Key to the Inner Secrets – Lesson Three

A Summary of Lesson Three of Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz’s commentary on “Miftah al-Sarair” (“Key to the Inner Secrets”) by his ancestor, Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim. The book contains essential advice for every seeker.


Abandoning Love of the Dunya

Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim (may Allah have mercy upon him and benefit us by him) says:

“My brother, you must abandon the dunya inwardly and outwardly.”

To abandon the dunya outwardly is to avoid that which is dubious and disliked and to spend what wealth you have in the best way

To abandon it inwardly is for your heart not to incline towards it, love it or venerate it. You are not happy if you gain something worldly and you are not sad if you lose something worldly. Your heart should be focused upon Allah and that which draws you closer to Him and pleases Him.

It has been narrated that “Love of the dunya is the head of every bad deed.”  All types of bad deeds are the result of the heart being attached to the dunya. The one who abandons it for Allah’s sake has cut off the head of wrongdoing and when you cut the head off something, it dies.

“Love of dunya and love of Allah cannot be united in a person’s heart just like fire and water cannot be united in one vessel.”

We must spend our lives nourishing our love for Allah until Allah and His Messenger ﷺ are more beloved to us than anything else. This is achieved by protecting our hearts from anything which contradicts that love. Firstly we reject disbelief and disobedience and then disliked and dubious things. Then we do not seek that which is in excess of our needs and we do not envy those who possess worldly things. If our hearts are free from these things then they are ready to receive the love of Allah.

When people complained about how expensive certain things were, the pious would say to them: “Make them cheap.”

“How?” they said.

“By not buying them.”

You find people complain about the cost of things but then buy more than they would normally buy and thus increase the price. If no one were to buy them, their price would go down.

Allah said to the dunya: “If someone serves Us, then serve him but if someone serves you, then use him.”

Shaykh Abu Bakr was in complete service of Allah, and as a result both the dunya and the akhirah served him.

Allah blessed him with such plentiful provision that every day he would bake up to a thousand loaves of bread to feed his guests and visitors. He had far more guests than any ruler in Hadramawt at the time. In spite of this, he instructed the women who were baking not to make the loaves too large since he was an ordinary man and not a king.

A poor dishevelled woman once came to the Shaykh’s house with a handful of grain. She wanted to give it to him in person but the Shaykh’s servant refused, telling her that the Shaykh was resting and he would not disturb him for the sake of this tiny amount of food. This upset the the woman but the Shaykh, however, appeared and welcomed her, graciously accepted her offering and gave her gifts in exchange. He said: “You have taken so many steps to come here for Allah’s sake and you have given us so many grains, all of which you will be rewarded for.” She left overjoyed.

He then chastised his servant, saying: “Had we not shown gratitude for small things, great things would not have been given to us. You looked at the amount of food and not at her intention and the effort she had made. Beware of hearting people’s feelings and belittling any blessing.”

This was the way of the Prophet ﷺ , who would venerate every blessing, however small it was. He once found a piece of food on the floor. He picked it up and said to Sayyidah Aishah: “Take care of these blessings for once they leave, seldom do they return.”

Shaykh Abu Bakr tells us that there are three types of seeker. Every person falls into one of these categories:

  1. The seeker of the dunya. He is never satisfied – even if he was given a valley of gold he would wish to have another valley. He has no portion in the next life.
  1. The seeker of the next life. He will be safe from the Fire
  1. The seeker of Allah. Such a person is very rare – even in the time of Shaykh Abu Bakr more than four hundred years ago!


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Key to the Inner Secrets – Lesson Two

A Summary of Lesson Two of Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz’s commentary on “Miftah al-Sarair” (“Key to the Inner Secrets”) by his ancestor, Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim. The book contains essential advice for every seeker.



One of the pious said: “A slave does not ennoble himself with anything greater than obedience to Allah. A slave does not abase himself with anything greater than disobedience to Allah.”

If you make light of your acts of disobedience the punishment for them will be greater.

If you think nothing of your acts of obedience the reward for them will be greater.

If you are proud of your acts of obedience the reward for them will be reduced or removed entirely.

If you are fearful of Allah after committing acts of disobedience the punishment will be reduced or Allah will overlook them.

Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim (may Allah have mercy upon him and benefit us by him) likens acts of obedience to garments. Each time you perform an act of obedience it is as if you are adorning yourself with a new garment. Each garment has a specific light, degree and reward. Its light will be manifest on the Day of Judgement. Allah says: The clothing of taqwa is the best.[1]


Shaykh Abu Bakr says: “Make a firm resolve to perform good actions in your day and night”

One of the greatest wisdoms behind Allah creating day and night is that during the night someone can make up for what they missed during the day and during the day someone can make up for what they missed during the night.

Days and nights make up a week, weeks makes up months and months make up years so your lifespan in reality is only a day and a night. The one who succeeds is the one who takes advantage of it.

Imam al-Junayd said that one good intention opens seventy of the doors of tawfiq (Allah’s enabling grace).

Whenever one of the pious scholars went on a journey he would tell his companions to take with them a large number of books. They said: “There will not be time to read all these books.”

He replied: “Let us be sincere with Allah and then we will be rewarded for the intention to read these books even if we do not read all of them.”

When the pious people of Tarim sent their children out on an errand they would say to them:

“If you come across a blind person show him the way, if you find someone carrying something heavy assist him, if you find the door of a mosque open close it so that no animals enter it and if you find something harmful on the ground remove it.” Thus they would teach them many intentions for which they would be rewarded even if they did not come across any of these things.

