Fanaa (Annihilation)

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(Highlights of Mufti Ebrahim Salejee’s majlis - Saturday 28th September)

Shaikh Sayyid Ahmad Rifaa‘ee (rahmatullahi ‘alaih), a contemporary of Hadhrat Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jeelaani (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) stated that the fastest way to reach Allah Ta‘ala and gain His proximity is through fanaa.

What is fanaa? Literally it means annihilation. However, each science and field has its own terminologies. Hence, the word fanaa in sulook refers to one annihilating his personal opinion and giving preference to the opinion and advice of his senior. In doing so, there will be joy and happiness from both ends; the learner and the instructor. This does not only apply to tasawwuf, but to all branches of life. Look at a patient who visits a doctor. It will be incorrect of him to question the doctor and offer his personal suggestions. If he does so, the doctor will be unconcerned of him and it will be to his own harm.

When the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) were given any instruction, they wilfully complied without any reservation. It was the first and last time that they were needed to be told to do something. There was no need for them to be asked to do it again.

It was on account of not practising fanaa that Shaytaan was rejected; he employed his personal reasoning and refused to make sajdah to Aadam (alaihis salaam). On the other hand, Aadam (‘alaihis salaam) accepted and acknowledged his misjudgement. This is the first step to progress.

There are some steps to adopt in order that one reaches the level of fanaa: (1) Unconditional kindness – the affection and kindness is not shown to only those who have done us a favour or act of kindness, nor is it done with the anticipation of a favour in return. (2) Unconditional endurance – one endures the difficulties that come his way solely for the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala.

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