Question from a guest: Can you tell me more about your background and your journey to Tarikat?
I came to this country twenty years ago. I have been here twenty years. I grew up in a small island in SouthEast Asia, called Singapore, right at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula. My parents they come from, my father comes from Sumatera, his background is also from the Middle East. My grandmother she came from Indonesia, some of the Islands of Indonesia, she is a Bugis, it is a tribe, it is a warrior sailor tribe, and my Grandfather he came from China, whole family of Chinese Muslims living there for a long time.
So, when I was growing up, I’m seeing everyone, very simple, their parents were Malaysians or Chinese, or not too much mixing. I’m saying why am I mixed so much? And I’m seeing all of my friends they like to stick around with people just from their own racial background, ethnicity, their own people. I’m seeing all my friends they are mixed, Chinese, Indian, Eurasians. I find I’m able to be comfortable and to be with them. Now I know why. Because of the work that I have to do that my Sheykh has given me. So we grow up, of course in the old days everyone was belonging to Tarikat, because the Islam that came especially to SouthEast Asia it is spread by Awliyas, by the Saints. It was spread by them. Even those ones coming from Hadhramaut, from Yemen, they were AwliyaAllah. History is trying to teach us, western history, rewriting our history, teaching us that Islam came by traders, Muslim traders, who came to make money and by the way they just make some converts and they establish a Masjid and Islam came. Like there is no planning, there is no intention, there is no organization to spread the Deen of Allah. What is the reason then for us Muslims to be alive? Just to live nine to five like unbelievers? or worse like animals? and then to die. Is this our reasons of creations? What is our reason of Creations?
You see, in America, you have everything, you run after everything, your desire finish fifty years of age then you have what is call the mid-life crisis. Suddenly, you start wondering, ‘why am I here for? What is the reason of it all?’ Naturally they asked you, you yourself you ask those questions when you are a teenager. But this system, everywhere in this world now is so sheytan, when that intelligence first starts to kick in, they give especially the teenagers everything that the dunya has to offer, the desire. Not to make them to think and to find out, but everything to make them to not think, to dump all their intelligence and to give them more sensations, anything you want. Because otherwise, you are going to ask, means you are going to search. So midlife crisis. You are asking, ‘what is all this for? Why am I here? What is the meaning of it all?’ But usually at that time, either people find some way somehow to answer what their spirit was asking, or they say, ‘I cannot answer this, because if I answer this I have to cut off everything that I’m used to,’ so more they plunge themselves into the dunya and they buy themselves a sports car, so that again it desensitizes them and it makes them to go back to their life as teenagers when life is fresh and it’s alive.
Muslims, especially those in Tarikat, you enter into Tarikat you ask those mid-life questions right as you enter. Those questions you don’t have to wait to be fifty years old. Those questions you must answer now. In fact you enter into Tarikat because you are asking those questions, those ones who are really seeking, because you ask yourself, what am I here for? Who is my Lord and who am I? What does He want from me? You are trying to understand the reason of your creation.
So, I grew up in Singapore. The opportunity came for me then to study here. Our parents were coming from Tarikat background but then everyone, although if they don’t follow a Sheykh, they respect all Sheykhs. This is not a hundred years ago, this is not two hundred years ago, this is twenty years ago. Twenty years ago, when it wasn’t so big wahhabism, salafism. There’s some weird people who don’t like to kiss older people’s hand, we shake our head and say, what kind of people is that? how foolish it is? You don’t respect olderly people and ask for their prayers? that you cannot go visit Holy people in their tombs and offer Fatiha and Yasin to them? that we don’t love the Prophet (asws) more than we love ourselves? What kind of foolishness. But this is just twenty years ago. It’s not two hundred years ago. And now it has overtaken everything where everything that we are doing according to Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamaah aqidah and Tasawwuf, it is ajaib, it is strange, it is alien.
