I have, over the years, examined people’s behaviour in the presence of the pious. At times I was very pleased with the extent of the adab of some people but I was also very displeased with a lack of adab shown by murids towards the shaykh or to other very pious people.
One of the things that we have learnt is not to ask your Shaykh for anything or to question him on any matter. If there is anything that he wishes to tell one, he will do so. But we all have to be very careful about the kind of instructions he gives us. We found, in many cases, people misinterpreting these instructions to satisfy their personal desires or wants. This misinterpretation leads to all kinds of difficulties that people put themselves through.
In my own personal case, I do not know whether I have ever asked Mawlana anything to do with my future activities. Over the years I have just sat very quietly in his presence, and if there was anything he wanted to tell me, he would do so. This happened on a number of occasions. Most of the time on these occasions, he would talk to me privately about certain matters. Because he spoke to me in private, I seldom repeated to others what he told me. I remember, on one occasion, I asked him about tayammum; if I could rather take tayammum in my room than go down all the way to the wudu khana to take wudu. We are telling you these things, because on numerous occasions we have seen the difficulties people put themselves in, because they question Mawlana about this or that with regard to themselves. Even with regard to khalwah, I have never said a word. If he wanted to put me in seclusion, he would have done so, but I never asked.
I have told you so many times, and I am going to repeat this again, the murid with regard to his Shaykh must be like a dry leaf in the wind or a corpse in the hands of the washer. In other words, we do nothing or say nothing unless your shaykh makes you do those things or say those things. So, to question your shaykh, let us say on seclusion for you, is totally out of the question. If you are like a dry leaf in the wind, you will wait for the wind to blow you somewhere, and leave it at that. I do not know what is going to happen in the future with Mawlana growing old so rapidly or with his bodily weakness, but if anyone is able, in the future, to visit him, just greet him and if he asks if there is anything you wish to say, just say: “It is as Mawlana wishes”, and leave it at that. During the times when he wanted to speak to me about certain matters, he would either make an appointment for me to see him or, on one other occasion, when he dismissed everybody from his table, he told me to wait. After everyone had gone, he spoke to me and my son.
The Awliya’ of Allah Almighty are very special and unique individuals. Their specialty has to do with the relationship that their Lord has established between Him and them. It is a deeply spiritual relationship based on the love of his Lord for His servant. Part of this relationship with his Lord is also, I am sure, a very special relationship with Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). What this means, is that when you sit in the company of the Awliya’ and they engage you in conversation, or whatever the case may be, you are sitting in the company of an individual who occupies a very unique station by his Lord. Under normal circumstances, when one meets certain very special people such as a great intellectual or theologian or politician, then one shows deference. How must the deference not be for an individual who is destined to occupy a pulpit of light on the Day of Resurrection? This deference is not only because of his station by his Lord, but also because of the positive vibes that flow from his heart to your heart. Nothing flows from the heart of the great theologian or intellectual or politician. Perhaps one can learn from what they say. With the Wali, the situation is totally different. He can influence one without saying a word. And this is what Mawlana does. He passes on to his murids certain spiritual presents in a heart to heart encounter, and he is able to raise that murid to different stations according to the abilities that his Lord has granted him. I remember sitting in the car with Mawlana and Shaykh Hisham on the way from the airport to my home. Shaykh Hisham asked Mawlana whether he had given something to me and Mawlana said: “I had already given him that at the airport”. It had to do with the Asma-ul Husna’, but do not ask me what it was, I do not know. Shaykhs grant their murids different things in different ways. Can you now understand why, in the presence of your shaykh, you must have maximum deference and respect? He might be involving you in certain spiritual gifts at the time of you being in his presence. This is the other reason why one must sit quietly.
There is one other matter. I remember that when he had told me that I should leave the “break-aways” alone, I wrote back to him explaining how I was going to try to get one of the “break-aways” back to our structures. He replied to me: “Do as you wish”. I thought at the time that he was giving me permissions to do with choice. Actually, it was a reprimand. When your shaykh gives you an instruction, don’t come with better suggestions or ideas. Carry out the instructions.
I have spoken to you considerably in this letter about how you should be with your shaykh and on a much lesser scale, with his representative. I see so many wrong things all the time and get so many negative vibes. What are some of the murids up to? I worry about some of their hearts, because these hearts tell me a different story. Perhaps one should feel sorry for them. We ask Allah Almighty to make our hearts pure for each other, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]