In a previous letter to you, I mentioned that Futuwwah is the best possible behaviour that one can have towards Allah Almighty and His Messenger (ﷺ).  There are also a number of other categories and in this letter I wish to cover Futuwwah towards the inheritors of the Prophets (a.s.).

Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) is the major religious guide for all of humanity.  With his (ﷺ) demise, he (ﷺ) left the guidance to his (ﷺ) Companions whom he (ﷺ) referred to as stars.  Of course, the Companions here included the members of his (ﷺ) family who had been defined in different ways.  One of the interesting definitions of his (ﷺ) family, which is not a definition which I am using here, is that his (ﷺ) family are the members of his (ﷺ) household. Another definition is all those who follow him (ﷺ) in Islam are his (ﷺ) family, the definition I am using here. On another occasion Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) referred to his (ﷺ) family as being all those who fear Allah (ﷻ).  The designation of his (ﷺ) Companions (r.a.) as stars is very interesting, because at that time stars were used to guide boats to their destinations; and so his (ﷺ) Companions (r.a.) were those who would help to guide us to our religious destinations.  We could follow the faith and practice of either one or many of them.  If they were stars, what must he (ﷺ) not have been?

His (ﷺ) Companions (r.a.) therefore became the major religious guides after his (ﷺ) demise.  There were about 124000 Companions (r.a.) to provide guidance to the Muslim Ummah.  Those who followed them (the Tabi’un) continued their work as guides, and then those who came after them (the Tabi’u Tabi’een) were the next generation to perform the important religious task of providing the Muslim Ummah with the guidance they needed according to the teachings of Qur’an and Sunnah.  This involved primarily the first three generations after Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ).  After this, Islam spread widely through Africa into Europe and through Asia.  Allah Almighty did not leave the Muslim nation in the different parts of the world without any human guidance.  Of course, the Qur’an and the Sunnah were there, but people still needed very special pious scholars to help them in their day to day application of the rules and regulations of Islam and to travel with them on the path of spirituality and give them a special understanding of the sciences of the Hereafter.  These intensely learned scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets (a.s.).  Of course the question that arises is: “What did they inherit?”  Some say that they only inherited knowledge.  This definition of the inheritance of the Prophets (a.s.) as only knowledge, leaves much to be desired.

The question also means: “Who are the inheritors?”  There are those who are of the opinion that the inheritors are those intensely pious scholars, Awliya’ of Allah Almighty, whose teachings and presence in communities bring about major qualitative changes in the practice of Islam in those communities.  Although they are steeped in knowledge, it also appears that they receive major inspiration from the heavens – knowledge from His Presence.  These people are so special that they stand out prominently in the religious landscapes of the Muslim communities throughout the world.  This is one definition.  Another definition says that in South Africa, for example, the inheritors of the Prophets (a.s.) are all those classified as ulama, i.e. all the muftis, mawlanas, imams and shaykhs.  There are so many differences amongst these people and so many different levels of education that I find this definition a little difficult to accept.  One of the reasons for people not really understanding who the inheritors of the Prophets (a.s.) are, is, because they have not met any of them.  I’ve had the honour of meeting people such as Mawlana Fadlul Rahman al-Ansari (an extremely learned scholar in all fields of secular and religious knowledge and an international missionary and a deeply pious man), Shaykh Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki (head of the Alawi Tariqah, a Maliki jurist, intensely pious and one who travelled all over the world to spread the message of Islam), and Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani (a Hanafi jurist with major qualifications in chemical engineering, and is considered by many as one of the leading Awliya’ on the Dunya today.  He has opened the hearts of thousands of people to the Shahadah).  These people and others like them are the inheritors of the Prophets (a.s.).  They have inherited knowledge not only in the normal way, but also through inspiration.  Their primary concern is Allah Almighty and they sacrifice their time, life and energies in His Cause.  They are considered to be of the Friends of Allah (ﷻ), living intensely pious lives and concerned primarily with the sciences of the Hereafter.  They form the cream of the Muslims, standing out as major revivalists of Islam during the period they lived in.  The inheritance they received, from one or other Prophet (a.s.) is in the fields of knowledge, piety and working in the Cause of Islam.  When one meets these people, as I have done, one just sits in awe of them; like the Companions (r.a.) when they saw the Prophet (ﷺ), they were so stationary that they hardly moved.  They were in deep awe.  My awe is of a much lesser nature.  It is difficult to see how the inheritors of the Prophets (a.s.), inheritors of the highest categories of man, can be other than those who are considered today to be in very high spiritual categories.

What is our Futuwwah with regard to them?  From my experience, when I am in the presence of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim, I do not sit before he sits (unless he tells me), eat before he eats or walk before he walks.  I never have anything to say to him, and I just sit quietly, listening to him, answering his questions or just looking at him.  If he gives me an instruction which is contrary to the adab, then I obey the instruction before the adab.  How else can one show respect to an individual of such an immense calibre?  For one it is already an honour to be in his presence or to share his food with him.  In any case, his presence is so overwhelming that one finds it difficult to say anything to him.  This is the Futuwwah with regard to these people.  I also ask permission to visit him and I also ask permission to leave.  If he is an inheritor of the Prophets (a.s.), which I believe he is, then I find it very difficult to show proper adab towards him.  I just hope all the time that the adab that I do show is acceptable by Allah Almighty.  A lot of this is lost today.  You find people, here and overseas, whose egos are so massive, that they criticize people of the calibre of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim.  It is of the nature of things today that people have very little respect; not for Allah (ﷻ), not for His Messenger (ﷺ) and not for the Awliya’.

 [Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]

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