Importance and Need of Khanqah in Society
History is witness to the fact that khanqahs have always played most important role in reformation of society. Moreover, in the field of preaching, system of khanqah has been most successful in comparison to other preaching institutions. This is because the Saints in khanqah are blessed with beautiful attributes and spirituality of Holy Prophet. Hence, their spiritually effective and inspiring personality attracts non-Muslims towards Islam and Muslims towards betterment of character. Other institutions are mostly led by scholars who only have outward knowledge of religion. They can only inform about dos and don’ts of religion through sermons. Contrarily, Saints inculcate desirable traits replacing undesirable habits through their spiritually empowered sight. Scholars only prescribe remedies of spiritual diseases whereas Saints actually cure them.
Khanqahs provide persuasion of highest purpose i.e. closeness to Allah through spiritual elevation. Here, the Shaikh blesses his disciples with purgation of innerself and enlightenment of soul. Resultantly, their inward illuminates and relation with Allah strengthens so much so that angels envy them. Its outward effects are character elevation, enhancement of unity and goodwill and elimination of evil from society.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says;
- In madrasah, Allah is known through knowledge whereas in khanqah Allah is recognized through Divine love.
- In khanqah, the innerselves of seekers are purged by virtue of the company of perfect spiritual guide. Satan cannot enter the premises of this sacred place.
ROLE OF KHANQAHS
System of khanqah never faced downfall. Following the Holy Prophet pbuh, the Shaikhs of Sufi orders have made khanqahs in various parts of world. Since then the Sufi institutions have been spreading like a web. The expansion and widespread of khanqahs and preachers has only led to the massive spread of Islam. A large number of people converted to Islam owing to the greatness of khanqahs.
Khanqahs have always been a source of quenching spiritual thirst for seekers of Allah who are present in every era. Even the kings and royals have been visiting khanqah of Dervishes for beneficence and assistance. The worldly people, when face problems, rush toward Saints for prayer and help. Hence, khanqahs have been beneficial for everyone in every era. Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says;
- Of all the religious movements in history of Islam, the movement of spiritual orders has been the strongest, most credible and successful as well as having long lasting effects. This is because it is related with inward i.e. with gnosis and nearness to Allah which directly touch the soul. Islam has an esoteric and an exoteric aspect. Sharia is exoteric while mysticism is esoteric aspect that leads to the path of Divine reality and gnosis of Allah.
IMPORTANCE OF COMPANY OF SPIRITUAL GUIDE
Grandeur and sacredness of khanqah is by virtue of perfect spiritual guide who is the beloved of Allah. His company is the real source of spiritual elevation. That is why, Allah has commanded in Quran to acquire company of His chosen men:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ کُوۡنُوۡا مَعَ الصّٰدِقِیۡنَ
Meaning: O believers! Adopt piety and remain in the company of the truthful (9:119)
وَّ اتَّبِعۡ سَبِیۡلَ مَنۡ اَنَابَ اِلَیَّ
Meaning: Follow him who adopts the path of turning to Me. (31:15)
اَلرَّحۡمٰنُ فَسۡـَٔلۡ بِہٖ خَبِیۡرًا
Meaning: Allah is most Kind. (O aspirant to His gnosis) Ask of Him someone who has attained to His awareness. (25:59)
فَسۡـَٔلُوۡۤا اَہۡلَ الذِّکۡرِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ
Meaning: So, (O people,) if you do not know, ask the people of invocation. (21:7)
Allah has ordered to ask ا اَہۡلَ الذِّکۡرِ i.e. the people of invocation not the people of knowledge. People of invocation are Saints while people of knowledge are scholars. Allah explicitly commands to stay in the company of people who remember Him perpetually through invocation;
وَ اصۡبِرۡ نَفۡسَکَ مَعَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَدۡعُوۡنَ رَبَّہُمۡ بِالۡغَدٰوۃِ وَ الۡعَشِیِّ یُرِیۡدُوۡنَ وَجۡہَہٗ
Meaning: Stay tenaciously in the company of those who invoke their Lord morning and evening, ardently seeking (vision of) His countenance. And do not turn your eyes away from them. (18:28)
Many Hadiths impress upon the need of acquiring company of spiritual guide;
اَلرَّفِیْقُ ثُمَّ الطَّرِیْقُ
Meaning: First find a companion then set on a journey.
لَا دِیْنَ لِمَنْ لَّا شَیْخَ لَہٗ
Meaning: One who has no Shaikh (spiritual guide) has no faith.
مَنْ لَّاشَیْخَ یَتَّخِذُہُ الشَّیْطَان
Meaning: One who has no Shaikh, Satan surrounds him.
Once, the Holy Prophet pbuh was asked that which friend is better. He replied, “The one whose vision reminds you of Allah and whose conversation enhances your good deeds.”
He also said:
اَلشَّیْخُ فِیْ قَوْمِہٖ کَنَبِیٍّ فِیْ اُمَّتِہٖ
Meaning: A Shaikh among his disciples is like a Prophet among his nation.
