Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Monday, May 15, 2017

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Salawat 'ala an-Nabi (making felt connections with the Prophet, saws) - Professor Alan Abdal Haqq Godlas- University  of Georgia
No doubt when most Muslims recite salawat 'ala al-nabi, they are expressing their love for the historical Muhammad (pbuh), the habib Allah, who came into existence at a particular time and place, but who is no longer present in this world, except in the hearts and minds of Muslims and in the traces he has left behind.
Nevertheless, it is essential to note that in addition to expressing such love, when Sufis, in particular, recite salawat 'ala al-nabi, they are also contemplating the haqiqat al-muhammadiya, the Muhammadan Truth, which is the same as the nur muhammadi, the Muhammadan light.
Furthermore, especially after the Shaykh al-Akbar, Muhiyuddin Ibn 'Arabi (قدس سره), Sufis assert that the haqiqat al-Muhammadiya is identical with the core human primordial nature, al-fitra, which is the microcosm of the whole of Reality and the theophanic manifestation of the all-inclusive Divine name "Allah" (tajalli al-ism al-jami').
As a consequence, out of the many Sufi commentators on the meaning of salawat 'ala al-nabi, both in Sufi Qur'an commentaries and specifically in commentaries on the Salat al-Mashishiya and the Wazifa, I have been able to find two commentaries, by Abu Shammat al-Dimashqi and Sidi Shaykh Muhammad al-Jamal al-Rifa'I al-Shadhili, that explicitly give us the simple key that enables Sufis to practice salawat 'ala al-nabi as a means of actualization and realization of the haqiqa al-Muhuammadiya.
In a nutshell, what these commentaries assert is that in the Salawat, when we say Allahumma ṣalli (O God, ṣalli), the Arabic word "ṣalli" in ṣalawat (going beyond the usual overly simplistic translation "send blessings"), in fact means "tajalla lī-" and ikshif lī, namely, illuminate for me and unveil for me the Muhammadan Truth and Reality. The key commentary in the Arabic is as follows:
: اللهم صلِّ — أي تجلَّ لي بالرحمة التي هي الحقيقة المحمدية التي قام بها كلُ شيء. والتجليْ معناه الانكشاف، أي اِكشِف لي عن تلك الحقيقةِ ]المحمدية[.
Here is the translation: O Allah, ṣalli means theophanically illuminate for me by means of the Mercy which is the Muhammadan Truth by means of which every thing comes into being. And the meaning of "theophanic illumination" (al-tajalli) is "unveling" (al-inkishaf). Namely, this means "Unveil for me this Muhammadan Reality."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Shah Abdul Haque Muhaddith Dehlvi, a Sunni Sufi Scholar of India: Glimpses of His Reflections on the Mystical Practices in Islam

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
31 December, 2014

 An objective study of Indian Sufi literature, surprisingly enough, reveals that many early Islamic figures of India who were spiritually-inclined and inspired by Sufism, are mistakenly taken today as the ideologues of Wahhabism in India. Regrettably, our collective negligence and intellectual stagnation have concealed the pioneering contributions of great Indian mystics in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, human welfare and common goodwill. Those loudly claiming to represent the Sawad-Azam (mainstream Muslims) should take cognizance of the worrying fact that a large part of the Indian Sufis’ literature has not yet been published and is in the shape of manuscripts for ages. And that is precisely why they are misrepresented and sometimes defamed by the present-day ignoramuses.
One such instance is Imam of Ahle Sunnah (Sunni Muslims), Shaikh Abdul Haque Muhaddith Dehlvi (958-1052A.H), one of the leading Islamic scholars of the 11th century. An epoch-making personage well-versed in the sciences of Islam and practices of Sufism, Shaikh Dehlvi rendered historical contributions to the revival and renewal of faith as well as spiritual guidance of the Indian Muslims. It would be no exaggeration to state that from the early 11th century till the late 13th century, almost all remarkable works and researches on the classical Islamic sciences in India were a result of rigorous intellectual efforts and endeavours made by   Shaikh Abdul Haque Muhaddith Dehlvi.
