In line with this age of inversion, where something is offered as being the very opposite of its essence, we deemed it appropriate to market our Ramadān specials only after the conclusion of that blessed month.
In a way, we consciously inoculate some of the poison in order for it to be a therapeutic antidote to the said epochal ailment.
We start our rounds with a most obscure shining star of the ummah. Naturally, given our principled approach, we begin by circling around a dessert rather than any hors d’oeuvres, a chocolate mousse instead of a tapenade flatbread. It is all nutriment with a warranty of excellence, so the readers’ ethereal beings should be able to adjust easily.
Tāhir as-Sadafī was a luminary from al-Andalus whose renown is buried in the procreant land of occultation.
He wrote, in the 6th century AH, the days of al-Qādī ‘Iyād, Ibn al-‘Arīf (an extract of whose recorded speeches is found in our e-book Lasting Right Sayings), Ibn Masarrah and Abū Ya`zā, a lovable biographical work titled As-Sirr al-Masūn fīmā Ukrima bihi al-Mukhlisūn (“The Ensconced secret regarding what the people of sincere devotion have been ennobled by”).
It is indeed quite pertinent to use it as our inauguration scene in an age where Allah’s Friends are not safe, even in the barzakh of corporeal death, from the delinquent hands and tongues of their enemies, first and foremost the toxic Kharijite sect of Wahhābis and self-styled Salafis, may Allah fight them and extirpate them wherever they are, āmīn.
One of the stringed pearls in the said necklace of precious biographies is his brief portrait of Abū ‘Abdilllāh b. Nāhid al-Lakhmī, listed by the author as one of the savants and Allah’s friends whom he had personally met in the Moroccan lands:
“He was, may Allah have mercy on him, a judge used to issue verdicts in lawsuits as it befits a fair decision-maker. According to reports about his person which have reached us, he instructed people to cling to justice and beneficence.
On one occasion two litigants, one of whom was a close companion of his, attended his tribunal as parties to a legal case. The evidentiary material which had been submitted to him showed that truth lay with his companion’s opponent. When he probed his heart, the judge noticed a favourable inclination towards rationalizing the negation of what the evidence established, so as to avoid ruling against his companion. He did however forbid his self to succumb to its whims in that regard, and subjugated it by taming it with the bridles of taqwā. As a result, he passed judgment against his companion as the merits of the case demanded.
His companion exited the courtroom without attempting to hide from his face the traces of irritation. Because of this incident, the judge resolved on folding up the public carpet of his judicial profession and elected to replace it with solitude by cleaving to the privacy of his home and avoiding association with people.
He hanged up his judge’s gown and donned the characteristic robe of the needy devotees of spiritual wayfaring. He gave away in charity all the chattels and ephemeral riches of this world he had previously come to own, and his means of livelihood, may Allah show to mercy to him, were reduced to some small-sized olive trees, approximately 15 in total, which were part of his estate.
In spite of their small sizes and tiny number, those trees sufficed to keep his material state wholesome year after year. Not only did they provide him with his basic necessities, but on top of that they yielded a steady surplus which he used to distribute as sadaqah and devolve upon his close associates, who accordingly felt bound to him by ties of deep gratitude and affection.
At one stage, however, his cluster of olive trees was suddenly seized by the inequitable hand of usurpation, and a calamitous misfortune befell it. He was violently shaken by such adverse twist of fortune, so much so that he gave vent to the emotional outpourings of a desperate fellow. What his inner vision perceived at that time was that he had been the target of some hostile scheming, or that he had been driven back from his onward path in life, as if turned around from the ground up.
He earnestly and persistently asked Allah to grant him a replacement for what had been lost.
While he was engrossed in that, he saw in a dream that his sustenance had been stored in thick white honey, in purchasing it, consuming it personally and selecting the best specimens to merchandise it to the public.
He thus carved out, on the walls of his hermitage atop a mountain, some empty beehives. Allah, glory to Him and may He be Exalted, sent queen bees to those hives, which soon came to host a numberless legion of bees. Allah, glory to Him, sent an inspiration to the bees to set up residence in the former judge’s mountain retreat and produce there, for his sake, whatever nourishment He commanded them to generate. They duly obliged, whereupon they enriched his personal fortune and fertilized the conviviality he extended to his companions.
