The Spiritual Guide
THE NEED FOR A PĪR
Just like the seeker of knowledge is called a student and the provider of knowledge called a teacher likewise, the receiver of spiritual training is called a ‘Murīd’ seeker or devotee [one who has made intent on living a life in total submission to the will of Allāh] and its provider [Master] is called a Pīr; Spiritual Guide or Shaykh. The Pīr is also referred to as a Murshid; one who guides.
In different regions a Pīr is given variant names according to the local language, also in different era’s the Pīr has been referred by various terms. Sometimes by Hādī [Guide], sometimes Rehbar [also Guide], Bāpū and Bābā’s. In all case these Mashā’ikh have always been connected to the Ahl-e-Sunnat wa’l Jamā’at. In other terms the Friends of Allāh [Awliyā’ Allāh] have no link or affiliation with nulled sects. A Pīr or Walī is and has connection with the Sunnī Jamā’at only. A sect or group in which the Messenger of Allāh, the families of the Prophet; Ahl al-Bayt or the Noble Prophetic Companions, [Sahāba-e-Kirām]salla Allāhu ‘alayhi wa ālihī wa ashābihī wa sallam, are denigrated, the ‘Mashā’ikh-e-‘Izām’ do not exist amidst them.
When a person gives his hand in the hand of a learned [Kāmil] perfectly accomplished Pīrand makes a pledge [initiate a pact], this connection reaches the Blessed Prophet, salla Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam’s, presence – this is because each Pīr or Shaykh has a Pīr – the Seeker has a spiritual relation, a bond with his Mentor [Murshid] who in turn is connected to his Mentor – thus making a chain of succession [silsilah] which finally reaches the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The Murīds heart is fortified by the blessings running through him like currents from the power house. When it is produced it flows through the cables and from the cable to the town, from thereon to the house and from the house into the bulb, thus, illuminating the entire house. Likewise, the current of ‘faizān’ emerges from Madīnah al-Munawwarah to Baghdād and from Baghdād to Ajmer and from Ajmer to each individual home – consequently illuminating the dark hearts.
It is an obligation [Fard] upon every individual to have faith [Īmān] and after Īmān there is a need for action [good deeds]. Thereafter, there is another requirement which is the need for a private Pīr [Shaykh].
Imām Fakhr ud-Dīn Rāzī, rahimahu Allāh, who was one of the great Scholars, author of the popular and monumental commentary [Exegesis] of the Noble Qurān, i.e. Tafsīr al-Kabīr, in which he has written a commentary consisting of 350 pages on Sūrah al-Fātiha alone. One day Imām Fakhr ud-Dīn Rāzī announced, “I can adduce 1200 legal cases from the Bismillāhalone. And if I wanted let alone 1200 I could even adduce 12000 legal rulings.”
When death approached this great Scholar of his time, the accursed Devil – Shaytān came and stood beside his side and began a debate with him on the Tawhīd [Uniqueness – Oneness] of Allāh, subhānahū wa ta’ālā. The accursed devil Satan asked Imām Rāzī as to how he believed that Allāh is One. Imām Rāzī gave the proof but the devil rejected that proof. Imām Rāzī gave further proof but Iblīs rejected that too. Imām Rāzī continued to give evidence after evidence but Shaytān also continued to reject each proof and argument theImām made to the extent that now the treasures of proofs and evidences began to dry. At the same time, Imām Rāzī’s Spiritual Guide, Shaykh Najm ud-Dīn Kubrā’, sitting thousands of miles away called out to the Imām and said, “O Rāzī! Say that you believe in the Oneness of Allāh without [the need of] proof.” The Shaykh calls out to the Imām, his Murīd thousands of miles away which reaches him and is repeated by Imām Rāzī. The devil, Iblīs having no answer to this faith rendering answer was silenced and in anger ran away. It is hence established that even after acquiring knowledge of the Dīn [Islām] one still needs to have a Shaykh to protect one’s faith and remain steadfast. In our world, wherever there is a war, the fighting soldiers need a commander, without one there is no war. Whether the war lasts for 2 to 4 days or 4 years, a commander is necessary.
