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Utterances of Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir (Malfuzat)

Utterances of Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir (Malfuzat)

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Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani / Muhtar Holland



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Al-Baz Publishing, Inc

In the original handwritten manuscripts the Malfuzat is usually found as an appendix or attachment to Al-Fath ar-Rabbani [The Sublime Revelation]. It is a collection of many pieces of wise advice that do not fit neatly into the discourses in that book. In it are answers to questions put to him by disciples and those who attended the discourse sessions, extemporaneous advice, and most importantly, the Shaikh discusses the high level of aspiration possible for the ordinary person, and the way to accomplish it. First translation into English, by Muhtar Holland.


A man said to him: "Pray for me [ud'u li]," so the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) replied:

O Allah, let me find all I need in You, to the exclusion of all creatures, and let him find all he needs in remembrance of You, without having to ask.

When someone no longer has any need of creatures, he clings to the door of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), who then enriches him with His nearness. When He has enriched him with His nearness, he becomes too preoccupied with remembering Him and thanking Him to consider asking Him for anything.

When you are deprived of food and water out in the deserts, a fountain will gush forth for you in your own home.

Creatures are the most powerful weapon Satan has against you.

Beautify your heart, then your external appearance [zahir].

The distraction, the whole distraction, resides in the abode of creatures and their dwelling place.

A worthy lover goes forth in search of his beloved. Joseph (peace be upon him) went forth in search of Jacob. Anyone who set eyes on him found him attractive and fell passionately in love with him. He took to wearing a veil, but he was thrown in prison. His only goal was Jacob, none of the others. [In the words of the poet:]

Would that all between me and thee might flourish, and all between me and the rest of the world might lie in ruins!

The crier of the Lord of Truth has come. Abandon the building of creatures:

Until the prescribed term is fulfilled. (2:235)

There is nothing worth talking about until the water has drained away from your frog [difda']. Until the dry land is clear for His worship, your innermost being [sirr] is with Him aboard the ship of His power [qudra]. As He told him [Noah] by inspiration:

In the Name of Allah shall be its course and its mooring (11:41)

-in the ocean of knowledge ['ilm].

Being in the company of the servants of Allah is like being in the company of a lion; fear and wariness are appropriate in both cases. As long as the lion has something else to keep him satisfied, he will not concern himself with you, because all his attention is directed elsewhere, but if you go and bother him instead of retiring to a safe distance, he will savage you. To be in the company of the champion of truth [siddiq] is much the same, because that is how they are in the company of the King.

Among the companions of al-Junaid there was a man who was having doubts about the spontaneously arising notion [khatir]. Al-Junaid was made aware of this, so he asked the man: "What they are saying about you, is it true?" He said, "Yes," [so al-Junaid said:] "Let an utterance come through your heart." The man said, "Very well," and when asked what he had uttered [inwardly], he replied: "I uttered such and such." But [al-Junaid] said: "No, [that wasn't it]!" Then the man tried again, and when he reported [what he had uttered inwardly], he was again told: "No!" He then let one more utterance come to him through his heart, and reported to al-Junaid, who yet again said: "No!" So the man said: "O Shaikh, my experience is genuine, so you had better check your own!" To this al-Junaid replied: "I knew that everything you told me was true. I simply wanted to test the purity of your heart and its steadfastness."

Their hearts [the hearts of the people of the Lord] are the channels of His will [irada], the treasure houses of His knowledge ['ilm], the bosom of His mystery [sirr], the treasure houses of destiny in the Valley of Destiny [wadi'l-qadar]. Whenever their innermost beings [asrar] go on a tour within the precincts of the palace of destiny, they become acquainted with all kinds of knowledge ['ulum] and secrets [asrar].

What can be built with well-propped timber! What can be made of outer forms [suwar] with no inner content [ma'na]?

Deaf, dumb, blind, so they do not understand. (2:171)

A certain person wrote three hundred and sixty stories, delivering one story every day to the local prince [amir]. He never got too bored to keep trying, until at long last he received the official seal of approval he was seeking to obtain. In your case, however, you devote a few short days or a few short nights to making requests of Allah (Exalted is He), then you get bored and resort to creatures instead. Why not remember the man who wrote all those stories?

As long as you remain attached to creatures, you will not prosper. You must turn in repentance from creatures to the Lord of Truth, and let your standing in waiting be at the threshold of the door of His nearness. The hand of love and nearness will draw you in. You will come to be a permanent fixture [hils] of that mansion. Eventually, as you experience all the facilities and amenities, comfort will come to you from every side. Your wing will grow strong and you will fly up to the battlements of that mansion. Those battlements will come to be your tower. If you fall, you will fall into the palace courtyard. You will spend all your time in the presence of the Owner of the palace. You will be a petitioner whose requests are granted.

