The Secret of Maulana Sheikyh Nazim Al Haqqani (Q)
This article is about a man I believe to be a most excellent servant of Allah (SWT) and a most excellent follower of Rasulullah (S), an elder brother the like of whom I have never seen. In him I believe I found the model Muslim, the model Sufi Sheikh, a contemporary model benefactor for mankind. If a man is presently to be called 'Hujjat al Islam' (proof and vindication of Islam in the face of all mankind) he should be the one.
This is not because he looks like a great leader or impresses you like an imaginary superman. On the contrary he could not be more humble, less pretentious, more approachable and accessible, more hospitable and of easier humour and of readier charity. You feel that if the whole world was his he could give it to you on demand without a moment's hesitation. In everything I as a humble and simple Muslim observed in him I found an uncanny, striking similarity to Rasullullah (S), obviously formed from the cooperation of his God-given nature and abilities with his long and heroic efforts in seeking the Face of Allah (SWT) and pursuing it entirely through a most dedicated emulation of Rasulullah (S). In brief, he is the only living example I know of demonstrating the best way of attaining the Divine Secret of Islam, becoming a True Muslim like our father Abraham (S) and like his worthiest son and Allah's worthiest servant Muhammad alaihi efdalus-salatu wassalam! Below I shall try by the permission and help of Allah to explain what I mean as briefly as possible and I am able to and I am praying and hoping that this exercise meets Allah's approval and enjoys Allah's help. I also make istighfar to Allah for anything I might say or not say which could do injustice to some truth with Allah (SWT). My conclusion is that he is the best demonstration of the efficacy of true Tasawwuf (Sufism) in converting a believer into a credible copy (as far as a non-prophet can become) of Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (S). And that I believe this conversion to be the sole aim of Tasawwuf and a Tasawwuf which does not produce that result but other irrelevancies is no tasawwuf at all but magic and pretension. So may Allah (SWT) help me to begin.
Before I had joined Maulana as a young man and already practicing Muslim I used to hear bad things about him which my heart told me could not be true. One day my older brother came to me and told me that he was coming from Maulana, having seen him at a mosque where he Maulana, after leading a salat had spoken to the jama'at and also they had chatted among themselves a long while afterwards. Maulana was making many brilliant points about some questions and remarks and also behaving very informally and friendly towards all and sundry with frequent funny remarks and other very endearing mannerisms.
My brother summed up his impressions: I feel as if I am seeing in this man Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wa sellem. I replied "That is exactly what I am looking for and went to the same mosque next time to pray the asr prayer. That was the beginning of our friendship and association (sohbet) for about half a century now.
If I gained anything in my Islam and especially Tasawwuf it has been due to this association. Although I shared my brother's the view that he, like no other man, instantly reminded me Rasulullah (S) I could not explain why. But as I continued my association with and learned a lot from him both verbally and by the implications of his conduct and behaviour under innumerable and varied circumstances and also studied the character and conduct of Rasulullah (S) from the Qur'an and the Hadith and Siyar (biography) I saw why: In everything he did he was doing his best to emulate Rasulullah (S) unreservedly and faithfully. Obviously, over time, looking and behaving like Rasulullah (S) became effortlessly automatic with him. He sat exactly like him, ate and drunk exactly like him, warned and praised exactly like him, wondered and remarked exactly like him, criticised and rewarded exactly like him so on and so forth. It became obvious to me as I matured under his tutelage that he was in constant spiritual contact with Rasulullah (S) as well as Allah (SWT). It again became obvious to me that this was quite natural and automatic since Allah said in one famous Hadith al Qudsi "When my servant takes one step towards Me I take ten towards him; when he approaches me walking I approach him running...". Since Allah does not come and go or contact people like another person does, that is to say physically and visibly, it means that He (SWT) makes an ever stronger tajalli of His Presence in the servant's heart whereby the servant keeps increasing in his love for Allah (SWT) and in his faith that Allah is nearer and dearer to him than he to himself the servant. Because Allah (SWT) and Rasulullah (S) are inseparable, if a heart is with Allah (SWT) it is also with Rasulullah (S) and equally if a heart is with Rasulullah (S) it is also with Allah (SWT). This is an unbreakable law of spirituality. Is not this very good news? I testify this to be so because I am a witness to it in my own heart.
Allah's and Rasul's inner presences in Maulana's heart became so constant and overpowering that in everything he did and said he was almost reproducing an act or a word of Rasulullah (S). The 'ilm Allah granted me over so many years was delightfully able to confirm this to be so at all times.
For example, his disdain of this world and his liberality with helping and supporting his pupils and even occasional visitors; even those who sometimes turned up unexpectedly as if from nowhere could not ask anything lawful from him but if he had it he would give it to them and if he did not have it he would promise it to them and keep the promise if the thing asked for came Maulana's way. This is exactly how Rasulullah (S) behaved. Again just like Rasulullah (S) he kept almost nothing much for himself and his family but granted the wishes of his visitors and pupils and other sympathisers as if he had hidden treasures with him and somehow things asked for could be fished out from that treasure and be handed to the askers. Again that is exactly how Rasulullah (S) treated his companions and visitors.
