The Beginning of Spiritual Journey of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen
By November 1995, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman had experienced all aspects of worldly life. He had endured poverty growing up and worked tirelessly to make ends meet for his family. Allah then opened the avenues of worldly wealth and prosperity to him in year 1989. Then by 1995 he found his inner self fully content with wealth and material possessions. He felt content with the needs and desires of the world and started longing for something else.
Despite having attained happiness and comfort, an underlying restlessness persisted within him, a sense that something was missing, leaving him puzzled. Consequently, he chose to limit his worldly engagements and embarked on an internal journey of self-discovery. Thus, he started spending much of his time in solitude and worship. He withdrew himself from activities like social interactions, outings and television, and instead, delved into deep contemplation about the purpose of his life, his actions and the Divine Creator. It seemed as though his soul yearned to reconnect with its origin and attain tranquility.
An Unexpected Encounter of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen with a Fakir
One fine afternoon in November 1995, after offering noon salat at his office mosque, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen made his way back to his office. As he passed by a canteen along the way, a peculiar encounter unfolded. Suddenly he saw a middle-aged man dressed strangely walk up to him and uttered:
“The period of Allah’s beneficence upon you has started, sustain your condition in the same way”.
Intrigued, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen inquired,
“Who are you?”
The man replied,
“I am the one who shows the right path to people and guides them. I came just to see you”.
Initially, Sultan-ul- Ashiqeen suspected the man might be a fraudulent impersonator of a Fakir. Nonetheless, he courteously thanked the man and said, “I will act upon your instruction,” and stepped ahead. He had taken only a few steps forwards that a thought provoked in his mind - How did this man know his inner state? At once! Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen turned back to find the man, but he had vanished. He inquired about him from the people in the vicinity and it yielded no results. It seemed no one had seen such a man around.
A Heartbreaking Loss of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen
On 14th August 1996, Lahore city experienced a memorable and massive downpour of rain that left a lasting impact and submerged half of Lahore. This torrent night was significant for Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen’s family for other reasons. The beloved daughter of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen, Tabina Najib began to have massive migraines which exacerbated with each passing moment. On 26th September 1996, Dr. Mohammad Iftikhar Raja performed brain surgery on the little princess at the Gulberg hospital, Lahore. However, she went into coma and was transferred to the intensive care unit, where she passed away on 2nd October 1996 (18th Jamada al-awwal 1417 AH).
Desire for Proximity to Allah and Excessive Worship
After going through the trauma of losing his dear daughter, the changes that had been perfected in Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen’s inward began to emerge. The worldly possessions lost their value as he questioned the purpose of wealth that couldn’t save his daughter. This ignited the yearning for eternal wealth, a closeness to Allah. Consequently, he immersed himself in worship and prayer. There came a time when out of 24 hours a day, he only rested for six hours a day and spent the rest of his time either in the office or excessive prayers. He perpetually recited Durood (blessings and salutations on Prophet Mohammed) and the first Islamic creed. For this purpose, he had made a special rosary of five hundred beads. The sole purpose of his worship was to attain proximity and gnosis of Allah. He was searching for peace which he had realized that the materialistic world could not provide.
Seeking Intercession in the Spiritual Realm
Due to excessive worship, he got dark circles under his eyes. Not only that but his index figure had literally pressed due to continuously rotating the rosary. At times, he would break down in poignant despair and his frustration would ascend to such depths that he found solace in shedding tears for prolonged hours. To his wife, it seemed an outcome of the heart-wrenching loss of their daughter.
Despite excessive worship, he could not find peace. Then one evening in March 1997, while he was reading a book, he came across the following lines:
“The Holy Prophet (pbuh) always granted the requests of his beloved daughter, Fatimah tuz-Zahra. Truly, she is the cherished lady of paradise, adorned with Divine favour. Even the noble wives, when feared Prophet’s approval on a certain matter, sought solace by entrusting their requests through his dear daughter. As throughout time, the Prophet’s heart remained resolute in never denying the wishes of his beloved daughter.”
Upon reading it, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen proceeded to offer all the rewards of his worship to the lady of paradise. He also bestowed gifts upon her revered husband Ali al-Murtaza and her esteemed sons Hassan and Husayn.
A Special Prayer of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen
After learning about the exalted status of the Prophet's beloved daughter, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen began a special prayer (an act of supplication) which soon became an integral part of his life. This heartfelt prayer, which he presented as a humble offering, is as follows:
"O revered lady of the universe! I, a sinful servant, humbly offer this ordinary gift of supplication in your honour. Surely, you require no reward for our devotion. Rather, it is we who are in need, seeking the benevolence and favour of your noble family. This reward I seek is akin to the plea of a beggar at your door. Throughout your earthly life, no seeker or beggar departed empty-handed from your doorstep. I am certain that in your spiritual realm, you shall not deny this beggar's plea. I beseech and yearn in your sacred court.
Please intercede on my behalf in your revered father's court, that he may bestow his blessings upon his devoted servant, guiding me to the righteous path - the path where Allah has promised to reward those who journey upon it. This humble beggar shall not return empty-handed, for denying any supplicant is not the tradition of your blessed family."
A Divine Favour Led Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen to the Path of Righteousness
With the variation of a few words, this prayer became an integral part of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen’s life. Surprisingly, at that time he neither was acquainted of the term Faqr, nor he knew that it is granted only by mediation of Fatimah tuz-Zahra. As Sultan Bahoo said in Jamia-ul-Asrar:
“Fatimah tuz-Zahra has been enriched with Faqr. Indeed, she embodies Faqr. The one who attains Faqr does so solely through her guidance.”
Allah’s grace and favour have completely saved Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen. It was not a mere coincidence that his tongue and soul adopted such a way of praying. Fate had led him to the path of righteousness. Truly, without any prior knowledge, he had arrived at the court through which the Holy Prophet bestows Faqr.