Translated Speech of
His Eminence Ameer Muhammad Akram Awan
Shaikh Silsilah Naqshbandiah Owaisiah
12 July 2002
Honourable audience, the appointment of the Holy Prophet-saws encompasses innumerable blessings within itself. According to the Holy Quran, it is the greatest favour of Allah, far above the scope of human intellect and understanding. This world is not a place, worthy enough, to house a personality of the status and position as the Holy Prophet-saws. Subtle Divine Wisdom selected the Holy Prophet-saws as the means to communicate with His creation. Although all Prophets were sent to convey Allah’s Message to His slaves, each of them was sent to a particular nation for a specific period. It is a unique incident of human history that a single Prophet was appointed for the whole humanity for all times to come and he communicated Allah’s Message to every member of the human race all over the globe. This is the singular status of the Holy Prophet Muhammad-saws. A poet has beautifully summarised this:
None compares with your greatness, after Allah,
Shortest chapter inscribed in the book of greatness!
After Almighty Allah, all greatness, eminence, glory, virtue and qualities are gathered in one person - the Holy Prophet Muhammad-saws. It is mentioned in a Divine Hadith and in numerous other Ahadith that, in the sight of Allah, this world does not weigh as much as the wing of a gnat. This world is indeed very beautiful and absorbing. The life is adorned with innumerable attractions such as power, position and wealth, but this all has much lesser value before Allah than the wing of a gnat. The status of Prophethood is so exalted in the sight of Allah that we cannot comprehend. Then, what is the job of a personality, who is the greatest after Allah, is the source of Divine Mercy for the whole universe, the Mercy personified, in a place and environment like this?
Ideal Muslims of Qur-an, the slaves of Allah, about whom Allah feels proud Himself, were those who withstood every trial in the thirteen years of Makkan life and proved themselves worthy of their companionship with the Holy Prophet-saws. They sacrificed their homes, wealth, property, fame, honour, relationships, actually everything and came to be known as Emigrants. The ones who, in a state of nothingness, stood in ranks and columns in front of an overwhelming army in Badar, and about whom the Holy Prophet-saws expressed, “O Allah! I have brought the entire Islam here today.”
Islam is an ideology. It is a feeling. It is the relationship of a human with the Lord. It is a unique distinction of the Companions that their personalities achieved the status of an ideology. This excellence was confirmed by the Holy Prophet-saws when he exclaimed, “O Allah! I have brought the whole Islam here today. If they are slain here, no forehead shall ever bow before You.” Islam of the ‘Companions of Badar’ outweighs the combined Islam of all other Companions, Taba’in, Taba Taba’in and the saints coming till the Last Day. It is because the remaining Muslims all together might possess whole Islam, while the 313 ‘Companions of Badar’ were the whole Islam in themselves.
Allah cautions the Companions, with some of the 313 also present in the audience: “Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet.” Do not raise your voices in the presence of the Holy Prophet-saws and do not raise your voices above his-saws voice. If that happens, “all your good deeds would be lost.” I do not require your Hijra, I have no concern with your Shahadah, I do not care about your worship and effort. If your voices get louder in the audience of My Prophet-saws, all of your good deeds would be wasted, “and you won’t even know.” (49:1)
Scholars have interpreted the phrase ‘and you won’t even know’ in two ways. If it is related to ‘the loss of good deeds’, it would mean: ‘all your good deeds would be lost and you won’t even know’, and if it is related to ‘the raising of voices’, it would mean: ‘if you raise your voices even unknowingly, all your good deeds would be lost’. ‘Raising the voice’ does not denote its literal meaning only. It has another meaning that is known as ‘remote meaning’. Each word, sentence and phrase has two meanings, one is called its apparent, imminent or near meaning, while the other is known as its remote meaning. Remote meaning denotes the consequential action. Someone is told to drink water. Its imminent meaning is that he picks up the glass and drinks water; while its remote meaning is that he acted on the instruction to drink water. All Divine Attributes mentioned in the Holy Qur-an denote their remote meanings. ‘Allah’s Hand is on their hands’. The word ‘hand’ has been used for a human being as well as for Almighty Allah. For a human, it would denote its imminent meaning i.e. the physical hand, but in the case of Allah, Who is above any concept of body or form, it would represent its remote meaning. If you place your hand on someone’s hand, what would that symbolise? It would depict that you are with him and would protect him. It would similarly mean that Allah’s Help, Kindness and Protection are with him.
