On the Method of Seclusion (Khalwah)

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him).

How do I go about secluding myself for the purpose of worship (making khalwah)?

Any time in which you are alone focusing on Allah is a type of khalwah. At that time you should recite the Qur’an or adhkar which have been transmitted. The purpose of khalwah is focusing oneself on Allah, being present with Him and purifying your heart. The most beneficial dhikr for the majority of Muslims and those at the beginning of the path is la ilaha ill’Allah. The utmost benefit in times of seclusion is obtained through the permission and observation of your shaykh and through his giving you adhkar which are appropriate to you.

Differentiating Between Being Proud of One’s Religion and Between Being Arrogant

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him).

How do we differentiate between being proud of one’s religion and being arrogant?

Being proud of one’s religion is coupled with humility, fear of the return to Him and good action according to the Sacred Law and in veneration of it. At the core of our religion is humility, fear of Allah, being good to people and wisdom. The two greatest signs that point to someone being arrogant are that they look down upon others and do not accept the truth when confronted by it. Arrogant people are certain that they are better than others and do not live in fear of a bad ending.

On General Dhikr

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him).

What type of dhikr can someone make if they are not affiliated to any tariqah?

The dhikr of Allah is beneficial in whatever form is it made. If it is taken from someone with a sanad (unbroken chain of connection) to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ it has more effect and is more likely to be accepted and this is essentially the meaning of tariqah. Furthermore, if it is taken from someone with a sanad in travelling the spiritual path then it will have a more illuminating effect and be more effective.

On the Difference between Fearing to Meet Allah and Disliking to Meet Him

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him).

What is the difference between someone who dislikes to meet Allah and someone who is fearful of meeting Him?

There is a big difference. The one who dislikes to meet Allah has no connection to Allah and he attempts to flee from Him. The one who is fearful of meeting Allah may also love Him. He is fearful of not being accepted by Allah or being punished by Him.

On Prayer and Vigilance

If the prayer is correctly established, it is a means for seekers to take themselves to account (make muhasabah) and be in a state of vigilance (muraqabah). Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) expounds on this in this extract from a lesson in Imam al-Suhrawardi’s book, `Awarif al-M`arif. The lesson took place in Dar al-Mustafa on 19th Safar 1434 / 1st January 2013.

One of the wisdoms of the prayer is that it enables us to be in a state of vigilance and to constantly take ourselves to account. By being in control of your body you prepare your heart to attain this. Your prayer then puts light into your time so that the time between each prayer becomes illuminated. The Prophet ﷺ pointed to this when he said: “One prayer to the next; one Friday prayer to the next and one Ramadan to the next – all of these wipe out the sins a person commits between them, as long as grave sins are avoided.”

So if someone is alert, knows the purpose of the prayer, and does not allow himself to fall into grave sins, then all his time becomes illuminated by his prayer and he will constantly receive gifts from his Creator.

Sayyiduna `Ali Zayn al-`Abidin showed us in what state we should enter the prayer. When he approached the prayer his colour would change. When asked about this he said: Do you know in front of Whom I am about to stand and with Whom I am about to converse?”

Sayyiduna Ja`far al-Sadiq would carry on repeating one verse in his prayer until he would fall unconscious. When asked about this he said: I continued to repeat it until I heard it from the One Whose speech it is.”

He also said: “Allah manifested Himself to His creation in His speech but they are unaware of this.”

This is the state of those who constantly take themselves to account. Our prayers should have an effect on us. If they are correctly established they should enlighten us and purify us. We should not enter them in a state of heedlessness, unaware of their greatness, nor should their performance become a mere habit.

One of the pious people would take himself to account by writing the prayers down on a piece of paper and leaving a gap between each prayer. Whenever he committed a wrong action he would draw a line in that gap. Whenever he spoke about something that did not concern him he draw a dot. This enabled him to take account of his time between each prayer and thus constrict the Devil and his lower self which constantly orders to evil.

A shaykh once saw one of his students carrying a subhah (prayer beads) and remembering Allah.He said to him: “My son, you are obeying Allah a fixed number of times but you are disobeying him countless times! You do not take account of how many times you disobey Allah with your eye, your tongue, your hand and your intention. You are counting the number of times you remember Him but you are not counting the number of times you disobey Him. Being aware of your wrongdoings is more important.” 

Possessing a Little is Possessing Everything

A reminder from Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him). Extracts from a lesson in Ihya Ulum al-Din in Dar al-Mustafa, Dhu’l-Qa`dah 1432 / October 2011

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: 

“If any one of you wakes up with a healthy body; in a state of safety; possessing his day’s provision, it is as if he possesses the whole world and everything in it.1

This is a message from the one who does not speak from his own caprice. If you receive this message you will save yourself from numerous problems which befall the people of this world. Those that do not accept truths such as this live their lives as prisoners to their illusions. Iblis and his troops from among men and jinn strive to make people compete in amassing worldly possessions. As a result of this much corruption is spread.

