Evolution of Faqr (Sufism)
Faqr (Sufism) is a broad term. As it is the journey which starts from the ‘Alif’ (الف) of Ism-e-Allah Zaat to the ‘hay’(ہ). Rather, the journey begins from ‘hay’ and continues to infinity. Faqr is an exalted stage of inward which is incomparable to any other stage or rank. Since Faqr is unlimited therefore understanding its origin is also beyond the scope of the limited intellect of human being. It existed way before intellect and it will continue to exist even after the culmination of the Universe. This is because Faqr is in fact Allah Himself. All the perfect Fakirs have explained this reality in their teachings from times to time. As Sultan Bahoo says:
“Faqr is exactly the Divine Essence.” (Ain-ul-Faqr)
Similarly, Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani mentions in Ar Risala Tul Ghausia;
- Allah Almighty told me, “O al-Ghawth al-Azam! Let your companions and friends know that if anyone among them wants to be in My company then they must adopt Faqr. When they will reach at the ultimate level of Faqr there will remain nothing but Me.”
Faqr is the Only Way to Reach Allah
As Allah Almighty is limitless and everlasting therefore Faqr is also infinite and eternal. In this regard Allah says the following in the Sura Ar-Rahman of Holy Quran:
کُلُّ مَنْ عَلَیْہَا فَانٍ۔ وَّ یَبْقٰی وَجْہُ رَبِّکَ ذُوالْجَلٰلِ وَ الْاِکْرَامِ۔
Meaning: Whoever is on the earth will perish. And the essence your Lord, Who is the Master of glory and splendor and the Master of bounty and honour, will remain. (55:26-27)
سکوں محال ہے قدرت کے کارخانے میں
ثبات ایک تغیر کو ہے زمانے میں
Explanation: The Universe in a constant state of motion and restlessness. This is an indication of the change that is about to come.
The in depth meaning of the above piece of poetry is that Universe is constantly undergoing change. And in every upcoming era, Allah Almighty Who is in fact Faqr will arise in new face and exalted status.
Faqr Existed Since Pre-Eternity
Faqr is long-standing. Certainly, it has evolved and is present in newer form than it was in the past. However, Faqr has and will retain its glory and splendor according to the needs of every era. As Allah says in Sura ar-Rahman:
کُلَّ یَوْمٍ ہُوَ فِیْ شَاْنٍ
Meaning: Every moment His Glory manifests anew.
Six Stages of Allah’s Descend
The perfect Saints have described the six stages in which Allah created man which are called Tanazalat-e-Satta. According to Tanazalat-e-Satta, Allah descended from Ahdiyat (Alonehood) to Wahdat (oneness). From there He descended to Wahdiyat (Unity) to Jabrut (world of souls) to Malakut (the world of symbolic forms). Then, finally, He descended to Nasut which is the world of bodies. At the level of Ahdiyat Allah Almighty is لَیْسَ کَمِثْلِہٖ شَیْئٍ (One cannot liken Him to anything). This is the world beyond all the worlds and station beyond all the stations, the Unknowable and Incomparable. At this stage, neither can anybody understand the Divine Essence nor can any creature approach It. Similar to this stage is the Faqr, indecipherable and incomparable to anything by intellect or wisdom.
In the process of descending from Ahdiyat to Wahdat to Wahdiyat to Jabrut to Malakut and finally to Nasut, Allah created many different creations. However, the Divine Essence remained and will remain the same from pre-eternity to the eternity. The perfect Fakirs and Saints of every era reveal this reality to the common people per their capacity to understand and to special ones according to their rank. Given below are some references that clearly describe the reality of Faqr and Allah’s descend.
In Sultan-ul-Waham, Sultan Bahoo rehmat Ullah alayh describes this reality in the following words:
O dear! You must know that Allah manifested Himself first of all in the form of Ahmad. So, His first theophany is the theophany of Ahmad. This theophany is specially fixed for the Holy Prophet and his Ummah whose attribute is:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ خَلَقَ اٰدَمَ عَلیٰ صُوْرَۃِ الرَّحْمٰن
Meaning: Certainly, Allah created man on the form of Rahman.
He further said;
The symbol of the special theophany is that it does not manifest in the same form twice in the mirror of a seeker’s inward neither it appears in the same form in two seeker’s inwards.
At another instance he said,
The path of Faqr is guidance (towards righteousness) in which the guide is Prophet Mohammad sall’Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam.” (Mehak-ul-Faqr kalan)
Shaikh Abu Talib Makki
In Quwwat-ul-Qaloob Shaikh Abu Talib writes:
لَا یَتَجَلّٰی فِیْ صُوْرَۃٍ مَرَتَیْنِ
وَلَا یَتَجَلّٰی فِیْ صُوْرَۃِ الْاَثْنَیْنِ
Meaning: He neither manifests Himself in two forms nor manifests the same form twice.
