What is the Foundation of Tasawwuf?
English Bayan, 33 mins
10th December, 2020

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What is the Foundation of Tasawwuf?

​Since this is a gathering of Tazkiyyah, purification and improvement, I would like to present in your service some points that are in my mind. Everything has a foundation, and that foundation is the most important factor. To give an example so that you can understand, the strength of a building and of its structure depends upon its foundations, on the foundations beneath it. However strong the foundation is, that building’s strength will be equivalent. The height that a building can be constructed is based on the strength and robustness of its foundation. If people want to build a tall building, the first thing they must do is to focus on the foundation, so that problems don’t arise in the longer term. If construction is carried out on a foundation that is not strong, and the builders make it as high as they can regardless, what is the consequence? If a little bit of a shock takes place, it will crumble to the ground. Other buildings whose foundations are strong do not fall so readily - they will last far longer.

​So this example teaches us that a good foundation is very important, and in Tasawwuf this is also the case. In the field of Tasawwuf, there is also a foundation, and it is similar to the building example. For the Salik, the traveller, the student of Tazkiyyah, if his foundation is strong, he can reach the heights. He will rise as high as he wants. He will pass through and maintain himself through the strongest of tests and challenges. But you will also have seen that there are many people who have high status, of a high rank, with Maqamaat, and others think they are pious, good people who have progressed in the Silsila, but because their foundation is weak, when a bit of a disaster comes, or a bit of an issue confronts them in life – crash! The building crumbles and they come back down to the first Maqam, back to the first lesson. I have seen many examples of people like this. Many students are like this. They try for years, but a challenge can come after fifty years, or twenty-five years. Note this point.

This is a gathering of Tazkiyyah, as I said, so listen carefully to the points of Tasawwuf that the pious predecessors have conveyed, and you will benefit. Allah subhana wa ta'ala has given us the Tawfeeq to hear the words of the pious predecessors. It is very precious when a pious elder speaks. Time passes and then a person feels those words. I am not myself in the habit of making general speeches or engaging in lengthy debates. My focal points are Tazkiyyah and Sunnat-e-Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam - which is also Tazkiyyah. The most important branch of Tasawwuf is obedience to the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam.

So, as I was saying, we are looking for the reason for loss of status, after which others then say ‘What has happened? That person was practicing for years, working hard, yet all of his Maqamaat have gone! Why is this?’ The reason is that his foundation was weak and so he couldn’t look after himself. A little gust came, a challenge or a test came, and down he fell. Remember this. Allah ta’ala tells us that it is not easy to walk into Paradise. You can’t just do a bit of Tazkiyyah and then think you can walk away, free of worry. Allah says ‘No, no! I test My servants at every turn in life.’ Big challenges and tests come to a human being during his life, and to succeed in those tests and challenges, we have to strengthen our foundation, our base. We need to make our foundation strong.

So what is this foundation? Think for yourselves – what is the foundation that will give us the strength to withstand the tests of life? What is the foundation of Tasawwuf? What a foundation it is, my brothers! I will present a Hadith to you that is in both Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, in which Allah ta’ala refers to the thing that He likes the most. This is the foundation of deeds, of our actions. Allah ta’ala accepts all our deeds on the basis of this foundation. This is the most important factor, the thing that Allah ta’ala likes most, described as ‘Ahabb’. Allah says that He loves this most, SubhanAllah. What is it? Can a person fail if he is doing something about which Allah ta’ala is saying that He loves those people who do this?

So, what is this factor? The Hadith goes on to explain that this factor is when a person is steadfast and consistent on an action. Even if it is a small action, this is what Allah ta’ala likes most. The Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam told us the best secret here, a very important tool of Tasawwuf. A person is successful in Tasawwuf if he does those deeds that are beloved in the sight of Allah, and that means deeds which are performed consistently and regularly. Even though they may be small, if they are ongoing, performed without fail, with Istaqamat and steadfastness, Allah likes those deeds the most. SubhanAllah. This is why those who are not consistent in their actions have foundations that are weak. This is the foundation of Tasawwuf.

