Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Basic Research by Shaykh Ahmad ibn 'Ajiba -Darqawi-Shadhili

The Basic Research :
English translation of al Futuhat al Ilahiyya fi Sharh al Mabaahith al-Asliyya
by Shaykh Ahmad ibn 'Ajiba -Darqawi-Shadhili

Description from the publisher:
"To travel the path of courtesy and instruction is before everything and the mightiest means to Allah. The most direct access for the slave of his Lord is to keep company with the gnostics, those who have high yearning and prophetic instruction, and to have courtesy between the hands of the shaykhs who have noblemish and are pure and who know the stations and states of worshippers, zahids, fuqara and sufis. Research their behaviour and states. and take on their highly pleasing courtesy. Realise their behaviour and their pure good manners." 

This book is the commentary by Shaykh Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn 'Ajiba al-Hasani on the poem of Ibn al-Banna of Saragossa.
A note on the text.
Chapter 1 The Basis page 20
Chapter 2 -The Benefits page 52
Chapter 3 The Rules page75-242
1.The Shaykh
5. Courtesy
6. Sama'
7. Travelling and Visiting
8. Begging
9. Education and Instruction
Chapters-4 The Refutation 242
Chapters-5The Denial 311 
.................Then the author begins to speak about the subject itself, and he says: 

O you who inquire about the practices of the faqir, you have asked about something which is difficult to elucidate. 

Practices is the plural of practice. It is the Tariqa. When it is written in another way, it means the Shari'ah. Both are correct with respect to this instance. The faqir is the one who has taken a direction towards the Real on the carpet of sincerity. Sahl, may Allah be pleased with him, said. The faqir is the one who does not own and is not owned. He sees nothing except the time he is in.' As-Suhrawardi said, 'Poverty is the basis of sufism, and by it, it stands.' Another said, 'Poverty is an attribute which is abundant. The human nature of the self flees from it. It is one of the means by which the slave sits between the hands of Allah on the carpet of purity.' There is disagreement about whether the faqir is higher than the sufi. 

The faqir is the one in whom there are no remains. Or we can say the sufi is higher because the sufi is the one whose states are pure and there is no turbidity in him contrary to the faqir. The faqir is he who takes a direction to Allah, by the lights of direction. The sufi has the lights of encounter. So the sufi is higher than the faqir because he has arrived and the faqir is travelling. The sufi is the one who has clear threads, and the faqir is the one between ascent and descent. The sufi is the one who does not see in either of the two houses anything but Allah, and does not witness otherness with the Real. The Real has prepared everything for him, and he has not prepared anything. He takes from everything and nothing takes from him, and so on from of what he has of perfect attributes. 

On the contrary, the faqir is in the path of struggle. The end of the faqir is the beginning of sufi, and Allah knows best. It is said that the sufi and the faqir are the same. The practices of the faqir are the paths that he travels and the courtesies that he takes on. In another explanation of this, the meaning becomes 'O you who ask about the path of the faqir which he travels until he reaches his Lord...'. It can also indicate the conditions of the faqir and his courtesies because these are part of the way on which he travels. As for his conditions, they are eight: 
1. A sound purpose,
2. Clear sincerity,
3. Pleasing courtesy,
4. Pure states,
5. Protection of honour,
6. Excellence of service,
7. Intense yearning,
8. Determination to attain fulfilment. 

1. Sound purpose is that his desire for keeping company with the Shaykh is the realisation of slaveness and the fulfilment of the rights of Lordship with out any miracles, or arrival at stations or degrees, or for desires of the self.

2. Clear sincerity here means to believe in the secret of election in the one whose company he keeps. It is the basis of the path. The one without sincerity does not travel, even if he stays with the Shaykh a thousand years. 

Sincerity is the knowledge of the secret. Each knows of the secret of the Shaykh According to his sincerity. It is the prize for which the faqir spend his spirit and heart and secret. He who does not sincerely trust his Shaykh has nothing to spend on his secret. We have an indication from Asharqi, may Allah be pleased with him, 
The one who does not trust has nothing to spend|
The one who does not realise brings no sign.

