CHAPTER XII
CONCERNING THE PRINCIPAL SUFIS OF RECENT TIMES

You must know that in our days there are some persons who cannot endure the burden of discipline (riyadat), and seek authority (riyasat) without discipline, and think that all Sufis are like themselves; and when they hear the sayings of those who have passed away and see their eminence and read of their devotional practices they examine themselves, and finding that they are far inferior to the Shaykhs of old they no longer attempt to emulate them, but say: "We are not as they, and there is none like them in our time." Their assertion is absurd, for God never leaves the earth without a proof (hujjat) or the Muslim community without a saint, as the Apostle said: "One sect of my people shall continue in goodness and truth until the hour of the Resurrection." And he said also: "There shall always be in my people forty who have the nature of Abraham."
Some of those whom I shall mention in this chapter are already deceased, and some are still living.

1. ABU 'L-'ABBAS AHMAD B. MUHAMMAD AL-QASSAB

He associated with the leading Shaykhs of Transoxania. He was famed for his lofty spiritual endowments, his true sagacity, his abundant evidences, ascetic practices, and miracles. Abu Abdullah Khayyati, the Imam of Tabaristan, says of him: "It is one of God's bounties that He has made a person who was never taught able to answer our questions about any difficulty touching the principles of religion and the subtleties of Unification." Although Abu '1-Abbas Qassab was illiterate (ummi), he discoursed in sublime fashion concerning the science of Sufi'ism and theology. I have heard many stories of him, but my rule in this book is brevity. One day a camel, with a heavy burden, was going through the market place at Amul, which is always muddy. The camel fell and broke its leg. While the lad in charge of it was lamenting and lifting his hands to implore the help of God, and the people were about to take the load off its back, the Shaykh passed by, and asked what was the matter. On being informed, he seized the camel's bridle and turned his face to the sky and said: "O Lord! make the leg of this camel whole. If Thou wilt not do so, why last Thou let my heart be melted by the tears of a lad?" The camel immediately got up and went on its way.

It is stated that he said: "All mankind, whether they will or no, must reconcile themselves to God, or else they will suffer pain," because, when you are reconciled to Ilim in affliction, you see only the Author of affliction, and the affliction itself does not come; and if you are not reconciled to Him, affliction comes and your heart is filled with anguish. God having predestined our satisfaction and dissatisfaction, does not alter His predestination: therefore our satisfaction with His decrees is a part of our pleasure. Whenever anyone reconciles himself to Him, that man's heart is rejoiced; and whenever anyone turns away from Him, that man is distressed by the coming of destiny.

2. ABU ALI HASAN B. MUHAMMAD AL-DAQQAQ

He was the leading authority in his department (of science) and had no rival among his contemporaries. He was lucid in exposition and eloquent in speech as regards the revelation of the way to God. He had seen many Shaykhs and associated with them. He was a pupil of Nasrabadi1 and used to be a preacher (tadhkir kardi). It is related that he said: "Whoever becomes intimate with anyone except God is weak in his (spiritual) state, and whoever speaks of anyone except God is false in his speech," because intimacy with anyone except God springs from not knowing God sufficiently, and intimacy with Him is friendlessness in regard to others, and the friendless man does not speak of others. I heard an old man relate that one day he went to the place where al-Daqqaq held his meetings, with the intention of asking him about the state of those who trust in God (mutawakkilan). Al-Daqqaq was wearing a fine turban manufactured in Tabaristan, which the old man coveted. He said to al-Daqqaq: "What is trust in God?" The Shaykh replied: "To refrain from coveting people's turbans. With these words he flung his turban in front of the questioner.

3. ABU 'L-HASAN 'ALI B. AHMAD AL-KHURQANI

He was a great Shaykh and was praised by all the Saints in his time. Shaykh Abu Sa'id visited him, and they conversed with each other on every topic. When he was about to take leave he said to al-Khurqani: "I choose you to be my successor." I have heard from Hasan Mu'addib, who was the servant of Abu Sa'id, that when Abu Sa'id came into the presence of al-Khurqani, he did not speak another word, but listened and only spoke by way of answering what was said by the latter. Hasan asked him why he had been so silent. He replied: "One interpreter is enough for one theme." And I heard the Master, Abu '1-Qasim Qushayri, say: "When I came to Khurqan, my eloquence departed and 1 no longer had any power to express myself, on account of the veneration with which that spiritual director inspired me; and I thought that I had been deposed from my own saintship."

It is related that he said: "There are two ways, one wrong and one right. The wrong way is Man's way to God, and the right way is God's way to Man. Whoever says he has attained to God has not attained; but when anyone says that he has been made to attain to God, know that he has really attained." It is not a question of attaining or not attaining, and of salvation or non-salvation, but one of being caused to attain or not to attain, and of being given salvation or being not given salvation.

