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),

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

A Catholic Priest's Journey To Islam with Said Abdul Latif (Father Hilarion Heagy): Bogging Theology Interview by Paul Williams 3/20/23

 YouTube Video:

Father Hilarion Heagy ( Said Abdul Latif's Blog)

Medium: Notes from the journey of an American Priest to Islam

The ' Muslim Priest' An Introduction by Said Abdul Latif Part 1,2,3,4 -(Biography) Part 1:"My discovery of Sufism was not my first encounter with Islam, however. Aside from reading about the central tenets and pillars of Islam as a teen, 9/11 was my first real encounter — as it was for many Americans… and American converts to Islam. After the terrorists attacks, in October of 2001, the local Islamic Center held an open house which I attended. I ate with the Muslim men there. I prayed with them. Listened to them. Attended lectures and speeches about what it is to be Muslim. My interest piqued. I signed up for courses on Islam in college. In a course on Islamic Civilization, I listened to the Quran beautifully recited for the very first time. I was deeply moved. I was inexplicably drawn to it. But my interest, then, was still mostly political and academic in a post-9/11 America. Rumi, however was the gateway. He provided the missing key. By 2003. I yearned to become Muslim. I saw the beauty of it. The depth. The truth of it.I spoke with Imam about conversion. I hung out at the local Islamic Center.I made Muslim friends.It was a beautiful and joyful moment."


Part 2: " I witnessed the phenomenon of Western converts to Islam who, after seeing a loss of prayer, a loss of reverence, and a loss of true religious conviction in their Catholic and Christian peers, turn to Islam as a sure faith, a solid bedrock, and a counter-cultural force directed towards God. One particular article struck me about an American Catholic college girl who embraced Islam by simply observing Muslims that she knew. The saw how they dressed. How they treated each other. How they ate. How they prayed five times a day — often in public. What she saw as honorable, admirable, and pious in her Muslim friends she could not identify (at least outwardly) in her Catholics peers. How many Christians make it an effort to pray five times a day? Even in public among ridicule? How many Christians regularly fast? And in what practical way does faith shape the day-to-day life of the average Christian? This student convert found a true faith and a true piety — as well as a true spiritual home — in Islam and in the Ummah (the global Muslim community). Testimonies like this impressed me deeply."

 Source Full Article:

Part 3: "It wasn’t simply that I had more time during this period to read about my “hidden” love — Islam. Even more than this, I began to envy a spiritual life like Islam which was not so tied to a priestly class and corrupt hierarchy. Here was born, in the desert, a nomadic faith — bare forehead and face touching the ground before a magnificent monotheistic God. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, Muḥammadur-rasūlu-llāh.

The pull to Islam was stronger than ever. And I think, for me — as a monk — my experiences were drawn mostly from prayer. From a sort of poetic intuitiveness. Reading rational arguments for Islam was helpful. Theology is, of course, indispensable. The historical case for Islam was also something that occupied my intention. All of this was very helpful in building an intellectual case for Islam, but only as a sort of foundation. A launching point. At the end of the day, God is met in prayer. Forehead touching the ground. It was this love that drew me. There was no mediator. There was no sacrament save the Word. Lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, Muḥammadur-rasūlu-llāh. The voice of the Divine calling out through the Quran. The call to prayer. Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem."
Source, Full Article:

The Christian Post: Eastern Catholic Monk,Priest renounces Christianity for Islam:

Monday, January 22, 2024

The Laws of the Heart: An Introduction to the spiritual path in Islam : Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er (RA)


"This is an excellent book about the spiritual life of a Muslim in accordance with the Shariah and the Sunnah. Its author was a saintly scholar of Islam who passionately dedicated his long life to practice the Sunnah externally and internally and to transmit it to his students the way he learned from his mentors". Dr.Recep Senturk 

"The most wonderful experience I had in the presence of Shaykh Muhammad Emin was observing his character. He was beautiful in the way he spoke, ate, smiled ,and walked. Everything he did was done with beauty. Allah imbued him with elegant majesty and elegant beauty. I have never encountered anyone as spiritually and morally elegant as him. He was a living friend of God." Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui 

 "This brilliant text is a translation of a terse yet concise manual that maps the journey along the spiritual path written by the last Ottoman scholar, Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er. In keeping with the true scholarly tradition in Islam, the text demonstrates that the spiritual path entails rigorous observance of the Sunnah and pious adherence to the instructions of the Sharia. It is not merely a book to read, but more accurately a book that guides practice". Imam Khalil Abdur-Rashid. 

Al-Madina Institute: Biography of Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er (RA) & Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui PDF  "Concurrent with his studies in the Islamic sciences, Shaykh Muḥammad Emin devotedly pursued the study and practice of taṣawwuf, tazkiyat al-nafs, or iḥsān – the normative discipline of spiritual purification, which is the essence of Islam. He had a number of spiritual teachers, all from the Naqshbandī order. Following the death of Shaykh Aḥmad Ghaznawī, whom he met while he was in Syria, he became a student of Shaykh Muḥammad Sa‘īd Saydā al-Jazarī and remained under his tutelage until he was granted an ijāzah to guide students of his own"                                                              " In the sacred sanctuary of Makkah during Ḥajj in 2006, Shaykh Muḥammad Emin granted Shaykh Mokhtār Maghraoui an ijāzah (a traditional diploma and authorization to teach) in taṣawwuf and licenced him with spiritual authority to guide seekers to Allāh. In 2010, Shaykh Muḥammad Emin conferred upon him an ijāzah of sacred knowledge".  

Sophiscated Purity Blog: Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er - The Last Ottoman Scholar - Imam Khalil Abdrur-Rashid ( Adjunct Professor, Harvard Divinity School & Muslim Chaplain) " It is with deep humility and honor that I sit to transmit a snapshot of the life of my teacher whom I spent 8 years of my life studying under; who would refine me, educate me, advise me, and transmit ijaaza to me thus becoming the father of my spiritual life, Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er".

ObituarySeyda Muhammad Emin Er hodja passed away at the age of 104 in Ankara. June 28,2013

Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er (RA) with Professor Khalil Abdur-Rashid

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Introduction to the Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance || Imam Harith al-Muhasibi -Shaykh Sulayman Van Ael - Karima Foundation

Shaykh Sulayman will take us through a brief explanation of the Imam al-Harith al-Muhasibi’s Risala al-Mustarshidin (Treatise For The Seekers Of Guidance). The work is intended to serve as a layman’s guide to Islamic spirituality. Al - Muhasibi presents most of the central ideas that would both serve as the basis for a full program of spiritual development and comprise an insightful overview of a system of Islamic moral psychology. He examines in great depth and penetrating insight the psychological motivations and justifications for moral thought and action and correspondingly the associated bases of immorality. In so doing, he has provided a road map that any person can follow to overcome the guiles of his fundamental enemies: the world, the ego, the whims of the soul, and Satan.

YouTube Playlist:


Amazon: Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance: Risala al-Mustarshidin - Imam al-Harith al-Muhasibi RA , Translated by Imam Zaid Shakir.   