Shaikh Fakhruddin Iraqi
The true lover of Allah, Shaikh Fakhruddin Iraqi said the following beautifully:
چوں جمالش صد ہزاراں روئے داشت
بود در ہر ذرہ دیدارِ دگر
Explanation: Allah manifested His Beauty in thousands of beautiful forms. However, He beheld Himself in every particle in a different form.
لا جرم ہر ذرہ را بنمود
بازار از جمالے خویش رخسارے دگر
Explanation: No doubt! Allah manifested in every particle, even then you cannot encompass His Beauty. As He is always manifesting Himself in a new beautiful form.
خودیکیست آں اصل عدد
بہر آنکہ تا بود ہر دم گرفتار دِگر
Explanation: He is just One but he manifests Himself in various forms. So that His lovers are ever captivated by His new and beautiful forms.
Mohi Uddin Ibn-e-Arabi
“There is no prophet who will bring new Sharia after Prophet Mohammad sall’Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam. Therefore, a Universal Divine Man will exist in every era in whom the Mohammadan Reality will manifest. Undoubtedly, he will be at the station of annihilation with Prophet Mohammad. In fact, that perfect Divine Man is the commander of the era and at the station of Sainthood. In every era, from pre-eternity to eternity Prophet Mohammad will be present in different embodiment according the era.” (Fusus al-Hikam)
Sayyid Abdul Karim bin Ibrahim al-Jaili
In his book al-Insan al-Kamil, Sayyid Abdul Karim bin Ibrahim al-Jaili writes the following:
“(Allah Almighty) reveal the Mohammadan Reality in every era in its perfect form according the glory of the era. The Universal Divine Man is the caliph or deputy of Prophet Mohammad in his era.”
Just like the aforementioned Sufis, Allama Iqbal also expressed the reality of the Universal Divine Man in the following verses:
ہر لحظہ ہے مومن کی نئی شان نئی آن
گفتار میں کردار میں اللہ کی برہان
Explanation: The true believer (the Universal Divine Man) has new splendor in every era. Undoubtedly, he is the manifestation of Divine Essence through his acts and words.
The aforementioned piece of poetry refers to کُلَّ یَوْمٍ ہُوَ فِیْ شَاْنٍ (Meaning: His glory is anew every moment). Also, here the believer does not refer to every Muslim with faith on the Islamic creed rather it refers to the Universal Divine Man. Such al-insan al-Kamil is at an exalted rank of not only annihilation in Prophet Mohammad but also Allah Almighty. Not only that, in fact he is at the station of immortality with Allah. He has finished all stages of completion of oneself. Now he is inviting common people towards success and guiding the special ones towards the gnosis of Allah.
Grandeur of the Universal Divine Man
Iqbal says that the Universal Divine Man has a new grandeur everyday. His every act and word represent the Divine Essence.
او کلیمؑ و او مسیحؑ و او خلیلؑ
او محمدؐ او کتاب او جبرئیلؑ
Explanation: The Universal Divine Man holds the status of Kaleemullah (title of Prophet Moses as he could converse with Allah). He is also Jesus Christ (healer for people) and Ibrahim (Abraham, the friend of Allah) for the era. Furthermore, the sacred self of the Universal Divine Man is Prophet Mohammad, Quran and angel Gabriel as well. He is the path as well as the destination.
Risala Roohi Sharif
Sultan Bahoo in his Divine book Risala Roohi Sharif describes the grandeur of the Universal Divine Man in the following words;
“He Himself is the Speech as well as the Speaker, He is the Writer as well as the Book. (Furthermore), He Himself is the Proof and the Proved, He is the Lover and the Beloved.”
In short, Faqr is the Divine Essence and the way to reach Allah as well. Also, the possession that one need to have in this way is Ism-e-Allah Zaat. The perfect spiritual guide is like the candle to show guidance in the path. Murshid Kamil is the man of Divine Essence, annihilated and immortal with Allah. About such spiritual guide Sultan Bahoo rehmat-ul-Allah alayh says:
“An Arif Billah Fakir is in fact Fakir Fana Fillah (annihilated in Allah), Fana Fi Rasool (annihilated in Prophet). Additionally, he is Fana Fi Faqr (annihilated in Faqr) and Fana Fi Hoo (annihilated in Hoo).” (Ain-ul-Faqr)
In the following paragraphs we will discuss different quotes of Saints and Fakirs which verify that in every era Faqr has been the only way to reach Allah Almighty.
