Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Muhammad al-Habīb Hamū al-Būzīdī (1824-1909)

His lineage goes back to the family of the Prophet through Moulay Isa b. Moulay Idris II b. Moulay Idrīs I b. Moulay Abdullah al-Kāmil b. Moulay Hasan al-Muthanna b. Moulay Hasan b. Imam ‘Ali. He was born in Dabdaba; Mostaghānem in 1824. He was educated by his father who was a prominent scholar of the region. When he was still a boy, he moved on to study in a zāwiyah affiliated to the Sanusi order in the village of Bu Qarītat just outside the town. He studied with the local scholar there known as ash-Sharif b. Takouk who was a disciple of a Qādiri sheikh named Sīdi Bil-Qadouz. This sheikh suffered a lot near the end of his life due to the treatment of local Turkish authorities who oppressed him. Things became so difficult for him near the end of his life that he advised his student Sidi ash-Sharif b. Takouk to go back to his family and teach the people. It was in this zāwiya that the sheikh completed his studies of Qurān, Fiqh and Grammar.

The Sheikh at times would miss his family, so he would often return to visit them in Mostaghānem. On one of these trips back to the town, he was arrested whilst in the company of his father in the market on the premises that he was an informer for the Algerian resistance movement against the French, which was led by Amīr ‘Abd al-Qādir. He was arrested and held for a number of days where he was exposed to torture. The Sheikh was only twenty years of age at the time. One of his relatives on his mother’s side managed to get him released but he was advised to leave the town immediately or he would be killed. He fled the town as soon as he could, in fear of his life. Now he was all alone with no-one familiar around him.

His journey led him to Tilimsān and there he went to visit the grave of Abū Madyan to find some solace. Night arrived and he decided to stay there until the morning. After reciting a part of the Qurān, he fell into a slumber and dreamt that he saw one of his ancestors, Abu Sa’īd b. ‘Ali, accompanied by Abu Madyan. Al-Būzīdī greeted them both and then was ordered by Abu Madyan to head for Morocco. Al-Būzīdī replied that Morocco was filled by serpents and poisonous beasts and that he was unable to live there. Abu Madyan passed his blessed hand over his body and said: “Go and have no fear! You are protected from anything that could possibly harm you.’ He awoke in a state of shock and headed directly for Morocco.

When he set off he contacted two friends, Muhammad al-Hibrī and ‘Abd al-Qādir b. ‘Adda Bu ‘Abd ‘Allī, who were also students studying Quran at the time. They decided to travel with him and went around mosques on their journey, correcting the tablets of students studying the Qurān. On their way, they passed by a mountain called the spring of ‘Zūrā’. At that time there was a man of God called Muhammad Qaddūr al-Wukīlī residing in the mountain. There he would teach children the book of God. Once they met him, they asked him if they could reside with him and study the Quran with him. He gave them permission and sensed that they would be men of great stature in the future. There they studied the variants of the Qurān for some time. After a time, he granted them permission to recite the general litanies of his order, and finally he gave them the litany of the Divine name ‘Allāh’.

Once they had grown strong and able in his teachings, he sent al-Hibrī to the region of Ahfir; Barkān and Bu ‘Abd ‘Allī to Ghalīzan; Algeria. He sent another student of his Sidi Muhammad b. Mas‘oud to the region of al-Ghazawat. The Shiekh was now very old so he kept Muhammad al-Būzīdī at his side in order to teach his children, who were still very young. He stayed, serving him and taking care of the daily affairs of his master, whilst his master taught him more about the order. One day he told him, ‘Do not move from this place until your permission comes.’ His teacher would on numerous occasions praise his student saying, ‘Buzīdī has taken the water carrier with both hands,’ indicating he was to become the inheritor of the sheikh’s teachings. Before his teacher passed away, he gave him permission to stay in the zāwiya to take care of its affairs. He remained there teaching the students and distributing the litanies to new aspirants until some of his master’s relatives threw him out.

He went on to Banī Sa‘īd and his students from the zāwiya followed him there. There he resumed his teachings, but his master’s children, who had been convinced by some people who wished ill for Buzīdī that he had fooled them into allowing him to run the zāwiya, sought him out in order to kill him. He caught wind of their intention and realised his master’s permission for him to leave had come. He headed for Melīllia but he would only travel by night in order that the people chasing him would not get scent of his trail. He arrived in Nador and stayed in a place called Wardāna. He arrived at the time of the Isha prayer and asked if the people would put him up. They asked who he was and he told them that he taught children Qurān as a profession. He led them in prayer, and then they apologised that they could not put him up due to hostilities from neighbouring tribes. They also warned him of a devious jinni that had occupied the mosque.

