The Importance of Optimism and Trust in Spiritual Guide
Optimism and trust in spiritual guide is the way to succeed on the path of Faqr. Sincere struggle takes the genuine seeker to their goal through the convoluted paths of a maze. Around which there are numerous luring gateways that take their followers to waywardness. Only one of these gateways leads to the destination and that is the path of complete optimism and trust in spiritual guide. Only the ardent Divine lovers follow this path and passing through this path is not easy. Sultan Bahoo (ra) says in his Punjabi poetry:
علم فاضل لنگھن نہ دیندے، جو لنگھدا سو چوری ھو
پٹ پٹ اٹاں وٹے مارن، درد منداں دے کھوری ھو
Meaning: The so called scholars who only have the outward knowledge of Islam become a hindrance in the path of Faqr. They not only remain deprived themselves but also, keep others away from it. The sincere seekers of Allah keep themselves away from them and continue their journey towards Allah.
The love and affection with the Murshid (Spiritual Guide) is the beacon of light on the path of Faqr. The one who is deprived of this light cannot reach destination. It is a fact that any success on the path of Faqr owes to the favour of the Murshid. And the favour from the Murshid is based on optimism and trust in him.
Optimism and trust in spiritual guide is a puzzle that only ardent Divine lovers can solve. And those who solve this puzzle, they are the winners. As Allah says in Quran:
اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ۔ صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ
Show us the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favours. (1: 5-6)
How being optimistic and having complete trust in Spiritual Guide is such a great puzzle?
To understand this, we refer to the story of Prophet Moses and Khidr that is narrated in Quran. Allah says:
فَانطَلَقَا حَتَّى إِذَا رَكِبَا فِي السَّفِينَةِ خَرَقَهَا قَالَ أَخَرَقْتَهَا لِتُغْرِقَ أَهْلَهَا لَقَدْ جِئْتَ شَيْئًا إِمْرًا۔ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا۔ قَالَ لاَ تُؤَاخِذْنِي بِمَا نَسِيتُ وَلاَ تُرْهِقْنِي مِنْ أَمْرِي عُسْرًا۔ فَانطَلَقَا حَتَّى إِذَا لَقِيَا غُلاَمًا فَقَتَلَهُ قَالَ أَقَتَلْتَ نَفْسًا زَكِيَّةً بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ لَّقَدْ جِئْتَ شَيْئًا نُّكْرًا۔ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكَ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا۔ قَالَ إِن سَأَلْتُكَ عَن شَيْءٍ بَعْدَهَا فَلاَ تُصَاحِبْنِي قَدْ بَلَغْتَ مِن لَّدُنِّي عُذْرًا۔ فَانطَلَقَا حَتَّى إِذَا أَتَيَا أَهْلَ قَرْيَةٍ اسْتَطْعَمَا أَهْلَهَا فَأَبَوْا أَن يُضَيِّفُوهُمَا فَوَجَدَا فِيهَا جِدَارًا يُرِيدُ أَنْ يَنقَضَّ فَأَقَامَهُ قَالَ لَوْ شِئْتَ لَاتَّخَذْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا۔ قَالَ هَذَا فِرَاقُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنِكَ سَأُنَبِّئُكَ بِتَأْوِيلِ مَا لَمْ تَسْتَطِع عَّلَيْهِ صَبْرًا
So both of them set out till, when they embarked on a boat, (Khidr) bored a hole in it. Musa (Moses) said: ‘Have you bored (a hole in) it to drown the people aboard? Surely, you have done something strange.’ (Khidr) said: ‘Did I not tell you that you would not be able to restrain yourself in my company?’ Musa (Moses) said: ‘Call me not to account for my omission, and put me not in any more difficulty in (this) affair of mine.’ Then both of them proceeded till they met a boy. (Khidr) killed him. Musa (Moses) said: ‘Have you killed a harmless soul without any (retribution due) for anyone killed? Indeed, you have done a horrible thing!’ (Khidr) said: ‘Did I not tell you that you would never be able to keep patience in my company?’ Musa (Moses) said: ‘If I ask you about anything after this, then do not keep me with you. Indeed, in my opinion, you have reached the limit to excuse.’ Then both set off, until they reached the people of a town; both asked its residents for food but they refused to entertain them. Then they found there a wall, which was about to fall. (Khidr) erected it. Musa (Moses) said: ‘If you desired, you could take wages for this (construction work).’ (Khidr) said: ‘This is the parting (time) between me and you. Now I shall impart to you the truth of the matters about which you have not been able to keep patience. (18: 71-82)
Sultan Bahoo (ra) says about this incident:
One thing that was sin according to Prophet Moses, the same act was good deed in the eyes of Khidr. (Ain ul Arifeen)
Therefore, it transpires that always remaining curious about the Murshid and maintaining firm belief in him is like a puzzle. There are people who remain deprived of spiritual beneficence even after spending a large part of their life in the company of a perfect spiritual guide. It is those people who see the actions of the spiritual guide through the lens of mere intellect. Sultan Bahoo says about this:
‘Intellect is worthless on this path (Faqr)’
The inward of a seeker is like that of a patient. If a severely ill person is not treated properly and on top of that if his sustenance is also stopped then he will not live very long. Similarly, if a disciple does not remain optimistic and curious about the spiritual guide and his trust in him dwindles then his inward is destined to darken. He is like a walking dead. A person who goes astray, does not realise that he is astray as Allah confiscates his sense of understanding and the ability to differentiate between good and bad. Imam Ghazali says:
Due to occupancy of worldly matters, people do not realise the demise of their inwards. But when they will die and the reality will unfold to them then will realise and regret. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘People are asleep, they will awake when they will die’. (Al Murshid Ul Amin)
Whilst referring to the incident of Prophet Moses and Khidr, Sultan Bahoo (ra) says:
موسیٰؑ ہم چون موئی بیند گناہ
خضرؑ باطنی احوال بودند حق نگاہ
Explanation: Moses was seeing the outward aspect of Khidr’s actions, hence raised objections. Whereas Khidr knew the hidden reality behind those actions – through the inspired knowledge. (Ameer-ul-Kaunain)
The Consequence of Not Having Optimism and Trust in Spiritual Guide
The disciples who do not have the insight to understand the actions of the spiritual guide and do not remain optimistic and curious, sooner or later their spiritual journey comes to an end. Daata Ganj Bakhsh (Ali Hujweri) says:
‘One of the disciples of Junaid of Baghdad thought that he had gained Divine gnosis. This thought became the reason for his detachment from the Murshid. He started thinking that he had reached such level where he did not need his Murshid. As a result he left his Murshid. One day he thought, he should test (spiritual knowledge and power of) his Murshid whether he is aware of his intentions. He came to Junaid of Baghdad and asked a question. Upon this, Junaid of Baghdad replied: ‘What kind of answer do you want? An outward answer to your question or shall I tell you the practical meaning? He said, both.
Then Junaid of Baghdad said:
‘The literary answer is that had you peaked inside you (tried to learn your spiritual level) you would not have needed to test my spiritual power and rank. And the practical answer to your question is that I have now deposed you from the rank of Sainthood.’ Immediately, his face turned dark and he fell on the feet of Junaid of Baghdad. (Kashf al-Mahjoob)
This incident tells us if the disciple does not have optimism and trust in his spiritual guide, sooner or later his spiritual journey comes to an end. Sultan ul Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib ur Rehman says:
- If a disciple continues to raise objection on the sayings and actions of the spiritual guide, then he eventually distances the disciple from him.
Sultan ul Arifeen Sultan Bahoo says:
“Vicious thinking about perfect Fakirs ruins one’s faith.”
(Once) the disciple of Junaid of Baghdad asked a question and then objected on the answer. Upon this Junaid of Baghdad said: ‘If you do not believe me then leave my company.’
Sultan Bahoo says:
A dog is better than a disciple who is not respectful. (Fazl al-Liqa)
A loyal and loving dog is better than a disrespectful disciple. (Aql e Bedar)
One aspect of the incident of Prophet Moses and Khidr is that the objections of Moses deprived him of gaining knowledge from Khidr. The other aspect is that the objections became the reason of separation between the two. Therefore, it transpires that if the disciple keeps raising objections on the actions of the Murshid then they cannot remain together.
Maulana Rumi says:
‘Do not raise objections on the actions of Khidr (perfect spiritual guide) lest he may distance you from himself.’