If any one of you wakes up with a healthy body” – praise be to Allah, all of us have healthy bodies. May Allah bless us with continuous health and wellbeing.

In a state of safety” day and night we move about from place to place in safety. Where did this safety come from?

Possessing his day’s provision” – which one of us does not possess any provision? Which one of us is clutching his stomach out of hunger, unable to find even a single date to eat?

Great wealth—in excess of a day’s provision—will only be of harm to those who possess it, as they will have to account for it in this life and the next.

The wise used to say: “If all you want from this worldly life is what suffices you, then a small amount will suffice you. However, if you want more than what suffices you then everything that the world contains will not suffice you.”

As the hadith states: “Had the son of Adam possessed a valley of gold he would only wish for another, and had he had another he would wish for a third. The only thing that will fill his stomach is earth and Allah will turn to the one who turns to Him.”2

This is one of the realities that the Best of Creation spoke of:

“If any one of you wakes up with a healthy body; in a state of safety; possessing his day’s provision, it is as if he possesses the whole world and everything in it.

He spoke the truth—his Companions were the kings of this life and the next, may Allah be pleased with them, and often they did not even possess a day’s provision!

1 Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.

2 Narrated by Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi.

 

The Believer is like a Bee

Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) reflects upon a beautiful hadith in a lesson in Dar al-Mustafa, 9th Shawwal 1432 / 7th September 2011

Let us reflect upon the following beautiful hadith, narrated by Imam Ahmad on the authority of `Abdullah bin `Amr.

قال رسول الله ﷺ : و الذي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ إِنَّ مَثَلَ المؤمِنِ كَمَثَلِ النَّحْلَةِ أَكَلَتْ طَيِّبَاً و وَضَعَتْ طَيِّبَاً و وَقَعَتْ فَلَمْ تَكْسِرْ و لَمْ تُفْسِدْ

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the believer is like a bee which eats that which is pure and wholesome and lays that which is pure and wholesome. When it lands on something it does not break or ruin it.”

  • The bee only eats from flowers which are tayyib (pure and wholesome). It is not attracted to repulsive things, unlike other insects. Likewise the believer only eats that which is pure and wholesome.

  • The bee lays or excretes honey which is also tayyib. Likewise only that which is good and wholesome comes forth from the believer, whether it be his words, his intentions or his actions.

  • The bee is light and nimble and does not break the flowers upon which it lands, nor does it ruin them. Likewise the believer is gentle in his dealings with the creation and does not harm or ruin any human or animal or plant.

Turning Ourselves to Allah

Advice from Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him). Extracts from a talk during the mawlid in Dar al-Mustafa the night of 28th Sha`ban 1432/ 28th July 2011.

When people turn themselves in full obedience to Allah, saying and realising: I have turned myself to the One who created the heavens and the earth,1 Allah then makes His creation subservient to them. Even the angels of the highest gatherings compete to be with such a person and to pray behind him. This is the reward of those who respond to His call and make their only desire calling to Him and serving Him.

To us was sent the one that Allah chose out of all His creation ﷺ, Muhammad the son of `Abdullah. By him our faces were ennobled through prostration. I ask that just as these faces were ennobled through prostration that these hearts likewise be ennobled – a prostration from which they do not arise. When your heart prostrates to Him you know how to use what you have been given to attain that to which He has called you. Then you will have returned everything with which you have been entrusted to its rightful owner. Allah commands you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due.2

Everything you have been given is a trust, so use it to obey Allah, spread good and give life to the Sunnah. Your hearing is a trust. Who does it belong to? Who gave it to you? Which factory produced it? Use your hearing to listen intently to His Qur’an, especially in Ramadan. How much do you recite in the day and night? How much did you recite last Ramadan? How much do you wish to recite? Arrange your time so you increase even if only gradually, so that you ascend and be amongst those whose fear drove them to travel by night so that they reached their destination, as in the hadith: “The one who fears travels by night and the one who travels by night reaches his destination. Allah’s prize is truly precious – it is Paradise.”3

1Al-An`am, 6:79.

2Al-Nisa’, 4:58.

3Narrated by al-Tirmidhi.

 

 

Freeing Ourselves from Deception

Advice from Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him). Extracts from a talk during the mawlid in Dar al-Mustafa the night of 28th Sha`ban 1432/ 28th July 2011.