In the night, the jinni visited Sīdī Buzīdī. It had a fearsome form; it breathed fire and smoke from its mouth and nose. Sīdī Buzīdī began to recite Sura al-Ikhlas. He kept repeating it whilst pointing his index finger at the jinni wherever it turned. The jinni eventually burned up through the light of this Sura, and it turned to ash. Sīdī Buzīdī slept and woke just before Fajr to perform some prayers. Then he read his Fajr prayer and recited his litany.

When the people came to see what had happened through the night, they were astonished to find Sīdī Buzīdī safe and sound. He pointed to the ashes of the jinni and told them to bury them. In the morning, he asked their permission to leave, but they insisted that he stay to teach their children. The head of the region, Muhammad b. Yahya al-Wardani, was so impressed with Sīdī Buzīdī that he offered him his daughter’s hand in marriage. He stayed for a while until his reputation had spread though the North of Morocco. The disciples from Karkar came to invite him back but he refused; he was now determined to return to his homeland. On his way home, he passed through Melīlia and came stayed in the mosque of Moulay Idrīs for two days. Then he took a ship to Mostaghānem.

Once he arrived in Mostaghānem, he did not initially invite people to the path. He was content to teach the children and keep himself unknown. He eventually established a zāwiya and began calling people to God. He would walk the streets with his walking stick in hand and his rosary around his neck. He managed to produce a number of fine students but after some disputes he was forced to shut his zāwiya and began visiting his students in their work places. There he met his protégé Ahmad al-‘Alawī.

Character of Sīdī Buzīdī:

One day, Sīdī Buzīdī was invited by the local French authorities for a meeting. When he went to see the man he gifted him with two cloaks. On leaving the building, he found a man walking the streets with no clothes on. He quickly covered the man with one of his cloaks. Soon he came across another man similar to the first, and he gave him the second cloak. Later on, an official from the local authorities came to the zāwiya to see what he had done with the gifts. When he found him wearing his normal clothes, he asked his students what had happened to the two robes, and they told what he had done with them.

On another occasion, his students knocked on his door and on opening for them, they were shocked to see him wearing his wife’s gown. When asked why he was dressed so, he told them he was washing the only garb he had. His students fell silent out of embarrassment that they were wearing their fine clothes and their teacher had only one set of clothing in his wardrobe. They rushed off to buy him clothes, but he would only take one of the items they gave him; the rest he gave in charity.

One day, he was invited to attend a wedding and it just so happened that another sheikh had been invited as well. When the sheikh heard that Sīdī Buzīdī was among the guests he refused to enter unless they told Sīdī Buzīdī to leave. The host was perplexed as what to do and rushed to his wife to relate to her his predicament. However, his wife was very wise and told him she would prepare food for Sīdī Buzīdī and his family and tell him to go and give it to them. They prepared the couscous and asked him to pray for the newlyweds. However on his way home, he decided not to take the food home. A notion came to him that he should take it to the sister of the host who was not invited to the wedding because they had fallen out. He went to their home and knocked on the door. He gave the food to her husband and told them that her brother was sorry that he had forgotten to invite them and here was some food as a gesture of apology. He asked them to go and attend the event at once. Once they had eaten the food they went to attend the wedding with the plate now filled with sweets for the happy occasion. The man was so happy to see his sister and it was only on seeing the plate that the host realized that it was Sīdī Buzīdī who had been the means to get them to attend the occasion.

One day, the sheikh was walking in the street when an elderly Jewish man fell over on the floor in front of him. The Sheikh rushed to pick him up and comfort him, and placed the man’s hat back on his head. Some other Jewish men from the town came along at that point and were so shocked to see Sīdī Buzīdī tending to the man. From that day on the Jewish community treated him with the utmost respect.

On another occasion another sheikh came to see Sīdī Buzīdī to tell him that he had seen the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, in a dream telling him that Sīdī Buzīdī was destined for the hellfire. Sīdī Buzīdī responded by breaking into a warm smile and he thanked the man, saying, ‘The Prophet said I was destined for the hellfire! May God bless you! I thought I was so insignificant that it would not be possible for me to even be mentioned by the Prophet. I am grateful that my name was even mentioned on his lips and that he is concerned about me; for I know that he is the intercessor for all those who transgress and commit sin. God bless you, and peace be upon you!’