مَنْ مَّاتَ وَ لَیْسَ فِیْ عُنْقِہٖ بَیْعَۃٌ مَاتَ مَیْتَۃً جَاھِلِِیَّۃً
Meaning: One who died in the state that he has not taken oath of allegiance to spiritual guide, he died as an ignorant. (Musllim-4793)
INCIDENT FROM LIFE OF PROPHET ENDORSING IMPORTANCE OF COMPANY OF SPIRITUAL GUIDE
Hanzala ibn Abi Amir relates that once he met Abu Bakr Siddiq on the way. Abu Bakr asked him, “How are you Hanzala?” Hanzala replied, “I have turned hypocrite!” Abu Bakr said surprisingly, “What are you saying!” Hanzala explained, “When we are in the company of Prophet and he tells us about the hell and heaven, it feels as if we are seeing them with our eyes. However, when we leave his company and go back to our homes, we forget all this. And get occupied with our family and business.” Abu Bakr said, “By God, same is my condition.”
Both of them went to the Holy Prophet and explained their state. The Holy Prophet replied, “I swear by Allah Who holds authority upon my life! If your state always remains the same, as it is when you are in my company and during the assembly of dhikr, the angels would shake hand with you on your ways and in your bedrooms. However, O Hanzala! One is blessed with this state occasionally.” He repeated this thrice.
All Saints and religiously eminent personalities lay emphasis that company of spiritual guide is inevitable to find closeness to Allah. Given below are sayings of few Saints about the importance of company of spiritual guide.
SHAIKH ABDUL QADIR JILANI
- Endeavour to join the assembly of perfect spiritual guide because it blesses with accomplishment in religion. In their celestial company and assembly a person’s inward is filled with pure love of Allah. (Ghunyat-ul-Talibeen)
- O people of Allah! You live in material world of ways and means, so you need a medium. Ask your Holy Lord for a spiritual doctor (spiritual guide) who would cure the diseases of your soul. Ask Him for a healer who would give you the remedy you require. Seek such a guide who holds your hand and leads you towards the true path of salvation. (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani, Malfoozat-e-Ghausia)
- You are (spiritually) blind, find the one (the perfect spiritual guide) who holds your hand. You are ignorant, find a man of intellect. Thus, when you find the one, stay in his company, follow his words and seek the rightful path from him. When under his guidance you reach the rightful path then remain there and achieve gnosis of Allah. (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani)
- It is necessary for a disciple to have a guide and custodian because this world is like a jungle. Here, there are many dangerous snakes and scorpions, horrible wild animals and many other kinds of disastrous dangers. The perfect spiritual guide will save him from all the catastrophes and show him the safe ways. If the disciple will travel through this jungle without a guide, he will surely be harmed. (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani)
- Whosoever wants to gain the Truth and have union with Allah, must first find a perfect spiritual guide. He is actually the possessor of all inward treasures. (Ain-ul-Faqr)
- The eternal physical and spiritual company of spiritual guide verily becomes a source of Divine favour for the seeker. (Ameer-ul-Kaunain)
- O’ (spiritually) ignorant intellectuals! Single glance of a perfect spiritual guide is better than worships of thousand years. The superficial knowledge and discussions just create confusions and While, glance of spiritual guide having spiritually effective sight grants complete gnosis of the Divine union. (Ain-ul-Faqr)
- Without perfect spiritual guide, none of the struggle of seeker is fruitful even if he spends his whole life in hard mystic practices. No one has ever reached Allah without a spiritual guide because only he knows every waystation of the inward way. He has the solution of every problem. Infact, Murshid is another name for the Divine favour, without the Divine favour no job can be accomplished. (Ain-ul-Faqr)
- Mediation (of spiritual guide) is better than excellence gained by knowledge. While committing sin, knowledge or excellence cannot stop a person but mediation (spiritual guide) Just as Prophet Joseph was saved from the evil of Zulaikha due to the mediation (of his spiritual guide and father, Prophet Jacob). (Ain-ul-Faqr)
Rumi utters in his Mathnavi;
عاشقاں را شد مدرس حسن دوست
دفتر و درس و سبق شان روئے اوست
Meaning: For the Divine lovers, beauty of beloved (spiritual guide) is the institution. His beautiful countenance is their book as well as lesson.
صد کتاب و صد ورق در نار کن
روئے دل را جانب دلدار کن
Meaning: Put thousand books and pages in fire and turn your inward towards the beloved (spiritual guide).
SHAIKH AHMAD SIRHINDI (MUJADID ALIF SANI)
گرد مستاں گرد، گر مے کم رسد بوئے رسد
بوئے او گر کم رسد، رویت ایشان بس است
Meaning: Keep revolving around the ecstatic lovers of Allah. If you will not be able to get the wine of Divine love, at least you will get to smell it. If you will not get even that, beholding their countenance is enough.
