TRANSLATION OF A LETTER
Muhammad Mathum as-Sirhindi (rahmat-Allahi 'alaih), one of the great Islamic scholars of
wrote in the 182nd letter of the first volume of his work Maktubat: India
"Holding fast to causes is not inconsistent with tawakkul since the power of affecting, too, is given to causes by Allahu ta'ala. While holding fast to causes, one should know that the affectivity of causes originates from Allahu ta'ala and should confide in Him. Holding fast to those causes whose affectivity has been experienced is a form of performing tawakkul. It is not conformable to tawakkul if one holds fast to those causes whose affectivity is not established or is not even hoped for.
It is necessary, even a duty, to hold fast to the causes whose affectivity is absolute. Fire has the effect of burning; Allahu ta'ala is the One who gives the property of burning to fire. When we are hungry, we will eat food; we are to believe that Allahu ta'ala has given to food the effect of satiating. If we do not use such causes with absolute effects and are harmed, we will have disobeyed and opposed Allahu ta'ala.
Causes are of three categories: those whose effects have not been seen or heard of, so not permitted to use; those that have been experienced and seen to be effective, so it is necassary (wajib) to use and is sinful to ignore; and those with doubtful affectivity, so using them is not necessary but permitted (jaiz).
Allahu ta'ala orders us to consult with experienced, learned persons before doing our important affairs, to do them after consulting and, while doing, to have tawakkul towards Allahu ta'ala and to expect the outcome from Him. Consulting, too, is a way of holding fast to causes. This order explains that holding fast to causes is wajib and that it is necessary to expect their effect from Allahu ta'ala. Tawakkul is not employed in affairs pertaining to the next worldly, that is, in 'ibadas and ta'as. We have been ordered to perform 'ibadas, to endeavor to carry on 'ibadas.
In affairs pertaining to the next world, we have to fear and hope instead of having tawakkul. It is necessary to perform these orders and to have confidence in Allahu ta'ala's Mercy and Benevolence for His accepting and rewarding them. It is a human duty to carry out [His] orders and to abstain from [His] prohibitions.
"[You ask,] 'Is there such a high status in our religion so that one who attains to it will have forgotten about himself and about everything?'
In response to your question, we say that there is the status called fana' in tasawwuf. One who endeavors on the way of tasawwuf forgets about himself and about everything when he attains to that status. Nevertheless, his batin (heart, soul) is the one who reaches the status of fana' or baqa'. This hal (state) occurs in one's heart and soul. The zahir (body, intellect) of a human being has to supply his own needs. Even if he has advanced much further, he cannot rescue himself from this duty.
"You ask whether discovering others' thoughts, getting information about lost things and the acceptance of the prayers said are the signs of advancing on the way of tasawwuf, of attaining to Allahu ta'ala's love.
Dear brother! These are the extraordinary things Allahu ta'ala creates outside His usual custom ('adat). Their occurrence to somebody does not show his advancement and acceptance. They may occur also to the people of istidraj who are devoid of felicity. They may also be observed in disbelievers who polishes their nafses through undergoing riyada. In some, they happen without riyada, too. Since undergoing riyada is not a condition for becoming a wali, that is, for attaining to the degrees of wilaya, so it is not a condition for the people of istidraj to display khariqas and for awliya' (rahimahum-Allahu ta'ala) to display karamas. Undertaking riyada facilitates their frequent occurrence.
"Most awliya' are protected from the sin called 'ujb (self-admiration). 'Ujb and riya' (hypocrisy) are not left in the one who has reached the status of fana'. It is true that he may be mistaken out of being human, because awliya' are not protected against erring. However, they immediately awaken from ghafla (unawareness) and get rid of its harm by asking for Allahu ta'ala's Forgiveness (istighfar) and by doing charitable deeds.
"Eating little and sleeping little are beneficial for advancing on the way of tasawwuf, but one should not be as excessive as to harm the body and intellect. These and riyadat should be done in consistency with the Sunnat. If they are done excessively, it will be ruhbaniyya (monastic life), which does not exist in Islam. The kashfs of awliya' are not imaginative things; they are the things inspired (ilham) to the heart. Imaginative kashfs should not be trusted in. Wahm and imagination (hayal) help in understanding the information coming to the heart.
Fifty thousand years' distance between the Creator and the created is passed in a short time with the help of wahm. And the imagination is beneficial to understand ladunni knowledge easily. Both help much on the way of tasawwuf. It has been reported that some prayers are helpful in worldly affairs. Saying Allahu ta'ala's names are much more helpful.
"It is very good not to remember one's own body while performing salat. Things that occur while performing salat are more valuable than those occurring outside salat. The importance of salat should be understood well.
