires that the imam lengthens the salaah so that he may enjoy listening to the qiraat. The disparity between their salaah is clear and apparent. The salaah of one person draws him closer to Allah Ta‘ala while the salaah of the other has become a burden for him.
Attaining nisbat generates a similar condition. Adhering to the commandments of Allah Ta‘ala, reciting Quraan Shareef, making zikr, performing our salaah, etc., creates a sense of serenity. Abandoning these ibaadaat makes us restless.
Man is imbued with two conditions, an inner condition and an outer condition. The outer condition is reflected through ibaadat, by utilising the limbs. But what prompts us or inspires us to perform these ibaadaat? Is it a physical quality that we can witness?
No, this quality emanates from the heart, and it is a condition of the heart. It is termed tareeqat. It is this tareeqat that spurs an individual to attend the musjid for salaah and to present himself in the divine court of Allah Ta‘ala. It is the same tareeqat that creates an uneasiness and restlessness in an individual when he disobeys the laws of Allah Ta‘ala. The results of tareeqat, which are the physical actions carried out by the limbs, is termed as shari`at.
Shari’at and Tareeqat are intertwined to such an extent that if we develop the inner spiritual condition then, automatically, the limbs will carry out the physical actions. However, if the inner spiritual condition is dormant or feeble then an individual will not be concerned about performing ibaadat. He will openly disobey the commandments of Allah Ta‘ala.
When this spiritual condition is firmly rooted in the heart, we term this nisbat. Thereafter, it is through this nisbat that we acquire and inculcate Akhlaaq-e-Faadhilah and A’maal-e-Saalihah. In short, the first stage of nisbat is called Nisbat-e-In’ikaasi wherein the qualities of one person are reflected upon another.
However, one should not become complacent on acquiring this form of nisbat only. There has to be a continuous striving to acquire the other stages of nisbat as well.
The second stage of nisbat is called Nisbat-e-Ilqaa’ee. This form of nisbat can be likened to a burning lamp. A person comes with his lamp and uses the burning flame of the first lamp to ignite his lamp afterwhich he returns home. In the first stage, the fragrance and scent were confined to the perfumer’s shop. On the converse, this person brings the burning lamp home while protecting it from the gusts of wind on his way home. After placing it in his home, his home is now illuminated. If placed in a room, it will illuminate the entire room, but its flame is weak. Therefore, it has to be protected from the natural elements extinguishing its flame, for example, a gust of wind. Additionally, the wick and the level of the oil have to be vigilantly monitored.
Attaining Nisbat-e-Ilqaa’ee results in the mureed’s heart being permeated with some of the spiritual light from the shaikh’s heart. While Nisbat-e-In’ikaasi is a temporary condition, restricted to the company of the pious, Nisbat-e-Ilqaa’ee is a longer lasting condition which also has to be protected; otherwise the flame will be extinguished. It has to be protected from the winds of sins. Once this is achieved, the glow remains and it becomes a source of benefit to others.
The third stage of nisbat is Nisbat-e-Islaahee. This type of nisbat is stronger and firmer than the previous two. It can be described as a canal sourced from a massive dam. The water gushes through this canal, flowing steadily and swiftly and is used to irrigate crops and orchards. It is used to quench the thirst of animals and humans. In short, it is a source of immense benefit to the entire creation. The swift and rapid flow of the water ensures that the twigs, branches, dirt and mud will not block the water flowing from the canal.
By attaining this form of nisbat, one will not be adversely affected if, occasionally, a mistake is committed or one’s ma’mulaat is missed.
The fourth stage of nisbat, which is the strongest stage, is termed as Nisbat-e-Ittihaadee. The spiritual link or relationship between the mureed and the shaikh is so deep-rooted that the mureed is imbued with the qualities of the shaikh. He even begins to physically resemble the shaikh. I have personally witnessed mureeds who have physically resembled their shaikhs.
Incident of Khwajah Baaqi Billah رحمة الله عليه and the cook
There was a buzurg by the name of Khwajah Baaqi Billah رحمة الله عليه who resided in Delhi. Sages like Mujaddid Alfe Thaani رحمة الله عليه and Shah Abdul Haqq رحمة الله عليه, who wrote the commentary on Mishkaat Shareef, frequented his company to derive spiritual benefit from him.
Once, a few guests had unexpectedly called upon Khwajah Sahib. Khwajah Sahib did not have the means to entertain them and this caused him much consternation.
Khwajah Sahib’s رحمة الله عليه neighbour was a cook. He had witnessed the entire event and concluded that Khwajah Sahib required some assistance. He quickly prepared a tray of sumptuous and delicious food and presented it to Khwajah Sahib.
These buzurgs are unconcerned over their personal welfare. If they are presented with a personal gift, they do not become overjoyed. But concerning their guests, they become elated if anyone assists them in serving and entertaining them.
