Tucson Discourses

May 1978

The Path

Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim

Fuqara'- faqirat. I would like, insha'llah, to say something about Tariq of Allah, the Path to Allah. It can be talked about in different ways, and it can be talked about in different languages, different vocabularies. It is can be talked about using the language of the Qur'an, the language of Allah tabaraka wa ta'ala. It can be talked about using the special language of the people of the Qawm, of the Folk, who have created their own technical vocabulary to describe their ahwal wa'l-maqamat, their inner states and their stations with Allah; the inner states, that only they know about and the maqamat that only Allah knows about, and that the awliya' recognise in them. In other words, they do not recognise their maqam, but they know their hal. You can talk about it in this way.

You can talk about its extraordinary exterior, turuqs: Naqshbandiyya, Shadhiliyya, Darwaqiyya, Chistiyya; about shuyukh: this shaykh and that shaykh; about karamat, about the maqam of this one and the maqam of that one; about Aqtab, Awtad, Salihun – all these different ways you can talk about Tasawwuf. Or you can make up your own story and still talk about it, no one will contradict you. Shaykh al-Fayturi said, "We're not interested in wirds; we're not interested in wazifas, this shaykh and that shaykh, the sadiqun are only interested in one thing: ma'rifa. Recognition of Allah tabaraka wa ta'ala. Nothing else matters. One of the Sufis of the east in Pakistan has said, "Shuyukh do not fly; their murids make them seem to fly. The shuyukh do not fight each other, their murids make them seem to fight each other." In other words, the ahl al-haqiqat, the people of reality, are in complete agreement, in complete harmony, there is no debate between them.

So how are we going to talk about Tariq, about the Way? There is Tariq, and there is Sabil, Sabilillah, fi-sabilillah, in the way of Allah. The tariq, tariqa sufiyya, properly speaking is sabil. Sabil is from a root which means rain. Rain comes out of non-existence, out of the cloud-form and becomes rain. It was cloud, it becomes rain, and it disappears. It completely disappears, and only its results are seen, which is grass and flowers, and food for others. Imam Junayd, radiya'llahu 'anhu, the Imam of the 'Arifeen, and the People of the Tariq, the Tariq of Allah, said, "The Sufi is like dung, turf on the earth and all the different seeds are thrown onto it, and from this, roses and all the beautiful flowers spring up and bloom.

If we want to understand the Tariqa, the Way properly, we must remember the hadith of Sayyiduna Muhammad, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallam. He said, "From my time till the end, there will be no time that is not worse than the time before it." He also said, "If anyone in my time omits one of ten things that are commanded, he will go to the Fire" because he has this tremendous example before him of Sayyiduna Muhammad, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallam. "But a time will come when, if anyone does one out of ten things, he will achieve the Garden."

So we have to things to understand. There is a diminishing of knowledge, a diminishment of knowledge, a disappearance of knowledge off the face of the earth. Also Allah ta'ala's baraka, Allah ta'ala's karamat, the fadl of Allah is so overflowing. Shaykh Ahmad al-Badawi said, radiya'llahu 'anhu, "The fadl of Allah lies in increase." His overflowing is increase. More, more more. This meaning is in an ayat of Qur'an al-Karim, "He never removes an ayat, a sign, but he replaces it with one equal to it, or better than it," meaning in one of its meanings, that when a wali is removed, he is replaced with another wali as good or better than the one who has been.

In this meaning, Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, radiya'llahu 'anhu, said, "My maqam..." and because of his high station, he spoke of his maqam. But this is not the way of the people of understanding, but he said in a moment of delight, "My maqam, when I was teaching at the Qarawiyyin," this was therefore at the whole beginning of his affair, when he was just begun, on the tariqa sufiyya. "My maqam, when I was teaching at the Qarawiyyin, has never been equalled by any wali except Moulay 'Abdal-Qadir al-Jilani, radiya'llahu 'anhu. Moulay Abdal-Qadir al-Jilani is the great Qutb, to whom we all turn, and to whom we all trace our footsteps.

