Qualities of the People of Khanqah
Khanqahs are the adornment of Muslim nation as its dwellers are those who receive guidance from Allah and then spread it among the umma. The qualities of the people of khanqah are such that they elevate them above all other institutions of Muslim community.
اُولٰٓئِکَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہَدَی اللّٰہُ فَبِہُدٰىہُمُ اقۡتَدِہۡ ؕ. ( الانعام۔90 )
“It is (these) people whom Allah has granted guidance. So, put into your practice all their (exalted) ways and methods. (6:90)
In this age, common Muslims do not follow the ways of their Sufi ancestors. However, this flaw is their personal weakness. It is not, in anyway, related to the system of khanqah or mysticism. Their mistakes and their existing ways, do not affect the sacredness of khanqahs. Khanqahs still possess same spiritual aura and Divine spark as before. No doubt, whatever goodness Allah has granted to Muslim umma is all due to the spiritual beneficence of Sufis. Even today, there exists a group of true believers (Momins) who properly follow the school of thought of their Sufi ancestors.
All Members of Khanqah form one Body
Those who stay at khanqah are like parts of one body. Their unanimity is the result of their agreement and determination upon the same aim i.e. proximity to Allah. Other Muslim institutions do not have such inward and outward unity. Allah has explained the relation of Momins (true believers) in this way:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یُحِبُّ الَّذِیۡنَ یُقَاتِلُوۡنَ فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِہٖ صَفًّا کَاَنَّہُمۡ بُنۡیَانٌ مَّرۡصُوۡصٌ (الصف۔4)
“Assuredly, Allah loves those who fight in the way of Allah, organized in ranks as if they were a wall cemented with molten lead.” (61:4)
Nauman bin Bashir RA relates that the Holy Prophet pbuh said:
“Indeed! Muslims are like one body. The whole body feels its pain if one part gets hurt. The same way, if any believer is hurt, all believers feel it.”
All members of khanqah have esoteric connection due to unique spiritual observations which their spiritual guide bestows upon them. Furthermore, all of them strive for the purification of innerself (nafs) and inward sanctity. Thus, their same purpose unites them. Their relation is not based on any worldly benefit, hence is pure and sacred. In order to maintain purity of innerself, they never foster grudge or malice against each other. Despite the fact that they belong to different backgrounds, they live in khanqah as one family and help each other in spiritual as well as physical matters. They coordinate, unite, help and forgive each other only for the cause of Allah, hence earn Allah’s consent.
Avoid Disintegration and Help Each Other
It is obligatory upon seekers of Allah to maintain inner unity and avoid disintegration. Mutual love, understanding and togetherness is strictly necessary for them so as to progress towards their destination unitedly. Moreover, they must help each other to cross esoteric and exoteric obstacles coming in the path to Allah. This path is not at all easy, good advices and counseling of experienced brothers make it easy for beginners. Hence, giving and taking advices and helping each other in all matters is sign of inner unity and it plays a great part in life at khanqah.
Holy Prophet said, “Momins (true believers) are brothers. Each is dependent upon other in some way. Hence, whoever fulfills need of other, shall have his needs fulfilled by Allah on doomsday.”
Abu Huraira relates that the Holy Prophet said:
- The true believers treat each other with love and affinity. There is no goodness in the person who neither loves anyone nor does anyone else love him.
- Souls are like one troop. They gather at one place. Those who know each other, get along with each other. However, those who do not know each other keep distance.
Same is the case of people of khanqah that when they gather at one place, their inwards become one. Due to this inner unity, their inciting innerselves are subdued. Thus, they become each other’s caretakers in all matters. According to Hadith:
اَلْمُوْمِنُ مِرْآۃُ الْمُوْمِنْ
Meaning: Momin is the mirror of other Momin.
Correct Each Other’s Mistakes
In his book Awarif-ul-Mua’arif, Shaikh Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi quotes Shaikh Roim:
- Sufis are successful as long as they keep accountability of each other. However, if they keep such a friendship whereby they ignore each other’s mistakes then they would be ruined.
