Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shah Wali Allah & Devotion to the Prophet(saws) Part 2 of 2,Dr. Marcia Hermansen

Shah Wali Allah (r.a) and Devotion to the Prophet Muhammad (saws) by Dr. Marcia Hermansen is Director of the Islamic World Studies Program and Professor in the Theology Department at Loyola University Chicago where she teaches courses in Islamic Studies and the academic study of religion. She received her Ph. D. from the University of Chicago in Arabic and Islamic Studies . Delivered at International Mawlid un Nabi Conference held at University of Illinois at Chicago on September 17, 1994, sponsored by Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (


Shah Wali Allah and Devotion to the Prophet (saws)
Part 2
Marcia Hermansen, Ph.D

In the second volume of the author’s most famous work ,Hujjat Allah al-baligha ( The Conclusive Proof from God ), under the topic of Spiritual Practices ( ihsan ), specifically the form of remembrance ( dhikr ) of sending blessings on the Prophet ( saws ), he discusses several well known hadith on this theme:
The Prophet (saws) said.” Whoever sends one salutation to me, I salute him in return ten times” and “The closest person to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who has sent the most salutations to me.” I say “The inner meaning of these hadith is that human souls must turn to the divine states. There is nothing more effective in this {endeavor} than turning towards the lights of God’s process of drawing nearer to us ( tadalliyat ), turning towards the emblems of God on His earth, opening ourselves to receive them and reflecting deeply on them and especially on the spirit of those who have drawn near to Allah. They are the best among the Higher Angels and are intermediaries of God’s generosity to the people of the world, in the sense already mentioned. Remembering the Prophet (saws) with reverence and seeking Allah’s good things for him are a sound means of turning to God, due to their element of preventing deviation-in so far as a person is only remembering the Prophet (saws) in order to seek mercy for him from God Exalted.
The spirits of perfected ones, once they have separated from their physical bodies, become like a restrained wave. They are unshaken by a changing will or a chance motive, while the souls who are below them can become attached to them through concentrated zeal (himma) so that they become clothed in light from them and in form appropriate to the spiritual.
This is what is expressed in his saying (saws) “There is no person who sends salams to me but that God returns my spirit to me so that I can return salams to him.” I have witnessed such things on innumerable occasions during my voyage to Medina in the year 1144/1732.”
In Fuyud al- haramayn some of these occasions are recorded. Fuyud al- haramayn means “The Emanations of the Two Holy Cities,” and the majority of emanations refer to the person of the Prophet (saws) in the role of a spiritual guide who answers questions about Islamic doctrine and spiritual practice posed by the Sufi during waking visions and dreams. These demonstrate the sense of the Prophet (saws) as a living presence who continues to inspire and guide his followers directly. In some visions the Prophet (saws) mentions the high rank of the Ulama (scholars) and the muhaddithun (scholars of hadith), and in a number of others he refers specifically of familiar conflicts which are causing tensions in the Muslim umma (community) at the time of Shah Wali Allah (r.a). Some of these issues were, for example which of legal schools should be preferred, the ranking of early caliphs, and the wahdat al-wujud (unity of existence) versus wahdat al-shuhud (unity of awareness). In his answers one sees the tendency to moderate and resolve such disputes, a tendency which Shah Wali Allah (r.a) adopted in his major works, legal opinions, and fatwas (formal declarations about sharia).
Al-Durr al-thamin
The treatise al-Durr al-thamin fi mubashsharat al-Nabi al-amin is an unusual work since it contains forty reports which were received directly from the Prophet (saws) during the visionary experiences of either Shah Wali Allah (r.a), his father or his spiritual teachers. The first section records the compiler’s own visionary experiences and repeats some of the visions found in the work Fuyud al-haramayn. Two of the reports of his father’s visionary experiences are especially relevant to the theme of this conference:
#16- The durud (prayer of benediction) he received from his father. “My father commanded me to say the following salutation on the Prophet (saws), Allahumma salli ala muhammadin al nabi al-ummi wa alihi wa barik wa sallim.’ And I received this in a dream and saw that the Prophet (saws) approved of this salutation.”
#22- On the celebration of the mawlid, “My master, my father, informed me, saying, “On the mawlid days I used to have food prepared in honor of the Prophet (saws). One year I did not have anything to make the food with except fried chick peas, so I distributed these to the people. Then I saw him with those chick peas in front of him, and he was smiling delightedly.”