It reached the point where he feared for both himself and his associates the faith-tempting ordeal of prosperity, and that moved him to beseech Allah, glory to Him, to restore him to his erstwhile modicum of sufficiency. Allah answered his invocation and actualized his wish.
it seldom happened that anyone read out something to Abū ‘Abdilllāh b. Nāhid al-Lakhmī, may Allah have mercy on him, without such person gaining understanding about his Dīn and attaining a firm hold on knowledge.
He used to go through the juristic issues he dealt with repeatedly, until their apprehension became enrooted in the hearts of his students, so that the intended goal of his instruction might be realized in full.
I saw him one day, when one of his students lamented to him his limited understanding and his susceptibility to falling prey to misgivings. Abū ‘Abdilllāh b. Nāhid al-Lakhmī handed that student three round, flat loaves of barley bread, that is, the variety of bread he normally partook of, along with some coarsely ground salt, in so doing addressing the student as follows: ‘Eat this bread with that salt. Do not eat anything else until you have finished what I just gave you.’
The student ate each of the three loaves on three consecutive days, at the time of breaking the fast. He had not yet completed the third and last loaf that Allah, glory to him, gifted him knowledge and deep comprehension of matters, and further bestowed on him divine support and decisive judgment.
From then on, any particular juristic issue would be tossed to other students, time and again, and they would struggle to master it. They would only succeed in doing so after several strenuous attempts at comprehension, whereas he would get to the bottom of such issue at once, and encompass in his grasp both its generality and its details.
All of that was due to the blessing of Abū ‘Abdilllāh’s bread, may Allah be pleased with him.
Part of what Abū ‘Abdilllāh b. Nāhid al-Lakhmī said, may Allah show mercy to him, comprises the following:
‘Allah surely loves the political leader (Emir) who is knowledgeable and dynamically effective, in the sense that he acts by what he knows, just as Allah, without doubt, dislikes the ignorant Emir who ventures into action without prior consultation.’
It was also his wont to say: ‘A just Emir is dearer to Allah than 100 knowledgeable worshippers.’
On plentiful occasions he would mention the following speech of the Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam: “The just ruler’s supplication is not rejected.” He would additionally quote, as a customary undertaking of his, the famous report transmitted about al-Hārith ath-Thaqafī, which is to the effect that he would usually say to Abū ‘Ubaydah b. al-Jarrāh, may Allah be pleased with him, ‘Supplication is sought from you because of your knowledge and relinquishment of worldly superfluities. You have in fact gathered both such virtues and built further on them through the addition of discharging the duties of your political office.’
Abū ‘Abdilllāh constantly urged his companions to proclaim His Oneness and seclude themselves from people, saying as he did so: ‘Seclusion has become obligatory since corruption manifested in the earth.’
He consecrated himself to the task of seeking the fulfilment of the Muslims’ needs from Emirs and Sultans, since that assignment was in his view an act of drawing near to Allah because of the adherence to customary good, the assistance lent to troubled souls, the effort to curb wrongdoers from their victims and the provision of livelihood to indigent petitioners and bereft people which it comprised within its folds.
His dedication to that task drew criticism from some quarters, so he retorted: ‘Whenever intercession is possible, you should reach the outermost limit of its potential. Have you not paid notice to His statement, glory to Him, whereby He encouraged fair modes of asking and stirred desire to generally involve oneself in them so long as they can yield results: «Those who intercede for good will be rewarded with a share of their good intercession, and those who intercede for evil will be accountable for a quota of their evil intercession» (Sūrah an-Nisā’: 85)?.
He also took as his guiding model his (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam) statement: “A person shall be asked about what he does with his high ranking just as much as he is asked about what he does with his wealth.” There is no difference between the profitability of high ranking and the profitability of wealth. Nay, the profitability of high ranking might be more potent and far-reaching in its impact and more effective in entrenching taqwā, since its profitability is what leads to wealth as well as the totality of treasured states.
I did not personally attend his funeral procession and prayer, but someone who did take part therein said to me: ‘When he was about to die he was shielded from people. He then passed away, and a curtain screening his corpse from people’s sights was raised. Whoever came to paytribute to his remains heard the Qur’ān being recited from behind the veil, though there was no one present beside his corpse’”.
TO BE CONTINUED SHORTLY, INSHALLĀH
(Main course: Tender strips from ‘Abdus-Salām as-Sarghīnī al-Hasanī’s record of morsels he was fed with during Abu’l-Fayd Muhammad b. al-Kabīr al-Kattānī’s trip to the Hijāz in 1321 AH, served with the latter’s unique sauce on his (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam) reality of Ahmadiyyah;
Appetizers: Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī’s cold cuts on deceased people’s awareness of the living, and bruschetta slices filled with az-Zurqānī’s remarks on such as the comparative qualities of women of the Garden and women of this world)
We are again seated by the table after we broke for the Sunset prayer.