You can see in front of you in the material world people expending all their efforts to attain that which amounts to nothing. Had these efforts been expended for the sake of Allah, attempting to purchase His merchandise, the results would be amazing! But the one who is imprisoned in the physical realm remains asleep until the veil is lifted, at which point it is of no benefit. Sayyidunā `Ali, who had direct understanding of these concepts, spoke the truth when he said:

People are asleep, and then they die they wake up.”

Whoever causes his lower self to die by purifying it and making it subservient to the order of Allah has woken up. If someone only wakes up when their spirit leaves their body their awakening is of no benefit.

Can he who was dead, who We then gave life and a light with which he walks among the people, be like him who is in the depths of darkness, from which he can never come out?1

It is one message, one voice which all the Prophets from Adam onwards spoke with. They all said that all good is in your submission to the order of Allah and not being deluded by ephemeral worldly things. They all said this, by the order of Allah. All those that rejected this message lost everything. Will the disbelievers in our time be any different? No, there is only one outcome: this is the pattern which Allah has decreed. Success is only granted to those who follow the Prophet.

People have been deceived by the packaging which is the adornment of this worldly life. They thought they would find some short term happiness in ways of living that are in contravention of Allah and His law. They found, however, that true felicity in this life before the next is in submission to the Possessor of this life and the next.

You are called as the Prophets were called before you:

Let not the present life deceive you, nor let the Chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah. The promise of Allah is true.2

So be callers to the truth. Allah has ennobled you by allowing you to call people to Him. If you were employed to promote a company or a party you would be paid amounts which may be great in your sight but in reality are contemptible. If the Lord of the Throne uses you to call people to Him, however, nothing which He gives is contemptible. All His gifts are magnificent. We say to the people: do not be deluded; we bring light to you. If you respond to the call you will succeed and you will be saved. What you call us to will not cause us to abandon our duty. If we respond to your call we will be destroyed and you will be destroyed and if you respond to our call we will succeed and you will succeed. All of us on the face of the earth are aboard one ship. This was the metaphor the Greatest Guide used ﷺ . It is enough to know that he was sent to me and you and our parents and everyone in our time and those before and after us until the Day of Judgement. His strength lies in the One who said:

Truly you are in Our gaze.3

Through this secret we convey the call that he conveyed.

He was the one who would strive in Ramadan more than at any other time. Do you not want to be like him? Expend your efforts – you are able to do many things. Look at the people of this earth expending their efforts in buying and selling and production and look at the things that they have achieved. As for the one who expends his efforts in the service of this religion and this Prophet, give him good tidings. This is what the Companions did. Look at how al-Hasan al-Basri described them. He said: “Muhammad washed their hearts of attachment to this worthless life. I met seventy of the people of Badr and they had more abstinence towards that which is permissible than you have towards that which is prohibited.” Why was this? Because they drank from the cup of Muhammad. I swear by the One Who sent him, however much they drank, it did not decrease anything from that cup. His cup is still overflowing and you can still drink from it, even in the year 1432, from the same cup from which the Companions drunk. If the cups of Paradise do not become empty, do you think that the cup of Muhammad, for whose sake Paradise was created, will become empty? May Allāh allow us to drink from this cup. Attach yourselves to him! You hear calls from your lower self, from this worldly life to attach yourself to other than him and I say to you: attach yourselves to him! Allah and His Messenger and all the pious people call you to do this. Shun attachments to ephemeral things.

The spirits of those Companions that al-Hasan al-Basri described longed to meet the Beloved ﷺ every night. If they mentioned him in a gathering, their tears would flow. He said of them: “This worldly life was lower in their sight than the earth under your sandals.” They knew the value of things. That is why when they wanted their needs answered they threw themselves on his grave. That is why they washed his cloak and drank the water in which it was washed it seeking to be healed. We hear a lot about health and development but we find the worst diseases emanating from the so-called developed countries. This is so we know that behind the creation is the Creator.

One of the early scholars said that the one who seeks this worldly life kills himself but if his desire for it increases he kills other people – because he blocks the path to Allah. There are so many people that have been killed in front of us. If only their bodies had died and their hearts remained alive with the light of knowledge of Allah, but their hearts have died! May Allah give life to our hearts and the hearts of all the believers.

The world continues to tell you that its Lord is mighty and powerful and that all good is in holding on to His rope and connecting to the Seal of His Prophets. The opportunities in front of you are numerous. Be true to Allah and represent the rest of the Ummah – those who remember and those who have forgotten, those seeking Allah and those who have turned away, the ones who obey Allah and those who disobey Him. Turn to Allah on their behalf and abase yourselves in front of Him. Allah will then show you mercy and show them mercy.

Whatever our differences are, we are all aboard one ship. Whatever harm others do, we cannot allow them to pierce the hull of that ship. If we allow them to do that we will all perish. As in the hadith, a group of people on board a ship wanted to split open the hull in order to drink instead of getting water from those on deck. The Prophet ﷺ said that if those above restrain those below and stop them from doing this they will all be safe, but if they leave them they will all be destroyed. We have to stop them with all our strength.