The substance of Tasawwuf, of purification, is that you should always be steadfast and regular in your actions. Be consistent. Don’t leave that Amal, that deed, that you are doing. Be regular consistent, observant. Be steadfast on your actions even if it is a small amount. Being steadfast is better than a large amount. The Qur’an has also spoken on this matter:

{وَٱلَّذِينَ جَـٰهَدُواْ فِينَا}

The foundation, even in Tasawwuf, is based on struggling and striving, on making effort. Allah says ‘If you strive, I will open up all the paths of My Ma’arifah.’ {وَٱلَّذِينَ جَـٰهَدُواْ فِينَا لَنَہۡدِيَنَّہُمۡ سُبُلَنَا} Allah is saying ‘I will help you due to this!’ – {وَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَمَعَ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ}. Allah ta’ala is saying ‘I will always assist when you get stuck in a challenge or a test in life. I will take you out of that test. I won’t let you drop, and I won’t let you fail, provided that you keep the foundation.’ What is the foundation? Allah explains the foundation here. Allah says { جَـٰهَدُواْ فِينَا لَنَہۡدِيَنَّہُمۡ }. So what do we think striving is? We think Mujahidah is working extremely hard at one think, working all the time, putting yourself through hardship, sweating, toiling, doing intense A’maal. We think that this is what { جَـٰهَدُواْ} means, so we run from it and say ‘Oh, that’s too hard for me!’ But this is not Mujahadah. Mujahadah or striving is about consistency, regularity and persistence in an action. That is Mujahadah.

This Faqir, this humble servant, says that when Allah is mentioning { جَـٰهَدُواْ} here, it means to always do deeds consistently, persistently, regularly, without stopping. Whoever does this Mujahadah, he whose A’maal are ongoing, and he doesn’t go up and down, stopping and starting, then Allah has guaranteed that He will show him the paths, and will open the doors for him and will assist him. SubhanAllah. It has been explained in Bukhari and the Qur’an has also confirmed this, that the secret to success is what? It is to strive, to do Mujahadah, SubhanAllah. And what is Mujahadah? It is to do deeds on a regular, ongoing basis, without fail. Even if it is small in scale or size, do it regularly, stick with it.

Here is another point, so please listen. We need to understand this and not think that we will only be successful if we do a huge number of deeds, thinking ‘Oh, he has more lessons than me and I have less’ – no. Whatever the Sheikh has prescribed to you has come from the Sheikh and has been assigned to you. If he tells you to do this quantity at these intervals, then that is it. Then you need to be steadfast upon that and persist in it. That is how you will succeed. Don’t look at others and think ‘Oh, he has got this much – he has been told to do ten thousand and I am doing less, so he will go beyond and above me.’ No, absolutely not. The Sheikh knows. The teacher knows the path he is prescribing for that student, and he knows what he is prescribing to you also. However, the style and manner and quantity are according to capacity and ability, so don’t compare. Don’t think about it or try to analyse it. That is why the Hadith says to be steadfast. Even if a deed is smaller in quantity, be regular and steadfast in what you do. Don’t run around comparing and thinking that everyone should have the same lessons and the same quantity, or think ‘I have only got two lessons and he has gone beyond me. He will be more pious.’ No. The person who is steadfast and regular – MashaAllah. If the Sheikh has told you to do one thousand, then for you, if you are steadfast upon a thousand, you have succeeded.

So the prescription that has been written for you is your Sabaq; those are your lessons. Whether it is more on this or less on that, you must do it steadfastly and persistently without deviation, and not break that consistency. This is where a person fails. He gets excited and does long sessions on his Tasbeeh, and then says to the Sheikh ‘Give me more, give me more!’ That is why it is stated that it is against manners and Adab to ask the Sheikh ‘Can I do this as well? Can I do these deeds as well? Can I keep these fasts? Can I do these Nawafil actions? Can I do some extra Dhikr?’ This is the greed of the Nafs. How can you request? If your Sheikh is prescribing what is best for you, why do you want to go above and beyond that? That means that you are subservient to the Nafs and are following the track of your desires and have become disrespectful. The pious predecessors in the Naqshbandi Silsila have stated that you have no need to ask for more and more. He knows what he should give you. He knows. You just need to be consistent upon what you have been prescribed and continue with that.

