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`Alauddin al-Bukhari al-Attar ق

Your image is constantly before my eyes,
Your remembrance always upon my lips;
The thought of you forever in my heart.
Where can You hide from me?

Attributed to Hallaj


علاء الدين العطار`Ala'uddin al-Bukhari al-`Attar

He is a Star from among the Perfect Saints. He was one of the scholars who act on what they know (`alimun `amil). He is known as the fruit of the tree of Divine Knowledge, the Life of Spiritual Knowledge, the Eraser of Darkness, the Guide of the noble and common people alike, the Fountain that never dries up, the best Guide to Enlightenment on the Path to the Lord. He is first in removing the thorns of falsehood from the Path of Truth. He stands in the Center of the Realm of the Poles (aqtab) and he carries the burden of the spiritual caliphate. He raised the souls of his brothers until the whole Universe was calling him and remembering him. The external and internal knowledge of religion flourished because of his truthfulness.

He was born in the year 739 H. He left everything that he had inherited from his father to his two brothers and devoted himself to study in the schools of Bukhara. He became accomplished in all arts, especially in the Knowledge of Sufism and the Islamic Sciences. He proposed to the daughter of Shah Naqshband, asking for her hand in marriage. Shah Naqshband’s answer came one day, after midnight, when awakening from his sleep in Qasr al-`Arifan, he went quickly to the school in Bukhara where Alauddin lived. There he found everyone asleep except Alauddin, who was up reading the Holy Qur’an by the light of a tiny oil lamp. He came up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder but Alauddin didn’t respond. He prodded him more but still he didn’t react. Then, through his spiritual vision, Shah Naqshband perceived that Alauddin was not present but was in the Divine Presence. He then called him spiritually and Alauddin immediately looked up and said, “O my Shaykh.” Shah Naqshband (q) said, “I have had a dream in which the Prophet (s) accepted your proposal for my daughter. For that reason I have come to you by myself, late at night, to inform you of the good news.” Alauddin said, “O my Shaykh, I have nothing to spend on your daughter or myself, because I am very poor, having given all my inheritance to my brothers.” Shah Naqshband replied, “O my son, whatever Allah has written for you on the Day of Promises will accrue to you. So don’t worry, Allah will provide.”

He said, “One day a Shaykh asked me, ‘How is your heart?’ I said, ‘I don’t know how my heart is.’ He said, ‘I know my heart, and it is like the moon in the third night.’ I related this story to Shah Naqshband who said, ‘He answered according to his heart.’ When he said this, he stepped on my foot and pressed on it. Immediately I left myself and I saw that everything in this world and this universe was in my heart. When I awoke from that state of unconsciousness, he was still standing on my foot, and he said, ‘If the heart is like that, then no one can describe it. What do you think now about the holy hadith: ‘Neither My earth nor My Heavens can contain Me, but the heart of the Believer contains Me.’ This is one of the hidden secrets you must come to understand.’”

Then Shah Naqshband took full responsibility for him. He raised him from one state to another and prepared him to appear in the Divine Presence and to ascend the lofty towers of Spiritual Knowledge and leave behind all kinds of ignorance in order to reach the state of Reality. He became unique among the many followers of Baha’uddin Naqshband (q). The Shaykh ordered him, during his lifetime, to enlighten some of the Shaykh’s followers also. Thus Shaykh Muhammad Parsa followed him as well. Shaykh Muhammad Parsa wrote that he heard from Shaykh Alauddin: “I was given a power by my Shaykh, Shah Naqshband, such that if I were to focus on everyone in this universe, I would raise all of them to the state of perfection.”