We should perform salats in their mustahab times and with attention to their conditions and to tadil al-arkan. [It is condition that one, while beginning a salat, knows that it is the time for that salat.] It is stated in a hadith ash-Sharif that the curtains between the one who performs salat and Allahu ta'ala are removed.
"You write that you see awliya's copies or figures in 'alam al-mithal and talk with them. These are good things, but they are not our aim. Since they do not harm our aim, they are not regrettable things, either.
"You ask whether it is necessary to believe that Khidir ('alaihi 's-salam) is alive.
Our 'ulama' have not reported it in unanimity. Though some awliya' have said that they saw and spoke to him, such reports does not show that he is alive; his soul might have been seen in human figure, and his soul might have done things that are done by human beings. If he were alive during that time, this does not mean he is alive now. Many of the things done by Khidir ('alaihi 's-salam) are written in the book Al-isaba fi marifati 's-Sahaba. Most 'ulama' reported that he had passed away. If he had been alive, he would have gone to our master, the Prophet, performed the prayer of Juma together and attended his sohbat and jihads.
"The souls of the awliya' who have died are sometimes seen in their [human figures or] copies in 'alam al-mithal. Because, everything in the world has a copy in 'alam al-mithal.
Even more, spiritual, non-material things, too, have copies there. 'Alam al-mithal does not consist of imaginary things. It is an 'alam that exists as this visible, material 'alam does. The souls of awliya' sometimes are seen in the figures of their own bodies and sometimes, without bodies or figures, meet and talk with people's souls.
The teachings about souls and the life in the grave are very subtle. We should not speak on them out of supposition or surmise. We should believe briefly what has been reported openly in the nasses (ayats and hadiths) and should not speak more. It should be believed that there are blessings and tortures in the grave. It has also been reported that the dead talk with one another and because of the tortures, they cry and lament.
Except human beings and genies, all creatures hear their cries. Souls cry not only alone but also through their bodies.
"However much a person advances in tasawwuf, reaches perfection or attains to qurb al-ilahi, neither his body nor his soul can escape being creatures. Everything other than Allahu ta'ala is hadith (created), and all creatures had been non-existent before becoming existent. They will become non-existent again. For being a Muslim, believing as such is a must.
It is the same for the souls of prophets ('alaihimu 's-salawatu wa 't-taslimat) and awliya'. To escape the tortures of the next world, we have to follow what the 'ulama' of Ahl as-Sunnat have reported. Those kashfs and karamat that do not conform to their books are worthless. The aim on the way of tasawwuf consists of seeing the faults and defects of one's own nafs, making the adaptation to the rules of Islam easy and tasteful and escaping from secret polytheism and disbelief.
"You write about the good hals of your students, for which you shall be much thankful to Allahu ta'ala. Try hard for your students to be perfect Muslims and to attain to Allahu ta'ala's Consent! Tell them about the adab in the rules of Islam, the adab of the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnat and the hals and morals of Salaf as-salihin.
Do not refrain from preaching and advising them! Allahu ta'ala does not love those without adab. Recite the Qur'an al-karim much! Perform your salat in khushu' (reverence) and in accord with the books of fiqh [written by the 'ulama' of Ahl as-Sunnat] and always say the beautiful word la ilaha illa'llah! May Allahu ta'ala show Mercy upon all of us! May He bestow upon all of us the good deeds through which His Consent is attained! I express my salam and say my prayers for you and for those who follow the true path, the footsteps of Muhammad ('alaihi 's-salam)! Since much time has past since the time of Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ta'ala 'alaihi wa sallam) and the Doomsday is nearing, bidat' are widespread everywhere now.
Darkness and the harms of bidat' have disseminated throughout the world; the sunnas have been forgotten. Their lights have been covered. Now the most valuable deed that will make one attain to Allahu ta'ala's Consent is the endeavor to uncover the forgotten sunnas, that is, to disseminate Islamic sciences. Those who want to be near Muhammad ('alaihi 's-salam) on the Day of Judgement should work for this purpose. A hadith ash-Sharif says, 'There is the thawab of a hundred martyrs for the one who uncovers a forsaken sunnat of mine.' [That is, it is very meritorious to uncover, preach and promulgate an Islamic teaching.] The first thing to do for uncovering a sunnat is one's performance of that sunnat personally. Next comes the endeavor to make others perform it.
"You write about the fear of the last breath. There has been nobody who has escaped this fear. The last breath of everyone other than prophets ('alaihimu 's-salawatu wa 't-taslimat) is uncertain. The good news of being rescued in the last breath can be known only through wahi. Though good signs, works and tidings indicate the safety of the last breath, they only make up a strong supposition. However strong the supposition is, it cannot rescue one from this suffering, this fear.
