Lost & Found





Bismillahi rahmani r-rahim
(In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Munificent)

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 the 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 to you.
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 any excuses.
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.