INTRODUCTION TO THE DIWAN OF SHAYKH MUHAMMAD IBN AL-HABIB
The Shaykh said, may Allah be pleased with him:
Praise belongs to Allah Who has established men in every age to revive His Tariqa. He has revealed to them the lights of Muhammad, from which all the lovers who followed them would derive aid, be they couples or individuals.
We praise Him, the Glorious and Exalted, for the secrets with which He has entrusted us, and for the sciences, gnoses and lights He has poured out on us. We greatly thank Him, may His Majesty be exalted, in recognition of all the blessings that have come to us and all the slaves of Allah, free or in bondage.
We declare that our master Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger, sent by Allah as a mercy to the creation, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his family and Companions who spent themselves and their wealth in the revival of His way and the setting up of His sunna, and who did not turn to the destruction of the hypocrites and the veiled.
Brothers of the Darqawiyya-Shadhiliyya order and all others of the Lord's slaves in all of Allah's countries who desire to emulate a master, know, that Allah the Exalted has destined for this noble path in every age one who sets right its deviations and manifests its secrets and its lights. He is the Shaykh who unites the Haqiqa and the Shari'a with the idhn of Allah and His Messenger and all the Perfected of Allah. He is the unique man of Muhammad of whom there is only one in every age. If there are numerous Shaykhs in his age, he rules over them all, whether they are aware of it or not. Many have laid claim to the Station of uniqueness with falsehood and lies because they seek leadership and desire to possess this passing world. The pretender is unaware that whoever claims what is not in him is exposed by the witnesses of the test, since in their presence a man is either exalted or humiliated. True Shaykhs are satisfied with the knowledge of Allah and depend only on Allah. All that emanates from them speaks of the blessing of Allah. He, may He be exalted said:
"As for the blessing of your Lord - declare it."
So let Muhammad ibn al-Habib, al-Amghari al-Hasani by lineage, dwelling in Fez, the poor slave of his Master, yet enriched by Him with other-than-Him - declare, in speaking of Allah's blessing - that idhn (authorisation) has come to him from Allah and the Messenger of Allah and all the Perfected of Allah, and that Allah has singled him out with sciences and secrets which only the unique man of Muhammad possesses.
Had we wished to reveal all that Allah has blessed us with we would need volumes, we shall however relate to the fuqara only that tribute with which our Shaykh and teacher Sidi Muhammad ibn 'Ali favoured us. When he, may Allah be pleased with him, became head of the order, we wrote him a letter renewing our contact with him although we had taken Tariq from the Shaykh and gnostic of Allah, Sidi al-'Arabi ibn al-Huwari. He, may Allah be pleased with him, wrote to us and ordered us to come to his presence. So we obeyed his command and went to Marrakesh. When we went in to him he was filled with limitless joy and happiness and said to us: 'The whole order came to me when you came!' On another occasion he said to us in a prophecy, may it long be remembered, 'Your rank with us in our order is that of Ibn 'Ata'allah in the Shadhiliyya order. As Allah revived the Shadhiliyya path through Ibn 'Ata'allah, so also He will revive this blessed Tariqa through you, if He wills!' And Allah has realised his hope in us.
By Allah and by Allah we have not passed through a city, a village or a desert but that the people testified that love had come to them and life flowed in their hearts. Such is the secret of Allah's idhn. Praise be to Allah, no faqir has sat with us without gaining a knowledge that was not his before, and getting from it humility and a contrite heart. No murid of the Tariqa has sat with us without a strengthening of his innate condition and the heightening of his himma in the quest for gnosis of Allah. There has been no Shaykh of the Shaykhs of the age who has not increased in his immediate tasting and gained something of benefit which he did not have before. All that is from the secret of the idhn and its baraka.
Ibn 'Ata'allah says in his 'Hikam' (Book of Wisdom):
'He to whom the idhn of discourse has been given, his declaration is understood in the ears of creation, and the evidence of his selection is made plain to them.'
The one with idhn is the one who speaks by Allah and for Allah, and so his words have an effect on the heart, and all the elect and the beloved are guided to him. The Shaykh of our Shaykh, Sidi Muhammad al-'Arabi, may Allah be pleased with him, said, 'By Allah, none has come to me who was not acceptable.' I say, speaking of the blessing of Allah, 'By Allah, none has come to me who was not beloved.'
Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to me in a prophecy, 'Know, my son, that Allah will honour you with sweet and pleasant waters.' I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, are these the waters of Islam, Iman and Ihsan?' He said to me, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, 'They are.' He said, 'You and all who follow you of my community shall drink them.' And Allah realised for us what He promised. By Allah, we have drunk these waters, and soon all of those who accompany us with sincerity will drink them too. So, my lords, give praise to Allah ta'ala and thank Him for what He has honoured you with in your time.
He has said, may He be exalted, 'Whenever we abrogate an ayat or cause it to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or equal to it.' Allah ta'ala has given precedence here to the better over the like as an indication that the heir to the perfect Wali must appear even after some time has passed. And that he will be more perfect than him in knowledge and gnosis of Allah taíala. He is the miracle of that perfect Wali. So the overflowing energy from Allah continues to increase. The Shaykh, our lord and master, Ahmad al-Badawi, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
'Your overflowing increases
Your existence is uninterrupted.'
I have indicated some of what Allah has granted me in the qasida that speaks of the blessing from Allah, entitled 'The Robe of Nearness':
'Invocation of the Beloved clothed us in beauty and radiance,
exaltation and joy.
In drawing near we cast aside every restraint and
openly proclaimed the One we love to glorify.'
When the Shaykh Sidi Muhammad b. 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, died, and the idhn was renewed in me, I regarded my self as worthless and undeserving of that station until the four Shaykhs came to me. They are: Sidi Muhammad ibn 'Ali, Sidi al-'Arabi ibn al-Huwari, Sidi Muhammad al-'Arabi, and Sidi Ahmad al-Badawi, may Allah be pleased with them. They commanded me to go out to the creation and guide them to the true King. They said: 'The water which you have drunk from us is the coolest and sweetest of waters, so stretch out your hand to the east and the west, and fear no-one!' Then the idhn came from the Chosen One, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and I was awed into going forth. So I went out to creation by Allah and for Allah, saying as Ibn 'Ata'allah said in his 'Hikam': 'My God, you have ordered me to return to the existence-traces, so return me to it with a robe of lights and the guidance of discrimination so that I may return to You from it, as I came to You from it - my secret pure of regard for it and my himma elevated above dependence on it. You have power over all things.'
Know, my lords, that it is obligatory on every murid who seeks the presence of Allah to take the living Shaykh. The proof of this obligation is His word, may He be exalted: 'O you who have iman, fear Allah, and be with the truthful ones.' Being with them necessitates accompanying them in body, not just in spirit. He has said, may He be exalted: 'Follow the path of whoever turns away from self to Me.' In this ayat, He, may He be exalted, orders the walad (beginner/lit. youth) to follow the spiritual father, not the father of form, because the spiritual father teaches the inner meaning and the father of the body teaches you sensory meaning. What a difference there is between the one whose himma is for the meaning and the one whose himma is for the sensory! He said, may Allah bless him and grant him peace: 'A man follows the Deen of his friend, so let each of you look to who he takes as a companion.' There has always been agreement in this community of Muhammad that the first thing required of a murid once he has become aware of his state of distraction is that he should rely on a Shaykh of good counsel and guidance who knows the defects of the self, its motives, and the remedies for its ailments, and who has done with the putting right of his own self and its desires. He will give the murid insight into the faults of his self and draw him out beyond the perimeter of his senses. Whoever has no Shaykh to direct him will most certainly be directed by shaytan to the path of destruction.
Murid is derived from will (irada) and it depends on sincerity (ikhlas). The true meaning of murid is one who has stripped himself of his own will and accepted what Allah wills for him, which is the worship of Allah ta'ala, for as He said: 'I have not created jinn and men except to worship Me.' When the murid is weak in disciplining his self - since the inner rule belongs to the self and shaytan - he places himself under the rule of the Shaykh and in the protection of his power. He, in his turn will help the murid to obey and worship Allah through his himma which operates by the idhn of Allah and through his words which are made effective by the gift of Allah. So a murid must cling to whoever of the Shaykhs of the age are well disposed towards him.
Sidi 'Abd al-Wahid ibn 'Ashir says:
'The murid keeps company with a Shaykh who knows the ways of behaviour,
and who protects him from dangers on his way.
The murid is reminded of Allah when he sees the Shaykh,
who then leads the slave to his Master.'
Look at our commentary on these verses and confusion will leave you.
Ibn 'Ata'llah, may Allah be pleased with him, says in his 'Hikam':
'Do not accompany the one whose state does not change you,
and whose speech does not guide you to Allah.'
The elevation of your state, and the guidance of his speech are the result of this companionship. So whoever does not find such a state from his companion let him abandon him to Allah and seek one of this description. The murid will gain a master in accordance with his own sincerity and strength of resolution. Allah is the one to ask for help.
