Suhbat: Don’t Claim to be a Shaykh
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani
September 6, 2004, Jakarta, Indonesia
Nawaytu ’l-arba‘een, nawaytu ’l-‘itikaaf, nawaytu ’l-khalwah, nawaytu ’l-‘uzla, nawaytu ’s-salook, nawaytu ’r- riyaada lillahi ta‘ala al-‘adheem fee hadha ’l-masjid.
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Ya ayyuhalladheena aamanoo ati‘ullaha wa ati‘u ’r-Rasula wa uli’l-amri minkum. - “O ye who believe; obey Allah (swt), obey Prophet (s), and obey those in authority among you.” [4:59]
And we hope that we will be obedient to Allah and His Prophet (s), and to our shuyukh, because we don’t want to claim something that we don’t have.
There are people who claim that they know something. There are people who claim to know too many things. There are people who know “everything.” And they have appointed themselves as shaykhs although they are far from being shaykhs. The level of a shaykh is very difficult to attain. So we must not claim something that we do not have. Allah said in Holy Quran,
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huwa a‘lamu bikum... wa idh antum ajinnatun fee butooni ummahatikum fa laa tuzakkoo anfusakum huwa a‘lamu bi mani ’ttaqa – “He knows you well ...and when ye are hidden in your mothers' wombs. Therefore justify not yourselves: He knows best who it is that guards against evil.” [53:32]
Don’t praise yourself, or don’t claim something for yourself that you don’t have. There are people who if they get a degree from a university, not even a PhD, they think that they control the world. There are people even who get PhD’s, and they think that they control the world. And there are people who think, if they follow a saint—a real shaykh—they think that they know everything. And they begin to spread the contamination of their egos, because their ego is proud, so they spread this sickness around the murids, without knowing. And there are people, if they enter seclusion, and they come out, they think of themselves that they became saints, and their names must be printed and published in lights to show that they are saints and people must listen to them.
We must know that if we follow a shaykh as a murid, and if we get some advantage of learning from the shaykh, or we enter seclusion, still we are nothing, and still we are in a training process. We have not yet eliminated our sicknesses and illnesses. Still we have to be put in quarantine in order that after the quarantine you can be let out to be with people.
Some people, if they are the imam of a masjid, they think that they control all the Muslims. Some people are responsible for a school or university, and they think that they are controlling everyone. They don’t feel that they are nothing. If someone knows how to do zikr, and he sits and begins to do zikr, he thinks of himself that he is going to spread spirituality all over people—he doesn’t know that he is still contaminated with pride and arrogance.
Authorization is important in Islam, in Shari‘ah, in tariqah. We call this permission - ijazah - in Arabic. It means a transmission of authorization of a candidate who has studied with shaykhs, from shaykh to shaykh to shaykh to shaykh, until one of the four imams. This is in Shari‘ah. He has to have it—like today they have in universities PhD’s in Islamic Shari‘ah. THIS HAS NO VALUE compared to the old teachings of Shari‘ah. Because the old teachings of Shari‘ah has to have a direct transmission from your shaykh to his shaykh to his grandshaykh to his grandshaykh, to Imam Shafi‘i. He has to be connected like that. And Imam Shafi‘i—from which one of the Tabi‘een did he take instruction? And that one, from which Companion did he take instruction? It has to have this lineage.
Or this lineage can go to Imam Abu Hanifa or Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. Or Imam Malik. It has to have a chain of transmission. Or else his ijazah is null, does not count.
In tariqa, it is the same. In spirituality. In the reality of the soul, of the ruh; in the learning of ma’rifah, Gnosticism. This learning has to be through a lineage, a silsilah, a chain of shaykhs. From one shaykh to his shaykh to his grandshaykh, grand grandshaykh, grand grand grandshaykh and so on, until it reaches either Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra) or Sayyidina ‘Ali (ra), because from them came tariqah, the 41 tariqas. They all came from either Sayyidina Abu Bakr (ra) or from Sayyidina ‘Ali (ra). They lead directly to the heart of the Prophet (s). If that lineage is not there, it means that person who thinks himself authorized—his authorization is null. No one can say and claim that Prophet (s) came to me in a dream, or Prophet (s) came to me in this, or I went in that and saw myself having authorization, in this or that. That is not accepted.
There are, today, shaykhs who think of themselves because they had a dream or they slept and woke up, or they saw something, that they have become authorized. If that is the case, it was better for Prophet Sayyidina Muhammad (s) to be authorized through a dream or a vision. But it did not happen like that. He was in need of Sayyidina Jibreel (as).