"You say, 'I see that my 'ibadas and ta'as do not deserve being acceptable. Therefore, there sometimes appear some slackness in performing 'ibada.' We are ordered to perform 'ibadas in this world. We have to perform them even if we do not know whether they will be accepted or not. We will not only perform them but also, asking forgiveness of our defects in them, entreat by crying and moaning for their acceptance. Repenting and entreating may cause their acceptance. We are human servants. We are obliged to do our human duties. The Devil, the accursed, tries to deceive us so that we may not undertake our human duties.
"You ask about our tawajjuh and love towards you. Is there any need to express it? Your love towards us is the work, the result, of our love towards you. All the flowers and fruits on the tree stem from the trunk. This rule has always worked as such.
states, 'I love them. And they love Me,' in the 54th ayat and, 'Allah is
pleased with them. And they are pleased with Allah,' in the 109th ayat. Allahu
ta'ala expressed His love and consent before those [of His lovers]." Surat
Kadizada Ahmad Effendi (rahimah-Allahu ta'ala) wrote in his Turkish work Fara'id al-fawa'id, which is a commentary of Amantu: "When one does a charitable deed and presents its thawab to any dead person, it reaches him. As written in the book Wasat by al-Imam at-Tabarani (rahimah-Allahu ta'ala), Anas ibn Malik (radi-Allahu 'anh) reported that Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ta'ala 'alaihi wa sallam) had said, 'When one gives alms for a dead person of his acquaintance, Jabrail ('alaihi 's-salam) takes the thawab of the alms to him in a dish of lights (nur) and says, "Oh the owner of the grave! This present is sent by your friend, take it!" The dead person rejoices to receive that present. Upon seeing this, those dead people to whom no present is sent feel sorrow.'
"As said by 'Amr ibn Jarir (rahimah-Allahu ta'ala), if a person prays or does a charitable deed for a religious brother of his who has passed to the next world and if he gifts its thawab to him, an angel takes the thawab to that dead person and says, 'Such person among your friends sent this to you.'
The hadith ash-Sharif reported by Imam Muslim (rahimah-Allahu ta'ala) on the authority of Abu Huraira (radi-Allahu ta'ala 'anh) says: 'When a believer dies, all his deeds end; only three of his deeds do not end, and their thawabs go on being written in this deed-book. These three deeds are his sadaqa al-jariyya (continuing good works), his useful books and his pious children who pray for his blessedness.' The prayers and thawabs presented to all Muslims reach all of them.
When one goes to a believer's grave and greets him, the dead one in the grave hears him, replies to his greeting and, if they were acquainted, recognized him. Rasulullah (sall-Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam) ordered us to visit graves and to greet those in them. The hadith ash-Sharif related by 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas (radi-Allahu 'anhuma) says, 'When one visits the grave of a believer of his acquaintance and greets him, the latter recognizes him and responds to the greeting.' Another hadith ash-Sharif says, 'When one visits the grave of a religious brother of his and sits by grave, the dead one rejoices.'
"When a believer recites a salawat Sharifa for our Prophet (sall-Allahu ta'ala 'alaihi wa sallam), angels convey the salawat to our master, who is Fakhr al-'alam (Glory of the world). The Hadith ash-Sharif says, 'Allahu ta'ala has angels that move on the earth. They convey to me the salawat recited by my umma,' and, 'When one recites salat for me, his salat is immediately conveyed to me.' These two hadiths mean 'Angels convey some of them, and I [directly] hear the others.' There are many hadiths that report that he personally will hear and reply to the salat and salam that will be said by the Rawdat al-muqaddasa.
"The blessed bodies of prophets ('allahimu 's-salatu wa 's-salam) do not rot. This is stated in many hadiths, one of which says, 'Prophets are alive in their graves.' Some 'ulama' said that martyrs do not rot, either.
Al-Imam al-Qurtubi said that the bodies of believers who were patient during troubles and sufferings and those of the pious who followed Islamic rules did not rot. The body that has not sinned does not rot. The bodies of the 'ulama' who practice their knowledge, those of hafizes and muazzins [who do not commit sins or bidat] and those of awliya' (qaddas-Allahu ta'ala asrarahumu 'l-'aziz) do not rot. Even more, the earth does not affect their shrouds. Others' bodies rot. A hadith ash-Sharif says, 'Earth rots the body of every dead person. Only the bone called coccyx does not rot.'