Long hopes

To have long hopes is to be certain that you will live long and that death is something distant. This causes you to delay performing good deeds. If you are certain that you will live even one hour longer it is as if you are dictating to Allah what your state will be. You do not have the right to dictate to Allah.

The Prophet ﷺ said that there are four signs of wretchedness: a dry eye (which never sheds tears), a hard heart, greed and long hopes.

To have long hopes goes against the advice of the Prophet ﷺ to pray each prayer as if it is your last prayer.

Sayyiduna Abu Bakr said to Sayyiduna `Umar when he passed the caliphate to him: “You must realise that there are certain actions which you must perform for Allah’s sake during the night that He will not accept during the day, and there are certain actions which you must perform for Allah’s sake during the day which He will not accept during the night.”


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[1] Al-A`raf, 7:26

Key to the Inner Secrets – Lesson One

A Summary of Lesson One of Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz’s commentary on “Miftah al-Sara’ir” (“Key to the Inner Secrets”) by his ancestor, Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim. The book contains essential advice for every seeker.


Allah’s Attributes of Forgiving and Concealing

Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Salim (may Allah have mercy upon him and benefit us by him) mentions Allah’s name, “al-Ghaffar” (the Oft-Forgiving) so that we know that our sins cannot veil us from Him however great or numerous they are.

The Devil benefits from an act of disobedience by making the person who commits it fall into a greater act of disobedience which is to despair of Allah’s mercy. Or he makes him believe that his sin is greater than Allah’s mercy. Sins are the attribute of the slave and forgiveness is the attribute of Allah. How can the attribute of the slave be greater than the attribute of Allah?

The sign of someone who is truthful in seeking forgiveness from their Lord is that they forgive whatever wrongs Allah’s slaves do them. It is only fitting that Allah then forgives them. The one who constantly seeks to take his rights from people will have the hardest reckoning on the Day of Judgement.

The Shaykh also mentions Allah’s name, al-Sattar (the One Who conceals people’s faults) . If someone wishes for Allah to conceal his faults, let him conceal the faults of Allah’s slaves. The Prophet ﷺ said: “If someone conceals a believer’s faults, Allah will conceal his faults in this life and the next.


Lifting the Veil

The Shaykh says: “The One Who lifted the veil that lay between Him and His protected friends such that they witnessed Him in everything by means of the eye of the inner sight.”

When Allah lifts the veil between Him and His slave, the slave tastes a sweetness which is indescribable. He then attains direct knowledge of Allah which is the true manifestation of human nobility. The bliss which he then experiences in Paradise and in gazing upon Allah’s noble countenance is according to the degree of his knowledge of Allah. Your bliss in Paradise is according to your knowledge of the Creator of Paradise.

The knowers of Allah say that the greatest punishment is being veiled from Allah. One of them said: “Punish me in whatever way you wish but do not punish me with the abasement of being veiled from You.”

The knowers of Allah witness Him in everything and nothing veils them from Him. The creation for them is like a mirror in which they witness the beauty, greatness and perfection of the Creator. For them the creation is like a sheet of glass through which they witness Allah. For the disbelievers and heedless, however, it is like a wall which prevents them from seeing what is behind it, namely Allah.

The Shaykh swears an oath later in the book that he did not see anything in creation without witnessing Allah before it, with it or after it. He made this statement at the age of seventeen. So what was his state at the age of eighteen or nineteen and in every year of his life thereafter? He lived more than seventy years and the pious increase in closeness to Allah in every breath.



Allah honours His pious slaves by breaking for them some of the norms in creation (karamat), which serves to increase the certitude of their followers. The lower self naturally tends towards idleness, heedlessness, arrogance and boredom. When the pious went against these tendencies and broke their bad habits, Allah broke the norms in creation for them.



Every created thing is by nature in a state of tasbih (proclaiming Allah’s transcendence) so when the believer makes abundant tasbih his heart is in harmony with the creation. Making abundant tasbih assists the wayfarer on the path to Allah.


Paradise and the Fire

For every good deed the believer performs his place will be in Paradise will be expanded. Bestowing prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ causes the believer’s place in Paradise to expanded the most, as has been narrated . The more he bestows prayers upon the Prophet, the more his place will be expanded.

Likewise, if someone commits a bad deed and if it is not forgiven, their place in the Fire will be expanded and their punishment will be increased.

It has been narrated that if someone asks Allah for Paradise three times, Paradise will say: “O Allah, make him one of my people.” And if someone seeks refuge in Allah from the Fire three times, the Fire will say: “O Allah, protect him from me.”

There is a valley in the Fire which is reserved for those who show off in their recitation and of the Qur’an and the prayer. Even the Fire seeks refuge from the terror of this valley because it is a manifestation of Allah’s wrath.

Some hadith state that the stations of Paradise are as numerous as the verses of the Qur’an. It will be said to the person who memorised the Qur’an and acted according: “Recite and ascend as you used to recite in this life and your station will be according to the last verse that you recite.” That person will recite verse after verse and ascend (and there is 500 years’ distance between each station) until he reaches the highest station in the highest level of Firdaws.

Firdaws is the highest level of Paradise and the Throne is its ceiling. But there is a higher level – al-Wasilah – which is reserved for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ . He said: “Ask Allah to give me al-Wasilah (after the adhan) for it is a station reserved for one slave, and I hope to be that slave.”



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