Faqr in View of Saints and Fakirs of Different Eras
Umar ibn Khattab
“Eagerness to attain Allah’s will is in fact Faqr. And being oblivious of the creation is contentment.”
Ali ibn Abi Talib said:
“One who loves the people of cloak must be prepared to wear the robe of Faqr.”
The aforementioned quote proves that one can attain Faqr from the sacred company of the people of cloak. Also having love for them is the sign that Allah has blessed the person with Faqr. Here, it is important to remember that a seeker must ardently love them and obey their Sunna selflessly. Remember! creating discord and conflict is not love.
Shaikh Abdul Wahad bin Zaid
Being the successor of Hasan of Basra, Shaikh Abdul Wahad was at an exalted spiritual status. He beautifully expressed the following:
“Sufi is the one who keeps his connection (strong) with his beloved Prophet Mohamamd sall’Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam.”
Junaid of Baghdad
In regard to Faqr Junaid of Baghdad said:
“Faqr is in fact clearing the inward from everything other than Allah.” (Ma’ali ul-Himam)
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani razi Allah anhu said:
“The reality of Faqr is that one must not depend on anyone (other than Allah).”
Ganj Bakhsh Ali Hujwiri
“Being patient in the path of Faqr is a high level. In fact, this level is a very special rank in man’s slavery to Allah.”
Furthermore, he said:
“In the path of Faqr the true lovers are the ones who submit themselves before Allah Almighty. Moreover, they remain patient to both reward and punishment from the realm of Divine Secrets.”
Ibrahim bin Adham
“Faqr is one of the valuable treasures among the Divine treasures. Allah Almighty has placed it in heavens and grants it to the ones whom He loves.”
In Risala al-Qushyaria, Imam al-Qushyari describes Faqr in the following words:
“Faqr is the way of the Saints and ornament for the special ones. Allah Almighty chose it for His Prophets, Saints, pious and the special ones.”
Abu Bakr Shibli
A trivial and insignificant example of فَفِرُّوْٓا اِلَی اللّٰہ is:
Let’s assume a person attains all the treasures of the world and he spends it all in a day. However, at the same time he thinks of saving just a day’s worth food. Here, this thought contravene with the rules of Faqr.
Yahya bin Maaz
Abu Bakr bin Masood asked Yahya bin Maaz about Faqr. In turn he replied the following:
“The reality of Faqr is that one must not turn towards anyone but Allah. And the definition of Faqr is that one does not rely on the resources and possessions of the world.”
Abu Ali Daqaq
Faqr is the Divine Secret. And Allah Almighty does not reveal His secret on the ones who disclose it anywhere and to anyone.
“A sign that Allah Almighty is displeased at someone is that the person is sacred of (the path of) Faqr.”
Mansoor bin Abdullah narrates that someone asked Molana Rumi rehmat ullah alayh about Faqr and he said:
“Submitting your innerself to Allah is Faqr.”
Shaikh Ibrahim al-Khwas
In Awarif-ul-Ma’arif, Shahab Uddin Sehahr Wardi narrates a quote of Shaikh Ibrahim al-Khwaas:
“Faqr is the coverlet of dignity and eminence, robe of the apostles and the cover of the virtuous.”
Shaikh Nasr bin al-Hamami
“Faqr is the first step of Tawhid (having faith in oneness of Allah).”
Khawaja Nizam Uddin Auliya
“Faqr is the key of contentment in the world and hereafter.”
Regarding Faqr Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali rehmat Allah alayh said:
“Faqr is the most precious treasure among the treasures of Allah and is granted by Prophet Mohammad.”
He further said:
“Faqr is the secret of Allah. Whoever becomes aware of this secret becomes His confidant.”
The following quotes of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman beautifully describes the grandeur of Faqr:
- Certainly,Faqr is a remarkable inward rank and marvel. There is nothing comparable to it in the inward.
- Faqris the eternal destiny of those people who abdicated all the luxuries of world and hereafter on the day of Divine covenant. Thus, they remained firmly devoted to the Almighty Allah only. Indeed, none of the charms and pleasures of universe could shake their steadfastness.
- Allah has unveiled Himself only in Faqr.
- Faqris the way of spiritual experiences. A person gains the final level of certainty in this way only through personally observing Divinity.
The Luminous Present of Faqr
Faqr existed in different forms from Adam till Prophet Mohammad sall’Allahu alayhi wa’alihi wasallam. It evolved according to the needs of each era, but its reality remained the same. Therefore, after Prophet Mohammad it still exists with all glory and splendor. Since Prophet Mohammad is the last prophet therefore after him Faqr continued through the perfect Saints and Fakirs. These perfect spiritual guides guided people according to the needs of the era and progressed them in Faqr.