As the drone of cheerful conversation spreads around the dining room with its exquisite touches of antique furniture from Mediterranean localities, the queen of the household rushes in with her hot tray of delicatessen by the Moroccan guide Abu’l-Fayd Muhammad b. al-Kabīr al-Kattānī. They come from a recipe called Al-Kashf wa al-Bayān ‘ammā Khafiya ‘an al-A`yān min-Āyah: “Mā Kunta Tadrī Ma’l-Kitābu wa’l-Īmān”.
[His (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam) reality of Ahmadiyyah is a mercy to the worlds]
No specification of the general textual authority that he [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] has been sent as a mercy to the worlds is found in the Qur’ān to the effect that he was only sent as mercy to the worlds after the emergence of his corporeal reality in this world. Only one such specification (and none exists) could have indicated that the substance of his being had been kept away from the world prior to his earthly appearance or had been cut off from it after he was lifted to his Lord away from it. Only one such specification could have entailed the fact that His sending Messages to the worlds had been interrupted.
No textual authority in that regard has occurred in the Qur’ān. Whoever alleges any specification of the general import of the said textual authority establishing him [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] as a mercy to the worlds is belying the Qur’ān and is at odds with it.
What we have established evinces the fact that since the day on which the worlds, both the upper and the lower ones, the total and the partial ones, the simple and the composite ones, were fashioned into being, he [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] has been sent “as a mercy unto the worlds”.
In the same fashion, it evinces the truth that, since the day he travelled away from these worlds, he has always been sent “as a mercy unto the worlds”.
The constituent substance of the divine sending of him, peace upon him, as a Prophet has never been discontinued either at the beginning of the world or in its middle, and in an identical way his [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] substance is not severed from the worlds on the Day of Rising.
Because of the knowledge possessed by the Prophets and Messengers that his [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] substance is not broken off from them by the elevated spots he will occupy in the Standing-Place where the resurrected bodies shall gather, at a time when the Sirāt will be violently shaken by a gale, they will loudly exclaim, ‘O Muhammadāh, O Muhammadāh!’. This is an explicit confirmation that his [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] Messengership is not disengaged from them or from his two pairs of choice companions who are followed as models in the twin dimensions of the upper world (= Jibrīl and Mikā’īl) and the lower world (= Abū Bakr and ‘Umar). It is also an explicit confirmation of the fact that he is the pole and supplier of assistance to the Prophets and Messengers, and the dot of their perfection both in form and content, both in essence and attribute.
If one alleges the discontinuance of his [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] Messengership after he has departed to his Lord and moved to the world of undiluted perpetuity, which is akin to an express claim that he ceases to be a Messenger after his earthly demise, nay, that Messengership is then separated from his [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] person, he would be recklessly venturing into asserting what neither the Qur’ ān nor the Sunnah has asseverated.
Prophethood and Messengership are not cut off by death. In truth, they are not cut off by entry in the Garden either, since people will be in need there of those who point them to Allah, glory to Him. One cannot therefore dispense with knowledge even in the Garden. That is especially so in respect of the most knowledgeable about Allah, glory to Him, of all creatures, the ones with the deepest comprehension of His judgments and recommended courtesies, that is, the Prophets and the Messengers, on them be Allah’s prayer of blessing and salutation of peace, first and foremost the wisest of savants and the most knowledgeable of sages, the spirit of the world and the soul of it in which the entire world voices its identity: His (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam) reality of Ahmadiyyah.
[Reply to whoever alleges that Messengership and Prophethood are cut off by death]
This allegation is among those which have been falsely ascribed to Imām al-‘Ash`arī, whereas in reality he is innocent from such attribution.
The crux of the said allegation is as follows:
“Our master Muhammad is neither a Prophet in his grave nor a Messenger after his death”.
The exposition of such a claim is found in one section of a treatise penned by Imām al-Qushayrī and titled Shikāyah Ahl as-Sunnah bi-Hikāyah Mā Nālahum min al-Mihnah (“The Lamentation by Ahl as-Sunnah through the recounting of the testing ordeal which alighted by them”).