Sayyidina Muhammad (s), for 40 years, was making seclusion, khalwah, suluk, in Ghaari Hira, and he was in need… He never said, “I am seeing this, I am praying to Allah, I am making sajda to Allah,” until Jibreel (as) came to him and gave to him, physically. It cannot be by dreams! It cannot be in a coma! It cannot be by fainting. It cannot be by any means except physical. It has to be given.
And we are following the footsteps of the Prophet (s). It was given to Prophet (s)—from Allah (swt) to Jibreel (as), from Jibreel (as) to Prophet (s). It has a chain of transmission.
If we think that everything comes by dream, it is okay. But why did Prophet (s) not take his message by dream? Or why did Prophet (s) not take his message in a coma, haasha? Or why did Prophet (s) not take his message by means of a different way without physical means?
He saw Jibreel (as) physically! Jibreel (as) hugged him. He said, Bismillahi ’r-Rahmani ’r-Rahim, with the message of Islam, “Iqra’.” Iqra bismi Rabbik alladhee khalaq.” - “Read in the name of Thy Lord Who Created.” He came from the horizon, covering the whole horizon - Sayyidina Jibreel (as). And he was coming to Prophet (s) and saying, “Ya Muhammad (s), Iqra.” He said, “wa ma ana bi qaari`?” “What am I going to read?” He said, “Iqra bismi Rabbik alladhee khalaq, Khalaq al-insaana min ‘alaq. Iqra’ wa Rabbuk al-Akram, Alladhee ‘allama bi ’l-qalam, ‘allama ’l-insaana ma lam ya‘lam.” Read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created- Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,- He Who taught (the use of) the pen,- Taught man that which he knew not. [96:5] Physically. He taught him.
In Ramadan the Prophet (s) used to learn Quran from Jibreel (as). The hadith of Prophet (s), kaana yatadarras al-Qur’an ma‘ Jibreel. “He used to study the Qur`an with Jibreel.” So the Prophet (s) needed a physical revelation, wahiyy, from Allah (swt). Allah (swt) sent him Jibreel (as).
So how do we claim today, some people, all over the world, that they have seen a dream, or were ordered by a dream. Yes, this is okay. If you have been ordered to do something, you do it. But what you are doing is limited. It does not have a backup. It does not have someone supporting it from behind. Without support, at one time it will break, finished. It is gone.
Even when he came with the message, Jibreel (as) trained the Prophet (s), he brought him up, he sent him the message from Allah (swt). After two years, he was sent to him physically. All the time when he came, Jibreel (as) used to come physically from Allah (swt), bringing the revelation. Prophet (s) never said, “I received the revelation by dream.” Never did Prophet (s) say, “I got the Qur’an by dream.” Prophet (s) was getting the Qur’an by revelation through Jibreel (as). And Dhikrullah is taken out of Qur`an, the Beautiful Names of Allah. So to do the dhikr, it has to be physically through a teacher. You cannot say, “I don’t need a teacher! I don’t need a guide!” Allah made Jibreel a guide to Prophet (s).
And within two years after Prophet’s (s) delivering the message, Allah called Prophet (s) to His Presence. So Jibreel (as) had to bring him physically to Lailatu ’l-Isra’i wa ’l-Mi‘raaj. Like this month, we are in Lailatu ’l-Isra’i wa ’l-Mi‘raj. He brought him physically, and He gave him a vehicle, al-buraaq. Prophet (s) was able to go without a buraaq. Prophet (s) was able to see the Ascension by dream, without his body going up. But, the Night of Ascension was with his body. His soul went to Allah’s Presence. It means that physically you need a teacher to teach you and guide you as Prophet (s) needed the buraaq, and needed Jibreel (as), to take him to the Divine Presence.
There is real fresh fruit, and there is plastic fruit. Real fruit has a taste, that when you eat, you feel the sweetness of the fruit. Plastic fruit, or made from paper—still you can eat the paper, but it has no taste. Still you can eat the plastic, but it has no taste. So Dhikrullah with a shaykh that has been authorized through a chain of saints to Prophet (s)—that dhikr has a taste. That Dhikrullah, every one of Asmullah ul-Husna—The Beautiful Names and Attributes of Allah—they will be dressed on you from the secret of these Names. You will get the appearances, and Allah will bestow His mercy on that person when he is reciting, because he is connected, through his heart, through his shaykh, to grandshaykh, and so on until either Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra) or Sayyidina ‘Ali (ra), and then to Prophet (s).
The other shaykh, who considers himself a shaykh but without authorization or without a lineage, who is claiming of himself that he is a shaykh—his dhikr will have no sweetness. One day he is going to disappear.