Preserving Quran and Hadith
It is important to mention that path of Faqr (Sufism) is innovative. Prophet Mohammad and his Companions not only utilized the resources of their era but also enhanced them. The Arabs had great memory, so they depended on their memory to remember incidents and did not transcribe incidents. As they could reiterate incidents they had heard a year ago without even minor changes. Thus, it was not a norm to write things in order to remember them.
Nevertheless, several transcribers existed in that era who wrote the Hadiths and Wahy (revelation). These transcribers preserved the Quran and Hadith for future generations as they are the true heritage of Muslims. In the period of Umar ibn Khattab and Usman ibn Affan the trend of transcription further progressed. Now they made efforts in preserving Quran and Hadiths in the form of book. Apparently, this was just a step forward to compile Quran and Hadith in the book form. However, the intention was to preserve these sacred texts till the Doomsday.
Spiritual World is Innovative
People with insight are well aware that the innovations occur in the inward way more than the physical world. Even if a non-Muslim makes an unbiased analysis about the work measure of the perfect Saints, he will agree that the advancements made by them are a step ahead from their corresponding era. This is a prove that the perfect Fakirs have supreme insight.
The catastrophe of our society is that the scholars believe in innovation regarding the matters of Sharia. However, in the matters of Marifa (gnosis of Allah) they are stuck to the norms from fourteen hundred years ago. For commuting they depend on the modern resources instead of riding horses and camels. But they do not believe in innovation for the process of achieving proximity and gnosis of Allah.
Need of the Perfect Spiritual Guide
With all the development and modernism, the innerself has rooted strong in the evil. Therefore, we need modern tools to help in the purgation of the innerself. We need a perfect spiritual guide (Murshid Kamil) who can purify the innerself of the people. Rather a spiritual guide who is himself acquainted with the modern needs of the era and is at exalted spiritual rank. He must have full command on how to cure the diseases of the innerself. The following example further elaborates the aforementioned concept:
Fourteen centuries ago, one cannot even imagine having television, computer, mobile device or other modern equipment. However, in the present era such equipment has become basic necessity of life and one cannot image living without them. Fourteen centuries ago, people’s thought and intellect would have been very different rather simple. There life routine, goals and wishes must have been completely different from the man of present era. Therefore, purgation of innerself for the man of old era must be very different from the man of modern era. Just like the progress and development in the physical world, Allah innovated the spiritual world as well. As a verse says, کُلَّ یَوْمٍ ہُوَ فِیْ شَاْنٍ (Meaning: He holds new glory every moment).
The Perfect Spiritual Guide
of the Present Era
In the present era, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman is spreading the wealth of Faqr (Sufism) among the Muslim Ummah. He adored the throne of Divine guidance on 26th December 2003 after the death of his Murshid Sultan-ul-Faqr VI. Since that day, he has been constantly working in innovative ways to spread the teachings of Faqr. His ingenious sight and unparallel wisdom are tremendously progressing the Faqr like never before. Following are a few examples of his countless efforts.
Ism-e-Allah Zaat was Rare in Past
In past Ism-e-Allah Zaat was granted in four stages Allah اَللّٰہُ, Lillah لِلّٰہ , LaHoo لَہُ and Hoo ھُو. Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali granted the invocation of Hoo ( ھُو ) to few chosen seekers of Allah. He in his life permitted his superior spiritual successor Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen to grant the invocation of Hoo ( ھُو ). In this contemporary age, Muslims in general do not have the time for hard spiritual endeavors. Even, the Divine lovers want to reach Allah as early as possible. Therefore, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen has taken revolutionary steps in this way to spread beneficence of Ism-e-Allah Zaat among the seekers of Allah.
