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Know that the wearing of a muraqqa'a (patched frock) is the badge of aspirants to Sufi'ism, The wearing of these garments is a Sunnah (custom of Prophet), for the Apostle said: 'Alaykum bi-labs al-suf tajiduna halawat al- iman fi qulubikum. And, further, one of the Companions says: Kana '1-nabi salla 'Hah 'alayhi wa-sallama yalbasu '1- suf wa-yarkabu '1-himar. And, moreover, the Apostle said to A'isha: La tudayyi'i'l-thawb hatta turaqqi'ihi. He said: "See that ye wear wollen raiment, that ye may feel the sweetness of faith." And it is related that the Apostle wore a garment of wool and rode on an ass, and that he said to A'isha: "O 'A'isha, do not let the garment be destroyed, but patch it." 'Umar, the son of Khattab, wore, it is said, a muraqqa'a with thirty patches inserted on it. Of 'Umar, too, we are told that he said: "The best garment is that which gives the least trouble" (ki ma'unat'i an sabuktar buvad).

It is related of the Commander of the Faithful, 'Ali, that he had a shirt of which the sleeves were level with his fingers, and if at any time he wore a longer shirt he used to tear off the ends of its sleeves. The Apostle also was commanded by God to shorten his garments, for God said: "And purify thy garments" (Qur. lxxiv,4), i.e. shorten them. And Hasan of Basra says: "1 saw seventy comrades who fought at Badr: all of them had woollen garments; and the greatest Siddiq (Abu Bakr) wore a garment of wool in his detachment from the world" (tajrid). Hasan of Basra says further: "1 saw Salman (al-Farisi) wearing a woollen froek (gilim) with patches." The Commander of the Faithful, regard only the outward forms of their practice, others direct attention to their spirit of inward purity.

Those who wish to associate with aspirants to Sufi'ism fall into four classes:

(1) He whose purity, enlightenment, subtlety, even balance of temperament, and soundness of character give him insight into the hearts of the Sufis, so that perceives the nearness of their spiritual adepts to God and the loftness of their eminent men. He joins himself to them in hope of attaining to the same degree, and the beginning of his novitiate is marked by revelation of "states" (kashf-i-ahwal), and purgation from desire, and renunciation of self.

(2) He whose health of body and continence of heart and quiet peace of mind enable him to see their outward practice, so that he fixes his gaze on their observance of the holy law and of the different sorts of discipline, and on the excellence of their conduct: consequently he seeks to associate with them and give himself up to the practice of piety, and the beginning of his novitiate is marked by self-mortification (migahadat) and good conduct.

(3) He whose humanity and custom of social intercourse and goodness of disposition causc him to consider their actions and to see the virtue of their outward life: how they treat their superiors with respect and their inferiors with generosity and their equals as comrades, and how untroubled they are by thoughts of worldly ambition, and makes himself at leisure one of the good.

(4) He whose tupidity and feebleness of soul — his love of power without merit and of distinction without knowledge — lead him to suppose that the outward actions of the Sufis are everything. When he enters their company they treat him kindly and indulgently, although they are convinced that he is entirely ignorant of God and that he has never striven to advance upon the mystic path. Therefore he is honoured by the people as if he were a real adept and is venerated as if he were one of God's saints, but his object is only to assume their dress and hide his deformity under their piety. He is like an ass laden with books (Qur. lxxii, 5). In this age the majority are impostors such as have been described. Accordingly, it behaves you not to seem to be anything except what you really are. It is inward glow (hurqat) that makes the Sufi, not the religious habit (khirqat). To the true mystic there is no difference between the mantle ('aba) worn by dervishes, and the coat (qaba) worn by ordinary people.

An eminent Shaykh was asked why he did not wear a patched frock (muraqqa'a). He replied: "It is hypocrisy to wear the garb of the Sufis and not to bear the burdens which Sufism entails." If, by wearing this garb, you wish to make known to God that you are one of the elect, God knows that already; and if yon wish to show to the people that you belong to God, should your claim be true, you are guilty of ostentation; and should it be false, of hypocrisy. The Sufis are too great to need a special garment for this purpose. Purity (safa) is a gift from God, whereas wool (suf) is the clothing of animals. The Sufi Shaykhs enjoined their disciples to wear patched frocks, and did the same themselves, in order that they might be marked men, and that all the people might keep watch over them: thus if they committed a transgression, every tongue would rebuke them, and if they wished to sin while clad in this garment, they would be held back by shame.