Womenfolk are especially prone to this. They feel a twinge and think ‘I have less Asbaaq; I have fewer lessons. He has only given me this many Tasbeehs and the men do a greater quantity and other extra things.’ SubhanAllah. The Mashaa’ikh of the Naqshbandi Tariqa, who have disseminated these Asbaaq and from whom this Silsila has come, say that when the womenfolk get a lesson, even if it is lower in quantity, they need to be regular and consistent. There is a big difference between women and men. Women cannot do that Mujahadah, that quantity, on an ongoing basis and maintain the necessary regularity. Why? Because their direction of life is different - bringing up the children, making food, this task, that task. In addition, Allah ta’ala has made the physical capacity of the female in such a way that they cannot bear that much burden. But this is nothing to be worried about or to complain about, for you will also get the nearness to Allah just the same. If other people do extra Dhikr and extra striving, you have no need to worry about that. It is a very good thing that from doing less, you get the same Maqams and ranks that Allah gives to other people.

There is no difference in the level – the Qur’an has said this. The womenfolk who do Dhikr and the men who do Dhikr have both been mentioned in the Qur’an. Allah has said that Paradise has been prepared for both equally. Both have been mentioned by name in the Qur’an as being worthy of Paradise – the menfolk who Dhikr, and the womenfolk who do Dhikr - the men who Dhikr Katheer and the women who do Dhikr Katheer. And what is Katheer? Katheer, or high quantity, is the amount that you have been prescribed; if you are regular on it, that is Katheer.

Tasawwuf is not hard, but we make it hard! The Mashaa’ikh-e-Karam guide their students with ease, especially in the Naqshbandi Silsila. Our Hadhrat was very Haleem and gentle, and this Silsila is a very loving and caring Silsila. The students are not put into hardship. We are living in a generation nowadays where there is no time to work hard and do lengthy, involved Mujahadah. What should we do? Think about the long-term, and just worry about the deeds that Allah loves the most, which are not those with the highest quantity or that are more physically demanding. Make it a long-term commitment, even if it is smaller in quantity. So, especially for the womenfolk, if your Sheikh has prescribed just two Tasbeehs for you to recite, if you are regular in that and do not give up until death reaches you, alhamdulillah, all of your spheres of life will thrive. People say ‘Oh, I don’t have enough Tasbeehs, they do more Dhikr’, but you shouldn’t compare and analyse. Just be consistent, regular and steadfast in what you have been given.

And another point to be understood today is that Allah ta’ala has given you guidance; you have been given some lessons. By the permission of Allah, your Sheikh has given you lessons, so you should consider this a treasure. The Qur’an has defined this as Mujahidah, and in the Hadith as Ahabb-ul-A’maal, the best of deeds, the deeds which are most loved by Allah. What is that? A deed which is done regularly, steadfastly and persistently, even if it is small in scale or size. That is the biggest test. Many tests come and go in life, but a person should always focus on steadfastness.