So when at that time although my father was following a Sheykh, he also encourage me to look for one, that fits to me. He’s not just saying, ‘I’m following so you have to follow.’ He’s saying, he’s looking at me, he’s looking at our situation, you are going to find something that your heart is pulling you to. Because it is good that you have a Sheykh and your children have the same Sheykh, same lineage, same family, same generation, it is good to a certain point, it is good. Because everything now, it has to be fresh. It has to be dynamic. It cannot just be a tradition. It cannot just be something that you are just holding on to without questioning. Because if you hold on to something without questioning, it becomes fake. It becomes not real. Why is that? Because you don’t question You have to question. Allah swt is saying, ‘think. Why don’t you think. This is for man of thinking.’ Our own Shahadat is making us to question our faith. Our own Shahadat, it makes us to question our faith. Because our Shahadat, it’s not, ‘I believe in Allah. I believe in Muhamamd (asw).’ It’s not saying that. Our Shahadat is saying, ‘La ilaha ilallah, Muhammadur Raslullah (asws).’ So our Shahaadat is saying, ‘La ilaha ilallah,’ there is no ilahs, there is no object of worship, except for Allah. Now if you ask regular muslims, majority of mulism, what is this ilahs that you are saying ‘La’ to? They say, ‘ilahs? Well you know, statue, Buddha, idols. This is what it means, ‘La ilaha ilallah. This is what La ilaha means.’
For 1400 years Muslims have not worship idols, correct? All the idols are gotten rid of. They are finished. Alhamdulillah, we didn’t grow up worshiping idols too. Alhamdulillah. So why are we saying, ‘La ilaha ilallah.’? Why are we still saying La ilaha ilallah? So what is that ilah? What is that object of worship? What is that object of worship? This is something that Tarikat and Tasawwuf will give an answer when you ask. Because shariat is not going to give you those answers so much. It is explaining, shariat, what is rukun of Iman, what is your Iman, what is your faith: I believe in Allah, I believe in the angels, Amantu billahi wa malaikatihi wa kutubihi wa rusulihi wal-yawmil-akhiri. That is Iman. It’s not making you to question. It gives you the answer. Then you have Islam. But islam is what you do, the do’s and the don’ts. Saying the Shahadat, you are praying five times a day, you fast during the month of Ramazan, you pay the Zakat, you go to the Hajj. These are the things that you have to do. And from there, from these five things, hundreds, thousands of obligations flow out from these five things, the farz and the sunnats.
Now, we have Iman, Islam, Ihsan. And Ihsan, when the question was asked, what is Ihsan? The Prophet (asws) answered, ‘Ihsan it is to worship Allah as if you see Him.’ You worship Allah as if you see Him. When you are standing there worshipping, it’s not you are seeing the carpet. And now, worshiping is not just standing five times a day, rushing through, your heart is circling everywhere, giving salams, that is worship. No. Worship, now is more than that. Worship is what you go through every single day, in every moment, remembering your Lord. Worship is zikr. This is the spirit, this is the essence of everything that you are doing. You are giving Shahadat because you remember Allah. What is the purpose of praying? To remember Allah, isn’t it? What is the purpose of fasting? It is to remember Allah in a different way, understanding how weak you are and how strong Allah swt is, and everything is a Rahmat. You give your Zakat to remember Allah that the money that you have did not come from you, it doesn’t come from you, it’s from Allah and it doesn’t belong to you, it is an emanet, it is a trust. You make the money, it is halal, it is not from you to you. You understand? Going to the Hajj, it is completely to remember Allah and to forget about everything in this dunya. To remember Allah and the ahirat. So if you don’t make zikr, you don’t have any soul, you don’t have any spirit of any of the worship that you are doing. Nothing. It becomes empty now. So Ihsan teaches us to have a zikr to remember Allah and to worship Allah as if you see Him. Who ask this question? This is the Hadiths of Jibreel (as).
Jibreel (as) came in the human form, sat in front of the Holy Prophet (asws). The Sahaba e-Kiram related that they saw this unusual man with so much light coming from him and so much heybet and there’s not even a speck of dirt on his white cloth and he is asking Prophet (asws), but not asking as a person who doesn’t know the answer, asking as a person who knows the answers. And he asked, and the Prophet now has to give the answers. So Ihsan, the beauty, the beauty now of Islam. So ‘La ilaha ilallah,’ how are you going to say ‘La’ if you don’t know what is your Ilah that you are trying to say ‘La’ to. Do you understand? Otherwise, your whole life you are going to say, ‘La ilaha ilallah, La ilaha ilallah, La ilaha ilallah….’ but you don’t know what you are saying ‘La’, what is your Ilah? what are these ‘Gods’ that you are trying to say ‘La’ to? This is when Tasawwuf enters. This is when the Naksibendi Order enters, because the ilahs, the object of worship, the enemies to man: Nafis, Sheytan, Hawa and Dunya.