These are the words used by Imām al-Qushayrī in his rejoinder to the aforesaid allegation:
“This is an enormous falsity and a sheer lie which no such master in the science of ‘aqīdah ever uttered, which was unheard in any scholarly debate any one of them participated in and which never found its way to any book any one of them authored.
How can it be deemed an authentic transmission from them, when in fact they held the firm view that our Master Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, is alive in his grave?!
Allah the Exalted said: «Do not suppose that those who are killed in the Way of Allah are dead. No indeed! They are alive» (Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān: 169).
He, glory to Him, has informed that the shuhadā’ «are alive and well provided for in the presence of their Lord » (Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān: 169). The Prophets are more entitled to such prerogative than the shuhadā’, given that the rank of the shahīd rank falls short of the rank of Prophethood. Allah, may He be Exalted, has said: «Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger will be with those whom Allah has blessed: the Prophets and the siddiqūn, the shuhadā’ and the sālihūn» (Sūrah an-Nisā’: 69). Accordingly, the rank of the shuhadā’ is placed third in the hierarchy topped by Prophethood”.
In addition to such refutation, Imām al-Qushayrī mentioned in his other work Ar-Risālah reports and narrations which evidence his stated position. When he was through with that line of corroborative quotations, he summed the matter up by the following words: “Once it is established that the Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, is alive, an inevitable corollary of it is that a living being is either knowledgeable or ignorant. It is not permissible for the Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, to be ignorant, by virtue of His statements, Exalted is He, when describing him: «Your companion is not misguided or misled» (Sūrah an-Najm: 2); «The Messenger has īmān in what has been sent down to him from his Lord» (Sūrah al-Baqarah: 285).
It is thus clearly proven that he [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] is mu’min, and we know that the rank of Prophethood is the rank of nobility and loftiness. Indeed, he, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, increases in nobility and high standing every single day, incessantly: That being the case, how can he possibly not be endowed with deep knowledge and not be a Prophet? How can that be conceivable when “Rasūl” is cast in the morphological form fa`ūl bearing the meaning of “the one who is sent” (al-mursal), something without parallel in the Arabic language?! The act of sending (al-irsāl) consists in Allah’s Speech, and His Speech is Ancient in the sense that it was not originated in existence from non-existence at any given point in time. He [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam], prior to his creation, was already a Rasūl (Messenger) by Allah’s irsāl [= the act of sending as defined here above]; and in his present state, as well as ad infinitum, he is a Rasūl, due to the endless permanence of His Speech, the Ancient nature of His Verbalization, and the impossibility of His irsāl, which is His Speech, being ever voided by falsehood”.
“The Messenger of Allah, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, was once asked: ‘When were you a Prophet?’, whereupon he said in reply: “When Ādam lay in his formative clay.” He, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, likewise said: “I was indeed the Seal of the Prophets at a time when Ādam lay in his formative clay.”
If someone were to raise a query, namely, ‘Where could the ascription of the said view to Imām al-‘Ash`arī have possibly originated though no possible supportive root for such ascription could be found anywhere?’, the answer thereto would be as per the under-mentioned:
It has been stated that one member of the sect of the Karāmiyyah – may Allah fill his grave with fire, and it is indeed my belief that Allah, glory to Him, has indeed filled his grave with it – sought to coerce one of our fellow masters in the science of ‘aqīdah to submit to the logic of his specious argument, which he put forward in this manner:
‘If according to you people the deceased person, in his state of death, is neither present to his senses nor does he know things, it follows consequentially that in his grave he, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, is other than mu’min, since īmān means for us firm knowledge and endorsement of the truth, and death negates the existence of both such realities. If, then, he [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] lacks knowledge and endorsement of the truth, he cannot have īmān, and one who is not mu’min cannot be a Prophet.’
What the member of the Karāmiyyah sought to have our fellow master concede is false, inasmuch as our belief is that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah the Exalted send prayers of blessing and salutations of peace on him and on his family, is alive, sensorially aware and knowledgeable of what is happening. The actions by the members of his nation are shown to him, and our sending of prayers and greetings to him is communicated to him.
Besides, al-Ash`arī is not the only one who maintained that a deceased person neither perceives through his senses nor has knowledge of matters. All the different schools in the science of ‘aqīdah – apart that is from the Karāmiyyah – share with him the same position on this issue. Accordingly, the reply al-Ash`arī voiced was identical to the one voiced by all and sundry. What I mentioned earlier is however better than all these inferential lines of reasoning”.