He was indicating by this, that according to the darkness of the age and the ignorance of the age, Allah ta'ala increases blessings among His people. The wali of Bahlil, radiya'llahu 'anhu, said one day while talking with us, "This is an age of shuyukh and no murideen." It's an age of teachers, teachers by the idhn of Allah, and no one will follow them. They are here, there and there, and nobody wants to know. One of the people of the Way used to go into the city and beat a drum and say, "There's knowledge going, who wants knowledge? Come out!" to see who would come, and a few people would come.

Another story told by the men of knowledge is that a faqir was travelling, and he recognised by his heart a great man of Allah coming towards him, and the man was running out of the town, and he said, "Don't go in there." He said, "What is the matter? Is it the plague?" He said, "No, there is a town in which people do not want knowledge."

I am speaking in the language of the people of tasawwuf, knowledge, to the people of tasawwuf as we were talking about this morning with one group, is not contained within the realm of information. Information is the lowest, most limited, and first degree of knowledge after which there are two degrees, each one of them higher than the other, each with its own language, each with its own science, and each with its own zone in which it may be experienced. And people do not know it exists, and when they hear it exists, only a small group of people want to have this experience, to have this knowledge. Why is this? Because we are in an age of outward expansion, and inner contraction. People want to expand outwardly, and therefore they contract inwardly. It's an age where people have no adab, as we say, they have not got manners; and manners are the Path: "at-Tariqa, kulluha adab."

The tariqa is nothing but good manners, and people do not have good manners. They are not able to sit properly. They sit like babies, like children in perambulators: they lounge. Why? Because they are outwardly free. Why? Because they are inwardly imprisoned. Islam is Shari'at. Islam is shahada, salat, siyam, zakat, hajj. All of which are imprisoning, all of which have their conditions, all of which trap you, all of which shrink you, all of which constrict you outwardly, and all of which have their expansion inwardly. This is an age of freedom. People are free: "I do this. I do that. I go with the flow. I do what I like. It doesn't suit me. I don't like it. I have an opinion."

What is opinion? Opinion is something you have been taught by others to have, imagining it is from yourself. Sufis say, "beware of opinion". Why? Not because it is evil or bad or dangerous, but because it gives you kingdom. It enthrones, and it enthrones you in ignorance. Speculation is the way of ignorance. You speculate when you do not know. Tasawwuf is science. Science is from knowledge, and it has no speculation: in its beginning, in its middle, or in its end.

So here we have something called the Tariq of Allah, which has always been used about it, a special vocabulary. This vocabulary has divided people into three groups: the common, the elite, and the elect of the elite, and in every definition the sufis say: the common have this understanding, and the elite have the opposite understanding, and the elect of the elite have both understandings. We have three knowledges, but who takes these knowledges? Who takes them? Who wants them? And where will he get them, and where will he get them? And where will he know he is not getting rubbish? Where will he know he has got the right thing?

Abu'l-'Abbas al-Mursi, radiya'llahu 'anhu, said, "The murid will get the shaykh in accordance with the quality and degree of his himma and his yearning. One shaykh was asked, "Who is the perfect shaykh?" He replied, "Bring me the perfect murid and I will show you the perfect shaykh." Why? Because it's all in the hand of the muridin, but who are the muridin? Murid is from a root which is irada, and irada means will, and it means one who has handed over his will completely to another, that the murid has handed his will completely to his shaykh. Where can you find such people? Only a handful of people. Good weather obedience is no use to anybody. It is only of use when the nafs is constricted, and the nafs rebels and it still obeys: that is the murid. And in that conflict, and in that obedience, is the victory, and the gnosis is glued on to it, by the secret of Allah. And where is that person? That is the murid. That is the one who has the secret already right there at that point, that is the rajulu'llah. It is a tremendous thing. It is a tremendous, tremendous thing.