The remote meaning of this instruction is that ‘no believer can ever dare to disobey any order of the Holy Prophet-saws’. If someone issues an instruction against the instruction of the Holy Prophet-saws, he would have touched the remote meaning of this phrase. He would deem to have ‘raised his voice above the voice of the Holy Prophet-saws’. No good deed of such a person would be acceptable to Allah.
Allah has set the system for this world. This earth becomes the permanent abode of everyone that inhabits it, till Qiyamah. It houses Barzakh as well as the Iliyyin and Sijjin. This earth is a line, a divider. Illiyin starts from above its surface till the ‘Arsh. People who have attained to salvation in Barzakh reside here according to their position and status. Sijjin starts from below its surface till Tahat ath-Thra (the Lowest Pit). Every disobedient, disbeliever is interned here according to his level. This system is running in parallel with the apparent worldly system and is much stronger. You can analyse the lives of two persons. The first, who spends his life in Allah’s obedience, may apparently be poor, toiling his way up the difficult path of life, but his heart would be at peace. It is because the reflection of Illiyin keeps his heart in peace and bliss. There would, however, be no peace in the heart of a disbeliever or a delinquent. He may be a ruler or an affluent person but his heart would never feel any peace. He would remain restless, upset and worried. Why? It is because the wrath being prepared for him in Sijjin, as recompense of his crimes, keeps casting its dreadful shadows on him.
This world is under the influence of another world. This world hides ugliness under its beauty, its pleasures are followed by unbearable pains, its wealth is accompanied by ailments, it produces innumerable foes for the one that sits on the throne, and its every flower is escorted by countless thorns. Such a world was never worthy to be inhabited by the Holy Prophet-saws. Once he has arrived here, then, in accordance with Divine Sunnah, this world is going to be his abode till Qiyamah. But for that, Allah took a piece from Jannat al-Firdaus and planted it in this world.
From my apartment to my pulpit is a piece from the Jannah”, (or as the Holy Prophet-saws may have said).
The piece of Jannah on this earth extends for the Rauza-e Athar to Riaz al-Jannah. In the earlier times there was no electricity and no fans or air conditioners. Our own friends travelled from Jeddah to Makkah and onwards to Madinah by camel caravans because there were no vehicles in Arabia. Even during those times when there were no fans or air conditioners, one could feel whiffs of air passing through and touching those sitting in Riaz al-Jannah. Even today when you sit in Riaz al-Jannah, you would notice two things. First, no outside noise is audible in Riaz al-Jannah, rather the whole Masjid-e Nabvi. During the recent extension of the Mosque the whole city resounded with the noise of construction work and machines. However, when you entered the Mosque you felt as if you had stepped in a different world. You heard no noise and instead experienced total calm and peace. Second, you would notice that the air in Riaz al-Jannah is not from the air conditioners. It has a significantly different fragrance and feel. It is because Jannah does not require the air from this world. It has its own air, its own lights and its own unique feel. What did that personality, for whom Allah sent down a piece of Jannah on this earth, have to do in this world? There was only one task: fulfilment of the Prophetic mission.
The Holy Prophet-saws was performing The Last Pilgrimage when these Ayat were revealed in ‘Arafat:
Today I have perfected your religion for you and have completed My Favours upon you and have preferred Islam as your Deen (5:3).