Again like Rasulullah (S) Maulana saw into people's characters and abilities and hidden needs and treated them accordingly. This was so skilfully done that each person thought Maulana loved him most, was friendliest towards him and had implied great promises to him which one day should materialise. He never sent anybody away broken-hearted and hopeless: Again like Rasulullah (S).
But all above did not mean that he was not occasionally angry or appeared to be even very angry with some people. In that case he would castigate them in no uncertain terms. Yet, over time, I realised that his anger was mostly a sham, deep down he was too merciful to condemn and harm anybody and again, just like Rasulullah (S) (and ALLAH SWT, his Lord), he would relent towards the offender as soon as the offender apologised enough. What is more he would also reward the offender as if he had done some great act of piety: Again Rasul (S) and His Lord Allah (SWT) also are like that!
Another very Rasul-like (S) way of his has been his skill in giving correct advice. Nobody would consult him on any matter whatsoever and he not giving him some helpful advice which eventually proved correct and if the recipient of the advice did not carry out the advised line of action he would come to regret it. Mind you, the dear sheikh did not give advice on things he did not feel himself to be competent in and instead left it to the advice-seeker to find his way or referred him to another adviser competent in the matter in question: again like Rasulullah (S).
Lastly and unlike many other sheikhs Maulana never boasted except in a tactical sense: his humility has been such that he at times said things like "All of us have so many sins, because we all have egos and if Allah left us to our egos none could be saved" thereby including himself- again just like Rasulullah (S). The only difference with Rasulullah (S) has been that Maulana sometimes insulted himself with remarks like 'being no good' or "good for nothing" etc. which of course the Prophet (S) should not and did not do. His Prophetic office did not allow that.
Again just like Rasulullah (S) he cracks occasional jokes, wears a smile, grins quite charmingly yet unlike like the Prophet (S) and in humility he throws up an occasional laughter. Informality and non-pretension, cheerful contentment with a simple way of life, a total aversion to luxury and vanity, thrift under all circumstances yet great generosity towards any third parties in need or asking for some favour when the occasion arose and indicated. He gave even to possible liars and cheats taking their word for their need or entitlement, again just like Rasulullah (S) who never exposed or shamed anybody but attended to all askers' ostensible needs provided he had the means. All in all in Maulana we have had a very great self-identification with Rasulullah's (S) character, habits and mannerisms to such an extraordinary degree that one feels himself to be in the presence of a credible copy of Rasulullah (S) if the expression will not be misunderstood.
What does all above prove? Why, it should prove that Tasawwuf is identification with Rasululllah (S) by way of as perfect and full emulation as possible of the Prophet's (S) most beautiful character and its various practical demonstrations like utter humility before and full obedience to Allah (SWT), indulgent acceptance of apologies and generous granting of requests which lesser men could not accept; and also utter truthfulness only moderated by the necessities of diplomacy and also care for others' sentiments, like treating each and every person as he is used to be treated in due respect to him etc. This fully followed the advice and example of Rasulullah (S) who said "Treat each according to his standing among people" and also "Talk to people with due consideration of the level of their minds".
He has been that type of very rare man whose character and disposition time could not corrode or degenerate but leave as it has been in youth; in other words, although Maulana visibly aged his grace and handsomeness of features survives behind the mask of wrinkles etc. to an extraordinary degree and have been additionally enhanced by a rare form of attractiveness only people of great intelligence and very noble character can grow into. Tabarak Allahu Ahsan al Khaliqin!
The lesson from his example to be taken by all aspirants of Tasawwuf may be summarised as follows: Tasawwuf is such continuous and consistent improvement in character and conduct and such ennoblement of soul as to make the Sufi an increasingly worthy servant of Allah and a worthy follower of Rasulullah until all who see and deal with him objectively and in good will shall say "Here I have a man who looks the part of a true and great Muslim only too well and too impressively, a man whose mere presence instantly reminds one Allah (SWT) and Rasulullah (S)"; a man who will never disappoint any sincere seeker of Allah's Pleasure; a man whose entire life shall represent an impressive, overwhelming evidence of and a monument to the Existence and Perfection of Allah (SWT) with no further intellectual or supernatural proof being necessary and equally of the truth of Allah's prophets, most particularly His last, final and greatest Nabi and Rasul, namely our master an beloved Muhammad Mustafa sallallahu alahi wa sellem.
Tasawwuf is not pursuing imaginary secrets and power formulas so as to dominate others and accumulate fame and influence and followers but pursuing Allah's Pleasure, seeking Allah's Most Beautiful Face in all one thinks and does to the exclusion of all else.
All those who are aiming at pleasing Allah (SWT) and His Rasul (S) will do very well to take on board and remember the example of Maulana Sheikh Muhammad Nazim al Haqqani (QS) and try to follow the same path he has represented, namely a total and unreserved commitment to Allah (SWT) and His Rasul (S) which commitment will be demonstrated by a tangible, continuous improvement in their character and conduct and an ennoblement of their souls making them such people whose sight shall remind to all who have the eyes to see and hearts to appreciate that here are men and women who prove to them without further evidence the Reality and Desirability of Allah (SWT) as the Target of Highest Human Aspiration and Rasulullah (S) as the best model to emulate for the attainment of Him All-Gracious aspired at. May Allah guide us all. Amen.