Question and Answer Session with Shaykh Zulfiqar
Ahmad (damat barakatuhum)
Question 1: Some people have said that they feel a degree of apprehension in the heart when they sit down for muraqaba. Can you shed some light upon this?
Answer: Actually this is not apprehension but a natural uneasiness that comes with starting anything new, but this goes away with time and experience. For example, a new driver is extremely scared, a fear compounded by the pressure of having an instructor next to him. The new driver fears every car that races past or toward him from the opposite direction, and clutches the steering wheel for dear life as if the car is going to run away. Moreover, he tells everyone in the car to be quiet so he can concentrate on his driving, and he gets mentally and physically exhausted after a mere half an hour of driving. This same person can tolerate more time behind the wheel the more he drives and actually begins to enjoy taking long drives.
In exactly the same way, a person feels the same kind of uneasiness and tension when he first begins muraqaba. However, with time and repeated sittings of muraqaba, this tension turns into joy and the heart looks forward to drowning in the remembrance (dhikr) of Allah .
In the heart lies the image of the Beloved
Look inside whenever you wish
Question 2: What exactly is Wuquf-e-Qalbi and should one’s heart resound with the Name of Allah or not?
Answer: No, one’s heart does not have to repeat the Name of Allah but one should be conscious toward Allah and His Omniscience. For example, two brothers leave the house in the morning; Brother A to his office and Brother B for an important court date in which he is the defendant. Despite carrying on with his work load at the office, Brother A will be preoccupied with thoughts of his brother and the process and outcome of the court case. He checks his mail in the morning, interacts with whoever he needs to in the office, but his thoughts are elsewhere. When the two brothers meet at the end of the day, Brother A says that Brother B was in his heart and mind all day.
In exactly the same way, the believer takes care of his worldly duties throughout the day but his heart and mind remain connected with Allah . The lover thinks of his beloved not just one time during the day, but hundreds of times during the day. In the same way, the believer will be preoccupied with thoughts of Allah if love for Allah enters the heart. Focusing the heart and mind upon Allah throughout the day is called Wuquf-e-Qalbi.
Question 3: How do we rid ourselves of spiritual diseases like anger, stubbornness and hatred, which only fuel quarrels and distance our hearts?
Answer: Anger, jealousy, hatred, backbiting and such are all spiritual diseases for which the dhikr of Allah is a river that cleanses all. The Messenger of Allah told us that dhikr is a sure cure for the heart. The underlying principle and purpose of muraqaba is that, with frequent application, the love of Allah should become entrenched in our hearts and cure us of all these spiritual diseases. Our elders used to say that evil thoughts are chased away by dhikr. If you are steadfast in your muraqaba, then Allah will make the way obvious for you.
Question 4: Do we have to perceive an image or other sort of picture when we sit in muraqaba?
Answer: Absolutely no image, picture, or place should be brought to mind. One should only perceive that the mercy of Allah is entering the heart and being absorbed, and the heart is calling out Allah! Allah! Allah! One should do no other activity except listen to this call just like one listens to an audio cassette.
Question 5: Some ladies have presented concerns that their husbands wish to see them in American dress and want them to come out in public and interact with their friends otherwise the husbands feel ‘insulted.’ Young Muslims say that they feel distanced from Allah and hence confused about their direction. They want to learn their religion and put all their efforts here whereas their parents want them to pursue secular careers and become doctors etc. What is their responsibility to their parents in this regard and where does the line of obedience and disobedience lie in this context? Can you elaborate on all this?
Answer: The purpose of life is servitude to Allah , and whatever a person does in life goes toward or should go toward fulfilling that purpose. There is a difference between necessity and purpose. Whatever we might do in this life we do to fulfill necessities: we study and gain knowledge so that we may function in life and be in a better position to guide our children towards fruitful and successful lives. However, serving and pleasing Allah is our purpose, and it is forbidden and truly sad to sacrifice the purpose for necessity. So a person may spend his life however he wants just as long as he keeps this purpose clear in his head, and does every action in a way that is pleasing to Allah . If actions are pleasing to Allah , then He will grant us success both in this life and in the Hereafter. Allah will become ours if we give ourselves to Him, which means that we have to submit to His Will in everything that we do. Please Allah and you will see that He will put love and honor in people’s hearts for you.
A Companion asked Hadrat Aisha for advice. She said that if we please creation and in that process displease Allah , then Allah will put rebellion in the heart of creation toward you, such that the same creation we are trying to please starts hating us. She continued and said that if we displease creation but in that process please Allah , then Allah will put love in the hearts of creation so that those who may have opposed us in the past will love us and become our allies. Allah looks after the one who gives himself to Allah .
Question 6: Some people have said that they feel helpless in maintaining connection with the shaykh (Rabta-e-Shaykh) to let him know how they are doing and getting feedback on their situations.
Answer: Whoever wishes to remain connected and in touch should first of all be regular in listening in on these lectures that you have started, and people should also try to stay in touch via phone. No one is excluded from supplications, and insha’Allah, Allah will make things easy. Allah never excludes anyone due to physical distance; physical distance has no meaning in the spiritual realm. Physical distance has no meaning for something like electricity, such that a light bulb in the east can be lit if a switch is flipped in the west. If physical distance has no meaning for electricity, what possible detriment could physical distance hold for the spiritual? No matter how far a person is, if he maintains his relationship of love and fulfills what he has been told to do, then he will indeed benefit even though he may be physically distant. Whereas physical distance does not make a difference, there should not be any spiritual distance.
Question 7: What are the established branches (silsalas) of self-purification in Tasawwuf?
Answer: There are four major, established silsalas that the scholars and mashaikh agree on: Qadriyya; Chistiyya; Naqshabandiyya, and Suhrwardiyya.
Question 8: How do we balance Deen and Dunya? In dunya we have our work, our wives and children. How do we strike a balance?
Answer: Our Deen does not tell us to shun society and live in caves. On the contrary, our deen tells us that we have to be models in society; we have to be good to our spouses and to our children and we have to build relationships of love. In fact our deen thrives on relationships of sanctified love. The balance is this: a person must weigh every action against the shariah and sunnah. The action is allowed if sanctioned by shariah and sunnah, but should be shunned if not. If a person weighs every action this way then there will be peace both in this life and in the Hereafter.
Hadith says that Allah grants honor and success to whoever honors His commandments, and contrarily dishonors and ruins one who does not. There is no joy, but only sadness and worry in the life of one who rebels against Allah .
Neither with luxury, wealth, nor home,
Hearts find tranquility in naught but the remembrance of Allah.
Allah helps those who submit to Him. Hadith Qudsi says that there is the Will of Allah , and then there is our will. If we wish our will be done, then Allah will not only exhaust us in the earth but also never allow our will to be fulfilled. However, if we will that Allah’s Will be done, then Allah will not only grant us success in life but also make sure that our wishes are fulfilled.