Section 1: Nisbat & Ihsaan
Explanation of Key words | Translator's Note | Compiler's Note | Salutary Words | Section 1: Nisbat & Ihsaan | Section 2: Aamaal Qalbiyyah
An Introduction to the Science of Tasawwuf
Section 1: Nisbat & Ihsaan
Reality of Nisbat
My Shaikh and mentor Faqeehul Ummah Hazrat Aqdas Mufti Mahmood Hasan Sahib Gangohi rahmatullahi alai mentions in one of his lectures that with Zikr (remembrance of Allah) a Nisbat is created between the remembered (Allah) and the one remembering i.e. the servant. When a person takes the name of Allah, time and time again, then a special bond is created. Then upon this bond special effects come into existence. This is the essence of Nisbat.
Literally, Nisbat means relationship and contact. Every creation has a sense of relationship with the creator but effects only become apparent when the creator is remembered.
Hazrat further elaborates; I inquired from Hazrat Maulana Abdul Qadir Raipuri rahmatullahi alai regarding Nisbat. He replied, `Praiseworthy qualities and the ability to perform righteous actions is called Nisbat.' Praiseworthy qualities are patience, gratitude, forbearance, generosity and self-sacrifice. These praiseworthy qualities begin to inculcate a person and subsequently he is purified of the debasing qualities, which are the opposite of praiseworthy qualities. [Mawaaiz, Part 3]
Hazrat Shaikh Maulana Zakaria rahmatullahi alai writes in one of his articles Nisbat and Ijazat (permission to carryout work of spiritual guidance), the reality of Nisbat has been described by Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi rahmatullahi alai very easily for ordinary people to understand. He says, In its literal sense Nisbat means `to be attached' or `relationship'. In its technical sense it means a person's contact and relationship with Allah Ta'ala, i.e. permanent obedience to Him, and continuous remembrance of Him as well as Allah Ta'ala's special relationship with him (acceptance of him and Allah's being pleased with him), as happens in the case of an obedient lover to the worthy beloved.
Further, he describes the sign of a person of Nisbat: When coming into his company you experience the effect that you become inclined towards the Akhirat (hereafter) and you experience a detachment from the Dunya (this world). Pious and righteous people begin to have an attachment to him and worldly people have very little inclination towards him. But this recognition, especially the first part, i.e. when coming into his company you experience inclination towards the Aakhirat, is less experienced by the general public and more discernible to those who follow the path of Sulook (journey towards spiritual reformation).
When one has understood the meaning of Nisbat, it is clear that a faasiq (evildoer) and kafir (disbeliever) cannot be a man of Nisbat. Some people wrongly describe Nisbat as a special condition, which overcomes a person as a result of Riyadhat (spiritual exercises) and Mujaahadah (spiritual striving). Then if so, this (special condition) could have been attained by every disciplined person undergoing Mujaahadah. To consider such a person as a Sahib-e-Nisbat (person of Nisbat) is only true in the terminology of ignorant ones.
This shows that Nisbat is a special kind of relationship. The stronger the relationship, the stronger the Nisbat will be. A general kind of relationship with Almighty Allah is something that every Muslim has, but the Nisbat we are referring to is the result of having a special kind of love and a special form of relationship with Allah Ta'ala. Just like there are various degrees and stages of love, similar is the case of Nisbat, i.e. weak and strong. The ultimate stage of Nisbat is to become drowned in the sea of love.
`It is useless searching for the shores of the sea of love,
O heart, best is to drown in it while crossing over.'
[Abstract from Nisbat & Ijaazat by Hazrat Shaikh rahmatullahi alai]
Then, Hazrat Shaikh rahmatullahi alai has quoted from Tafseer Azeezi the four types of Nisbat namely,
(For a detailed explanation of the above please refer to Aap Beti volume 5 by Hazrat Shaikh Maulana Zakaria rahmatullahi alai.)
These Nisbats are achieved by staying in the company of those who are Sahib-e-Nisbat, just like the Sahabah radiyallahu anhum through the blessings of the company of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam attained a strong kind of Nisbat and relationship with Allah and were bestowed with the mantle of radiyallahu anhum (Allah is pleased with them).
`I love the saints but I am not from amongst them,
I hope from Allah that he bestows goodness on me.'
True definition of Ihsaan
Ihsaan has two meanings:
1. To show generosity and favour upon others.
2. To improve Aamaal (actions) and to carry them out with utmost concentration. This latter meaning is applicable here. This has been clearly explained in the famous Hadith of Hazrat Jibraeel alaihis salaam in which after explaining the definition of Imaan (faith) and Islam he enquired from the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam,
“What is Ihsaan?” The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam replied,
“…to worship Allah in such a manner that you are looking at him,
and if this is not achievable then in such a manner that he is looking at you.” [Sahih Bukhari]
Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi rahmatullahi alai says, that in this Hadith Ihsaan is mentioned after Imaan and Islam, which indicates that besides the fundamental beliefs and physical actions there is another thing called Ihsaan. Furthermore, by the explanation given in the Hadith it can be understood that Ihsaan is a path of internal actions because without Ihsaan such complete and total attentiveness is unachievable. Thousands of reliable people have given oath to its presence, which can in no way be refuted. [Shariat & Tareeqat]
Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani rahmatullahi alai's explanation
Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani rahmatullahi alai says, the fundamental thing is Imaan, which resides in the depths of the heart. When this Imaan increases the effect becomes apparent upon the body. By constantly adhering to the advice of the Prophets alaihimus salaam relating to Imaan and Islam strength is gained. This strength, which is built up through good actions and constant adherence, is known as Ihsaan. The Prophets alaihimus salaam were the greatest tutors of this art. In conclusion, Imaan increases to become Islam, then Islam increases to become Ihsaan.