If you wish to promote the welfare of your fellow creatures, this is how you must go about it, instead of spouting useless drivel. (The Shaikh-may Allah be well pleased with him-was getting at the sermons delivered to the people by the preachers [wu''az].)

To perform the prayer [salat] is to make a connection [sila] with Allah (Exalted is He) after becoming detached from everything other than Him. The body cannot be divided up between two situations, detachment [infisal] from creatures and attachment [ittisal] to the Lord of Truth. This refers to the prayer of the people [of the Lord]. As for the prayer of ordinary servants ['ibad], the way they go about it is to set the Garden [of Paradise] to the right of the heart, the Fire [of Hell] to the left of it, and the Narrow Bridge [sirat] in front of it, with the Lord watching over it. As for the prayer of the lovers [muhibbun], it is detachment from creatures and attachment to Him.

The sure sign that your lower self [nafs] is genuinely in need of food is that you hear something crying from your inner [batin], like the sound made by young chickens. When you hear that sound, you must provide it with what it needs for its survival.

As Allah (Exalted is He) has said:

And He has inspired it [the self] with what is wrong for it and what is right for it. (91:8)

It is He who makes us laugh and makes us weep. (53:43)

You cannot put these two verses of the Qur'an into practice until after the heart has entered the presence of its King. It is only then that the action and the inspiration come about. Before the entry has been made, you must distinguish between a direct inner receiving [warid fi batinika] and a suggestion inspired [ilham] by the devil [shaitan], by a natural impulse [tab'], by a selfish instinct [nafs], or by an angel [malak].

If you wish to join someone's company for the sake of pleasing Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), you must perform your minor ablution [wudu'] with meticulous correctness, while the mind is inactive and the eyes are not wandering. Then proceed to perform your prayer [salat]. You will open the door of the prayer with your ritual purity [tuhur], and the door of your Lord with your prayer. Then ask Him, when you have finished: "Whom should I take as a guide [dalil]? Who is the one who can report on Your authority? Who is the one singled out [mufrad]? Who is the deputy [khalifa]? Who is the delegate [na'ib]?" He is Generous [Karim], He will not let you suffer disappointment. Without a doubt, He will grant inspiration [yulhimu] to your heart. He will grant revelation [yuhi] to your innermost being [sirr]. He will show you a clear sign. He will open the doors to shed light on your path. Someone who seeks and strives will surely find [man talaba wa-jadda wajada].

As for those who strive in Our cause, surely We shall guide them to Our paths. (29:69)

The decisive factor lies within you, not in what he [someone you are thinking of joining] has to say, so when all the angles have converged from your heart's point of view, and everything points to a particular individual, go ahead and join his company. Your fellowship with him should be for you like the fellowship of lions and snakes. Pay no attention to his poverty, the gaps in his pedigree, his straitened circumstances, his shabby appearance and his clumsy mode of expression. What is really significant [al-ma'na] about him resides in his inner being [batin], not in his outer [zahir], not in his physical constitution and not on his face.

Do not be in a hurry to speak, and do not try to get his attention straight away. Be on the lookout for the useful service he performs on behalf of his Lord. He is the clerk, and the instructions he notes down are not for himself but for others. He is an ambassador. He is the waiter, and the dish is for someone else. He is the communicator, and the communication is for someone other than himself. You must therefore be ready to receive what Allah may disclose by means of his tongue. Do not wander out of his sight. Do not overstep his limit, but always stand waiting with head bowed in silence, fearful and timid. Do not harbor doubts concerning his spiritual state [hal], nor about his words and his actions. You must consider him superior to any clever person, and let him steer you from his presence toward his Lord, not toward any other.

The joker you should not encourage. The prattler you should not respond to.

We have been given the same natural disposition as the animals, but the intellect ['aql] discriminates, the sacred law [shar'] discriminates, knowledge ['ilm] discriminates, nearness [qurb] discriminates, direct experience [ma'rifa] and obedient service [ta'a] discriminate, while the original source is One.

If they put their knowledge into practice, when they came across a dead man they would bring him back to life, or in the case of a sinner they would remind him to mend his ways.

Bowls are brought to him in his house, for other people. He proceeds to collect the tax [kharaj] and then, when he has collected it, he hands it over to the King. He also has a salary [jamikiyya]. He takes from the people, but not for himself.

When Allah wishes you well, He wakes you up and makes you aware of your own faults.

Your learned scholar ['alim] is an ignorant man. Your ignorant man is a slanderous liar. Your pious abstainer [zahid] is full of worldly desires.

Do not exploit your religion [din] for worldly gain. Only the hereafter can be gained through religion.

The Shaikh (may Allah the Exalted be well pleased with him) also spoke about His words (Exalted is He):

Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret; He does not love those who go too far in the wrong direction [al-mu'tadin]. (7:55)

He gave this verse of the Qur'an its literal interpretation, since in this context the obvious meaning of al-mu'tadi [singular of al-mu'tadini which sometimes means 'aggressors'] is a person who calls upon anyone other than Him, one who puts his requests to anyone apart from Him.

