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Imam Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi Mujaddid-e-Alf Thaani (RA)


By Shaykh Asif Hussain Farooqui (DB)

Article appeared in Ibnul Waqt (Issue 7/Rabiul Awwal 1419)

Verily the Awliyaa’Allah (friends of Allah) will have no fears and nor will they grieve.
(Surah Yunis, verse 62)

Today we have gathered to remember a very beloved friend of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, whose introduction is Imam-e-Rabbani, Mehboob-e-Subhaani, Mujaddid Alf Thani and whose name is Shaykh Ahmad al-Farooqui Sarhandi. May Allah enlighten his grave.

In the verse of the Qur’an that I have just recited, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala directs us to the fact that from the people who believe in Him, not all are the same as each other in status. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala informs us that there are some people who are His friends and are known as Awliyaa’Allah. Their qualities are that they do not fear and they do not grieve. If we look at this more closely we learn that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is informing us of the standards of friendship. The best friend is the one that you would trust the most. So Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala informs us that whoever puts complete trust in Him is His friend. This trust is due to the fact that when this person faces any problems of the world, he does not grieve and that he fears no one but Allah at all times. He understands that if everything is from the Friend then there is no way that it can do him harm. He knows that Allah cannot be unjust towards him. This is a sign of a friend of Allah.

By looking at our common day to day life in worldly terms, could you tell me whom we would consider to be a friend? For example, you are in need of some money and you go to a friend to borrow five pounds from him, but although he has the money he is reluctant and does not help you. Would you consider such a person to be a friend? Rather you would think to yourself “I had so much trust and hope in this friend but he did not help me in the time of need.” A good friend would be one who supports and helps you at every hurdle. It is such a friend that you would consider being a ‘very good’ friend.

Now Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala informs us that the friend in whom you have total and complete trust becomes the ‘best’ of friends. And the one who has complete, entire and absolute trust in Allah, is one of the Awliyaa’Allah and a friend of Allah. This was the definition that I have understood. One who has absolute trust under all circumstances, who does not grieve or get distressed when he is faced with any hardship. Now what is meant by not grieving and getting anxious?

The hardship that is mentioned here refers to the hardship a person may have to undergo, whilst carrying out the Ahkaam (commands) of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. For example, If Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala says that He would like the person to stay hungry and thirsty for a month or that He would like the person to take a sword and fight in His path so much that the person dies and gives his life. The person replies “Ya Allah if it is Your command then I shall love to do so.”

They do not frown, rather they feel proud that Allah has commanded them to do something and they are grateful for being able to carry out anything which is from Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. This was the case of trust and friendship, and it is these qualities which are present in the Awliyaa’Allah.

Now, as I stated at the beginning, today we have gathered to remember one of the friends of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. Although I am not worthy of mentioning the virtues of Allah’s beloved friends, I glance at the statement of Junayd Baghdadi rahmatullah ‘alayhi who said: “The remembrance of the friends of Allah, is from the favours of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. And it is such a great blessing that it makes a person steadfast upon the Deen, it strengthens his Imaan and it gives a person serenity of the heart.” He further relates the Hadeeth which states that Allah’s Mercy descends upon the places where there is remembrance of the dhaakirs of Allah. So with the hope that maybe by remembering one of Allah’s beloved friends, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala may forgive us, we shall mention a few virtues. And this is the only purpose of this talk.

The Indo Sub-continent is fertile with the shrines of the Awliyaa’Allah. Each and every one of these Awliyaa’Allah having a great status and excellence by their own right. And Alhamd-u-lillah it is by their efforts that you see around you the light of Imaan, the Qur’an and spirituality.

Islam did not spread by the force of a tyrant king or by compulsion. In fact those Faqeers who had no swords or weapons were responsible for spreading it. They advanced with two things which were the Dhikr of Allah and the Sunnah of RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam. Wherever they went they conquered the land with these two weapons.