A perfect spiritual guide provides many opportunities to disciples who do not believe in him and tries to make them understand. If they understand these gestures and signs and start following the Murshid wholeheartedly then he blesses them. If they do not understand despite all these efforts then he confiscates their inward light.
The Reward of Optimism and Trust in Spiritual Guide
It is said there was a boatman named Dahman. Once he went to the city for something. Whilst there, he listened to a lecture in a mosque about the glory of Allah Almighty that really attracted him. After returning, one day he went fishing. On the way, he saw a camel who was eating tree leaves. The boatman had not seen a camel before in his life. He came home and said to his wife, I saw my Lord today. It was eating tree leaves due to being hungry. He asked her to prepare a special meal with fish so that they could offer it to their ‘Lord’. He got the meal ready and briskly ran towards where he had seen the camel. When he got near the camel and tried to feed him, the camel ran away. The boatman followed and tried his best but with no joy. After being exhausted and disheartened he said to himself, not sure why my lord is not accepting my offering. Whilst walking back he slipped somewhere and fell on his head which turned out to be fatal fall and his inward enlightened and everything revealed upon him and had eternal Union with Allah.
There was a very powerful king. He desired to recognise Allah Almighty and he wished if he knew a man of Allah (Saint or perfect Fakir) he would ask him for guidance. He also firmly believed that the Saints are to be found in jungles and deserted places rather than residential places.
One day, he rode his horse and set off in search of a Saint and reached a deep jungle. There, he saw a man who was meditating. The king thought that must be a Saint when in reality he was a famous thief who had stolen things and was passing through the jungle. When he saw the king, he thought probably he was the owner of the looted stuff who was following him. Therefore, he put the looted things to a side and pretended to be meditating.
But when the king slowed down his horse and started coming closer to him, the thief realised he was not the owner of the looted stuff. If he was, he would have attacked the thief to reclaim his belongings. The king stopped nearby and pegged his horse. He then came closer to the thief and sat down in front of him very respectfully. He requested the thief to guide him towards Allah. The thief asked him to remove his armour. The king obliged. The thief then drew a circle around the king and asked him not to break it until his return. He said he would return in three days and then will teach him the lesson of Divine path. The king sat there as instructed. The thief took the horse and armour of the king and left that place. The king continued sitting there for three days with perseverance. When three days passed, Allah ordered Khidr to go and meet the king and inculcate him to the Divine path.
Khidr obliged. He came to the king and told him Allah had sent him for his guidance. The king looked at him and said, you are not my spiritual guide. My spiritual guide will be back soon and will inculcate me himself. Upon hearing this Khidr told him that, that person was a thief and not a spiritual guide. He had conned you and took your costume and armour. I am Khidr, seeing your sincere desire, Allah ordered me to come to you and guide you. However, the king remained insistent that Khidr was not his spiritual guide. He said to Khidr, even if my guide is a thief but he must have such exalted status in the court of Allah that because of him Allah has sent you to guide me. Therefore, I am content on being with him and do not need your guidance. Upon this Khidr turned to Allah and said, the king is not willing to accept anyone else as spiritual guide. Then Allah Almighty said to Khidr, that thief is at a certain palace and trying to steal from the palace. Go and turn him into a Saint and make him a perfect spiritual guide. He will then come and inculcate the king himself.
Khidr did as Allah had ordered him. He went to the thief and turned him into a fully accomplished Saint who then came to the king and guided him on Divine path. And thus eventually the king attained Divine union.
In the aforementioned two examples, the boatman reached Allah through a camel and the king attained Divine union through a thief because of them remaining optimistic and having trust in their spiritual guide. This is a lesson for seekers of Allah, if they do the same then reaching the destination is not difficult.
How to remain Optimistic and Have Trust in Spiritual Guide
Ghawth al-Azam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) says:
- It is incumbent upon a disciple to not go against his Murshid outwardly and to not object inwardly.
It is actually the intellect that raises objections. Therefore Allama Iqbal says:
گزر جا عقل سے آگے کہ یہ نور
چراغِ راہ ہے منزل نہیں
Explanation: Intellect is a light that can guide to the destination but is not the destination. However, on the path of Faqr, it is the ardent Divine love that takes the seeker to Divine Essence. At times the seeker must leave the intellect aside and follow the insight of the inward.
