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Home Talks The Naqshbandi Way The Sufi Way is ‘Adab’

The Sufi Way is ‘Adab’

Bismillah i’Rahman i’Rahim. We are asking from Allah Almighty his divine protection from Shaitan, because some people are carriers of Shaitan. Some people have  the characteristic of always carrying Shaitan as a bodyguard or friend, not just an ordinary friend but a best friend.

They are ashamed to leave Shaitan alone and to come freely, they bring Shaitan with them. So many people in our days are carriers for Shaitan. Therefore I am asking Allah Almighty not to put me firstly, and then  you, all of you, not to be carriers of Shaitan, and not to be friends of Shaitan, because it is not true for a person to work sometimes for Allah and sometimes for Shaitan. It is not true! That is hypocrisy. It is cheating to sometimes say to Allah ‘I am with You’, when at other times Allah looks and finds His servant with Shaitan. Do we sometimes do this? Many times! You must get a notebook and write however many times we would go with Shaitan daily. How many times with Allah, when cheating with Shaitan and being with Him? At night time you must look. Ten times with Allah, twenty times with Shaitan, no balance! You must try not to be even one second with Shaitan, even one minute else and a sin coming, because when you are friends with Shaitan, bad actions will come, and with bad actions comes a bad smell, so that angels and mercy running away, but we are not taking too much care on that point. No need to read so many big books, it is so simple. Knowledge to put you on the  right path, on which all prophets, sahabas and  saints were walking. Even if you are going to be friends with Shaitan for one moment, one second,  you will do something that Allah Almighty dislikes.  Why you are doing that, while He is looking at you. You are sitting in front of me very smart, very peaceful, no fighters, smart because you are ashamed to do or show some wrong in front of Sheikh. Ashamed for yourself before one servant. If you are taking care and keeping your adab when the Sheikh is looking, what about Allah Almighty who is always looking at you; there is not even a second that Allah Almighty is not looking at you.

Imam Ghazzali was one of the greatest scholars, trainers and Sheikhs of the Islamic World. He would say that Allah Almighty asks his servants, when they are dead and being carried to their last station through the cemetery, 40 questions about themselves, concerning them,  their servanthood, everything. And He was speaking so many pages, but first He was asking of His servant ‘O my servant, you were so keenly taking care that your appearance should be so nice for people; asking to dress nicely - morning dressing, afternoon dressing, evening dressing, night dressing. You are very keen followers of fashions, new fashions to be suitable, even stockings, socks matching to be fashionable; everybody likes to be fashionable.  You may also wish to be seen by others that they may say ‘Nice person - he has taste. She knows how she is dressing, (even at 80 years old) she has taste’ - (mimes putting on make up) some black here, some blue here, every one asking to look nice, eh, it is true? Yes. Everyone likes to look nice, men or women, to show themselves queen of beauty.  ‘O my servant you were with people in such a way - nice, beautiful, smart, polite, but you never thought that your Lord is also looking at you and I am not looking at the colour of your eyes or at your face or your body, no! But I am looking at your heart, and do you think that you are taking any time or care over your heart so that your Lord may look at your heart to see if it is nice or not?’ Yes, that is the most important question that Allah Almighty asks without using any mediator between Himself Almighty and his servant before they reach their graves; asks if there is anything wrong through old testament, new testament, last testament. And we are occupied, the whole of mankind is occupied only with their appearance. They’re worrying only about their physical bodies and their outward appearance. That is 20th century’s people’s worry, they are worrying about themselves, nothing else. We must try to raise ourselves in a very polite position with Allah Almighty. It is most polite to be with Allah Almighty, to be with our Lord, not with anyone else. All of us, we are servants. Servants must keep respect for other servants, it is their obligation. If everyone respects each other there will be no more fighting, no more quarrelling and peace will be established, according to Islam. Allah Almighty is ordering that you must keep respect for each other. We are Naqshbandis - a school for Sufi ways. Sufi ways are really ways of heavens. Sufi ways are not leading you towards dunya, no! That is a wrong understanding that Sufi ways are leading people to dunya, very wrong, they are mistaken.  The real meaning of Sufi ways is mysticism  Every religion has its mysticism because it is necessary for leading people to heavens, because the main purpose for religions and servanthood is to lead people to heavens, to the Divine Presence. If you are able to follow and to reach to heavens before you die, then when you die a normal death, your soul will just be taken with high respect and carried to heavens, and through heavens from first heaven to next one. There will be a welcome for your pure soul. But if you are not doing that and your whole care is for your physical body and you neglect your soul, then that one will be taken have his soul taken from his body with big pains that can’t be carried, but that one must carry, and no-one can reach to that one to stop their pains. Any pain killers that doctors may use can’t be effective on  those pains, yes, terrible. Those who are neglecting their souls, whose whole attention and care is for their physical being, those will be punished in the last moments that he or she is going to live. And when they are taken up, and angels take their souls to heavens, the heavens will never open to them and they will be kicked down. O our Lord, give Your protection for our souls not to be kicked down. Who knows, we are all of us on the way, don’t say I am young, don’t say I am powerful, don’t say I am healthy, don’t say I am rich, don’t say I am Sultan, don’t say I am emperor, don’t say I am M.P. Don’t say I am Sheikh (one of the listeners calls out and Sh Nazim replies “Ah S...!, you are sitting with Ladies, and I am surprised at such a voice from among the women” laughter).