In short, the muraqqa'a is the garb of God's saints. The vulgar use it merely as a means of gaining worldly reputation and fortune, but the elect prefer contumely to honour, and affliction to prosperity. Hence it is said "the muraqqa'a is a garb of happiness for the vulgar, but a mail-coat (jawshan) of affliction for the elect." You must seek what is spiritual, and shun what is external. The Divine is veiled by the human, and that veil is annihilated only by passing through the "states" and "stages" of the mystic Way. Purity (safa) is the name given to such annihilation. How can he who has gained it choose one garment rather than another, or take pains to adorn himself at all? How should he care whether people call him a Sufi or by some other name?


Muraqqa'as should be made with a viewr to ease and lightness, and when the original cloth is torn a patch should be inserted. There are two opinions of the Shaykhs as to this matter. Some hold that it is improper to sew the patch on neatly and accurately, and that the needle should be drawn through the cloth at random,1 and that no trouble should be taken. Others again hold that the stitches should be straight and regular, and that it is part of the practice of the dervishes to keep the stitches straight and to take pains therein; for sound practice indicates sound principles.

Now T, who am 'Ali b. 'Uthman al-Jullabi, asked the Grand Shaykh, Abu '1-Qasim Gurgani at Tus, saying: "What is the least thing necessary for a dervish in order that he may become worthy of poverty?" He replied: "A dervish must not have less than three things: first, he must know how to sew on a patch rightly; second, he must know how to listen rightly: third, he must know how to set his foot on the ground rightly." A number of dervishes were present with me when he said this. As soon as we camc to the door each one began to apply this saying to his own case, and some ignorant fellows fastened on it with avidity. "This," they cried, "is poverty indeed," and most of them were hastening to sew patches on nicely and to set their feet on the ground correctly; and everyone of them imagined that he knew how to listen to sayings on Sufi'ism. Wherefore, since my heart was devoted to that Sayyid, and I was unwilling that his words should fall to the ground, I said: "Come, let each of us say something upon this subject." So everyone stated his views, and when my turn came I said: "A right patch is one that is stitched for poverty, not for show; if it is stitched for poverty, it is right, even though it be stitched wrong. And a right word is one that is heard esoterically (ba-hal), not wilfully (ba-munvat), and is applied earnestly, not frivolously, and is apprehended by life, not by reason. And a right foot is one that is put on the ground with true rapture, not playfully and formally." Some of my remarks were reported to the Sayyid Abu 'l-Qasim Gurgani), who said: "Ali has spoken well — God reward him!" The aim of this sect in wearing patched frocks is to alleviate the burden of this world and to be sincere in poverty towards God. It is related in the genuine Traditions that Jesus, son of Mary — God bless him! — was wearing a muraqqa'a when he was taken up to heaven. A certain Shaykh said: "I dreamed that I saw him clad in a woollen patched frock, and light was shining from evey patch. I said: 'O Messiah, what are these lights on the garment?' He answered: 'The lights of necessary grace; for I sewed on each of those patches through necessity, and God Almighty hath turned into a light every tribulation which He inflicted on my,heart."

I saw in Transoxania an old man who belonged to the sect of Malamatis. He neither ate nor wore anything in which human beings had a hand. His food consisted of things thrown away by men, such as putried vegetables, sour gourds, rotten carrots, and the like. His clothes were made of rags which he had made a muraqqa'a. And I have heard that among the mystics of recent times there was an old man of flourishing condition (qawi ha I) and of excellent character, living at Marv al-Rud, who had sewn so many patches, without taking pains, on his prayer-rug and cap, that scorpions brought forth their young in them. And my Shaykh - may God be well pleased with him! - wore for fifty one years a single cloak (jubba), on which he used to sew pieces of cloth without taking any pains.

