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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Taking bayah with a spiritual master

This is something that cannot be taken lightly for a few reasons. Once you have given bayah then you cannot break it because it’s an oath to Allah (the Exalted). So do not choose your spiritual master off the cuff or because that’s what everyone is doing. Your spiritual master has to be chosen with care and consideration because you will be with that Sheikh until the end of time.

These are the points you should consider before doing anything:

Sidi Ahmed Zarruq (may Allah be pleased with him) said in Usul Al-Tariqah, “Conditions that the Sheikh who accepts students should have himself are five: 
1. Actual experience, 
2. Sound knowledge, 
3. High aspiration, 
4. Happy condition 
5. Piercing insight."

Five things that make him unworthy to be Sheikh (spiritual leader): 
1. Ignorance of the religion,
2. Abandoning the sacredness of the Muslims, 
3. Interfering in what does not concern him,
4. Following his passions in everything 
5. Bad character without heed.”

The first point you should make sure about is their adherence to the sacred law. If they give great speeches and when it’s done they are off to MacDonald’s then they are to be avoided at all costs. 

He has to know the sacred law not to an extremely deep level but to what he and his murids need. So if he is leading a prayer in the masjid without wudu then he is not to be followed, no matter how big his turban is. There are many pretenders to the throne and one thing that should draw your attention is his ijaza. Is it from his father alone? If it is then this is a worrying point. Most of those whose fathers might be spiritual masters do not have children who are likewise. Especially in this time and look if his ijaza is confirmed by other spiritual masters, if it is then rest assured. But you have to flee if they are all from the same family! They should not hide their ijaza by trickery.

Asking for money from their murids is also a clear sign of degradation and corruption. If there is a cause and all the money is going there, then do not fear but if it isn’t then do not reach into your pocket. Your sheikh should not ask for money and he should do all he can but remember costs are incurred in events. What I mean is Pirs whose students queue up to give him money, that type of falseness. Venues, lessons and so forth need to be paid for, but this is a separate matter. 

The best scholars are humble and do not need their hands to be kissed or for you to humiliate yourself before them.

Some people get signs to take the path by the way of dreams. So if you see this then you must seek interpretation of the dream and follow it up.

The first thing you should do is go to the gatherings of that Sheikh and see how you react to his words. Does it stir you to action or does it just bore you? If it is the latter then look elsewhere. See what the murids are like and what do they involve themselves in. If they are sitting around backbiting then this is a bad sign but they are, as they say, the worst advert for the sheikh. Murids are those people who have taken the oath with the Sheikh. Also note just because someone is a Sheikh in knowledge does not mean they are Sheikh in terms of spiritual master ship. If a Murid is drawing or encouraging you to take the oath then watch out. It might be right for him but not right for you.

We do live in a time where many spiritual masters are dying and the like of them are not reappearing. 

Your spiritual master should give you something to do and keep your busy with litanies (award) and other works. If they do not, then do not expect any progress even in a million years. 

He should be open to questions and make himself available for your needs. Sometimes, it is not possible to answer all questions. Though, honest murids get their questions answered without asking with the lessons of the Sheikh. 

When you take a spiritual path then you must be sure and make sure that you pray istikhara for seven days straight and pray for guidance. As a prayer for guidance is never rejected. Read about the masters of the path you want to follow and listen to all the available lectures of that sheikh.

Also consider the access you have to the Sheikh. If they are extremely advanced in age then you may not be able to take advantage with someone younger. Can you attend their lectures? Or are they far away in another country where you do not have a chance to access their knowledge? If it is the latter, are there recorded lectures ready for you to access? If there are then this will help. As in the absence of the Sheikh the recording suffices.  For murids that are strong they do not need much but those who are not strong, which is most of us if not all, we need a lot of input. This can only be done by listening to their lectures in their absence. If there is no spiritual training/tarbiyah then you might have to reconsider the point. As being part of the path is to reach Allah (the Exalted) not to reach a large number. Your Sheikh has to be living and you cannot take an oath with a Sheikh/Pir thats passed away, this is invalid.

Fame is not a good sign whether the scholar is correct or not. A lot of famous sheikhs have problems. The worst problems of any path are the unruly murids who are up to all kinds in the Sheikhs name.  Know that every tariqah has problems. The grass is not greener.

You have to change your ways and if you have taken bayah then do not change your ways then there is no point taking the path. You might as well stay at home as that will do less damage to your soul than to claim that you are with so and so sheikh and are propagating what your Sheikh is against. 

When you are on the path, the most important thing is your sincere intention to reach Allah (the Exalted) and not to reach the Sheikh, as they are the means not the end.

You have to show your sheikh respect by not attending lectures about spiritually from another Sheikh or taking spiritual advice from other masters. 

Know you cannot take two paths at once because it means that you will not make any progress whatsoever. You cannot reach two opposite destinations at once. 

Know that a person who is destined to be a wali will be a wali and it does not matter the path he takes. 

Also note the common Sufi adage, "He who does not have Sheikh, satan is his Sheikh."

Whatever your sheikh says you must try your best to adhere to or there is little point in taking the path. You must also stick to one path and one sheikh. Although you should not obey your Sheikh/Pir if he commands to haram. 

Do not take bayah with another master because this is not the correct manner of taking the path. You can take bayah barakah but you need permission from your spiritual master to do this. Do not do this without permission. In some instances you may need to take bayah tarbiyyah with another Sheikh when ones own is no longer available for one to access or dies or there is a problem that means one cannot access the teachings.

Know that your journey to Allah (the Exalted) is a path full of obstacles and you have to be aware of this. Ibn Arabi (fatuwwa makkiyyah) writes in one of his books about a murid who took bayah with a sheikh and caught him committing illegal fornication. Yet, the murid did not move from following the Sheikh and when the murid was asked why he had not left the Sheikh. The murid said that the Sheikhs sins were between him and Allah (the Exalted) and not the concern of the murid. So this is how the sincere murid should be even if he sees something from his Sheikh that he does not like then he should ignore it and carry on. The Sheikh was testing his murids to find out the sincere ones and there was only one sincere one left out of all those who claimed to be following him. Yet, this was the only one who was faithful to his oath.

Why do we need a spiritual master? 

Because this is a journey into the unknown so without a valid guide then it cannot be traversed. Like a man traveling through a jungle, he cannot get to the other side without a guide. If he decides to go into the jungle on his own then he is likely to be eaten by a wild animal or, the very least, get lost. Yet, with the correct guide one can make good progress and avoid all the pit falls that many fall into.

Others say taking the spiritual path is like making a journey into the unseen. 

Most of all take your time and get the decision right. You are making a major decision and know that those who break bayah either have wilyah blocked from them or if it’s done with disrespect then it can mean that the people who leave the path die as hypocrites. If ones Sheikh/Pir dies then they should take bayah with the one that the was put in charge before the Sheikhs death. Or take another Sheikh. Know that there is always a disagreement after the death of a big Sheikh. So if your Sheikh dies you should either take bayah with the one who is designated to take over or find another path.

The spiritual way is not something to be trifled with and nor is it an easy matter.

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