After mentioning the Name and seeking refuge with the Named, Ahmad ibn Mustafa al-'Alawi says with conviction and resolution, praising the One Who is manifest by the vastness of His essence in power and judgement, and Who has removed Himself far from impurity and association in the self-manifestations of His attributes in wisdom and knowledge. He is the First and the Last, the Outwardly Manifest and the Inwardly Hidden in the earth and the heaven. Whomever He singles out for His presence witnesses Him, and the deaf denier is ignorant of Him.
I witness that there is no god but Allah with the witnessing of unveiling and certainty, which heals rancour and cools vehement thirst. Glory be to Him, majestic is His majesty, that describers should describe Him, or that they should circle around that protected zone. If it were not for the graciousness of Allah towards His creatures, and His mercy to them none of those who dispute His authority would remain, because He would cause the earth to swallow them up or drop the sky upon them, or the winds would annihilate them and leave them deaf and blind after they had been accustomed to hearing and seeing. But glory be to Him for a compassionate pitying God. His will precedes His causing to come into existence and His mercy precedes His anger, so that all is blessed and established in His liberal generosity. Intellects are exhausted at grasping His reality, and thoughts are incapable of encompassing anything of His knowledge, "He encompasses everything in mercy and knowledge."
I thank you, O Allah, for that gnosis of Your well-guarded secret which You have generously and forbearingly entrusted to us and given us. I ask You by Your liberal generosity to preserve us in that which You have given as a gift to us with a preservation and a protection which will not leave any illusion; and I seek Your help that You will rain down upon us from the clouds of mercy, and that you will help us, with a strength from You, to be steadfast and resolute and that You will protect us from the evils of our selves in that which we forget or in which we make mistake or which we do unjustly, deliberately or out of ignorance, out of hostility on our part or wrongdoing, and that You show mercy to us if we are worthy of it, and if not, then You are worthy of forgiving and showing mercy to every one who is affiliated to You or depends on You.
I ask You that You bless and exalt and send blessings to the measure of Your capacity and to the measure of the vastness of Your essence upon Your Messenger, in spirit and in body to the measure of those blessings of which he is worthy and of miraculous ennoblements with which he is pleased, and as much as befits his loftiest station, and upon his family and companions, his descendants and his wives, as long as the earth and the heaven endure, and upon his ummah, the elect of them and the generality, as You sent blessings and barakah upon Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. How could that not be, when You have said, and Your word is the truth, paying tribute and teaching us and honouring the rank of Your Chosen Prophet and exalting him, "Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O you who believe send blessings on him, and send him greetings of peace a great deal."
Before I begin what I intend to do I must mention two introductions: the first, on the reasons for the commentary on the book and for dividing it into sections; the second, comprises an introduction to the author and some biographical notices. My success is only by Allah and upon Him I depend and to Him I turn in penitence.
Allah is sufficient for me in that which I have written, the praise is for Him and by Him help is sought, His is the grace in that which I have outlined. We have done nothing except clarify, and I seek forgiveness of Allah for that which I mention, for we have no hand nor tongue, His is the creation and the command, for in every thing there is an affair and an affair.
That which ought specifically to be mentioned is our concern for these noble wisdoms, so I say that it is sixteen years since these wisdoms fell into our hands and into the hands of a body of the brothers guiding us in our journey to Allah in the stations of ihsan. We gained revival of our spirits through study of them, and the breasts increased in expansion because of those realities and gentle subtleties which it contains, for realities are clarified in it very fully. How many a disobedient one is checked by its remonstrances, and how many a confused one its expressions take by the hand, particularly his saying, may Allah be pleased with him, "When the Truth appears nothing other than Him remains with Him." How much he indicated the manifestation of realities and the falsity of restricted [meanings], and how much he showed travellers the right way to the meaning of arrival and the reality of tawhid, and how much he made the desirous to yearn, and counselled the neglectful, and there is no increase to be made in his counsel, so that he said, "Whoever cannot be patient in accompanying his Lord, Allah will try with the company of the slaves." What a wise man he was who undertook that which was his duty. We are only bound to model ourselves on him and the likes of him, "Those are the ones whom Allah guided, so by their guidance be guided."