I have found the following tale among the anecdotes of the (holy) men of 'Iraq. There were two dervishes, one a votary of the contemplative life (sahib- mushahadat) and the other a votary of purgative life. The former never clothed himself except in the pieces of cloth which were torn off by dervishes in a state of ecstasy (sama) from their own garments, while the other used for the same purpose only the pieces torn off by dervishes who were asking forgiveness: thus the outward garb of each was in harmony with his inward disposition. This is observance of the "state" {pas dashtan-i hal). Shaykh Muhammad b. Khafif wore a coarse woollen frock (palas) for twenty years, and every year he used to undergo four fasts of forty days' duration (chilla), and every forty days he would compose a work on the mysteries of the Sciences of the Divine Verities. In his time there was an old man/ one of the adepts learned in the Way (Tariqat) and the Truth (Haqiqat), who resided at Parg3 in Pars and was called Muhammad b. Zakariyya.4 He had never worn a muraqqa'a. Now Shaykh Muhammad b. Khafif was asked: "What is involved in wearing a muraqqa'a, and who is permitted to do so?" He replied: "It involves those obligations which arc fulfilled by Muhammad b. Zakariyya in his white shirt, and the wearing of such a frock is permitted to him."


It is not the way of the Sufis to abandon their customs. If they seldom wear garments of wool at the present day, there are two reasons for this fact: (I) that wools have deteriorated (pashmha shurida shuda ast) and the animals (which produce wool) have been carried off from one place to another by raiders; and (2) that a sect of heretics has adopted the woollen garment as a badge (shi'ar). And it is praiseworthy to depart from the badge of heretics even although one departs at the same time from a traditional practice (sunnah).

To take pains (takalluf) in sewing muraqqa'as is considered allowable by the Sufis because they have gained a high reputation among the people; and since many imitate them and wear muraqqa'as, and are guilty of improper acts, and since the Sufis dislike the society of others than themselves — for these reasons they have invented a garb which none but themselves can sew, and have made it a mark of mutual acquaintance and a badge. So much so that when a certain dervish came to one of the Shaykhs wearing a garment on which the patch had been sewn with too wide stitches (khatt ba-pahna awarda bud) the Shaykh banished him from his presence. The argument is that purity (safa) is founded on delicacy of nature and fineness of temperament, and undoubtedly crookedness is one's nature is not good, it is natural to disapprove of incorrect actions, just as it is natural to derive no pleasure from incorrect poetry.
Others, again, do not trouble themselves about clothes at all. They wear either a religious habit ('aba) or an ordinary coat (qaba), whichever God may have given them; and if He keeps them naked, they remain in that state. 1, who am 'Ali b. 'Uthman al-Jullabi, approve of this doctrine, and I have practised it in my journeys. It is related that Ahmad b. Khadruya wore a coat when he visited Abu Yazid, and that Shah b. Shuja wore a coat when he visited Abu Hafs. This was not their usual dress; for sometimes they wore a muraqqa'a and sometimes a woollen garment or a white shirt, as it might happen. The human soul is habituated to things, and fond of custom, and when anything has become habitual to the soul it soon grows natural, and when it has grown natural it becomes a veil. Hence the Apostle said: Khayr al-siyam sawm akhi Dawud 'alayhi 'l-salam, "The best of fasts is that of my brother David." They said: "O Apostle of God, what kind of fast is that?" He replied: "David used to keep his fast one day and break it on the next day," in order that his soul should not become accustomed either to keeping the fast or to breaking it, for fear that he might be veiled thereby. And, as regards this matter, Abu Hamid Dustan5 of Merv was the most sound. His disciples used to put a garment on him, but those who wanted it used to seek him out when he was at leisure and alone, and divest him of it; and he would never say to the person who put it on him: "Why do you put it on?" nor to the person who took it off; "Why do you take it of?" Moreover, at the present day there is at Ghazna -- may God protect it! — an old man with the sobriquet Mu'ayyad, who has no choice or discrimination with respect to his clothes; and he is sound in that degree.

Now, as to their garments being mostly blue (kabud), one of the reasons is that they have made wandering (siyahaf) and travelling the foundation of their Path; and on journeys a white garment does not retain its original appearance, and is not easily washed, and besides, everyone covets it. Another cause is this, that a blue dress is the badge of the bereaved and afflicted, and the apparel of mourners; and this world is the abode of trouble, the pavilion of affliction, the den of sorrow, the house of parting, the cradle of tribulation: the (Sufi) disciples, seeing that their heart's desire is not to be gained in this world, have clad themselves in blue and have sat down to mourn union (with God). Others behold in the practice (of devotion) only imperfection, in the heart only evil, in life only loss of time: therefore they wear blue; for loss (fawt) is worse than death (mawt) One wears blue for the death of a dear friend, another for the loss of a cherished hope.