Sidi Mustafa b. Karitli was a member of the council of security in the time of the French occupation. One day, the local French mayor was coming to visit the area, so Sidi Mustafa b. Karitli got ready to receive him by dressing up in his finest clothes. He stood in the street with his entourage in the Arab quarter ready to walk up to the French quarter, when all of a sudden Sīdī Buzīdī came up to him carrying the innards of a sheep along with its liver and lungs, and placed them straight in Sidi Karitli’s hands. Blood was dripping from the meat, and flies had gathered all around him, but Sīdī Buzīdī insisted to walk beside his colleagues until he got to the square between the two districts. There he stopped him and said, ‘Enough now my son; glad tidings are yours, for God has cured you of arrogance, vanity and any pride of leadership and notoriety you might have had today. What a great servant of God you are!’

One day, one of his disciples came to visit him. On the way, he was thinking about what kinds of delicious foods he would eat at the house of the sheikh. When he arrived, instead of taking him downstairs where the guests would normally sit, the sheikh took him to the top floor. Then he brought him a plate of broad beans and told him to eat. Once his student began eating, the sheikh pointed to his stomach, saying, ‘This is nothing but your foul smelling intestines, so quickly fill it with what’s in front of you. Then rise, and invoke your Lord though the day and night, in order that God’s mercy might encompass you, and drag you from your slumber and heedlessness into the vigilance of direct divine knowledge whereby you witness God’s light with your inner sight. Then once your inner darkness dissipates, the light of your inner sun will shine and point you towards guidance. Once you reach this state, you will not wither or change until you reach your Lord, having attained His contentment and pleasure.’

One year at the celebrations of the birthday of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, his son was killed by a firework someone had set off. When the sheikh came to look for his son he found him on the floor in a pool of blood. A man came from the crowd and told him, ‘Come and I’ll show you who killed your son!’ The Sheikh immediately spoke back to the man harshly, saying “You fool! I know who killed my son! He is the one who decrees death of every soul!” Sidi Buzidi then picked his son up and prepared him in order to pray over him. He did not file any complaint against the person responsible for the death of his son.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Letters of Moulay al-'Arabi al-Darqawi

Letter 13

The disciples long before never busied themselves or strived in anything unless it smote their egos and brought life to their hearts. Today we have turned things over on their heads. They strived to let go of their desires and lower themselves. I say these words to you only because I have seen the gifts of those who smite their egos and bring life to their hearts. Unfortunately we have become content with less; and whoever is content with anything other than arrival at the witnessing of God is an ignoramus.

However, being attached to one’s desires and seeking to raise one’s station in the eyes of others is not the only thing that prevents one from receiving these gifts; one also needs a natural gift in one’s heart. The inner meanings do not descend on a heart unless it has a mighty connection with seeing the essence of its Lord. If so, the realities of the Lord’s essence will descend upon it until they efface him, whereby he will no longer imagine there is anything else besides His presence. Whoever has a strong connection with his Lord will be thus so. As for one who is naturally drawn to knowledge alone or works alone, he will never obtain the inner meanings of things or taste them, because his heart is directed to other than the essence of God; and God provides for His servant according to his aspiration.

Know that these inner meanings are ever present in the human being and they are as many as there are waves in the ocean. However, the material world has overtaken them and taken a grip on their hearts and limbs, preventing them from obtaining these meanings, for they are opposites that never meet.

This arriving is not reached through acts, whether abundant or sparse; it is reached through the bounty and grace of God alone.

(Ibn Ata ‘Illah) ‘Were you only unable to reach Him after all your blameworthy traits and empty claims were effaced, you would never reach Him; if He wishes to bring you to Him, He covers over your traits with His, and your qualities with His. Therefore your arrival to Him is from Him to you and not you to Him.’

This is a grace from God that He has granted the masters of the path. Were it not for them, no-one would be able to reach Him, as to know a man of God is far more difficult than to know God himself.

(Ibn ‘Ata ‘Illah:) ‘Hallowed be He who only made guidance towards His close ones as a means of guidance towards Him, and only guided to them those whom He wanted to bring unto Himself.’

There is no doubt that our Lord of the heaven and earth, the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, was present and plain to see as the sun above the mountain, but despite that not everyone saw him. Others were veiled from him as were so many before amongst whom dwelt their prophets, and the men of God of their time, yet they rejected them and did not believe.

‘And you witness them looking unto you, but they do not see.’