ABU HAMID IMAM GHAZALI
- It is obligatory to join the company of Sufis because except the Prophets no one is free of inward diseases and flaws. (Kimiya-e-Sa’adat)
- It is inevitable for a seeker to follow a Shaikh and spiritual teacher who leads him on straight path. Because, the path of religion is very difficult and the swindles of Satan are various. If a person is without the spiritual guide, Satan will surely mislead him and make him follow his ways. (Kimiya-e-Sa’adat)
SULTAN-UL-FAQR VI SULTAN MOHAMMAD ASGHAR ALI
- The company of perfect spiritual guide creates Divine love in the inward of seeker. (Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali-Life and Teachings)
- Seeker should regularly visit the company of his Murshid. Because company of Murshid is such a place where Divine light of faith is inculcated into the souls of followers. Furthermore, their polluted inwards are purged. One glance of perfect spiritual guide is more effective than invocation and contemplation of six months. If the seeker cannot visit his spiritual guide daily then he must visit him once a week or a month with true belief and sincerity. Because without visiting Murshid’s assembly, even Ism-e-Allah Zaat does not sustain in the inward. (Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali-Life and Teachings)
SHAIKH ABDUL QADIR ISA SHADILI
- The practical way to adorn oneself with moral excellence and purgation of innerself is to acquire the company of successors of Holy Prophet i.e. the spiritual guides whose company fortifies the faith, piety and morality in the disciple. By joining his assembly, the disciple is cured of spiritual diseases. Moreover, his personality improves due to the influence of personality of spiritual guide which is reflection of Holy Prophet’s personality. (Tasawuf ky Roshan Haqaiq)
IBN QAYYIM AL-JAWZIYYA
- When a seeker decides to follow someone, he must observe that whether the person is man of dhikr or oblivious to it, whether he is obsessed by sensual desires or by obedience to Allah! If he is an oblivious person whose sensual desires have occupied him, then he must not be followed. On the other hand, if he is occupied in dhikr, follows all Sunnas and is vigilant in all his matters then the seeker must stick to him. (Tasawuf ky Roshan Haqaiq)
SHAIKH IBRAHIM BAJORI
- It is extremely beneficent to travel the spiritual path under the guidance of spiritual guide. As all Sufis have consensus upon the rule that; ‘Effect of spiritual state of one perfect man upon thousand men is better than listening sermons of thousand men by one person.’ (Tasawuf ky Roshan Haqaiq)
- Even if a scholar becomes unique in his knowledge, it is not desirable for him to depend on his knowledge solely. It is incumbent upon him to join the company of men of Mysticism who guide him upon the straight path. So much so, he becomes one of those whom Allah sends inspirations due to their pure inward. He must purify his knowledge from greed, worldly desires and filth of inciting innerself. So that he eventually prepares himself to get intuitive knowledge from Allah and light from the beacon of Prophethood. It is possible by joining company of perfect spiritual guide who knows how to treat spiritual diseases and purify innerself. (Tasawuf ky Roshan Haqaiq)
IMPORTANCE OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION
The point of view of Saints is that spiritual education is incumbent alongwith outward religious and modern education. They have never been against the modern education, rather lay emphasis upon it according to the Hadith;
- Acquiring knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim. (Ibn Majah 224)
However, they persuade more towards esoteric aspect of religious knowledge. If common people consider it necessary to acquire outward education to progress in world that is transitory, then acquiring esoteric education of religion for the sake of closeness to Allah is more important to progress in life hereafter, which is never ending. It is strange that contemporary Muslims feel urge to educate their children modernly but never pay heed towards spiritual education. Though, some of them send their children to madrasah to learn Quran by heart. But that does not at all build spiritual relation with Allah. In madrasah, a person only learns words of Quran but in khanqah he learns their actual meaning. Shaikh veritably makes him follow and apply words of Allah on his life which is more important than mere learning.
Golden era of Muslims existed when they gave importance to spiritual education alongwith modern scientific education. That is why, pioneers of all basic branches of science like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics etc. were Sufis such as Al-Khawarizmi, Ibn Al-Haytham, Abu Rehan Al-Biruni, Bu-Ali Sina (Avicenna) Jabir Bin Hayyan, Omar Khayyam and many more. As soon as Muslims disregarded spiritual education, their downfall started.
In short, system of khanqah created such men of Allah who were embodiment of truth, excellence and exalted character. This marvel owes to Shaikhs who lead the khanqahs and train people that turn their animalistic attributes into angelic attributes.
Crime rate is increasing worldwide despite government policies, existence of police and courts. Character of generations is deteriorating despite programs of reformation in educational institutions. Muslim umma is being divided in more and more sects. This is because people are focusing on outward aspects. Whereas, real way to reformation is through purgation of innerself and enlightenment of soul. This is only possible through invocation (dhikr) and contemplation (tasawur) of personal name of Allah (Ism-e-Allah Zaat) under the guidance of perfect Shaikh in a khanqah.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says, “Only a perfect reformer who could revolutionize true spirit of religion can revive Mohammadan system in this era. Perfect reformer is one who is blessed with knowledge directly from Allah and he restores religion according to that knowledge. Allah Himself makes that person’s words striking to others. Islam can dominate all over the world only if such a reformer enlivens true spirit of religion according to modern era and introduces such system that attracts all people of world.”
Such reformer is none other than the Sarwari Qadri Murshid.
Hence, every society requires existence of khanqah to reform character and personality of its generations. Only true Fakirs can train umma to follow footsteps of our Holy Prophet to attain betterment in the world and hereafter.