Sometimes when I look around me and I see what is going on, or when I hear what is going on, I shake my head in sheer amazement or shock. I cannot believe what I see or what I hear. I ask myself at these moments, how it is that after so many talks, so many letters and the reading of so many books, people still do not understand the importance of good character in Islam, or what we call Futuwwah. We all know that Allah Almighty in one of His many praises of His beloved Prophet (ﷺ) mentions the excellence of his character. We also know how Sayyidatuna A’ishah (r.a.) described the character of her husband as being a reflection of the Qur’an. And then on a much, much lower level I have sent to you many letters on the importance of good character and to treat people with honour, respect and deference; irrespective of who they are or the state that they are in. Of course, there are those who fall outside these categories, but that is not what this letter is about. The letter is about how we bring into operation our best characteristics during the different situations we find ourselves in.
All the time I have to speak about decency, honour and deference. Allah Almighty speaks in the Qur’an about the fact that He has honoured all of humanity from the time of Nabi Adam (a.s.). We dishonour ourselves by what we do. Allah Almighty grants us honour, and we say no. I still cannot believe this.
All of the murids, as far as I know are sane people who have gone through long periods of educational programming, who have sat in thousands upon thousands of hours in adhkar and who have spent so many hours in the middle of the night in prostration. Have all of these things not had an impact on the hearts of some of us? It is difficult to say when one listens to what is going on around one.
One of the issues with regard to which I have almost a maximum degree of concern is the issue of women. My respect and regard for them flow from the Divine and Prophetic respect for them. I have read many books of what women have had to go through in the history of humanity, and today, they, with children and senior people, are still the most vulnerable sections of our community and of humanity. It is for this reason that I have placed a canopy of protection, of Naqshbandi protection, over each one of them. They are special to us and they have special protection from us. People must think I am paranoid about them, because I give little recognition to any of the mistakes they make or their transgressions. I always find so many reasons to excuse them if they had made any mistakes, because I know of the Divine and Prophetic regard for them.
You see, when anyone insults a woman or implies an insult then this is a major interference in her personal space, which is there to protect her. It is like pulling off the scarf of a pious woman. The insult and the pain that accompanies it run deep in her personality, because her protection has been penetrated. When I see women crying because of what men do, I know that that is especially recorded by our Lord.
Every woman in the Naqshbandi Tariqah, whether active or not, is under the protection of whatever I can do for them, and when they are insulted that also impacts on my protection of them, because that protection has also been intruded upon. Not only has their own personal protection been penetrated but also the canopy of protection provided by me for them has also been penetrated. I cannot take this as a human being and as a man, and I feel deeply perturbed and deeply personally insulted when one of our lady murids cries, because of what has been done to her, I feel, in a sense, deeply offended because she has come into this Tariqah knowing about the canopy of honour, of deference, of respect, of regard and of love.
In a sense, when she pains or cries because of pain caused by others on her, then I also pain. I find it difficult to look into her eyes, because it is almost as if we had failed her, because she is a woman and not in a position to protect herself, because of her personal and social vulnerability. I want the male murids in our organization to read and to re-read this letter in order to get a clear understanding of the respect this organization has for the lady murids, in particular, and all women in general. This is one of the flags that we raise, and the flags indicate that we put into practice all the teachings of Divine and Prophetic honour that have come for them. Perhaps I go to the extreme but I accept that there are few transgressions committed by them that I will condemn them for. Other than riddah (going out of Islam) and adultery, I will find more than seventy excuses to always explain away any misdemeanors on their part. I want each one of you to be like this; strong in your defence of all womenfolk and strong in your respect and honour for them. We ask Almighty Allah to give us an understanding of the nature of His creation especially since He had brought this creation in existence with Truth, amin. All of His creation fall under this and nobody is excluded especially women. I hope that this is the very last time that I am writing this kind of letter to you and the very last time that I have to pain, because of bad attitudes that our male murids have towards our lady murids.
I think that we should adopt the rule that it doesn’t matter what the lady murids do, they are excused unless it is riddah or adultery, or open defiance of our Lord without a plausible excuse.