Nafis, you nafs, that so many people they are worshipping to their nafs. They are muslims, they are doing everything correctly, everything perfectly but they are worshiping to their nafs. Whatever their nafs say, ‘do,’ they do. They don’t question. And the nafs, it is controlled by your anger, your jealousy, your arrogance, and your stubbornness. This is what the nafs is being controlled by. So the man who doesn’t understand hundreds of thousands of tricks and traps of the anger, and the jealousy and the stubbornness, and the envy and the arrogance, he’s not understanding his nafs, and his nafs is sitting on his shoulder, he worships to his nafs. He can pray five times, he can pray fifty times a day, he is still being controlled by his nafs, he is worshiping to his nafs. And the one who is worshiping to his nafs, it is so easy now for sheytan to penetrate and to take him hostage too. To understand, the nafs is different, and sheytan is different. Nafis, the nafs, it is the enemy that is inside of you. Sheytan is outside. But the enemy that is inside opens the door for the sheytan to enter. If you don’t understand your enemy from inside, and you are only fighting the enemy from outside, you are the most foolish and unintelligent one.
In all of Islamic history, Muslim civilisations and strong Kingdoms and Saltanate, they always fall, not because of the enemy from outside. But because there is betrayal from the inside. Always. Same thing happens individually, same thing happens universally. So, if you understand the inside now, ok this is my nafs, sheytan, hawa, your desires, dunya, you’re praying, you are worshiping, but you love the dunya, you cannot be without the dunya, you think you are going to live forever, you don’t want to die, you fall in love with the dunya, you still have not gotten rid of that ilah. You understand? It’s very dangerous.
So now, Tasawwuf, it is nothing but to refine your Shahadat. It is to make your Shahadat to be clean, to be pure. It makes your Shahadat not as a word that you say or just your emotion, but it is for you to understand through your mind, through your heart, to understand these are the things that takes me away from my Lord, Allah swt. Then that time when you understand that, the way now to Allah swt, you cannot go any other way except the way of the Holy Prophet (asws). Because man, without any religion or faith can also make this realization that you have to get over your fear, that all these qualities are also not good qualities, you can take religion out of the equation too, you can take spirituality, you can just say it is, now you are trying to make yourself to become better, but if you are not following the way of Muhammadur Rasulullah (asws), it becomes again you are worshipping to yourself. It becomes again, coming back to yourself. Because you are not pointing to any other person, any other thing, any other knower, when you are saying if you believe in a Creator, you are going to say it’s just me and my Lord. Nothing else, no one else in between. In reality, if you are saying there’s nothing but me and my Lord, you have already make a shirk. Because the Prophet (asws) never says, ‘it’s me and my Lord.’ He never says that. He says, there’s only Allah. Or if he includes himself, he says what? ‘Muhammadur Rasulullah.’ He never says, ‘me.’ Who says, ‘Me’? The ego says, ‘Me.’
Sheytan says, ‘La ilaha ilallah.’ Sheytan is not making a shirk. Sheytan never makes a shirk. Up till today, sheytan is only saying, ‘ there’s only One Allah. And I am His creature.’ But, sheytan disobeyed Allah. Because sheytan was jealous of mankind. Because sheytan was jealous, in reality not of Adam (as), in reality he was jealous of the Prophet (asws). Because when he saw the Maqam el-Mahmud that Allah swt has created, Allah swt has created everything, everything in creation, then He showed mankind, Adam (as). I said showed. I didn’t say create. Because in reality, mankind who has been created to be what? Khalifatullah, is the oldest, is the first thing that Allah swt created. Everything else Allah swt created after Khalifatullah. Because Khalifatullah, ‘walaqad Qaramna Bani Adam – And we have honored the children of Adam.’ Khalifatullah, where are we coming from? Where do we come from? What was the first that Allah swt created? The light of the Holy Prophet (asws). And from His light, the light of all the other Prophets came. From the Prophets their ummat came. From the light too, everything else that is in existence came from that light. Do you understand? That’s why we are saying, ‘La ilaha ilallah Muhammadur Rasulullah,’ we are not putting anything else to exist. But the existence of Allah is as an Allah, the existence of the Prophet (asws) is as His Rasul, as His Habib. There’s nothing else really in existence.