This revelation stirred unparalleled happiness within the Companions. They had remained anxious during all twenty-three years of Quranic revelation. They had anxiously waited for new Commandments, awaited approval of their conduct and apprehended Divine Rebuttal. And here was the day to celebrate the completion of Deen. They congratulated each other and said, “Let’s find Abu Bakr. He deserves the most felicitations. He is ‘Companion of the Cave’.” They found him in his tent, facing a corner and crying. They said, “We had come to congratulate you. The Ayah signifying the perfection of Deen and completion of Allah’s Favours has been revealed.” He said, “This makes me happy too, but the thought that grieves me is that, when the task has been completed, the Holy Prophet-saws is not going to remain in this world any more. This world is not worthy that he should grace it with his blessed presence after the fulfilment of his mission.” And that is what exactly happened! The Holy Prophet-saws left this world after only eighty-three days.
First part of the mission, which the Holy Prophet-saws had come here for was to: Recites His Verses unto them. ‘Convey My Message to My slaves. Not every one has the capacity to talk to Me. Not every chest has a heart to listen to Me. Not every heart has the capacity to know Me. Therefore, go O My beloved Prophet-saws and convey My Message to My Slaves. Then, polish the hearts of those who accept, purify them and grant them the ability to comprehend My Message and teach them The Book. They may be able to read the text, but instil in them the wisdom to discern the actual meanings, the real Divine Will represented by words of The Book.
We are those unlucky ones who have fourteen hundred years between the Holy Prophet-saws and us. A long distance of fourteen centuries has come between us. The attributes of honesty and trust, capacity and ability, and piety and purity diminish gradually as moments recede from the time of the Holy Prophet-saws. As you move away from light, objects appear dimmer and shadows grow darker. The source of light, the sun is the Holy Prophet Muhammad-saws. The Quran has called him ‘the Bright Lamp’, the Sun that distributes light. Farther you move away from the sun, the darker it would become. Let’s say you enter a closed room and inwards to the second and then to the third, and if each room measure a hundred years, we are in the fifteenth room. This room has no other skylight, window, door or exit. Inside it is darkness shrouded by numerous folds of darkness. We are fifteen centuries away from the Sun of Prophethood, whose single ray illuminated the hearts and raised people to the status of Companionship. Allah didn’t raise a new Prophet or Messenger, nor did He light yet another Lamp. He created many moons and stars to orbit around the Sun and reflect his light to illuminate the world. Does it become totally dark in Polar Regions, where the sun sets for six months and the night takes over? Of course not! It is like twilight. Stars shine to show ways to the wayfarers, they don’t have their own light, nor does the moon shed its own. They borrow it from the sun. Similarly, Allah gathered many hearts around this Sun, like moons and stars, to reflect his light onto mankind coming centuries later. They are the ones whose hearts are illuminated by Prophetic light. How lucky are they, whose lives were spent in acquisition of these blessings, and whom Allah appointed as the source of guidance for others.
May Allah ever raise the status of Hadhrat Ji-rua and shower infinite Mercy on his grave! He belonged to a small, remote, undeveloped village, devoid of worldly resources, but his heart acquired light, so intense, that he illuminated hearts from one corner of the globe to the other. We have read the incidents of many Aulia. Reading about them accords new freshness and appears to water the plantlet of Allah’s Name in the heart. If Allah grants spiritual insight to someone, he would see that there are not as many stars in the sky, as the Aulia resting in their graves, since the ‘Best Era’ till the time of Hadhrat Ji-rua. Separate lights ascend from each of their locations and each heart transmits different feelings. Many of them have reached ‘Alam-e Amr. There is however, something special to note. Every Muslim who came to the Companions became a T’abi. Similarly, any one who attended the company of Taba’in became a Taba’ T’abi. But, not everyone who visited the Taba’ Taba’in could become a Wali. Since then, till the time of Hadhrat Ji-rua this has been a common characteristic of all Aulia that, they took thousands of seekers in their Silsilah, reformed their beliefs and conduct, taught them Oral Zikr but didn’t illuminate the heart of every seeker who came to them. Probably, out of five hundred thousand students, they taught Zikr-e Qalbi only to a selected five. It is really difficult to inspire sublime feelings in the heart. There are two reasons, as mentioned in the duties of Prophethood. First, it should be taught to learn Allah’s Name. Second, knowledge of The Book and wisdom be infused into it. After Taba’in, there is only one name, that of Hadhrat Ji-rua, who illuminated the Qalb of every seeker who came to him. His company lit the heart of one and all, whether he was rich or poor, young or old, male or female, scholar or illiterate. After crossing fourteen dark rooms of hundred years each, when we entered the fifteenth, Allah raised for us a bright moon, again.