These friends of Allah had ranks and status that we cannot comprehend. We can only relate what we have heard. So with regards to the friend of Allah about whom I am to speak, I do so only with the hope that Allah may forgive my sins for remembering his beloved servant, Hadhrat Mujaddid Alf Thani rahmatullah ‘alayhi, the Shaykh of Sarhand. He is one precious saint from his era, and is from amongst the beloved friends of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. He was born in Sarhand, which is a place in the Punjab, not too far from Julandhar. The sixth generation of his ancestors had migrated from Arabia to this place. The place where Sarhand is located was originally occupied with jungle containing wild animals such as tigers and wolves, and it is for this reason that its name is taken from the word ‘sher’ meaning tiger. When the friends of Allah settled there, it became a city. Allah had destined that from this desolate jungle a light will spread across the world till the Day of Judgement.

The date of his birth was the 14th of Shawwal, in the year 971 after the Hijrah of our blessed Prophet salAllahu alaihi wassallam. Leading up to his birth there was the occurrence of a few events, which have been related in his Maktubaat and many other books of the Mufakkireen. His father was also a friend of Allah, his name was Abd-ul-Ahad rahmatullah ‘alayhi. Abd-ul-Ahad rahmatullah ‘alayhi narrates: “One night I had a dream, I saw that the whole world was covered in darkness. Swine, apes and bears were romping around killing the people at will. Suddenly a light came out from my chest and from this light, a throne became visible, upon that throne sat an enlightened person. In front of him the Zindeeqs, Kuffaar and oppressors were being slaughtered. Then a voice echoed across the Earth saying:

The Haq (truth) has arrived, and the evil destroyed. Indeed evil (by its nature) is to perish.
(Surah Bani Israeel, verse 81)

After having this dream, Hadhrat Shaykh Abd-ul-Ahad went to see Hadhrat Shaykh Shah Kamaal Kaythli rahmatullah ‘alayhi who was a great wali’ullah from the Qadiri Silsilah. Shah Kamaal Kaythli rahmatullah ‘alayhi informed him the meaning of the dream and told him that “You will have a son, who will demolish evil and Bid’ah (innovation). He will spread the light across the Earth.”

The Shaykh’s mother relates: “Before the birth of my son, I was in my room and fell unconscious. In this state I saw that the whole of our house filled with light, and then it filled with the spirits of the Awliyaa’Allah, and I heard voices of congratulation from all sides.”

I am relating to you an historic account of the life of a friend of Allah, which has been written in various books. The lives of the Awliyaa’ cannot be comprehended by the ‘Aql. Rather it is the heart with which we can understand these things.

His father relates: “Soon after the birth, I saw light spread all around me. RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallamcame accompanied with the Sahaba. RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam himself recited the Adhaan and Iqaamah in the ears of the baby.” From birth he was already born with the requirements of the Sunnah. There were many other events of his childhood. But I shall briefly mention a few of these.

After his birth his mother took him to that same waliullah (Shah Kamaal Kaythli rahmatullah ‘alayhi). When Shaykh Kaythli rahmatullah alayhi saw the baby, he said, “This is that same child of whom I gave you the good news.” He put his tongue in the mouth of the baby who gripped the tongue such that it would not let go.

As the Shaykh grew older, he obtained the outward knowledge and memorised the Qur’an during his childhood. He mastered the sciences of Ahadeeth, Fiqh and Mantaq. Simultaneously he obtained the spiritual knowledge. He was given Khilafat by various Awliyaa’ in the Suhrawardi, Chishtiya and Qadiriya orders. He was also bestowed with the Khurqah.