Shaikh Muhaddith Dehlvi, whom many eminent historians consider “the pioneer of the Islamic literature in Indian subcontinent”, greatly excelled in the sciences of the Rivayat and Dirayat (narration and critical appreciation) and al-Jarh wat-Ta'deel (criticism and praise) of the Hadiths. He was the son of Shaikh Saifuddin Turk Bukhari and spiritual devotee (Mureed) of Hazrat Syed Musa Gilani Quadri. Because of his deep association with Sufism and mastery over Islamic sciences, he was a source of inspiration for the Muslims of the undivided Indian subcontinent, and is venerated today by the Sufi-lovers, particularly in Delhi. Shaikh Dehlvi undertook the Hajj, pilgrimage to Makkah in 996H and remained there for a couple of years to learn from the then spiritually-inclined Ulema of Haramain Shareefain (Makkah and Madina). He spent most of his time in the Hijaz with Shaikh Muttaqi who spiritually mentored him. Thus, he excelled in the Islamic sciences and the practices of Sufism under the patronage of the early Sufis of the Hijaz.     
Shaikh Muhaddith Dehlvi was not merely a Sufi practitioner but also an authoritative Islamic scholar, prolific writer, commentator of the Qur’an and a profound critic of the Hadith narrations. Imbued with the spiritual teachings of the Islamic mystics like, he wrote 116 books on faith, Islamic sciences and spirituality. Among his widely circulated and greatly acclaimed works on Islamic sciences and particularly mysticism are: “Ash'at al-Lam'at (a scholarly critical commentary on the Hadiths of the Mishkat), “Tareekh al-Madina” (classical work on Islamic history), “Madarij an-Nabuwat” (a seminal work on the Prophethood and its attributes), “Akhbar ul Akhyar” (an incredibly comprehensive contribution to documenting the history of South Asian mysticism), “Zad ul Muttaqeen fi Suluk Tariq al Yaqeen” (the spiritual teachings of Shaikh Ali Muttaqi and his disciple Shaikh Abdul Wahhab bin Waliullah Muttaqi, both are Indian mystics who migrated to Makkah) and “Takmeel ul Iman” (a book candidly explaining the crucial Islamic doctrines in particular and the concepts of Ilm ul Kalam or science of theological discourse in general).
In his writings, Shaikh Dehlvi often dwelled on the comparison between “knowledge of philosophy” and “understanding of faith” while explaining the rational concepts of Ilm ul Kalam at the same time. This helped many to take deep scholarly insights into the Sufi doctrines. He also gave paramount importance to reconciliation between the Qur’anic injunctions and mystical precepts.
Shahaikh Dehlvi also translated into Persian numerous gems of Islamic and mystical literature. For instance, he rendered into Persian the historical document of mystical discourses “Futuh al Ghaib” (knowledge of the unseen) delivered by Shaikh Muhiyuddin Abdul Qadir Jilani, who established the Quadria Sufi order.