One time the scholars of Bukhara had a disagreement concerning the possibility of seeing Allah in this world. Some of them denied the possibility and some of them affirmed it. All of them were followers of Shaykh Alauddin. They came to him and said, “We are asking you to be judge in this matter.” He said, “Those of you who have denied the possibility of seeing Allah in this life, stay with me three days, keeing ablution at all times and remaining silent.” He kept them in his presence for three days, directing his spiritual power on them, until they all beheld a very powerful state, causing them to faint. When they regained consciousness, they came to him crying out, amanna wa saddaqna (“We believe and we confirm that it is true!”) and kissed his feet. They told him, “We accept what you said, that it is possible to see Allah in this life.” They devoted themselves to him, never leaving him and making it their custom to kiss the threshold of his door. They composed the following verse:

Out of blindness they asked,

How can we reach the Divine?

Put in their hands the candles of purity.

They will know that the possibility

of seeing is not impossible.

Shaykh Alauddin was very dear and special to Shah Naqshband, just as Prophet Yusuf salla had been dear to the heart of his father, Prophet Ya`qub salla.

From the Light of His Sayings

He said:

The intention of seclusion is to leave the earthly connection and to direct the self to the Heavenly Truth.

It is said that the seeker in external knowledge must hold tight to the Rope of Allah, and the seeker in internal knowledge must hold tight to Allah.

When Shah Naqshband got new clothes he would give them to someone else to wear. After they were used he would borrow them back.

Levels of Annihilation

When Allah makes you forget both worldly power and the Heavenly Kingdom, this is Absolute Annihilation. And if He makes you forget Absolute Annihilation, it is the Essence of Absolute Annihilation.

Proper Conduct

You have to be at the level of the people around you and to hide your state from them, because the Prophet salla said, ‘I have been ordered to speak with people according to what their hearts can contain.

Beware of hurting the hearts of Sufis. If you want their company, you must first learn how to behave in their presence. Otherwise you are going to harm yourself, because their way is a very delicate way. It is said, ‘There is no place in Our Way for the one who doesn’t have good manners.

If you think you are behaving well then you are wrong, because seeing your own behavior as good is itself a form of pride.

On Visiting Graves

The benefit of visiting the graves of your Shaykhs depends on the knowledge you have of them.

To be near the graves of pious people has a good influence, although to direct yourself to their souls is better and carries with it a higher spiritual influence. The Prophet salla said, ‘Send prayers for me wherever you are.’ This indicates that you can reach the Prophet wherever you are, and it applies to His saints as well, because they take their power from the Prophet salla.

The adab, or proper way, of visiting graves is to direct yourself to Allah and to make these souls your means (wasilah) to Allah Almighty and Exalted, humbling yourself to His Creation. You humble yourself externally to them and internally to Allah. To bow before human beings is not allowed unless you look on them as appearances of God. Then that humbleness will be not directed to them, but it will be directed to the One Who is appearing in them, and that is God.

The Best Dhikr

The way of contemplation and meditation is higher and more perfect than the way of Dhikr by la ilaha illallah. The seeker, through contemplation and meditation (muraqabah), can reach the internal knowledge and will be able to enter the Heavenly Kingdom. He will be authorized to look at Allah’s Creation and he will know what is passing in their hearts, even the slightest gossip or whispering. He will be authorized to enlighten their hearts with the light from the essence of the essence of the state of Oneness.

Protecting the Heart

Silence is the best state, except under three conditions: you must not keep silent in the face of bad gossip attacking your heart; you must not keep silent in directing your heart to the remembrance of Allah; and you must not keep silent when the vision inside your heart orders you to speak.

To protect your heart from evil thoughts is very difficult, and I protected my heart for twenty years without letting in a single whisper.

The best deed in this Way is to punish the whispering and gossip in the heart.

I was unhappy with some of my followers, because they do not try to keep the state of vision that appears to them.

Love of the Shaykh

If the heart of the follower (murid) is full of the love of the Shaykh, this love replacing all other loves of the heart, then the heart will be able to receive the transmission of the Heavenly Knowledge, which has no beginning and no end.