4. ABU 'ABDULLAH MUHAMMAD B.'ALI, GENERALLY KNOWN AS AL-DASTANI

He resided at Bistam. He was learned in various branches of science, and is the author of polished discourses and fine symbolical indications. He found an excellent successor in Shaykh Sahlagi, who was the Imam of those parts. I have heard from Sahlagi some of his spiritual utterances (an/as), which are very sublime and admirable. He says, for example: "Unification, coming from thee, is existent (mawjud), but thou in unification art non-existent (jmafqud)," i.e. unification, when it proceeds from thee, is faultless (durust), but thou art faulty in unification, because thou dost not fulfil its requirements. The lowest degree in unification is the negation of thy personal control over anything that thou hast, and the affirmation of thy absolute submission to God in all thy affairs. Shaykh Sahlagi relates as follows: "Once the locusts came to Bistam in such numbers that every tree and field was black with them. The people cried aloud for help. The Shaykh asked me: 'What is all this pother?' I told him that the locusts had come and that the people were distressed in consequence. He rose and went up to the roof and looked towards heaven. The locusts immediately began to fly away. By the hour of the afternoon prayer not one was left, and nobody lost even a blade of grass."

5. ABU SA'ID FADLALLAH B. MUHAMMAD AL-MAYHAN1
He was the sultan of his age and the ornament of the Mystic Path. All his contemporaries wrcre subject to him, some through their sound perception, and some through their excellent belief, and some through the strong influence of their spiritual feelings. He was versed in the different branches of science. He had a wonderful religious experience and an extraordinary power of reading men's secret thoughts. Besides this he had many remarkable powers and evidences, of which the effects are manifest at the present day. In early life he left Mihna (Mayhana) and came to Sarakhs in order to study. He attached himself to Abu 'Ali Zahir, from whom he learned in one day as much as is contained in three lectures, and he used to spend in devotion the three days that he had saved in this manner.The saint of Sarakhs at that time was Abu '1-Fadl Hasan. One day, when Abu Sa'id was walking by the river of Sarakhs, Abu '1-Fadl met him and said: "Your way is not that which you are taking: take your own way." The Shaykh did not attach himself to him, but returned to his native town and engaged in asceticism and austerities until God opened to him the door of guidance and raised him to the highest rank. 1 heard the following story from Shaykh Abu Muslim Farisi: "1 had always," he said, "been on unfriendly terms with the Shaykh. Once 1 set out to pay him a visit. My patched frock was so dirty that it had become like leather. When I entered his presence, I found him sitting on a couch, dressed in a robe of Egyptian lincri. 1 said to myself: 'This man claims to be a dervish ifaqir) with all these worldy encumbrances ('ala'iq), while 1 claim to be a dervish with all this detachment from the world (tajrid). How can I agree with this man?' He read my thoughts, and raising his head cried: 'O Abu Muslim, in what diwan have you found that the name of dervish is applied to anyone whose heart subsists in the contemplation of God?' i.e. those who contemplate God are rich in God, whereas dervishes (fuqara) are occupied with self-mortification. I repented of my conceit and asked God to pardon me for such an unseemly thought."

And it is related that he said: "Sufi'ism is the subsistence of the heart with God without any mediation." This alludes to contemplation (mushahadah), which is violence of love, and absorption of human attributes in realizing the vision of God, and their annihilation by the everlastingness of God. I will discuss the nature of contemplation in the chapter which treats of the Pilgrimage.

On one occasion Abu Sa'id set out from Nishapur towards Tus. While he was passing through a mountainous ravine his feet felt cold in his boots. A dervish who was then with him says: "I thought of tearing my waist-cloth (futd) into two halves and wrapping them round his feet; but I could not bring myself to do it, as my fiita was a very fine one. When we arrived at Tus I attended his meeting and asked him to tell me the difference between suggestions of the Devil (waswas) and Divine inspiration (ilham). He answered: 'It was a Divine inspiration that urged you to tear your futa into two pieces for the sake of warming my feet; and it was a diabolic suggestion that hindered you from doing so." He performed a whole series of miracles of this kind which are wrought by spiritual adepts.