The bell rings and announces the entry of the maid, who carries the plates containing the main course devised by our generous hostess:
Luminous skewers from Al-Lu’lu’ah al-Fāshiyyah fī ar-Rihlah al-Hijāziyyah, the diary kept by the disciple ‘Abdus-Salām as-Sarghīnī al-Hasanī of jewels besprinkled by our man Abu’l-Fayd Muhammad b. al-Kabīr al-Kattānī among some worthy associates in the course of his trip to Makkah and al-Madīnah in 1321 AH.
[Elucidation of the hadīth: “I was a Prophet when Ādam was still between spirit and body”]
In the course of this gathering, I (= ‘Abdus-Salām as-Sarghīnī al-Hasanī) heard him (= Abu’l-Fayd Muhammad b. al-Kabīr al-Kattānī) – may Allah be pleased with him – say what follows concerning the hadīth “I was a Prophet when Ādam was still between spirit and body”:
“This particular narrative variant is the authentic one. Neither the other variant which states “[I was a Prophet] when Ādam was still between water and clay”, nor the narration worded as “[I was a Prophet] when Ādam was still lying in his formative clay”, is one the authenticity of which is entrenched, although they all share the same meaning.
This noble hadīth is indeed one of the mother-statements on the Muhammadan perfections, in the same way as the hadīth on Islām, Īmān and Ihsān (by which Sahīh Muslim opens) is one of the mother-reports on the purified Sharī`ah”.
Abu’l-Fayd then said at such gathering:
“I have drawn an elucidatory point, which came to me on the tongue of undefiled divine purity, regarding the import of this hadīth. It is structured as follows:
The word Nabī (Prophet) in it might come from the noun naba’ – bearing the meaning of informative report –, in which event Nabī is morphologically in the form fa`īl when such form denotes the noun of the patient (ism al-maf`ūl) on which the action of the verb takes place.
The Nabī (Prophet) would then be the one to whom an informative report was given on the part of the Real, glory to Him, at that time, i.e. when there was no Ādam, no heaven or earth, no time or space.
What is being informed about in such divine report to his person [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] encompasses different classes of matters:
It might be a reference to what is traced to the Purest Essence, to the Divine Names, the Attributes, the Acts, or the Divine affairs. It might also be a reference to what is related to him, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, to the Prophets and Messengers, their nations, the Heavenly Books, the Angels, the judgments of the Revealed Laws, or His Mighty Book. Altogether, we have nine classes of matters, and the subject of the informative report conveyed to him [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] does not exit the total circle encompassed by them (…)
There is then the alternative possibility that the word Nabī (Prophet) in the hadīth is derived from nubuwwah – in the semantic sense of lofty exaltedness –, since such exaltedness is not actualized save by his, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, firm grasp of the meanings referred to here above under the nine classes of matters.
This latter signification of the word Nabī (Prophet) is the inherently necessary one, whereas the former is what is conditionally necessitated by it.
Whoever masters the understanding of this point and firmly encompasses it in his cognitive grip will clearly realize what is entailed by Jibrīl “acting as his [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] instructing guide” from the viewpoint of those who allege the occurrence of such angelical instruction.
How can Jibrīl, in fact, be his teaching guide when he is but his [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] servant? Jibrīl did after all halt his ascension on the night of the nocturnal journey (from Makkah to Jerusalem), and said: «‘There is not one of us who does not have a known station’» (Sūrah as-Sāffāt: 164). Is it conceivable that in such widely stretched expanses the teacher might leave his pupil alone? Never, never! In fact, even in what is not as perilous and momentous as those expanses the teacher will be more supportive and steadfast than any one else in looking after his charge’s affairs.
An additional truth you draw from the foregoing is your comprehension of what is embedded in the statement by our master ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Abbās as transmitted in Sahīh al-Bukhārī, which relates to His statement, may He be Exalted: «Do not move your tongue trying to hasten it» (Sūrah al-Qiyāmah: 16), which statement purports to describe the meaning of that āyah as the fact that he [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] used to quickly seize the Revelation from Jibrīl and hasten to repeat it out of fear that it might elude him. It is on account thereof, so the statement goes on to explain, that it was said to him: «So when We recite it, follow its recitation» (Sūrah al-Qiyāmah: 17).
