The Humble I

Knowing, Doing, Becoming

You Have Wings to Fly, So Don’t Crawl

Hand glidersIn January of this year, I had the opportunity (the good fortune) to accompany Shaykh Jaleel Ahmad Akhoon on one of his travels in the UK. My reasons for wanting to do so were simple: Shaykh Jaleel isn’t only a scholar of the outward shariah sciences, he is a profound spiritual guide too. Keeping company with those who can instruct you in shariah rules and more importantly, whose presence can help reform your inward state, is a crucial teaching of the Qur’an – and one which is too often forgotten or overlooked. O you who believe! Fear God, and be with the truthful ones [9:119], says Allah in the Qur’an.

What follows are just a few of the pearls the three of us who accompanied the Shaykh gleaned from our suhbah, or spiritual companionship with him. All our conversations were in Urdu; so for the most part I have sought to convey the overall meanings of his words, while at other times I have attempted a direct translation of them:

Having settled down in our car journey (and with his permission), I asked the Shaykh, may Allah protect him, how one can acquire presence of heart (hudur al-qalb) in one’s prayer and other acts of worship?

The Shaykh replied that there are two things that are powerful aids in bringing about presence of heart: (i) Constant remembrance (dhikr) of God. (ii) Vigilance (muraqabah) of God. Vigilance is to focus on God, particularly the afal al-rabb or “Divine Acts”, so as to see that all the good in this world emanates from God’s acts and His enabling grace (tawfiq); and all evil as being from His acts but our own acquisition (kasb).

The actual morning of the journey was a delightful surprise for Shaykh Jaleel. Coming as he does from Pakistan, the Shaykh had never seen, or experienced, snow before. So to see the entire street, the cars, trees and roof-tops covered in a thick fluffy blanket of snow did nothing short of bring a radiant smile to the Shaykh’s face. About an hour or so into the journey, as we were on the motorway, the Shaykh asked what the lorries in front of us were doing. We said that they were gritting the roads, so as to give the tyres better grip on the snowy road. He asked what they were using. Rock salt (grit), we told him. He then went on to say:

Allah has placed much blessings in salt. Here, he said, you use it to grit roads to make it safer to drive. In Pakistan, we use it to help gel ice-cream. Salt, he said, is also found in the sea. If Allah hadn’t put salt there, how could it be kept clean or purified – given the number of sea-creatures or corpses that die and decay in it on a daily basis. He sighed for a bit and then said: Our tears have salt in it, out of Allah’s love and compassion for those who weep. It helps keep eyes healthy when they shed tears. I think, at that point, we all sighed and exclaimed, subhana’Llah! A few minutes later, vigilance of the afal al-rabb, I felt, was beginning to deepen in me.

Along with his God-given gift of stirring in souls an acute love and yearning for Allah, Shaykh Jaleel also felt it important to speak about the inherent natures of truth (haqq) and falsehood (batil), and of faith (iman) and disbelief (kufr). As we were approaching the north of the country, he said:

Truth is like a needle, with ease it can puncture a hole in the fabric of kufr! He also said that we needn’t fret about the huge sums of money or resources being ploughed into propping-up the current global, materialistic monoculture; and neither be overly concerned about the lack of resources at the disposal of believers. Falsehood, he went on to say, is like a corpse; while truth is like a living person. It requires a lot of effort and power to prop-up a corpse; even more to make it move. But just a little effort – a nudge, even – is all that is needed to make a living person move! In other words, he said, do whatever little you can in terms of the truth, and it will be filled with much barakah.

In between a little casual chat, some resting, and the dhikr, reflection and long periods of silence, Shaykh Jaleel, may Allah protect him, also stressed the following:

The salik or “seeker”, in this day and age, tends to be negligent of three matters: Firstly, nurturing a strong connection (rabitah) with his shaykh, in much the same way a child is connected to its mother and her nourishment. Secondly, being constant in his dhikr of Allah. Thirdly, striving against sins.

There were many other gems to be gathered in the overall two day trip: not all of them were verbal. Many were simply a matter of keeping to adab and silence, and observing and learning. I hope to relay more of such benefits in a future posting, insha’Llah. May Allah shade and protect Shaykh Jaleel Ahmad Akhoon, and reward him with abundant goodness. Amin.

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28 thoughts on “You Have Wings to Fly, So Don’t Crawl

  1. rasheed on said:

    Understanding the afa’l of Allah the divine manfesations in our world is an important spiritual teaching. would you say that this can only be really taught by a spiritual guide. I see that this knowledge can have a deep profund impact on out daily lives which truely helps one have hudoor.

    • Not at all. Tafakkur, or “reflecting” over the divine acts can be done by anyone. One doesn’t need a guide or shaykh. But as neh points out below, a heart that is constantly present with Allah can best “see” the divine acts and thus best help others to see them too.

  2. Mohammad on said:

    Mashallah, look forward to read more about your suhbha with the shaykh Inshallah.

  3. Salam
    Jzk sheikh. Is there a bio of this profound sheikh Jaleel?

    • Barakallahu fikum. The Shaykh does have various published works (in Urdu) that detail his biography; including one written by himself about how his father was forced to leave China, after the Communists took it over, and settle in India so as to continue and complete his religious studies. A search on the net may reveal some more bio data.

      I hope, inshallah, to translate a few extracts from his writings in the near future.

  4. The importance of good companionship, suhba, should never be underestimated. As one of the students of Imam Malik, rahmatullah alaihi, said, “I served Imam Malik for 20 years, 2 of which I took knowledge from him while the remaining 18 years I learnt adab. How I wish that I spent all the years learning adab only.”

