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Purifi­ca­tion of Mind (Jala’ al-​Khawatir)

Purifi­ca­tion of Minds (Jala’ al-​Khawatir)

45 Dis­courses by Shaikh ‘Abd al-​Qadir al-​Jilani. Trans­lated into Eng­lish from one of the few remain­ing copies that exist of this rare doc­u­ment, The Removal of Cares is a fur­ther col­lec­tion of longer dis­courses on spir­i­tual progress along the path [tariqa] by the great Shaikh. This col­lec­tion could be con­sid­ered an exten­sion of The Sub­lime Rev­e­la­tion, hav­ing been recorded in the year 546 AH, although the dates of the dis­courses in Removal of Cares over­lap some­what those of that col­lec­tion. Once again the reader will mar­vel at the exten­sive wis­dom of Shaikh ‘Abd al-​Qadir and expe­ri­ence the trans­for­ma­tive effect of the blessed grace that accom­pa­nied his spo­ken word. First trans­la­tion of this work into Eng­lish by Muhtar Holland.


The Thir­teenth Dis­course

When some­one has achieved gen­uine detach­ment [zuhd] from crea­tures, it is cor­rect for them to feel attracted to him. They can derive ben­e­fit from hear­ing what he has to say and from pay­ing atten­tion to him. When the heart has achieved gen­uine detach­ment from crea­tures, and the inner­most being [sirr] has become detached from every­thing apart from Allah (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He), or at least from every­thing apart from near­ness [to Him], that near­ness will be his bosom friend [khalil] in this world and his inti­mate com­pan­ion [anis] in the here­after.

When you know crea­tures through knowl­edge [’ilm] of Allah (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He) and expe­ri­ence them through expe­ri­ence [ma’rifa] of Him, their attrib­utes will dis­ap­pear from you. Jinn and human beings and angels will van­ish from you. Your heart will assume a dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter, as will your inner­most being [sirr]. The shell of your exis­tence [wujud] will be removed from you, the shell of the usual cus­tom [’ada] of the chil­dren of Adam (peace be upon him). The law [hukm] will come and form a gown for you to wear, so you will go about the earth clothed, com­mand­ing your­self and all fel­low crea­tures of your Lord (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He) to obey His com­mand­ment. Knowl­edge Lordly and Divine [al-‘ilm ar-​rabbani al-​ilahi] will come and form a gar­ment over your heart and your inner­most being [sirr].

You must not retire to your hermit’s cell with igno­rance for com­pany, because to iso­late your­self from your fel­low crea­tures in a state of igno­rance is a great and total per­ver­sion. This is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:

Com­plete your stud­ies [tafaqqah], then you may retire.

It is not appro­pri­ate for you to with­draw into the hermit’s cell, as long as there is any­one upon the face of the earth whom you fear and on whom you pin your hopes. There should be no one left as far as you are con­cerned, apart from One who is feared and One who is looked to in hope, namely Allah (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He).

Wor­ship­ful ser­vice [’ibada] means giv­ing up habit­ual behav­ior [’ada]. There can be no habit­ual con­duct until you come to be in the sit­u­a­tion of wor­ship­ful ser­vice. You must do away with attach­ment to this world and the here­after, and become attached to the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He). Do not try to pass coun­ter­feit coins, for the assayer has a sharp eye. He will accept noth­ing from you with­out apply­ing the touch­stone [mihakk]. Take that coun­ter­feit stuff you carry around with you and toss it away. Do not regard it as hav­ing any value. Noth­ing will be accepted from you [as pre­cious metal] unless it has been exposed to the goldsmith’s bel­lows and puri­fied of dross, so do not imag­ine this to be an easy busi­ness. Most of you would claim to be sin­cere, but are actu­ally hyp­ocrites. Were it not for the exam­i­na­tion [imti­han], the claims would be more numer­ous still. If some­one lays claim to tol­er­ance [hilm], we put him to the test by pro­vok­ing him to anger. If some­one lays claim to gen­eros­ity [karam], we put him to the test by mak­ing demands of him. What­ever a per­son lays claim to, we test him with its oppo­site.

Woe unto you! You want to get some­thing for noth­ing, but it will not fall into your hands. You must pay the price and then take it. He who appre­ci­ates the value is the one who gets the full enjoy­ment. You must put up with the care and sor­row of this world, so that you may even­tu­ally expe­ri­ence the joy of the here­after. Our Prophet Muham­mad (Allah bless him and give him peace) had to go through long peri­ods of sad­ness, and he was always given to reflec­tion. He was also ded­i­cated to fre­quent wor­ship [’ibada], even though he had already been granted for­give­ness for his sins, both those in the past and those that were yet to come. He would often pause to reflect (may Allah bless him and give him peace) on what might lie in store for his com­mu­nity [umma] after he had gone.

When­ever al-​Hasan al-​Basri (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) went out of his house, the signs of sad­ness used to emanate from his heart, and sor­row and grief would leave their mark upon his face. Sad­ness is the nor­mal con­di­tion of the believer [mu’min] under all cir­cum­stances, until he meets his Lord (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He).