So now, man is the oldest, is the most ancient, is the original. But he has been kept hidden. But man is still hidden to himself until today. And the Prophets had been sent to make us to understand, to become aware of this honor that Allah swt has put on us, especially as the Ummati Muhammad (asws), that all the Prophets before, they were envious of us. Because they understood the blessings that comes with being an Ummati Muhammad (asws), and they are saying, ‘Ya Rabbi, we would rather give up our Prophethood just to be one of the Ummati Muhammad (asws).’ Our Shahadat is the Shahadat of the Prophets. 124 000 Prophets, they all give the Shahadat of what? La ilaha ilallah Muhammadur Rasulullah. Not their ummat, not their nation. Their nation doesn’t give the shahadat of La ilaha ilallah Muhammadur Rasulullah. Their nation give the Shahadat of La ilaha ilallah Adam Rasulullah, Nuh Rasulullah, Ibrahim Rasulullah, Yusuf Rasulullah, Isa Rasulullah. Not Muhammadur Rasulullah. That is the Shahadat of the Prophets. And everytime you say the Shahadat, it comes with huge blessings. This is the treasures that Allah swt has given to the ummat. So now, Tarikat is to make us to ask this questions. We have to find answers to this questions and to live by these questions. Because if you try to find out the answers to this questions, and you find out the answers and you don’t live according to these answers, then either it’s going to crush you because you cannot live with that kind of hypocrisy, or it’s going to make your heart to be very hard because you are going to deny it. Anyway you look at it, your return back to Allah swt is not going to be too good.
So now, sheytan gave the Shahadat, but sheytan has that jealousy. Because he saw the Maqam el-Mahmud and he wanted it for himself. Because he look at himself better than others. He was known as Azazil. He wasn’t sheytan. He was Azazil. He was not an angel. But he did so much, even service to his Lord, that he was able to elevate himself to be in the company of angels. Because he is from the race of the jin. They cannot go up higher than a certain level, to take secrets. They cannot. Because you have to, let me explain this in our common language. You cannot go high up into the sky just yourself physically unless you are in a special suit or a special craft or a special machine. Because the pressure that you are going to meet when you are high in the sky or low deep into the water, it is going to crush you. So there is a special protection, devices, or other things that you need to surround yourself with, to withstand that. Same thing spiritually, you cannot now go higher, even if you want, you cannot, if you are not train, if you are not prepare for it, you cannot. You are an angel, you cannot. No one can reach as high as Jibreel (as). But jibreel (as), he cannot. He said, ‘now, we reach to the Sidratul Muntaha. Ya Rasulullah,’ he said, ‘now you have to go forward alone.’ And the Holy Prophet (asws) says, ‘ya Jibreel, you are going to leave your friend by himself?’ and he said, ‘it is known to you, ya Rasulullah, if I move just one hair, just one hair forward, the Divine light that is coming, it will put me into non-existence. It will burn.’ So now, we have to prepare, ourselves.
So now sheytan he looked at that Maqam el-Mahmud, he wanted it, why? Because he did so much that he was able to go higher and higher and higher and he believes that that is for him. Does he believe that? In reality, no he doesn’t believe it. He knows it’s for something else. But he says, ‘why not? I can get it. I want it. I must have it.’ He was sent down to this world. It’s a long story. He did so many things for the service of his Lord. He worship, Azazil at that time, he worshipped everywhere on this face of this earth. He worshipped in the Paradises, tens of hundreds of years and he was able to go higher and higher, and he was able to then get so much knowledge that he was teaching the angels. But when Allah swt created Adam (as), the form of Adam (as), He didn’t put His Divine Breath in yet. Then sheytan looked, Azazil he looked and he entered through the mouth, and he circled everywhere around, and he came out from underneath, and the angels asked, ‘what is this creature? We have never seen this. This is a new thing.’ Although sheytan he knew that this is just the shell of the secret of Allah, that is for Maqam el-Mahmud, but his arrogance and his jealousy made him to become blind. And he says, ‘this is nothing. It is made from dirty earth, from clay.’ And AwliyaAllah is saying, at that moment he became sheytan because he said, ‘if Allah wants, He’s telling us to make sejdah to him, we will not. I’m not going to because this is a dirty creature. I am made from fire and I have done so much.’