People at khanqah should be vigilant about themselves as well as their fellows. If they find anyone committing any action against the rules of khanqah or mystic life, they must correct him. Ignoring each other’s faults would eventually create oblivion to the ways of mysticism. Resultantly, their inciting self would dominate them. This is why it is important to keep accountability of each other.
Umar bin Khattab said:
- May Allah have mercy upon the one who made me aware of my faults.
Umar bin Khattab laid great stress upon correcting each other’s faults instead of ignoring them and considered it an attribute of faith.
If any seeker does not admit his mistake and continue doing it then it is a way of Sufis to show disapproval towards him. It would make him conscious of his wrong behavior and then rectify it.
Abu Sa’id al-Khadri related tradition from the Holy Prophet:
- True believer (Momin) is reminiscent of a horse that startles and runs away from the stable only to return to the same place. Similarly, a true believer makes a mistake and returns to his faith.
What Should Sufis do in Case of an Argument
Raising objections and making unnecessary arguments is the job of inciting innerself. If someone at khanqah indulges in arguments then others should deal with his inciting innerself (nafs) through their inward (qalb). Because if nafs is dealt with nafs then chaos is created and the dignity of khanqah is harmed. Allah says:
وَ لَا تَسۡتَوِی الۡحَسَنَۃُ وَ لَا السَّیِّئَۃُ ؕ اِدۡفَعۡ بِالَّتِیۡ ہِیَ اَحۡسَنُ فَاِذَا الَّذِیۡ بَیۡنَکَ وَ بَیۡنَہٗ عَدَاوَۃٌ کَاَنَّہٗ وَلِیٌّ حَمِیۡمٌ (حٰمٓ السجدہ۔34)
“And good and evil cannot be equal. And remove the evil in a better (way) with the result that the one with whom you had rivalry becomes your most warmhearted friend.” (41:34)
If two Sufi brothers have conflict among them then others at khanqah should interfere and persuade them to have reconciliation. They should make each of them realize that mistake is his rather than other’s. In this way, both of them would repent and seek forgiveness from Allah. The purity of intention within the effort of seeking forgiveness cleanses the innerself of Dervish. When Allah would be pleased with them, He would soften their hearts for each other. Hence, reconciliation would become easy for them. In this way, outwardly, they would be united again and inwardly, they will have stronger connection with Allah. Furthermore, they will acquire the attribute of humility.
If they remain stubborn then both are guilty and are no longer part of the community. Only reproach can bring them together.
Forgiving and Seeking Forgiveness is Obligatory
The specialty of Sufis is that neither do they eat nor sleep with malice inside them. They cannot progress spiritually until their hearts are free from all kinds of negativities. Hence, it is obligatory upon a Sufi that if he has hurt or insulted any of his fellows, intentionally or unintentionally, he must request him to forgive him. Similarly, it is compulsory for latter that when his brother comes to him seeking forgiveness, he should forgive him immediately. The Holy Prophet warned upon not accepting apology. Jabir RA relates that the Holy Prophet said:
- If a person apologizes to his brother but his brother does not accept it then he commits a mistake. It is as if a person is designated to collect tax and he keeps some of it unlawfully.
- If a person apologized to another but the latter did not accept it then he would not be able to reach the lake of Kauthar.
Disagreements among people of khanqah are only temporary. The devotees gain inner peace after the resolution of their issues. They had become distant from each other due to dominance of their inciting innerself. Only after rectifying their innerself and seeking forgiveness, do they return to their original destination. Abdullah bin Umar relates tradition from Holy Prophet, “Have mercy and you shall be dealt with mercy. Forgive and you shall be forgiven.” Forgiveness purifies their hearts of all negativity. They may also exchange gifts to enhance mutual love after the conflict.