The peo­ple [of the Lord] remain in a state of dumb mute­ness until they receive per­mis­sion to speak to their fel­low crea­tures, wait­ing until He brings them together with the right­eous [sal­i­hun]. Then, when they are ready to speak to them and guide them to their desired goal, their speech becomes totally artic­u­late. If their hearts incline toward crea­tures, along comes the hand of [divine] jeal­ousy [ghaira] to check them and pull in their reins. It locks the door to keep them shut out until they apol­o­gize and repent. Then, once their repen­tance has been con­firmed, it reopens the door for them and their hearts are drawn close [to the Lord].

O you who are dead at heart, what is the point of your sit­ting here in my pres­ence? O slaves of this world and its poten­tates, O slaves of the rich, O slaves of extrav­a­gance and indul­gences [rukhas], woe unto you! Even if the price of a grain of wheat should rise as high as one dinar [gold coin], it would not bother me in the least.

The true believer [mu’min] is not con­cerned about his sus­te­nance, because of the strength of his faith [iman] and his trust­ing reliance [ittikal] on his Lord (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He). Do not count your­self among the true believ­ers. Put your­self in a sep­a­rate cat­e­gory from them!

Glory be to Him who has made me stay here in your midst! When­ever I try to spread my wings and fly, along comes the hand of Power [Qudra] to clip them. When­ever the wing of knowl­edge [’ilm] spreads itself and tries to fly, it gets clipped by the scis­sors of the Law [Hukm].

Pay atten­tion to what I have to say, and accept my good advice. You must fol­low the indi­ca­tions of the affir­ma­tion of Divine Unity [tawhid] and pay close atten­tion to the words of the cham­pi­ons of truth [sid­diqun] and the saints [awliya’]. Their speech is like inspi­ra­tion [wahy] from Allah (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He). They speak on His behalf and at His com­mand, beyond the com­pe­tence of the com­mon herd [’awamm tagham]. You are crazy. You com­pose your speech from the books and then deliver it. If you lost your writ­ten notes, what would you do? What if your books caught fire? Or if the lamp you see to read by went out, if your jar broke and the ink got spilled, where would you find your flint, your tin­der­box, your matches and your assis­tant?

When some­one acquires knowl­edge, puts it into prac­tice and does so sin­cerely, his flint and his assis­tant come to be within his heart, a light from the light of Allah (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He). He can then pro­vide illu­mi­na­tion for him­self and for oth­ers.

Away with you, O sons of bab­ble, O sons of pages com­posed by the hands of the lower selves [nufus] and the pas­sions [ahwiya] ! Woe unto you, you are quar­rel­ing with the lucky one [mahzuz]. You will be crushed and destroyed and will fail to achieve your own good for­tune. How can the pre­or­dain­ment [sabiqa] and fore­knowl­edge [’ilm] be altered by your effort? You must be believ­ers who sur­ren­der them­selves [mu’minun mus­limun]. Surely you have heard His words (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He):

Those who believed in Our signs and had sur­ren­dered them­selves. (43:69)

The real­ity [haqiqa] of Islam is sub­mis­sive obe­di­ence [istis­lam]. The peo­ple [of the Lord] have thrown them­selves pros­trate before the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He). They have for­got­ten ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ and ‘do’ and ‘don’t.’ They per­form works of obe­di­ent ser­vice [ta’at] of all kinds, and their atti­tude is one of fear­ful­ness. This is why the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He) has described them approv­ingly in these words of His:

They give that which they give with hearts afraid, because they are about to return unto their Lord. (23:60)

[In other words:] “They carry out the com­mand­ments of Allah (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He) and observe His pro­hi­bi­tions. They endure with patience the tests I set them and they are grate­ful for the gifts I give them. They sur­ren­der [yusal­limuna] their own selves, their goods, their chil­dren and their rep­u­ta­tions into the hand of My pre­or­dain­ment, while their hearts are tim­o­rous, afraid of Me.”

O you who are so deluded by afflu­ence and the peace and com­fort it affords, the time is already near at hand when your peace and com­fort will turn into worry and con­fu­sion, your afflu­ence into poverty, and your ease into hard­ship. You must not be deluded by your present state of affairs. You must make it your reg­u­lar prac­tice to attend the ses­sions of divine remem­brance [majalis adh-​dhikr]. You should always think well of the Shaikhs, in prac­ti­cal mat­ters as well as in the sphere of knowl­edge [’ilm]. You must lis­ten to them care­fully and pay atten­tion to what they have to say. If the seeker [murid] has the cor­rect atti­tude toward com­pan­ion­ship [subha] with the Shaikh, it will feed him through the mouth of his heart, nour­ish­ing him with the food and drink of the kind of knowl­edge that is only acquired by direct expe­ri­ence [ma’rifa].