There are great rewards for this. Great events of the pious predecessors are related about this. One such, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal rahmatullah alayh, was imprisoned due to some Masaa’il he gave about the Qur’an. They sent him to jail where he underwent severe hardship, and there he met another prisoner who said, ‘Imam, you are a pious, upright person with Noor upon your face – where have you come from? What are you doing here in jail with us? What was the Mas’alah that brought you here? We are thieves and bandits here, but you are a pious, upright and honest person.’ He replied, ‘The situation was that the king was speaking wrongly about a point in the Qur’an and I didn’t accept what he said – and that is why I am here.’ The Imam relates, ‘This fellow prisoner was a thief and a bandit, but he gave me a Nasiha which gave me encouragement while I was confined in the jail.’ SubhanAllah. What was the Nasiha? He said ‘Look Moulana, Imam Sahib, I am a thief and a bandit. I am a robber. I have been steadfast in robbery and whenever I get out of jail, I steal again and end up back here. Then I leave again and steal again and come back to jail. You are on a pious line, so remember one thing: have Istaqamat upon your profession. Be firm and steadfast upon what you are doing. Hold firm to the opinion that caused you to be thrown into prison.’

This was a thief giving Nasiha to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal rahmatullah alayh, who praised that prisoner after coming out of prison – and we are mentioning the example of that thief until today due to his Istaqamat and his steadfastness. Allah says that steadfastness is ‘Ahabb-ul-A’maal’, and though the prisoner’s own deeds may have been wrong, he gave a great Nasiha. Allah subhana wa ta'ala gives messages to people in so many ways, so if the Sheikh prescribes that we should do this much Dhikr, how can we disregard that?

Sultan Nooruddin rahmatullah alayh, who was a very pious and upright individual, made a habit in his life – and his Sheikh must have told him to do this – that he would send one thousand times Durood Sharif upon the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam every night. Before sleeping, he would send this to the blessed Court of the Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam. He became habitual in this, just as a person might become habitual on doing some Dhikr two thousand times – and then the doors of Noor open and it begins to flow if you are regular and steadfast. So he was regular and habitual, but it so happened that one night he was very tired, and because of this he fell asleep after he had completed only seven hundred. And while he slept, the Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam came to him in his dream and said ‘I have been surprised tonight, Sultan, because you have recited only seven hundred and I am waiting for the other three hundred. When will you be sending the balance of three hundred?’ SubhanAllah - this is the result of Istaqamat! At this, he woke up with a jolt and said ‘SubhanAllah!’ This is Istaqamat – what an amazing and brilliant point.

My brothers, there is no need or expectation that you should be shown miracles like this. When a person starts doing a deed with Istaqamat and steadfastness, Allah and His Rasool sallallahu alayhi wasallam are very happy with that person. And, SubhanAllah, the deeds are presented to the Holy Court, and the rewards come. If a person is steadfast upon his A’maal, the rewards and deeds will come, SubhanAllah. Develop habits such that you will not be able to go to sleep until you complete them, thinking ‘I will complete this and then I will go to sleep. It doesn’t matter how tired I am – I have this much to do and so I will be regular in these actions.’

This does not just apply to the main Wazaa’if your Sheikh has given to you. Anything your Sheikh tells you to do becomes a Wazifah; that becomes your lesson. Any task that your Sheikh assigns to you becomes your Wazifah – it is given through his Karam, through his grace and his generosity. Every action that comes to you from the Sheikh is all Li’llah – it is all from Allah and it takes you to Allah subhana wa ta'ala, even if he says to a Mureed ‘Go and buy shopping for me every day’, or ‘Bring me a vessel of water.’ In our countries, a person might be sent to a well to fill up a vessel or a clay pot, so the Sheikh might say ‘Bring me a clay pot full of water every day.’ That is a Wazifah – it is a task. Every task that a Kamil Sheikh gives to his student is Li’llah - it is for the sake of Allah, and that task will take him to Allah. That is why the student should do such tasks sincerely, thinking ‘My Sheikh has given me this task, so this is my ‘Ibadah. This is my Dhikr, my remembrance.’ For this, Allah subhana wa ta'ala will give rewards. So Wazaa’if are there, like recitation of Qur’an and so on, but if the Sheikh tells you to do some task, then follow it to the letter. If the Sheikh has said this to the student, there is so much Barakah in it. In Tasawwuf, the relationship between Sheikh and Mureed is such that however the Sheikh guides, his guidance is to Allah and for the sake of Allah. Say SubhanAllah! This is Tasawwuf.

