PROPHET’S ACADEMY- INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED PRACTICAL SUFISM
TEXTBOOK OF SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT AND REFINEMENT
(AL KITAB AL TANAWWUR WA TAZAKKI AL RUHANIYA)
MASTERS LEVEL: UNIT
PREFACE AND INTRODUCTION 2
1. YOUTHFUL FAITH 6
2. WHY PEOPLE SHUN TRUE FAITH 11
3. ALTERNATIVE WORLDS- THE SECRETS OF CONSCIOUSNESS 15
4. THE REALISM OF HUMILITY 21
5. SUFISM- WHAT IT REALLY IS ABOUT AND WHAT IS ITS WORTH 25
6. MAN, THE QUR’AN AND THE MIZAN (BALANCE) 34
7. JEHAD; FIGHTING IN THE WAY OF ALLAH 40
8. THE SOURCE OF ALL GOOD AND EVIL 43
9. PROTECT TO BE PROTECTED 46
10. HUBRIS- THE GREATEST SIN 48
11. ON WHAT ISLAM AND TAWHID MEAN? 50
12. ONLY TRUTH SERVES AND SAVES TRULY 61
13. MANNERS AND MORALS 65
14. ON WHAT TRUE FEEDAM IS 75
15. VARIETIES OF SUFI GRACES (KARAMAT) 81
16. WA HUM BI AMANATIHIM WA AHDIHIM RA’OON 85
17. EXTENSIVE OR INTENSIVE CONQUEST 91
18. ALWAYS A GOOD OPINION OF ALLAH 96
19. AL ZULMU ZULUMATUN 101
20. ON THE TRUE NATURE AND POTENTIAL OF THE MI’RAJ MIRACLE 107
21. RECOGNISING AND EXPELLING THE SATAN 112
22. SALVATION IS THANKING ALLAH- HOW TO THANK HIM 117
PREFACE AND INTRODUCTION
Let praise and thanks be to Allah as He deserves and let His highest and choicest
Blessings be on the last, final and greatest of His prophetic messengers, namely our
Master Muhammad who is the light and delight of our eyes, our greatest benefactor
among all creatures, our most perfect human guide to whom our debt is incalculable.
Let Allah’s blessings be also on all his brothers among prophets of Allah. May we be
The beneficiaries of his intercession in the Hereafter. Amen.
My dear readers, in this series of articles we will insha Allah, with Allah’s help
and permission, endeavour to throw some light in some depth on the practical secrets
of Islam which often are thought to constitute ‘Tasawwuf’ translated into Western
languages as ‘Sufism’ which will be the term of our choice as well.
SOME BACKGROUND AND FOUNDATIONAL INFORMATION
What is called Sufism does not come in a single form or conform to a single definition. Each Sufi school or luminar or claimant may define it in its or his own way. The definition I like most and therefore subscribe to is “Al tasawwuf huwa fiqh al qalb” which means “Sufism is the science of understanding the heart (on the part of the believer). It is therefore rightly seen as the inner or spiritual dimension of Islam without an understanding of which true piety is impossible.
But there is more to it really. A fuller and more adequate definition should be “an effort
to understand the heart of the Prophet sws from what he reportedly said and did- I mean
the more reliable reports which agree with the Qur’an at least by not disagreeing with
it, and which ring true when examined in the light of the overall excellent impression the
Prophet sws left on those who know about him most and best”. This reportage from the
Prophet sws (and secondarily from his pious companions) is called Hadith and it mostly
defines the practices we believe to have originated in him. We use the term Hadith to
indicate this science of researching and reporting from the Prophet sws while the word
‘hadith’ written without a capital first letter ‘h’ shall mean an individual report in Hadith
What is forgotten sometimes by even some veritable scholars is that the Qur’an itself is
the single, the longest and the most reliable of hadiths and any other hadith which seems
to fly in the face of the Qur’an, unless the discrepancy can be successfully and creditably
explained and settled remains suspect at best and is to be categorically rejected at worst.