6. ABU 'L-FADL MUHAMMAD B. AL-HASAN AL-KHUTTALI

He is the teacher whom I follow in Sufi'ism. He was versed in the science of Quranic exegesis and in traditions (riwaycit). In Sufi'ism he held the doctrine of Junayd. He was a pupil of Husri" and a companion of Sirawani, and was contemporary with Abu Amr Qazwini and Abu '1- Hasan b. Saliba. He spent sixty years in sincere retirement from the world, for the most part on Mount Lukam. He displayed many signs and proofs (of saintship), but he did not wear the garb or adopt the external fashions of the Sufis, and he used to treat formalists with severity. I never saw any man who inspired me with greater awe than he did. It is related that he said: "The world is but a single day, in which we are fasting," i.e., we get nothing from it, and arc not occupied with it, because we have perceived its corruption and its "veils" and have turned our hacks upon it. Once I was pouring water on his hands in order that he might purify himself. The thought occurred to me: "Inasmuch as everything is predestined, why should free men make themselves the slaves of spiritual directors in the hope of having miracles vouchsafed to thein?" The Shaykh said: "O my son, I know what you arc thinking. Be assured that there is a cause for every decree of Providence. When God wishes to bestow a crown and a kingdom on a guardsman's son ('awan-bacha), He gives him repcntance and employs him in the service of one of His friends, in order that this service may be the means of his obtaining the gift of miracles." Many such fine sayings he uttered to me every day. He died at Bayt al-Jinn, a village situated at the head of a mountain pass between Baniyas' and the river of Damascus. While he lay on his death bed, his head resting on my bosom (and at that time I was feeling hurt, as men often do, by the behaviour of a friend of mine), he said to me: "0 my son, I will tell thee one article of belief which, if thou holdest it firmly, will deliver thee from all troubles. Whatever good or evil God creates, do not in any place or circumstance quarrel with His action or be aggrieved in thy heart." He gave no further injunction, but yielded up his soul.

7. ABU 'L-QASIM ABDUL KARIM B. HAWAZIN AL-QUSHAYRI

In his time he was a wonder. His rank is high and his position is great, and his spiritual life and manifold virtues are well known to the people of the present age. He is the author of many fine sayings and exquisite works, all of them profoundly theosophical, in every branch of science. God rendered his feelings and his tongue secure from anthropomorphism (hashw). I have heard that he said: "The Sufi is like the disease called birsam, which begins with delirium and ends in silence; for when you have attained 'fixity' you are dumb." Sufi'ism (safwat) has two sides: ecstasy iyvajd) and visions (numud). visions belong to novices, and the expression of such visions is delirium (,hadhayan). Ecstasy belongs to adepts, and the expression of ecstasy, while the ecstasy continues, is impossible. So long as they are only seekers they utter lofty aspirations, which seem delirium even to those who aspire (ahl-i himmal), but when they have attained they cease, and no more express anything either by word or sign. Similarly, since Moses was a beginner (mubtadi) all his desire was for vision of God; he expressed his desire and said, "O Lord, show me that I may behold Thee" (Qur.vii,139). This expression of an unattained desire seemed like delirium. Our Apostle, however, was an adept (muntahi) and firmly established (mutamakkin). When his person arrived at the station of desire his desire was annihilated, and he said, "1 cannot praise Thee duly."

8. ABU 'L-ABBAS AHMAD B. MUHAMMAD AL-ASHQANI

He was an Imam in every branch of the fundamental and derivative sciences, and consummate in all respects. He had met a great number of eminent Sufis. His doctrine was based on "annihilation" (fana), and his recondite manner of expression was peculiarly his own; but I have seen some fools who imitated it and adopted his ecstatic phrases (,shathha). It is not laudable to imitate even a spiritual meaning: mark, then, how wrong it must be to imitate a mere expression! 1 was very intimate with him, and he had a sincere affection for me. He was my teacher in some sciences, during my whole life I have never seen anyone, of any sect, who held the religious law in greater veneration than he. He was detached from all created things, and only an Imam of profound insight could derive instruction from him, on account of the subtlety of his theological expositions. He always had a natural disgust of this world and the next, and was constantly exclaiming: Ashtahi 'adaman la wujud lahu, "I long for a non-existence that has no existence." And he used to say in Persian: "Every man has an impossible desire, and I too have an impossible desire, which 1 surely know will never be realized namely, that God should bring me to a non-existence that will never return to existence." He wished this because "stations" and miracles are all centres of veiling (i.e. they veil man from God). Man has fallen in love with that which veils him. Non-existence in desire of vision is better than taking delight in veils. Inasmuch as Almighty God is a Being that is not subject to not being, what loss would His kingdom suffer if I become a nonentity that shall never be endowed with existence? This is a sound principle in a real annihilation.

9. ABU 'L-QASIM B. ALI B. ABDULLAH AL-GURGANI

(may God prolong his life for the benefit of us and of all Muslims!)