After adorning the throne of Divine guidance and persuasion Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen made Ism-e-Azam (ھُو) common. He instead of granting seekers Ism-e-Allah Zaat in four stages, he granted the invocation of Ya Hoo ( ھُو ) on first day of oath of allegiance (al-bayah/bayat). Thus, right away making the seeker capable of presence in the Divine court.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen’s Struggles in Spreading Ism-e-Allah Zaat
The struggles of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman to spread the beneficence of Ism-e-Allah Zaat are extensive. For sure, it is a trail of patience and worth praise. He travels across Pakistan and grants invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat to seekers of Allah in every city. In fact, he grants it both with and without oath of allegiance. For the abroad seekers of Allah, he grants Ism-e-Allah Zaat by either taking online oath of allegiance or without it.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Grants Ism-e-Mohammad Every Year
Ism-e-Mohammad has all the powers and effects of Ism-e-Allah Zaat. However, Ism-e-Allah Zaat has the Divine majesty (Jalal) as well as the Divine beauty (Jamal). To put another way, it has both wrath and kindness. While Ism-e-Mohammad has the Divine beauty only. It is the absolute compassion and mercy, so it has more pleasant effects on the inward of a seeker. By the contemplation of Ism-e-Mohammad the seeker becomes completely obedient to the laws of Sharia. Hence, becoming fully compliant to Allah.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen confers Ism-e-Mohammad upon hundreds of seekers of Allah (both men and women) twice a year. He grants it on the auspicious occasion of Eid Mawlid al-Nabi. Then also on 21st March which is the day of transference of trust of Faqr to him. The seekers are very fortunate to gain beneficence of Ism-e-Allah Zaat and Ism-e-Mohammad so often now. This has been possible through the auspicious and enlightened self of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman. As once, this blessing was for the special ones only and was not even perceivable by the common man.
Online Al-Bayah is a Revolution in Faqr (Sufism)
Undoubtedly, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen has revolutionized the world of Faqr. He has introduced the system of invocation and contemplation of the personal name of Allah through online oath of allegiance. Oath of allegiance is also known as al-bayah or bayat. Indeed, he has brought about a new turn in the world of Faqr. Undoubtedly, such a revolutionary and apparently impossible step requires immense spiritual abilities. As, it is indeed extremely difficult to gift spiritual favour to a disciple without a single physical meeting. This is in fact an evidence of the spiritual prudence of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman.
Need of Online al-Bayah
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen initiated the system of online al-bayah (oath) primarily for the seekers of Allah living in countries outside of Pakistan. Especially, the people who are unable to travel to Pakistan due to illness or financial problem, etc. However, with time he also granted the permission for online oath of allegiance to the women living in Pakistan. It was an exception for those who are unable to meet Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen due to their domestic issues. Now that almost every other person uses a computer or smart phones, online oath of allegiance is a major facility. Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman is the first ever Sarwari Qadri spiritual guide to provide this facility.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Grants Ilm-e-Dawat
Before Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen, people were not aware of the concept of ilm-e-dawat (knowledge of communication with sacred souls of shrine). Due to his miraculous favour, and elevated spiritual knowledge, he has granted ilm-e-dawat to pure and truthful disciples. Consequently, the seeker connects to the most beloved saints of Allah. The Sarwari Qadri saints previously granted ilm-e-dawat only to male disciples who could only practice it at the shrine. However, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen made dawat permissible to both male as well as female disciples. Moreover, he also removed the restriction for a seeker to practice dawat only within the shrine. This truly shows Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen’s exalted spiritual status and belovedness among the saints.
Use of Multimedia in Spread of Faqr (Sufism)
Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman revealed the hidden teachings of Faqr. These were either transferred from one Shaikh to another or were chained within manuscripts and scattered in different writings. He composed and wrote them in the form of e-books, e-magazines and articles in known websites such as Wikipedia etc. Also, he used the modern social media such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google plus, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, blogs etc. Through this revolutionary step, he has spread these teachings of Faqr to the entire world. Hence, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen did not limit the teachings of Faqr in one medium. He says:
- Do not call era bad as Allah is era Himself.
- Do not call any invention bad rather make that invention a Mumin (believer). Meaning use that invention to spread the message of Allah which is Faqr (Sufism).
Therefore, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen is using every modern medium to spread awareness of Faqr (Sufism) around the globe. As Iqbal said,
یہ کائنات ابھی ناتمام ہے شاید
کہ آرہی ہے دما دم صدائے کن فیکوں
Explanation: This Universe has not reached its extreme yet as I can still hear Allah’s command of “be it” and it is done.
May Allah Almighty bless Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen even further, so he accomplishes his mission of taking Faqr (Sufism) to its extreme heights. (Ameen). Undoubtedly, he is shinning star on the skies of Faqr and is a healer for Muslim Ummah. As Iqbal said:
دنیا کو ہے اس ’’مہدی برحق‘‘ کی ضرورت
ہو جس کی نگہ زلزلہ عالم افکار
Explanation: The world needs such spiritual guide who treats the agony cleanses filthy inwards of people.
The article “Faqr kal aur Aaj” is originally penned by Faiza Gulzar Sarwari Qadri for the August 2019 ‘Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen edition’ of monthly Sultan-ul-Faqr magazine. Fatima Noor Sarwari Qadri translated it in English with some changes. To read the original article click the link below:
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