Similarly, man and his war with the devil and with his inner base self [nafs] is not merely for 2 to 4 years rather is at constant war and this is a greater war. Once, upon returning from a battle the Messenger of Allāh, salla Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
“We are setting forth towards a greater Jihād [struggle] from the lesser Jihād”
Meaning: the war – struggle against the wishes of the inner base self [nafs] is a war with the devil. This is a more gruesome war and therefore the commander required for such a gruesome war requires a powerful, wise and able mentor – a Shaykh or Pīr.
Therefore, it is a Sunna for every Muslim to make a pledge with Allāh in the hands of a perfect Pīr [Shaykh-e-Kāmil] so that he may be guided throughout his life in his struggle to elevate himself, fight his nafs and become a true servant of Allāh, subhānahū wa ta’ālā. A person who does not have a Shaykh, the devil himself is free to become his Pīr, since he has no spiritual guard protecting him from such influence.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A PĪR
There are two types of worlds:
[a] ‘Ālam-e-amr [b] ‘Ālam-e-khalq
[a] ‘Ālam-e-amr: This is the world in which the Creator of the Universe says: ‘KUN’ [BE] and everything ‘fayakun’ – [SO IT BE] comes into existence. There is no need for any physical means or causes to take effect. [asbāb or ‘ilal]. For example the rūh is from the amr of Allāh, subhānahū wa ta’ālā.
[b] ‘Ālam-e-khalq: This is the world of means and causes. Everything in this realm is created by means and causes, contrary to ‘Ālam-e-amr. All humanity came into being through the means, wasīla of Ādam and Hawā’, ‘alayhumā as-salām.
It is determined by Allāh, subhānahū wa ta’ālā, to make things happen through asbāb [sing.Sabab]. The need of means to acquire knowledge by means of a teacher. Upbringing by means of parents. To the extent that even for eating and drinking water in one’s social life, everything is done by means of a wasīla, nothing happens directly. Allāh, the Almighty, Himself states in the Qur’ān;
“O You who believe, fear Allāh and seek wasīla [means] to reach Him.”
By these Words of the Lord – Allāh, it is clear that when reaching and approaching Allāh by means of a wasīla is fard [compulsory] then what can man – the two legged animal achieve without the wasīla [means]?
Salāh [namāz] is a wasīla [means] of drawing closer to the presence of Allāh the Almighty and wudū being the wasīla [means] for Salāh and water being the wasīla [means] of wudū.
We need to have food for survival, to cook the food we need the means of pans or pots. The Pot receives heat from the fire and thus food is prepared. Without such means for food preparation the world will remain without cooked food. Alas! What would happen if there were a few wanting to enter paradise without the wasīla of the Messenger of Allāh, salla Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. How is this possible!
Allāh the Almighty, orders:
“O Believers! Fear Allāh and remain in the company of the truthful.”
In another statement Allāh, subhānahū wa ta’ālā, says:
“And on that Day We will call them with their Imāms” [Mentors, Shaykhs].
From these Words it is evident that Allāh the Almighty orders that you seek means – wasīla. Seek association [suhbah – companionship] of the Truthful and We will call upon you by yourImāms [Shaykhs] whom you followed. Thus we learn that the means and association of a mentor is the best means of gaining closeness to Allāh.
Mawlānā Jalāl ud-Dīn, Rūmī says, “Search for your Shaykh for without a Shaykh this journey is full of tribulation, fear and dangers.”
Regarding the importance of a Shaykh, Mawlānā Rūmī says: “Without the shade of the Shaykh one cannot annihilate the self [nafs] thus hold firm to the sleeve of a perfect Pīr if you seek annihilation of the inner base self [nafs].”
Khwājah Bahā’ud-Dīn said: “My son, love of Allāh is not obtainable without a perfect Pīr –Kāmil Shaykh paving your way.”
Mawlānā ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī, referring to the author of the famous ‘Mathnawī Sharīf’Mawlānā Jalāl ud-Dīn Rūmī, says: “The Scholar of Rūm could not become a Master up until he became the slave of Shams Tabrez.”