This is that with which we must concern ourselves and which we must desire, even if those who devote themselves to its service are few. Even if some are occupied with it, it doesn't fulfil its object and, in the main, it hinders worshippers from benefitting from it and seekers being ennobled by its study as they are ennobled by other works. However the sun must have clouds which is a part of Allah's bounty to it. When we read it I immediately said, because of my zeal for it, "If Allah extends my life and takes me in hand by His bounty, completes His blessing upon me as is His characteristic, if He expands my breast, loosens the knot from my tongue, and makes my speech understood so that I may be able to make clear some of that which it contains, then I will make a commentary for the blessing of it, and in honour of his rank." After my vow some time elapsed and I forgot that which I had promised Allah until He woke me, subhanahu wa ta'ala, by the tongue of one of the beloveds who said, "You must fulfil that which you promised Allah, and you must undertake the service of this wali, and you are obliged to do it. 'Allah helps the slave as long as the slave is helping his brother'. That is only forgetfulness on your part and a shortcoming with respect to Him. I tell you that it will find wide acceptance among people." At that, his concern moved me into action, and I worked by His permission, for Allah recompenses whoever does good or commands it, and how can that not be when 'the one who points out good is as the one who does it'?
When I realised that I had to make a commentary on it, I resolved to enter the ocean from its shore in order to bring out for it a garment of its own class, and to present it with a gift of its own description, even if I was not one of its people, for whoever sits with the perfumer becomes fragrant with his perfume. There is no avoiding our saying that we have a portion of its taste, and the favour is Allah's, there is no one to withhold His bounty, 'When Allah bestows a blessing on His slave He loves that it should be seen on him'. I hope from Allah that it will benefit me and that it will be of benefit, and that we will be a reason for its acceptance and its publication. At least we will be honoured with its service, for the genitive noun is honoured by the nobility of the noun by which it is governed because of his words, may Allah show mercy to him, "Whoever sits with the people of dhikr is alerted to his distraction, and whoever serves the people of right action benefits from his service." Serve them even if you cannot fulfil what is due to them For the ignoramus serves his Highness the Sultan. It is no wonder if you preserve some of their speech For commentators preserve the words of the Qur'an
Moreover, know that I have arranged these wisdoms differently from their original arrangement hoping by that to complete the benefit, since I have arranged them in sections according to the stations and the requirements of the sayings. Every wisdom I have gathered together with its own type in a reasonable way, to awaken the desire of the reader and to make it simple for him so that he will not become tired and so that if he wants to study a section he will find that which accords with his wish and more. I did not find the wisdoms intelligently arranged, rather each copy differed from its sister in transmission. So I undertook to unite what I stumbled across along with correcting its ascription to the author, may Allah be pleased with him, to the extent of my capacity and of my own judgement. When I had gathered it, it wasn't clear to me how I should proceed with beginning the book. One whose counsel ought to be acted upon indicated to me that I should make it in sections, and that I should put each phrase among its own kind. After I had sought permission of our Master the author in my heart, the mercy of Allah be upon him, it seemed certain to me that was the best course, because the first of the wisdoms is not judged in comparison with the last of them, rather it is the wisdom itself that is taken as an admonition, so it is different from composition.
The explanation of that difference is that in composition a fitting relationship between the thing written and what is written after it is stipulated, as long as the section continues to the end of the speech.
That is not a precondition of wisdoms. The wisdom is only considered with respect to itself, and so for this reason it is said, "Sages' lights precede their words." Even if the sage were to be occupied with placing one wisdom after another, and he undertook to make clear the relation between them he would have gone out of the abundance of making known and he would have entered into the gathering together of composition. For that reason the structure of wisdoms is different from the structure of composition. On that basis a precondition of wisdoms is the composition of speech, and there is nothing wrong with arranging wisdoms in an arrangement other than their received structure as long as the wisdom remains in its original condition.
Moreover, you should know that hikam is the plural of hikmah, which is a word comprising "a meaning by which benefit is attained". Other things have been said in explanation of it. I was told the number of the wisdoms at the beginning of being occupied with them, and they are approximately one hundred and seventy. I have arranged them in eighteen sections as they indicated:
First section: on the self and its treatment.