After the visitors were fed and left, Khwajah Sahib called for the cook and asked him: “Ask for whatever you desire. I will make du‘aa for you in appreciation for the service rendered.”
“I desire to become like you,” was the immediate request by the cook.
“Ask for something else,” advised Khwajah Sahib, but the cook was adamant.
Thus, Khwajah Sahib was obliged to fulfil his wish. Khwajah Sahib led the cook into his private quarters and focused his attention on him. When they emerged from the room after a short period, the cook resembled Khwajah Sahib رحمة الله عليه to such an extent that the people could not differentiate between them.
The only differentiating factor that could be observed was the fact that Khwajah Sahib was composed and comfortable while the cook seemed disorientated. He was shivering and trembling like a fish (out of water). Shortly thereafter, the cook passed away.
The burning love of Allah Ta‘ala that was encapsulated in Khwajah Sahib’s heart was transferred to the cook instantaneously. Hence, his heart could not bear that spiritual effulgence and he passed away. This incident is recorded in Tafseer Fat-hul-Aziz under Surah Iqra’.
This stage of nisbat is rarely acquired and from amongst a few thousand mureeds, perhaps only one or two mureeds may attain this form of nisbat.
Method of attaining nisbat
I once asked Hadhrat Shaikh رحمة الله عليه: “How does one attain this type of nisbat?”
“The process of attaining this nisbat,” he explained, “is that the love for the shaikh must first reach the stage of ‘ishq. Thereafter, the mureed’s evil character and traits perish and the righteous and noble qualities of the shaikh permeate his heart. The mureed negates his character and attributes and accepts the shaikh’s character and attributes. Attaining this form of nisbat requires sincere effort and determination.”
The grinding mill
In Raipur, a person, on seeing the mureeds engaged in zikr, shaking their heads from side to side, commented wryly: “I will not be able to work in this grinding mill. These actions are extremely difficult to imitate.”
He uttered these statements several times until it reached the ears of Hadhrat Raipuri رحمة الله عليه. The shaikh summoned him and said: “What are you talking about, grinding and working the mill? The ‘land’ is still untilled. Firstly, the rocks, filth and vermin have to be removed and the land ploughed. Then the seeds will be planted, irrigated and safeguarded against the natural elements. Once the crops are ready to be harvested, the chaff has to be separated from the grain and, only thereafter, is the stage of the grinding mill. You are still far off from that stage.”
Hadhrat was referring to the condition of his heart. Initially, all the evil traits will have to be obliterated and replaced by virtuous actions and noble qualities. Thereafter, the ‘land’ (of the heart) will be ready for the grinding process, zikr. Sometimes, it transpires such that a mureed, after obtaining ijaazat, becomes complacent and neglects performing his zikr punctually.
Who is making zikr aloud?
Once, while I was in jamaat, some of the brothers began engaging themselves in zikr. Somebody then asked: “Who are those making zikr?”
Moulana In’aam-ul-Hasan Sahib رحمة الله عليه replied: “They are those who have not received ijaazat. Those who have received ijaazat have stopped making zikr.”
This is an extremely perilous action. Discarding zikr will result in committing sins, inculcating evil traits and allowing Shaitaan to overpower us. Zikr is the weapon used to ward off Shaitaan.
Annually, Moulana Thanwi رحمة الله عليه used to publish a list of his mureedeen who have received ijaazat and those whose ijaazat has been revoked because of their negligence in conducting zikr. Moulana had two categories of mujaaz (mureedeen given ijaazat) namely:
The first category refers to a person whose heart readily accepts the words of the shaikh. He has the capacity to advise others on their spiritual conditions. Thus, mashwarah can be made with him.
The second category refers to a person who has been endorsed by the shaikh to initiate mureeds. He must prescribe the necessary remedy for their spiritual maladies together with the quota of zikr they should complete daily.
These aspects of ijaazat, zikr, etc., can be compared to a dora (final year of the aalim course) student. After gaining competency in reading and understanding hadeeth, the student continues to progress through further studies and through teaching hadeeth. This will ensure that his daily activities rotate around the discussion of hadeeth, making it the foremost factor in his life.
His competency in hadeeth will increase exponentially, ultimately attaining the rank of a Shaikh-ul-Hadeeth.
On the other hand, if this very same student neglects his studies and becomes embroiled in other activities, such as debates and arguments, editing magazines and editorials, and does not maintain a bond and a link with his kitaabs, then his knowledge of hadeeth will certainly diminish. Sadly, he will not even be able to recognise the source of the hadeeth; is this hadeeth recorded in Bukhaari Shareef or not?
Fortunate is that student who begins teaching after graduating. He refreshes his ‘ilm and becomes an expert in that field of knowledge. Occasionally, I am approached by ulama seeking advice in employing a student who has been in the void of the teaching world. My advice to them is to determine the present condition of this aalim.
