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A dead midwife cannot deliver a live child

A Tijani faqir came to Shaykh Ibn al-Habib, may Allah be well pleased with him, once while we sat with him. He informed the Shaykh that in the Tijani tariqa they did not have a Shaykh and that they did not consider one necessary. It was enought to follow the guidance of Sidi Ahmad Tijani. Our Master was silent for a while before he spoke. Then he raised his eyes and looked at the young man. 'A dead midwife,' he told him, 'cannot deliver a live child.' the faqir turned pale and then buried his head in his hands and wept from the depth of his being.

- Shaykh Abdal Qadir as-Sufi, as written in the Preface of Diwan of Shaykh Ibn al-Habib (credit)

Waqul Rabbi adkhilnee mudkhala sidqin, wa akhrijnee mukhraja sidqin; waijAAal lee min ladunka sultanan naseeran.

Pray thus: "O my Lord! Let my entry be by the Gate of Sincerity, and my exit be by the Gate of Sincerity; and grant me from Thy Presence an authority to help (me)."

- The Quran, Chapter of Night Journey, 17.80

Brothers of the Darqawiyya-Shadhiliyya order and all others of the Lord's slaves in all of Allah's countries who desire to emulate a master, know, that Allah the Exalted has destined for this noble path in every age one who sets right its deviations and manifests its secrets and its lights. He is the Shaykh who unites the Haqiqa and the Shari'a with the idhn of Allah and His Messenger and all the Perfected of Allah. He is the unique man of Muhammad of whom there is only one in every age.

If there are numerous Shaykhs in his age, he rules over them all, whether they are aware of it or not. Many have laid claim to the Station of uniqueness with falsehood and lies because they seek leadership and desire to possess this passing world. The pretender is unaware that whoever claims what is not in him is exposed by the witnesses of the test, since in their presence a man is either exalted or humiliated. True Shaykhs are satisfied with the knowledge of Allah and depend only on Allah.

Know, my lords, that it is obligatory on every murid who seeks the presence of Allah to take the living Shaykh. The proof of this obligation is His word, may He be exalted: 'O you who have iman, fear Allah, and be with the truthful ones.' Being with them necessitates accompanying them in body, not just in spirit. He has said, may He be exalted: 'Follow the path of whoever turns away from self to Me.' In this ayat, He, may He be exalted, orders the walad (beginner/lit. youth) to follow the spiritual father, not the father of form, because the spiritual father teaches the inner meaning and the father of the body teaches you sensory meaning. What a difference there is between the one whose himma is for the meaning and the one whose himma is for the sensory! He said, may Allah bless him and grant him peace: 'A man follows the Deen of his friend, so let each of you look to who he takes as a companion.' There has always been agreement in this community of Muhammad that the first thing required of a murid once he has become aware of his state of distraction is that he should rely on a Shaykh of good counsel and guidance who knows the defects of the self, its motives, and the remedies for its ailments, and who has done with the putting right of his own self and its desires. He will give the murid insight into the faults of his self and draw him out beyond the perimeter of his senses. Whoever has no Shaykh to direct him will most certainly be directed by shaytan to the path of destruction.

Murid is derived from will (irada) and it depends on sincerity (ikhlas). The true meaning of murid is one who has stripped himself of his own will and accepted what Allah wills for him, which is the worship of Allah ta'ala, for as He said: 'I have not created jinn and men except to worship Me.' When the murid is weak in disciplining his self - since the inner rule belongs to the self and shaytan - he places himself under the rule of the Shaykh and in the protection of his power. He, in his turn will help the murid to obey and worship Allah through his himma which operates by the idhn of Allah and through his words which are made effective by the gift of Allah. So a murid must cling to whoever of the Shaykhs of the age are well disposed towards him.

Sidi 'Abd al-Wahid ibn 'Ashir says:

'The murid keeps company with a Shaykh who knows the ways of behaviour,
and who protects him from dangers on his way.
The murid is reminded of Allah when he sees the Shaykh,
who then leads the slave to his Master.'

'Ata'llah, may Allah be pleased with him, says in his 'Hikam':
'Do not accompany the one whose state does not change you,
and whose speech does not guide you to Allah.'

The elevation of your state, and the guidance of his speech are the result of this companionship. So whoever does not find such a state from his companion let him abandon him to Allah and seek one of this description. The murid will gain a master in accordance with his own sincerity and strength of resolution. Allah is the one to ask for help.

