Excerpt from Aap Beti (Autobiography) of
Qutbul Aqtaab Shaikhul Hadith Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (rahmatullah alayh)
“Hazrat Hakeemul ummat writes in his kitaab, “Anfaas Eesa’ page 143: “The permission of a Sheikh for one to perform ‘Bay’at’ is no proof of that person’s high status. It is only a proof of that person’s ability to achieve.”
Hazrat writes in another place in ‘Anfaas Eesa’: Just as a certificate is issued at the time of completing a course of studies in a Madressa, the meaning is not this that this person has attained perfection on those subjects. The certificate is merely given with this in mind that there is confidence in him that, should he continue his studies and teaching, there is a good prospect that little by little he may progress towards a degree of perfection.
If, however, out of his own negligence and lack of appreciation, he destroys this ability and talent, the fault will not lie with those who issued the certificate, but with him alone.
Similiarly, when a Sheikh grants permission to anyone, it does not mean that at that moment this person is endowed with all the qualities of virtue. It only means that there is confidence in him, that should he continue with self-rectification and Mujaahadah (striving), there exists a strong possibility of him acquiring the good qualities leading to perfection.”
Hakeemul Ummat goes so far as to say that very often the Sheikhs even grant permission to unsuited ones. He writes in ‘Anfaas Eesa’ “There are times when the Sheikhs on observing the quality of shame and shyness in a person, grant him permission for Bay’at, hoping that when he sets about with the rectification of others, his shame will cause him to be involved with his own self-rectification, so that one day he will emerge successful on the road to perfection.”
He also writes: “Sometimes the Sheikh give permission to an incompetent and unsuitable one with this hope in mind that because of earnest and sincere seeker’s blessings, he too will become rectified. It had happened that a ‘Peer’ is himself incompetent but his ‘mureed’ is very earnest and upright. Allah causes the righteousness of the mureed to favour the Peer, so that when the mureed becomes perfected, the Peer subsequently becomes perfected in qualities. In a case like this, this is the way for perfecting the ways of the Peer.”
Whatever Hakeemul Ummat had written here about the ‘Ijaazat’ of the incompetent one is an extremely delicate point. It does not follow at all that every incompetent one should be granted ‘Ijaazat’. All it means is that such things do happen among some Sheikhs, and that there are times when a Sheikh has become competent due to the effect of his mureed. It has happened and there are many famous examples:
There is the story of a robber who in spite of his own weak character pretended to be a Sheikh. He started admitting people into Bay’at. With Allah Ta’ala sincerity has great weight. This is a fixed law. Allah Ta’ala caused the mureeds to become very well benefitted from him through their own sincerity. One day the mureeds told him: “We have had a look at the qualities of the Sheikhs and their ranks and have realized the ranks of all the Sheikhs, but your rank is so high that we have not been able to realize it.”
(There is no doubt that there are blessings in Allah’s name. This no one can deny. I have already quoted in Ala Hazrat Gangohi’s saying that no matter how unmindfully one mentions Allah’s name, it does not go without any effect.)
This fake ‘Peer’ was beneficially affected by Allah’s name. When he heard this statement by the mureeds, he burst out crying and told them who he really was. He then begged the mureeds to help him.
All of them focused their attentions (Tawajjuh) upon him and he benefitted by these spiritual favours. This is so because when the saintly ones cast their attentions upon anyone spiritually, it does not go without effect. The major thing is sincerity and in the presence of this, the incompetence of the Peer does not affect the mureeds adversely.
I heard a story from my father. There was once a robber and thief. As long as he was young and strong, he continued his robbery and theft, but later when he became old and weak, he consulted his friends as to what work he should now do. They told him that to play as a saint (Peeri-mureedi), it being such a job from which without much hardship and effort, one can earn much. He would then be able to live a life of comfort and ease. (The story is quite long. Perhaps I have already told it somewhere in some of my books.)
He did just that and became such a ‘Peer’. It so happened that a true seeker after spiritual progress, came to him. The Peer continued with this pretended piety but the sincerity and earnestness of the mureed, did not allow him to even think about the Peer Saheb’s evil ways. He hardly saw it. With great sincerity he told the Peer: “I have come to you for the sake of Allah, to learn from you the path towards Allah.”
It so happened that he made a mistake in coming to meet the Peer at a wrong time, with the result that Peer Saheb was very displeased. He replied: “ The path towards Allah is not attained easily at all.”
The Peer gave him a spade and ordered him to go and clean a certain orchard, fix the buckets and repair the water channels. The Mureed immediately took the spade and went off to the orchard and started working on the repairs.
The owner of the orchard was displeased with this interference in his personal affairs. The sincere mureed practically begged the farmer: “Allow me to proceed. I am not coming to take anything from you. My Peer has instructed me to clean and repair this orchard.”
Initially the people were quite suspicious of him and they even beat and scolded him. But they saw that he never asked for anything, not even food. If he found a piece of dry bread, he ate it. He lived like this for three months.
It is famous among the people of Tasawwuf that when an ‘Abdaal’ passes away, his substitute is chosen among the Majlis of the ‘Ghowth’ of the time. It so happened that a certain ‘Abdaal’ passed away and from the Majlis of the Ghowth, the other Abdaals submitted various names of people. The Ghowth listened to all the names and then asked if he could suggest a name from his side.
All of them said: “Certainly.”
He said: “There is a gardener in a certain orchard, who is a most sincere person and who has a sincere desire for spiritual progress. He is busy trying very hard in his efforts.”
All of the Abdaals accepted his suggestion. Thereupon the Ghowth and all his Abdaals cast their attention upon him and immediately he became one of extremely high rank. He gave the spade to the people of the orchard and asked them to deliver it to the Peer Saheb. Before he left them, they asked him to tell them who he really was. He told them nothing, begged them for pardon and went off. This is what is meant by the well-known saying:
“To have complete faith and conviction (in the Sheikh) is all that is needed.”
In other words, it does not matter who and how the Peer (Spiritual guide) is. The main thing is, how is the faith and sincerity of the mureed. There is great value in sincerity by Allah Ta’ala.
Once in reply to a letter of mine, my Spiritual Guide Maulana Khaleel Ahmed wrote: “I may be likened to a tap. As much as is the desire for benefit from the side of the mureed, so much will be granted to him from the Original Reservoir of Grace (Allah Ta’ala). What is however, to be noted is that it will only come through the tap.”
This is another fine and delicate matter to understand. Some people have made objections and raised criticism, as to why certain persons had been made Khalifas of certain Sheikhs. One should not criticize or object against the Khalifas of a true Sheikh, because such criticism and objections are in fact against the Sheikh himself. What do you or I know about the hidden cause or foresight which brought the Sheikh towards selecting him. What you and I can do if we have no faith and confidence in him, is to avoid becoming a mureed of his.”