3. Courtesy is the key to the door. He who does not have it does not enter. The one who has bad manners with the lovers will be turned away from the door and into realm of animals. 

One of the awliya used to order the people who wanted to enter and keep company keep his company to go and keep company with the authorities until they had gained manners. We will speak about courtesy if Allah wills, in its place. The one who has no courtesy with the Shaykh and the brothers gains nothing but deprivation from their company. 

4. Pure states must be in accord with the Shari'ah so that the faqir does not harm any one of the People. The faqir who does not have states does not reach the Stations of the Men. Travel to the Presence of the Perfectly Pure does not occur except by going against the self. 

It says in the Hikam, ‘Were it not for the battlefield of the selves, meaning war on it, the travel of the traveller would not be realised.' 

In this instance, states mean breaking the habits of the self and the destruction of its outward. The faqir must practice what will diminish the self and obliterate its might. These practices must be permissible. These are the pure and pleasing states. States that are contrary me Shari'ah, and these are the states of darkness, only increase the man who has them in darkness. 

In the same way that it is not proper to bury seeds in bad land, it is also not permissible to bury the self in obscurity in a displeasing manner. Pure states are those in which there is no harm for anyone and which are not contrary to the order of Shari'ah. 

5. Protection of honour means protection of the honour of the Shaykh, present or absent. Alive or dead. He must not sit in a place where his Shaykh is mentioned with harm or is being diminished. He must also protect the honour of the brothers. He must take responsibility, and be patient if they avoid him. He must exalt the old among them and be compassionate to the young among them. He who is broken by the brothers is not put together by the Shaykh. The one who is broken by the Shaykh may be put together by the brothers. The faqir must protect and trust in the honour of all the Muslims, especially the scholars and people of right actions. 
It is said that the pillars of sufism are gathered in four things. They are:

5.1 To stop harm.
5.2 To put up with being left.
5.3 To witness purity.
5.4 To put this world behind one's back. 

6. Excellence of service is not sound except by service to the Shaykh and to the brothers. The hadith says, 'The master of the people is the one who serves them'. Excellence of service is also made sound by the service of the Truth, and that is the great goal.

7. Intense yearning is not to let his purpose be to seek this world or the next, but the gnosis of his Lord. 

8. Determination to attain fulfilment means that the faqir is determined to continue to travel until arrival is realised to the gnosis of his Lord, not only for blessing and honour. If he is determined about something, he does it. 
His courtesies are five:
8.1 To remove the veil.
8.2 Humility and brokenness.
8.3 Sacrifice and preference.
8.4 Keeping company with the right-acting gnostics.
8.5 To increase strength of obedience and invocation……

.................... Then the author mentioned the contents of the book, mentioning that it is divided into five chapters. He said: 
The first is its basis.
The second is its benefit until the end of time.
The third chapter is about its rules, and when it is standing on its feet.
The fourth is a refutation of those who reject itand do not know its worth and its purpose.
The fifth is knowledge of how it changed until it became denied among people.
He says, may Allah have mercy on him, that he has mentioned in this book of the principles of sufism four matters. They are the subject and its composition, the merit and the benefit. The subject and its composition are taken from its basis. The merit and the benefit are taken from its overflow because the excellence of a thing is not perfected except by its fruit. 

What remains of the principles are six, so the total is ten. They are in every art among the arts of knowledge. The finest of the people of knowledge include them as an introduction before actually beginning in the art itself. Some of them have done this and said, The limit and the subject, then its composition and the name, and taking support is the wisdom of Shari'ah. To visualise excellent matters and where good benefit comes from. 