Once he was returning from a place in India called Akbarabad where he had spent some time in study. On route of this journey was a place called Thaanseer (located between Dehli and Akbarabad). The fortune of the ruling Sultan of this area awoke. He had a dream in which he saw RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam who said to him “You are fortunate, after some time my son and Naa’ib will pass through your city, you must recognise him and I ask you to marry your daughter to him”

Now since the Shaykh was to return to Sarhand and only pass through Thaanseer, the Sultan remained very alert and in search of the Darwesh who fitted the description shown to him by RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam. When the Shaykh arrived in Thaanseer, the people informed the Sultan that there are a few people in the city who are travelling towards Sarhand. When the Sultan went to see these people he recognised the Shaykh to be that same person he was shown in the dream. The Shaykh was with his father, and they were invited to the palace of the Sultan who then informed them of his dream and offered the hand of his daughter in marriage. The Shaykh made Istikhara and after seeking the permission of his father, was married to the daughter of the Sultan. Imagine, that this is how Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala bestows favours upon His beloved friends.

The Shaykh had not yet entered the Silsila Aaliya Naqshband that he made intention to go for Hajj. On the way the Shaykh stopped over at Dehli where a friend of the Shaykh named Hassan Kaathmeeri informed the Shaykh that a pious friend of Allah from Afghanistan was staying in the city and offered to take the Shaykh to go and meet him. The Shaykh was more than pleased to see this friend of Allah and accepted the offer from his friend. When the Shaykh saw this man of Allah, he saw none other than Hadhrat Shaykh Baaqi Billah rahmatullah ‘alayhi. Khwaja Baaqi Billah had travelled from Afghanistan just for Hadhrat Shaykh Mujaddid Alf Thaani rahmatullah ‘alayhi and had been waiting for many years. It is stated in the Maktubaat and narrated by Khwaja Baaqi Billah himself that: “When I was in Afghanistan, I had a dream in which I saw a parrot sitting on my hand, it moved up close to me and put sugar into my mouth. In the morning I told this dream to my Shaykh, Khwaja Muhammad Waaqif Akangi rahmatullah ‘alayhi and asked him the meaning. He told me that the parrot is an animal of India, you will have to travel to India where you will be responsible for the moulding and shaping a Shaykh who will be so Kaamil (perfect) that not only will you benefit him but he will also benefit you.” Hadhrat Shaykh Baaqi Billah rahmatullah ‘alayhi also states that “I was puzzled by this and now after this Darwesh has come to me, I realise that he is such a Sun in which many stars like myself will be lost.”

He accepted the Shaykh with open arms and kept him close to himself, Shaykh Baaqi Billah rahmatullah ‘alayhi told him to stay with him for a few days, the days turned into weeks and then into months. During this time Hadhrat Shaykh Mujaddid Alf Thaani received all the Asbaaq and advanced with many a great status. It is stated in the Maktubaat that Allah bestowed him with Qutbiyyat, Fardiyyat, Qayyoomiyyat, Khalwat, Asaalat, Theenat, Mahboobiyyat and he was also bestowed with the title of Mujaddid Alf Thaani (The reviver of the Deen after the first millennium after Hijrah). These are all very great statuses in Tasawwuf.

Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala made the Shaykh a Mujaddid who would perform a great duty. And it was a great job indeed. It was a time of the Moghul empire and the king called Akbar was on the throne. Akbar had innovated a new Deen, he neglected the Shari’ah and Sunnah. By combining Hinduism and Christianity with Islam he formed his own new religion, which included the act of making people prostrate before him. Fire and Sun worshipping became common and the name of Islam began to diminish.

It was in this time that the Shaykh arrived. Without any fear or worry he raised the banner of Allah and His Rasool salAllahu alaihi wassallam and started the movement against evil. After the death of Akbar, his son Jahangir came to the throne. There is a famous incident regarding Jahangir and how the Shaykh came to spread Islam. The advisors of Jahangir began to incite him by telling him that “There is a Darwesh in the country who wishes to occupy your throne. You must arrest him immediately and execute him.” Jahangir sent his army to arrest and bring the Shaykh from Sarhand where the Shaykh said to them “There is no need to arrest me, I shall willingly come with you.” Such was the personality, presence and aura of the Shaykh that Jahangir himself came out to receive him. Jahangir was so overawed that he was unable to say a word, he changed his mind and with respect gave the Shaykh a place to stay for the night.

