It has always been in the Divine Scheme of things that perfection cannot be attained without an Ustaad (expert instructor). Thus when one is endowed with the guidance to enter into the Road of Tareeqat, one should search for an Ustaad of Tareeqat so that one may reach the true goal through the medium of his graceful instruction and auspicious companionship.
“O my heart! If you desire to undertake this sojourn hold on to the garment of the guide. Whoever trod the Path of Love without Companion his life passed by without attaining love.”
The companionship of a pious man will induce piety in you. Similarly, the companionship of an evil man will induce evil in you. He who searches for association with Allah Ta’aalaa, has to acquire the association of the Auliyaa-e-Kiraam. A short while spent in the companionship of Auliyaa is nobler and superior to a century of unostentatious obedience. Companionship with the pious for even a moment is superior to a century of Zuhd (abstention) and Taa’at (obedience).
A shaikh is one who has full knowledge and experience of spiritual ailments (Amraadh-e-Baatinah), attributes of vice and virtue (Akhlaaq-e-Razeelah and Akhlaaq-e-Hameedah), their characteristics (Khawaas) and their effects (Ta’theeraat). He should further be able to distinguish between their similarities and he must have perfect ability in devising plans and prescriptions for the acquisition of the attributes of virtue and the elimination of the attributes of vice. He has to be aware of the progress and retrogress of these attributes. He must be well versed in the hazards of the Nafs and Shaitaan, the intuitive senses and feelings pertaining to the angels and the Divine Being. He must be able to distinguish these various intuitive and extra-sensory feelings and perceptions. It is therefore imperative that the shaikh of Tareeqat be one who is qualified in this knowledge, be a Mujtahid in this field and possesses natural ability and inherent propensity. If he has acquired the Tareeq by a mere self-study of books on Tasawwuf or by listening from others, he will destroy the Mureed whom he is attending, because he will not be in position to correctly diagnose the various states of the Mureed.
As-Sheikh Sultan Fiazul Hassan Sarwari Qadri
Shaikh Ibne Arabi (Rahmatullahi Alayh) briefly summarizes the signs of a Shaikh-e-Kaamil (the perfect and qualified Shaikh) to be three:
Deen resembling the Deen of the Ambiyaa. Prescribing like the physicians. Management and control like that of kings. The exposition of the above summary is as follows:
He should possess the necessary knowledge of the Deen which he must have acquired by either academic pursuit of such knowledge or from companionship with the Ulama-e-Muhaqqiqeen.
He must be a deputy (Khalifah) of a Shaikh-e-Kaamil attached to an authentic Silsilah.
He should be uprighteous and pious.
He derived spiritual benefit by remaining for an adequate period of time in the company of the Shaikh. Such “companionship” is either by means of correspondence or by physical presence in the association of the Shaikh.
The people of knowledge (i.e. the Ulamaa) hold him in high esteem, and refer to him.
The effect of his companionship (Suhbat) is increase in the desire for Aakhirat and Divine love as well as detestation for the love of the world.
The majority of his Mureeds are followers of the Shariat, their conditions conforming to the demands of the Shariat.
He is devoid of greed and desire (for worldly gain and benefit).
He engages in Zikr and devotional practices.
He does not leave his Mureeds unfettered, but reprimands them when the need arises.
Treats everyone according to their respective abilities.
The one in whom these attributes exist is worthy of being a Shaikh and he should be considered a wonderful alchemy. His companionship and service to him are in fact priceless treasures. Once these attributes or perfection are found in a Shaikh, one should not be concerned about Karaamat (miracles) and Kashf (inspiration). It is not necessary that these states exist in the Shaikh-e-Kaamil nor is it necessary that he be one who does not himself earns his livelihood.
Experience has proven that for gaining spiritual benefit (Fuyudh-e-Baatini), mutual Munaasabat (congeniality) between the Shaikh and Mureed is a natural condition. Normally benefit is dependent on affection which is the reality of natural congeniality (Munaasabat-e-Fitri). Sometimes a Shaikh will refer a Mureed to another Shaikh because of the lack of such Munaasabat between them. In doing so the Shaikh establishes either by deduction or Kashf (inspiration from Allah Ta’ala) that the Mureed has Munaasabat with a certain Shaikh. In this Path, it is essential that Munaasabat exists between the Shaikh and Mureed otherwise the latter will not benefit. Such Munaasabat is the basis for the acquisition of benefit and passing on Faidh (spiritual grace) to the Mureed.
Munaasabat envisages that there exists between the Shaikh and Mureed compatibility and harmony to such a degree that the Mureed discerns no rejection in his heart for any word or act of the Shaikh although he (the Mureed) may be afflicted by mental disagreement with any word or act of the Shaikh. Nevertheless, such mental disagreement will not countenance any rejection for the Shaikh in the heart of the Mureed. In short, harmony and compatibility are conditional for Bay’at. It is therefore essential to first inculcate Munaasabat. This need is imperative. In the absence of this essential condition, Mujaahidaat (strivings), Riyadhaat (certain forms of exercises designed to subdue the Nafs), Muraqabaat (meditations) and Mukashafaat (intuitive revelations) are all futile. In the absence of natural Munaasabat (Tab’ee Munaasabat), the Mureed should endeavor to inculcate intellectual (Aqlee) Munaasabat, because benefit is dependent on it. For this reason, one should refrain from entering into the Bay’at contract until total Munaasabat is non-existent.
The benefits of association with a Shaikh-e-Kaamil are manifold. Among such benefits are:
The noble and lofty qualities of the Shaikh slowly devolve into the Mureed. Even if one is not totally reformed, one will have gained the ability to discern and recognize one’s faults.
The Mureed follows the Shaikh in character and habit.
Attainment of joy and pleasure in Zikr and Ibaadat.
Enhancement of courage.
The obtainable of clarification and contentment from the Shaikh in the event of a spiritual condition settling over the Mureed.
The Mureed will distinguish his own spiritual condition which becomes manifest in the talks of the Shaikh, such talks being the essence of the Masaa’il (rules).
Increase in the desire to practice virtue.
The Mureed’s ability becomes obvious to him.
Love for Allah Ta’ala increases.
Quick attainment of cure for spiritual ailments.
Obtaining the du’a of the Shaikh.
Elimination of doubt and uncertainty as a result of the Noor emanating from the heart of the Shaikh. This Noor has its effect on the Mureed. Spiritual darkness is dispelled by this Noor. The reality of all things thus becomes manifest. There are degrees regarding the efficacy of this Noor, depending on the degree of fertility of the disposition of the Mureed. One of high and noble disposition can attain the full beneficial effect of this Noor by merely looking at such Shaikhs of perfection. In such cases the Mureed attains spiritual progress and ranks without even physical association with the Shaikh.