Parameters of the Silsilah
Translated Speech of
His Eminence Ameer Muhammad Akram Awan
Shaikh Silsilah Naqshbandiah Owaisiah
It is a great favour of Almighty Allah, not because I proclaim it, but history bears witness that the manner in which this exalted Order has distributed Prophetic blessings was observed only during the earliest period of Islam; it has no other parallel in Islamic history. Everyone who attended the august company of the holy Prophet-saws acquired the status of a Companion and his heart was instantly illuminated. There was no discrimination of social status, knowledge, age or gender to acquire this blessing. Similarly, those who came to the Companions, were called Taba’in and those who visited the Taba’in were known as Tab’a Taba’in. Religious knowledge was then compiled and classified into various branches and scholars dedicated their lives to learn and teach them. Inner blessings were similarly preserved in the bosoms and handed down through the generations as spiritual heritage. With the passage of time, the intensity of these blessings diminished. Islamic history is replete with the names of those renowned servants of the Faith who sacrificed everything and endeavoured resolutely to acquire these blessings, they certainly outnumber the stars in the sky. But, it had been a regular pattern that they instructed the majority of their disciples in external reformation only and transferred these inner blessing to a select few. This was not by their intent or purpose but by a Divine arrangement. Divine Wisdom provides for an item at a place where it is most needed at that time. Probably this blessing is once again required by humanity after fourteen hundred years. Religion is being propagated with great zeal and effort during these times. Modern facilities have significantly reduced the distance and time and have facilitated the use of new methods and techniques. There are many magazines which print religious material only, other magazines contain several articles on religion. Each village, town and city has numerous mosques which resound with religious lectures, especially on Fridays. Then, there are many devout Muslims who leave their jobs and worldly comforts, and actively preach religion throughout their lives. Somehow, the results are not commensurate with the magnitude of effort. Probably the human capacity for acceptance of truth and self reformation has reduced with time. Either our hearts have rusted or require stronger medication. The Gracious Lord has, for that reason, once again arranged a free and generous distribution of this medicine of inner blessings through this Exalted Order. It is indeed a great Divine favour that everyone who joins this Order certainly receives his blessed share.
However, it is a common notion that, as a natural result of our worship (Zikr and good deeds) we should never come across any problems. We should neither fall sick, nor face adversity, nor encounter any difficulty in practical life - it is a gross misconception. On the other hand, Allah praises those of His slaves who sacrifice many things to attain His Pleasure. They endure hardship in His way and forsake many desires for His cause. There is yet another fallacy which needs to be corrected, people want others to praise them for doing Allah's Zikr. Yet Allah has praised those of His slaves who don't care for worldly recognition for their efforts in His way. It implies that anyone who strives in Allah's cause is sure to be subjected to public derision. The holy Prophet-saw has advised, "Perform Allah's Zikr till people start calling you mad." In my opinion, both concepts of using Allah's Zikr, either to solve worldly problems or to win public praise, are fundamentally wrong. This path is really very difficult, that is why most people don't venture to go this way. Allah has Himself said that only a few of His slaves are thankful - those who have the courage to walk this way. If you count those who endure hardships in Allah's way amongst mankind, their number will be negligible.
Religion receives the least priority in life. If someone has to leave only one thing in life, he would leave religion without any hesitation. He would be prepared to abandon Allah's worship on the smallest pretext. If he contracts a common cold, he would not stop eating, drinking or working, but he would immediately and definitely stop praying, this is the greatest human weakness. Allah appreciates those slaves who don't abandon Islam even at the cost of their lives. However, it requires a supreme resolve to go that far. I don't wish to prolong this discourse, but the real object of all this effort and endeavour is to develop an inner strength that makes Allah's obedience easy and enables a person to leave the prohibited and adopt the permitted. All Zikr, meditations, verbal incantations and physical efforts are meant to produce the resolve to follow the Shari‘ah. The religion should become a pleasant responsibility rather than a gruesome burden. Once we like something, we enjoy all its related activity. When we buy a car, we tend to ignore the better points of other cars and always prefer our choice. It may be more expensive and may require greater maintenance but we purchase it simply because we like it. We undergo an apparent financial loss, but we enjoy the deal. Similarly, we will buy a house of our choice at a higher price, well knowing that living in that house, will not in any way, increase our age. Allah has allowed us to spend our money to buy our choice. We need to develop a similar love for the religion, which will propel us to happily spend for its cause, devote the time and undergo many hardships. We should be willing to preserve religion at the cost of a worldly loss. The holy Prophet-saw said that both the religious obligations and worldly requirements cannot be satisfied simultaneously. If a person decides to fully attend to his worldly affairs, he will definitely have to forego some religious obligations and if he decides to give priority to the religion, he will have to sacrifice some of his worldly requirements. The sole aim of our effort is to develop the realisation to accord our preference to religion.