The murid has to tell all his states to his Shaykh, and he has to believe that he will never reach his goal except through the satisfaction and love of his Shaykh. He must seek that satisfaction and he must know that all doors are blocked, internal and external, except the one door, which is his Shaykh. He has to sacrifice himself for the sake of his Shaykh. Even if he has the highest knowledge and the highest mujahada (capacity for effort), he must leave all that and feel as though he has nothing in front of his Shaykh. The seeker must give the Shaykh authority in all his affairs, religious and worldly, in such a way that he has no will before the will of his Shaykh. The duty of the Shaykh is to look at the daily activities of the murid and to advise and correct him in his living and his religion, to help him find the best way to reach his reality.

To visit saints is a Sunnah Wajiba, a duty on every seeker, at least every day, or every other day, while keeping the limits and respect between you and your Shaykh. If the distance is great between you and your Shaykh, visit him at least every one or two months. Don’t rely only on your connection with their heart, lest you become disconnected.

I guarantee to anyone who seeks this Way, that if he imitates the Shaykh with sincerity he will eventually find its reality. Shah Naqshband ordered me to imitate him and whatever I did in imitation of him immediately brought its results.

However, he also warned:

The masters of our Way cannot be known except in the Station of Colors and Changes (Maqam at-Talwin). Whoever imitates their behavior in that station will succeed. Whoever imitates their behavior in their Station of Perfection, however, will be corrupted. He will be safe from corruption only if his master has mercy on him and reveals to him the Reality of that Station.

What he means, and Allah knows best, is that the seeker cannot reach Perfection until he has been perfected. The Station of Color and Changes is the one in which the seeker struggles hard by fasting, by worshipping, by seclusion, and by maintaining steadfastness in his love and respect for his master from one difficulty to another. Imitating his master in this manner will bring him success, because his master excels in all these efforts. However, if he imitates the master when the latter is in his state of Perfection, he will be in danger, just as if he tried to fly without first growing wings. It is necessary for the seeker to climb the mountain first before he enjoys the view at the top.

To climb the mountain, the seeker must journey from the Lower world to the Divine Presence. He must travel from the ego’s world of sensual reality to the soul’s consciousness of the Divine Reality. To make progress on this journey, the seeker must bring into his heart the picture of his Shaykh (tasawwur), as it is the most powerful means of detaching oneself from the hold of the senses. The Shaykh becomes, in his heart, the mirror of the Absolute Essence. If he is successful, the state of Self-Effacement (ghayba) or “absence” from the world of the senses, appears in him. To the degree that this state increases in him, his attachment to the world of the senses will weaken and disappear, and the station of the Absolute Void of Unsensing Other-than-Allah will dawn on him.

The highest degree of this station is called Annihilation (fana’). Thus Shah Naqshband (q) counselled his murids: “When that state of Self-Effacement comes on me, leave me alone and give yourself to that state and accept its rights on us.”

Of this journey, Shaykh Alauddin (q) said to his murids:

 The shortest path to our goal, which is Allah, Almighty and Exalted, is for Allah to lift the veil from the Essence of the Face of His Oneness that appears in all creation. He does this with the State of Erasure(ghayba) and Annihilation in His Absolute Oneness (fana’), until His Majestic Essence dawns upon and eliminates consciousness of anything other than Him. This is the end of the Journey of Seeking Allah and the beginning of another Journey

At the end of the Journey of Seeking and the State of Attraction comes the State of Self-Effacement and Annihilation. This is the goal of all mankind as Allah mentioned in the Qur’an: ‘I did not create Jinn and Mankind except to worship me.’ Worship here means Perfect Knowledge (Ma`rifat)

On the 2nd of the month of Rajab, 802 H., Alauddin said, “I am going to leave you to go to the other life and no one can stop me.” He died on the 20th of Rajab, 802 H. He was buried in the city of Jaganyan, one of the suburbs of Bukhara.

He passed his secret to one of his many khalifs, the Shaykh Ya`qub al-Charkhi ق.