On the way to Bolton today, as i was in the thick of a rush hour traffic dead lock. A brother text me saying how he had a friend of his, who was deep into performing spiritual exercises in order to obtain super natural powers. Now as any decent person knows, spirituality is a very dangerous thing. Especially the people who are doing murakabah (meditation) and spiritual exercises without having a spiritual master, a guide who can guide a person from falling into the dark, and dangerous sides of spirituality. The science of tassawuff as many call it, is like a double-edged sword. It has a good and bright side, to which it also has a very ugly, dark and dangerous side. I am not talking about the purification (tazkiyah aspects) as this is a fard for people to observe and practice. Purification according to the Quran and the Sunnah seeks only to help a person become a better muslim by perfecting his/her character. Nothing more, by enabling him/her to come more close to the sunnah of the messenger of ALlah.
Tassawuff on the other hand can, if anyone wants to, take him deeper into the inner depths of the realities of the self, (the soul, the nafs) whatever you may call it. This, at times when a person wants to obtain openings and visions can as a result make him/her very prone to more attacks of the devil on a physical, psychological, and intellectual level. More specifically the great fear and a imminent danger are for those who go down the road to spirituality without having a shaykh.I shall explain what i mean later on.
As i mentioned above my friend informed me how his friend prefers to do lengthy murakabah in hope that one day he may attain super natural powers. that being, able to read people’s mind, see into others thoughts etc, for example. When my friend told me how he sees things of the unseen world, which normal people do not see. My reply as i was, get him help As Soon As Possible.
Now, one of the functions of a shaykh is to ensure that the student does not have to face any unnecessary harm on his journey to Allah. Even in the face of such harm be that of on a spiritual level or that of a physical level. The shaykh is the one who will enable and make sure that the student does not or is in any imminent dangers. How will he know or what will he do? well, since the kamil shaykh – a shaykh who has travelled the path himself. Will be fully aware of the ins and outs, the do and don’ts of the path. He will be able to guide a person safely through the dark tunnel of the journey, to the light of the pleasure of Allah, at the other end o the tunnel. A blind person will never be able to see his way through, no matter how much he may claim to have expertise, knowledge or the know how of the path. Only a shaykh who himself has gone through the path, been through the ups and downs will be able to assist him across to safety.
Something we might think as being completely normal might end up being detrimental to our lives. IF and when the seeker does fall into the depths of darkness and heedfulness, the shaykh having received the spiritual authorisation and authentic knowledge of the Quran and the sunnah will be able to pull the seeker out of dire trouble if he/she was to face it.
You see, in the sciences of the world, from learning to drive to that of qualifying to be a doctor, we take teachers and scholars to show us and teach us how to do things. Despite there being books, tutorials, and the expertise available for anyone, if we wished to do it DIY style. Then Surely, in such a precious journey to Allah & the purification of the heart, should we not even consider the need to have a shaykh. Who will, based on the Quran and the sunnah take us to the right destination. Which is nothing other than the pleasure of Allah the almighty.
Secondly, in the world of visions and dreams they are the ones who will interpret it in the light of Quran and sunnah and give you the right interpretation. As opposed to coming to the wrong interpretation yourself. Which will undoubtedly be wrong, therefore as a result lead to catastrophic consequences. You see, seeing a mango in a dream or vision may mean one thing and you may interpret it to mean something else. Only the true shaykh will know what it really ment. Each persons visions and dreams are different to the next person in the room. The shaykh is your only way to unlock this understanding.
Like i mentioned above, many people enter spirituality seeking the wrong things and doing the wrongs things in search for such unnatural and wrong things. You see, once you enter the world of spirituality on your own, doing things as you please. It will not be long before you grab the attention of the devils and the jinns, who then will come running towards you. Once a person who opens himself to these creations of Allah, they will not hesitate to avail the oppurtunity to lead you astray your doom and gloom. Whilst all the while you will be thinking you are on the straight path, they (the devils) will lead you to hell. How will you know what is allowed and what is not when you are deaf, dumb and blind on the matters of the spiritual ascension. Even if you were to know it theoretically, practically this will not do. As there are somethings in life where one must and can only learn practically. This is where the shaykh normally comes in, he would tell you “no, you should avoid this or yes you can do this”. Trying to go down the path of spirituality your self, is like trying to operate on your own body. Without a shadow of a doubt, you will fail at some point.
