Our goal is Allah’s pleasure! An interview with Shaykh Abdul Jalil Afandi
We would like to bring to reader’s attention a conversation our reporter held with most respectable ustaz Murshid of Naqshbandi tariqah Shaykh Abdul Jalil Afandi ad-Dagestani.
Source : IslamDag.info | Buynaksk | Dagestan | 2011
Venerable Shaykh Said Afandi writes in Nazmabi: “If you hurt any of the Shaykhs, the Prophet will experience the pain”. It is all about the unbroken chain of Shaykhs that carries the knowledge about self-perfection and self-preparation for the Eternity right from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Silsila, prolonging of a spiritual chain and authorization for spiritual leadership of every new ustaz adds divine grace to this world.
Sayings of a true Shaykh is the life guidance for his followers – murids. If anyone has a chance to see with his own eyes a follower of the Prophet (PBUH) and hear his voice with his own ears not through the TV monitors, then is this person truly happy.
However barakah will undoubtedly be given to anyone who is able to get the wisdom of a spiritual teacher, even if he gets the knowledge about Allah at a distance.
– Shaykh Abdul Jalil Afandi, please, tell us about your life and your mentors.
– At that time I was still a student at a medical institute, and I lived in an apartment next to a relative, whom frequently visited Shaykh Abdul Hamid Afandi, may Allah bless his soul, from Upper Inkho. I knew this and one day decided to go and see him. He wondered why I came to visit him. I still remember the answer I gave him: “I want to serve Allah following the way that you teach me”, I said.
He asked quite a few questions about me. When he learned I was going to be a doctor he said: “Doctors can neither extend life nor help a sick person unless Allah has predestined that. The Almighty has predetermined everything. And if anyone is destined to be healthy, then you – doctors – serve as an instrument for him to recover”. That day he set me a task (Wird) to repeat hundred times Astaghfirullah, La ilaha illallah and the Salawat. This was my preparation for entering the Shazali tariqa.
A couple of months later Shaykh Abdul Hamid Afandi, may Allah bless his soul, gave me the whole task of Shazali tariqa. This was 1967 and I was 25 years old. About 7 or 8 years I was under his care. I learned Islamic sciences and Arabic under the direction of my mentor during my Institute studies and continued after the Institute, while I was working in Buynaksk and Kazanische. Later I continued my studies with Muhammad Ramazanov from Kudali (may Allah raise his rank!). I went to the lessons every day after work. I went on studying Arabic, started with Tasrif and the Islamic science itself and did a course of Mutaalim. My mentor accounted very essential learning the proceedings of a great Imam al-Ghazali, particularly, his book Revival of religious sciences (Ihya Ulum al-Din).
I read the Ithaf’s commentaries for al-Ghazali proceedings. The Holy Qur’an has its Tafsir, so the writings of al-Ghazali have commentaries on them.
Thus from 1970 to 1978 I sat under Ramazanov, then I moved to Karanay and studied in a madrasah. After this I did additional trainings by myself. It was one of these years when Abdul Hamid Afandi left for the next world.
Somewhile I visited Shaykh Hamzat Afandi, may Allah bless his soul. He was an old man and often got sick. Soon he too left this world. By that time a new ustaz Shaykh Meselasul Muhammad from Nechayevka got ijazah – authorization to transmit Islamic knowledge.
I went on following my tariqa path under his tutorship and reached muraqaba level. But he did not have very long to live either. Then it came out that Shaykh Said Afandi from Chirkey got ijazah and my further tariqa path went on under his direction.
I remember how surprised he was when we first met and he learned I was a doctor and a Murid at the same time. The more surprised he was when I told him I was studying Islamic sciences. And indeed this was quite surprising during the communist times, because I still performed my duties as a doctor in a rural district hospital in Karanay and Erpeli.