   The  translation, notes, and commentary of Imam al-Harith al-Muhasibi’s Risala al-Mustarshidin (Treatise For The Seekers Of Guidance) by Zaid Shakir is intended to serve as a layman’s guide to Islamic spirituality. Al - Muhasibi presents most of the major ideas that would both serve as the basis for a full program of spiritual development and comprise an insightful overview of a system of Islamic moral psychology. He examines in great depth and penetrating insight the psychological motivations and justifications for moral thought and action and correspondingly the associated bases of immorality. In so doing, he has provided a road map that any person can follow to overcome the guiles of his fundamental enemies: the world, the ego, the whims of the soul, and Satan.                                                                                                                                                   Review: *Powerful and magnetic ... it is difficult to put this book down. An essential primer for self-rectification and drawing closer to the divine, this is a highly accessible translation of a classical Islamic text that provides ample guidance and advice for souls longing for spiritual nourishment and refinement amid the prevailing state of social and moral disintegration. This book not only offers definitive counsels on rectifying the self and becoming responsible and dignified human beings, but it also showcases the moral and ethical standards which Islam calls to. Imam Zaid Shakir has done a tremendous service in rendering this crucial text into the English language. --Aftab Ahmad Malik, Visiting Fellow -Department of Culture & Ethnicity, University of Birmingham 

* Treatise for The Seekers of Guidance is a classic of early Islamic literature. It provides us with a document that testifies to the fundamental principles, attitudes, and incumbent conduct of Islamic moral psychology from the formative period. This work, from the pen of Imam Harith al-Muhasibi (d. 243/857), the mentor of Junayd, is one of earliest examples we have of the role these principles played in constituting the moral thought and action that constitutes the fabric of Muslim society. This translation in Imam Zaid's own words is, "a layman's guide to Islamic spirituality" and as such is a key text to our understanding today of the multiple faceted framework behind the principle themes of the teacher/disciple relationship and testifies to the manner in which these principles have became integrated within the process of Islamic spiritual orientation. Among the salient characteristics of Treatise for The Seekers of Guidance is the care Imam al-Muhasibi has taken to structure the discourse of the treatise on the foundations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, in such a manner that he provides us with a clear and coherent criteria for both the theoretical and practical aspects that comprise the Islamic view of human development in general and salvation in particular. Imam Zaid Shakir has accompanied this text with an in-depth commentary based upon the Qur'an and Hadith that enriches and contextualizes the concise prose of Imam al-Muhasibi within the social milieu of our times. His employs language that is accessible and free of technical terminology. His translation thus provides sound guidance to anyone who is seeking in the midst of the uncertainties of social turmoil and personal struggle, a whole and integral path, a unity of form and substance,self-effacing comportment, and intimate knowledge of God. In short this is a work that no ones library should be without. -- Kenneth Honerkamp, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, The University of Georgia in Athens, August 28, 2008 - 5 stars

Author:Zaid Shakir is a co-founder, Board of Trustees and Senior Faculty Member of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, CA. As a gifted author and lecturer, he was ranked as one of the world's most influential Scholars by "The 500 Most Influential Muslims", edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin, (2009).

Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance of Imam Al-Muhasibi Presented by Shaykh Jamaal Diwan - Majlis - April 30, 2023

In the Meadows of Tafsir for the Noble Quran: Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse (R.A)


Shaykh Ibrahim Niass is the only Tijani Shaykh to ever publish a Tafsir of Quran in its entirety. He completed the entire Tafsir of Quran between 10 and 12 times throughout his life, in public. Most of the times he would engage in the Tafsir, it would be in the Wolof language, but 2 or 3 times he did the entire Tafsir in the Arabic language for the benefit of his non-wolof speaking Murids (Students).
The very last time he did the entire Tafsir in public, was in the year 1963 and it was recorded on cassette tape.
One of his senior students from Mauritania named Shaykh Muhammad Wuld' Abdallah al-Jayjuba was present for all of his Tafsir readings and took the great task of transcribing the final recorded Tafsir into book form. It took him over 30 years to edit and check all of the Hadith and sources that Mawlana Shaykh Ibrahim Niass used in the Tafsir. The total number of Hadith that Shaykh Ibrahim mentioned in the Quran are over 6000.
Shaykh Ibrahim Niass is known to have completed (Khatmul-Quran) recitation of the entire Quran twice a week.
In one of his famous poems he beseeches Allah to "Make the memorization of Quran his Karama (Miracle)."
When Shaykh Ibrahim Niass wanted to publicly give Tafsir Quran for the first time, he requested from his older brother to borrow his copy of Tafsir Jalalayn. That request was refused and Shaykh Ibrahim said...."I only ask for Tafsir Jalalayn as a formality and Adab" In other words, he did not need it. (In those days, the Shuyukh would borrow Tafsir from each-other because it was so rare to have it in a book form)
In Reality, Shaykh Ibrahim Niass did not learn Tafsir from anyone besides Allah himself.
His brother sent spies to listen to SHaykh Ibrahims Tafsir and report back as to what he was saying since he did not have the Tafsir Jalalayn to help....The spies reported back that what they heard from Shaykh Ibrahim was so amazing that they could not stay away. They said that they heard knowledge that even the Shaykhs father did not have or explain before. They testified that Shaykh Ibrahim was indeed a Master without comparison.
This Tafsir is a Jewel that contains the meanings of the Zahir (Outward) and Batin (Inward/Hidden) explanation of the Quran.
Our Master and Seal of Muhammadan Sainthood Mawlana Shaykh Ahmed Tijani as-Sharriff has said in his Jawahir al-Ma'ni...."The Zahir and Batin meanings of Quran are Haq (Truth) and they don't contradict each-other."
This is the English Translation of this Monumental work.


Fayda Books: Publisher of Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse's Books

Fayda Books Facebook :

Biography of Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse : Wikipedia:

Nasrul Ilm America:

Fayda Books Facebook Lecture 1,2,3 Videos
Ustadh Zakariya Wright Explains Ma’arifa of Allah as expounded upon by Shaykh Al-Islam Al-Hajj Ibrahim Niasse in his Tafsir of the Holy Quran.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader al-Jaza'iri (RA): John W.Kiser


 Emir Abdelkader al-Qadir al-Jazairi (1808-1883) was a venerated Algerian Islamic scholar and a military leader who led a collective resistance against the mid-nineteenth century French colonial invasion of Algeria. He is remembered today as one of the nineteenth century’s most inspiring leaders for his humane treatment of Christian opponents during Algeria’s anti-colonial struggle and for leading an intervention to rescue the Christian community in Damascus from certain massacre in the midst of sectarian riots in 1860.

Raised in his father’s zawiya, he excelled as a student, memorizing the Qur’an by the age of 14, and studying the Islamic religious sciences as well as subjects such as philosophy, medicine, and mathematics. He was especially known as a gifted orator who outshone his peers in the recitation of poetry and in delivering religious talks. His father, a notable spiritual leader affiliated with the Qadiriyya order, recognized his son’s precociousness, and cast a leadership role upon him shortly after the invasion of Algeria by France in 1830.              Source: Full Article-  

YouTube Video:  When Americans Honored an Icon of Jihad: John Kiser , Emir-Stein Center ,May 10, 2020 -Meet Emir Abdelkader the 19th century Statesman-scholar-warrior-leader, who won the hearts of friend and foe alike -

Amazon:Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader al-Jaza'iri (RA): John W.Kiser -This well-researched and compelling biography of the Muslim warrior-saint who led the Algerian resistance to French colonization in the mid-nineteenth century sheds light on current US involvement with a global Islam. The most famous "jihadist" of his time, Abd el-Kader was known equally for his military brilliance and his moral authority. His New York Times obituary called him "one of the few great men of the century."

Amazon: The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria - Elsa Martson -A brilliant military strategist, superb horseman, statesman, philosopher, Muslim hero . . . Emir Abdel Kader (1808-1883) was an international celebrity in his own time, known for his generosity and kindness even towards enemies. Today he is recognized as one of the noblest leaders of the 19th century and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue. This fascinating biography of the heroic Arab who led the resistance to the French conquest of Algeria, endured betrayal and imprisonment, and in 1860, in Syria, saved thousands of innocent people from mob violence brings a vital message for our times.