‘And they say: “What sort of a messenger is this, who eats food, and walks through the streets?’ (Quran: 25/7)

More than two thirds of the Book of God is concerned with those who rejected the message and did not perceive the reality of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace. Consider Abu Jahl! He saw him as a mere orphan charge of Abu Talib!

If one finds a master of the path, at times he will see that breaking free of the ego is accomplished some times by hunger and at other times by satiation. At other times he may see that he must call you to increase your means, and at other times to limit them. He may call you to sleep, and at other times order you to limit it. He may call you to flee from the people, and at other times to sit with them and take solace from them. This is because one’s inner light may become so strong that the master fears that it will crush the disciple as it has done to so many others before. He may therefore take him out of isolation into the company of others to quell the light within, so it does not crush him; or he may do the opposite.

‘To thy Lord is the final goal.’ (Quran: 53/42)

Due to the limited number of people whose hearts are ready to follow, spiritual training has become so scarce. However, God’s knowledge is never completely severed.

This path will always be, through God’s power and might, as it is taken from our masters all the way back to the Messenger himself, who took it from the archangel Gabriel, who took it directly from God Almighty. Whoever comes forth to teach it has done so with the authority of God and His messenger, may God bless him and grant him peace, and as Sidi al-Mursi said, ‘No teacher comes forth to teach the disciples until divine inspiration has overcome him and he has been given authority from God and His messenger.’ It is through the blessing of this authority that this matter still stands and its folk remain upright, and God knows best.

Sidi Abu al-Mawahib al-Tunusi, may God be pleased with him, said with regard to witnessing the essence of our Lord, ‘Annihilation (fana’) is effacement and dwindling away until you cease to remain and are removed.’

(Sidi Abu Madyan:) ‘Whoever has not ceased to exist has not seen the Real.’

Be wary of assuming it is the dense or opaque matter that has veiled you from your Lord. It is your own delusion that has done so; and delusion is opposed to the truth.

(Ibn ‘Ata ‘Illah:) ‘It is not the existence of something present alongside Him that has veiled you, for there is nothing besides Him; rather it is the delusion that there is something present alongside Him that has veiled you.’

The state of annihilation can be achieved in a short space of time, God willing, by invoking God’s majestic name ‘Allah’ in a specific method. I found this method mentioned by Imam Shadhili in a book which was in the possession of some scholars in my homeland of Bani Zarwal. My teacher Sidi ‘Ali also taught me this, but in different way which is even more effective, and which achieves results in a shorter space of time.

The method is to picture the five letters of the name when reciting it. Whenever you feel the image in front of you slipping away, you must go back to it, even if you had to one thousand times in one night and one thousand times in the day. Using this method, a great thought came to me. I used to invoke using it at the beginning of the path for up to one month. Divine knowledge in its plenty would come to me, but I was not distracted by it; rather I focussed my intention on invoking the Name, bringing the letters to my mind constantly for one whole month until the words of God came to:

‘He is the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden.’ (Quran: 57/3)

I immediately turned my thoughts away from it back to the invoking of the Name as I had done to so many other notions that had come to me before. However, this one would not leave me; rather it grabbed a hold of me and would not let me go. I tried to turn my thoughts time and again from it but it would not leave me. I said to it, ‘As for His exalted words “He is the First and the Last” and “the Hidden” I understood, but I did not understand the word “Manifest”, as the only thing evident that we see is the creation. The notion replied back, ‘If the meaning of the word “Manifest” had meant anything other than that which you see before you, it would have been hidden, and not manifest, yet I say to you ‘The Manifest!’ From that point I realised that there was nothing present but God alone and there is nothing in the creation but Him, thanks and praise be to Him.

Annihilation in the essence of our Lord can be achieved, God willing, in a very short space of time by applying this method that we have laid down to you. By using it, it brings about divine thought from morning to evening if one has the time. I achieved it in the space of one month, and God knows best.

And without a doubt, if one is able to gain divine thought in his life even if it takes one year, two years or even three, then he has gained a great blessing and clear well-known secret. As the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, said:

“A moment’s contemplation is more virtuous than seventy years of worship.”

Contemplation can take one from the material realm to the realm of purity; or we can say from the presence of created being to the presence of the Creator, and I say this as God is my witness.

We stress to anyone who has come back from a state of heedlessness to a state of remembrance that he must attach his heart to seeing the essence of his Lord at all times in order that it grant him its meanings. This is the way of its folk. Also I stress that he not suffice himself with the notions that come to him, and leave the litanies of the path, in order that he not be deprived of obtaining the goal.