We need not tell you this, but you know, that out shaykh, under all circumstances, is Mawlana Shayklh Nazim al-Haqqani from Cyprus. We have all pledged on his hand; either directly, or indirectly through me. When we pledged it was a pledge to Allah Almighty with regard to our new orientation in Islam. The pledge might not have looked significant but it involves the turning of one’s heart by one’s Lord, to one’s Lord. In the process, we took a major step away from our activities that we were involved in, towards activities that have to do with the Hereafter. This is what it was supposed to mean, and we are sure that in many cases it means just that. We have seen the dramatic changes in some of you. I have seen how some of you have acquired the ability to listen and to obey, as a consequence of your pledge to your Lord. Our religion became different. It became an approach in which our Lord involves our hearts with those activities that brought us “nearer” to Him. We have seen this in so many of you. And I feel good about that.
Each one of us must understand that after Allah Almighty and His Messenger (ﷺ) who occupy positions of centrality in our lives, comes Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani, our shaykh. Always it is Allah Almighty and His Messenger (ﷺ), and then it is our shaykh, because he is now centrally occupied with our spiritual guidance. His centrality with regard to our spiritual guidance in no way impedes on the centrality of our Lord and His Messenger (ﷺ) in our lives. We must understand all this. The basis of all this is to listen and to obey.
I do not want to reach that stage in my life in which I do not want to have anything to do with certain people. Mawlana has appointed me as his representative, as he says, not as I say nor as you say. It is as he says. And so I am tasked with performing certain deeds that he is unable to do, because of his distance from us and because of my nearness to you. These deeds also have to do with how he makes use of my “heart” to penetrate your hearts. How many more times must I make it clear that your presence at our gatherings, whatever their nature might be, has to do with how he is able to be occupied with your hearts. If you are not present at these gatherings then there is very little connection, if not none between him and you. This whole process that we are talking about was explained to me by Shaykh Hisham and we have also read about this in some of Mawlana’s talks. When one does not attend these gatherings, one loses a number of things: the spiritual benefits of the adhkar, the spiritual and other benefits of the small talk, and the spiritual links that are established through the dynamics operating at these gatherings.
We must start to understand how our relationship with our shaykh works in Tasawwuf. It is not the nonsense that people talk about. It has to do with the important establishment of spiritual links for spiritual progress between one and one’s shaykh through his representative. That is why so many of you are making little spiritual progress, because you are not at those gatherings at which the spiritual links come into operation. I want to say again what I have said so many times with regard to several matters, this has very little to do with me. It has to do with each one of you to obtain the intangible benefits that come to you through the variety of spiritual links that come into operation at the gatherings I am talking about. If one is not there, there is no link to one’s heart, and there is no spiritual progress in this way. The role of the shaykh is not as people think, because they do not know and they do not understand. That is why when people disobey and stay away and imagine that they are still on the path of spiritual progress. What can I say and what can I do? One’s imagination can tell one a lot of things but the reality is a different matter.
Some of these things have to be said not because I want to blow my own trumpet. I am not interested in trumpets at my age. These things have to be said to give each one of us an understanding. We do stupid things and our imagination tells us we have done well. How can one do well when you disobey your shaykh and absent yourself from those gatherings at which his representative is present? I just shake my head in amazement at how one’s imagination or one’s ego can take over guidance. We lose and think we are gaining. We are slipping away from the path and we imagine that we are moving towards our goals. In many cases, of course, our minds tell us all kinds of stories to justify what we do. You see, it is so easy to play games; in Tasawwuf and in Islam, generally. But what do we gain from games …? Only little bits of self-satisfaction are gained.
It is our duty or our duties as murids to reassess very seriously our relationship with our shaykh and how that works, and to come to understand the full dynamics of all aspects of that relationship. We must be careful of the conclusions we come to with regard to our spiritual progress; conclusions which are figments of our imagination. It is far better to obey the basic rules, because it is the basic rules that have taken some to wonderful stations. O yes, Allah (ﷻ) has granted some wonderful stations. Examine the lives of those people and you see their obedience to their shaykh, their always striving after knowledge, their working for Islam amongst the poor, and their prostrations to their Lord. Look at those who have succeeded in our history and then look at ourselves. We must ask Allah Almighty to make us of His sincere servants, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]