A dervish was asked why he wore blue. He replied: "The Apostle left three things: poverty, knowledge, and the sword. The sword was taken by potentates, who misused it; knowledge was chosen by savants, who were satisfied with merely teaching it; poverty was chosen by dervishes, who made it a means of enriching themselves. I wear blue as a sign of mourning for the calamity of these three classes of men." Once Murta'ish was walking in one of the quarters of Baghdad. Being thirsty, he went to a door and asked for a drink of water. The daughter of the householder brought him some water in a jug. Murta'ish was smitten with her beauty and would not leave the spot until the master of the house came to him. "O sir," cried Murta'ish, "she gave me a drink of water and robbed me of my heart." The householder replied: "She is my daughter, and 1 give her to you in marriage." So Murta'ish went into the house, and the wedding was immediately solemnized. The bride's father, who was a wealthy man, sent Murta'ish to the bath, where they took off his patched frock (muraqqa'a) and clothed him in a night-dress. At nightfall he rose to say his prayers and engage in solitary devotion. Suddenly he called out, "Bring my patched frock." They asked, "What ails you?" He answered, "I heard a voice within, whispering: 'On account of one disobedient look We have removed thy muraqqa'a, the garb of piety, from the body: if thou lookest again Wre shall remove the raiment of intimacy from thy heart." Only two kinds of men are fitted to wear the muraqqa'a: (1) those who are cut off from the world, and (2) those who feel a longing for the Lord (mushtaqan-i mawla).
The Sufi Shaykhs observe the following rule. When a novice joins them, with the purpose of renouncing the world, they subject him to spiritual discipline for the space of three years. If he fulfils the requirements of this discipline, well and good; otherwise, they declare that he cannot be admitted to the Path (Tariqat). The first year is devoted to service of the people, the second year to service of God, and the third year to watching over his own heart.

He can serve the people only when he places himself in the rank of servants and all other people in the rank of masters, i.e. he must regard all, without any discrimination, as being better than himself, and must consider it his duty to serve all alike; not in such a way as to deem himself superior to those whom he serves, for this is manifest perdition and evident fraud, and is one of the infectious cankers of the age (az afat-i zamana andar zamana yaki inast). And he can serve God Almighty only when he cuts off all his selfish interests relating either to this world or to the next, and worships God absolutely for His sake alone, inasmuch as whoever worships God for any thing's sake worships himself and not God. And he can watch over his heart only when his thoughts are collected and cares are dismissed from his heart, so that in the presence of intimacy (with God) he preserves his heart from the assaults of heedlessness. When these three qualifications are possessed by the novice, he may wear the muraqqa'a as a true mystic, not merely as an imitator of others.

Now as to the person who invests the novice with the muraqqa'a, he must be a man of rectitude (mustaqim al-hal) who has traversed all the hills and dales of the Path, and tasted the rapture of "states" and perceived the nature of actions, and experienced the severity of the Divine majesty and the clemency of the Divine beauty. Futhermore, he must examine the state of his disciples and judge what point they will ultimately reach; whether they will retire (raji'an), or stand still (waqifan), or attain (balighan). If he knows that some day they will abandon this Path, he must forbid them to enter upon it; if they will come to a stand, he must enjoin them to practise devotion; and if they will reach the goal, he must given them spiritual nourishment. The Sufi Shaykhs are physicians of men's souls. When the physician is ignorant of the patients malady he kills him by his art, because he does not know how to treat him and does not recognize the symptoms of danger, and prescribes food and drink unsuitable to his disease. The Apostle said: "The shaykh in his tribe is like the prophet in his nation." Accordingly, as the prophets showed insight in their call to the people, and kept everyone in his due degree, so the Shaykh likewise should show insight in his call, and should give to everyone his proper spiritual food, in order that the object of his call may be secured.
The adept, then, who has attained the perfection of saintship takes the right course when he invests the novice with the muraqqa'a after a period of three years during which he has educated him in the necessary discipline. In respect of the qualifications which it demands, the muraqqa'a is, comparable to a winding-sheet (kafan): the wearer must resign all his hopes of the pleasures of life, and purge his heart of all sensual delights, and devote his life entirely to the service of God and completely renounce selfish desires. Then the Director (Fir) ennobles him by clothing him in that robe of honour, while on his part fulfils the obligations which it involves, and strives with all his might to perform them, and deems it unlawful to satisfy his own wishes.