When Allah swt put the Divine breath, one Divine Breath, one Holy Breath, to Adam (as) and when he awoke, what was the first thing he did and what did he say? ‘Alhamdulillah.’ The first word, he praised Allah. So this is one sunnat of Adam (as) that so many Muslims we don’t do. How many of us when we wake up, we say, ‘Alhamdulillah.’ Yeah, we do it when we sneeze. But they say the sleeping is a little death. You wake up, you don’t have to learn and study so many things, and so many duas. What is the idea? The idea is to remember Allah. Wake up, say Shahadat. Renew your Shahadat. Wake up, when you mind is everywhere, here and there, the first thing you do is you renew, you remember your Lord. Say Shahadat, renew your Shahadat. So many things, ease will come to you that day. So many openings will come to you that day. Don’t wait until you go to the bathroom, you take wudhu and you pray, no. First thing is to say, ‘Ashadu an-la ilaha il Allah, ve Ashadu anna Muhammadan Abduh ve Rasuluhu.’
So now, according to sheytan, he tricked himself so much, according to sheytan he is the only one who worships Allah. He is the only one that is real in his love for Allah. Why? Because when Allah swt ordered the Angels to make sujud to Adam (as), he didn’t. In reality he was saying, ‘I make sejdah (sujud) only to You. Not to this creature.’ You understand? But how many times did he challenge his Lord? How many times did he disobey Allah swt? Once. Once. Allah say, ‘make sejdah to Adam.’ He didn’t. Whatever reasons he gave, he didn’t. One time. Our nafs, how many times does our nafs disobey Allah swt? Every single time. AwliyaAllah is saying, when Allah swt created the nafs and created the spirit, and Allah call the spirit and say, ‘Come.’ Our spirit came. ‘Go to the right.’ It goes to the right. ‘Go to the left.’ It goes to the left. ‘Who are you and who am I?’ The spirit, our spirit, says, ‘You are my Lord and I am Your creature.’ Completely submitting in the will of Allah. But when Allah swt created the nafs, and Allah says, ‘come.’ It refuse to come. Go to the right. It goes to the left. Go to the left, it goes to the right. Allah is saying, ‘who am I and who are you?’ Our nafs say, ‘You are You and I am me.’ And this nafs is in everyone of us, just as the spirit is in everyone of us. So it is the nature of the nafs now to go against to Allah swt.
Sheytan made a mistake one time, disobeyed Allah once. Our nafs, every single moment. That’s why AwliyaAllah they are saying, ‘the nafs is seventy times more powerful than sheytan.’ You have to have that kind of power to go against Allah Azza wa jalla. So now, to get that power, to grab back that power, and not have the power to control you but you control it, this is when Tarikat and Tasawwuf enters, to say, especially in the Naksibendi way, we are concentrating on the nafs. Understanding the seventy thousand veils between you and Allah swt. And to remove the seventy thousand veils between you and Allah, to understand your nafs and to step on your nafs. To understand yourself. You understand your nafs, you understand yourself. Why is it important to understand yourself? Because if you don’t understand yourself, you will never understand your Lord. This is Hadiths e-Shareef. The one who understands himself, understands his Lord. Do you understand?
Now this nafs, is a big Ilah, in the ‘La’ that we are saying to. So until you come to that knowledge, you can be flying in the sky, walking on the water, you can be opening up so many unusual things, but you are not understanding your nafs and your nafs is controlling you, that time you are still in very big trouble. Who cares if you can fly in the air or walk on the water. So many unbelievers they are also doing that. But to know your nafs now, according to the way of Rasulullah (asws), now that time, Allah swt is saying what? ‘you will come close to Me. You will be close to Me.’ This is Tarikat, to come close to Allah. Shariat, you become beloved to Allah. Tarikat you become close to Allah. Shariat, Allah swt is saying, ‘My servant who fulfills the obligations, he is beloved to Me.’ Now Tarikat is not obligation. It’s not obligation, obligation. It becomes an obligation to those who have himmet, to those they start thinking, to those who are following the way of the Prophet (asws), both externally and internally. Then he does things which are not obligations. He does things because he volunteers. Sincerely he wants to do. And what happens then? Allah swt is saying that Hadiths e-Qudsi, ‘then he draws closer to Me when he does things that are not obligation, Supererogatory.’ What happens when you do actions, internal and external actions that is not obligations to you, that Allah doesn’t have to give you an order? For your own faith and intelligence to say, ‘I have to do this.’ Allah says, ‘that servant comes close to Me. He comes so close to Me’ Then what happens? What happens when a servant draws close to Allah? Allah says, ‘I will be his eyes that he sees, his tongue that he speaks, his hands that he touches, his feet that he walks.’