Elaborating on the Sufi practice of Zikr-e-Jali (loud mystical chanting), Shaikh Muhaddith Dehlvi writes:
"Undoubtedly, loud Zikr is permissible. One of the proofs is that Almighty God himself proclaims: 'Remember God as you used to remember your forefathers'" (Ash'atul Lam'aat, Vol. 2, pg. 278). This is a mystical explanation to the Qur’anic verse: "Then, when you have finished your prayer, remember Allah standing, sitting and lying on your sides". (Surah an-Nisa: 103)
There is a tradition attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): When the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) uttered the salutations at the end of his prayer, he used to loudly say the words of Kalimah “La Ilaha Illalahu Wahdahu La Sharika Lahu” (Mishkaat, pg. 88). Sufis referred to this portion of the Kalimah as a proof on the beautiful doctrine of Wahdatul Wajud (unity of existence). In his commentary on this prophetic tradition, Shaikh Dehlvi relates: "This Hadith is a categorical proof that Prophet (peace be upon him) used to perform the Zikr-e-Jali". (Ash'atul Lam'aat, Vol. 1, pg. 419)
As Sufi mystics have hearts filled with the deepest love for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) after the Almighty Allah, Shaikh Dehlvi also got one. His inseparable spiritual attachment with the Prophet (pbuh) can be gauged from his beautiful way of devotion to God that he describes in his own words. In his prayers, he often invoked to Allah: “O Lord! I do not have any such deeds that I can offer in your mighty court. I remained prone to sins and misdeeds all my life. However, this humble servant has an act of virtue that can be offered to you in order to seek your mercy. That is; my salutations on your beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) that I regularly offer with honesty and integrity in standing position, in the blessed gatherings of Meelad celebration.” (Akhbar ul Akhyaar, Page: 644)
This is substantial and irrefutable evidence that Shaikh Abdul Haque Dehlvi endorsed the Sufi practice of celebrating the Prophet’s birthday which is known as Meelad in the Indian subcontinent and Mawlid in other parts of the Muslim world. In support of this Sufi practice, Shaikh Muhaddith Dehlvi penned down numerous pages in a number of his mystical books. For instance, he writes in his book on the authenticated prophetic traditions titled ‘Ma Sabata Min as-Sunnah’: "Muslims have always celebrated Meelad functions in the month of Rabi ul Awwal. They always gave charities in the days and nights of this month and expressed their gratitude and great gusto. This is a common practice of Muslims that they observe with the special mention of the glorious incidents related to the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)." (Ma Sabata Min as-Sunnah, Page 82, Published by Qaiyyumi Press, Kanpur, August 1923)
Referring to the night of the holy Prophet’s birth, he further elaborates: "I would rather say that the night when the holy Prophet (pbuh) was born is certainly superior to Lailat-ul-Qadr (the night of the power when the Qur’anic revelations commenced). For the night of his birth is the blessed night when his existence was manifested in this world and Lailat -ul Qadr is a night that was bestowed upon him as a gift. So, the night which has the blessings of the Prophet’s birth is definitely more blessed than the night which is blessed because angels descend on it. Moreover, Lailat-ul-Qadr is a blessing only for the Ummat-e-Muhammadi (community of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh) but the night of his birth is a blessing for all human beings (irrespective of faith and creed), because the Prophet (pbuh) was sent down as a mercy to all the worlds. And it is through him that God completed His blessings on all His creations both in heavens and the earth.”  (ibid)
In his assertion to validate the practice of the Meelad celebration, Shaikh Dehlvi has beautifully enumerated the incident of Abu Lahab’s relief on setting free his female slave Thuwaibha who brought him the glad news of the Prophet’s birth. He dwells on it: "This incident is a clear proof in support of those who celebrate Meelad by rejoicing and giving in charity on the night of the holy Prophet’s birth (peace be upon him). On the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal, People of Makkah (in Shaikh Dehlvi’s time) assemble at the house in which the Prophet (pbuh) was born. Because Prophet was his nephew, Abu Lahab set free Suabia and, therefore, he has been receiving, in spite of being a disbeliever, the benefits of rejoicing in his grave every Monday. Imagine how much more blessing would be showered on those who believe the Prophet (pbuh) as the beloved of God and His true messenger, and celebrate the Meelad regularly.” (Madarijun Nabuwwat, Vol. 2, Page: 34, Ziaul Quran Publication, also in Madarijun Nabuwwat, Vol. 2, Page: 14/19)