Allah has blessed innumerable women beside men. They perform Zikr not only in Muslim countries but even in Europe and Scandinavian countries which are the nurseries of vice and the evils of modern civilisation. They perform Allah's Zikr and follow the religion completely, this is a great Divine favour. They write to me from Northern Norway, where the day and night each spans six months, and inquire about religious orders pertaining to their peculiar climatic environments. Recently they wrote that they had grown to sixteen families. They were planning to sell their houses to buy a whole locality where they could collectively pray in a mosque. Previously, they had been offering their prayers in one of the houses, but it was not spacious enough to accommodate the increasing number of followers. It is indeed a very great favour of Allah that he has raised such pious people in a society where there is hardly any concept of piety, modesty, or even religion. They spend their time and money and come here during our annual congregation to learn Allah's Zikr. The effort is designed to facilitate total adherence to the Shari‘ah and acquire greater capacity to work harder for this cause.
Now that many women have also joined us in Allah's Zikr and their number is gradually increasing, there is a greater need to define relevant procedures and etiquettes. It is a delicate subject which has been emphasised by all civilised nations in one form or the other, but Islam has assigned it a special significance. Islam has assigned a high status of respect and honour to women. It has also defined their work parameters, which cannot be crossed even under the pretext of worship or Zikr. I had explained these rules and procedures in Abu Dhabi also. Some members of the Order have been appointed as Sahib-e Majaz (those permitted by the Shaikh to conduct Zikr and conduct others unto the stages of the Path) at every place, but they should conduct the Zikr of men. Zikr session for women should be arranged separately. The instructions of Shari‘ah regarding Purdah (Hijab) should be observed. Women should sit behind a curtain where they can hear the voice only. They may hear directly or through a loud speaker. Hearing a male's voice for religious education is permitted for them. During the time of the holy Prophet-saw, women prayed behind men in the Prophet's Mosque and also listened to sermons. Even today, separate arrangements are made for them to pray in the mosque behind the ranks of men or in a screened compartment at one side of the mosque, they still hear the voice through a loud speaker. They can join when prayer begins and leave soon after it is over. Religious worship like prayers, fasting, etc. is as obligatory for women as for men. They must also perform Allah's Zikr.... and those men who perform Allah's Zikr and those women who perform Allah's Zikr. He has prepared for them forgiveness and an immense reward. (33: 35).
The second point which I want to emphasise is that we perform Allah's Zikr only for His Good Pleasure. We don't gather to appreciate or criticise others or discuss our family problems, this principle is applicable to men and women, alike. Allah has described the husband and wife as each other's clothes. Our clothes protect against the effects of the weather, covers us from shame and adorns the body. Similarly, the husband is a source of protection, grace and honour for his wife. It does not befit him to narrate the follies of her wife publicly, otherwise he does not remain her cover because he is not covering her any more. Similarly, no wife should discuss her matrimonial and domestic affairs with other women. Otherwise she, too, would not be a good cover for her husband. Those who perform Allah's Zikr should possess greater accommodation and tolerance. If a husband commits a mistake, the wife still remains responsible to look after his comfort and protect his honour. But, if she also ignores her duty, then she is no better than him. He should repent and correct himself; otherwise he would be answerable to Allah. Similarly, when a wife commits any mistake, the husband should counsel and advise her politely and try to reform her.
Our problem is that we teach our women everything save religion, that is a grave mistake. Allah's Zikr should grant us the realisation to look after the rights of our parents, children, wife, husband, brothers, sisters and other relatives. Again, the basic aim of performing Allah's Zikr is to acquire the strength to follow the Shari‘ah. These rights have been defined by the Shari‘ah. If we don't follow the Shari‘ah, then what is the effect of Allah's Zikr? Similarly, women should also safeguard the rights of near relatives, enjoined by religion. Private conversation of any lady with the Sahib-e Majaz is not allowed. If she must talk to him, she should not be alone during the dialogue but be accompanied by a senior lady. If she does not want to share her secrets with anyone, she can write to me directly. Here, I have asked one of the sisters to explain Zikr to the ladies and also conduct their Zikr sessions. If they need to know something, she can ask her husband or tell them to write to me, there should be a proper organisation for women. They can meet separately and perform Allah's Zikr. If they join the central Zikr sessions or if a Sahib-e Majaz conducts their Zikr, they should sit separately behind a screen, where they can hear the call to change the Lataif. After Zikr and Du‘a they should leave separately. By Allah's grace, this blessed Order is growing and there is a greater need to take these precautions. Otherwise, there will be many problems and people will be religiously harmed instead of being benefited.