Second section: on his forbidding keeping company with the worst of people.
Third section: on his forbidding accompanying people who make claims.
Fourth section: introducing the Shaykh of instruction.
Fifth section: on useful knowledge.
Sixth section: on dhikr and sitting with the people of dhikr.
Seventh section: on fear and watchfulness (muraqabah).
Eighth section: on surrender and committing one's affairs to Allah.
Ninth section: on dependence on Allah, mighty is He and majestic.
Tenth section: on need and its virtues.
Eleventh section: on doing-without and contentment.
Twelfth section: on sincerity.
Thirteenth section: on love and longing.
Fourteenth section: on the appearance of tawhid and the annihilation of the slaves.
Fifteenth section: on the states of the people after their annihilation.
Sixteenth section: on their sayings after their annihilation.
Seventeenth section: on their actions and their constancy.
Eighteenth section: on obscurity and its virtues,
and success is by Allah.
Know, may Allah grant us and you the grace of loving the Awliya of Allah who are gnostics, that the excellent qualities of the author, may Allah be pleased with him, are too numerous to be counted, and too magnificent to be capable of being exhausted. His fame is not hidden from the person of insight. However, we must mention something in summary.
I say that there is no avoiding the fact that Sidi Abu Madyan is one of the people of excellence. His name is Shu'ayb ibn Ahmad ibn Ja'far ibn Shu'ayb. His honorific is Abu Madyan and he was named thus after his son Sidi Madyan who possessed many well known excellences and is buried in Cairo, may it be protected, in the Jumu'ah mosque of Shaykh Abdalqadir ad-Dashtuti, may Allah be pleased with him, by the cistern on the bare ground outside the walls close to the eastern parts of Cairo. On it there is a great dome and it is a grave which is much visited, and about whose merit most visitors bear witness.
As for the author, may Allah be pleased with him, his grave is in Tlemcen and I will speak further about it. He, may Allah be pleased with him, was handsome, accomplished and well-mannered, humble, doing-without, scrupulous and serious. He encompassed the noble qualities of character, good heartedness, and abstinence from the world. Something which will show you his doing-without, scrupulousness and his total dedication to Allah is that which is narrated of him in his wisdoms, of which there is his saying, may Allah be pleased with him, "Need (faqr) is a light as long as you conceal it. When you make it public its light departs." He also said, "Every needy person to whom taking is more beloved than giving is lying; he has not smelt the scent of need." He used to say, may Allah be pleased with him, "Whoever is occupied with the world will be tried with humiliation in it." He used to say, "The heart has only one direction which whenever it faces it it is absent from other than it."
The rest of his wisdoms will come. Each wisdom ought to be written with liquid gold. There is no doubt that his state exceeded his words because the gnostic is higher than that which he says. The Shaykhs of his age were unanimous in exalting him, as is everyone who followed after them down to our own day. The source of help for this party, Sidi Abu'l-'Abbas al-Mursi, may Allah be pleased with him, when he was asked about his station said, "I went around in the Malakut of Allah and then I saw Sidi Abu Madyan clinging to the leg of the Throne, and he was at that time a man who was of a ruddy complexion and blue-eyed. I said to him, 'What are your sciences? What is your station?' He said, 'My sciences are seventy-one in number. As for my station it is the fourth of the four khulafa, and the leader of the seven Abdal'." He was asked, may Allah be pleased with him, about his station and he said, "My station is the station of slavehood, and the sciences of Godhood. My attributes are replenished from the Divine attributes. His sciences fill my secret and my public. His light illuminates my land and my sea. The one who is drawn near is the one who knows Him. No one ascends high except for he who is given a sound heart which is safe from other than Him. There is nothing in the container except that which his Master placed in it. Without doubt, the heart of the gnostic pastures in the Malakut, 'And you will see the mountains which you think are solid and they pass by like clouds'." (Surat an-Naml: 90)
It is narrated that Shaykh Abu 'Abdullah Muhammad ibn Hajjaj al-Maghribi said, may Allah be pleased with him, "I heard our Shaykh, Shu'ayb Abu Madyan, may Allah be pleased with him, saying in his assembly, 'Every Badal is in the grasp of the gnostic, because the kingdom of the Badal extends from the heaven to the earth, and the kingdom of the gnostic is from the Throne to the bed. What are the excellent qualities of the Badal in respect to the excellent qualities of the gnostic but as a gleam of a dazzling flash of lightning? The degree of gnosis is only drawing nearer to the divine presence and closer to the assembly of absolute purity.' Then he said, 'Tawhid is a secret whose affair encompasses both realms of being'." He said, "When it was night I slept and there I was with Shaykh Abu Madyan in a gathering of the gnostics, may