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Tuesday, March 30, 2004  

On Human Companionship for God’s Sake God Almighty and Glorious said, “(Abu Bakr al-Siddiq was) the second of the two when they were in the cave, when he said to his companion, ‘Do not grieve; God is with us’” (9:40). When God, glory to Him, wishes to attest to the quality of subhah, companionship, in al-Siddiq, He shows him manifesting sympathy, “When he said to his companion, ‘Do not grieve; God is with us.’The free man is in sympathy with the one whom he accompanies. Ali ibn Ahmad al-Ahwazi reported from Anas ibn Malik: The Messenger of God wondered, “When will I meet my dear ones?” His Companions exclaimed, “You are more precious to us than our mothers and fathers. Are we not your dear ones?” “You are my Companions,” he said. “My dear ones are a people who have not seen me, but have believed in me, and I am more to them than their hearts’ desires.” True companionship is of three sorts: keeping company with those who are above you, which in essence is service; keeping company with those who are below you, which requires sympathy and compassion in the one who is followed and harmony and respect in the follower; and keeping company with peers and equals, which is based upon preferring others to oneself and maintaining the standards of chivalry. The behavior proper to someone who keeps company with a shaykh whose degree is above his own is to give up opposing him, to treat everything that appears from him as beautiful, and to accept his states with faith in him. One of our companions asked Mansur ibn Khalaf al-Maghribi, “How many years did you keep company with Abu Uthman al-Maghribi?” He looked at him askance. Then I heard him reply, “I could not be his companion. But I served him for awhile.” When someone who is beneath you in development keeps company with you (as if you were both the same degree), you betray that companionship if you do not let him know that this will diminish his own state. Thus Abu-l-Khayr al-Tinati wrote to Jafar ibn Muhammad ibn Nusayr, “The responsibility for the ignorance of the dervishes falls upon you, for you have been distracted by personal interactions from their education, so that they have remained ignorant.” When you keep company with someone who is at your own level, the proper course is to try to be blind to his faults. You should give what you see in him a beautiful interpretation insofar as it is possible. If you cannot find such an interpretation, you should keep your suspicions to yourself and look at your own faults, as you are obliged to do. I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that Ahmad ibn Abil-Hawari said, “I said to Abu Sulayman al-Darani, “So-and-so has not made much of an impression on my heart!” “He has not made much of an impression on my heart either,” said Abu Sulayman. “But Ahmad, perhaps we are ruined: perhaps we are not of the righteous, so that we do not love them!”" A man kept company with Ibrahim ibn Adham, and when he wanted to depart, asked, “If you have seen any fault in me, please let me know of it.” “I have not seen any fault in you.” Said Ibrahim “because I have looked upon you with the eye of love, so that everything I saw of you seemed good to me. Ask somebody else about your faults!” With this meaning they recite: The eye of good pleasure, like the night, hides every shame But the eye of displeasure shows up all alike! It is told that Ibrahim ibn Shayban said, “We used not to keep company with anyone who said ‘my sandal’.” I heard Abu Hatim al-Sufi say that Abu Ahmad al-Qalanasi, who was one of the teachers of Junayd, said, “I kept company with some people in Basra, who did me much honor. Then one time I asked one of them, ‘Where are my trousers?’ And my status fell in their eyes.” And I heard Abu Hatim say that al-Zaqqaq said, “In the forty years I have been with these companions, I have seen no friendship shown to any of them unless it came from one of them toward another, or from someone who loved them. Whoever is not accompanied by fear of God and moral watchfulness in this business eats what is totally unlawful.” I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that a man said to Sahl ibn Abd’Allah (al-Tustari), “Abu Muhammad, I want to keep company with you.” “If one of us died, who would be the companion of the one who remained?” “God.” “Then let Him be his companion now!” For awhile one man made himself the student and companion of another, but then he began to think of leaving, and asked permission to go. “On condition that you do not seek the company of anyone unless his level is above mine,” his guide said. “And even if he is above me, don’t keep company with him, because I was your companion first!” “The wish to leave has disappeared from my heart,” said the man. I heard Abu Hatim al-Sufi say that al-Kattani said, “A certain man associated with me, but I disliked his company. I gave him a gift, hoping that what was in my heart might pass off, but it did not go away. So I brought him to my house and said to him, ‘Set your foot upon my cheek.’ He refused. ‘You must!’ I said. So he did it. I intended that he should not raise his foot from my cheek until God raised from my heart the weight I had found there. When what I had discovered vanished from my heart, I said, ‘Now lift your foot.’” Ibrahim bin Adham used to work as a harvester and an orchard watchman and so forth, and spend what he earned upon his companions. It seems that he would labor each day and then distribute the earnings to a group of companions who, having fasted all day, would gather each night in a certain place. “Come on, let’s break our fast and eat without him. Maybe after this he will come back more quickly.” So they broke their fast and slept. When Ibrahim came back and found them sleeping, he said, “Poor things! Maybe they have not had any food!” So he applied himself to a bit of flour that there was in place, kneaded it, kindled the fire, and cast the hot embers over it to bake it. They woke up and found him blowing on the fire, with his beautiful face pressed against the dust. They asked him what he was doing. “I said to myself that perhaps you had not found anything with which to break your fast,” he told them. “You were sleeping. I wanted you to wake up when the ashes had done their work.” “Look at what we have done,” they said to one another, “and look at how he has treated us!” Ibrahim bin Adham used to lay down three conditions for anyone who wanted his company: that he should be the one to serve, that he should act as muezzin at prayers, and not as imam, and that he and his companions should share without distinction in whatever worldly sustenance God might provide. One day one of his students told him, “I am not capable of this.” “I marvel at your truthfulness,” said he. Yusuf ibn al-Husayn said, “I asked Dhu-l-Nun, ‘With whom should I associate?’ He said, ‘With someone from whom you would not hide anything that God Most High knows about you.’” Sahl ibn Abd’Allah (al-Tustari) told a man, “If you are one of those people who is afraid of wild beasts, don’t associate with me!” I heard Muhammad ibn al-Husayn say that Bishr ibn al-Harith said, “The legacy of the company of bad people is to think evil of the good.” It is related that Junayd said, “When Abu Hafs (al-Haddad) entered Baghdad he brought with him a bald man who never spoke. I asked Abu Hafs’s companions about his situation, and they said, ‘This is a man who provided (Abu Hafs) with a hundred thousand dirhems, and took a loan of a hundred thousand dirhems and spent them upon him, but Abu Hafs will not permit him to utter a word.’” Dhu-l-Nun said, “Do not attempt to keep company with God unless you conform to His will, nor with people unless you give them good counsel, nor with your ego unless you oppose it, nor with satan unless you are his enemy.” A man asked Dhu-l-Nun “With whom should I associate?” He said, “With someone who will visit you when you are sick, and turn to you with forgiveness when you sin.” I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, “A tree that grows by itself and is not cultivated by anyone will put forth leaves but not fruit. Just so, if a seeker has no master to educate him, nothing will come of him.” Abu Ali used to say, “I received this Way from al-Nasrabadhi, al-Nasrabadhi from Shibli, Shibli from Junayd, Junayd from Sari, Sari from Maruf al-Karkhi, Maruf al-Karkhi from Dawud al-Tai, and Dawud al-Tai had met the Followers of the Prophet’s Companions.” And I heard him say, “I would never frequent the gatherings of al-Nasrabadhi unless I had previously made a total ablution.” I myself, when I was a beginner, never used to go in to see Abu Ali unless I was fasting and had made a total ablution beforehand. Many times I used to go right to the door of his school but then turn back, too much in awe of him to go in. One time I gathered my courage and went into the school. By the time I reached the middle of the school grounds I was overcome by a sort of numbness, so that if a needle had been stuck into me I might not have felt it at all. When I sat down in the shaykh’s presence, a question came to my mind. But I did not need to ask him about the matter with my tongue, for just as I was sitting down he began to give an explanation of the thing that had occurred to me. Many times I have seen the like of this from him with my own eyes. And I often used to think to myself that even if God had sent a Messenger to people in my own time, it would not have been possible for me to feel more awe and shyness in my heart than I felt toward Abu Ali. That did not seem even conceivable to me. And I do not recall that in the whole time I attended his gatherings, or later when I was with him after having been accepted as a personal student, that any opposition to him ever entered my heart or crossed my mind, until he left this world, may God have mercy upon him. Hamzah ibn Yusuf al-Sahmi al-Jurjani reported from Muhammad ibn al-Nadr al-Harithi, “God, glory to Him, revealed to Moses, ‘Wake up! Be an explorer. Be close friends with yourself. Drive away every friend who affords you no happiness, and do not associate with him, for if he makes your heart harden, he is your enemy. Most remembrance of Me merits My thanks, and what is beyond that is from My grace.’” I heard Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami that Abu Bakr al-Tamastani said, “Keep company with God, and if you are not able, then keep company with those who keep company with God. Then the blessing of their companionship may draw you to the companionship of God.” -Imam Abu-l-Qasim al-Qushayri, Principles of Sufism (Risalah Qushayriyyah)



posted by SuFiSTiC | 3/30/2004 06:15:00 AM |
As for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the ego its desires, the Garden is shelter.
(The Snatchers:40)
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions, while Paradise is surrounded by all kinds of disliked, undesirable things."
(Bukhari)
Whoever does good at night is rewarded during the day and whoever does good during the day is rewarded at night. Whoever is sincere in abandoning a desire is saved from catering to it. God is too noble to punish a heart that has abandoned a desire for His sake.
(Abu Sulayman ad-Darani)
Beware of your ego, and trust not its mischief;
The ego is worse than seventy devils.
(Arabic Poem)
Abu Bakar Balkhi
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I seek God's forgiveness, and do not claim that my intention in producing this Blog is confined to good religious purposes; how may I do so when I am aware of the hidden desires, egotistic passions, and worldly wishes that I harbour? I do not claim innocence for myself; the ego is indeed an inciter to evil, save when my Lord shows mercy; my Lord is indeed Forgiving, Merciful. O God! I seek Your protection against my committing idolatry [shirk] knowingly, and Your forgiveness for that of which I am not aware! I ask God to make me and all other believers benefit from this Blog and to render my production of it purely for the sake of His Noble Countenance.

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