Atyab al-nagham
The work Alyah al-nagham fi madh Sayyid al-‘arab wa-al-‘ajam is comprised of four Arabic poems and their explanations in Persian, composed by the author at the request of his disciple, Muhammad Amin Kashmiri. He begins the work by stating, “This poor person. Wali Allah, may God forgive him, says that praising the Master of the Prophets (saws) and recording his outstanding traits (manaqib) are important ways of honoring his presence and remembering his Prophetic mission. Therefore I agreed to compose a qasida on this topic.” What follows is a description of each of these four poems.
1) The first qasida is the one which he calls Ayab al-nagham fi madh Sayyid al-‘arab wa-al-‘ajam (The Best of Melodious Recitations in Praise of the Master of the Arabs and non-Arabs). He states that it resembles the Arabic qasida of Sawad ibn Qarib, one of the Companions. The themes elucidated in the poem progress through twelve sections and feature difficult Arabic terms which are explained in the Persian commentary. The commentary is said to have been completed on 24 Rabi’ al-thani 1156 (17 June 1743).
2) The second of the Arabic poems is the “Humziya,” a form of verse in which every couplet ends in the letter “hamza” (the glottal stop of the Arabic alphabet). It is in the form of na’t (a poem in praise of the Prophet (saws). According to Baljon the poem was written in 1157/1745 and the commentary in 117/1762.
3) The third is called “ta;iya,” a verse form in which every couplet ends in the letter “ta’.” Its orientation is mystical. In the commentary, Shah Wali Allah (r.a) mentions the subtle spiritual evolution of the world (adwar).
4) The fourth is “lamiya,” a verse form in which every couplet ends in the letter “lam.”
The poem, “Atyab al-nagham,” is divided by the author into twelve sections. For each couplet he has provided a Persian commentary which explains the difficult words and the internal references to Koran or hadith.
The first section is the commencement of the poem, in which he mentions some difficult circumstances of the times, for which help must be sought for the spirit of the Prophet (saws).
The second section explains the most outstanding trait (manqaba) of the Prophet (saws), which is intercession for the community on the Day of Judgment- as described in the sahih(sound) hadith collections.
The third section puts forth some of the evidence (dala’il) of Muhammad’s prophecy foretold by previous prophets such as Ibrahim, Ismail, and Isa (upon them be peace).
The fourth section clarifies another dimension of the evidence of prophecy, evidence gained by contemplating the qualities (shama’il) and virtues of the Prophet (saws), such as the following: moderation of the character, eloquence, bringing benefit to humanity, temperance, nobility, great zeal, courage, a forgiving nature, patience, asceticism, and so on.
Section five points out another type of evidence of prophecy which includes the situation of the Arabs and non-Arabs and their religions before the mission of the Prophet (saws). It reflects on the state of the “Illiteracy” of the Prophet (saws) and the fact that he did not frequent the company of scholars. The manner in which the Prophet improved the situation of his people also constitutes a proof of his authenticity.
Section six explains yet another type of evidence that becomes apparent when reflecting on the divine law, which constitutes guidance for establishing worship, refining the soul, managing the household, and governing the state.
Section seven concerns the evidence of the Prophet’s miracles.
Section eight features a prayer for the family and companions of the Prophet (saws).
Section nine recalls and prays for the generations of Muslims who have firmly preserved the religion century after century.
Section ten discusses the love of the Prophet (saws) and the Uwaysi connection.
Section eleven completes the qasida with the supplication (ibtihal) for the Prophet (saws).
In all, the poem and commentary are about twenty three pages.
In his work al-Tafhimat al-ilahiya, Shah Wali Allah (r.a) also discussed the practice of sending salutations to the Prophet (saws):
“Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds, and may salutations and blessings be upon our Master, Muhammad (saws), and upon his family. If someone were to hold that there is no benefit in sending salutations to the Prophet (saws), because the meaning of salutations is seeking mercy, ennobling, and confirming, and because the Prophet (saws) has already reached a limit which cannot be surpassed, then this would be oppose the [hadith] text which says “Whoever sends salutations to me once, I will salute them ten times.” Thus this benefit returns to the one who sends salutations.
From this brief introduction we learn that Sha Wali Allah (saws) who is recognized as one of the great Muslim scholars, both advocated and practiced sending salutations to the Prophet, commemorating his noble birth (Mawlid), and experiencing him as a living presence and spiritual guide.


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