Shaikh Abdul Haque Muhaddith Dehlvi met his lord on the 21st of Rabi-ul-Awal, 1052 AH (1642 C.E) at the age of 94. It was the era of Shahjahan’s rule in India. His shrine is situated in the famous area of Mehrauli in Delhi. The main mausoleum is in the centre and is surrounded by the tombs of many Sufi mystics buried there.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a classical Islamic scholar. He has graduated from a leading Islamic seminary of India, Jamia Amjadia Rizvia (Mau, U.P.), acquired Diploma in Qur'anic Arabic from Al-Jamiat ul Islamia, Faizabad, U.P., and Certificate in Uloom ul Hadith from Al-Azhar Institute of Islamic Studies, Badaun, U.P. He has also graduated in Arabic (Hons) and is pursuing his M. A. in Comparative Religion from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Shaykh Walead Muhammad Mosaad- PhD Thesis- Transmission of the Islamic Tradition in the Early Modern Era: The Life & Writings of Ahmad Al-Dardi

This thesis examines the role of tradition and discursive knowledge transmission on the formation of the ‘ulamā’, the learned scholarly class in Islam, and their approach to the articulation of the Islamic disciplines. The basis of this examination is the twelfth/eighteenth century scholar, Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Dardīr, an Egyptian Azharī who wrote highly influential treatises in the disciplines of creedal theology, Mālikī jurisprudence, and taṣawwuf (Sufism). Additionally, he occupied a prominent role in the urban life of Cairo, accredited with several incidents of intercession with the rulers on behalf of the Cairo populace. This thesis argues that a useful framework for evaluating the intellectual contributions of post-classical scholars such as al-Dardīr involves the concept of an Islamic discursive tradition, where al-Dardīr’s specific contributions were aimed towards preserving, upholding, and maintaining the Islamic tradition, including the intellectual “sub-traditions” that came to define it. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to al-Dardīr, the social and intellectual climate of his era, and an overview of his writings. Chapter 2 analyses the educational paradigm that preceded al-Dardīr, and affected his approach to the Islamic disciplines. We then focus our attention to al-Dardīr’s contribution to the Islamic educational paradigm, in the form of taḥqīq (verification). Chapter 3 analyses al-Dardīr’s methodology in the synthesis of the rational and mystical approaches to knowledge located within the Islamic disciplines of creedal theology and Sufism. Chapter 4 analyses al-Dardīr’s to the Mālikī fiqh tradition, specifically his methodology of tarjīḥ (weighing of juristic evidence between different narrations). Chapter 5 examines his societal roles, and the influence of tradition on his relationships with the ruling elite, the ‘ulamā’ class, and the masses. The thesis ends with a conclusion that summarises the results of all of the above.
Netton, Ian
Gleave, Robert
Degree title
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies
Qualification level
Qualification name

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Tijani (1897-1978)

Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Tijani by Shaykh Fakharuddin Owaisi 

Our master, the shaykh, the gnostic of God, the Sayyid, Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Misri al-Tijani, was one of the greatest scholars of Prophetic traditions (hadith) of Egypt in the twentieth century, as well as a renowned Friend of Allah.
Al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Hafiz bin `Abdul Latif bin Salim was born in the district of Munufiyya in Egypt in the year 1315 (c. 1897) to a family connected to the noble Ahlul Bayt (household of the Prophet). After studying the religious sciences in Cairo, Shaykh al-Hafiz traveled abroad to Syria, Tunisia, Sudan, Algeria and Morocco in the pursuit of sacred knowledge. During these blessed journeys, he gained precious diplomas (ijazahs) from some of the greatest scholars of the time from the East and the West of the Islamic world, such as Shaykh Badruddin al-Hasani of Syria, Sharif `Abdul Hayy al-Kattani and Sidi Ahmad Sukayrij of Morocco, Shaykh Alfa Hashim of Medina and Shaykh `Abdul Baqi al-Ansari of Mecca.
After his period of learning, Sayyidina Muhammad al-Hafiz totally dedicated himself to the teaching of Hadith. He taught the entire multi-volume Sahih al-Bukhari more than 40 times in Egypt, and many other books of Hadith as well. It is said that he used to know them by heart. It is narrated that when he went to Fez, Morocco, to visit the blessed tomb of Shaykh Ahmad Tijani, he was asked by the shaykhs in Fez to teach them Imam al-Nawawi’s famous “Forty Hadith” collection, which he did from memory.