Allah be pleased with them. I said to him, 'Tell me the reality of your secret in your tawhid.' He said, 'My secret is happy with secrets refreshed from divine oceans which it is not proper to make public except among their people, since indication is incapable of describing them, and jealousy refuses anything but concealing them. They are secrets which encompass existence, and which no one grasps except for one who has lost his country, or who exists in the world of the reality by his secret, revolving in eternal life, and he is by his secret doing tawaf in the space of the Malakut, and pasturing in the canopies of the Jabarut which have been created by the Names and Attributes, and he has been annihilated from them by witnessing the Essence. There is my residence and my homeland, the stillness of my eye and my dwelling, and the Truth, mighty is He and majestic, is independent of every one. He has manifested the wonders of His power in my existence, and turned with protection and grace towards me, and unveiled what was concealed of realisation for me. My life stands by Oneness, and my indication is of uniqueness. My spirit is firmly established in the Unseen. My angel says to me, "O Shu'ayb, every day is new for the slaves and with Us there is increase." It was said to me, "O Abu Madyan, may Allah increase you in His lights".'" He said, "When it was morning, I went to Shaykh Abu Madyan and told him about this event, and he confirmed it to me and did not reject any of it."
As for his upbringing and his residence, and the date of his birth, he was born in Andalus in 492 AH/1098 CE. After his upbringing he went to Fez and learnt fiqh there, and dwelt there for a period until he had gathered what he needed. He read aloud to a large number of shaykhs, of whom there was the very learned hafidh, Shaykh Abu'l-Hasan ibn Ghalib from whom he took the majority of what he obtained. He used to say, may Allah be pleased with him, "At the beginning of my affair and of my study with the shaykhs, whenever I heard the commentary of an ayah or the meaning of a hadith, I used to be content with it and I would go aside to an empty area outside of Fez which I took as a shelter to work with what Allah had opened to me. Whenever I was alone in it a gazelle would come to me to take shelter with me and it would be tame towards me. I used to pass along the path and the dogs of the village adjoining Fez would go around me and wag their tails at me. One day when I was in Fez, there was a man from among my acquaintances from Andalus who greeted me and I returned his greeting. I wanted to show him hospitality and so I sold a robe for ten dirhams, and sought him out in order to pay them to him, but I could not find him there. I kept them with me and went out to my place of retreat as was my custom. I passed my village and the dogs opposed me and prevented me from passing, until someone came out of the village and interposed himself between me and them. When I reached my retreat the gazelle came to me as usual, but when she smelt me she fled from me, and refused to know me. I said, 'This thing which is happening to me is only happening because of the dirhams which I have with me.' I threw them away from me and the gazelle was still, and returned to how she had been with me. When I went back to Fez I took the dirhams and met the Andalusian and gave them to him. Then later I passed the village on my way to my retreat, and the dogs went around me and wagged their tails as usual, and the gazelle came to me as usual and smelt me from the parting in my hair to between my feet, and was tame towards me. I remained in that condition for a period."
When he, may Allah be pleased with him, had finished being occupied with outward knowledge he raised his aspiration towards that which is beyond that of the purification of the inward, and he took the realities from their people. He said, may Allah be pleased with him, "When I heard of the miracles of Sidi Abu Ya'za al-Maghribi and his excellent qualities were repeated within my hearing, my heart filled with love at the beauty of his life story, and I went to see him with a group of fuqara. When we reached him he turned towards the whole group except for me. When the food came he prevented me from eating with them. I stayed in that condition for three days. Hunger consumed me, and I became bewildered by thoughts which would occur to me. I said to myself, 'When the Shaykh stands up from his place I will roll my face in it.' He stood up and I rolled my face and stood up, and I could not see anything. I continued for two nights weeping. The morning after that the Shaykh called me, may Allah be pleased with him, and drew me close to him. I said to him, 'Sidi, I have become blind, and now I do not see anything.' He rubbed his hand over my eyes and my sight returned to me. Then he rubbed my chest and those thoughts left me, and I lost the pain of hunger. At that moment I witnessed wonders of his blessings. Then later I sought his permission to go and visit the Exalted House, and he gave me permission. He told me, 'You will meet a lion on your way, so do not let it frighten you. If fear overcomes you, say to it, "By the inviolability of the people of the Light, if you don't leave meÄ" and it happened as he had said.