My brothers, the pious predecessors of our Silsila have told us about this in detail – it is not some innovation or some made-up thing. Whatever the Sheikh tells you to do becomes your Wazifah. If he says that something is your duty, your assignment, that’s it – be regular and consistent and get on with it quietly. Tests will come. Nafs and shaytan do come, and Wasaawis and evil thoughts, and a person fails if his foundation is weak. Here is when the point about foundation comes in. If he is not consistent and steadfast, when Wasawah comes he will start to feel pressed for time and will make some comments about being tired and then he will stop. That individual fails. That is why, you Saliks, if you wish to graduate at the end of the day, it is not just about Tasbeehs. Rather, your whole life has to be for Allah’s sake. You have to give every second to Allah with courage and determination and perseverance. Always remember that Allah says { وَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَمَعَ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ}. If you keep your foundation strong, if you are regular and steadfast and maintain whatever you get assigned to you, and you do it with happiness and sincerity, then Allah ta’ala promises { وَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَمَعَ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ}. Allah says ‘Behold! Allah is indeed with the doers of good’ until they go into Paradise. SubhanAllah!

So, brothers, may Allah subhana wa ta'ala give us success in this path. These are small points, minor points, but they are fantastic points which make the foundation strong. However, we don’t regard these points and factors as being important. Every person thinks according to his own way and method, so I used to think ‘What can I do to give consistency and regularity to these people? This used to concern me a lot and I would ponder over how to help my students become steadfast, because I knew this was the foundation and that without that, we cannot succeed. So, due to my concern, I used to make a lot of Dua about this, and through the Karam of Allah, Allah ta’ala instilled a point into my heart. What was that? The sheets system!

Look at how this sheets system came about – I am telling you. It was started in the Manchester Khanqah – you will be surprised – after my thinking and pondering, and look how it has developed to where it is today. When the Niyyah is correct, Allah takes you by your little finger and He walks you along, SubhanAllah. My Dua was ‘Oh Allah, I don’t want those who take my hand to slip or fall and fail. I want them to succeed so that I can also be successful.’ I don’t know what my situation will be. It may be that through someone’s assistance or help, I may be forgiven as well -hopefully. If my student succeeds, he will do Dua for me and think ‘Oh let’s do Dua for the teacher as well.’ Obviously, everyone is thinking about himself. So I was concerned about every woman and man who has taken the guidance, and then Allah ta’ala put into my heart a great system.

This sheets system, this analysis system, is guaranteed to make a person steadfast. The miracle of this and the greatness of this sheets system is that if a person starts this sheets system and this analysis of his deeds, and sticks with it somehow or other, and he follows it with Istaqamat and submits them on time, even if there are crosses on them and he goes up and down and is weak and fragile, alhamdulillah, Allah is encouraging him: ‘You keep on with it, and if you are regular with it and keep on track with it, I will give you success.’ That is the sheets system.

But, sad to say, how many colleagues among our menfolk and womenfolk - especially our womenfolk – are lazy and don’t give importance to this system, I am telling you this today, this is from Allah. How could I make this system or start this system or develop it from where it started to where it is today? Look, alhamdulillah, a friend or a person gives an idea, or ideas come into one’s mind, and then you implement them and keep improving it and developing it and keep asking Allah for help at every step to make things easier and simpler to implement so that more people become successful alhamdulillah. And my colleagues, those who are doing this work, alhamdulillah, they also continue to do it steadfastly and don’t make a fuss. This is their Wazifah which they attend to immediately. They have jobs and careers, mashaAllah. There is a team and they do very good work technically. This is a Tariqa to attain Allah, and it is a great way. The sheets system brings regularity and extreme consistency and steadfastness for whoever follows it. This is proved by those who implement it, even if they are weak.