Further, he says, by systematically adhering to and constantly practicing upon the Shariat, which is a combination of Imaan and Islam, Ihsaan begins to develop. This is also known as Tareeqat (path of spirituality) by which one receives spiritual favour in this world. This is at times translated as Marifat (true knowledge of Allah) and Irfaan (recognition of Allah). [Fazlul Baari vol. 10]
Sayings of Hazrat Shaikh Zakariya rahmatullahi alai
In his book `Shariat and Tareeqat' Hazrat Shaikh rahmatullahi alai writes, Tareeqat is just another name for Ihsaan or it is the path of attaining the qualities of Ihsaan. This is also known as Tasawwuf (the knowledge which leads to inner spiritual purification and results in closeness to Allah) and Sulook (the path of Tasawwuf) or you can name it whatever you wish because they are all explanations of the same thing. He further writes, Hazrat Qutubul Irshaad Maulana Rashid Ahmed Gangohi rahmatullahi alai says that the spiritual power of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam was such that when even the greatest of non-believers said the words of “la ilaha illallaahu” they would instantly attain the status of Ihsaan. An example of this is that once the Companions radiyallahu anhum inquired from the Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam, “How are we to relieve ourselves? Because, this results in us being naked in the presence of Allah.” This was the ultimate state of their Ihsaan. [As recorded in Bukhari in the Book of Tafseer and reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas radiallah anhu]
These people (the Sahabah radiyallahu anhum) were in no need of Riyadhat and Mujaahadah because their strength was gained through companionship of the Noble Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam. However, this strength of the Sahabah radiyallahu anhum was of a lesser degree than the personal strength of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. This strength was also present in the Taabe'een rahemahumullah but to a lesser degree than that of the Sahabah radiyallahu anhum. But during the era of the Tabe-tabe'een (those believers who attained the companionship of Taabe'een) this strength had been weakened dramatically.
In order to rectify this weakness the Saints introduced Riyadhat and Mujaahadah. For a period these introductions remained only as a `means' and as a non-objective in itself. However, as time progressed further away from Khairul Quroon (best of times i.e. the era of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam) they began to be considered as an objective and resulted in the introduction of Bid'ah (innovation). He further states, prominent Sufis tried to rectify these shortcomings e.g. Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jelani, Shaikh Shihaabuddin Sahar'wardi, Mujaddid Alf Thani, and Sayyad Ahmad Shaheed rahemahumullah effectively. As a result of their efforts the innovations decreased, but they were not completely erased. [Summary from Shariat & Tariqat page: 94]
By the Compiler
As is apparent from the sayings of the saints that the main aim of Ihsaan is to acquire and adorn oneself with praiseworthy qualities and to purify and rid oneself of debasing qualities. This is also a part of Islam.
Therefore, Riyadhat, Mujaahadah and all other technical jargons are just new methods towards gaining Deen and not innovations in Deen. As an example, the objective is to read and understand the Qur'an and gain wisdom, but in order to achieve this object Madaaris (centres of learning) were established, syllabuses were created, books were published etc. all this did not exist in the era of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam and his Sahabah radiyallahu anhum. This is known as Ihdaath lid-Deen (innovation for religion) and is not Ihdaath fid-Deen (innovation in religion). This explanation is detailed in the forward by Hazrat Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Sahib Nadwi rahmatullahi alai in the book `Akabir ka Ihsaan wa Sulook'. This book is highly recommended as it very clearly explains what are `means' and what are `objectives'.
Sayings of Mujaddid Alf Thaani rahmatullahi alai
Hazrat writes in one of his letters that Shariat has three parts 1. Ilm (Knowledge) 2. Aamaal 3. Ikhlaas (purity of intention). Until all these three are not fully attained Shariat will not be fully achieved. The happiness of Allah is greater than all the pleasures and achievements of this world and the next. Almighty Allah says, “The greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah.” Therefore, Shariat encompasses the pleasure and achievements of both worlds.