What is Islam, what is Deen and what is the reality and quintessence of Deen? We consider our body a wonder of creation and think that our brain is even a greater marvel. In my opinion, however, brain is more like a secretariat, an office that stores files, receives instructions and acts to ensure their compliance. Decisions however, come from someone else; they come from the heart. This heart is not the pumping machine of the body, but deep down, inside its core, there is yet another subtle heart - the Qalb. It is this house where desires are born, ambitions are nurtured, and the decisions of love and hate are made. This tiny Qalb is the core of human body. Similarly, the whole Deen contains its essence in just a small feeling - loyalty. Islam is the name of loyalty and loyalty alone. A Mujahid wages Jihad and sacrifices his life. Why has Allah called him a ‘Shaheed’, which means a witness? It is because he established his loyalty by sacrificing his life. He stood by his conviction even when his chest was slit or his body was blown to pieces. Allah says he stood witness to My Prophet-saws and established his loyalty by sacrificing his life. What should then be the level of loyalty with a personality, for whom Allah sent down a piece of Jannah, because this world wasn’t worth his residence?
When we talk of loyalty…A Persian poet has composed a sonnet, which says that once Majnoon (Qais Najdi) caught hold of a passing-by dog and started kissing its feet. People said, “We have seen many crazy people, but this act is beyond all limits of madness. After all, what is the sense of kissing a dog’s feet?” He replied, “I have seen it occasionally passing through Laila’s street.” Loyalty is a continuous, on-going, never-ending act. We are loyal to anyone who is loyal to the Holy Prophet-saws. We kiss the footprints of the one who has passed through that street. We would sacrifice ourselves for the one who conveys his-saws message. We would serve the one who serves his-saws cause. Why? Because, we bear loyalty to the master-saws that he is serving. Majnoon didn’t love that dog for sure, nor did he have anything to do with that street. But then, they both had a connection with Laila!
Islam is loyalty, pure. This is the only goal for which we all are striving by Allah’s Grace. We don’t have any worth of our own. All that we have, belongs to someone else, we have only borrowed it. We are actually nothing. I for one, don’t belong to this line. Neither was my father a scholar nor was my grandfather, and nor was any of them a saint. This just doesn’t exit in our hierarchy. We are agriculturists, if we become friends, we sacrifice ourselves and if we quarrel with some one, we would go to the other extreme. We had no concept of the finer human sentiments. We had never known the taste of love and the fragrance of loyalty. Our culture created arrogant Pharaohs but no Musa. The landlords who are sitting here know themselves and also their brethren that, theirs is the most egotistical section of the society. It is not necessary that he should be a big landlord of a thousand squares; even a small landlord of a single acre is equally haughty. It is the nature of this profession that makes them callous. They only know how to slit the earth and would, with equal comfort, slash the chest of their adversaries. They belong to a different category of human beings, completely void of love, affection or loyalty. Their hard hearts never shed a tear. Once a fight took place in our nearby village. One brother was killed, the other arrived late. He took the sheet off his brother’s face and swore at him loudly, “Why couldn’t you wait for me? Why did you get killed alone? You should have waited; we would have fought together, killed the rivals, and if we had to die, we would have died together. You are such a foolish rascal…” Had he belonged to some other class, his heart would have softened and he would have cried, but this man was swearing at his dead brother and quarrelling with him. We belonged to this category of people. Then, who introduced our hearts to the pangs of love and welled our eyes up?
