Revelation of Mystery (Kashf al Mahjub)

The Rules of Companionship in Travel

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Chapter XXIII (f)

The Rules of Companionship in Travel

 

When a dervish prefers to travel and not to reside, he ought to observe the following rules:

-      The travel must be for the sake of Allah, and not for the pleasure of nafs (lower soul). As he journeys outwardly, so he should flee inwardly from his sensual affections.

-       He must always keep himself in a state of purity and must not neglect his devotional practices.

-       The objective of his traveling should be to travel for pilgrimage or for Jihad (war) or to see a holy site or to derive some benefit or to seek knowledge or to visit a venerable person, a Sheikh, or tomb of some saint. If the dervish does not have either of these objectives his journey will not yield him any benefit.

During the travel he must keep with him muraqqa (patched frock), prayer-rug, ewer, rope, shoes or sleeper and a staff. The patched frock is to cover his nakedness, the prayer-rug to pray, the ewer to cleanse him with, and the staff to protect him from harmful objects. After performing wadu (ablution) he must put on his shoes in a state of purity and then leads him to the prayer-rug.

If anyone carries other articles, in adherence to Sunnah (Apostolic custom), such as a comb, nail-scissors, needle and a small box of antimony, it is lawful but if anyone keeps something in addition to above, we have to consider in what station the dervish is, for if he is a novice every article will be a shackle, a stumbling-block, an idol and a veil to him, and means of showing self-conceit. But if the dervish is firmly grounded adept he may carry all these and more articles.

One day Sheikh Abu Muslim Faris b. Ghalib al-Farisi paid a visit to Sheikh Abu Said b. Abu al-Khair. He found him sleeping on a couch which was surrounded with cushions. His legs were spread over each other and he was covered with fine Egyptian linen. Abu Muslim whose garment was so dirty that it resembled dry leather and his body was emaciated by austerities, on looking at Abu Said a feeling of disbelief overcame him and a thought occurred to him that they both were  dervish, yet Abu Said was in all luxury and he was in sore tribulation. Abu Said divined his thoughts and got aware of his vainglory. He said:

“O Abu Muslim in which poetical work have you read that a self-conceited man is a dervish? O my brother I kept eye only on Allah and He made me seated on a throne, and since you have kept your eye only to yourself, Allah made you seated on the dust. I am preordained to contemplation, while you to mortification. Both these are the stations on the Way to Allah, but Allah is far aloof from both of them, and a dervish is dead to all stations and free from all states.”

On hearing these words Abu Muslim lost his senses and the whole world grew dark in his eyes. When he came back to his senses, he repented, and Sheikh accepted his repentance. Abu Muslim told Sheikh that he was unable to bear his sight and begged for leave. The Sheikh agreed to his request and read this verse:

That which my ear was unable to hear

My eye beheld all at once.

The traveling dervish must always observe the Sunnah, and when he comes to a resident dervish he should enter his presence respectfully and greet him. Then first of all he should remove his left shoe, for Prophet (peace be upon him) used to do this way. When he puts his shoe on he should first put on the right shoe. Similarly, he should wash his right foot before his left. Then he should perform two rakaat of salutation prayer and occupy himself with attending to the (religious) duties incumbent on dervishes. He must under no circumstances interfere with the resident dervishes, or behave immoderately towards them. Similarly he must not talk before the audience of the hardships which he have suffered in traveling, or discourse on theology, or tell anecdotes, or recite tradition,  for all this is a sign of self-conceit. He must be patient on any foolish talk and tolerate their irksomeness for Allah’s sake, for in patience there are many blessings. If residents or their servants command him and invite him for a visit to shrine or town people, he must comply if he can, but in his heart he ought to dislike such hospitality which represent the marks of respect with worldlings. He must take care not to trouble them by making any unreasonable demand, and he must not drag them to the court of high officials with the purpose of seeking an idle pleasure for himself.

Traveling as well as resident dervishes while in companionship must always endeavor to please Allah and must have a good belief in each other. They must not speak ill of any comrade face to face or behind his back, for it is improper for the seeker of the Truth to talk about the created. The true mystics in regarding the act see the Agent, and created beings in whatever state they may be, are the creation of Allah, whether it is faulty or faultless, veiled or in contemplation, so any criticism on them is a criticism on Allah. If one sees the creation with human eye, he ought to renounce it then, for created are veiled, subdued, forsaken and helpless. No one can act more than for what he has been created. The created has no interference in the kingdom of Allah and no one save Allah has the power and authority to change the nature of something.

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Zahid Javed Rana, Abid Javed Rana, Lahore, Pakistan

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