The worst offenders among such upsetting hadiths are those which are on creed and
faith matters. That is because creedal matters, that is to say dogma, are settled in the
Qur’an once and for all and are therefore non-negotiable. So if a heretic reports that
there shall come still another prophet from Allah or that he is that prophet he only
deserves contempt and condemnation. This is not unheard of: we know at least two
impostors, who attempted with some limited success to pass as prophets and accordingly
are having in their thrall a few million zealots each. Their audacity was a repetition of the
audacity of Musailima the Liar and the four other prophetic impostors who were the late
contemporaries of Muhammad sws the true Messenger of Allah. Mind you, there have
always been some ‘Allahs’ as well: The Fatimid Caliph Hakim was one of these claimants
to divinity and is still worshipped by some deceived small communities here and there.
All such had their so-called ‘hadiths’ to support their claims.
A lesser heresy was also created around our master Ali RA. He was abducted, like the real
Jesus was abducted by Greek pagan-minded false mystics, and converted variously into the
only worthy successor of the Prophet sws at the least and at most to a quasi-divine status
in relation to which Muhammad sws and Gabriel stood accused of cheating Ali. In brief a
cult of Ali was manufactured almost just like the cult of Jesus Christ. Both cults name
themselves not after Allah or Islam but after the name of their respective
part-mythicalized heroes. Similarly both are antinomian (Torah/Law or Shariah-rejecting) and instead set up poetic and mystical emotionalism as faith and music, dance, chant, costume and theatrical celebrations as worship. Both also regard that urine of the Satan the alcoholic drink highly and on top of taking it as they want take it also during their pagan rituals. They stress morality and cultivate emotionality, create and maintain a priesthood which is hereditary among some groups.
But our concern will not be with such historical accidents and blasphemous deviations.
What we want to demonstrate is this: If we want to explore the most beautiful heart
of our most beloved and adorable master Muhammad sws our first, the profoundest,
vastest and most reliable source will be none other than the Divine Book Allah revealed
to him sws and preserved for us in full for all time to come. No other ‘hadith’ even
approaches to compare with the Qur’an al Karim as a source of Tasawwuf! All other
hadiths gain relevance and legitimacy through its explicit and implicit guidance, agreement
and sanction and it cannot be otherwise. Obviously this does not mean that we can do
without good hadiths to understand Allah and His Messenger sws better: what Allah
preserved for us of the memory of His Messenger sws through pious and competent scholars
deserves every respect and reverence although in the instance of each single hadith full
reliability cannot be guaranteed as is the case with the verses of the Qur’an. In fact all
serious ulema are agreed on this point and we need no further defence of or justification
for this careful approach to Hadith. We shall accordingly try to make as full as possible
use of the Qur’an al Karim before we seek confirmation and additional information from
Hadith. In the formation of the few great mazhabs (schools of jurisprudence) this
comprehensive and responsible attitude clarified many creedal, ritual and legal matters
and has often done and can still do the same for Tasawwuf. Lastly vast collections of
highly suspect hadiths have been compiled most of which have been declared as
‘invented’, i.e., palpably untrue.
Of course what looks untrue to one scholar or sufi may look possibly true to another if
not outrightly so. One such hadith may be “Allah created forty thousand (in another more
audacious version two hundred thousand) Adams before ours,” some claimants sometimes
adding that the offspring of each and every one such ‘Adam’ is still around as much as
those of the ‘last Adam’ are. Such claimants could not bother checking with the most
reliable of hadiths in existence namely the hadith called the Qur’an al Karim by- guess
what- ITSELF! Read if you wish:
“O mankind! We have created you from a single male and a single female and then divide
you into races and tribes” (S. Hujurat v.13).
This should be the most reliable hadith on the matter. Mankind is one ummah, descended
from a single couple, the names of these two first parents are known and all people are
brothers and sisters as a result. There is not any talk of many Adams let alone
today’s world population being the descendants of tens of thousands of Adams. Had it
been so, why should Allah ascribe all mankind to a man and a woman in a garden who ate
of a forbidden tree and whose descendants will have to work their way to the same
garden at such great effort and risk? Surely the story is full of metaphors, should
be read and interpreted with spiritual insight through the language of the heart
and grossly materialistic interpretations of and weaving a thousand alternative or spurious
myths and rivals to it can only be an exercise in unnecessary and unhelpful spiritual
tickling and befuddlement.
