Revelation of Mystery (Kashf al Mahjub)

Rending Garments

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Chapter XXV (k)

Rending Garments

 

It is the custom of Sufis to rend their garments, and they have commonly done this in great assemblies where eminent Sheikhs were present. I have met with some theologian who objected to this practice and said that it is not right to tear an intact garment to pieces, and that this is an evil and it is impossible that evil may bring forth some good. But I say that an evil of which the purpose is good must itself be good. After all everyone cut the intact cloth first and then sew it, therefore, there is no difference in that the cloth may be cut into hundred pieces and sewn or to be sewn just cutting it into five pieces. Every piece gladdens the heart of a believer, when he sews it on his patched frock, and brings about the satisfaction of his desire.

Although the rending of garments has no foundation in Sufism and certainly ought not to be practiced in audition by anyone who remains in his senses, for otherwise it will be mere extravagance. However, if the hearer be so overpowered that his sense of discrimination is lost and he becomes unconscious, then he may be excused (for tearing his garment to pieces) and it is permissible that all the persons present should rend their garments in sympathy with him. There are certain circumstances in which Sufis rend their garments:

Firstly, when a number of his friends tear their garment to pieces at the command of their Sheikh on the occasion of asking Allah to pardon an offence and repentance; or when a dervish tears his own garment to pieces through rapture caused by audition and thirdly, when they do the same in the intoxication of ecstasy.

The most difficult is to tear or throw off garments in audition. It has two aspects, i.e. it may be torn or kept intact. If it be torn, it should either be sewed together and given back to its owner or bestowed on another dervish or torn to more pieces, for the sake of gaining a blessing be divided among more people.

If it is intact, the intention of the dervish who cast it off must be considered. If he meant it for the qawal (orator), let he to take it and if he meant it for the members of the party, let them have it, and If he threw it off without any intention, the Sheikh present must determine whether it shall be given to those present and divided among them, or be conferred on one of them, or given to the qawal (orator). If the dervish meant it for qawal (orator), his companions need not to throw off their garments in sympathy, because the cast off garment will not go to his fellows and he will have given it voluntarily or involuntarily without their participation. But if the garment was thrown off with the intention that it should fall to the members of the party, or without any intention, they should all throw off their garments in sympathy. And when they have done this, the Sheikh ought not to bestow the garment on the qawal (orator), but it is allowable that any lover of the Truth among them should sacrifice something that belongs to him and return the garment to the dervishes, in order that it may be torn to pieces and distributed.

If a garment drops down while its owner is in a state of rapture, the Sheikhs hold various opinions as to what ought to be done, but the majority say that it should be given to the qawal (orator), in accordance with the Prophet (peace be upon him) tradition, من قتل قتيلًا فله سلبه the spoils belong to the slayer, and that not to give it to the qawal (orator) is to violate the obligations imposed by Sufism.

Others contend that, just as some theologians are of the opinion that the dress of a slain should not be given to his slayer except by permission of the Imam, so here, this garment should not be given to the qawal except by command of the Sheikh. If Sheikh should not wish to bestow it on qawal, let no one be angry with him.

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