In one of the many Holy Traditions, Allah Almighty uses the word “dome” to describe His Protection of the very special pious people on this earth. He says in this Tradition that nobody knows them and they are under His dome. Of course, we can only assume that Allah Almighty’s use of the word ‘dome” has to do with His Protection and Security for those that he has granted unique stations.
In part of this letter, I want to use the word “dome” in another way to indicate the protection that we have come to find in the Sufi Orders. In a certain way, these Orders are all also under a dome, but it is a socio-religious dome under which we can all find protections. On many occasions I have asked myself: In this world with its disorder, social dislocation, religious deviation, and so many other things, where do I run to? Where do I go for my Lord’s shelter in a world in which there is almost no shelter for those who try very hard to turn to their Lord? It should have been easy to find shelter, but the systematic destruction of the teachings of Islam accompanied by so much disobedience of our Lord, has destroyed most of the shelter that Islam used to provide for its followers.
I still want to run to find my Lord’s shelter, because finding shelter is part of our earthly protection, part of our security on this planet, a part of our religious peace. In the past, the religion of Islam used to provide all of this for the shelter seekers. Some of us still run to mosques thinking that perhaps that is the shelter but during this period of human history, what is left of the shelter of Islam is almost nothing.
I ask again: “Where do we run to?” Each one of us requires a place to run to but there doesn’t appear to be anything or there appears to be very little. When one examines all the Islamic institutions and structures, then one asks: What are found in those institutions and structures to give one the religious protection and peace that one needs? The only answer that one can give is: There is nothing. All over the world today there is so much deviation from what we call Mainstream Islam that the vast majority of Muslims find themselves rudderless and therefore directionless. One feels sorry for them when one sees their actions and listens to the things they say. They live without goals and without purpose, they embrace what is ritual and they think that they are embracing what is worship. This is a major disillusionment; not knowing what one embraces.
You see, when we talk of shelter, we talk of being in a situation in which one worships in terms of the Divine Law and on the basis of the beliefs that come out of that Law. To do this one must be in a space in which that Divine Law operates, and operates in the minds and hearts of the pious. If the hearts of the pious are not operating in the remembrance of their Lord within spaces in which the Divine Law operates, then what is there for us? Is there any place where there are hearts remembering their Lord? Is there any place where there is Divine Law operating? Is there any place where there is Divine Grace and Mercy? How can we live in a space and none of His Friends are there? It is through the hearts of His Friends that He is remembered. And it is through these hearts that others remember Him. It appears for all intents and purposes, that His Friends have gone into hiding or perhaps Allah (ﷻ) has hidden them under His Dome. But what about us? We need those Friends. We need to try to link with their hearts. If there are no Friends, Islam will disappear, because over the centuries, Islam has lived only where His Friends lived and His Names were remembered because of them.
I want to suggest that our shelters are the canopies of His Friends. It is in their personal space that we find the shelter we are looking for. They are the truly obedient ones seeking their Lord’s blessings and when their names are mentioned, the blessings pour down on those who mention those names. So, if you cannot find them, you can find shelter by mentioning their names. Strange thing to say?
Where do we go if there are no domes? Where do we go if we do not know who His Friends are? Surely, our Lord would not have left us in the lurch when it comes to the need for shelter. He has left us with the memories and the teachings of His Messenger (ﷺ) and by mentioning his (ﷺ) name and reciting peace and salutations upon him, whether individual or in groups, our Lord sends over us a dome of angels to give us the shelter we are yearning for. And then the rest are the pious people from his (ﷺ) generation up to today. I feel very confident that when their names are mentioned within supplications we make, our Lord graces us with very special blessings, blessings which form a shelter for us in a community or world of very little shelter. We have to source those unique individuals in human history who, when their names are mentioned, especially in supplications, then the acceptance of those supplications brings about a Divine response of blessings for us. May I be brave enough to say that the shelters we are all seeking are to be found in the blessings which our Lord sends us through the supplications we make and in which their names are mentioned? Can one imagine the Divine response to the mention of His Messenger (ﷺ)? Can one imagine even further to the Divine response to the inheritors of the Messengers? And can one further imagine the Divine response during the last third part of the night when His servants are on the cold of their prayer mats calling out to Him? These responses are rare but they are there, and it is these responses that give us the shelter to our religious peace and contentment that all human beings need. It might appear, as I have stated in the beginning of this letter, that there are no more shelters, but while we have the names of His Messengers and Prophets, and the names of uniquely pious people over the centuries; we can draw on these names and through them for the religious shelters that we need in our striving for spiritual stations. Can there be striving without shelters? Can there be shelters without the uniquely pious? We do not think so. Has death closed the doors on the impact of past generations or is death just a door which is still a means of entrance to what we can gain from them? In this age, we must learn to be with His Friends. It is in the hearts of His Friends that His Beautiful Names vibrate and perhaps when we are in the company of these Friends, those vibrations can also reach our hearts. Perhaps it is so, I do no know. What I do know is that our Lord will not deprive us in any way because of historical circumstances. His Attributes are available but we have to find a means of accessing them. We can access them through His Friends. We ask our Lord for that, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]