Ibn Arabi Society: " God and The Perfect Man in the Experience of Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iry" Itzchak Weismann -This article deals with the spiritual experience of Amir ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri, the most outstanding advocate of Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought at that crucial point of transformation into the modern era. Beginning with a sketch of ‘Abd al-Qadir’s life, I shall then proceed to explore his Akbarian mystical worldview in general and, within it, his concept of the Perfect Man in particular. Full Article :

The Spiritual Writings of Amir Abd al-Kader: Michel Chodkiewicz -                                                              

Friday, January 19, 2024

Reenvisioning Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution in Islam : Qamar ul-Huda


Reenvisioning Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution in Islam examines the variety of strategic peacebuilding and conflict resolution activities conducted by Muslim practitioners and nongovernmental organizations in Muslim-majority communities.

Qamar-ul Huda explores ways that Muslim scholars, civil society members, and communities interpret violence and nonviolence, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution in an interconnected globalized age, focusing on methods, practices, and strategies. He shows how a faith-based commitment can empower effective social, political, and intellectual action that results in meaningful change.

The book sheds light on a variety of vital topics, including how the state utilizes hard and soft power in global, religious diplomacy; ways in which civil society organizations and NGOs maximize networks to engage in peacebuilding and conflict resolution; the role of civil society in soft power politics; and how some peacebuilding organizations are out of step with local Muslim cultures & religious customs, and why that matters. Qamar-ul Huda charts a vision of contemporary ethics of peacebuilding, pluralism, reconciliation, and dialogue.


AmazonReenvisioning Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution in Islam: Reenvisioning Approaches within a Global Framework 


“This book does what many books in the field of peacebuilding fear to do: it acknowledges religion’s vital role in peace and conflict and legitimizes religious peacebuilding with research and analysis. Qamar-ul Huda provides a resource to the broader community, from peacebuilders to policymakers, that will transform their work to become more inclusive, expanding the peacebuilding toolkit.”

-- Paul Turner, president, The Peace Fund

“Qamar-ul Huda’s insightful work provides a nuanced and comprehensive understanding of Islamic peacebuilding principles and practices in the modern world. The book outlines a practical vision for fostering inner and communal peace amidst global conflict, highlighting real-world applications of peace education and conflict resolution strategies. This book is essential reading for both scholars and practitioners.”

-- Tahir Abbas, professor, Institute of Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University

“Qamar-ul Huda’s work is a must-read for the international affairs and donor community. There is often a mismatch between peacebuilding and conflict resolution educational endeavors and the reality on the ground in Muslim-majority societies. This engaging and astute analysis unpacks this conundrum and provides an alternate conceptual and practical framework."

-- Peter Weinberger, senior advisor, World Learning Institute

“This is a significant contribution to peace and methods of conflict resolution as recorded in the classical sources of Islam. Huda’s work explores the relevance of these Islamic methods and approaches to peacebuilding in contemporary circumstances where there are many misperceptions. This work is a bold vision to help readers understand peacebuilding from the perspectives of Islam.”

-- Muhammad zia Rehman, President of International Islamic Research University, Pakistan

“Huda, a master of the art of peace and diplomacy, skillfully blends scholarship, passion, and practicality to offer fresh perspectives on conflict resolution and peacebuilding, as demonstrated in this timely and captivating book."

-- Flamur Vehapi, author, The Alchemy of Mind and Kosovo: A Short History

About the Author

Qamar-ul Huda is the Michael E. Paul Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Affairs at the United States Naval Academy. He has previously served as Senior Policy Advisor for U.S. Department of State Secretary's Office for Religion and Global Affairs (S/RGA) where he focused on civil society, religious communities, and diplomacy with non-government organizations.


Monday, January 15, 2024

Why I became Muslim with Jacob Williams : Blogging Theology - Jan 15,2024

Paul Williams of Blogging Theology Interviews Jacob Williams                                                           YouTube Video:                                                                   


M Jacob Williams , Director, JPW, London, Education: B.A Philosophy,Politics & Economics, University of Oxford, MA, Religious Studies, King's College, London, PhD Candidate, University of Oxford.

 Publications: * Islamic Traditionalists:" Against the Modern World" ?                                         The Muslim World '"Islamic traditionalism' or 'neo-traditionalism' has been analysed by scholars as either (à la Masooda Bano) a progressive movement sympathetic to gradual reform of Islamic traditions, or (à la Mark Sedgwick) as a contemporary incarnation of the radically anti-modern Traditionalist School connected to René Guénon and Julius Evola. Neither judgement can be the whole truth. Through an analysis of the discourse of three prominent Islamic traditionalist thinkers -- Timothy Winter, Hamza Yusuf, and Umar Faruq Abd Allah -- on three topics salient to debates about the place of Islam in the modern world, a more nuanced picture will emerge. The Islamic traditionalist positions on religious pluralism, Western identity, and gender roles illustrate an attempt to represent Islam as a balancing principle that preserves the good in modernity while rejecting excesses. This view owes a surprising amount to an extensive engagement with Western conservative intellectuals beyond the radical Traditionalist School. Islamic traditionalists today neither wholly negate nor enthusiastically support the ideas of modernity, progress, and liberalism".                                     Source: Full Article -

* Why I became Muslim? - First Things

The first part of the Islamic ­shahada, or testimony of faith, is la ilaha il’Allah, “there is no god but God”—an uncompromising statement of pure mono­theism. Islam puts the One God front and center, a simple and commanding being. Philosophy had persuaded me that God was an intellectual and moral necessity. I did not know whether his existence could strictly be proven, but I recognized the dishonesty and intellectual contortions atheism required. Without an absolute, transcendent Lord, I could see no way to objective morality and to a purpose and order in the cosmos that could overcome the transience of this world. I doubted that we could justify even belief in causal regularities without a constantly acting Creator to guarantee them. If I were to embrace God, then God would need to be an ­unmediated, undifferentiated, and decisive Omnipotence, whom I might ­willingly obey."

"I experience being Muslim and being British not as tension, but as convergence. As the Islamic scholar Umar Faruq Abd-Allah puts it, Islam is the clear water of pure mono­theism, colored by the bedrock of the native soil over which it flows. Life as a Muslim in the West does not consign you to being a diasporic Arab or Desi; it need not produce awkward and anxious suspension between two civilizations. Another scholar, Timothy Winter, sums up my feelings eloquently: “[Islam] is generous and inclusive. It allows us to celebrate our particularity, the genius of our heritage; within, rather than in tension with, the greater and more lasting fellowship of faith.” It is my ardent hope that the cause of God and truth will be served when others, too, come to see this."

Source -Full Article :

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Dr. Umar Faruq Abdallah : Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani's Reform of the Religious Scholars of his time & the appearance of Salah al-Din Ayyubi - Qadiriyya Association of Gambia

The Qadiriyya Association for Revival of Sunnah in Gambia - 3rd Annual Conference  (2011)          Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, Chairman of the Board & Scholar-in-Residence, Nawawi Foundation, USA, spoke on “Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani’s (RAA) Reform of the Religious Scholars of His Time & the Appearance of Salah al-Din“. 


 PDF of Lecture's Slides:


The Qadiriyya Association for Revival of Sunnah in Gambia 

As-salamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu and welcome to our website. Under the leadership of our beloved Sheikh Muhammad Haydara al-Jilani, The Qadriyya Association – The Gambia, aims to serve the local community by providing education, healthcare and spiritual guidance.

Apart from learning more about our activities, we hope you will benefit from our many video and audio files of our annual conferences and sacred knowledge lessons by esteemed teachers like Sheikh Muhammad Haydara al-Jilani, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, and others.


Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah (USA) on "Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani’s (RAA) Love of The Poor & The Needy".                                                                                                                                                            Video :   

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Dr Sabrina Lei : Muhammad Iqbal's Reconstruction 0f Religious Thought in Islam - Cambridge Muslim College - Feb 7, 2020

Lecture by Dr Sabrina Lei Director of Tawasul International Centre for Publishing, Research and Dialogue, Rome

YouTube Video:

Dr. Sabrina Lei Biography

Converted to Islam some years years ago, Dr Sabrina Lei, an Italian writer and researcher, is one of the emerging Western Muslim scholars and cultural activists. After getting a thorough grounding in Latin and Greek, Dr Sabrina read philosophy at Rome’s La Sapienza University, and got her research degree in philosophy, working on Wittgenstein’s concept of time in his Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus in 2000. A few years later she went back to her academic research again, and got a PhD in ancient philosophy. Dr. Sabrina Lei. Currently working as Director of Tawasul, Centre for Research and Dialogue, has published almost a dozen books on Islam and related topics so far, including a study on the spiritual and medical benefits of Salat (Muslim Prayer) and the Italian translations of the works of some of the great Muslim scholars like Muhammad Al-Ghazzali, Muhammad Iqbal,

Dr Sabrina has recently completed the Italian translation of the classic and universally read 1934 English Quran translation of Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Also, recently, she has completed the first volume of her book into the life history of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This insightful study on the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is aimed at introducing the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his mission to Western non-Muslims and academics as the fulfilment of the true mission of the Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon them). Along with classical Muslim sources on the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the volume examines classical sources in Greek, Latin and Hebrew to reveal the natural continuity of the mission of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as the true completion of the earlier heavenly revealed religions.

Dr Sabrina argues for a mutually beneficial dialogue between the world of Islam and the West. And her long-term aim is to create a new Islamic discourse rooted in the humanistic principles of Islam, accepting the diversity of human experience, as manifested in today’s globalized world in the form of different religious and cultural discourses.

Converted to Islam some years years ago, Dr Sabrina Lei, an Italian writer and researcher, is one of the emerging Western Muslim scholars and cultural activists. After getting a thorough grounding in Latin and Greek, Dr Sabrina read philosophy at Rome’s La Sapienza University, and got her research degree in philosophy, working on Wittgenstein’s concept of time in his Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus in 2000. A few years later she went back to her academic research again, and got a PhD in ancient philosophy. Dr. Sabrina Lei. Currently working as Director of Tawasul, Centre for Research and Dialogue, has published almost a dozen books on Islam and related topics so far, including a study on the spiritual and medical benefits of Salat (Muslim Prayer) and the Italian translations of the works of some of the great Muslim scholars like Muhammad Al-Ghazzali, Muhammad Iqbal,
Dr Sabrina has recently completed the Italian translation of the classic and universally read 1934 English Quran translation of Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Also, recently, she has completed the first volume of her book into the life history of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This insightful study on the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is aimed at introducing the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his mission to Western non-Muslims and academics as the fulfilment of the true mission of the Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon them). Along with classical Muslim sources on the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the volume examines classical sources in Greek, Latin and Hebrew to reveal the natural continuity of the mission of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as the true completion of the earlier heavenly revealed religions.
Dr Sabrina argues for a mutually beneficial dialogue between the world of Islam and the West. And her long-term aim is to create a new Islamic discourse rooted in the humanistic principles of Islam, accepting the diversity of human experience, as manifested in today’s globalized world in the form of different religious and cultural discourses.

The Philosophical Premises of Iqbal's Political Thought PDF: Dr. Sabrina Lei
Islam, Conversion, And Xenophobia - A talk with Sabreina Lei Ph.D
Italian Philosopher Sabrina Lei speaks on Religion, Culture and Nationalism
Salam: 20th July 2023 Abdullah Yusuf Ali's Translation of the Quran continues to hold appeal : Dr. Sabrina Lei has recently completed the Italian Translation.
Amazon: Books by Dr. Sabrina Lei
Facebook Dr. Sabrina Lei :

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Shaykh Jamaal Diwan: Futuwwah: The Muslim Honor Code -The Majilis - September 3, 2023


YouTube Playlist

The Majlis Website:

Books: The Way of Sufi Chivalry by Ibn al-Husayn al-Sulami, translated by Toscun Bayrak al-Jerrahi

A highly respected Sufi saint and scholar of the 10th century, Ibn al-Husayn al-Sulami compiled this book as a guide to enlightened behavior for the spiritual aspirant. In its pages, he records the teachings of renowned spiritual masters (available for the first time in English translation) as well as tales and quotations from the Koran and Hadith. The teachings reveal the true meaning of compassion, love, friendship, generosity, and hospitality, as well as the right actions associated with these virtues. According to the Sufis, Futuwwah is a code of honorable behavior that follows the example of the prophets, saints, and sages. By adhering to its precepts, the student learns detachment from the ego. The Way of Sufi Chivalry addresses the reader directly, providing the aspirant of today with living guidance on the path of perfection and the way of Sufism.                   Amazon:

Futuwwah, Raising Males into Sacred Manhood : Imam Dawud Walid

 Futuwwah and Raising Males into Sacred Manhood concisely discusses the principles within futuwwah, or spiritual chivalry, that young men should strive to embody and should inculcate into our communities. While the virtues discusses in this text are not all exclusively related to young males becoming men, this book is tailored towards males, and the specific issues faced by males as they strive to grow into the path of manhood. Just as young women need their own spaces to learn from women how to become honorable sisters, young men require their own special places to instill in them the virtues of upright brothers. The Islamic tradition calls for a revival of organized training relating to spiritual chivalry and sacred manhood - this is the task of the hour. There are beautiful and majestic qualities embodied by the Prophet s that he passed down to his family members and pious Companions. Those upright men were methodically raised they undertook rites of passage, and manly responsibilities which were placed upon them with expectations that they would be executed with excellence. This book begins by establishing the linguistic and operational definitions of the Arabic word futuwwah, translated here as "spiritual chivalry." The text then discusses the essential virtues for developing healthy manhood, in a specific order of their priority in teaching. The Qur'anic verses, Prophetic narrations, and sayings of pious Companions and scholars on the subject of futuwwah are related with sound meaning, accompanied by meticulous citations in footnotes and endnotes.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Shaykh Mishary Rashid Alafasy : Nasheed - Mustafa Mustafa - Arabic / English - Live 1/4/2024 UK

مصطفى مصطفى

The chosen one ‎منبعٌ للصفاءْ Spring of peace ‎سيّد الأنبياء Leader of prophets ‎مِشعلٌ في الوفا Ignited in loyalty ‎كان في عطفه ‎لليتامى دفى His compassion was warmth for the orphans ‎حن قلبي لهُ My heart yearns for him ‎فاض شوقا إليه Longing for him ‎ليس أرجو سوى I have no desire except ‎شربةً من يديه To drink from his hands ‎الصلاةُ عليه Salutations be upon him ‎والسلامُ عليه And peace be upon him ‎للسماءِ ارتقى For the sky he ascended ‎فأتى بالنقاء And brought purity ‎وغدا وجههُ And his face illumined ‎نيّرا مشرقا radiant and bright ‎كان من عفوهِ This was from his forgiveness ‎حين حان اللقاء When the meeting came ‎قال فلتذهبوا ‎أنتم الطلقاء He said: “you are all free to go” ‎كان في هديهِ In his guidance ‎منهجا وسطا A balanced path he paved ‎كان تُسعدهُ ‎بسمةُ البُسطاءْ The smiles of the humble would make him happy ‎سيّدٌ في الكرم ‎A leader in generosity ‎قمةٌ في العطاء The pinnacle of giving

Monday, January 8, 2024

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad: Realities of Intention from Imam Ghazali's Ihya Book 37 "Intention, Sincerity & Truthfulness" - Lecture 1

 YouTube Video

Source: Enver, say Masha'Allah , October 23, 2023

Book at Amazon: Al Ghazali on Intention, Sincerity and Truthfulness: Kitab al-niyya wa'l-ikhlas wa'l sidq translated by Anthony Shaker 

The 37th chapter of the Revival of Religious Sciences, this treatise focuses on the subject of intention—which is of crucial importance in ethics—posing questions such as How can someone ignorant of the meaning of intention verify his own intention? How can someone ignorant of the meaning of sincerity verify his own sincerity? And how can someone sincerely claim truthfulness if he has not verified its meaning?