Many allegories (isharat) have been uttered concerning the muraqqa'a Shaykh Abu Ma'mar of Isfahan has written a book on the subject, and the generality of aspirants to Sufi'ism display much extravagance (ghuluww) in this matter. My aim, however, in the present work is not to relate sayings, but to elucidate the difficulties of Sufi'ism. The best allegory concerning the muraqqa'a is this, that its collar (qabba) is patience, its two sleeves fear and hope, its two gussets (tiriz) contraction and dilation, its belt self- abnegation, its hem (kursi)6 soundness in faith, its fringe (farawiz) sincerity. Better still is the following: "Its collar is annihilation of intercourse (with men), its two sleeves are observance (hifz) and continence (ismat), its two gussets are poverty and purity, its belt is persistence in contemplation, its hem (kursi) is tranquility in (God's) presence, and its fringe is settlement in the abode of union." When you have made a murraqqa'a like this for your spiritual self it behoves you to make one for your exterior also. I have composed a separate book on this subject, entitled "The Mysteries of Patched Frocks and Means of Livelihood" (Asrar al-khiraq wa-'l-ma'unat), of which the novice should get a copy.

If the novice, having donned the muraqqa'a, should be forced to tear it under compulsion of the temporal authority, this is permissible and excusable; but should he tear it of free will and deliberately, then according to the law of the sect he is not allowed to wear a muraqqa'a in future, and if he do so, he stands on the same footing as those in our time who are content to wear muraqqa'as for outward show, with no spiritual meaning. As regards the rending of garments the true doctrine is this, that when Sufis pass from one stage to another they immediately change their dress in thankfulness for having gained a higher stage: but whereas every other garment is the dress of a single stage, the muraqqa'a is a dress which comprises all the stages of the Path of poverty and purity, and therefore to discard it is equivalent to renouncing the whole Path. I have made a slight allusion to this question, although this is not the proper place for it, in order to settle the particular point at issue; but, please God, I will give a detailed explanation of the principle in the chapter on rending (<kharq), and in the revelation of the mystery of "audition" (soma). Furthermore, it has been said that one who invests a novice with the muraqqa'a should possess such sovereign mystical powers that any stranger on whom he looks kindly should become a friend, and any sinner whom he clothes in this garment should become a saint.

Once I was travelling with my Shaykh in Adharbayajan, and we saw two or three persons wearing muraqqa'as, who were standing beside a wheat barn and holding up their skirts in the hope that the farmer would throw them some wheat. On seeing this the Shaykh exclaimed: "Those are they who have purchased error at the price of true guidance, but their traffic has not been profitable" (Qur. ii,15). I asked him how they had fallen into this calamity and disgrace. He said: "Their spiritual directors were greedy to gather disciples, and they themselves are greedy to collect worldly goods." it is related of Junayd that he saw at the Bab al-Taq7 a beautiful Christian youth and said: "O Lord, pardon him for my sake, for Thou hast created him exceeding fair." After a while the youth came to Junayd and made profession of Islam and was enrolled among the saints Abu Ali Siyah was asked: "Who is permitted to invest novices with the muraqqa'a?" He replied: "That one who oversees the whole kingdom of God, so that nothing happens in the world without his knowledge."

1 Literally, "in whatever place it raises its head."
2 This story is related in 'Attar's Tadhkirat al-Awliya (pt.ii, p.125, 1. 17 sqq.), where it is expressly said that the old jman was dnot "learned in the Way".
3 I. In margin has Park. The Nuzhat al-Qulub gives the name as (Bark), and refers it to a village in the district of Kirman.
4 B., I., and J. have Dhakariyya (Zakariyya), L. The MSS, of the Tadhkirat al- Awliya vary between Dhakiri and.
5 See Nafahat, No.350>
6 This conjectnral translation of kursi was suggested to me by Colonel Ranking. The dictionaries give uo explanation of the word as it is nsed here.
7 A gate in the eastern quarter of Baghdad.