It is a condition on the seeker of knowledge to surround by understanding the ten, and their discrimination. He must know it before he starts to seek so that he knows what he is seeking. The meaning of 'rules' is what is necessary of courtesy in actions and dealings for the murid. The author has mentioned these rules and summarised them in nine points which we will deal with later on. When he says 'when it is standing on its feet, first he mentions the chapter on the rules of sufism and its courtesy to the end, and if someone knows this, then he knows sufism and he stands on his own feet. That is to say, he has gnosis. 

The phrase beginning 'The fifth...' means that he mentions in the fifth chapter how sufism has been changed until it became denied among people though it is known and famous. Then he mentions the name of the book, because it is one of the necessary introductions, and an important matter. He said: After I have divided it into chapters, and the cut in its rope has been joined I have called it 'The Basic Research' concerning the whole of the sufic path. 

The reason why he called it 'Research' is that it is a field of research and examination about the states of the sufis and their behaviour. It is as though he says, may Allah have mercy on him, 'After having divided this book into five chapters, and I have strung the pearls after they had been scattered, these pearls became the chapters, and when the pearls were gathered, I called it The Basic Research because it is research into the foundations of the path and an examination of how it was built. 
This is what the path of the sufis is. It is built in order to prune and to discipline the hearts, and to purify them of every vice and to enrobe them with every virtue so that by that they are prepared for the gnosis of the Real, Exalted is He. This gnosis is the real gnosis by way of eye-witnessing and taste and finding.' 

There is much disagreement about the origin of sufism. The best derivation is that it comes from purity. It is concerned with purification. One of the sufis indicated this by saying, People have disagreed about the sufi and gone different ways. They all say something unrecognisable. I do not give this name to anyone but a man who is pure. And who has been purified until he was called a sufi. Abu Hamza al-Baghdadi said, 'The sign of the genuine sufi is that he becomes poor after being rich. He becomes humble after being mighty, and he is unknown after being famous. The sign of the false sufi is that he becomes rich after poverty and takes on might after he was humble, and becomes famous after being unknown.'……………………… 

(Chapter 3 – section 9 Education and Instruction)
……Then the author mentions the way that the deeds move to the inward, and he
Once he has grasped the outward knowledge and they have seen preparedness in him outwardly, They show him what had been ambiguous until then of the attributes of the self. Know, if you deny them, these attributes are ninety-one, and some say more.

I say that the Shaykh is still ordering the murid to outward actions like prayer, fasting, isolation, silence, invocation with the tongue until he sees that he has perfected the outward knowledge and tasted his secret and sweetness. 

This means that the murid has tasted the sweetness of prayer and fasting and the sweetness of isolation and silence, until isolation becomes sweeter to him than mixing with people, and silence becomes sweeter than speech to him, and invocation of Allah is mixed with him to the point that he cannot stop it even if he wants. This is the sign of the perfection of the outward wisdom. 

Then the murid is ready for the inward knowledge. At that time the Shaykh shows him the attributes of his self which were hidden from him - like love of reputation, or leadership, or love of wealth, or anger, or impatience, and so on of the attributes of the self which we cannot number. One of the sufis said, 'The self has imperfections in the amount of Allah's perfections.' The author said that they are more than ninety. 

As-Salmi, may Allah be pleased with him, said, 'The behaviour of the self is pride, vanity, boasting, emptiness, hatred, treachery, rancour, greed, false hope, holding a grudge, jealousy, irritation, worry, restlessness, expectation, accumulation, withholding, cowardice, ignorance, laziness, aversions, antipathy, following desires, mockery, demanding, conceit, impetuosity, love of comfort, heedlessness, quarrelsomeness, domination, tyranny, enmity, discord, opposition, contradiction, fighting, rivalry, slander, false accusations, lies, backbiting, foolishness, bad opinion, obscenities, blame, insolence, betrayal, swindling, maliciousness, debauchery.' 