Thursday, January 4, 2024

The Path to God for the Spiritual Travelers: Shaykh Muhammad Masum Naqshbandi (ra) - Sufi Illuminations Journal 2008

In the name of Allāh, most Gracious, most Merciful.

All praises belong to Allāh. Peace and blessings be upon the blessed Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ,  the illuminating light, and Allāh’s mercy to humankind and all of Allāh’s creation. Praise to Allāh that there are increasingly more people seeking a sacred and holistic way of life. In a world dominated by materialistic values, Taṣawwuf  (Sufismbalances one’s spiritual life and worldly activities.

 Taṣawwuf is based on the unity of Allāh (tawḥīd). Those who practice Taṣawwuf,  the sufis, are muslims who strive to purify their hearts and dominate their worldly desires by following the Qur’ān and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ   under the guidance of a spiritual leader. Taṣawwuf is to tread along the spiritual path by applying the ethical dictates of the Sharia'h into one’s life. Spirituality is rooted in one’s moral behavior, which is best done under the guidance of a spiritual master familiar with the difficulties and dangers of the path. As individual souls find their spiritual journey deepening, they approach divine Reality  (ḥaqīqat) and reach the highest degree of spiritual excellence (iḥsān). 

Although simple in concept, Taṣawwuf proves to be challenging and difficult in practice. In our time, difficulty in finding qualified spiritual leaders and reliable sources of knowledge makes actualizing Taṣawwuf difficult. As the level of difficulty increases along the path, the responsibility of each individual to the ethical dictates of the Sharia'h rises proportionally. With this background in mind, one realizes that the purpose of creation is to serve Allāh, as it is said in the Holy Qur’ān, "I have created jinns and humankind that they may serve me" (Q. 51:56). Our deeds and all other aspects of our being is directed to fulfill this purpose. The first obstacle to overcome on the path is the “commanding ego” (al-nafs al-ammāra), which the Holy Prophet ﷺ  called the “greater struggle” (jihad al-akbar). "Yet, I do not claim that my soul was innocent. Surely a person’s soul incites to evil -- except in so far as my Sustainer is all forgiving, most merciful" (Q. 12:53).

The challenge to overcome one’s lower nature is not easy. However, one should never lose hope because the spiritual journey is blessed by Allāh’s mercy just as those who strive for Allāh’s cause will have Allāh’s mercy with them. "We will surely guide those who struggle in Our cause to Our path; Allāh is with those who do good " (Q. 29:69).

The Sharia'h is the foundation of submitting to Allāh and the genuine Path to Allāh. Therefore, one is cautioned to avoid deviating from the ethical commands stemming from the Qur’ān and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ . Deviating from the Sharia'h, whether individually or under the auspices of a sufi lineage, would go against the dictates of submitting to Allāh, which is the practice of islām.

In this path one needs a pure heart, since it is the pure heart that can reflect the light of the divine. That is why the purification of the heart plays a central role in an individual’s spiritual journey. As the Holy Prophet    said, there is a polish for everything that takes away the rust and the polish of the heart is dhikr, i.e., the invocation of Allāh. "Truly the person who succeeds purifies it (the heart) and the person who fails corrupts it (the heart)" (Q.91:9-10). …"and call Allāh in remembrance often so that you may prosper"(Q. 8:45).

Let us remember that guidance is only by Allāh. …"For Allāh guides whom Allāh wills to a path that is straight" (Q. 2:213). Allāh promised the Holy Prophet ﷺ  that his religion and book would be protected until the Day of Judgment. "And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allāh (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allāh’s favor on you. You were enemies and Allāh joined your hearts in love, so that by Allāh’s grace, you became brothers. You were on the brink of the pit of fire and Allāh saved you from it. Thus Allāh makes Allāh’s signs clear to you so that you are guided (Q. 3:103). 

May Allāh bless us with hearts that can pray with sincerity and reflect the divine light. May we have eyes whose gaze on this world will remind us of Allāh. I pray to Allāh to bless us with the ability to practice with excellence, the teachings of Islam in our daily life. Ameen.

والسلام و عليكم ورحمة الله و على من اتبع الحق و الهدی و صلی الله علی سیدنا و نبینا محمد و علی اله الطاهرین المعصومین

Shaikh Muḥammad Ma‘sụm Naqshbandī (ra) , Eminent Islamic Scholar from Kurdistan, Iraq and Religious Adviser and Spiritual Guide , Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) 

Source: Sufi Illuminations: A Journal Devoted to the Study of Islam & Sufism-Vol.4 No.1 Spring 2008, Published by Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE)

Shaykh Muhammad Masum Naqshbandi (ra) with Shaykh Hashim Yusuf al-Rifai (ra) and Imad Gire , President NFIE at International Mawlid al-Nabi ﷺ  Conference, 1998, UIC, Chicago.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

A Commentary on " What is Tasawwuf (Sufism)?-- An Anonymous Persian Poem: Alan Abd al-Haqq Godlas Ph.D. - Sufi Illuminations Journal 1996



An Anonymous Persian Poem – A Commentary on “What Is Sufism (Tasawwuf)?”                        Translated by Dr. Alan. Godlas , Associate Professor, University of Georgia

What is Sufism? Good character and awareness of God.
That’s all Sufism is. And nothing more.

What is Sufism? Love and affection.
It is the cure for hatred and vengeance. And nothing more.

What is Sufism? The heart attaining tranquility–
which is the root of religion. And nothing more.

What is Sufism? Concentrating your mind,
which is the religion of Ahmad (pbuh). And nothing more.

What is Sufism? Contemplation that travels to the Divine throne.
It is a far-seeing gaze. And nothing more.

Sufism is keeping one’s distance from imagination and supposition.
Sufism is found in certainty. And nothing more.

Surrendering one’s soul to the care of the inviolability of religion;
this is Sufism . And nothing more.

Sufism is the path of faith and affirmation of unity;
this is the incorruptible religion. And nothing more.

Sufism is the smooth and illuminated path.
It is the way to the most exalted paradise. And nothing more.

I have heard that the ecstasy of the wearers of wool
comes from finding the taste of religion. And nothing more.

Sufism is nothing but shari’at.
It is just this clear road. And nothing more.

By directly addressing the nature of Sufism , this anonymous Persian poem, “What is Sufism ?” contains a number of essential concepts that are helpful in gaining an understanding of Sufism . Direct statements about the nature of Sufism (also known as Tasawwuf) are an important aspect of Sufi literature. The renowned scholar Abu Nu‘aym al-Asbahani (Isfahani) (d. 430/1038) included one-hundred and thirty-four such assertions (often in rhymed prose) in his encyclopedic biographical collection, the Hilyat al-awliya’. The great English scholar of Sufism, Nicholson, collected and translated seventy-eight of these sayings. Most recently, Tamar Frank has devoted an article to studying Abu Nu‘aym’s sayings of this kind. The poem that is the object of this study, in answering the question “What is Sufism ?” makes a number of pithy assertions about the central concepts of Sufism by means of its technical vocabulary. Consequently, in this article we have sought to explain those concepts that may not be obvious even to the educated reader. In explaining these terms, we have relied mainly upon authoritative Islamic sources such as the Qur’an, hadith, and highly regarded Sufi authors.

