Three meditations of Khwaja Mo’inoddin Chishti
The real wine in a clear heart is the sign and symbol of moving about in Allah and refers to the virtues and qualities, and to the way of life to be moulded according to the attributes of Allah.
The pure and purifying wine is this, that the divine grace may descend upon the heart of the faithful witness of the truth.
The real tavern is the heart. But without the guidance of the perfect spiritual guide the absorbed traveller on the way cannot understand it.
As you will remember I have promised to show some pieces of the English translation of Mo’in ul Arwah - a book written by Nawab Gudri Shah Baba – dealing with the life and teachings of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti. I’ll try to give attention to different types of teachings; different as to the level of complexity. The following is the summary of teachings as coming from the second chapter of ‘Kashf ul-Asrar’ (Unveiling of Secrets) a book of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti. He tells us how the creation of the universe took place and that there are similarities between the universe (macrocosm) and man (microcosm):
God gave to all that was non-existing such existence, that He created from the four elements four existences, likewise He created four beings and when God desired to see Himself and to see Himself and to manifest His own Self, then God, the Almighty created these four spheres which were like four pillars.
(Then a drawing is given in the midst whereof is a small circle which is surrounded by four rectangles which enclose each other).
After separating these from God they had a tripod shape and four elements, that is to say
- fire, which is related to love
- air, which is related to spirit
- water, which is related to action
- earth, which is related to ego.
This is similar (and can be compared) to the four friends of Muhammad (s.a.w.) and the four archangels near God.
(Then Mo’inuddin Chishti discusses the self (nafs) in 3 stages of development:)
1. An-nafs al-ammara (the self inciting to evil; the ego). This nafs comes from fire.
2. An-nafs al-molhama (the inspired self). This nafs comes from water.
3. An-nafs al-motma’inna (the quiescent soul). This nafs comes from earth.
In the same way as there are four seasons in the created world, there are in the existence of man childhood which is like the sowing of seed, youth which is like Spring, the age of decline which is like the beginning of Autumn and old age which is like Autumn.
- From the heart the tongue takes water, which is sweet,
- From the lungs the nose takes water, which is sour,
- From the gall the ear takes water, which is bitter,
- From the liver the eye takes water, which is saltish.
Intellect is from the brain, modesty is in the eyes, understanding is in the ear, knowledge is in the breast and thought is in the heart.
God has created four spheres, the first is fire, the second air, the third water and the fourth is earth. In heaven is the height of mystery and under this mystery is the seat of mystery itself, under the height fire is like air, under the heigth air is like water and under the height water is like earth and these are the downfalls and the rises. From the height of the earth is the vegetable kingdom and from the height of the vegetable kingdom is the animal kingdom and from the height of the animal kingdom is the human kingdom, and the purification of man is Nur Muhammadi (the light of Muhammad) and this is the whole and sole reason of the truth. The details of this are many, but what is indispensable for the seeker has been described here.
In Mo’in ul Arwah the following deals with the khirqa (the frock of the dervishes):
With respect to the khirqa of the dervishes, all those who have inner knowledge are unanimous. In the “Kashf al-Mahjub” (The Revelation of the Veiled, the oldest treatise in the Persian language about Sufism) it says that the persons worthy of these robes are only those belonging to two groups, one are the extinct ones and the other the ardent longers for God. And among the great mashaykh the tradition is, that when some morid in connection with renunciation is drawn to them, then admonition is given to him (please also read: she) in three matters:
- the first is service to mankind
- the second is service to God
- the third is meditation in the heart.
Hence for the sake of service to mankind he should make sure that he considers himself the servant of all, that he regards all people as his masters, that without distinction he considers them all better than himself and that he considers it reasonable that they are above him.
And in the service to God it is necessary that he should renounce the pleasures of this world and the next world and that he should perform special prayers to God.
And for meditation it is necessary that his mind should remain collected and all distractions be discarded from the heart.
When those three conditions have been obtained and the morid has become accomplished in those three matters, then he is considered to be worthy of the path of religious observance and it is befitting for him that he be clothed with the khirqa.