And respect is the first order of Sufi ways. Therefore you may see, sometimes, they are writing ‘Adab ya Hu’.  A person who is entering a Dergah or a Tekkiya or a Sufi centre must learn adab first, to be with adab, to be with respect for everyone. First they should at least be respectful in that area, dergah or tekkiyya, and then be respectful outside also. It is a command of Allah Almighty to be respectful to each other. And we say that we are claiming to be Naqshbandi, that we like to be Naqshbandis, but we are so far from being a real Naqshbandi or Qaderi or Chishti or Rufai or Maulavi or Jerrahi or Tijani, Sammani, Darqawi - 41 tariqats all of them first teaching adab. The great or king sized Sheikh, Grand Sheikh, Bayazid Bistami would say ‘I never met a person here or there, even animals, even trees, that I am not causing myself to give my respects to that creature, even to rocks’ - this is the highest level of  adab. And Grandsheikh also made another point on this subject.  ‘If I am meeting a small one, I stand for that one, keeping his respect, observing that that one is innocent, no sins, and I am a sinner. I am not as pure as that one under the age of majority or maturity. Under maturity they are innocent like angels, therefore I am respecting them because they are innocent, but I have sins’. Only ignorant ones may say I haven’t any sins and it is a new fashion for this century’s people to claim that we are pure people, clean heart people - that is their claim always. And if I am meeting someone older than me I am respecting that one and saying that one just he is much more than me closer to Allah Almighty. And even if I meet a sinner I know that my sins are more than that one’s. Therefore I must keep this respect. If I am seeing a non-Muslim I am keeping respect also. Who knows that in the final moment before he or she is going to leave this life, they will perhaps find iman, because so many people may reach the honour of iman at the last minute. But I don’t know because no-one can count on his worshipping, because our worshipping is not enough to take ourselves to iman if Allah Almighty is not helping us. Therefore I was keeping respect even for a non-Muslim, a Christian or Jew, a Zoroastrian. I don’t know which will be my destination.  I don’t know which terminal I am coming to - Paradise terminal or Hell’s terminal. Therefore I am keeping respect for them. And if I am seeing a dog, any animal, I am respecting that one, because I can’t say I am better than that creature’.

Once he was passing through the narrow old city streets with his disciples and a dog came in front of them and peered at Byazid. It was very fearful, and that Grandsheikh stepping aside and ordering his disciples to step out of the way and leave it free to pass. Don’t anyone touch, because the disciples were quickly taking stones and preparing themselves to attack the dog, to yell at it. ‘From where you are learning such a bad adab, I taught you such an adab?  That creature of my Lord is approaching and looking at me and addressing me: “Oh Bayazid, don’t be proud! Don’t be proud and put me down and make yourself high. I am creature and you are creature and the same Creator created you as well as created me, and dressed me as a dog and dressed you as a man. It does not come from yourself, therefore don’t be proud”. Because it is saying this I am making away’.