If I start now, I could go on and never finish, with simply singing the praises of the murid; because all the love of Allah is on him. He is the lover, moving to the Beloved; why is he called the elite if he is not the elite? They are the elite. "The fuqara'," Shaykh Abu Madyan, radiya'llahu 'anhu, said, "are the Sultans." They are the princes. If you are this person, you are this. If you are not, you are not. If you are outwardly a Sultan and outwardly a prince, then know you are not this, because these are sultans of the inward and princes of the inward. Outwardly they are dust and inwardly they are gold. What a rare person that is now. Imam Junayd, radiya'llahu 'anhu, walked through the streets of Baghdad and said, "Where will I find one man in the whole of Baghdad?" One man is all of Baghdad, at the time of Shibli, Hallaj and Junayd, and all these great awliya', radiya'llahu 'anhum.

Al-Hujwiri, radiya'llahu 'anhu, speaking about the time the Companions, said, "Sufism is a name without a reality." So what is it now? "I am this tariq, or I am this tariq. I have this shaykh, or I have this shaykh." Now you have something that is the opposite of Imam al-Junayd. In the days of al-Junayd, if Junayd was there, you clung to him, you would cleave to him, you would not be separate from him, except under his order, and then you wept, and fought, and resisted being separated from him.

And in this age I crossed Islam from one end to the other, and then everywhere in the Umma, I meet people who say, "Oh, I go to Damascus." They say, "I have a shaykh in Cairo. I go to Cairo," and they say, "I have a shaykh in Pakistan. I go to Pakistan." They say, "I have a shaykh in Morocco." What is this? Is this tasawwuf? It's just a picture on the wall. What is that? "I want to be near you." "Go and do your business." "Then we can leave our business and come back": That is the lover. "I don't want to be separate from you." "Go, you have to."

Then in going there is a secret, but otherwise you cleave to the shaykh. Why? Why should you cleave to the shaykh? Is what they say about the Sufis true? Then is it all bida', and someone is being interposed between a man and Allah? No! Who are the Sadiqun? They are those who when you see them, remind you of Allah. They are a mirror for you, in which you may reflect more deeply on the reality of existence, on the truth of existence. What a big thing it is, and when you see these people, when you meet these people, and when you sit with these people. What is it? What is it that passes between you. Someone said to me, "If they knew what we had, they would try to steal it from us." But you cannot steal it. How can you steal it? But what is the murid? Let us go to the source. 'Abdal-Qadir al-Jilani, radiya'llahu 'anhu, is the source of teaching, of tasawwuf. He says, "Be with the shaykh like the dead body is in the hands of the washer." This he says in the 'Ayniyya. Who is this? Who is this person? This is the one who is interesting.

When Hajj 'Isa came out of the khalwa, Shaykh al-Fayturi said to him at the very point that he had arrived at knowledge, gnosis and lights, "Now you are a slave and servant of the fuqara'." When I made Abdal-Kabir muqaddim, and he went to the wali of Bahlil who had told him in advance that he would be made muqaddim, and there was no sign of him being made muqaddim, and he was a perfect nuisance, and he went to him and said, "Now what do I do?" and he said, "The muqaddim is before the fuqara' like a donkey on which all the fuqara' place the load of their troubles and their burdens, and he is behind the fuqara' like a dog, who runs behind them protecting them without them even knowing it. And what is muqaddim? It means the one who goes ahead, and it is a name of Allah, al-Muqaddim, and it is a name of Sayyiduna Muhammad, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

What a tremendous name, and in it are the secrets of 'ubudiyya, in it are the secrets of slavehood, because everything that has an attribute of Allah, exalts Allah, and when it relates to us it brings us low. Because He cannot be associated with anything. He is Exalted and High, and we are low. The Lord is the Lord and the slave is the slave.