Would it not be better to hand yourself over to a surgeon of the spiritual world, who will dissect you in the right places. It has happened in the past many times that people have been lead astray by visions and dreams. Only because, they opened themselves to accepting whatever they saw as being the truth! Like the student of Syyiduna Ali khawas (ra) who started to see visions and dreams. However, this student never told them to his shaykh, giving his own interpretation to all of his visions/dreams. Ultimately what happened to him was he died as a disbeliever, as the shaitan took him step by step out of the folds of Islam. See, despite him having a shaykh he still was lead astray by visions and dreams. WHat to say about those people who do not have a shaykh. What do you think will happen to them when they start to go to unknown and dangerous grounds/territories? surely, you will be lead astray! When a person sees a dream or a vision he may think (if he interprets them himself) as having been strolling in paradise. Talking, eating, drinking with the hoors of paradise. When in actual fact this may, in reality be hell, or a dark place to which the devils/jinns have taken the person. Under the guise of paradise the devils are misleading him into thinking he is in paradise. The people he would have interacted with, may be the devils and jinns, disguised as pious, godly people. Only when the shaykh will clearly, see for what it is, and tell the person leave this behind and don’t focus on this (dreams and visions). As the devils are misleading you.
Nevertheless, if the person seeing these things does not have a shaykh, then only Allah knows how he will know if the devils are messing with him or not. To have visions and dreams are such dangerous things to which the mashaykh have said, even if a person sees the prophet (saw) in his dreams. He should describe the features of the prophet (saw) he has seen in the dream, to his shaykh. If the features he describes matches the descriptions which are mentioned in the books, then he has indeed seen the blessed being. Otherwise, the devil can take the form of any pious person and come to you claiming to be the prophet (saw). When in actual fact he may not be!
Read the following post i wrote on the dangers of ‘apparently’ seeing the prophet (saw).
Gulam Qadiyani Mirza was one such person who was mislead by the shaitan like this. He was initially a man of knowledge. But slowly but surely he started to see visions, and things which normal people would not see. Because he did not have a shaykh he had no one to tell to, of what he was seeing. So that it cold be interpreted Even if he did try to say it to someone they would think he was crazy. Slowly over time he started to see angels and ‘apparently’ divine instructions telling him that he was a prophet! This lead to his down fall and he fell face flat into the trick of the devil. It was the devils who had come to him in his visions and dreams dressed in the clothes of piety. Telling him/showing him this and that, finally convincing him that he was a prophet. (Astagfirullah!).
This brings a crucial point to the forefront, which is that, if he had a shaykh, his shaykh would have been able to dissect the visions or dreams of his and see the devils behind the scenes leading him astray.
In one of the gatherings of the pious awliyah of the past, one of his student would have frequent visions, where he would see himself traveling to paradise, eating, drinking, and relaxing with hoors, people etc. This state of affairs lasted with him for a long time.A time came when he finally mentioned his state to his shaykh. Feeling pleased and happy with himself, he went to his shaykh and told him what he sees, and hears. Hearing the student’s story, the shaykh did not say much, say only that he gave him an amal (deed) to do next time he saw those visions. Which was to say “i seek refuge in Allah, from the cursed one, and there is no power except the power of Allah the almighty”. So, next time when he was doing his spiritual exercises he started to see the similar visions again of traveling to paradise, and enjoying the delights of it. Then suddenly he remembered what his shaykh told him. He said those words which was taught to him, and immediately, the scene in front of his eyes began to change. IT went to a scene of beauty and pleasure to that of an ugly and frightening one. He began to see shaitans appear instead of the pious people he saw a minute ago. He began to see ugly, disgusting creatures, in place of where is just saw hoors standing. Then he saw the place to where he was, from that of being in paradise, it changed to that of a place full of dung, urine, and rubbish.
In summary, he began to see for what it really was. That it was the devils who were behind these visions of his, and they were trying to slowly mislead him to hell. His shaykh knew this, he wanted his student to see it first hand how visions and dreams are not always as what you see!