From there he went to the east, may Allah be pleased with him. The traces of wilayah appeared upon him. He learnt from noted people of knowledge, and received much benefit from the people of doing-without and the people of right action of the east. As for Shaykh 'Abdalqadir al-Jili, may Allah be pleased with him, he met him at 'Arafah and kept his company. He read many ahadith out to him in the noble Haram, and he dressed him in the patched robe of Tasawwuf, and entrusted some of his secrets to him, and ornamented him with the clothing of lights. Sidi Abu Madyan, may Allah be pleased with him, used to be proud of having kept his company and would count him as one of the greatest of his shaykhs.
When he returned from his Hajj and from his wanderings none permitted him to reside but Bijayah where he settled. He used to say, "It is specifically recommended for one who is seeking the halal." He continued there, his state increasing in exaltation with the passing of nights and days. Deputations and people in need would come to him from every horizon. He had visionary knowledges and unveilings.
When his affair became widely known and news of him became very public, some of the scholars of outward knowledge misrepresented him to Ya'qub al-Mansur. They said, "One is afraid of him concerning your state, because he resembles the Mahdi (meaning the Imam Mahdi) and he has many followers in most of the provinces." A fear entered his heart, and he became concerned about him. He sent for him to come to him so that he could examine him, and he wrote to the members of his state in Bijayah counselling them to be careful of him and to convey him in the best manner. When the Shaykh prepared to travel, that was hard for his companions, and they changed and spoke with him about that. He made them be silent and said to them, "My desire has approached, and I have been decreed for the graves of that place, and there is no avoiding it. I have grown old and weak, and am not able to move. Allah, exalted is He, has sent me someone who will convey me to Him gently and will send me to Him in the best way. I will not see the Sultan and he will not see me." The hearts of the fuqara became at ease at that, and they realised that it was one of his miracles. They travelled with him in the best state until they reached the vicinity of Tlemcen. Rabitah al-'Ubbad appeared and he said, may Allah be pleased with him, to his companions, "What a good place to sleep!" A sickness came upon him. When he arrived at Wadi Yusr the pain became very severe. They alighted with him there after he had said to his companions, "Let us alight. What do we and the Sultan have to do with each other! This night we will visit the brothers." Then later he alighted in the vicinity of Tlemcen. The night of his entrance he faced the Qiblah, repeated the Shahadah, and said, "Here, I have come! 'And I have hastened to You my Lord so that You might be pleased' (Surah Ta-Ha: 82)." Then he said, "Allah is the Truth," and his spirit departed. They carried him to al-'Ubbad, which is a village close to Tlemcen and he was buried there. His burial was a great event and a noble assembly. That day Shaykh Abu 'Ali al-Habbak turned in tawbah. It has been said that the Imam Mansur was punished because of him some days later.
His death was in the year 573 AH/1177 CE. He was more than eighty years old. Those who have concerned themselves with information about him transmit that supplication at his grave is answered. A group have tested that. One of those who proved it was Sidi Muhammad al-Huwari in the book at-Tanbih. Our master, Sidi Muhammad al-Buzidi, may Allah be pleased with him, often used to tell us to visit him. He would speak highly of him and say that supplication at his grave is answered. He used to say, "The cause of my journeying to Morocco was his blessings and by his idhn. That was because I spent a night at his grave after having recited some Qur'an, and suddenly there he was, may Allah be pleased with him. He had come to me with along with one of my grandfathers. They both greeted me, and then he said, 'Go to Morocco! I have made it easy for you.' I said to him, 'Morocco has many poisons and snakes, and I cannot live there.' He began to rub his blessed hand over my body and he said to me, 'Go and do not fear. We will protect you from what comes unexpectedly to you.' I woke up terrified. From his grave I went straight to Morocco, and there I managed to meet Shaykh Sidi Muhammad ibn Qudur, may Allah be pleased with him."
