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."

Hadhrat Hakeem ul Ummat rahmatullahi alayh therefore says:

"What! Has anyone attained perfection by only books? It is simple to understand that one cannot become a carpenter without sitting in the company of a carpenter,- one cannot become a tailor without the companionship of a tailor,- one cannot become a calligraphist without the company of a calligrapher. In short, one cannot attain perfection or become an expert without the companionship of an expert."

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).


The following letter and reply given by Hadhrat Hakeemul Ummat Rahmatullahi Alayhi demonstrates the need for a Shaikh.

The letter:

"I am presently in Daurah-e-Hadith (the final year in the Aalim Faadhil course). For quite a while I had intended to write, but a certain aspect prevented me from doing so. I am a voracious reader and lover of your writings and have been engaged in reading your books since my childhood days. By the grace of Allah I have benefited much.

I have learnt one particular thing from your writings, viz. the commands of the Shariat are all voluntary (Ikhtiyaariyyah). Since the commands are Ikhtiyaariyyah (volitional) it follows that the commands to abstain are likewise volitional. Thus the remedy for all spiritual ailments is to refrain (volitionally). I have always adopted this method for myself. The question now is this: Now that this principle has been learnt from the Mashaa’ikh of Tareeqat does the need still remain to refer to the Mashaa’ikh and obtain remedies from them? I do not understand this.

I have ruminated for quite a while regarding this matter. I trust that you will advise me so that I may practice accordingly. After realizing this general principle, what is the need for obtaining the diagnosis and prescription of a Shaikh? I hope that if I have erred, I will be informed.''

The reply:

"The commands and the prohibitions are all volitional. However, errors do happen in this regard. At times what has already been acquired (Haasil) is considered as not having been attained yet (Ghair-e-Haasil), and sometimes vice versa. For example, a person intend to attain khushu'(concentration based on humility) in Salaat, and in reality he then attains khushu'. But, while having attained ‘khushu’ he is simultaneously afflicted by an abundance of stray thoughts (wasaawis). This person then regards the accident of such wasaawis as contradictory and nugatory of khushu'. He thus considers that he has not attained khushu'. In the initial stages of Ibaadat, wasaawis are non-volitional (Ghair-Ikhtiyaari) - coming of their own accord - however, later the musallee is diverted towards volitional (Ikhtiyaari) wasaawis and he is deceived into believing that such wasaawis are yet the of the non volitional kind of the initial stages. He thus considers himself to have khushu' while in actual fact khushu' has been eliminated.

At times he considers what is not firm (Ghair raasikh) to be firm (raasikh). For example, in a few light mishaps he considers himself to have attained the state of radha bil qadha (satisfied with what has been divinely decreed). His contentment in the face of some slight misfortunes leads him to believe that he has attained advanced capability in firmness and steadfastness. But, if some great calamity overtakes him and he fails to be contented then too he labours under the deception that he has attained the desired degree and goal of rusookh (firmness).

The consequence of regarding the attained (Haasil) as unattained (Ghair Haasil) is frustration and depression which in turn induce one to become careless and neglectful. Thus, the attained becomes truly eliminated. The harm of the opposite condition (i.e. considering the unattained as attained-Ghair-Haasil as Haasil) is deprivation. Since one labours under the false notion that one has already achieved the goal, one does not make any effort in this direction.

The same danger lurks in considering Ghair-raasikh (infirmity) as raasikh (firm), viz., one remains careless, not making any effort or arrangement to attain the desired goal of firmness and steadfastness. Sometimes one commits the error of believing that the state of rusookh has not been attained despite it having been attained. For example, one combated unlawful lust during a time when the effect of ones zikr was dominant. As a result, the condition of unlawful lust remained suppressed so much so that one's attention was totally diverted from it. Later when the effect of the zikr decreases and the natural propensities assert themselves even if in slight degree one is misled to believe that one's mujaahidah (striving against the nafs) hat gone wasted, hence the return of the evil propensities. The consequence of this feeling is that one loses hope and is overtaken by stagnation and retrogression.

The above are merely some examples of errors and the resultant harm. A qualified Shaikh (of Tareeqat) by virtue of his insight and experience discerns the reality and if one is connected to such a Shaikh, he informs one of the errors and pitfalls. The mureed is thus saved from these dangers. Assuming that the Saalik (one who trods the Path of Tasawwuf) because of intelligence and correct understanding discerns the pitfalls, then too, he will not attain tranquillity and peace of mind because of inexperience. He will remain perplexed. And, perplexity impedes the attainment of the goal.

This is the duty of the Shaikh's office. More than this is not his responsibility. Nevertheless, in kindness he performs another function as well. In realizing the goal or the initial stage of the goal or in eliminating an evil attribute, the searcher of the truth undergoes great stress and difficulty although repeated subjection to such difficulty finally becomes transformed into ease. But, the Shaikh sometimes as a favour devises such a scheme that the difficulty disappears from the very inception.

This is a brief exposition for understanding. The need for a Shaikh is felt and understood once one commences in the Path and systematically inform the Shaikh of one's particular conditions and at the same time following his advice and instructions. Furthermore, such total obedience is possible only if one has full trust and confidence in the Shaikh, fully submitting to him. At that time one will actually feel and realize that it is not possible to attain the goal normally without a Shaikh."

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