Abdullah ibn Mas'ud used to say to his companions: "You are the polish [jila'] of my heart." If a person is ready to listen to me for the sake of Allah and for the benefit to be derived from my words, he will be a kind of polish, but otherwise he should stay away from me, for his presence will cast a cloud.

When Abraham (peace be upon him) had escaped from the fiery furnace, and his livestock and servants had come to be many, he had a mansion built in Syria, with numerous entrances. He retired to live there after he had paid off the cost of construction, and said farewell to his people. He went into retirement in order to provide training for his successors [khalaf].

What is "bosom friendship" [khulla]? It is companionship [suhba], loving affection [mahabba] and togetherness [wusla].

Question: Should one follow the verbal teaching [qal] of the guide, or his spiritual state [hal]?

The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) responded to this by saying:

The verbal teaching is what the common people ['awamm] follow, while the spritual state is emulated by the special few [khawass]. Which group do you belong to? Let me feel your pulse, so I can diagnose your condition, show you how serious your sickness is, and cure you. The regular practice of our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) included visiting the sick. We have been prevented from doing that, but we do visit the healthy with our spiritual influence [himma]. Our legs have been prevented from walking to your houses, and our hands from taking your property. We have been so commanded by virtue of the spiritual state [hal] and the decree of destiny [qadar].

The Shaikh (may Allah, Exalted is He, be well pleased with him) also said:

Suppose that a certain man is about to die, leaving ten sons to succeed him, all of them on the same level in terms of dutiful devotion to their father. [According to the Islamic law of inheritance], they would each be entitled to an equal share in his estate, but the father's heart is inclined toward one son in particular, and he wishes that he could inherit the whole of his estate. Then along comes destiny with the decree of death for one son after another, until only that favored one is left alive. He comes into possession of the whole of his father's estate, since the judgment [qada'] and decree of destiny [qadar] have taken effect. Is there anything wrong in this? Let us leave it there for now [ila hahuna wa's-salam].

O Allah, keep creatures at a distance from us. Keep the lower self [nafs] at a distance from us, as well as the passions [ahwiya] and natural urges [tiba'].

You said, "I am afraid of this ocean," yet you are swimming in it, which would indicate the very opposite of being afraid.

Only those of His servants fear Allah who have knowledge. (38:28)

Once they have come to know, they become afraid. You have come to know how harmful the thing is, so be on your guard against it and avoid it. Death will come to you inevitably, so work to be ready for it. O you whose house is without a roof, whose dependants have no flour to make bread, no underclothes to wear and no blankets to cover them! The winter is coming, so be prepared. The commander [amir] is coming, so get down off your high horse. The lion is coming, so beware of the lion of death.

What is the meaning of those words you pronounce while performing your prayer [salat]?

You alone do we worship [iyyaka na'budu], and of You alone do we seek help [wa-iyyaka nasta'in]. (1:5)

[They mean:] "You alone do we obey [iyyaka nuti'u], and You alone do we acknowledge as the One God [wa-iyyaka nuwahhidu]."

When have you ever affirmed the Oneness of the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He)? When have you ever done anything with true sincerity? When have you ever abstained from creatures, from pretense [riya'] and hypocrisy [nifaq] and rowdy contention [sakhab]? When have you ever submitted humbly to the Lord of Truth, with the kind of humility that is experienced in the heart, in private?

If the carnal desire of the lower self [nafs] interferes with someone's vision of the Lord of Truth, he will feel too ashamed to behold Him, so he must get rid of that lustful desire. When will you see Jacob (peace be upon him) biting the tips of his fingers, in your own private space, when your lust [shabaq] is intense? When will you realize what keeps you chaste? That which preserves your chastity ['isma] is the jealousy [ghaira] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). When Joseph (peace be upon him) met that woman, the divine jealousy intervened, so he turned and ran away.

So it was, that We might ward off from him evil and lewdness; he was one of Our devoted servants. (12:24)

When will your condition be transformed into that of Joseph (peace be upon him)? When Joseph (peace be upon him) was made responsible for preserving chastity in the House of Allah and its sacred precincts, he complied with the will of his Lord in his confinement, and He bestowed chastity upon him in his seclusion. This is how you must be, O servants of Allah, O seekers! Borrow the condition of the champion of truth [siddiq]. Ask for it from Allah!

Absolute trust [tawakkul] means cutting off all material means [asbab], letting everything go. When the servant's heart [qalb] is transformed [inqalaba], it will become an angel [malak]. He will hear what the angel hears. He will experience what the angel experiences. Then it will develop even further, so that it becomes a king [malik] ruling over him.

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