Conditions of being a Shaykh (Part 2)

The conditions of the Shaykh-hood, are four: Correct knowledge (‘ilmun saḥīḥ), unadulterated spiritual experience (dhawqun ṣarīḥ), high aspiration (himmatun ‘āliyyah) and a pleasing state (ḥālatun mardhiyyah) as mentioned by Zarrūq r.a.

Ash-Sharīshi said in his ra-iyyah,

“The Shaykh has signs which if absent, then he is merely travelling in the darkness of whims,

If he has no knowledge of the outward nor inward, cast him in the depths of the sea.”

As for outward knowledge, it is only required for the Shaykh to have whatever is enough for himself and what the disciple needs for his journey to his Lord which is the amount that cannot be dispensed with from the rulings of ṭahārah, ṣalāh etc. it is not a requirement for him to be deeply knowledgeable of the Shari’ah. Shaykh Abu Yazīd r.a. said, “I kept company of Abu ‘Ali Al-Musnadi and I would inform him of the matters which help him perform his obligations while he would teach me tauhid and the realities purely.”

It is known that Shaykh Ibn ‘Abbad (Ar-Rundi) was not granted the opening except at the hands of an ‘ummiy man. The tarbiya of many Awliya’ who are ‘ummiy with regards to the outward knowledge has indeed been proven true. As for the inward knowledge, what is sought from it is complete mastery because, the very intended meaning of the term “Shaykh” is the possessor of this (inward) knowledge. The student only seeks the Shaykh, to make him travel and teach him the knowledge of the path and the reality. So the Shaykh must have a complete knowledge of Allah, His Attributes, Names through spiritual experience and unveiling, (likewise) the knowledge of the dangers of path, trickery of the nafs, shaitan, paths of spiritual ecstasies, actualization of the stations as it has been established in his field. The world is not devoid of them as otherwise claimed. Allah knows best.

from Al-Baḥr Al-Madīd, Ibn ‘Ajība

Al-Imam Ash-Sha’rani and His Teacher Al-Khawwas Part 1

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم اللّهمّ صلّ على سيدّنا و حبيْبنا وشفيْعنا محمّد ابْن عبْد الله و آله و صحْبه و سلّم

Excerpt from the Muqaddimah of al-Anwar al-Qudusiyya fi Ma’rifa al-Qawa’id al-Sufiyya

After that Allah proclaimed for him the spiritual opening and united him (Ash-Sha’rani) with al-Khawwas. Al-Khawwas was his mi’raj and his ladder by which he ascend to the doors of spiritual openings and heavens of bestowals and realms of light and inspirations. Their relationship is the manifest sign of the status of the Shaykh in the Path. It is the greatest sign of the status of divinely bestowed knowledge (العِلْم اللَّدنِّي) for al-Khawwas was unlettered while ash-Sha’rani was a scholar. But that was the external judgement, while the internal judgment says that al-Khawwas was the scholar while ash-Sha’rani was the unlettered one.

Ash-Sha’rani said: From the favours of Allah upon himself (ash-Sha’rani) was that his arrival and opening (in gnosis) was at the hands of an unlettered man who neither knew writing nor reading. He added in describing this unlettered man:

“A man who is totally hidden such that almost no one knew of his sainthood and knowledge except for the practicing scholars, for he is indeed a perfect man to us without any doubt! The perfect one is he whom when he reaches the station of the perfect men in knowledge of Allah (العرفان), he becomes a stranger in all the worlds.”

Ash-Sha’rani narrates to us his delightful spiritual experience of his arrival unto the ascending paths of divine illuminations at the hands of his Shaykh and the oceans of knowledge of his master :

My spiritual struggles at the hands of my master ‘Ali al-Khawwas were many and of various types. Amongst them, he would order me in the beginning to sell away all my books and to give away the money in charity, which I did. Those were precious books which could be sold for a high price. So I sold them and gave away the sales in charity but I became anguished at having to part with them as I had put much effort and had added notes and comments in them. It reached a point as if I was completely robbed of my knowledge. (At that time) he (al-Khawwas) said to me, “Strive to cut off your (heart’s) turning back (out of attachment) to them (the books) by much remembrance of Allah Exalted is He. Indeed they say, “One who turns back, does not arrive”. Thus, I strove in cutting off my attachment to them till I managed to free myself and praise be to Allah for that.

To be continued ان شاء الله