That the Qur’an is a Hadith from Allah (more so than the best hadiths called ‘Hadith al
Qudsi’) can be verified from the verse below and several more verses in fact. Read if you
“Allah sent down the best ever HADITH, (in the form of) a ‘Mutashabih’ Book, (which is)
‘Mathaniya” (S. Zumar, v.23). These two Arabic words, namely ‘mutashabih’ and ‘mathaniya’ are very important.
The most usual and perfectly legitimate rendering of the words ‘mutashabih’ has been
‘harmonious’ and of ‘Mathania’ ‘oft-read, read without boredom’ but this did has not
entirely satisfied this humble servant. Accordingly this humble servant dug up the various
meanings given for them in larger Arabic dictionaries faithfully serviceable to the study of
the Qur’an. To begin with, this humble servant believes that the Qur’an should be
interpreted in the light of itself, like by comparing two or more verses in which the same
word occurs. It should be more probable that the meaning in one is the same as in the
other. Now this same word occurs in plural in verse 7 of Surat Ali Imran where some
verses of the Qur’an are described, without a shadow of doubt that, they are meant metaphorically. ‘Tashbih’ in Arabic means a similitude, a likeness, a metaphor and
‘mutashabih’ is an adjective derived from it. Why not then trust and remain true to this
explicit information from Allah and consider the perfectly legitimate possibility that
‘mutashabih’ means the same as it does in S. Ali Imran? In this case the verse may
mean “Allah sent down a metaphorical Book…”, i.e. rich in metaphors, which is
certainly the case. As for ‘mathaniya’ this word is the plural of ‘mathnat’ which means
a rope twisted in a double helix from hair and/or wool. This may reflect the same meaning
in the Ali Imran verse which says “It is He Who sent down to you the Book. In it are solid,
reinforced verses of judgment (e.g., commands, prohibitions, explicit creedal teachings).
The rest are ‘mutashabihat’, i.e. metaphors (metaphorically meant verses). Because all
these various verses occur side by side in the Qur’an and sometimes part of a verse is
literally meant and judgmental, while the rest is metaphorical, may we not regard the
Qur’an a book with the structure of a thread or rope (so-to-speak) of revelations in which
both fibres of metaphor and fibres of judgment twist around each other to make up the
thread or rope?
I hope my dear readers will be able to see the undeniable truth as well as the elegance
with which Allah the Most Gracious and Skilful is describing His Book and at that, not
necessarily invalidating the usual, traditional rendering. I humbly believe that in fact one
cannot read Allah’s Book with persistence and diligence and fail to see that as much as
it is filled with metaphors it is filled with what we may call ‘creative, helpful ambiguities’
where both meanings possible may be seen to be complementary.
Perhaps the best example of such a verse is the verse about wudhu/ritual ablutions,
Which part reads: “Wash your faces and your hands up to elbows and wipe your
heads and legs to heels (S. al Maida v.6). The underlined part may be and has been
read in two alternative ways: first- ‘wipe your heads and then wash your feet including
the heels’ and ‘wipe your heads and your feet including your heels’. Arabic allows both -
given where one puts a diacritical mark. Sunnis follow the first and Shia the second
rendering. But no need to panic: Soon after this command came the Prophet’s sws
optional practice: he introduced the practice of not washing but wiping only on the clean
footwear provided one washed the feet on the occasion of an earlier ablution and then
put on the footwear- which looks very much like reconciling the ambiguity in an original, ingenuous way.
Such examples may be multiplied to great numbers showing that the Book of Allah is
entirely based on Loving Mercy (Rahmat) from Allah and His Divine Unwillingness to
burden us more than we can bear made Him to both use ambiguities in a lot of verses
and apparent abrogation of quite a few verses. In one particular place and within
the space of two consecutive verses He All-Gracious, seeing the alarm He caused to
His weak servants after He first institutes a Command, makes haste to dismantle it:
“O believers, when you are to consult the Messenger sws forward a charitable donation
beforehand (to a poor person)… have you been discomfited that you are asked to forward
a charitable donation?