In his time he was unique and incomparable. His beginning (ibtida) was very excellent and strong, and his journeys were performed with punctilious observance (of the sacred law). At that time the hearts of all initiates (ahl-i dargah) were turned towards him, and all seekers (taliban) had a firm belief in him. He possessed a marvellous power of revealing the inward experiences of novices (kashf-i waq'a-i muridan), and he was learned in various branches of knowledge. All his disciples are ornaments of the society in which they move. Please God, he will have an excellent successor, whose authority the whole body of Sufis will recognize, namely, Abu Ali al-Fadl b. Muhammad al- Farmadhi (May God lengthen his days!),4 who had not omitted to fulfil his duty towards his master, and has turned his back on all (wordly) things, and through the blessings of that (renunciation) has been made by God the spiritual mouthpiece (zaban-i hal) of that venerable Shaykh.

One day I was seated in the Shaykh's presence and was recounting to him my experiences and visions, in order that he might test them, for he had unrivalled skill in this. He was listening kindly to what I said. The vanity and enthusiasm of youth made me eager to relate those matters, and the thought occurred to me that perhaps the Shaykh, in his novitiate, did not enjoy such experiences, or he would not show so much humility towards me and be so anxious to inquire concerning my spiritual state. The Shaykh perceived what I was thinking. "My dear friend," he said, "you must know that my humility is not on account of you or your experiences, but is shown towards him who brings experiences to pass. They are not peculiar to yourself, but common to all seekers of God." On hearing him say this I was utterly taken aback. He saw my confusion and said: "O my son, Man has no further relation to this Path exccpt that, when he is attached to it, he imagines that he has found it, and when he is deposed from it he clothes his imagination in words. Hence both his negation and his affirmation, both his non-existence and existence, are imagination. Man never escapes from the prison of imagination, it behoves him to stand like a slave at the door and put away from himself every relation (nisbat) except that of manhood and obedience." Afterwards I had much spiritual conversation with him, but if I were to enter upon the task of setting forth his extraordinary powers my purpose would be defeated.

10. ABU AHMAD AL-MUZAFFAR B. AHMAD B. HAMDAN

While he was seated on the cushion of authority (riyasat), God opened to him the door of this mystery (Sufi'ism) and bestowed on him the crown of miracles. He spoke eloquently and discoursed with sublimity on a annihilation and subsistence {(ana u baqa). The Grand Shaykh, Abu Sa'id, said: "I was led to the court (of God) by the way of servantship (bandagi), but Khwaja Muzaffar was conducted thither by the way of lordship and dominion {khwajagi)," i.e. "1 attained contemplation (mushahadah) by means of self-mortification (mujahadah), whereas he camc from contemplation to sclf-mortification." I have heard that he said: "That which great mystics have gained in the set of power and prc-eminence (balish u sadr)." Some foolish and conceited persons have attributed this saying of his to arrogance, but it is never arrogant to declare one's true state, especially when the speaker is a spiritualist. At the present time Muzaffar has an excellent and honoured successor in Khwaja Ahmad. One day, when I was in his company, a certain pretender of Nishapur happened to use the expression: "He becomes annihilated and then becomes subsistent." Khwaja Muzaffar said: "How can subsistence (baqa) be predicated of annihilation ifana)'1. Annihilation mean 'not-being', while subsistence refers to 'being': each term negates the other. We know that annihilation is, but when it is not, if it becomes 'being', its identity ('ayn) is lost. Essences are not capable of annihilation. Attributes, however, can be annihilated, and so can secondary causes. Therefore, when attributes and secondary causes are annihilated, the Object invested with attributes and the Author of secondary causes continues to subsist: His essence does not admit of annihilation." I do not recollect the precise words in which Muzaffar expressed his meaning, but this was the purport of them. Now I will explain more clearly what he intended, in order that it may be more generally understood. A man's will (,ikhtiyar) is an attribute of himself, and he is veiled by his will from the will of God. Therefore a man's attributes veil him from God. Necessarily, the Divine will is eternal and the human will phenomenal, and what is eternal cannot be annihilated. When the Divine will in regard to a man becomes subsistent (baqa yabad), his will is annihilated and his personal initiative disappears. But God knows best.
One day T came into his presence, when the weather was exteremely hot, wearing a traveller's dress and with my hair in disorder. He said to me: "Tell me what you wish at this moment." I replied that I wished to hear some music (sama). He immediately sent for a singer (qawwal) and a number of musicians. Being young and enthusiastic and filled with the ardour of a novice, I became deeply agitated as the strains of the music fell on my ear. After a while, when my transports subsided, he asked me how T liked it. I told him that 1 had enjoyed it very much. He answered: "A time will come when this music will be no more to you than the croaking of a raven. The influence of music only lasts so long as there is no contemplation, and as soon as contemplation is attained music has no power. Take care not to accustom yourself to this, lest it grow part of your nature and keep you back from higher things."

1 See Chapter Xt, No.63.
2 See Cahpter XI. No.64.
3 L. Daniyan. )J. Maniyan..
4 Nafahat, No.428.

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