There are categories of people throughout the long course of human history, whom we have very little understanding of. The only people who may understand them are possibly those at the same or more superior stations. These are people who have reached such stations by virtue of their acquisition of sacred knowledge, their working tirelessly in His Cause, their involvement in the variety of religious services and their working for the purification of their personalities, or whatever the case might be. To each one of them, it has been a minute by minute struggle at the different levels of their personalities to attain certain graces from their Lord. To them, most of the time, the awareness of wanting to attain these graces is not part of their general consciousness. So this is a strange thing to say but in the many cases that we have come across, we have found these people to be little concerned with reward. The spiritual joy lies primarily in the striving. Of course, the attainment of such graces is a special kind of joy but its attainment is not a conscious step by step walking in a particular direction. We have come to understand their lives like that. On a day to day basis, they strive, work hard, sacrifice; and in all cases trying to be for their Lord. And when the grace does come, it is more like a dull shock than an exuberance.
Of course, you know that we are speaking about the very special servants of our Lord; those to who He has granted a cloak of Divine Friendship, because of what He has made them to achieve. It is strange that we should say: “that what He has made them to achieve.” And not: “what they have achieved.” Our understanding tells us through the little bit of understanding that we have of our Lord’s Decree, that they were chosen, prepared and made to walk a certain path and granted certain achievements. For it is in the application of our Lord’s Decree, that those servants who were going to be special by Him, were going to be placed by their Lord in a spiritual station of unbelievable magnitude.
How many times has it not been mentioned that we are as our Lord wants us to be? Some are given very special guidance and unique direction! We don’t know why. That knowledge is of our Lord’s knowledge; why some have been chosen and others have not. We do not ask why. We do not question because part of our belief system is to accept and one of the characteristics of these servants is their acceptance of whatever their Lord has decreed for them. They are our Awliya’. Some scholars are of the opinion that all the intensely pious groups mentioned in the Qur’an are Awliya’; each group a different category. Perhaps they know.
We are explaining all of this to you from what we have come to know. But that is not what I want to talk about. I actually want to talk about their knowledge. Where do they get their knowledge from and how is it placed in their hearts? How did they become receptacles of knowledge and how is previously useless knowledge replaced by sacred knowledge? We all have so many questions and so little understanding. Whenever I read the account of Sayyidatuna Khidr (a.s.) when Allah Almighty speaks about the fact that He had granted him (a.s.) knowledge from His Presence, which He calls “Ilm min ladunhu”.
Let me digress a little. In one of his recent talks, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, talking about Awliya’ mentions that for all intents and purposes they appear “ordinary”. They eat, drink, sleep, make jokes, laugh, have the normal bodily functions and do most of the things that others do. And so in many cases, many of us are unaware of the actual spiritual station of these people. In some cases even wives and offspring would not be aware. Shaykh Hisham quotes the famous statement of Allah Almighty in which He says that the Awliya’ are “under His Dome”. And so only Allah (ﷻ) knows who they are and in some cases Allah (ﷻ) grants this information to others. When one thinks of this statement of our Lord, one can come to understand that at the station at which they are, they are very special by Him, under His Security and His Protection. Here reference is not made to the ordinary meanings of security or protection but these words refer to special spiritual protection and security. And so, they can become ill, be killed, and all the other things that happen to human beings but their spirituality is of such a magnitude that Allah Almighty refers to them as His Friends.
We do not always understand the meanings of some of the words in the Qur’an. Many of these words have different shades of meaning or hidden meanings or meanings only known by our Lord and His Messenger (ﷺ). The word “Friend” in the Qur’an has nothing to do with the way we understand it. It is the translation of the word Wali’ and refers to the Divine Friendship that Allah Almighty has granted these people. The actual nature of this Friendship, they do not know anything about, even those who had received such Friendship. If one asks any one of the Awliya’ to tell one about the nature of the station they are at, they would not be able to.
Recently, during Mawlana Shaykh Nazim’s illness, Allah (ﷻ) raised him 70 000 darajat or stations. We do not know what this means? In a sense also their actual station by our Lord is only known by Him. This further explains the statement of our Lord that the Awliya’ are “unknown” and “under His Dome”. So one might even know that they are Awliya’ but one knows nothing further.
In my studies, and listening to the sohbets of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim and others, and through my own personal experiences, I have come to know that one of the special graces received by the Awliya’, is inspiration from their Lord. So many times in Lefke, Mawlana Shaykh Nazim speaks about this. This inspiration takes two forms; either a subject to be spoken about or the details of the subject. This in no way contradicts the verse in the Qur’an in which Allah (ﷻ) says:
أَلْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِيْنَكُمْ
This day have I perfected your religion (v: 4).
These inspirations do not bring additional information to the Qur’an or the Prophetic statements but it brings a variety of new understandings to the words of the Qur’an and those Prophetic Statements. It is in these inspirations that the special graces lie; and so they give us an understanding of aspects of Islam that flows into their hearts. Some say that these inspirations are of the Presence of Allah Almighty and from the presence of His Prophet (ﷺ). Whatever the case might be, we do not know, because we do not have access to the sources. Perhaps those to whom it is happening also do not know, because they also do not have access to the sources. They just know that it happens.
In the realm of spirituality, there are matters unexplained and best left unexplained. In some very unique cases certain special Awliya’ might be given some understanding of how ideas move from the Presence of their Lord and His Messenger (ﷺ), to their hearts. It might be so. With regard to inspiration, many Awliya’ have become receptacles of special understandings of matters religious from their Lord. But it is not only this. It is the fact that in many cases it appears as if the inspirations pour out endlessly from their hearts. I remember many years ago when, as a young man, I went to listen to Mawlana Abdul Alim Siddiqi when he visited Cape Town. As a young student I was overwhelmed by the extent of the words pouring from his heart. He just spoke and spoke without any references to papers and books. I have seen Mawlana Shaykh Nazim do the same thing.
I am telling all of you this from my little bit of understanding, because perhaps it will also give you a little bit of understanding. We must show respect to those to whom our Lord has demonstrated His Workings and whom He has placed at special stations. We ask Him to grant to us what He has granted His Awliya’, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]