One of those things which I witnessed of the virtue of visiting him is that once I wanted to go Tlemcen to fulfil some important necessities, and so I asked permission of the Shaykh, may Allah be pleased with him, for that. He gave me permission and told me to visit Sidi Abu Madyan. When I got to Tlemcen rain and extreme cold prevented me from visiting him. I spent almost seven days for the sake of that which I had gone there. That became extremely difficult for me in every respect. On the seventh day I remembered the visit to the Shaykh, may Allah be pleased with him, and I said to myself that I had to go there since my master had told me to visit him. I went to his grave and sought the blessing of its threshold. Then I returned to my place and slept that night. When the morning was clear, one of our beloved ones came to me and said, "Rejoice in the discharge of your need!" I said, "From where has that come?" He said to me, "Because Sidi Abu Madyan came to me yesterday in a dream and said to me, 'Say to so and so "Your need has been discharged".'" The story wasn't over before someone came to us to tell us of the completion of what I had intended. So I learnt that the Shaykh, may Allah be pleased with him, is one of those whom by visiting one receives benefit.
As for his admonition, may Allah be pleased with him, and his speech they pervaded the hearts, particularly those of the people of love and longing, to the extent that some died in his gatherings. He did not come out to people nor was he occupied in reminding them until he was told to do that. It is narrated of him that he remained in his house for almost a year without meeting anyone and only going out for the Jumu'ah. People gathered at the door of his house and asked him to talk with them. When they forced him he came out, and as he did so some sparrows which had been on his roof fled, and he went back in after having come out. He said, "If I was in the correct state to give discourse the birds would not have fled from me." He remained in his house for another year. Then when he came out they did not fly away from him, and so he began to talk to people. It is said that birds used to circle around his assembly, and that some of them would fall dead.
As for his tariqah it was on a strong foundation, for he took hold of the shari'ah and commanded it. One of his wisdoms is his saying, "There is no way to Allah except by the door of following the Messenger."
Many people benefitted from him. It has been narrated about him that almost three hundred gnostics of Allah, over and above people of right action, came out of his circle. Abu 'Abdullah al-Fasi the Lesser mentioned in al-Minah al-Birriyah (Solicitous Gifts) in his words on the way of Shaykh Abu Madyan, may Allah be pleased with him, the following: "Three hundred Qutbs came out of his circle apart from people of right action." He used to say in his assembly, "The Shaykh is the one who shapes you by his qualities of character, and teaches you courtesy by his lowering his gaze, and illuminates your inwardness by his luminosity."
It is said that a man entered in order to raise an objection against him and sat down in the circle. The one whose turn it was began to recite, but the Shaykh said, "Wait a little." Then he turned to the man and said to him, "Why have you come?" He said to him, "In order to take a portion of your light." The Shaykh said to him, "What is that in your pocket?" He said, "A copy of the Qur'an." He said, "Open it, and read the first line, and that which you need will come to you." When he opened it and looked at the first line, there was in it, "Those who denied Shu'ayb, it was as if they had never lived there. The people who denied Shu'ayb, they were the losers." (Qur'an, Surat al-A'raf: 91). The Shaykh said to him, "Is this not enough for you?" and the man acknowledged his wrong action and turned in tawbah and his state became sound. He never parted from him after that.
One of his pupils whose wife had enraged him the night before came to him one day, and he intended to separate from her. When the Shaykh saw him he said to him, "Hold fast your wife and fear Allah" (Qur'an, Surat al-Ahzab: 37). The man said, "By Allah! I had not spoken to anyone about her." The Shaykh said, may Allah be pleased with him, "When you entered the mosque I saw this ayah written on your burnous, and so I knew your intention."