He continues to say that Tareeqat and Haqeeqat (reaching a level of consciousness and spirituality whereby one is mentally, in full realisation and awareness of Allah's all-encompassing existence. The position of Haqeeqat relates the soul to its Rabb - Creator) which are distinguishing qualities of Sufis, are from the third part of the Shariat i.e. their aim is to achieve Ikhlaas. Therefore, to achieve Tareeqat and Haqeeqat is in reality to achieve Shariat and not something else. Besides this, during the various stages of a Sufi's spiritual journey the disclosure of knowledge relating to Mawajeed (status, existence and being) and the hidden wisdoms of the Shariat that become apparent to him are not the object, but are merely thoughts with which he is nurtured during his journey. The ultimate aim is to reach a state of Radha (acceptance and happiness with Allah's commands), as this is the final stage upon which the art of Jazb (status of being absorbed in Allah) and Sulook finishes.
He further writes, it is certainly the case that during the path of attaining the state of Ikhlaas and the state of Radha one has to acquire knowledge relating to Mawajeed and the hidden wisdoms of the Shariat therefore, these things will be considered as the initial phases of attaining the object and not the object itself.
I have only attained the reality of this art after strolling on this path for ten full years with the Sadqah of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. [Summary from Shariat & Tareeqat]
Words from the Compiler
From the words of the Mujaddid it is established that the main objective is the attainment of Ikhlaas on which lies Radha of Almighty Allah.
Due to the companionship of the Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam the Sahabah radiyallahu anhum managed to acquire complete Ikhlaas, it is for this reason their donation of a Mu'd (a weight measurement) would outweigh in reward the donation of even gold equal to the mountain of Uhud of those who came after them. The reason behind this was that their donation accompanied such Ihsaan and Ikhlaas, which cannot be matched by someone coming afterwards due to their distance in time from the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wasallam era.
A further example of this can be understood from the saying of Hazrat Anas radiyallahu anhu who explains that after burying the Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam we hadn't even dusted our hands from the soil and dust of the grave that we felt a difference in the noor in our hearts. [Mishkaat]
In order to achieve this very state of Ihsaan and Ikhlaas the art of Tasawwuf was established based upon the Qur'an and Hadith. This is similar to all those other sciences, which were not found in the time of the Sahabah radiyallahu anhum but were compiled and introduced later because of their need.
Explanation given by Shaikhul-Islam Hazrat Madani rahmatullahi alai
Hazrat Shaikh rahmatullahi alai writes in his book Shariat and Tareeqat that Hazrat Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani rahmatullahi alai emphasised in his letters that the object of Sulook is Ihsaan. He writes in one of his letters, My Dear, the object of Sulook is Ihsaan i.e. 'to worship Allah in such a manner that you are looking at him', which means that the Saalik is imbued with virtuous and praiseworthy qualities. These are the initial stages of his journey and the final object is to acquire Radha of Almighty Allah.
People of Comprehensive Qualities
Allama Sayyad Suleman Nadwi rahmatullahi alai writes, those Saints from whom the light of Islam spread throughout India were such individuals who had comprehensive qualities of a Madrasah (institution of knowledge) and Khaanka (an abode for self-reformation) and this resulted in them being close to the example of the Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam.
This was the very reason that their blessings and spiritual influence reached the furthest of places. If you reflect on the individuals starting from the Star of Delhi Shah Abdur Raheem rahmatullahi alai to Shah Ismail Shaheed rahmatullahi alai you will see that they had simultaneously mastered both the external and internal sciences, and from this their academic achievements and spiritual blessings become crystal clear. When occupied in teaching they would demonstrate the meaning of the verse “he teaches you the Book and Wisdom” and when they were in their respective quarters they would be fulfilling the verse “he purifies them”. [Usool Dawat]
Explanation of Shaikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlawi rahmatullahi alai
This text is from Shaikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlawi's book `Lamaatul Tanqee' the commentary of Mishkat.
It becomes apparent from the aforementioned commentary of Shaikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlawi rahmatullahi alai that by attaining the state of Ihsaan one's Deen becomes complete and the essence of this is Ikhlaas without which faith and actions cannot be termed complete. This has been explained at numerous places throughout the Holy Qur'an and in the Ahadith of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam of which some verses have been quoted as examples in the text.
Then explaining further, he says, Ihsaan has two meanings.
1. To beautify ones action and to attain the best of it, this is the meaning, which is applicable here.
2. To extend generosity towards others. This latter meaning can also be acceptable in the form that you assist yourself by abstaining from Shirk (associating partners with Allah) and Riyaa (to carryout acts of worship with the intention to enhance one's dignity in the eyes of the people).
Then, there are two stages of Ihsaan. One is the greater one, which is explained as Mushahada (observance), i.e. the servant is observing Allah, due to his complete attention with the eyes of the heart, (although this is not possible with the physical eyes in this world). The second stage is the lower one, which is explained as Muraqabaa (deep concentration). The Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam attained the greatest stage of Ihsaan which is why he stated, as has been recorded in a Hadith that “…the coolness of my eyes is in Salaah.” Through the blessing of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam the Saints and Abedeen (sincere worshippers) also managed to reach this stage. (Numerous examples of this are mentioned in various books.)
May Almighty Allah through the intercession of his beloved Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam grant us the status of Ihsaan in our worship and actions, and may he resurrect us on the day of judgement with his Prophets Alaihimus salaam, the Siddeqeen, the Martyrs, and the Righteous Ones. Ameen