Good character (akhlaq): The word akhlaq, translated here as “good character,” is at best an inexact translation denoting virtuous behavior that is an outgrowth of spiritual refinement. Hujwiri (d. ca. 465/1072), informed us that Abu al-Hasan al-Nuri (d. 295/907-8) stated, “Sufism is not composed of practices (rusum) and sciences (‘ulum), but it is akhlaq.” Hujwiri explained that what Nuri meant was that akhlaq should not be thought of as simply good comportment or good character in an ordinary sense. Akhlaq as used by Sufis consists of virtuous behavior that derives from the fact that the inner being of the Sufi has become cleansed and his or her heart has become purified. How such a Sufi behaves, then, is not so much the product of effort as it is the cresting of a wave, the origins of which is God. Hujwiri, in explaining Nuri’s remark went on to say, ' If it {Sufism} consisted of practices, it could be acquired by effort (mujahadat), and if it consisted of sciences, it could be gained by instruction (ta’allum); but it is akhlaq and it is not acquired until you demand from yourself the requirements (hukm) of akhlaq, conform your actions to them, and do justice to them. The distinction between practices (rusum) and akhlaq is this, that practices are contrived (bi-takalluf) actions proceeding from particular motives (asbab), such that their “outer form” (zahir) is at variance with their “inner truth” (batin); they are actions devoid of essence (ma’na). Akhlaq, on the other hand, are non-contrived praiseworthy actions not proceeding from particular motives. Their outer form is in harmony with their inner truth; they are actions devoid of pretension.

Awareness of God (ihsan): The phrase “awareness of God,” is my translation of the word ihsan, which literally means “doing what is beautiful.” I have rendered it as “awareness of God” in view of the sound hadith in which the angel Gabriel asked the Prophet (pbuh), “What is ihsan?” He replied, “Ihsan is that you should worship God as if you see Him; and if you do not see Him, [you should know that] He sees you.” The concept of ihsan, with particular attention to its Qur’anic roots, occupies an entire chapter in what is arguably the best book in English on basic Islamic concepts, Murata and Chittick’s Vision of Islam. The first Sufi to compose a compendium on Sufism , Sarraj (d. 378/988-89), linked ihsan to “vigilant awareness” (muraqaba). He stated, “Vigilant awareness is for a servant who indeed knows and is certain that Allah is aware of and knows what is in his heart (qalb) and consciousness (damir). So he stays vigilantly aware of despicable thoughts that [would otherwise] preoccupy the heart and keep it from remembering his Master. Qushayri (d. 465/1072), like Sarraj, saw ihsan to be related to “vigilant awareness” (muraqaba). Specifically, he referred to the aspect of ihsan mentioned in the part of the hadith, “If you do not see him [know] that indeed he sees you” as alluding to “vigilant awareness” because “vigilant awareness” “is the servant’s knowledge of the Lord’s constant awareness of him.”

Love (‘ishq): The lexicographer Jawhari (d. 453/1061), a contemporary of Qushayri defined ‘ishq, literally, as “being excessive in love (al-hubb). While the Qur‘an speaks of love using a variety of words, it does not use the word ‘ishq or any words derived from it. Nevertheless, we do find a derivative of ‘ishq being used in the hadith. Ghazali (d. 505/1111) noted a hadith in which the Prophet (pbuh) spoke of “intense love” (‘ishq): The Messenger of God (pbuh) stated, “Whoever feels intense love, is virtuous, keeps his love hidden, and then dies, he will indeed die as a martyr.” In a strikingly ecstatic passage in his Alchemy of Happiness (Kimiya-yi sa‘adat), al- Ghazali considers ‘ishq as that which arises in the fourth and final stage of practicing the remembrance of God (dhikr). This fourth stage occurs when the object of the remembrance dominates the heart (and that object is God-Haqq – not the remembrance)…. This is the result of one-pointed love (mahabbat-i mufrad), which is called “intense love” (‘ishq). The heart of the lover who is burning with love (‘ashiq-i garmraw) is always with the Beloved (ma’shuq). It might even occur that on account of the intense degree of preoccupation of the heart with the Beloved, the name of the Beloved may be forgotten. When one becomes so drowned and forgets one’s self and everything – except God (Haqq) –one reaches the beginning of the path of Sufism . Sufis call this condition “passing away” (fana’) and “not existing” (nisti); meaning that as a result of the remembrance of God, everything has become non-existent; and such a person also has become non-existent, namely the one who has forgotten his or her self. Mawlana Rumi (d. 672/1273), in his collection of ecstatic poetry, the Divan-i Shams-i Tabrizi, exclaims in praise, " This love is so fine, this love that we have is so fine, O God! --- So exquisite, so good, and so beautiful, O God! " [ Zihi ‘ishq zihi ‘ishq, kah ma rast khudaya, -- Chi naghz ast u chi khub ast chi zibast khudaya.] While Divine Love might appear to some to be completely distinct from human love, for many Sufis such as Ahmad al-Ghazali (d. 520/1126), Ruzbihan (d. 606/1209), Ibn ‘Arabi (d. 638/1240), Rumi, and ‘Iraqi (d. 688/1289), there was a continuum from human love to Divine love that the aspiring lover of God could follow. By learning how to love through love of a person, the sincere Sufi could – in principle – transform his or her love of a person into love of God. The contemporary scholars Chittick and Wilson, in the introduction to their translation of ‘Iraqi’s Lama’at discussed this relationship of human love and Divine love. Speaking of ‘Iraqi’s understanding of love, they stated, “There is no irreducible dichotomy between divine and human love…There is a gradation from the love of forms, which is “apparent love” (‘ishq-i majazi) to the love of God, which alone is ‘real love’ (‘ishq-i haqiqi). The lower form of love can be, and for the Sufi is, the ladder to Divine Love.”

Affection (mahabba): The word mahabba is derived from the word hubb, both of which commonly mean love anf affection. In the Qur'an both words occur, although hubb is more common. The verbal form of these words, however, is used numerous times in the Qur’an. Two ayas involving love that Sufis frequently quote are “God will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him” [Q 5:54], and “Say, if you love God, follow me [namely, the Prophet (pbuh)]; God will love you” [Q 3:31]. A hadith qudsi in which mahabba is mentioned was included in the highly regarded Muwatta of Imam Malik (d. 179/795) on the authority of Abu Idris al-Khawlani (d. 80/699-700). He transmitted the following narrative, which contains this hadith qudsi as transmitted by Mu’adh ibn Jabal (d. 18/639): “Indeed, I heard the Messenger of God (pbuh) saying, ‘God said, “My love (mahabbati) necessarily belongs to those who love one another (mutahabbina) for My sake, sit together for My sake, visit one another for My sake, and give generously to one another for My sake.”  From the Qur’anic examples that we have cited, in addition to this hadith, it should be clear that mahabba (affection and love) is an important Islamic principle. In Sufi literature, along with an emphasis on the terms ‘ishq (passionate love), we also often see the terms hubb and mahabba (affectionate love).