That Hadiths e –Sharif continues. And the Wahhabis they are cutting here and there. That hadiths continues. ‘I will dress him’ Allah swt is saying, ‘in the robes of Rabbaniyat. I will make him Lordly.’ So what happens to that one who becomes close to Allah swt? This is not to be taken literally, of course. It’s not that Allah becomes our eyes and our tongues. No. The person who doesn’t have any intelligence, they are going to jump over, especially this Wahhabi kind. They are going to jump and they are going to say that. Allah is subhana wa ta’ala. There is no space, there is no time, there is no place, to Him. He does not have a shape. Just because the Quran speaks about Allah’s face, it doesn’t mean He has a face like you and me have a face. Speaks about His Divine hands, it doesn’t mean that it’s this hands. Those are donkey heads. So, then what happens to that servant? That servant now speaks on behalf and acts on behalf of his Lord. He becomes Khalifatullah.
Khalifatullah is not reserve for everyone. Khalifatullah is the reason that everyone is being created. There is a difference. It’s not if you study so hard, if you work so hard, you will be. This is something, the invitation, the reason for everyone to be created is for that. But so many, they enter into what? The love of the dunya, Hubud Dunya. And they start fearing death. These two things, Prophet (asws) especially feared for his nation in the ahir Zaman. He has prayed very specially. He is saying, ‘there will come a time in the ahir Zaman when my nation,’ I’m simplifying the hadiths, ‘the unbelievers will rush to take things away from my nation, as people rush to eat things from a sofra, from a table.’ And they ask him, ‘is this because they are so few in numbers ya Rasulullah?’ He says, ‘No. they are going to be numerous.’ Is this because they don’t have wealth? He says, ‘No, they are going to be very wealthy.’ Is it because of this? He said, ‘no, they are going to have everything.’ ‘what is the reason ya Rasulullah?’ Alaihi salatu wa salam answering, ‘It is because they have hubud dunya. They fall in love with the world. And they start hating death.’
No one talks about death anymore. If anything, especially in the Muslim countries, they talk about dunya all the time. In the masjids they speak about dunya: ‘most important thing, education. Must have education. You must build yourself up. You must have this dunya. That time you are going to be a full Muslim.’ Correct or not? How many are really speaking about death? It must be.
So, of course, everything is out of balance. Now, no one speaks about death. In the old days, they speak about death but they make this dunya to be a safe place, a good place. Look at Islamic history. Look at the civilization. That we raised. And those civilizations whether it is the Ottomans or whether it is the Mughals, whether it is in SouthEast Asia, or in Eastern Europe, the base was always Tarikat and Tasawwuf. And the concentration of Tarikat and Tasawwuf is never this dunya, but they made this dunya to be an easy place and a peaceful place for everyone. Believers and unbelievers. And now, no one speaks about death or to remind us of death, everyone speaks about the dunya, everyone is trying to make this dunya into a Paradise, but every single day it becomes worse and worse and worse. They are trying to get rid of one problem, ten problems come out. It’s a big game that people are playing.
So, this is what we are here. To understand ourselves. If we don’t, the worship that we are doing, the blessings that we collect, our enemy that is inside and we don’t realize, is opening the back door, and it’s taking everything out, stealing everything from us. InsyaAllah, we are trying to hold on strongly to the AwliyaAllah to understand ourselves, to understand our Lord, and to worship sincerely, insyaAllah. This is our reason here. Then that time, you start to experience your faith. This much is enough. Wa minaAllahu Taufiq. Fatiha.
Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz,
Khalifah of SahibulSaif Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs),
San Diego California
16 Jamada al-Awwal 1437
February 25, 2016.