He authored many great works on Hadith, Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), history and Sufism (tasawwuf), and made tahqiq (verification) of many original gems in the field of Hadith, which were part of his private library which also has one of the best collections of manuscripts in Egypt. For this he had copied and collected manuscripts from the most ancient libraries in Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Damascus, Cairo, Fez, Tunis, Sudan and other centers of Islamic learning that he had visited. Shaykh Dr.`Abdul Halim Mahmud, the Rector of al-Azhar, wrote in Sidi al-Hafiz’s obituary, “the Imam al-muhaddithin (leading hadith scholar) has died.”
Shaykh al-Hafiz also took part in the Jihad against the English in Egypt in the early 1900’s, and even Imam Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, used to seek his advice. In 1951, he began editing a magazine dedicated to promulgating traditional Islam, called Tariq al-Haqq (“The Path of Truth”), which was widely read throughout Egypt. He also debated and defeated the Orientalists in Cairo during his time. His renown as a scholar even reached Western literary circles, and his important biography of al-Hajj Umar Futi Tal was translated into French by the Canadian scholar Fernand Dumond in 1983.
Exceeding all of this by way of distinction, however, was the fact Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz used to meet Sayyidina Muhammad Rasulullah in a state of wakefulness. This was clear indication of his high spiritual station (maqam) in sainthood (wilaya).
He was originally involved in the honorable Khalwati, Naqshbandi, and Shadhili tariqahs, then left all of them to take the Way of Shaykh Ahmad Tijani at the hand of the Mauritanian Shaykh, Sidi Ahmad al-`Alawi al-Shinqiti.
Numerous people from all walks of life took the Tijani Spiritual Path from Shaykh al-Hafiz and attained great spiritual heights. He was as famous as a Spiritual Master par excellence as he was a hadith scholar of the age, a combination extremely rare in modern times. His Tijani Zawiyah in Cairo was and remains a great center of spiritual refreshment for those who live in or visit Cairo. His books on tasawwuf and tariqa are considered gems of spiritual knowledge.
Our late teacher, Sayyid Muhammad bin `Alawi al-Maliki of Mecca, was a very keen student of Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz in Hadith and tasawwuf when he was studying at the Azhar. He would fondly remember the “blessed gatherings” of Shaykh al-Hafiz, and always referring to him as “a great Wali of Allah”, and would often mention some of his miracles (karamat). In fact, the Sayyid always mentioned him in the forefront of the list of his teachers in all his ijazahs.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz was in close correspondence with most of the leading Tijani authorities of his time, including Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse. Shaykh Ibrahim had the occasion to visit the zawiya of Shaykh al-Hafiz during an official state visit to Egypt in 1961. In the presence of the Tijani notables of Egypt, Shaykh Ibrahim referred to Shaykh al-Hafiz as “a man who is without doubt an inheritor (khalifa) of the Shaykh Sidi Ahmad Tijani, whose description matches that of the Shaykh as I myself know him to be.” In other words, whoever has seen the face of Shaykh al-Hafiz has seen the face of Sidi Ahmad al-Tijani; a rare compliment since the Prophet himself assured Shaykh Ahmad Tijani that whoever saw the Shaykh’s face would die in a state of good faith.
Shaykh al-Hafiz al-Tijani passed away in 1398 (1978) in Cairo. He was succeeded by his learned son Shaykh Ahmad Muhammad al-Hafiz, who authored a detailed biography of his father. Among those who were blessed to achieve spiritual education at the hands of Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz was the Italian Shaykh Abd al-Samad Paolo, who has translated and commented several important Sufi works (amongst them the Kitab al-ta‘arruf of Kalabadhi and the Mahasin al-majalis of Ibn al-‘Arif) into Italian.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Hafiz was indeed a giant of the twentieth century. May Allah be pleased with him, and may we benefit from his example, steeped as he was in both the Sacred Law (Shari’a) and the Divine realities (Haqiqa), as a paradigm of true Muslim scholarship continuing into modern times.