Allah (swt) gave a characteristic to Prophet (s) that He didn’t give to anyone else. Humbleness. Sayyidina Muhammad (s) was the most humble. When you are humble, you will get spiritual knowledge. When you are arrogant and proud of yourself, you will be thrown away like those with degrees who got them by studying Islamic Studies in universities, but with no spirit, no soul—there is no sweetness or taste in it. They are learning letters that are collected together. On the other hand, the ‘Arif billah—the Gnostic, he doesn’t learn letters. But his teacher teaches him what is the interpretation and the secrets behind these letters. So he will begin to extract meanings that no one can extract. And all of this is done by humbleness. Arrogance—you will be like Iblis. Iblis is arrogant. So don’t be arrogant. Be humble. When you humble yourself, people love you. When people love you, your shaykh will bring you toward him. When he brings you closer to him, he takes you through the lineage to reach to Prophet’s (s) love and vision.
There was a king to whom was sent a slave—kings in that time used to have slaves. People used to buy slaves from different countries around the world. It was something that was like a trade, in one period of time. So they gave the king a gift, a slave. But he was a nice servant, if you don’t want to say slave. So the king was asking him some questions. He asked him when they presented that servant to him, “What is your name?” He said, “O my master, a slave doesn’t have a name. Whatever his master calls him, he has to respond. Before you I had many masters. And every master used to call me by a different name. My job is to answer you. My job was to answer them.” If someone calls me this or that or some other thing, I answer. My job is to answer. My job is not to have an identity, a name. I don’t have a name.
Then he asked him, “What clothes do you prefer that I get for you?” He said, “O my master, I don’t have a choice. In your presence I don’t have a choice, and in the presence of my previous masters, I didn’t have a choice. The slave answers what the master says. If my master says to me, ‘Wear these red clothes,’ I will. If he says, ‘Wear these blue clothes,’ I wear them. If green, I wear them. If he says to wear nothing, I won’t wear anything. It is, what is your choice. It is not my choice.”
He asked, “What kind of food do you like the most?” He said, “O my master, whatever food they give me to eat, I eat. If they give me rice, I eat rice. If they give me bread, I eat bread, if they give me meat, I eat meat. If they give me grass, I eat grass. If they give me fruit, I eat fruit. No choice for me in the presence of the master.”
Then the king at the end said to him, “O my slave, my servant, what can I do for you then?” He said, “O my master, does a slave have a will in front of his master? The slave is under the will of the king, the master. You choose what is good for me, and you give me that.”
And he said, “O my servant, you are a real Muslim. And it is better for you to rule a country than me. You are the king, I am your supporter.” When that servant showed no will, in any way, Allah made him the king. When you don’t show will…. Prophet (s) never showed a will. Allah made him the Seal of Messengers. Saints, they submitted to Allah’s (swt) will and to Prophet’s (s) will. Allah made them saints. When you submit yourself to the will of your teacher, then the teacher will raise you up and trust you to carry the trust of the Ummah that is under your teachings. So that is what is important—submission. Not to be proud of your opinion and mind. That is a curse, when you are proud of your mind and opinion. You are a loser.
Today, from arrogance, from pride, children are not accepting what parents are saying. Parents are not accepting what elderly people are saying. Everyone is running in his way or her way. They don’t want to listen to what Islam and Qur’an are saying. They want to listen only to what this world tells them, and to what Satan tells them, and what their bad desires are saying.
Look at that young boy, what is his name? Hamdaan. How does he recite? How old are you? 12 years old. He recites better than everyone here in this room. He is 12 years old, and all of us are 70, 80, 90, 60, 50, 40, 30. This world is not in his heart. Others, Allah gave them—instead of learning how to recite like him, they are learning how to recite songs, MTV, video clips, discotheques, running after crazy women, artists, actresses—this is the lifestyle of a very young boy raised in Allah’s obedience. He is going to be under the shade of Allah’s Throne on Judgment Day.
Prophet (s) said, “Seven will be under Allah’s shade on Judgment Day,” when the sun is going to burn the brains of everyone. Allah will give seven groups shade. One of them is the “waladun nasha ‘ala ta‘atillah,” “a child who was raised in obedience to Allah.” The other, the walad who never said even oof to his mother or father in his life. Allah (swt) will give him shade.
Rich people today, or middle-income people, are running after dirty things, and such boys with nothing, are running after obedience to God. Instead of giving the rich people to run after Allah’s obedience, it is the opposite.
But we still say, Allah (swt) always is merciful. And Allah (swt) has said to His Prophet (s),
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wa maa arsalnaaka illa Rahmatan lil-‘aalameen. - “We have not sent you except as a mercy to humanity.” [21:107]
So insha-Allah we will, every one of us, be under Allah’s Mercy. Those who are running here and there, Allah bring them under His Mercy. (Amin).
Wa min Allahi ’t-tawfiq, bi hurmati ’l-Fatiha