The advisors and ministers were with Jahangir and they again began to incite Jahangir in their Satanic manner by saying “This person will destroy your rule, he has awful beliefs, he will not prostrate before you and will defy your command, this is his movement against you.” With this Jahangir commanded that the Shaykh be brought to his court in the morning.

In the morning when the Shaykh walked into the court of Jahangir, he did not perform the customary prostration. Jahangir asked him “Why did you not prostrate before me?” the Shaykh replied “I do not prostrate before anyone except Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala” The king was stubborn and insisted that the Shaykh should prostrate before him. Jahangir said “If you do not want to prostrate then at least bow your head.” The Shaykh replied: “This head can bow only before Allah and not before anyone else.” Jahangir said “I am the king, at least listen to me and bow your head very slightly.” The Shaykh replied “This cannot be.” Jahangir then ordered that a small doorway is made and then the Shaykh be made to walk through it into the king’s court, that way he would have to lower his head to get through and the king would accept this as a bow. When the door was made, Hadhrat Shaykh was taken outside and asked to enter the court through the door.

When the Shaykh entered, he first put his feet through the door and then his head. The advisors now persuaded Jahangir that there was no way in which he could make the Shaykh bow and that the Shaykh should be imprisoned. So finally the Shaykh was arrested and imprisoned in Gwalyar forte. It is stated in the Maktubaat that when the Shaykh was imprisoned in the forte, there were thousands of other prisoners in the forte, a large number of whom were Hindus and of other religions. When these people wished to trouble the Shaykh, the Shaykh said to them “Remember! that I have come here by the Hukm of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, if you think that you have imprisoned me, then I shall show you by getting free.” At this the Shaykh signalled to one of his Mureeds, within a second the mureed released himself from all the chains and went and sat on the wall of the forte.

When the people saw this Karaamat of the Shaykh they conformed to the teachings of the Shaykh. The result was that soon after the Shaykh had been put in the prison, the Hindus and disbelievers in the prison accepted Islam in their thousands and began to do the dhikr of Allah, with many of them reaching high stages of Wilaayat.

Whilst the Shaykh was in the prison, Jahangir was regretting what he had done and his heart was not at peace for doing so. While he was contemplating over his decisions Jahangir’s fortune awoke, he had a dream in which he saw RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam who said to him “O fool, do you not realise whom you have imprisoned.” After seeing this dream, Jahangir shook with fear. In the morning Jahangir himself went to see Hadhrat Shaykh Mujaddid Alf Thaani and repented from his sins, he took Bay’ah at the hand of the Shaykh and became a Mureed. Jahangir said to the Shaykh “You may return to your home, or if you desire come with me.” The Shaykh replied “I would like to stay with your army.” So then the Shaykh remained with the army for some time. The result of staying with the army was that all the commanders and generals of the army repented and adopted the Shari’ah and Sunnah.

The tide had turned. It is stated in Maktubaat that the same Jahangir would now have so much respect and honour for Hadhrat Shaykh Mujaddid Alf Thaani rahmatullah ‘alayhi that whenever he visited Sarhand, he would dismount from his transport many miles before reaching the city. And would walk bare-footed into the company of his Shaykh.

Another beautiful incident regarding Jahangir was at a time he became very ill and close to death. All the doctors etc. were gathered by his side. He said to them “Why are you all worried that I might die, for I myself do not worry, since I have heard my Shaykh, the Shaykh of Sarhand say ‘O Jahangir, If Allah sends me to Paradise then I promise you that I shall not enter Paradise without you’.” These were a few extracts from the life of Hadhrat Shaykh Mujaddid Alf Thaani rahmatullah ‘alayhi.