Kissing the Hand of Shaikh
Furthermore, if seeker commits any mistake, he must seek forgiveness from spiritual guide as soon as possible. Unless a seeker asks forgiveness for his mistake, his spiritual journey remains halted. Many Hadiths mention the kissing of hand of Shaikh after seeking forgiveness. Abdullah bin Umar RA narrates that he was among a troop sent by the Holy Prophet pbuh. Afterwards, that troop fled from the enemy. He thought that by such action they have invited Allah’s wrath. Then he with few other Companions decided to go to Madina and apologize to the Holy Prophet. They thought if he would not accept their apology then they would go to fight again. Hence, on reaching Madina they went to the Holy Prophet before morning prayer. Coming outside the mosque, Holy Prophet asked, “Who are you?” They replied, “We are the ones who fled and now we are present here in your service.”
The Holy Prophet pbuh replied, “You are not in the group that fled. In fact, you are the ones who return to fight again. You are the Muslims.” Hearing this, they got closer to the Holy Prophet and kissed his sacred hand. Such Hadiths prove that kissing the hand of Shaikh is justified.
Kissing of the hand gives way to mutual love and affinity after the period of conflict.
Devoting for Services of Khanqah
It is very much desirable that the residents of khanqah devote themselves for its services. Sitting idle and getting served by others is extremely disapproved. The people of al-Suffa kept themselves busy in services of al-Masjid al-Nabawi and the platform of Suffa. Some did its cleaning, some got water from wells for use of their fellows, some prepared food etc. Following this example, the Shaikh also assigns his disciples certain services and duties according to their physical and spiritual capacities. It is incumbent upon them to perform their duties sincerely and whole-heartedly. The Shaikh would bestow spiritual beneficence upon them according to their sincerity and hardwork while performing services.
In Sarwari Qadri order the invocation is practised through breaths, hence is not a hurdle in any physical work. A true disciple is punctual and cautious about time. This is why he does his services as well as invocation simultaneously. Giving one’s services for cause of Allah is a way to be grateful to Allah for the time and health granted to him. Contrarily, staying idle means that disciple is being ungrateful, as he would be wasting his health and time over nothing.
Sirri Saqti RA says:
“He who does not value the blessings granted to him, his blessings are taken from him in a way that he is unable to decipher.”
Generosity Towards the Devotees
Some Dervishes at khanqah completely devote themselves for the services of khanqah. So much so that they are unable to earn for themselves. If they leave khanqah to go to their workplace, their duties at khanqah would be disturbed. Such devotees deserve to have portion from the food and funds donated for khanqah. It is obligatory upon generous seekers of Allah connected with khanqah to fix good amount for them from their earning. The Holy Prophet ordered his Companions to donate for the people of al-Suffa. He said, “Whoever has food enough for two persons should take a third one from them (Suffa Companions). And whosoever has food for four persons, he should take one or two from them.” (Bukhari 602)
By such generosity, they not only help their brethren but also earn the pleasure of Allah. Moreover, they get rid of the love of worldly wealth.
Furthermore, some disciples are so old that they are unable to earn their livelihood. They also have the permission to eat from khanqah. However, those residents of khanqah who do not fully devote themselves for services of Shaikh and are young and healthy enough, must earn a living. It is against the dignity of a Sufi to be dependent on others while he can earn himself. He should earn not only for himself but also to spend in the way of Allah.
Everyone at khanqah is responsible to keep it clean. The Holy Prophet declared cleanliness as half faith. Allah says
فِیۡہِ رِجَالٌ یُّحِبُّوۡنَ اَنۡ یَّتَطَہَّرُوۡا ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یُحِبُّ الۡمُطَّہِّرِیۡنَ ؕ. (9:108)
There are people in it who love to remain purified (both physically and spiritually), and Allah loves those who commit themselves to purity.” (9:108)
A disciple should keep the khanqah and its neighborhood clean. Furthermore, he should also keep himself clean physically and spiritually. Spiritual cleanliness means to keep oneself purified of malice, arrogance, jealousy, oblivion, backbiting, enmity, complaints and all such bad traits.
It is inevitable to maintain peace, unity and tolerance at khanqah. Everyone should give space to his brothers and try to sacrifice his comfort for them. Conflicts and arguments at petty matters only arouse the baser self i.e. nafs. Hence, damage the peace and dignity of khanqah consequently. On the other hand, tolerance subdues the nafs and promotes goodwill among the dwellers of khanqah.