Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani
A Sūfī leader must have 'Ilmu‘l-Yaqīn, 'Aynu‘l-Yaqīn, Haqqu‘l-Yaqīn – the Knowledge of Certainty, the Vision of Certainty, the Truth of Certainty. First is the “knowledge of certainty,” which is the necessity to know that there is such knowledge and to hear about it. When you hear it, you go to the second level, but you have to hear first. That is why God in Qur’ān, as well as all the Sūfī masters, from Jalāluddīn Rūmī to Ibn al-Hishām, to Hallaj, to Abā Yazīd al-Bistāmī, mention hearing as the first thing. Knowledge cannot come by seeing first but from a teacher that is heard, even for a blind man. A deaf person, on the other hand, cannot even begin to get knowledge. When the Archangel Gabriel (as) came to the Prophet (s), the first thing he said to him was “Read,” and the Prophet (s) was hearing and listening. That is why Sufism is giving orders which one fulfills by hearing, not by seeing.
This first level is not achieved by hearing and not caring, but by hearing, accepting and fulfilling through action! If your Shaykh says to go to the mountain and stay there until I come, and he does not show up, you will stay there for years, until he appears, if you do not do that, you are still a child in Sūfī knowledge. In the Naqshbandī order you have to obey, and obedience comes through hearing. If you do it, then you move up to the second level.
Once, Grand-Grandshaykh Shaykh Sharafuddin said, in a meeting of big masters, as Grandshaykh was on his way to meet them – still a teenager at the time – as they sat in a remote place far outside the city: “My son ‘Abdullāh Effendi has reached a level where no one has set foot yet – not myself, nor all the Golden Chain masters. He is only 18 and I am 60, yet he has reached a level that is higher than mine and all the Golden Chain masters that have passed away. If I am going to send him a child of seven years to tell him, “Your Shaykh is ordering you to direct yourself to Mecca for pilgrimage,” from Daghestan here in the middle of Russia, he will immediately think, without coming and asking me for confirmation whether this is true or not, “Who is making that child speak? My Shaykh has to know even before I know. Otherwise, how have I accepted him as a Shaykh and yet represent him as not knowing anything? If my Shaykh doesn’t know, who will know?” Immediately he will believe the child, and without going back to his house to tell his mother or his wife that he wants to go to pilgrimage; without taking any clothes, money, or food, he will direct himself to Makkah which is 10,000 miles away, walking, without asking anything. He will know the order comes from me and will simply change the direction of his walk.”
This is “Wahdatu‘l-af'al,” Unification of actions or deeds or words – you must see everything as coming from God. This is a higher level in Sūfī knowledge. You cannot see people doing anything anymore, but you must consider them instruments in the hands of God. Leave the child – if Shaykh Nāzim comes to you and says, “Go to Mecca,” you will say, “Okay, my Shaykh, but I have to buy a ticket, and I have to see if my wife gives me permission..." In the Naqshbandī order you cannot do all this. You have to move immediately.
The second level is 'Aynu‘l-Yaqīn, the true vision. At that time you are going to see things around you, but without feeling. It will be like a screen which is lifted only in the third level, Haqqu‘l-Yaqīn, the reality of truth – you are there and living that incident. If Grandshaykh is saying what we were saying before about the Prophet (s), how he was taken and how his heart was washed, at hearing this you are going to live that event as if you were living and feeling everything at that time. If Mawlānā Shaykh Nāzim is talking about an incident which happened 500 years ago, for example, you are going to live as if you were living at that time, hearing, seeing and feeling what they were hearing, seeing and feeling, juts as if you were one of them.
This is the Sūfī taste and the knowledge of the Naqshbandī order which connects its seekers to the Golden Chain. This cannot be opened until the time of Mahdī (as) – unless, for some special followers, Mawlānā Shaykh Nāzim opens it with permission from the Prophet (s). It is not common to all. The rest must wait for the support of Mahdī's power to enter that level, otherwise people will be condemned for speaking about what they see.
In the Naqshbandī order the Shaykh can never make you be different from people and this is the perfect order: you see the Shaykh who has all this power, feeling everything and living all the events, and describing them, yet behaving as an ordinary person. The Shaykh will therefore never accept to open knowledge for you if you are not ready and if he sees that you are going to show what he gave you to the public. That is why there is no permission yet for that door to be opened.
Wa mina-llāhit-tawfīq bi hurmatì‘l-Fātihah.