Perfection only belongs to our Master. It is in fact possible that the aforesaid hadīth, namely, “I was a Prophet when Ādam was still between spirit and body”, had not reached the knowledge of ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Abbās, just as our mistress Fātimah az-Zahrā’, in spite of being the custodian of the Revelation, having been present on a number of occasions when it was sent down, had not heard the hadīth: “We assemblies of Prophets do not bequeath any inheritance. Whatever we leave behind is sadaqah”, and had therefore set out to our master Abū Bakr as-Siddīq with the request of taking receipt of a share of “her inheritance”.
The attires of perfections were then poured over him, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, at that stage where no time or space and no creature existed, the matter being as he [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] informed about in accordance with what we mentioned before, nay, even beyond that, since we abridged what we had to say due to constraints of space. Nowhere is it stated in the Book or the uncontaminated Sunnah that he was ever stripped of that privileged state. Quite the reverse, since the root-position in interpreting the Law is the presumption of continuity (istishāb), which is in fact the most potent proof in the eyes of the specialists in the source-principles of the Law (usūliyyīn)!
Based on the foregoing, how can one concede validity to the statement that he [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] was only sent as Prophet when he turned 40? Any person who dares say that ought to be asked: ‘So how was he before that?’. It is even more obligatory to target him with such question if one considers that the tables of existents had been struck by him even prior to his earthly existence and that the Prophets exhorted the members of their nations to support and follow him in the event that they happened to live in his time”.
Nutritional salad dish dipped in a sauce of refreshing wisdom
[The cause of faith-testing ordeals (fitan): Opposition to the Sunnah]
In the afternoon of Tuesday the 23rd the truthful lover, the chieftain al-Hājj ‘Abdullāh summoned Abu’l-Fayd, and convened a well-attended gathering devoted to sapient reminder.
On that occasion, I heard Abu’l-Fayd mention what is set out here under:
“Existence revolves around three ranks: a) Before the emergence of the noble guise (= Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam) it was dead, b) after its emergence it came alive, and existence reached the perfection of its life by his presence, and c) after he set out on his journey to the Lord it sank into sleep. That is indicated by his [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] statement: “People are asleep.”
So long as he was present among us he was a guarantee of safety. What is akin to his physical presence among us is the permanence of his Sunnah and Sharī`ah being established in our midst. On account of that, Allah the Exalted said: «Those who oppose his command should beware (of a testing trial coming to them or a painful punishment striking them)» (Sūrah an-Nūr: 63).
All traces of faith-testing ordeals are witnessed in the universe, along with the simultaneous succession of gripping trials, have their invariable cause in opposition to the noble Revealed Law which he [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] has brought. The magnitude of squalid evils is commensurate with the magnitude of contrariness to that Law”.
[A beneficial point conveyed by Abu’l-Fayd on the subject of wholehearted satisfaction with the Decree and submission to it]
In the course of this gathering, I (= ‘Abdus-Salām as-Sarghīnī al-Hasanī) heard him (= Abu’l-Fayd) say on the topic of visiting the sick, which he linked to his broader theme of humbly surrendering to the Decree in a state of wholehearted assent and contentment:
“A man of gnosis – which might have been an allusion to himself – informed me that one day Abu’l-‘Abbās, the Khidr, was struck ill with fever. We accordingly set out to pay him a visit while he was sick. When we came before him, we found him shivering like a worn palm-tree. Our feelings of awe vis-à-vis his person prevented us from inquiring about what we wanted to learn from him until he had first initiated speech to us.
Eventually, Abu’l-‘Abbās, the Khidr, said: ‘Contemplate the vast Magnificence of this vastly Magnificent Lord. Although, in fact, I have been blest with the extraordinarily long age of 7000 years, the imprints of divine compulsion have kept descending upon me until the present day, as if no longevity was ever conferred on me.’
The people in attendance then wept in his presence, unable to utter a word, until one of the visitors said: ‘I am going to address him on your behalf.’ He thus engaged him in conversation and asked him how many women he married in his long life, about the foodstuffs he habitually consumed, and about what he had a special craving for. He answered all those questions.
When the visitors fell silent, their intellectual curiosity having been quenched, the Khidr specifically fixed his gaze on one member of that group. The other people in attendance were astounded by his prolonged staring at that person. The one who had addressed al-Khidr earlier stepped forward, saying to the man thus gazed at: ‘Either you speak to him yourself, or else I am going to address him for the sake of all of you one more time.’