One of his miracles also is that which is narrated of him, may Allah be pleased with him, that he used to talk about the realities (haqa'iq) after Salat al-Fajr in the Mosque of al-Khidr in the town of al-Andalus. The monks of a monastery known as the King's Monastery heard of it. They were seventy in number. Ten of the most important of them came in order to test [the Shaykh], and they disguised themselves and dressed in the clothing of Muslims. They entered the mosque and sat with the people listening. No one knew anything of them at that time. When the Shaykh wanted to talk he was silent until a man who was a tailor came in. The Shaykh said to him, "What held you up?" He said, "Sidi, I had to finish the ten garments which you advised me about yesterday." The Shaykh took them from him and rose from his place to stand. He dressed each one of the monks in a garment. People were astonished at that, and yet no one knew the story. Then the Shaykh began to speak. Among that which he said was, "Fuqara! When the breeze of grace blows from the direction of the Truth, exalted is He, upon illuminated hearts it extinguishes all light." Then the Shaykh breathed, may Allah be pleased with him, and all the candles of the mosque were extinguished, and there were more than thirty of them. Then the Shaykh was silent and lowered his gaze and no one tried to speak because of the greatness of their awe of him. Then he raised his head and said, "There is no god but Allah. Fuqara! when the lights of concern shine on dead hearts they come alive and every darkness is illuminated for them." Then he breathed and the candles burst into flame and their light returned to them, and they excited each other and swayed from side to side until they almost joined together. Then the Shaykh spoke about one of the ayat of prostration and he prostrated and the people prostrated and the monks prostrated with the people from fear of discovery. The Shaykh said in his prostration, "O Allah, You know best the management of Your creatures and what is of benefit to Your slaves. These monks are in harmony with the Muslims in their clothing and in prostration to You. We have transformed their outward appearances and no one other than You can change their inwards. You have seated them at the table of Your generosity, so deliver them from ascribing partners and from going beyond the limits. Bring them out of the darkness of covering over to the light of iman." The monks had not lifted their heads from prostration before that which they had previously of shunning the truth passed away and they finished with error and going beyond the limits. They went to the Shaykh and turned from their kufr at his hands, with tears and grieving hearts. People cried out and wept because of their weeping, and it was a singular day. Three people died in that assembly. Their affair reached the king, and he treated them well and honoured their dwelling place. The Shaykh was extremely joyous at that and he thanked Allah for His blessings.
One of his supplications was, may Allah be pleased with him, "O Allah, knowledge is with You and it is veiled from me. I do not know anything so that I could choose it for myself. I hand over my affair to You, and I hope for You because of my need and dependence. Guide me, O Allah to the most beloved of matters to You, and the most pleasing of them to You, and the most rightly guided of them in its ultimate end, for You do whatever you wish by Your power. You have power over every thing."
As for his literary compositions they are too numerous to count, but I will mention for the blessing that which the patron of our blessing, Shaykh Sidi Muhammad al-Buzidi, used to persevere in chanting as poetry and singing melodiously, just as the majority of the gnostics would sing it, and they would inscribe it in the Diwans. It seems to me that it is the best of the speech of the Folk upon which my sight has fallen, and it is his words, may Allah be pleased with him:
"Allah" say, and abandon existence and what it contains,
if you are content with attaining perfection.
Everything apart from Allah, if you realise it,
is nothing in detail and in general.
Know that you and the worlds, all of them,
if it were not for Him, are in obliteration and they come to nothing.
He who has no existence in his essence from his essence,
then his existence, if it were not for Him, is the source of impossibility.
The gnostics are annihilated and do not witness
anything other than the Great, the Self Exalted.
They see other than Him in reality as perishing,
in the present, the past and the future.
Look with your eye or your intellect; do you see
anything other than one of the actions?
Of his fine verse compositions also, may Allah be pleased with him, there is:
My moments are pleasant with a lover of ours
whose love is my treasure.
We desire One from whom we have no independence
for the rightness of my affair.
I am he, the shaykh of the drink, the one who gives drink to the mariner;
rending is sweet to me.
Spread out my prayer rug, wine by wine,
bring the beakers near.
Interpret my intemperance with the technical terms,
O people of realisation.
O I, who is he? I even I
I am infatuated in my intoxication.
Let me hear the sweetness of the melodies of singing,
so that perhaps we may understand.