Look at this, can you do this in five minutes? Can you reach it in five minutes? Can you get me this in five minutes? Can you put a hat on it and be it? Can you give a hand? I have met again, again, and again people who say, "Oh, I've given my hand to a shaykh." Well, what is he doing with this collection of hands? Is he keeping them in a box? What is this? Is this tasawwuf? Where is your heart? I'm not interested in your hands. I don't want one-handed people. Shari'a tells me you are a thief! Shari'a tells me you are a thief! This is not ba'yat. You cannot say it. Lovers hide their love. Real lovers hide their passion. They do not speak about it. False claimants boast about their amatory adventures. The lover hides, quiet, when everyone else is talking, because they are drinking the experience of love. I have given my hand to a shaykh: What use is that to him? What is he to do with it? It is a big thing.

After Moulay 'Arabi ad-Darqawi, radiya'llahu 'anhu, his khalif was Shaykh Ahmad al-Badawi of Fes. This great wali had two zawiyyas: one zawiyya in Fes, and in this zawiyya there were a group of men who great, great awliya' and salihun, the most exalted among the 'arifeen. There was Sidi Tayyib, Sidi Muhammad ibn Huwari. These men were all very exalted walis, and they were all in the zawiyya of Ahmad al-Badawi, radiya'llahu 'anhu. The shaykh was quite old, and one day as happens in the nafs of the great, there rose up in them this desire for leadership, and they started to question who would be the next shaykh, and by ishara the shaykh knew and became very angry. He came in and he said, "All of you fuqara' here get up. I want you to sweep and clean the zawiyya so that there is not one speck of dust." So they rolled up their burnooses and their djellabas and they took the broom and swept the zawiyya until it was spotless. He came down and said, "This is disgusting. Do you call that clean? Look at that over there - it's filthy. Clean it." And they cleaned it. He came down and said, "Tut, tut, tut. You haven't listened to me. What is this? Are you making fun of me? Look at that. Look at that there. Clean it up. Clean it up or you'll all be thrown out," and he went away. And they scrubbed, and they scrubbed, and they scrubbed, until the thing was like mirror.

The shaykh came back and said, "What is that? Look there's dust," and the heart of Muhammad al-'Arabi was breaking in his breast, as he got down on his knees and he swept the floor with his beard, and it was by this that Ahmad al-Badawi saw his khalif and his inheritor, and it was this moment the ahl as-sufiyya said in Morocco, at this moment was demonstrated the greatest manzil with Allah that could be shown on the face of the earth. And on this action his name spread right across North Africa, all the way into the Hijaz, to Makka. Do you understand? Do you understand what I am saying?

Not obedient: in love. It is poetry. It is a song. What a thing to do from the heart! How beautiful! It is Majesty becoming beauty. This is tasawwuf. This is knowledge. Where is that out there in the mall? How, where would you begin? What are you to talk of? What are you to talk of? Haqiqa? To savages? Sayyiduna Muhammad, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "Speak to people according to their understanding."How the understanding of Sufiyya, the understanding of ahl al-haqiqat is so great, is so tremendous, their intellects begin where everybody else's intellects stop. Not by ratiocination, not by thinking, but by hal, by dhawq, by khawf, by fear, by weeping, and by trembling, and by darkness and dhikr in darkness, outward darkness, inward light, By muraqaba. Muraqaba is watching. You cannot talk about it until there are people who are attuned to it. You cannot attune to it if you cannot even sit down. You cannot attune to it if you cannot sit still. Shaykh Sidi al-Jamal, radiya'llahu 'anhu, used to say, "Fold your hands, lower your eyes, don't move, or I'll fly away and leave you." Do you see? Outwardly you do this, inwardly you do that. That is all. But who can do it for a minute, for five minutes?