The talkative visitor was the one who plunged into speech, and solicited al-Khidr to explain the reason behind him focusing his gaze upon that individual specifically. Al-Khidr replied in turn with a question: ‘Rather you ask him.’ The spokesperson for the group turned to that person and did in fact ask him about that.
His answer was: ‘I am a man who came to learn the Greatest Name, as well as the conditions and courtesies attaching to it. One of those conditions is that Allah, may He Be Exalted, would only teach His Greatest Name to someone He loved in order for that beneficiary to specifically laud Him thereby. It happened that one woman, who was the prettiest woman on the face of the earth, was under my marital power as my lawful spouse. There was in my village a tyrant who continuously sent me exhortations to divorce her so that he could marry her after me. I did not badge. One night, as I was sleeping with my wife, the tyrant did not leave me alone. He was standing over my head, wielding a dagger, as did his servants. With their daggers all drawn out in my direction, he forcibly separated me from my wife, whereupon the said tyrant sexually cohabited with her in my presence. I valiantly tried to push him away from her, and he cut off my hand in the process. Here it is’, and in saying that he took his amputated hand out of the sleeve so as to show him to all the other visitors. ‘When the incident with the tyrant was unfolding itself, the Greatest Name reverberated in my being. I was intending to invoke Allah by it against the unjust oppressor, but the dictates of courtesy in dealing with the Real, glory to Him, barred me from doing so.’
Al-Khidr commented: ‘It is in the like of such event that the etiquette of people trusted with a secret is gauged, since they do not overstep the bounds of etiquette even when their compelling need is at its most acute’”.
I (= ‘Abdus-Salām as-Sarghīnī al-Hasanī) said: Al-Khidr mentioned that when he was beset by an illness which had confined him to bed so as to hint thereby at the paucity of our patience, compared to that man’s far-reaching surrender and entrusting of his affairs to Allah.
We are lastly presented, amid fading laughter and some sedate ruminations on the part of well-fed spirits, with a tray of flavoursome starters.
Tree-shaped Crescent Veggie Appetizers
from Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī’s Al-Jawāb ash-Shāfī ‘an as-Su’āl al-Khāfī (“The Healing Reply to the Hidden Question”)
Question 4 – Does a deceased hear the instruction to utter the tahlīl?
Answer: Yes, he hears it, due to the presence of extant connection to the world of the living we have alluded to earlier. One cannot rule on this by analogy to a living person who happens to be, say, inside a well filled up with debris, and who accordingly cannot hear the speech of the people atop that well.
Question 5 – Does a deceased know the identity of whoever visits him in the grave?
Answer: He does. He might know that if Allah so wills. Spirits are in fact permitted to gain acquaintance with matters, and they do visit their location, be it ‘Illiyyīn or Sijjīn, as stated in the soundly authentic hadīth: “The spirits of the shuhadā’ are lodged in the interior of a green bird which roams around in the Garden.” It is reported in (Muslim’s) Sahīh. The like thereof is also found in a hadīth of Ahmad b. Hanbal’s Musnad which concerns the spirits of the people of īmān.
In a narrative variant reported in the said Sahīh we read the following: “Their spirits take shelter by candles underneath the Throne.”
All of that does not exclude the presence of the aforementioned connection (linking the dead to the world of the living). Whoever deems it far-fetched only bases his analogy on resemblance to the states of this world as we can witness in it, but the truth is that the states of the isthmus after death (barzakh) differ from them.
Brie Cheese Appetizers
from Muhammad b. ‘Abdi’l-Bāqī al-Mālikī’s Ajwibah az-Zurqānī ‘an As’ilah Waradat min al-Maghrib
Question 8 – Are toddlers and stillborn children resurrected in the form they were in at the time of their deaths?
Answer: Hāfiz Ibn Hajar (al-Haytamī) said on this subject:
“Every one who is resurrected and gathered by the Standing-Place will be as he was at the time of his death. When souls enter the Garden, they shall be recast and share the same bodily height. The following is said in the sahīh hadīth: “Every slave shall be resurrected in accordance with the shape he had at the time of his death.”
The denizens of the Garden have been described as being in the image of Ādam, each one of them being 60 arms tall. Inter alia Ahmad added the following bit of narration: “They shall be seven arms wide.” Each inhabitant of the Garden will be 33 years of age”.
Question 10 – Who are better, the women of this world or the Hūr ‘Īn?
At this stage in the evening, the partakers of the meal began to feel the fatigue and paid scant attention, if at all, to the mistress of the household urging them to taste some more of her delicious brie starters.