O you back­slid­ers! You must make your hearts empty of crea­tures. You have seen fit to indulge in van­ity. Tomor­row [at the Res­ur­rec­tion] the peo­ple of the Gar­den of Par­adise will be told: “Enter the Gar­den!” Even today, if the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He) exam­ines the hearts of His spe­cial few [khawass] among His ser­vants, He will see that they are empty of this world, of the Gar­den of Par­adise, and of every­thing else apart from Him. He will say to them: “You must enter the Gar­den, that is, the Gar­den of My near­ness, both imme­di­ately [’aji­lan] and later on [aji­lan].”

Woe unto you! You must not agree with your lower selves [nufus] when they get into argu­ments with your Lord (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He). Your ene­mies are your own lower selves, as He has made clear to you. When­ever you sat­isfy their appetites, grat­ify them, and let them grow fat, they even­tu­ally devour you. They turn into sav­age beasts of prey. You must deny them access to their plea­sures and desires. Give them no more than their proper due, mean­ing the bare min­i­mum which they can­not do with­out, such as a crumb to stave off hunger and a rag to cover the pri­vate parts [’awra]. Even this should only be given on the con­di­tion of obe­di­ence to Allah (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He). You must say to your lower self: “I shall not give you your proper due [haqq] until you obey Allah (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He), by keep­ing the fast, per­form­ing the rit­ual prayers, and car­ry­ing out all the other acts of wor­ship­ful obe­di­ence [ta’at] that Allah has com­manded you to per­form.” You must sub­ject it to watch­ful super­vi­sion. Then, if you keep this up, the evil part of it will die, and only its good part will sur­vive. Feed it on law­ful food [halal], for then it will lose its vital spark. You should never feel that you can trust it, how­ever, because hypocrisy [nifaq] is its nor­mal habit and its favorite pas­time. It will per­form the prayers, keep the fast, and put up with all kinds of hard­ship, until it hears its praises on the lips of fel­low crea­tures, and men­tion of it made in places where peo­ple con­gre­gate.

[As the say­ing goes:] “He who has not seen a suc­cess­ful per­son [muflih] will never suc­ceed.” When the heart of the believ­ing ser­vant has been puri­fied of the filth of osten­ta­tion [riya’] and hypocrisy [nifaq], two cycles of rit­ual prayer [rak’atan] per­formed by him are worth far more than a thou­sand cycles of prayer per­formed by some­one whose heart has not been puri­fied of those two vices. O hyp­ocrite [munafiq], all your hypocrisy stems from your lower self [nafs]. You must cut your lower self off from its means of sup­port, and turn to its Cre­ator, for then its evil ten­dency will come to a stop. The lower self requires edu­ca­tion and pro­fes­sional train­ing, so that it can learn to carry your bag­gage and become fit for use­ful work. As it is now, it can­not carry a big load. You must train it while it is small, for it is not yet capa­ble of car­ry­ing you or your bag­gage. There is noth­ing else for it. You must train it, improve it by degrees, and move it along from one stage of devel­op­ment to the next, until it is com­pletely tame, so that it is capa­ble of car­ry­ing your equip­ment and walk­ing beneath your weight through the waste­lands and the desert.

You are so enam­oured [’ashiq] of your own lower self that you are quite inca­pable of resist­ing its demands. It leads you wher­ever it wishes, day in and day out. Your death may come and snatch you away at any moment, but you have no qualms about putting things off till the mor­row [taswif]. You say: “Today I shall repent. Well, tomor­row I shall repent. I shall devote myself to obey­ing my Lord (Almighty and Glo­ri­ous is He). I shall prove that I am truly sorry for my sins. I shall do this and that and the other.” But while you are going on like this, in the throes of your delu­sion, along comes death to snatch you away. It will come upon you by sur­prise, so you can­not escape from it. All your debts, your sins and your acts of dis­obe­di­ence will be left in your debit col­umn. Woe unto you! You are busy amass­ing one gold coin [dinar] on top of another gold coin, and there seems to be no end to the process of amass­ing them. But all of this will turn into scor­pi­ons that will sting you and snakes that will bite you. Gold and sil­ver coins are noth­ing but a hoard of cares [ad-​dananir wa ‘d-​darahim dar hamm]. This world is full of dis­trac­tions [ashghal], and the here­after is full of ter­rors [ahwal], while the ser­vant [of Allah] is between the two, until it is decided where his final res­i­dence shall be-​in the Gar­den of Par­adise or in the Fire of Hell.

You must not con­sume any­thing with­out know­ing its source and its deriva­tion. The con­sump­tion of unlaw­ful food [haram] results in the dark­en­ing of the heart. As long as some­one is com­pletely lack­ing in patience, how can he eat only law­ful food [halal] ? No one is going to eat only law­ful food, unless he is capa­ble of per­se­ver­ing with patience in wag­ing war on the lower self [nafs], the pas­sions [hawa] and the Devil [Shai­tan]. The patient war­rior is the one who eats only law­ful food.

O Allah, sus­tain us with law­ful food, and keep us far removed from food that is unlaw­ful. Sus­tain us with the bless­ings of Your gra­cious favor, Your good­ness and Your near­ness. Sus­tain our hearts, our inner­most beings [asrar] and our phys­i­cal bod­ies with those same bless­ings. Ameen.

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