How interesting, how fascinating for the human creature is that he wants something he is not prepared to pay for. He would not do it in the mall. He would be arrested, but he will try to do it with haqiqat. You can steal the object, but you cannot steal the subject. Knowledge is not given away, It is already yours. You discover you have it. How do you discover you have it? By adab. at-Tariqa kulluha adab. Manners. You have to start from the beginning. There are groups of Sufis from here to Karachi, from Karachi to Bangladesh, from Bangladesh to Malaysia, from Malaysia to Indonesia, back around to California. But this, a few, just a few, but it is nothing new. There have always been a few. Why are they called the elite?

Shaykh Abu'l-'Abbas al-Mursi, radiya'llahu 'anhu, said, 'It is easy: it is easy to find Allah. It is easy to be gnostic, but it is very difficult to find the shaykh." In other words, when you have found the shaykh, he means then the meeting with Allah is an easy business. Allah is hidden in the matter of the finding of the shaykh. And who is the shaykh? Shaykh Sidi Muhammad ibn al-Habib, radiya'llahu 'anhu, said openly who they are: "There is a light before he speaks, and by the dhikr of la ilaha'llah he removes temptation from you, and he lifts you up. He lifts up your hal, just by a glance, just by looking." Shaykh Ahmad al-Badawi, radiya'llahu 'anhu, said, "One glance from the shaykh wipes out a thousand wrong actions." But for whom? There is beauty in the glance, and there is majesty in the lowering of the eyes. And the murid is a lover who flutters between beauty and majesty, now looking, and now hiding, stealing glances of the shaykh; and the shaykh, according to Ibn 'Ashir, radiya'llahu 'anhu, makes du'a, presenting his slave to his Lord when he encounters Him, the shaykh puts his slave before his Lord in supplication, that is why Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, radiya'llahu 'anhu, said, "If you see me you will reach Allah. If you see one who has seen me, you will reach Allah.

Because it means this is your mirror. You are the eye looking into your mirror, the world is before you as a mirror, and if you have come to look here, you have come to look into yourself, to see into your heart, that you are the gnostics of Allah. That you are the elite, that you are the selected ones, that you are the beloved ones, of whom Allah ta'ala has made this special compact, and of whom the ordinary ones among you speak of nearness for that would imply two. That would imply dualism, and not tawhid.

These are knowledges, these are awarenesses, these are experiences. Look at the title of al-Makki's book Qut al-Qulub, Nourishment of Hearts. Is your heart nourished? From where will it be nourished? From where will it be nourished if not from the light of Allah? Are you animals or are you khalifs of Allah? Are you khalif? Are you really khalif? One who stands in? In the absence of Allah. What a tremendous thing Allah has made you. Do not belittle yourselves. The fuqara' they are the princes, they are the sultans. Abu Madyan says, "When will my ear have news of them? When will my eye have the sight of them? "This yearning, this longing for fuqara', why? Because they are the dhakireen, they are the people who love Allah, who speak Allah, who yearn for Allah, whose life is for Allah, who love Allah, who act by Allah, whose existence is by Allah, who cannot settle for dunya, cannot settle for shirk, cannot settle for idolatry, despite themselves, because of themselves, despite themselves, and because of Allah.

Because you belong to Him. Even if your love of Him is His decree, gnosis is a gift, but you are a gift, what are you to say of this? Where are you in it? Do you yearn for a gift being already a gift? What place have you? What right have you? What claim have you on anything? Nothing exists except Allah. Haqiqa is tremendous. If I went out now to the mall and said this, I would be arrested as a lunatic, not as an evangelist. You cannot declare this except to the lovers. When he talked of matters to do with gnosis, Imam Junayd, radiya'llahu 'anhu, locked seven doors. He did not speak until he had locked seven doors. They were behind seven doors before he opened his mouth.

Why? Because it is pure knowledge of hadith, because obeying orders of the Allah, "speak to people according to their knowledge," and more than that from that, from the hadith of Abu Hurayra, radiya'llahu 'anhu, in the Sahih collection of Imam al-Bukhari when he says, "I have two bags. I took two bags from the Prophet, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallam. One of them I have told you. If I revealed the other to you this throat would be severed from my body."