You have immense strength – how can you say “those satellite channels got the better of me”? You follow your lower desires and then you say “they got the better of me.” Did anyone impose them upon you? With one piece of strong resolve you can overcome them, starting from tonight. These things are from the allies of the Devil, and Allah says:

Fight the allies of the Devil, because the scheming of the Devil is weak.4

If you reject the scheming of the Devil with strong resolve you will find that you have the support of the Best of Planners. Everything we see in the world teaches us lessons and sends us messages. It teaches us where we should stand and what we should do and intend and what should be in our hearts. We worship Allāh by showing mercy to others and by purifying our hearts. May Allāh make the turbulence which we witness a cause of strengthening our faith and certainty.

1Al-An`am, 6:122

2Luqman, 31:33

3Al-Tur, 52:48

4Al-Nisa’, 4:76

 

True Remembrance of Allah

Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) delves into the deeper meanings of remembrance. Extracts from a talk at the opening gathering of the Fourth Dawah Conference in Dar al-Mustafa, Muharram 1431 / December 2010.

All types of closeness are superficial except that which is close to the Lord, the Close. Your closeness to one another is based upon your closeness to Allah. According to your closeness to Allah you will be close to one another, and all distance and dispute will end – for these are illusions. They are Illusions which dominate the superficial world, the physical world. They dominate most people. Such that it is correct to say: Most people do not know and Most people do not understand. The greatest thing they reach or hope to reach can be called ‘play,’ or it can be called ‘delusion,’ or it can be called ‘conjecture,’ or it can be called ‘a mirage,’ or it can be called ‘ash scattered by the wind on a stormy day.’ This is what Allah has called it in His Book.

You need to focus on renewing your approach to Allah by working on remembrance. Remembrance is for the presence of the One being remembered to dominate the heart of the one remembering. How? May Allah open this door to you. The one remembering Allah Almighty may be so busy with the outward form of remembrance or the words or some of the meanings that he is not actually remembering Allah! Do you hear? Our aim is that you firmly attain this presence with the One being remembered because even actions which outwardly seem to be acts of obedience may in reality be performed in heedlessness of the One being obeyed. Look at the statements of the Messenger of Allah:

Had this man’s heart been in a state of submissiveness, so too would be his limbs;”

A man may be killed on the frontline but only Allah truly knows his intention;”

Pray again, because you have not prayed.”

Outwardly he had prayed – he sat, bowed, prostrated but the Prophet said to him:

Pray again, because you have not prayed.”

What we want is for you to truly remember Allah. Through the gatherings that you attend and in them you remember Allah. Through the prayers you remember Allah:

Establish the prayer for My remembrance.1

If you have not truly remembered Allah, you have not established the prayer. Likewise in your other actions and through these actions you remember Allah – in praising Him, proclaiming His oneness and greatness and in the etiquette which you show to one another. Many people, even those who are seen to be callers to Allah, remember their actions, not their Lord! So their actions become a kind of veil. They could have some light in them, but they are still a veil. Or they could be pure darkness, depending on where the heart is pointed. You hear in the hadith that Jihad is the pinnacle of Islam but:

A man may be killed on the frontline but only Allah truly knows his intention.”

It is not about outward forms. We want to establish true remembrance of Allah. Train yourselves, and the All-Compassionate will open the door for you such that you remember Allah through all that you do and in all that you do. At the beginning you anticipate attaining presence with Allah and if the foundation is sound you will witness the presence of the One present with you.

The more you witness your own presence the more His presence vanishes. The more you witness His presence the more your presence vanishes. Your presence is a tiny candle but no sun or created thing is similar to His presence. When his presence radiates does your candle remain? Praise be to the Witness, the One present. The Shaykhs used to teach their students to say: ‘Allah is with me, Allah witnesses me, Allah is present with me, Allah is looking at me, Allah is close to me.’

Your heedlessness is a type of ingratitude. The earth did not exist in the first place and it only became manifest by Him. He is the Manifest, not it. It only became manifest through His wisdom. He made it manifest. It will turn into nothing: Is not everything save Allah false? May Allah purify us from ingratitude. May Allah make us firm in our witnessing of Him.

Renew your approach to Allah. Find a new way to remember Allah, different from any way you have used before. You are now present in this gathering because He has made you present. You are remembering Him by His remembrance. I ask you by Allah: if He had not first remembered you how could you remember Him? Leave the remembrance of yourself, your body, your soul and all your affairs. Help us to remember You, be grateful to You, and perfect our worship of You, by Your mercy, O Most Merciful!


1Ta Ha, 20:14