Monday, May 25, 2009

Solitude in the Crowd | Khalwat dar Anjuman

Beings whom neither the fleeting business nor sale can divert from the Divine remembrance ... - Quran, The Last Testament

There are two kinds of retreat. One is the outward kind in which the seeker, far from people, sits alone in his cell until he comes into contact with the spiritual world. This result comes about because the external senses withdraw themselves and the inner senses extend themselves to signs from the spiritual world.

The second kind of retreat is the hidden one, where the seeker is inwardly witnessing the secrets of the Real while he is outwardly surrounded by people. Khalwat dar anjuman is of this second type of retreat: outwardly to be with people, inwardly to be with God.

In all your outer activities remain inwardly free. Learn not to identify with anything whatsoever.

Khwaja Awliya Kabir, one of the deputies of 'Abd ul-Khaliq Ghujduwani, explained khalwat dar anjuman as follows: "'Retreat within the crowd' is that state when one is so constantly and completely absorbed in divine remembrance that 'one could walk through the market-place without hearing a word.'"

They are with their Lord and simultaneously they are with the people. As the Prophet said, "I have two sides: one faces my Creator and one faces creation."

'Abd ul-Khaliq Ghujduwani himself was known to say: "Close the door of the formality of sheikhhood, open the door of friendship. Close the door of khalwat (solitary retreat) and open the door of sohbat (companionship)." Baha ad-din Naqshband said in this connection: "Our path is in companionship. In [physical] retreat there comes fame and with fame comes calamity. Our welfare lies with the assembly and its companionship, on condition that [self-] negation is found in one another."

When Baha ad-din reached Herat on his journey to Mecca, the Amir Hussein arranged a gathering in his honour. At the assembly the Amir asked him, "Since with your Presence there is neither audible dhikr, nor voyaging, nor audition of special music and poetry, what is your path?" He answered, "The pure words of the tribe of 'Abd ul-Khaliq Ghujduwani, which are 'retreat within the crowd,' and we follow in their Way." "What is retreat within the crowd?" the Amir asked. "Outwardly to be with the people while inwardly to be with God," said Naqshband. The Amir expressed surprise and asked whether this was actually possible.

Baha ad-din replied that if it were not possible God Most High would not have indicated it in a Qur'anic verse which describes those who are not distracted from the remembrance of God even while in the marketplace: "Men whom neither business nor profit distracts from the recollection of Allah" [24:37]. This is the way of the Naqshbandi Order.

Ahmad Faruqi Sirhindî, Mujaddid-i-alf-i-thani (the Renewer of the second millennium), said: "Retreat within the crowd is derived from traveling in the homeland since if traveling in the homeland is properly accomplished, then retreat within the crowd will properly occur. The seeker within the diversity of the crowd travels in his own land, and the diversity of the horizons finds no way into the meditation cell of his inner self. This treasure will manifest with difficulty at the beginning and with no difficulty in the end. And in this tariqa it is the portion of the beginning while in other paths it is at the end. This is so because the treasure is derived from traveling within the self (with presence in the moment), which is at the beginning of this path, while traveling on the horizons takes place simultaneously. This is the opposite of the other paths which make the traveling on the horizons the beginning and the traveling within the self the end."

In the words of al-Kharraz: "Perfection is not in exhibitions of miraculous powers, but perfection is to sit among people, sell and buy, marry and have children; and yet never leave the presence of Allah even for one moment."

In constant communion with the Beloved within,
a stranger to the world.
Those endowed with such beauty are rare indeed
in this world.

- Credit: Solitude in the Crowd is one of the
Eleven Principles of the Naqshbandi Path, from Golden Sufi site

Beings whom neither fleeting business nor sale can divert from the Remembrance of Allah, nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: Their (only) awe is for the Day when faculty of realizing (hearts) and faculty of seeing will be transformed (in a wholly new way) -

That Allah may reward them according to the best of their actions, and add even more for them out of His Grace: for Allah does provide for those whom He will, without measure.

- The Quran 24:37-38

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