If you are not to do it Allah forgave you: just perform your prayers and pay your zakat
and obey Allah and His Messenger (as usual and that shall be enough) (S. al Mujadila
vv. 12- 13). Here you are!
That both Allah and His Messenger sws are rarely prepared to punish people, that they more
threaten than hit, that inside they are very soft and tender can be read throughout the
Qur’an either explicitly or hidden between the lines like small deposits of jewels easily
detectable with some more careful look.
Hadith is also equally rich in metaphor, merciful ambiguity as well as equally merciful
Abrogations all indicating something deeply in common between Allah and His Messenger
sws- and why not? The following most magnificently graceful verse is only one example:
“We have not sent you (o Muhamamd sws) except for as loving mercy to all
mankind/all creation”- both renderings being linguistically correct”. But that still is not
the whole meaning extractable from this miracle of a verse: it may more fully and
perfectly legitimately also be rendered as follows: “We have not sent you but as a body
of loving mercy for all mankind in particular and for all creation in general as a result
of Our Own Loving Mercy toward all of them!”
SO, LET US SEE WHAT ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER SWS ARE UP TO - SO THAT WE
JOIN THEM IN THE NOBLEST AND SUBLIMEST OF AIMS?
Isn’t that obvious? Allah is Loving-Merciful to all mankind in particular and to all creation
in general and those who are the happy believers in and zestful followers of Allah and His
best servants and want to join their universal grand company of benevolence and
charity should also be informed and motivated by universal loving mercy.
I this humble writer am claiming that this is the exact, nothing less, nothing more aim of
Tasawwuf and spiritual enlightenment and refinement expected of us as perfectionist
Muslims (which Sufis should be). It is a totally practical endeavour unencumbered by
any deliberate search for supposed mysteries at the tip of a childish curiosity, about
questions like ‘what is spirit?’, ‘how the jinn (demons) and angels are?’, ‘can I ascend
the heavens beyond farthest stars?’, ‘how can I be at a hundred places at one and the
same time?’, ‘how can I make people to obey my every whim and will unspoken?’ All
such are either time-wasting or money-spinning searches and most claimed results are
either delusions at the more innocent end or plain remorseless lies at the guilty end.
Many madmen made mad converts as a result of such claims to Sufi discoveries
while many unconscionable crooks made many slaves and great fortunes out of them.
ONLY THE SINCERE, ALL FOR ALLAH AND HIS PROPHET KIND OF SEARCH AND
ENDEAVOUR IS GOOD AT DELIVERING SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT AND
REFINEMENT WE ARE YEARNING AFTER SO MUCH.
Given the scandals and also the often mortal dangers of supposed secrets-hunting
projects initiated by false or deluded aspirants it becomes obvious from logical and
realistic analysis and long experience that spiritual enlightenment and refinement which
befit and can benefit a true and sincere believer in Allah and His Prophet sws can only be PRACTICAL, i.e., no theories or postulates need be involved. Discoveries to be made are
there but they cannot be stormed by strategy or deception but are given automatically
over time and in due course as one persists on the path of self-enlightenment and
refinement under the directions of Allah and His Prophet sws whose directions can more
effectively be made clear to us by Allah’s servants more knowledgeable and spiritually
accomplished than us. These are true Sufi masters whether recognized as such or not.
The discoveries in question are not so much supposedly wonderful curiosities which only
fascinate the foolish and the childish; instead, they are dizzying, exhilarating insights into
the heart the inner space of which is vaster and is filled with more wonderful realities
than the outer universe we observe around us to infinite distances. It is in our hearts that
Allah and His Messenger and all Allah’s other and further true friends are awaiting us to
discover and join them. The Path to that most glorious, spectacular, joyous and
triumphant company is entirely and sanely practical and only this practical Path can
deliver to its travellers the inner enlightenment and refinement of spirit one needs. Amen.