It is said, once a man came to a Saint and asked to become his disciple. The Saint accepted him in his circle of devotees and gave him a digging hoe that had a piece of iron on one end of it. This was actually a trial for the disciple. If he was not a sincere disciple, he would have raised objection of the purpose of that apparently useless piece of iron. The disciple continued to serve his Murshid for seven years but never raised a question about why his Murshid had given him a spade with a piece of metal attached to it.
Whatever the Murshid grants or orders to do, there is always a reason behind that which the disciple may or may not realise, therefore the disciple must never raise any objections.
Syed Abdul Aziz Dabbagh says:
The only expectation a perfect spiritual guide has of the disciple is that he (she) always remains steadfast and maintains firm belief that his (her) spiritual guide is fully accomplished Saint.
Syed Ahmed Mubarak al-Maliki says:
Only that disciple is capable of absorbing Divine secrets who only trusts his spiritual guide.
دعا منگیا کرو سنگیو
کدی مرشد نہ رس جاوے
جنہاں دے پیر رُس جاندے
او جیوندے جی مرے رہندے
Explanation: O dear, pray that no one’s spiritual guide may become indignant of them. This is because whose spiritual guide is displeased of them, their inward darkens.
Imam Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha’rani says:
If someone’s spiritual guide is displeased of them and if they are not even aware of the cause, they should still do their best to make the spiritual guide happy.
Shaikh Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi says:
The disciple must always refrain from raising objections upon the sayings and actions of the Murshid as this can ruin their inward journey. He should always remind himself of the incident of Prophet Moses and Khidr when he does not understand the rationale for some actions of his Murshid. Khidr did some of the things that Moses strictly objected. But when Khidr explained the hidden facts that proved that all his actions were valid and correct but Moses did not know. Similarly, a disciple must have complete faith in his spiritual guide and remain with optimism and have trust in spiritual guide. (Awarif ul Ma’arif)
If a disciple feels that his trust in spiritual guide is dwindling, he should remind himself of the spiritual blessings and benevolence of his spiritual guide upon him. He should compare his present inward state to his state prior to becoming a disciple. He should remember the times when the spiritual guide helped him in troubles (spiritually). The wrath of Murshid is also wrapped in mercy. The intellect misguided countless sage, therefore, a seeker of Divine path must pay heed to his inward insight rather than intellect. So, in summary, optimism and trust in spiritual guide must never diminish. Instead it is such a treasure, the more it is the better.
It is narrated in Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan:
When a disciple finds a perfect spiritual guide, he (she) should ask for permission to remain in his company with utmost respect. He should forget about his own status and rank, like Prophet Moses. He went to Khidr like a student and did not bring his ego in matters that he was a Prophet and had lots of followers. Similarly, the disciple must surrender completely to the Murshid and accept every action and saying of his Murshid wholeheartedly.
May Allah grant us the courage to remain optimistic and have complete trust in our spiritual guide Sultan ul Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najin ur Rehman. Indeed, having trust in him is a source of guidance and leads to success on the path of Faqr.
- Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan
- Ain ul Arifeen
- Ameer ul Kainain
- Fazl ul Liqa
- Aql e Bedar
- Murshid ul Ameen
- Kashf ul Mahjoob
- Awarif ul Maarif
- Quliat e Iqbal
This is an English translation of Urdu Blog .مرشد سے حسنِ ظن that appeared in April 2022 issue of the monthly Sultan ul Faqr Magazine. Sultan Mohammad Abdullah Iqbal Sarwari Qadri authored the original article. Waheed Hassan Sarwari Qadri has translated it in English.
A perfect Spiritual Guide of Sarwari Qadri order is annihilated in Divine Essence and becomes immortal with Allah. Whatever he says or does is through Divine cognition. The seeker may or may not understand but he (she) must remain curious all the times. If doubts begin to rise in their minds, they should recall the incident of Prophet Moses and Khidr which is narrated in Quran. When Prophet Moses went to Khidr to learn the inspired knowledge, he raised objections on his actions which led to their separation and hence Moses having to return part way his journey.
When Khidr explained the reasoning behind all his actions, it proved that he was correct and all his actions were justified but Moses only saw the outward aspect and hence raised objections. Similarly, a disciple must always remain curious about the Murshid and must never let any doubts sprout in his mind nor should raise any objections on any of the sayings or actions of the Murshid. Otherwise his spiritual journey will end unsuccessful.