  5. Many of us do not find it easy to gain access to a scholar, let alone a man of wisdom such as Sheikh Jaleel, so thank you for illuminating us with these profound words of wisdom.

    I especially admired how the Sheikh was quick to point out the virtues of salt, which I personally would never have considered in such depth, if ever. Only a heart ever present with the Creator can constantly and immediately relate to His creation.

  6. Seemee Khan on said:

    Interesting facts about ‘salt’ and an example of what we take for granted like so many other blessings around us and their virtues and purpose in the Big Plan of the Order of the Universe.

    JazakAllah for sharing

  7. assalamualikum…..Alhemdolillah i read it about my hezret shaikh moulana jaleel ahmed akhoon shb damet barakatuhum….(May Allah protect him)realy hezret shaikh is v big islamic scholar n spiritual guider….

    • Wa alaykum as-salam Mufti. The Shaykh is indeed a learned scholar and an accomplished guide, mashallah. May Allah protect Shaykh Jaleel and continue benefitting the ummah with him.

  8. Ibrahim Malik on said:

    For Shaykh like Hazrat Jaleel Ahmad Akhoon a simple quote from Alama Iqba’s Kalam says it all !

    Koi Andaza Kar Sakta Hai Uss Ke Zor-E-Bazu Ka,
    Nigah-E-Mard-E-Momin Se Badal Jati Hain Taqdeerain…/

    English Translation
    Can anyone even guess at the strength of his arm?
    By the glance of the man who is a true believer even destiny is changed.

    Ibrahim Mali, Sydney, Australia: 26/01/2012

  9. Ibrahim Malik on said:

    A few more verses from Alama Iqbal’s Kalam for Shaykh like Hazrat Jaleel Ahmad Akhoon Sahib (RA)

    Jab Iss Angara’ay Khaki Mein Hota Hai Yaqeen Paida
    To Kar Leta Hai Ye Bal-O-Par-E-Rooh-ul-Ameen Paida

    When certainty is born in these embers of ashes,
    Then it gives birth to the wings of Gabriel.

    Ghulami Mein Na Kaam Ati Hain Shamsheerain Na Tadbeerain,
    Jo Ho Zauq-E-Yaqeen Paida To Kat Jati Hain Zanjeerain.

    In slavery, neither swords or plans are effective,
    But when the taste for certainty is created, then the chains are cut.

    • Subhanallah! The poetry you quoted from Iqbal says it all mashallah. What more can be said after that. We ask Allah that He grant us all dhaka ta’m al-iman – to “taste the sweetness of faith”.

      Jazakallahu khayran.

  10. rasheed on said:

    sheikh what does this mean?

    When Allah wants good for someone, He takes the vision of his good deeds out of his heart & mention of them out of his tongue— Ibn Al-Qayyim

    • Although I haven’t come across this particular statement, it does resemble words that a number of the early pietists from the salaf made about ikhlas or sincerity. Which is to say that when a person reaches the level of faith of worshiping God as if seeing Him, such a person becomes absent to himself, to his deeds and to any praise people might give him.

      At this level, the worshiper is immersed in witnessing that all comes from Allah and that the real doer is Him alone. Thus “the vision of his good deeds” is not in his heart, since he witnesses that the actual doer is Allah. Likewise, how will he even mention his good deeds when his witnessing of Allah obliterates all the ego’s pretensions and fills the heart with realising that all it’s good is from God and by God and not of the person’s own doing.

      And Allah knows best.

  11. Akhtar on said:

    May Allah SWT give us taufeeq to get benefited from the companionship of His pious people.

    I can remember Saadi Sherazi’s couplet.
    گلی خوش‌بوی در حمام روزی رسید از دست محبوبی به دستم
    بدو گفتم که مشکی یا عبیری؟ که از بوی دلاویز تو مستم
    بگفتا، من گِلی ناچیز بودم ولیکن مدتی با گُل نشستم
    کمال هم‌نشین درمن اثر کرد وگرنه، من همان خاکم که هستم

    • Amin to your du’a. Unfortunately, most of us will not be able to appreciate the poetry since it looks to be in Farsi (minus a translation).

      • Akhtar on said:

        It can best be enjoyed in Farsi. The couplets mention the blessings of pious companionship. Particularly the last stanza where the sand explains how it became fragrant just by staying beneath the flower.

  12. Sister S on said:

    This is just beautiful. May God bless you and Shaykh for sharing this wisdom.

  13. Assalam-o-Alaikum sheikh,
    We need more people who use wisdom in propagating a good image of Islam. Sheikh Jaleel, and the tea idea, are excellent and should be replicated in the UK:

  14. Asalamualakum
    happy to read comment of great scholor for hazrat shaikh Jalil Sb D.B,this is our
    Assets .hazrat shaikh told me about your comments and i also uploaded all it in hazrat shaikh website of jamia ul uloom eidgah bahawalnagar.

  15. Dear respected shaykh,

    Asalamukum w w,

    Mashallah you are blessed to have such a strong relationship with shaykh abdul jaleel db. We met recently when the shaykh came I was the one with the different colour beard asking the questions. Shaykh Abdul jaleel’s words contain profound wisdom and his words are full of blessings. You are so right that it is just more than words. Some of the arifeen have said whoever does not benefit from our silence shall not benefit from our speech. We have become so accustomed to speeches which have their fair amount of benefit but the actual benefit and islaah is in suhba. May ALLAH bless us all ameen.

    • Wa ‘alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

      Allah has indeed allowed the Shaykh’s words and company to pierce many a rusted heart and soothe many an anxious soul; mashallah.

      “Whoever does not benefit from our silence, shall not benefit from our speech.” Subhanallah!

      And amin to your du’a.

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