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 were speaking about why it is important for everyone to find a true guide and what  the two main works of such a guide for each of his disciples are.  If you understand the importance of the search, and your prayer is answered and you are found, then the next thing is to never let go.  To hold fast and try to stay close to such a person.
Now, how do we stay close?  That is part of the advice we are trying to give to you.  It is part of what we call training.  You must be trained in this.  It is not possible to learn it from reading books.  Like any craft or skill you must learn also this one from a master.  As Mawlana Sheikh Nazim said, Islam began with both:  knowledge and training. To train people how to fight against their selfishness, their ego.  In the beginning, Islamic learning consisted of those two things and they were together.  But gradually the two split and each went its own way.  And because the Prophet (saws) always encouraged the search for knowledge, people looked more and more for knowledge and forgot about training.  In our days, people think they are great alims (scholars) just because they have acquired knowledge.  Most of them  are of that kind.  They don’t see the need or the necessity of training.  But for us, that training is even more important.  The best would be to combine the two,  but that is rare, especially in our days.
  We must understand what is important for us now.  For us it is spiritual training, to follow a sheikh.  Most of us know so little about how to be with a Sheikh.  And then, we are also slow in learning because we are so hard-headed and hard-hearted.
  Let us continue to take advice from Sidi Muhyidin Ibn Arabi’s text.   These excerpts are there to point out to you what it means to be with the Sheikh and how to act with him. When you have been found by your Master or found your Master,  how do you have to be?  How do you come close?  What we say here may sound as if we were only talking about the relationship between a murid and his Sheikh but it is also a description of the adab between a believer and his Lord and of the adab of any truly human community. So, try to understand it on every level.

 Let no idea of opposition come to your mind, even if you see your Sheikh do that which contradicts your understanding of the Law.  Man is not infallible.

 Whatever the Sheikh does, if you consider yourself his follower, do not oppose it on your outside or on your inside.  We do not ask this because we think that the Sheikh is infallible in every respect, but because even the slightest idea of resistance, or opposition,  is enough to make you lose your discipleship, which is most important and most precious.  Whatever he says and does is correct.  If you say, “It is not correct according to my understanding,”  then you have left the sohba. You may sit there with him, but you are not with him.
  People always ask this question about the Prophet (saws),  or the Sheikh, as to whether or not they are infallible.  Whoever is concerned whether or not the Sheikh is making a mistake already considers himself above him.  But you, as a disciple, are not in a position to understand why he does something.  That is training.  And that is most difficult.  And your teacher will subject you to many situations in order to bring out this resistance. Let no idea of resistance come to your mind.

 Do not hide anything form him that happens in your soul be it praiseworthy or blameworthy.

This is not said because one could hide anything.  You cannot hide anything from Allah.  He knows what you hide and what you make public, and the Prophet knows it, and if your Sheikh is a true Sheikh, he will know as well.  It is, therefore, not important for him whether or not you keep something hidden, it is important for you, for your benefit.  You must be like an open book to him.  Nothing to hide, nothing to show.  Don’t hide anything because when you hide you turn away from him.   Wherever you are, you must be open to him constantly.  You must be simple and plain.  When somebody starts to be complicated and folded, then he is trying to hide something or impress somebody and does not follow.
Don’t sit where he usually sits.

 Don’t sit in his place.  The Sheikh has his place, as everybody has his place.  Don’t try to be in someone else’s place whether in meaning or physically. We have the tendency to do this because we don’t know our own places in this life.  If you are lucky you will find it in this life and you will be happy and content.  Unhappiness comes from not being in one’s own place. Therefore, even being in the Sheikh’s place will not make me happy for the single reason that it is not mine.  He knows what our place is. Sometimes, the Sheikh points it out to you. In the same way, the Creator knows the place of every creature and if they could only find it, they would be happy,  here and hereafter.  In a true community there is a particular place for everyone, but now everyone is usually busy trying to take everyone else’s place, and that is why modern society is ill.  So, if you meet one who knows your place and tells you where it is then sit there.

 If you sit in front of him sit in such a way that you can get up quickly at any time.

 You must always be ready to get up at any moment.  Because you may be sent away at any time.  You must be ready to leave.  Never sit anywhere as if you were going to stay.  Always be ready to leave.  This is very good rule but most of us don’t understand it.  We say, “This is my place and I stay here for good.” Be light, don’t be heavy.

 When he tells you to do something, remain silent and fixed where you are, until you have understood what he has ordered you to do.  Do not introduce any diversion nor ask him why he gave you that order.

 You must accept without asking.  Listen, and when you have understood, go and do what you are told.

 When you describe to him one of your states, for example a dream,   don’t ask him to explain it to you.  When you have asked him a question, don’t ask him for an answer and don’t mention someone else’s opinion on the subject.

 You may and should tell him your dreams but don’t ask him what they mean.  He may tell you or may not.  It does not matter.  When you ask for the meaning of the dream you are imposing yourself.  Just tell him your dream and then let him decide.  If you ask for an interpretation,  you are placing yourself in the middle.  It is similar to asking a question.  Don’t ask it in order to be given an answer.  Open yourself but don’t expect anything as a reply or as an answer.  If you do, then you are breaking the relationship of the murid with the Sheikh.
  This is more than enough.   If we keep these few things, we can truly be with our Sheikh.  If we hear but don’t practice, it is useless.  We must practice.  We must be as Sidi Muhyidin said.  We must be open and plain with each other. This must apply to our behavior with each other as it applies to our being with the Sheikh.  The end of all worship is servanthood.  Those who learn to be a true servant, learn to be what they truly are.  That is the end of all our practices and of all of our training.

Wa min Allah at-tawfiq
(And from Allah comes success)

Bi hurmati l-Habibi, bi hurmatil Fatiha.