The fourth point is that the Sahib-e Majaz can conduct others up to the spiritual stages of Fana Baqa. They cannot take anybody beyond these stages nor can they present anyone for the spiritual Bai’at with Prophet Muhammad-saw. If anybody else conducts Zikr, he should complete the Lataif followed by the Maraqbat (Meditations) and the Du‘a.
The next point relates to the position of the Shaikh. One can discuss one's personal and private affairs with the Shaikh. It is obligatory for the Shaikh not to reveal the affairs of anyone and for the sake of Allah, give him correct and sincere advice in accordance with the Shari‘ah; the Shaikh is the greatest custodian of secrets. He should not disclose anything except small everyday matters. Those persons, especially women, who hear any such thing from the Shaikh must keep it to themselves.
I have already stated that it is not my sole prerogative to appoint a Sahib-e Majaz. In every organisation, certain people are selected to control and guide others. Allah may grant the leadership qualities to anyone He likes; it is such people who are appointed Sahib-e Majaz, women cannot be given this appointment. I had asked Mrs. Siddiq to conduct the women's Zikr sessions in Abu Dhabi. If any woman wants to ask something from the Sahib-e Majaz or their Amir, she should either write to them or speak to them from behind a curtain; direct and intimate conversation is not allowed. If a lady is leading the Zikr, she should conduct the Lataif and the three meditations i.e. Ahadiyyat, Ma’iyyat and Aqrabiyyat and make the Dua. Those who want to revise their advanced lessons, they can do so by themselves.
The sixth point is that the person conducting Zikr should concentrate on Zikr alone. He should not speak during Zikr, except to change the Lataif. If he starts speaking, as some people do at times, it will divert his own attention as well as that of others. Only that person may speak during Zikr, whose normal conversation also radiates spiritual bliss. But that is extremely rare and even all Mashaikh of the Orders do not possess this strength. Hadhrat Ji-rua had instructed the Majazin to change their own Latifah before changing the Latifah of others. For example, if you are conducting Zikr on the second Latifah and want to go to the third, you should first change your own Latifah. After a few moments of Zikr, when your third Latifah starts receiving Divine lights you should instruct others to change their Latifah. The flow of Divine Lights will not be interrupted and they will also start receiving the lights being reflected by your Latifah. But if you speak during Zikr, it will distract them, as if they have started the first Latifah now. They would have to restart from the beginning.
The seventh point is that we don't have to contest others nor we have to impose ourselves on them. Anyone who recites the Kalimah is a Muslim, by Allah grace; may Allah favour all Muslims and guide them. If we engage in Zikr, we are actually working extra, we are putting in a greater effort for our own sake. The person who earns more by working twenty-four hours in a factory has no right to criticise those who work only eight hours, everyone earns for himself. Similarly, if we are working slightly extra, we have absolutely no right to criticise or deride others; nor should we try to forcibly convince them. If we are sincere to this religion, and work for the good pleasure of Allah, then we should understand that any Muslim, who is serving the religion in any way, is actually doing our job, he is assisting us in our mission. We must give him our love, Islam is not the religion of hate but of love.
Once, some disbelievers visited the holy Prophet-saw with the intention to contest and criticise him. He lodged them in his mosque with respect and honour. During the night, one of them eased himself in the mosque. When it was known in the morning, Hadhrat Umar Faruq-rau drew his sword to avenge this act of sacrilege. The holy Prophet-saw restrained him and said, “O Umar, he is a disbeliever. He is not obliged to respect the mosque. We cannot punish him as he is our guest. Just throw the polluted soil out of the mosque.” This kindness inspired the disbeliever to accept Islam. It retrieved him from the abyss of disbelief and elevated him to the status of Companionship. He thought within himself, ‘the holy Prophet-saw cares for me so much even when I don't believe him. How much more will he love me when I start believing him? A person of such excellent qualities cannot deceive me. He cannot tell lies.’