Explaining the attributes of the teaching Shaykh, I said in one of my qasidas ending in ta':
La ilaha illa'llah banishes all whisperings
with the instruction of a Shaykh who knows the Haqiqa.
His signs are: a light which shines appearing outwardly,
and a secret which appears inwardly, with himma.
He elevates you with a glance even before he speaks,
and from this glance comes a Robe of Honour.
By that I mean the secrets which flow rapidly into the
heart of the murid seeking the truth free of any shirk.
The staff of his journey is his zuhd among people,
and his concern lies in seeking the Beloved alone in vision.
His speech is by idhn from the Best of Creation
upon whom the glorious truthful ones depend.
If you attain the goal of finding someone like this,
then set out and offer up the self without delay.
Consider nothing except what I have described here,
for it is enough and it contains every happiness.
Al-Junayd, may Allah be pleased with him said:
'Purify yourself with the water of the Unseen if you are one possessing a secret. If not, do tayammum with dust or stone. Go before an Imam in front of whom you stand, and pray the noon prayer at the beginning of the afternoon. This is the prayer of those who are the gnostics of their Lord. If you are one of them, then moisten the dry land with the sea.'
He, may Allah be pleased with him, commanded the murid to purify himself with the water of the Unseen. It is understood that purification is of two sorts: sensory purification which is the sensory water, and pertains to the whole body if it is a major impurity, and to specific limbs if it is a minor impurity. This is not what the poet meant, may Allah be pleased with him. The second sort is spiritual purification which is the purification of the hearts from the ailments which veil them from the presence of the Knower of the Unseen. This purification is only done with spiritual water which is the water of sciences, gnoses and secrets that flow from the presence of the Unseen into the heart of the Shaykh who is a gnostic of Allah, purified of fault. The Shaykh pours it over the murid and so he purifies his heart from otherness and it is filled with gnoses and secrets. This is if the murid himself possesses a secret, that is to say inner sight, which brings him into contact with the one who takes him by the hand, that is, the Shaykh who draws his power from the presence of the Unseen as we have stated. If the murid does not possess this secret and inner sight then he must do tayammum with the dust of outward deeds and formal knowledge until Allah endows him with the secret and the inner sight.
He indicates, may Allah be pleased with him, by his statement: 'Go before an Imam in front of whom you stand,' that the murid must go before an Imam, a Shaykh, a gnostic of Allah, to copy him in the spiritual prayer which is the direct perception of the worshipped King, as it is necessary for the one behind the Imam in the prayer to do ruku' and sujud (bowing and prostrating). His words: 'In front of whom you stand,' indicate to the murid that he should not follow any Shaykh except one he already knew in the world of spirits. The Prophet, peace by upon him, said: 'The spirits are numerous hosts, whoever of them become acquainted will be in harmony, and those not acquainted will be at variance.' The meaning then is: 'Go before in the world of spirits. Because of the encounter and acquaintance which occurred in the world of the spirits, harmony will occur in the world of forms.'
By his words, 'Pray the noon prayer at the beginning of the afternoon,' he means pray the Dhuhr prayer (noon prayer), that is the manifestation (dhuhur) of your desire for your Lord, which is uninterrupted witnessing of the worshipped King, as we have said. 'Asr (afternoon prayer) means 'being together' (mu'asara) with your Shaykh and the negation of your will for him. He does not refer, may Allah be pleased with him, to the prayers of Dhuhr and 'Asr containing ruku' and sujud, because it is known that dhuhr is set to be prayed at the beginning of its time and not at the beginning of 'Asr. Thus the meaning falls into place, so understand and you will be guided - and Allah has charge of our guidance and the guidance of creation. Amin.
As regards his statement: 'This is the prayer of those who are gnostics of their Lord,' it means this is uninterrupted contemplation of the worshipped King. Their prayer is not interrupted because it is constant. They persevere in the witnessing of their Lord. His word: 'If you are among them, then moisten the dry land with the sea,' means if you are one of the gnostics -and they are not veiled by creation from the truth, nor by the truth from creation - then moisten, that is sprinkle, the dry land of your road (Shari'a) with the sea of your reality (Haqiqa), and be among those who unite the two. Likewise, our Imam, Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said: 'He who follows the Shari'a and does not ascertain (i.e. have direct experience) has strayed from the proper course. He who ascertains and does not follow the Shari'a has become a heretic. Whoever unites the two has realised!' That is, he has realised the two forms of worship ('ubudiyya), the worship of obligation and the worship of instruction