It has been explained that a person may receive the khirqa (the frock of the dervishes) for three reasons: the first is service to mankind, the second is service to God and the third is meditation in the heart. The author of ‘Mo’in ul Arwah’ continues thus:
That person deserves to be clothed with the khirqa who is steadfast in God. According to the traditions Saifuddin, the author of the ‘Qusus-ul-Adab’, the origin of the khirqa is the black sheet which the prophet gave to ‘Ali. He writes that shaykh Najmuddin Kubra has copied from the ‘Akhbar-e-Sahih’ that the real khirqa is the cloak which the prophet bestowed on ‘Ali and by him it was bestowed on the great mashaykh and by them it was bestowed on several persons. He said that the truth about the khirqa is this that God on account of spiritual purity bestowed the khirqa. In short the prophet made the khirqa the bestower of the secret truths of the prophet and invested ‘Ali with the khirqa. In the ‘Rahat-ul-Qulub’ and ‘Siyar-ul-Auliya’ and various other books of the great ones on the path it is written that the dervish mantle was bestowed by God on the prophet in the night of the me’raj (his heavenly journey). That khirqa was a black garment.
But this tradition is not proved according to the authentic hadith. On the contrary the authors of these traditions have explained this as untrue and void… But as to the khirqa in reality its benefit is that it used to be the garment of the prophet and this is unquestionable and clear that the tradition of the khirqa, as has been described above, was that the pure sufis who existed from the earliest times, used to bestow this khirqa and initiation after intimate friendship, learning and discipline. This being a test of the refining of the qualities of the ego. This custom of the khirqa was made known in the time of shaykh Junayd of Baghdad and after him this custom of initiation arose.
In Mo’in ul Arwah attention is given to the poems of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti. This is one of them:
Cast away from your face the mask of selfishness
And watch the spiritual beauty in all forms.
Ay! That You shine at every moment in a different manifestation
In the Sinai of the heart.
And there is every time another Moses wishing for Your appearance.
How can I explain that I cannot tell anything
And that in the matters of the heart all reasoning has failed.
Last night my heart expressed too many things,
And I heard too many things that I have never told before
Neither heard before.
::: The 23rd way of ma’refat (gnosis)
The members of the Chishtiyya order have adopted fifteen principal stages and have made them their customary line of action:
The first stage is that of helpers, which refers to Adam.
The second is the stage of abstainers, which is the stage of Idries (Enoch).
The third stage is that of the devotees, which refers to Moses.
The fourth stage is that of the patient ones, which refers to Job.
The fifth stage is that of those resigned to the will of God, which refers to Jesus.
The sixth stage is that of the contented ones, which refers to the great Jacob.
The seventh stage is that of the defenders of the faith, which refers to Jonah.
The eighth stage is that of the thinkers, which refers to Joseph.
The ninth stage is that of the afflicted, which refers to Shu’aib (Jethro).
The tenth stage is that of the morsheds, which refers to Seth.
The eleventh stage is that of the righteous ones, which refers to Noah.
The twelfth stage is that of the sincere ones, which refers to David.
The thirteenth stage is that of the illuminated ones, which refers to Khidr.
The fourteenth stage is that of the grateful ones, which refers to Abraham.
The fifteenth stage is that of the lovers, which refers to Mohammed Mustafa.
If a dervish with the help of the teaching of the morsheds is not aware of the above mentioned stages he is only a beginner
::: Persuasion to serve your morshed
Turning towards Hazrat Qutub al-Aqtab he said: “When I joined the Shaykh al-Islam Sultan al-Mashaykh Hazrat Khwaja Uthman Haruni (on whose grave is the light of God) and when the honour of bayat (initiation) bestowed on me was received with absolute sincerity, then for eight years I did not give myself a single moment of rest in the service of my morshed. Wherever he travelled this humble servant, carrying his bedding and luggage on his head, remained in his company.
Pir-o-morshed, after seeing such service and devotion from me, gave me such a gift as is beyond limits. Then he said: ‘Whoever received, received through service and devotion’. It is incumbent upon the morid not even slightly to diverge from the order of the morshed. Whatever the morshed has ordered in the way of prayer and wazifa give full attention to it do according to it so that you reach that stage where the pir is the beautifier of the morid. When a pir suggests to his morid to do something, it is for the sake of attainment of perfection for the morid”.
Outward infidelity is this that on account of numerous deeds, customs and habits one be desirous of fame and praise among the people; that is to say that one considers the people, without the intermediary of God, as the source of the fulfilment of desires and may have the hope of success from them. As this fact is ungodly, therefore such considerations in the heart are idols. The sincere people of the inner path call this outward infidelity.
Someone asked shaykh Sa’di what is initiation and what is being a pir and what is being a morid. He said: ‘Initiation is this that you grasp the hand of the pir and act according to his guidance. The refraining from habits is called initiation, that is to say, keeping aloof from former habits and accepting the pir’s advice and always remembering God. Being a morid is this, that you always, in presence and in absence, are in obedience and respect for the morshed and that you are always with heart and soul present in the company of the pir, that you abstain from treacherous deeds, that you remain in permanent union night and day in remembering God according to the order of the morshed…’.