"Our religion does not openly describe how the soul is. The soul is neither a substance nor an attribute but, unlike substances, it exists without needing any matter. After man dies, his soul does not become non-existent. It exists needing no matter. It possesses perception and comprehension. It is not openly reported where the soul goes.
In the commentary to Jawhara, Ibrahim al-Laqani wrote various narrations.
Al-Imam as-Suyuti, in his work Sharh as-sudur, and Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya said that the souls of rebels (shaqi), that is, unbelievers and sinners, are in torture while the souls of the happy (Said), that is, believers and the pious, are in blessings and pleasures.
The Jews' souls come together with other Jewish souls. [The souls of Christians, the la-madhhabi and unbelievers without a holy book reside with one another's.]
The place where the souls are tortured is called Sijjin. The place of blessings and pleasures is called 'Illiyyin.
The highest rank at 'Illiyyin is called Mala al-'ala. Our master Rasulullah said as his last statement, 'Oh my Rabb! Forgive me! Show mercy to me! Make me attain to Rafiq al-ala,' which is the place of prophets. Their ranks, too, are different. On the night of Miraj, our Prophet (sall-Allahu ta'ala 'alaihi wa sallam) saw 'Adam ('alaihi 's-salam) in the first sky, 'Isa and Yahya ('alaihima 's-salam) in the second sky, Yusuf ('alaihi 's-salam) in the third sky, Idris ('alaihi 's-salam) in the fourth sky, Harun ('alaihi 's-salam) in the fifth sky, Musa ('alaihi 's-salam) in the sixth sky and Ibrahim ('alaihi 's-salam) in the seventh sky. The souls of the 'ulama' of Ahl as-Sunnat are near those of prophets ('alaihimu 's-salawatu wa 't-taslimat).
A hadith ash-Sharif says, 'Martyrs' souls are at the 'Arsh al-ilahi. Whenever they want, they go to the places they wish in
Paradise, and then they return to their dwellings.'
Morning and evening, or day and night, do not exist in the life of the next
world. Paradise is nurani (glorious; formed of the
Glory of Allahu ta'ala). Some martyrs do not enter Paradise but remain under
the green domes along the river called Bariq near Paradise.
The blessings of Paradise are brought to them in the morning and
evening; here, 'morning and evening' are used as metaphors to liken to the time
in this world.
According to a narration, all believers' souls are under these domes. Martyrs say, 'If our brothers-in-Islam in the world saw the blessings and happiness we have attained to, they would rush out to perform jihad.' The 170th ayat al-karima of
Al 'Imran says, 'Do not say "dead" for those who became martyrs in
the way of Allah. They are alive. Nutrition is always given to them. The fear
of being tortured does not exist in them. They do not worry about being
deprived of blessings, either.' In the world, their bodies decay and
putrefy under soil, and animals eat their flesh; those who see this condition
of theirs think that they suffer pains and are under torture. Surat
They cannot comprehend the blessings and happiness martyrs attain to. While martyrs are alive as such, prophets, too, are certainly alive since every prophet possesses the rank of martyrdom.
A hadith ash-Sharif says, 'The one whose death comes while he is learning knowledge is met by Allahu ta'ala in the rank of prophets.' 'Uthman ibn 'Affan (radi-Allahu 'anh) reported that Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ta'ala 'alaihi wa sallam) had said, 'On the Day of Judgement, prophets will intercede firstly and the 'ulama' next.' A hadith ash-Sharif says, 'Those who die of ta'un attain to the rank of martyrs.' Ta'un means any epidemic disease like plague.
"During the life in the grave, one will be in the company of those with whom he will be together with on the Day of Judgement. He will be assembled for Judgement among those whom he loves and lives with in this world.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimah-Allahu ta'ala) said, 'believers' souls are in
Unbelievers' souls are in Hell.' To some 'ulama', the former are in Jannat al-mawa, the
Paradise under the 'Arsh.
The souls of those who habitually commit fornication or who dwell on interest or orphans' property are under torture in Hell.
The souls of those on whom others have rights do not enter
Such are the souls of those who commit sins and cruelty.
The souls of awliya' (rahimahum-Allahu ta'ala) and pious believers come to their graves and visit their bodies. believers' souls visit one another. They talk with one another especially on Friday nights. When a believer dies and his or her soul ascends to the sky, the souls of [dead] believers come and ask about their acquaintances in this world. The souls of those who die without making a testament are not permitted to talk."
Imam Muhammad Masoom Faruqi Sirhindi (also spelt Masum or Mathum) was the successor and third son of Mujaddid Alf Thani Shaykh Ahmed Sirhindi, the Islamic reformer of the eleventh century of Hijri calendar.