The Heart Attaining Tranquility (itminan-i qalb): On six occasions the Qur’an links together the roots of the words itminan and qalb. In particular, one aya that is frequently cited by Sufis is in surat al-Ra’d, “Know that hearts find peace through the remembrance of God” [Q 13:28]. The emphasis in Sufism on the practice of the remembrance of God is directly linked with the Qur’anic assertion that hearts become tranquil and find peace by means of remembering and meditating on God. A certain shaykh quoted in the Qur’anic commentaries of Sulami and Ruzbihan said, “Hearts find peace in it [the remembrance of God], because they did not find other than God to be a place for intimacy (uns) and comfort (raha).” Another shaykh quoted by Sulami and Baqli stated, “The hearts of the folk of gnosis only find peace through God and only are tranquil through Him, because their hearts are the place where He looks (mahal nazarihi). Thus, Sufis, as lovers of God, only find peace in their hearts through God and the remembrance of God.

Concentrating Your Mind (jam’-i khatir): The Sufi technical term jam’ that I have translated by the word “concentration” is more literally translated as “the state of being gathered” or “collected,” sometimes even being rendered as “union.” It is often used in contrast to the term tafriqa (separation). Concerning them Qushayri wrote, “Affirming created existence (khalq) comes about through ‘separation;’ and affirming God (Haqq) derives from ‘concentration’ or ‘gatheredness’. The servant must have both ‘concentration’ and ‘separation.’ Whoever has no ‘separation’ has no servanthood; and whoever has no ‘concentration,’ has no gnosis (ma’rifa).’” Thus “concentrating one’s mind,” as we find in the poem, is more than simply the kind of concentration that one uses in one’s day to day activities in the world. “Concentrating one’s mind” for the folk of Sufism implies the transcendental knowledge of God that is called gnosis (ma’rifa).

The Religion of Ahmad (din-i Ahmad) (pbuh): The religion of Ahmad (pbuh) is none other than Islam, since Ahmad (pbuh) is one of the names of the Prophet (pbuh), as confirmed in both the Qur’an and hadith. In surat al-Saff we read, “…Jesus, the son of Mary, said: O children of Israel, Indeed I am the messenger  of God sent to you to confirm the truth of what is present of the Torah and to convey to you glad tidings of a Divine messenger who will come after me, whose name is Ahmad” [Q 61:6]. Both Bukhari and Muslim, in their authoritative collections of hadith, reported that the Prophet (pbuh) stated, “I am Muhammad and I am Ahmad; and I am the effacer (mahi) who effaces disbelief. And I am the gatherer (hashir), who will gather people behind me [on the day of resurrection]; and I am the final one (‘aqib) [after whom there will be no other prophets].

Contemplation (fikr): Contemplation (fikr or tafakkur) is an important aspect of the methodology of Islam in general and Sufism in particular. In both the Qur‘an and the sunna, people are instructed by God to contemplate. In surat al-Nahl, God states, “And we have revealed to you this [revelation as a] reminder (al-dhikr), so you will make clear for humankind what has been revealed to them and so that they will contemplate [Q 16:44]. Similarly, in surat Al ‘Imran, we read, “Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are indeed signs for all who possess [awakened] hearts, those who remember Allah when they stand, sit, and lie down and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth” [Q 3:190-91]. One hadith that clearly expresses the significance of contemplation in the Sunna was cited by Ghazali, “An hour’s worth of contemplation is better than a year’s worth of worship.” Contemplation is so important in the Qur’an, Sunna, and Sufism that Ghazali devoted an entire “book” (kitab) in his Revival of the Religious Sciences to it.

Certainty (yaqin): The classical Sufi doctrine of certainty involved three degrees: the knowledge of certainty (‘ilm al-yaqin), the eye of certainty (‘ayn al-yaqin), and the reality of certainty (haqq al-yaqin). Hujwiri (d. ca. 465/1072) discussed them in the following manner: “By ‘ilm al-yaqin the Sufis mean knowledge of (religious) practice (mu’amalat) in this world according to the Divine commandments; by ‘ayn al-yaqin they mean knowledge of the state of dying (naz’) and the time of departure from this world; and by haqq al-yaqin they mean the unveiling (kashf) of the vision (of God) that will be revealed in Paradise, and of its nature. Therefore, ‘ilm al-yaqin is the rank of religious scholars (‘ulama’) on account of their correct observance of the divine commands, and ‘ayn al-yaqin is the station of gnostics (maqam-i ‘arifan) on account of their readiness for death, and haqq al-yaqin is the annihilation-point of lovers (fana’gah-i dustan), on account of their rejection of all ‘existent beings and things’ (mawjudat)” In these three degrees of certainty, one clearly sees a hierarchy of states of consciousness, one which corresponds to a three-fold hierarchy of human identity: the scholars, the gnostics, and at the highest degree, the lovers. According to a later Sufi, Najm al-Din Razi (d. 654/1256), “certainty” arises when one strives to become aware of the spiritual world, while living in accordance with shari’a. If one simply tries to use one’s rational mind, one will fall into mere philosophy and unbelief. The key to certainty is the practice of shari’a, which leads to the awareness that everything is a manifestation of an attribute of God. In the following passage, Razi discusses the nature of certainty: But [in contrast to the mere philosopher and the heretic] …the possessor of true felicity nourish[es] the seed of the spirit in accordance with the law of Shari’at until all his senses attain perfection. He will then perceive, through his outer and inner senses, all the three hundred and sixty thousand realms that constitute the material and spiritual worlds (mulk va malakut)…He sees every atom in each of these worlds to be a manifestation of one of the divine attributes containing within it one of God’s signs; he removes the veil from the face of the manifestations, and the beauty of God’s signs is displayed to him. [As the poet Abu al-‘Atahiya stated,] In every thing is a sign (aya) of His pointing to the fact that He is One (ahad). This is the threshold of the world of certainty (iqan)…Then the pure essence of God may be known in its unity, and the attributes (sifat) of divinity may be contemplated with the eye of certainty (‘ayn al-yaqin).” Razi makes it very clear: in order to follow the path that leads to certainty and the awareness of the very “essence of God,” one must discipline and perfect one’s senses by means of shari’a, and one must be aware that there is nothing in existence that does not derive from an attribute of God.

The Most Exalted Paradise (khuld-i barin): Khuld is one of the many terms in Islamic languages for paradise, which can be spoken of as consisting of various degrees. The highest degree of paradise is sometimes referred to as khuld-i barin. Some writers of Sufi literature – such as the author of the poem about which we are remarking – have seen Sufism as a path to the highest degree of paradise, a path that is more certain than that offered by Islam in general, since Sufism is more demanding and rigorous, going beyond the minimum degree of conformity to God’s will required in Islam. Other Sufi writers have used terms for paradise as metaphors alluding to aspects of Sufism or to experiences encountered on the Sufi path. In this way, Sufis bring paradise into this life or, conversely, they raise up to paradise an aspect of this life. An example of such a metaphorical usage is expressed by the Persian poet Hafiz, who has written perhaps the best known couplet using the term “the most exalted paradise” (khuld-i barin): [ Rawda-yi khuld-i barin khalvat-i darvishanast - Maya-yi muhtashimi khalvat-i darvishanast ] ' [ The garden of the most exalted paradise is the retreat of solitude of the dervish -- The substance of magnificence is the retreat of solitude of the dervish.]

