Lost & Found
Bismillahi rahmani r-rahim
(In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent,
La hawla wa la quwatta illa billah il aliyy il adhim
(There is no strength and no power save that of Allah,
Most High, and Majestic)
Rabbi yassir, wa la ta’ssir. Rabbi tamim bi-l khayr.
(O Lord, make it easy, and do not make it difficult. O Lord,
make it end well.)
We live in times where it is more and more difficult to understand
purpose of following someone.. Especially in religious and spiritual matters
it is becoming more and more difficult to understand why one should follow another
human being and how one should do so. The reason is that these times are
increasingly selfish and we get accustomed to thinking that we should do everything
by ourselves. When we say “accustomed
to thinking,” I mean we are trained and taught to think that there is no
need to follow someone, that everything can be reached by ourselves in this dunya
and in the spiritual world. It comes to a point where either we do not
understand or accept the purpose of why we should follow someone or we forget
how we can follow. Here in this part of the
world (in Egypt), there are still some traditions left that show that once
people knew very well why it is important to follow, and knew how to follow
because they were taught this from childhood onwards. They were taught
how to obey and why to obey. But in the West this knowledge has been brushed
aside and suppressed. People don’t understand why they should follow someone
. Especially one who knows more than
us. They say, “Every time we followed our leaders, they misled us. So
we are not going to accept any authority whatsoever.” Of course, they do
not know how to follow either.
In other parts of the world, a similar situation has arisen slowly and with some
delay. Even people who call themselves believers say now that they do
not need to follow anyone, that is, no one other than their own minds,
ideas, or in other words, themselves. As Mawlana
Sheikh Nazim has said, “Do not believe anyone who says he does not believe in
anything, because they are lying. They cannot not believe. They
must believe in something. Even the unbeliever believes in something.” And
to believe in something means to follow it. So it looks as if in this world
there are more and more who do not believe, but in reality do believe but they
follow without knowing.
We have been told that in aakhir az-zaman (in the last times), there will
only be two groups: those who believe and who follow someone, and those
who look as if they don’t believe in anything while in reality they follow themselves,
their egos, and its desires. These latter
are the hizb ul -shaitan (the followers of Satan) and their leader says
to them, “Don’t believe in anything.”
You may choose. Join this party or that one, one or the other. There
is no in between.
Those who are sitting here, are those who say. “We believe. We believe
in God, in his Beloved Prophet and all prophets, and all guides. We also
believe in Holy Books, and angels, and jinn, and in the Last Day.” Prophets
were sent as a reminder, because man is forgetful. It is
in man’s nature to forget, from the time of Adam. So, Allah,
in His Mercy, sent reminders. Because if you forget, you will be
forgotten. What is the worst thing that can happen to a human
being? It is to be forgotten. You can lose everything but it is not
as bad as being forgotten. That is why at the end of their lives people
ask to be remembered.
Then why do we forget Allah? Doesn’t He
say, “You will be forgotten if you forget Me”? He sends Books to help us
remember. And He also sent human beings with special qualities to remind
us. And these Prophets recite the Books to us. And believers believe
in those prophets.
I say I believe and therefore I can follow, follow someone who can guide
us. First, you should understand the necessity of following, and
then look for someone to guide you. That is tassawuf (Sufism) and
nothing else. Why do people have difficulties with tassawuf ? Because
it has something to do with following.
Usually, we think that everything starts with ourselves. So, we think that
it is we who find, but, in fact, we were found by someone. Allah has
given us that gift. Where
are we if we are not found? Nothing starts from ourselves. And
nothing ends with ourselves. We were found without our asking. He
allowed us to be Muslims without our asking. He allowed us to be found and loved
without our asking and our loving. He preceded everything. Whoever
was been given the privilege to follow, must learn to follow.
When you look into Sufism and the history of religion you will find that the
great sheikhs have given much advice on how to follow, so let us listen to the
advice of those who know. We want to listen to a little advice and take
it in spoonfuls, slowly, like medicine. It may take some time because we
must listen carefully.
In one of his books called Wasiya li-l murid (Advice to the Murid), Sheikh
al Akbar Sidi Muhyidin Ibn Arabi says the following:
O murid, know wherein lies the benefit of your soul. What
is more necessary for you than anything else is the search for a master. For
a master who shows to you the faults of your nafs (ego) and who takes
you away from obedience towards it. You must look for such a master,
even if you have to look until the end of this world.
The first thing the master does is to show you the faults of your nafs (ego). You
cannot do that yourself for the simple reason that
you are blind to yourself. If you prefer to go alone, that means that you
prefer to remain blind. So, the master does two things: to show you the
faults of your ego and to pull you away from it.
All of the good of your soul depends on these two things. All the unhappiness
and darkness in your life also depends on that. If you continue to obey
your ego then don’t complain about the darkness coming
You need someone to help you, because it is difficult to remove oneself from
oneself. If you understand that all the benefit of your soul rests on this,
then, will you not look for a master? Do you have anything more important
to do? People go all over the world for tourism and adventure but if you
ask them to look for a true guide,
they say they don’t have any time or money.
You may read this story in The Conference of the Birds by Faridudin
Attar. One bird calls the others, and the others are always busy. We
always say we are busy because we do not want to follow, or look for someone
to follow. If you knew the importance of this matter you would not make
This is the beginning and the end.
This matter is important.
The matter of being a murid.
Wa min Allah at-tawfiq
(And from Allah comes success)
Bi hurmati l-Habibi, bi hurmatil Fatiha.