We have considered people making an attack on tariqats, objecting to tariqats, saying it is bida’, saying it is nonsense. Tariqat teaches people real knowledge, real adab. It should be necessary for everyone for reaching to heavens. With bad adab no-one can reach! But by good adab they can reach. Therefore, respect. And one day I was walking with my Grandsheikh, Sheikh Abdullah a’Daghestani (may Allah bless him).  He is with me, making me to speak to you, I don’t know anything. I was 40 years with him. Allah placed me in his service, in his presence. Because my head too much hard, a long time was needed to make me understand anything.  I was with him, carrying Grandsheikh’s bags trying to be a true dervish  when he was going shopping in the market in the old city of Damascus.  One day we were going along the street and I found a stone in the way and making with my shoe like this(kicks) kicked the stone, and he said “Oh Nazim effendi what you are doing? Are you not knowing that piece of stone is a creature created by Allah Almighty, and without his power it would not be standing in that position. Everything exists through Allah Almighty’s power. Why are you not respecting it, why do you not pick it up in your hand and put it to one side? That is the top level of adab to be with people.

Once Maulana Jallaludin Rumi (blessing of Allah Almighty) he was coming with his disciples also and one priest or monk came towards them. When the priest approached, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi stepping aside and bowing. His disciples were surprised to see their Grandsheikh bowing in front of a priest. Yes, and that Grandsheikh said  “Do you object to what I did? You are looking at his outward appearance and we are looking at his real being, that is a person created by our Lord as we are created by Him. He is also one creature from our Creator’s creatures. He created him and that one he is standing with his Lord’s order, with his Lord’s power, with his Lord’s mercy he has life, and therefore I am respecting his original being not his appearance. Therefore I am keeping respect because he was created by the Almighty and if He is not happy with his creation He is not going to create.

Allah Almighty once asked Moses, peace be upon him, to bring one creature that should be like a man. He looked and saw one an old dog, can’t walk. Taking a rope and carrying it. Allah Almighty said  ‘Moses, keep adab for the Creator, I created it and no sin on it, and you can’t bring it to me through its appearance. I am not asking you to bring Me a creature that is of the lowest position; no, the lowest ones are those who are not taking respect for My creatures, who are not keeping adab with Me: not taking care for My divine service, not taking care for My worshipping, not taking care with My servanthood also. The appearance is not important and ask from this old one, who can’t carry himself, forgiveness`. That is a teaching; so many teachings from Moses (peace be upon him) coming to Bani Israel, Children of Israel and through them coming to whole nations. But people say that these are just Israeli tales. They never ask to take lessons  and come to good adab.

So, you must not be happy when you are making yourselves so polite for others, and putting yourself on a high level, and looking down on people under your level. You must always keep respect for everything as Allah Almighty showed Moses - that is a creature I created and no sins, so keep respect for it also because I created it. If, as Allah Almighty ordered and advised Moses, mankind were keeping respect for each other,  individually and nation to nation, then there would never be wars or fighting or quarrelling or oppression. There would be no more tyrants, and  people would have no troubles, no suffering, no miseries, no problems. Peace, satisfaction, happiness, pleasure, enjoyment - all good things would cover the whole world.  That there should be respect everywhere - that was what all the prophets tried to teach people - to be respectful to each other on every level.  All creatures are not created on the same level and people reach so many levels in their servanthood, and you must keep that respect for everyone according to their levels in the divine presence.  Keep respect and be in peace here and hereafter.  May Allah grant us a good understanding of the essence of all religions - that is adab. If you are keeping adab with everyone and with everyone’s Creator, with every creature’s God, even troubles must have respect for you. Even wild animals must respect you, can’t touch, can’t harm you. Respectful servant can’t be harmed by anything, even the smallest ones, microbes, bacteria, they can’t touch you. Because they must respect those in full respect for their Creator. May Allah forgive us.

This talk was given by Sheikh Nazim al Haqqani in October 1996 to a group in London.



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On the authority of an-Nawwas ibn Sam’an, the Prophet (saws) said:
Righteousness is good morality, and wrongdoing is that which wavers in your soul and which you dislike people finding out about.

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