Shaykh al-Akbar Muhyid-din Ibn al-'Arabi, radiya'llahu 'anhu, says in reference to the throat indicated that he was talking about dhawq, about taste, because the throat is the organ of taste, and so he meant these: I took from him, salla'llahu 'alayhi wa sallam, the knowledge, dhawq, that if I had spoken these, I would have been killed." It is the Sufis who say, 'If he speaks these things, he is halal meat for us." These are the Sufis who say this, not the people of the Shari'a. Outside Shari'a, inside haqiqat. Zawiyya in Thursday, Jumu'a on Friday.

The true tariqa sufiyya do not go to their own place on Jumu'a. They go with the people because they are 'abd, they are slave of Allah. Everything confirms Shari'a outwardly. They pray with them, and they fast with them, and they pray 'ids with them. Because all this is nawafil, all this is extra, all this is nobody's business. It is Allah's business. If you speak about it in the market-place, you are not speaking about it among the people of Allah. Tasawwuf has three rules.

One is keeping company, which is what we are doing, sitting, because by this everything happens, transformation of the inner awareness happens. The lubb is transformed by keeping company. Two: listening, listening means that you do not move, not a muscle, that you sit like a slave, not a child, not like a prince. Listening means you listen with your ears and your knees, all of you. Thirdly, acting on what you have heard, in other words when it comes your way and it is for you, you do not spit it out. That's tasawwuf, finish.

Who is ready for that? Who wants that? A handful of people. Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq, radiya'llahu 'anhu, shaykh of our shuyukh, has said, "There is nothing worse than an ignorant Sufi." Who is an ignorant Sufi? An ignorant Sufi is a Sufi, say I, who is unbridled, who is not tied up. When Sidi Muhammad ibn al-Habib, radiya'llahu 'anhu, took a faqir, he said, "I put a halter around your neck. Will you accept it?" That was his opening. If they said, "Yes," there was a contract between them. What a tremendous thing, what a wonderful thing, and how utterly incapable of access to those whose hearts are not desirous of the face of Allah.

Al-'Aziz. Huwa'l-'Aziz, al-'Azizu. 'Aziz means "the Hard of Access, Difficult of Access, Mighty," and the 'Aziz is the Hakim, the Wise. There is wisdom in this, because ma'rifa is for the 'arif, as honey is for the bee, filth is for the fly and honey is for the bee, so the advice of Ahl as-Sufiyya is to advance quickly when you hear this news from the realm of thinking and talking to the realm of action. Shaykh al-Fayturi says, "Quickly move to deeds. Quickly move to action."

What is action? It is to move into the practice of dhikrullah. "Ya ayyuha'lladhina amanu'dhkuru llaha dhikran katheeran wa sabbihuhu bukratan wa asila." (33:41) Dhikr, dhikr, dhikr, with the tongue, dhikr with the members, until you have dhikr of the heart. But dhikr is dhahir, dhikr is outward, on the tongue. Fikr is inward: move from the sensory to the meaning, from the hiss to the ma'na, that you move from ma'na to sirr, from ma'na to secret. This is our business.

It is tiered, it is built on stages, and what are the stages? The stages are service of the fuqara', adab among the fuqara', adab with the shaykh, and the highest adab: adab with the shaykh, and adab with the ikhwan. Then you will arrive at knowledge, you will reach the goal in a short time, Shaykh al-'Alawi, radiya'llahu 'anhu, said, "We do not ask years of you." But to whom does he say this? Not to the common people, but to those people who yearn, at the cost of their life's blood if necessary. Many people have a romance of Sufism, because when they read the thoughts of the east, they thought it was poetry. When they read that the cost of this was tears of blood, they thought it was poetry, romance, and how beautiful, and yes, yes, we all love Allah. And they meant it. Until you're broken, until you're finished, until there's nothing left of you, you are a lover.

[NOTE: The transcription ends at this point, which was not the end of the talk.]

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