‘Abdullah Ansari has said: ‘To bestow initiation, to cut the hair on the head of the morid, to make a morid, to guide and to help the morid to reach God is a great task. Without the training of a perfect morshed the beginning morid cannot attain the nearness of God’.
Khwaja Shibli has written that spiritual exercises are of two kinds, real and outward. Outward religious exercises consist of eating little, speaking little and remaining away from the world, but the real spiritual exercise is to polish the mirror of the heart through the secret remembrance.
The memorisation of the Qur’an is of two kinds, one unreal and one real. To memorise the Qur’an without understanding its meaning is unreal memorisation and the real memorisation is that of reciting the Qur’an in the heart.
Unity is also of two kinds, one unreal and one real. The unreal union is this, that in the world of jabarut and lahut, through the secret remembrance, the true seeker with the service of remembrance in his heart will with heart and soul attain the intoxicating effect of love. Only after achieving perfection in the unreal union can one reach the real union. The real union consists in this, that the real seeker, leaving aside self-seeking, self-seeing and his own existence, reaches the state of union with God. As long as the seeker looks at himself he will not see God. When the seeker does not see himself in between, he will reach the perfect union with God
::: The eighteenth way of ma’refat
Shaykh Sultan Ibrahim Adham said: “I have for years together remained in prayer, idle deeds, the practice of the customs, recitation, the use of the rosary and I spent my whole life in the company of the learned ones, the ascetics and the saliks who are not majzub. However I did not attain even the perfume of the knowledge of God, but when I stayed in the company of Hazrat Khwaja Fuzayl Ayaz I reached the perfect goal.
It is said that mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi was the leader of the scholars of Islam. He had in his library 2954 books and he had 976 pupils. He used to hold discussions with these scholars, he was involved in self-love and arrogance and he considered himself as having reached union with God. But when he got attached to the qutb (the pole) of the awliya (friends of God), Shams Tabrizi, he left books, paper and lectures and through the company and the spiritual training of the shaykh, he, after acquiring nearness to God attained unity in God.
For knowing God there are fourteen famous kinds of knowledge:
1. The knowledge of the shariat, that is to say the explanation of the words of God.
2. Religious knowledge, that is to say knowing the glory of visions.
3. The higher knowledge, that is to say knowledge of the meaning of poetry.
4. The knowledge of philosophy, that is to say the works of the old philosophers.
5. The knowledge of faith, that is to say knowing the names of the qualities of God.
6. The knowledge of calligraphy.
7. The knowledge of astronomy, that is to say counting of stars and planets.
8. The knowledge of dialectics.
9. The knowledge of music.
10. The knowledge of medicine, that is to say the knowledge of the healing of the body.
11. The knowledge of the unity of God.
12. The knowledge of the tariqat, that is to say knowledge of the world of malakut.
13. The knowledge of haqiqat, that is to say the knowledge of the world of jabarut.
14. The knowledge of inspiration, that is to say love and affection.
The following is taken from the twenty-fifth way of ma’refat:
One day shaykh Abdullah Ansari asked God: ‘O, God! What is the first thing and what is its end, that is to say, what is its result?’
The answer came: ‘The first task is fana (annihilation) and its end is wafa (fidelity) and the result is baqa (permanent existence)’.
Then he asked: ‘What is annihilation, fidelity and permanent existence?’
The answer came: ‘Annihilation is being free from egoism, self-adoration and (separate) existence. Fidelity is keeping a bond with the Friend with heart and soul. Permanent existence is keeping the heart busy with truthfulness in all conditions’.
As I am unconscious and intoxicated by the wine of Your love,
In everything I look into, I see Your beauty.
Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti said: “For the seekers the first way is the shariat (Islamic laws). When the seekers on the way are devoted followers of the shariat and carry out the commands of the shariat and do not even diverse to the amount of a particle of dust from the way, then they reach tariqat (the path of Sufism). When they are consistent in that degree and follow the way of the people who have done this before them and do not for a moment transgress, then they reach the degree of ma’refat (gnosis, inner knowledge of God) and when they recognise and understand the importance of this place then light will be generated in them. If they are consistent in this degree then they go over to the fourth degree, that is the degree of haqiqat (the realisation of the Truth). After having reached this degree, whatever they ask they will receive it”.