It is obligatory on the murid to know these things so that he can avoid them and struggle to eliminate them and to exchange them for what is best. The one who does not know them will stray. The murid must exchange pride for humility and harshness for affection and lies for sincerity, and success is with Allah. 
Shaykh Zarruq, may Allah be pleased with him, said,

The roots of blameworthy behaviour are three:
1. To be pleased with the self.
2. To fear creation.
3. To be concerned about provision. 
From the first comes desire, forgetfulness and disobedience.

From the second comes anger, rancour and jealousy.

From the third comes greed and expectation and avarice.'

He also said, 'To hold onto one thing will eliminate all of these, and that is not to be pleased with the self in any state, and to beware of it at all times .' 
It is said in the Hikam, 'The root of every disobedience and desire and forgetfulness is contentment with the self, and the root of every obedience and wakefulness and abstention is your not being content with it .' 

The worst thing is to keep company with a scholar who is content with himself. It is better for you to keep company with someone who is ignorant but is not content with himself. What knowledge does a scholar have who is content with himself? What ignorance does a man have who is ignorant but not content with himself? When the author says 'once he has grasped the outward knowledge' he means that the murid perfects the deeds of the outward knowledge, and this is the result of keeping company with the Shaykh, as we have seen before. Allah the Exalted knows best. 
Then he mentions how the self dies, and he says:

They force it to drink the glass of death, and it screams, 'How can you kill me?' 

This means that if the Shaykh wants to move the murid to inward action, he orders him to eliminate the self. That is the cause of the life of their spirits, as Ibn al-Farid puts it, 'In death there is my life'. The Shaykhs make the murid drink the glass of death, against the will of the self. 

That is done by breaking its habits and stopping it from its desires . The greatest habits are might and reputation. It does not move to humility and obscurity and humbleness except after a great struggle and a fierce death. If humility and might, and obscurity and appearance are the same to it, then it is dead. 

Muhammad ibn Khalif, may Allah be pleased with him, said, 'A man is not perfected until his heart is even with regard to four matters: withholding and giving, might and humility.'

Shaykh Abu Madyan said, 'The one who does not die does not see the truth.' 

Shaykh Abu'l 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, 'There is no entering upon Allah except by two doors: by the great annihilation, which is natural death, or by the lesser annihilation, with which this group is concerned.' 
One of the sufis said, 'One does not enter upon Allah until one has died four deaths:
1. The red death, which is to oppose the self.
2. The black death, which is to endure trials and harm from creation.
3. The white death, which is hunger.
4. The green death, which is to wear the patched robe.'

Shaykh Zarruq, may Allah be pleased with him, said, 'The death of the self does not occur except by three means:

1.To isolate it from its willing, so that it neither moves nor remains still except by the realisation of intention that is in accord with knowledge with out desire.

2.To turn away from everything that it appreciates in the world of bodies and natures, knowledges and deeds, meanness and realities, and basics.

3.The third is to leave whatever is left to which it still inclines.'

This is why Shaykh Abu'l 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, 'The wail does not arrive at Allah until the desire for arrival is cut off from his self. 

This means with courtesy and submission, not from boredom, as Ibn 'Ata'illah, may Allah be pleased with him, mentioned. 

This is why Shaykh Abu Muhammad 'Abd as-Salaam ibn al-Mashish said in his supplication, ' O Allah I seek refuge in You, from the coolness of pleasure and submission, like others seek refuge in You from the heat of disobedience and management.' 

Al-Wasiti', may Allah have mercy on him, said, 'To find obedience sweet is a deadly poison.' The author's phrase 'and it screams, " How can you kill me? " 'is the tongue of the state of the self, which is near the tongue of its speech. 

Man hears it from the inward of the self like it was a sensory speech. The self would choose sensory death by preference and it stays that way until it is tamed and disciplined. This is the sign of its death, and Allah the Exalted knows best. Then the author indicated the actions of the people ……

translated by Abdalkhabir al-Munawwarah and Haj Abdassabur al-Ustadh (translators); Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi al-Murabit (editor) 

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