At that time Shaykh Saad-haji from Batlukh was in seclusive state. He lived in Buynaksk and spent some time in the mountains. At his request I was secretly teaching Islamic sciences in Erpeli to his grandson Muhammad Gadjiev who just graduated from medical institute. Nowadays his grandson is an editor of Nurul Islam newspaper.
In 1995 – I was working in Erpeli – some visitors from Chirkey came to me at the evening time and told my mentor was waiting for me to come. I was quite surprised and thought that someone might have fallen ill. I took a sphygmomanometer and went to Chirkey with my late guests. Shaykh Said Afandi, may Allah bless his soul, was already waiting for us. Not explaining anything he led us to a room where his son was. He made a gesture for us to seat and we sat down just like we do it during Tashahhud in Salah. Then he told me he was giving me ijazah. This made me open-mouthed with astonishment. This was so really unexpected! I tried to say that I did not follow tariqah for that. But the ustaz cut me short saying that he did not either. Then I asked what was I then ought to do. His answer was: “Nothing else, but what you already do – keep everything in secret!” So did I, I told no one about all that. They drove me back to Erpeli. That was the night of 6/7 September 1995. On December 28th last year Shaykh Said Afandi made a public announcement – before quite a few witnesses – that he was giving me 'amru' (order) for spiritual leadership.
– Some people think Sufism is some kind of seclusion, keeping worldly matters at a distance, asceticism etc. The fact that you were a doctor, learned Islamic sciences and carried out tasks of an ustaz at the same time disproves these assumptions. This means anyone can be at the same time a good Murid and work for the sake of social good.
– The very first duty of any person is earning his living by fair means. If he has to choose between earning daily bread and learning, then he should go and earn money. Because `ilmu (science) is of less importance. The more important is making his and his family’s living by approved (halal) means. After this, if he has a possibility, he may pursue science. And this will be the best way for him. However to follow the right path a person must be under the direction of a Shaykh.
Some think that Murids are some kind of special people, that being Murid is a lot for special people. But that is a false opinion. Everyone is in need of Tariqa, because every person is mortal and he must purify his heart from vices like arrogance, haughtiness etc. Hadith says, if anyone has a grain of arrogance he is not going to enter the Heaven. That is what Tariqa teaches people – to get rid of arrogance and any other bad qualities. If we do not fight envy, then it will destroy all of our good deeds. Tariqa removes bad qualities. Everyone is in need of this. And it is not important if you raise to the highest levels in Tariqa or not. That is not a goal of Tariqa. Every coach of locomotive reaches the destination, no matter if it is the first or the last one. Our goal is Allah’s pleasure!
– What is the most important thing in the life of a Murid?
– The love for his Shaykh is very vital for a Murid. Tariqa is actually based on the mutual love of brothers in faith to one another. No one can achieve a goal without showing Adab. And no one will get beneath contempt but because of lack of Adab and love. We must love the Prophet (PBUH), his companions (sahabah) and his family. Tariqa leads us to this love.
- How important is it for murid to treat the ustaz in a proper way - with adab and sincerity - not just following blindfold the things the ustaz says?
- If someone enters Tariqa path, he must do what his shaykh says. Usually shaykhs do not say openly what a person should do but hint at it. What ustaz says is like a rule for murid. You should construct your days so that you have time for the worldly matters as well, but you should never be carried away. You must not forget about Allah and the Eternity. Anyways you should remember that this world is temporary and we will spend the eternity in Akhirat. This means that we should pay proper attention to the things waiting for us in the Eternity. It would be even better, if we could spend the major part of our time caring for our next life.
- Shall we urge people to join Tariqa?
- It is good to explain what Tariqa is. But we have no right to invite or attract people to it. Our Shaykh Said Afandi once told us the story about his old friend Muharram. They used to work on hydroelectric power plant together. Muharram would never come to him to get a wird and Said Afandi would not call him to. You see, you cannot even call a close friend to join Tariqa. But later Muharram came and entered this path. So we may say that we do not call to join us, but we do not turn down anyone either.