Now returning to the titles and status which were give to Shaykh such as Qutbiyyat and Qayyoomiyyat and the very high status of ‘Mujaddid Alf Thaani’.

With regards to the latter, Allama Suyooti has related a Hadeeth of RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam who said: “There will be a person from my Ummah, who will be the one who unites. He will unite two oceans (groups).” This Hadeeth refers to Hadhrat Mujaddid Alf Thaani rahmatullah ‘alayhi who united Shari’ah and Tareeqat. He united the scholars and the Sufiyaa’. He clarified the confusion surrounding Wahdatul wujood and Wahdatul shahood.

The Shaykh states in his Maktubaat: “When Allah bestowed me with the status, it was like this: I was sitting in Muraaqabah at the time of Zuhr, I saw that RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam come to me accompanied with the Sahaba. RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam put the Dastaar on me and gave me the Khurqah and informed me ‘O Ahmad, You are the Mujaddid Alf Thani’.”

There are many virtues and Karamaat regarding the Shaykh’s life. Shah Abd-ul-Haq Muhaddith-e-Dehlawi rahmatullah ‘alayhi, in his book Khwaja-e-Khiyaar writes about approximately three hundred Awliyaa’Allah, and at the end of this book he writes, “At the end I shall mentioning the name of one friend of Allah, about whom I cannot find the words to praise. All I can say is that when I became connected with this friend of Allah (took Bay’ah) then my inner self became full of Anwaaraat and enlightenments which cannot be described in words nor can they be understood. I no longer know what stage I am upon or where I stand.

Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala had bestowed the Shaykh with very great vision and wisdom. It is written that there are seven hundred Karamaat of the Shaykh of which we have knowledge. Other than this we have no knowledge of how many more there were. But the biggest Karamah of the Shaykh was his steadfastness upon the Qur’an and Ahadeeth. There was no action from his life which opposed the Sunnah of RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam. No Kashf or Karamah was such that it opposed the Qur’an and Hadeeth. Every action was based upon the Sunnah.

In his teachings we find the emphasis on the dhikr of Allah (Ism-e-zaat) and the following of the Sunnah of RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam. The Shaykh had so much love and reverence that once they were walking towards the bathroom that they came across a bowl on the floor which had the name of Allah written upon it. The Shaykh picked up the bowl from the floor, he washed it and perfumed it, and then said to his servant “For as long as I am alive, you must give me water to drink from this bowl.” After this the Shaykh had an Ilhaam in which he heard Allah say “O Mujaddid, You respected and raised My Name. In return I shall raise and have your name revered till the Day of Judgement.”

And with regards to the Sunnah the Shaykh was so careful that in the light of the Qur’an he once stated: “To perform a fardh (obligatory) act upon its time and to perform one Sunnah with Adab (respect/sincerity) is better than one thousand years of Nawaafil worship.”

Once due to illness, the Shaykh unknowingly lied down on his left side. The Sunnah was missed, when the Shaykh realised this, he immediately got up and began to weep, and repent to Allah, that “O Allah, I have neglected a Sunnah of your beloved Rasool salAllahu alaihi wassallam, please forgive me.” This carried on through the night. The Shaykh then had an Ilhaam in his dream in which Allah said to him “O Mujaddid, You have loved and held the Sunnah of my beloved in high esteem, for this I promise you that I shall save you from all punishments.”

There were many other teachings of the Shaykh of which one stands out foremost which was “A person can achieve the nearness of Allah only by being obedient and following the Sunnah of RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam.”

This was the life of a friend of Allah, one who revived the Sunnah and Shari’ah. Every one of whose sayings and actions were based upon the Sunnah. And all his Khulafaa and followers of his Silsilah all emphasise the importance of holding firmly to the Sunnah of RasoolAllah salAllahu alaihi wassallam.

May Allah give us the tawfeeq to learn from the lives of the Awliyaa’Allah and to live our lives according to their teachings.

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