Explaining the attributes of the teaching Shaykh, I said in one of my qasidas ending in ta':
La ilaha illa'llah banishes all whisperings
with the instruction of a Shaykh who knows the Haqiqa.
His signs are: a light which shines appearing outwardly,
and a secret which appears inwardly, with himma.
He elevates you with a glance even before he speaks,
and from this glance comes a Robe of Honour.
By that I mean the secrets which flow rapidly into the
heart of the murid seeking the truth free of any shirk.
The staff of his journey is his zuhd among people,
and his concern lies in seeking the Beloved alone in vision.

His speech is by idhn from the Best of Creation
upon whom the glorious truthful ones depend.
If you attain the goal of finding someone like this,
then set out and offer up the self without delay.
Consider nothing except what I have described here,
for it is enough and it contains every happiness.

Junayd, may Allah be pleased with him said:

'Purify yourself with the water of the Unseen if you are one possessing a secret. If not, do tayammum with dust or stone. Go before an Imam in front of whom you stand, and pray the noon prayer at the beginning of the afternoon. This is the prayer of those who are the gnostics of their Lord. If you are one of them, then moisten the dry land with the sea.'

He, may Allah be pleased with him, commanded the murid to purify himself with the water of the Unseen. It is understood that purification is of two sorts: sensory purification which is the sensory water, and pertains to the whole body if it is a major impurity, and to specific limbs if it is a minor impurity. This is not what the poet meant, may Allah be pleased with him. The second sort is spiritual purification which is the purification of the hearts from the ailments which veil them from the presence of the Knower of the Unseen. This purification is only done with spiritual water which is the water of sciences, gnoses and secrets that flow from the presence of the Unseen into the heart of the Shaykh who is a gnostic of Allah, purified of fault. The Shaykh pours it over the murid and so he purifies his heart from otherness and it is filled with gnosis and secrets. This is if the murid himself possesses a secret, that is to say inner sight, which brings him into contact with the one who takes him by the hand, that is, the Shaykh who draws his power from the presence of the Unseen as we have stated. If the murid does not possess this secret and inner sight then he must do tayammum with the dust of outward deeds and formal knowledge until Allah endows him with the secret and the inner sight.

He indicates, may Allah be pleased with him, by his statement: 'Go before an Imam in front of whom you stand,' that the murid must go before an Imam, a Shaykh, a gnostic of Allah, to copy him in the spiritual prayer which is the direct perception of the worshipped King, as it is necessary for the one behind the Imam in the prayer to do ruku' and sujud (bowing and prostrating). His words: 'In front of whom you stand,' indicate to the murid that he should not follow any Shaykh except one he already knew in the world of spirits. The Prophet, peace by upon him, said: 'The spirits are numerous hosts, whoever of them become acquainted will be in harmony, and those not acquainted will be at variance.' The meaning then is: 'Go before in the world of spirits. Because of the encounter and acquaintance which occurred in the world of the spirits, harmony will occur in the world of forms.'

By his words, 'Pray the noon prayer at the beginning of the afternoon,' he means pray the Dhuhr prayer (noon prayer), that is the manifestation (dhuhur) of your desire for your Lord, which is uninterrupted witnessing of the worshipped King, as we have said. 'Asr (afternoon prayer) means 'being together' (mu'asara) with your Shaykh and the negation of your will for him. He does not refer, may Allah be pleased with him, to the prayers of Dhuhr and 'Asr containing ruku' and sujud, because it is known that dhuhr is set to be prayed at the beginning of its time and not at the beginning of 'Asr. Thus the meaning falls into place, so understand and you will be guided - and Allah has charge of our guidance and the guidance of creation. Amin.

As regards his statement: 'This is the prayer of those who are gnostics of their Lord,' it means this is uninterrupted contemplation of the worshipped King. Their prayer is not interrupted because it is constant. They persevere in the witnessing of their Lord. His word: 'If you are among them, then moisten the dry land with the sea,' means if you are one of the gnostics -and they are not veiled by creation from the truth, nor by the truth from creation - then moisten, that is sprinkle, the dry land of your road (Shari'a) with the sea of your reality (Haqiqa), and be among those who unite the two. Likewise, our Imam, Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said: 'He who follows the Shari'a and does not ascertain (i.e. have direct experience) has strayed from the proper course. He who ascertains and does not follow the Shari'a has become a heretic. Whoever unites the two has realised!' That is, he has realised the two forms of worship ('ubudiyya), the worship of obligation and the worship of instruction.

- The great Qutb (spiritual pole) of his time, our master, Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Introduction of the Diwan

# Reference:
. Biography of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib al-Filâlî
. Aisha Bewley's Islamic Home Page
. Diwan Page of Sidi Muhammad ibn al-Habib



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Technology of the Heart: A dead midwife cannot deliver a live child
A dead midwife cannot deliver a live child
Technology of the Heart
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