Ecstasy and “finding” (wajd): Literally, the word wajd means “finding,” but for the Sufis it also means a moment of ecstasy in which one experiences an unveiling – and hence a “finding” - of some aspect of God’s reality. Ruzbihan (d. 606/1209) defined wajd as, “The heart’s perceiving the sweetness of contact with the light of “eternality before time” (azaliyat), the purity of witnessing, and the delight of the [Divine] address. Wajd is often portrayed as the intermediary stage of a three-stage process consisting of tawajud, wajd, and wujud. Qushayri defines tawajud as “willfully seeking to have wajd; one in this state does not actually possess true wajd.” Concerning wajd itself, Qushayri wrote, “Wajd is that which encounters your heart, entering [it and coming] over you, without will or effort on your part.” Abu al-Husayn al-Nuri stated, “For twenty years I have gone between wajd (ecstatic finding) and faqd (loss). Namely, when I find my Lord, I lose my heart; and when I find my heart, I lose my Lord.” Qushayri defined the third stage, wujud, as being that which occurs “after one progresses beyond wajd;” [it is truly realized only] “after the cessation of of human qualities ( khumud al-bashariya ), because human qualities cannot remain present during the manifestation of the sovereignty of the Truth (sultan al-haqiqa).” A succinct summary of each of these three stages was expressed by Qushayri’s shaykh and father-in-law, Abu ‘Ali al-Daqqaq: “Tawajud necessitates the rebuking of the servant; wajd necessitates the drowning of the servant; and wujud necessitates the annihilation of the servant.” Hence, as one advances from tawajud to wajd and wujud, one experiences a progressive dissolution of one’s egocentricity and a surrendering of one’s identification with one’s self.

Wearers of Wool (suf pushan): In Persian the literal meaning of the word sufi would be translated as “suf push” (wearer of wool). Hence the phrase in the poem “wearer of wool” is synonymous with Sufi. It is generally agreed that the first Sufis were pious, ascetic Muslims who were called Sufis because they wore clothes of coarse wool (suf) rather than more refined garments. Some scholars have pointed to a Christian influence upon this practice. Nevertheless, these early Sufi ascetics were following the example of the Prophet (pbuh), who (as reported by Ibn Sa’d [d. 230/845] through reliable transmitters) was known to wear woolen garments. Moreover, the great hadith scholar Bayhaqi (d. 458/1066), in his Shu’ab al- iman, includes numerous reports about the virtues of wearing suf. In one report the Prophet (pbuh) states “You should wear clothes of wool (suf). [In so doing,] you will find the sweetness of faith in your hearts.” In spite of the criticism leveled against this and other reports that the Prophet (pbuh) wore wool, the isnad of Ibn Sa’d’s report mentioned above was not criticized and appears to be flawless. Hence in wearing wool the Sufis were not departing from the record of the Sunna of the Prophet (pbuh).

Taste (dhawq): Generally, one’s spiritual proclivity or capacity is referred to by the term “taste” (dhawq). More specifically, Qushayri (d. 465/1072) hierarchically defined dhawq (tasting) along with shurb (drinking), and a less commonly used term riyy (being quenched). He stated, "These terms denote the fruits of ‘theophany’ (tajalli), the results of unveilings (kushufat), and the appearances of inrushes (waridat) that they [meaning the Sufis] experience. The first of these is ‘tasting,’ then, ‘drinking,’ and then ‘being quenched.’ One who is characterized by dhawq (tasting) tries to be intoxicated (mutasakir). One who is characterized by shurb (drinking) is intoxicated (sakran). And one who is characterized by riyy (being quenched) is sober (sah)". The sense of the term “taste” in the poem “What is Sufism?” seems to have both the general meaning and the more specifically Sufi sense as noted by Qushayri. The general meaning is conveyed in the expressions the “taste for religion,” where the sense is that the Sufis’ “appreciation” for religion is the basis for their ecstasy. The more specific meaning of which Qushayri speaks is alluded to in the poet’s linking together these two hierarchical states of consciousness (“taste” and ecstasy”). The poet states that “ecstasy” is derived from “taste,” implying that Sufi ecstasy only comes about after a foundation in the appreciation of and commitment to following the religion (namely Islam). Hence the poet says, “I have heard that the ecstasy of the wearers of wool (suf) comes from finding the taste for religion.

Sufism is nothing but Shari‘at (Islamic Law): A problem that arises in the final couplet of “What is Sufism ?” is that in equating Sufism and Shari’a, the poet brings up and then resolves an apparent tension between Sufism and Shari’a. Such a tension, however, exists only to the degree that one defines these two terms as being mutually exclusive. While various extremists persist in excluding one from the other, we do have many inclusive statements - such as that of the poet of “What is Sufism ?” – in which Sufism and Shari’a are interwoven, similarly defined, or equated. Qushayri (d. 465/1074), for example, defined “Shari’a” as “assiduous observance of servanthood.” Defining Sufism in a comparable fashion, Abu al-Hasan al-Shudhili (d. 656/1258) stated: “Sufism is training the self (nafs) through servanthood and subjecting it to the commands (ahkam) of Lordship.” Supporting the close relationship between Sufism and Shari‘a, the Sufi Abu Yazid al-Bistami (d. 260/874) asserted that observing the Shari‘a was a touchstone for judging a person’s spiritual degree: “Were you to see a man who performs miracles such that he ascends into the air, do not be deceived by him. Instead, observe how well he is following the Divine commands, abstaining from what is prohibited, keeping within the limits set by God, and observing the Shari‘a.” Similarly, Abu al-Husayn al-Warraq (d. before 320/932), asserted the futility of trying to reach God without conforming one’s actions to Shari‘a and the Sunna: “A servant will only reach Allah through Allah and by being in harmony with his loved one [the Prophet (pbuh)] through his laws (Shari’a). And whoever believes that he can follow a path without emulating (al-iqtida) [the Prophet (pbuh)] will become lost, on account of imagining that he is being guided.” Undoubtedly, for all but a minority of Sufis throughout history, carefully observing the Shari’a has been a crucial and on-going component of their spiritual practice. One way of understanding the interrelationship of Sufism and Shari’a was expressed by the Kubrawi Sufi, Najm al-Din Razi (d. 654/1256). Using the term tariqa (path) to denote Sufism – as Sufis commonly do – he clarified its relationship to Shari’a: “The shari’at has an outer (zahiri) and an inner (batini) aspect. Its outer aspect consists of bodily deeds… The inner aspect of the shari’at consists of deeds of the heart (qalbi), of the inner mystery (sirri), and of the spirit (ruhi) and is called the tariqat.” Hence, for Razi, the tariqa (or Sufism ) is not separate from Shari‘a, it is, rather, its inner dimension. In summary, it should be clear, then, that in spite of extremist views that see Sufism and Shari’a as mutually exclusive, the author of “What is Sufism ?” – like most Sufis – bridges the false dichotomy between Sufism and Shari‘a.

Conclusion: The poem “What is Sufism ?” provides answers to a question that has perplexed people since the term first began to be used, over 1200 years ago. Its answers to this question involve technical terms referring to many of the key concepts of Tasawwuf (or Sufism, as it is commonly called today). In this commentary we have not discussed the more obvious phrases and answers expressed by the poet, phrases such as “faith” (iman) and “the affirmation of unity” (tawhid). The terms that we have addressed are the following: good character (akhlaq), awareness of God (ihsan), love (‘ishq), affection (mahabba), the heart attaining tranquility (itminan-i qalb), concentrating one’s mind (jam’i khatir), the religion of Ahmad (din-i Ahmad) (pbuh), contemplation (fikr), certainty (yaqin), the most exalted paradise (khuld-i barin), ecstasy (wajd), wearers of wool (suf pushan), taste (dhawq), and the close relationship between Sufism and Shari’a. From this study, it should be evident that there are numerous dimensions of Sufism , including actions in the world, consciousness of God, spiritual states and practices, and Shari’a. And nothing more – nor less.            
             **** Notes not included *****

Source: Sufi Illuminations Journal, Volume 1, August 1996, published by Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE)

Persian Poem Source: Tadhkira -yi Naqshbandiyya Khayriyya