I think the one who did that accomplished an impossible task. How far removed were arrogant and illiterate people like us, from the Book of Allah, the mosque, the pulpit, and blessings of the Holy Prophet-saws. Someone recovered us from mountains, forests and deserts, and ushered us into the honourable court that angels revere to enter. Now, what is left in our lives is, how much loyalty do we owe to Him? This is our Islam, our Deen, our worship and our obligation. With what degree of loyalty do we respond to the Infinite Grace that has flowed from Him? This is the whole religion and the goal of all effort and struggle. Whatever is happening in this world is by His Command alone. He may get sinful Muslims subdued by Kuffar. Whenever He desires, He may restore the Muslims to annihilate the adversaries. This won’t be the first time; it has been happening since time immemorial by His Command. It is He, Who commands the sun to shed light and the clouds to shed droplets. He grants the opportunity to live and may take it back whenever He desires. It is only the test of a man’s loyalty; otherwise it is He, Who is doing everything. When do the loyalties of My slave side with his Nafs, when does he link them to the worldly pleasures, when does he switch them over to his vain desires, and who is the one to keep his loyalty pure for Me and My Beloved Prophet-saws? That is all! Keep looking for this feeling within yourselves and keep analysing it. Circumstance change, shapes modify and colours fade. If you place a beautifully painted object in the sun, it would lose its lustre after a couple of weeks. Its paint would also erode if it receives some rain. You would have to protect it from sun, rain and many other problems. You would similarly need to protect your loyalties.
This is a great Favour of Allah that he granted us such an accomplished Shaikh. I was amazed when I heard him the first time. He was sitting on the pulpit and saying, “If anybody wants to reach the Court of the Holy Prophet-saws, he should come to me. Let him eat, sleep and remain comfortable; he would regularly do Allah’s Zikr that I teach him, and it is my responsibility to arrange his Bai‘at at the blessed hands of the Holy Prophet-saws.” My mouth hung open! What is this simple, coarsely clad villager of average height and features saying? At the maximum, he could be a religious teacher, a scholar or a dialectician; even then, this claim is too tall for him to make. But from somewhere within myself, my heart testified that he was speaking the truth. It is just not possible for anyone to concoct a lie of that magnitude! Yes, people can make false promises of making someone a minister; even a prime minister or getting someone a house; but no one can tell the lie that, ‘I would take you to the Court of the Holy Prophet-saws’. This is nothing small. Hadhrat Ji-rua had said it in routine. The intense simplicity and truth of this small sentence seized me forever, and by Allah’s Grace, the whole life has passed in this captivity. It is only by His Grace; otherwise, I wasn’t like that. I never went to hear religious scholars. I had gone to this gathering to support the Sunnis, because it was a religious dialogue and there was a possibility of clash. We had not even known who were Sunnis and Shi‘ahs. We knew only that we belong to the Sunni group and were determined to settle the scores with any Shi‘ah who tried to create trouble. We had not known the difference between the two religions. We had no concern with it. But that small sentence captured my whole life, and I pray to Allah, never to set me free from this prison even if my life is increased by a million times. May I die on this and then rise in my Shaikh’s feet on the Day of Resurrection. Loyalty is the real essence of Tasawwuf, Wilayah and Nearness. Of course, everyone would manifest his loyalty according to his capacity, but loyal he must remain! If loyalty starts waning, worships become lifeless, real spirit of relationship with Allah departs and the Barakah flowing from the Holy Prophet-saws are blocked. Everyone can judge himself. We keep giving judgements about others, but first of all, we should pass judgement on ourselves. There is Someone Else to judge others; that is none of our business. There is a system of accountability in worldly affairs and only appointed people should be concerned with it. If they lapse, they would also be asked by Someone. The inside of a person is well known by his Rabb and he would ultimately receive his result. We should rather look inwards, how many weaknesses do I posses and what is the level of my loyalty. Seek Allah’s Help to rectify your weaknesses, and seek His Help to increase your loyalty. May Allah overlook our weaknesses and generate abounding loyalty in us.