Some people think ‘Oh, I can’t do it – it is too hard.’ Look, the scholars, the Ulema-e-Karam, often do not pay regard to this, but alhamdilillah, there are Muftis and Alims and such good people who do submit their sheets and take this seriously. Alhamdulillah, the Qur’an makes a guarantee for those people – Allah says ‘I am with the doers of good!’ Some people say ‘What good are these sheets for me? I don’t lie, and I pray Salah already’, so for them it looks like a small thing. I have seen many respected scholars who don’t give importance to this. They say ‘Oh, I don’t have time for this. I have to teach Qur’an classes and Hadith classes.’ My brothers, if you are a patient yourself, how will you teach people? If he is a patient, how can he give medicine to those who are sick? He is a patient himself! The Ulema-e-Karam, the respected scholars, need to work harder so that their speeches are correct, their teaching is correct, their work of Tableegh is correct. Those who do Tableegh, who propagate the Deen, they are in great need of Tazkiyyah.

So we need to reform our foundation. Alhamdulillah, we have a great Jamah of Ulema-e-Karam, of respected scholars - Khateebs, speakers, Imams, mashaAllah, Muhaditheen, teachers of Hadith, educated scholars, mashaAllah, who are doing the work of the Deen. They have crushed their desires and have accepted, saying ‘This is my Sheikh and he will take me to Allah.’ They accept the system, and they are working hard. They strive and they submit their sheets. So brothers, the sheets system is fantastic and magnificent and gives you a guarantee, free of charge, as long as you keep submitting it and doing it properly. It doesn’t matter how it is – up or down, negative, whatever – submit the sheets.

Anyway, alhamdulillah, make Dua that Allah gives us the understanding in these few days of life. My friends, this is the generation of Fitnah and we don’t know where the Dunya is going from here. What will be our Hal tomorrow? Nobody knows and there are no guarantees. Did we know that such a sickness would come, and that people would start to die, and Masjids would close? We were just running around enjoying ourselves, trapped in the corners of the world, with no idea that a massive issue was heading our way in the Dunya. And we don’t know how the Dunya is progressing at the moment or what is going on. People are still just running around enjoying themselves. Really, now is the time that we need to focus, to be attentive, and think. We don’t know, we just think Dunya, Dunya, bungalows, houses, just running around blindly. We don’t know.

We should be doing Astaghfar and Dhikr Katheer and Tawbah. We should be repenting more in this age and era – the time is flying past. Look at what is happening around the world! Where have all these things come from? The Adhab of Allah has come – it is a storm. The time of Dajjal and the generation of Mahdi alayhi salam is coming. The call is coming - you can see the vibration; it is there. And all the statements in regard to Dajjal are there. Look at the Ka’abah Sharif at this moment in time, and at the condition of the Haramain Sharifain. Everything in the world has changed, but we are still running around blindly in the Dunya and have no concern and no worries, just four plus four, two plus two, counting this and that, enjoying ourselves, and being drowned in the Dunya.

When Adhab came to previous nations, it would solve their crisis. As for our Adhab and all these signs that have come to us, it has been more than a year and the signs are still there. Our whole world is shaking and afraid because Allah’s Adhab is a sign that something big is about to come. It is very close, and it will change the map of everything around us. But we don’t care. We say ‘What’s this?’ We carry on making houses and shops and money and enjoy life, with no desire for Deen, with no fear, nothing.

Today, the focus and direction has changed. Listen carefully to what I am saying. Everything has come together to tell us that we need to do Astaghfar and true Tawbah and repentance. The Maqam of Tawbah is where we have come to now. Remember this. This is the era and time for Tawbah. Look at your A’maal, at your Hisaab, at your deeds, and have Khawf of Allah. Generate fear of Allah and be afraid. Think! The Adhab of Allah is around us, and we don’t know what is about to happen. We don’t know! The signs have come - momentous times are about to come. May Allah ta’ala protect us all.

So we should work hard, focus, and do Amal on these words. May Allah ta’ala give me the Tawfeeq to practice upon this, and all of you also.

وأخر دعوانا أن الحمد لله رب العالمين

17th Dec, 2020