A salient point to consider, and this is sufficient to reach a decision, is why has this person been idle all this while? Why is he not teaching? Does he still possess the fervour and desire to teach? How much of his knowledge has he retained? A student who is capable of teaching and has the yearning to teach, never remains aloof from teaching.
A similar condition applies to zikr, spiritual exercises, etc., as well. When Allah Ta‘ala has blessed an individual with good character and he is punctual in his ma’mulaat, he will progress to great spiritual heights. However, if this person is not punctual on his ma’mulaat, he will soon be deprived of this nisbat, good character and righteous deeds.
Explanation of Nisbat
Hadhrat Moulana Ilyaas Sahib رحمة الله عليه once asked me: “Moulana Mahmood! Do you know what the meaning of giving ijaazat is?”
I replied: “Hadhrat, I do not know.”
“When the mureed annihilates himself before his shaikh,” explained Hadhrat, “and when his personal opinion is submissive to the shaikh’s wishes. When he totally submits himself to his shaikh, submission and humility are firmly grounded in him. The shaikh then gives him ijaazat. Ijaazat infers that because of the manner in which you have conducted yourself with me, the humility, the submission, etc., consequently, I now grant you the permission to act in a similar vein with the entire creation. Ijaazat does not mean to assume the position of the shaikh and order people around.”
This was an outstanding explanation given by Hadhrat Moulana Ilyaas رحمة الله عليه. Therefore, whatever spiritual condition we are blessed with, we should be grateful and appreciative of that blessing received from Allah Ta‘ala. If Allah Ta‘ala has blessed us with the zikr of the tongue, or zikr of the limbs, or zikr of the heart, or we are blessed with the desire and yearning to recite the Holy Quraan, and we derive great enjoyment and pleasure from reciting the Quraan, then these blessings need to be valued, appreciated and kept intact.
However, we should not consider these aspects to be an end in itself. The primary objective is to seek the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala. If we gain none of the above qualities, but gain the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala, then indeed we have achieved our objective.
People become unduly distressed when certain conditions they are experiencing, subside or terminate. For example, a person ceases to cry while making du‘aa. Now, there is no reason for this person to become distressed because this is an involuntary action.
The nightingale and the rose are both creations of Allah Ta‘ala, but they are diametrically different in their natural dispositions. The nightingale wails and laments continuously while the rose is always smiling. But neither of these two creations bemoans the fact that they are incapable of any other action and are limited to do only that which is in their volition.
Good thoughts and inspiration
The real concern is when the desire to please Allah Ta‘ala is removed from the heart. This is an extremely dangerous state of affairs. Once someone revealed to Hadhrat Moulana Gangohi رحمة الله عليه: “While treading the path of sulook, a person committed such an action that resulted in him losing enthusiasm to perform good deeds.”
“Do you know what action brought about this ruin?” asked Hadhrat Gangohi رحمة الله عليه. “Generally, it is as a result of one of three actions. It is a result of incorrect company, committing a sin or consuming haraam food. The moment a person consumes a haraam morsel, the spiritual lamp of the heart is extinguished, resulting in a lack of motivation to perform good deeds.”
Additionally, we unsuspectingly frequent the company of a saadhu (Hindu ascetic), a magician or other people of baatil sects. These people attain certain supernatural capabilities through rigorous meditation and spiritual exercises. They have the ability to remove from our hearts the enthusiasm and drive to please Allah Ta‘ala. It is imperative that we abstain from the company of such people as well as abstain from sin. Sometimes, a person may receive divine inspiration to do good deeds and if we do not exploit this situation, it may never present itself again.
Once, there was a mureed who used to see his shaikh in his dream at the time of Tahajjud Salaah. He would immediately awake, make wudhu and perform his salaah. During one particular night, according to his routine, he had seen his shaikh at Tahajjud time, but after awakening, he went back to sleep. From that day onwards, his shaikh ceased to appear in his dreams.
Hadhrat Gangohi رحمة الله عليه explained: “The inspiration received from the unseen is a very sensitive guest. Even if a little inattentiveness is displayed towards it, it will go away.”
This explanation can be further understood from the example of entertaining a respectable and eminent guest. If we do not show due respect to him, he will regard this as an insult and leave hastily, perhaps never to return. The poet Akbar has written:
نفس کے تابع ہوے ایمان رخصت ہو گیا
وہ زنانے میں گھسے مہمان رخصت ہو گیا
Once one becomes subservient to his nafs, Imaan will leave him,
When the host went in the ladies section, the guest departed.
This Imaan is a guest and if we fail to entertain it and show due reverence to it by following our nafs (desires) and Shaitaan, it will surely abandon us (Allah Ta‘ala forbid!). Therefore, if we are fortunate to receive divine inspiration from Allah Ta‘ala, we should take advantage of it by acting accordingly and expressing our gratitude for it. Otherwise, we will be deprived from ever acquiring it again!