So that we may recover, O fuqara, from my intoxication,
strike upon the 'Oud.
Interpret me above the exaltation of my vine,
Put some of its water in my grave,
and squeeze the bunch of grapes.
Make its leaves a shroud for me,
its water is my purity.
Above or from beneath or on the right,
dig my grave.
I have sold my danfas, my patched robe and my lower garment,
and I am left naked.
I walk between the great tree of the dwellings,
while I am drunk,
Among intimate friendsæand drinking cups which circulate,
bewitching the intellects.
I fundamentally have no ability not to drink,
and desire is my intoxication.
And you, O fuqara, O trustworthy ones,
conceal my secret.
He also has much more poetry and rhyming prose than a writer could enumerate, which show his great capacity for gnoses.
In summary, he was, may Allah be pleased with him, one of those in whom the excellent qualities were perfected. There is no avoiding the fact that time will be unlikely to produce another like him. How well he is praised in the following qasidah, and it is his due that the writer of the qasidah should praise him and exhaust what is in his capacity, and yet he did not fulfil the right due to him. He said:
The waymarks of guidance manifested to us in tasting truthfully,
so, by the sun of the deen, our west became an east.
Everything that had been setting shone from there,
and the light of the fortunate star came to fill the horizons.
Allah gave to drink a huge downpour from the water of love
to hearts which were infatuated with Him, so say, "How have you not been given to drink?"
They had done without that which is other than Him so that
their selves came to proclaim the world an old frayed garment.
They drowned in the ocean of love of their God,
sufficient it is for you as an ocean and sufficient it is for you of drowning.
When the secrets of their longing for their Lord rejoiced at the secret,
they increased in longing for His vision.
Hearts went together like an army towards guidance,
so the arrows of love returned, shooting them in volleys.
Then the multitudinous army came from tawhid,
so He annihilated the one who was annihilated and He gave going-on to the one who attained going-on.
They are the people whom the one who sits with comes to no grief;
does anyone grieve who attains nearness to them?
Abu Madyan, a company of men have taken on your deen,
you befriended them out of love and gently drew them near.
For you, O sun, Allah caused to shine out by its light
that of the deen which had been deeply dark.
You gave hearts to drink for as long as thirst had obliterated them,
then you rained upon them of the water of the science of guidance.
You revived all those of them who had been dead,
and you charmed all those of them who had not been treated.
You brought them out of every ignorance and darkness,
for whenever the night of destruction darkens it has lightning.
You entered them into the fortress of dependence (tawakkul)
and the Possessor of Might took hold of them with the 'Firmest Handhold'.
O Shu'ayb, you healed our hearts with knowledge,
for your name has its derivation from the union (sha'b) of hearts.
The Sultan of desire used to lead selves,
and increased them in humiliation and made them slaves.
You freed them from slavery with graciousness,
you repaid with better since you gave men the gift of freedom.
If you should race against the gnostics on their horses,
then your horse with tawhid would win the prize.
If they embarked on vessels to go towards gnoses,
you embarked on passionate love in the ocean of desire to go towards them.
You ascended by the light of Allah high above every one who looks,
so that you began to see in the Unseen that which the sharp-sighted do not see.
You are the Imam of the gnostics and their light
and their expression of meanings whenever you mean them to articulate.
Upon you be the peace of Allah as long as a star shines,
and as long as leaves float down wanting their Master.
Bless the one chosen from the family of Hashim,
as he came for the Truth which manifests the Truth.
Let us conclude the words on what we have set out before by saying that the praise belongs to Allah who places masters in every place and leaders in every time, which is His blessing upon created beings. Whoever denies election in his own age out of ignorance of it and out of low intelligence, then that is an indication of his having been prevented, as is said in this meaning:
Whoever denies the elect of his age,
that is deceit in addition to his desertion.
He conceals them in His creation from His creation,
like that, so know it! from the vastness of His grace.
Because they are the brides of the Merciful,
He veils them from every forsaken one.
No one arrives to the like of what is in his description,
except for the one whom He drew near to His presence.
If you do not meet a gnostic in your lifetime,
he did not live the span of his life for your life.
Let us begin what we intended and our help is by Allah.
Copyright ©2005 Bookwright