- There are some people who say they were not worthy to visit a shaykh because of their sins. They say they were ashamed to enter shaykhs’ homes and it was better if they did not visit shaykhs. What advice would you give these people?
- There are some people who think this way. But they are wrong. It is Satan who makes them think so. A shaykh’s goal is to put a person to the straight and narrow. Everyone has sins. And when you do, you must try to change yourself with the help of a shaykh and his barakah. And you may do it little by little, piece by piece, not putting too much pressure on yourself.
- What way should murids behave? Do they have any mutual commitments?
- My teacher Muhammad Ramazanov (may Allah raise his rank!) remembers the times when there were just a few murids and all of them knew each other. In 1953 he moved from a mountain village to Buynaksk and discovered similar situation.
All the murids in the town knew each other and loved each other even more than siblings do. When they met each other on the street their hearts would fill with joy.
Nowadays there are a lot of murids – Alhamdulillah! – and if the love they feel for each other is not that deep, then at least we should seek for that love. Sense of proportion is important here, we should not consider ourselves superior to others. It was arrogance that became the reason Allah deported iblis out of the Heaven. Iblis did not obey Allah and said he was better, when the Almighty ordered to bow before a human. We should not follow this path, not the path of a Satan. We should behave opposite way - treat others as our equals, respect and love them and show adab.
- How important is unity of murids and of all Muslims? Is it achievable?
– Certainly, you cannot achieve everything at once. The most important things are personality and person’s breeding. Everyone must work hard on improving himself, as hard as we cultivate our land to grow fruits and vegetables. There are some lucky people who were born good-tempered, but not everybody is born with all the good qualities. It is vital to improve yourself and your heart and temper, to try being more and more attentive and patient.
- What is the importance of mass media in moulding of a Muslim personality? And do you think the amount of information about Islam given in magazines, newspapers and in television and radio broadcasts is sufficient for Daghestan people?
- The mass media is of primary importance in the world of today. But if we mention TV, I would say that it is better not to have one at home. The information they give is able to ruin people’s lives. The only things that are worth watching are Islamic programmes, TV-Chirkey broadcastings and similar ones. The bad influence of television effects the society immediately. If something comes into fashion somewhere in Paris, it immediately appears in Daghestan, as well. Young people imitate foreign clothing styles and we see women with naked shoulders and bareheaded. They do not understand that Islam is the best thing given to mankind. It is the most valuable ni’mat (gift). First of all we must pay attention to the reason the Almighty created us for. And Allah says in Qur’an: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me” (Surat Adh-Dhāriyāt, ayah 56). Prophets taught us the right way to worship the Almighty and explained that it was something of paramount importance. Everything else is less important. Mass media should call to this.
- Shaykh, what would be your advice for Muslim people these uneasy days?
- Nowadays it is quite difficult for people to find the right path. From our childhood on we are caught in a huge information flow. Youth is technically lost in it. Young people cannot tell useful things from useless ones. It is complicated to find the right way to go. A person should understand that this life is really short and transient and no one can be sure if he reaches old age or not. And if he reaches, he will pass away anyways. And the other world is everlasting! Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told us all these. He has seen the Heaven and the Hell and the other world with his very own eyes.
We are at the parting of the ways. We have to choose between the Heaven and Hell, and live our lives according to that. Everyone is going to enter into eternity. And after we do, there would be left nothing that we can change. That is why we have to find out in this life what is important for us and what is not that important. And discover what our role in this life is. When a person knows exactly what his path must be like, the life will be easier for him. And all necessary facilities are present nowadays.
Not long ago – at times we were young – there were no facilities. We were performing daily prayers secretly! But now all the ways lie open. You get knowledge if you want to. There are no problems entering Tariqa. There are shaykhs who receive visitors and ulama who clarify incomprehensible facts. You can study Islamic knowledge both in educational institutions and at home. So we have all necessary facilities to follow the right path. And we can choose the path that leads to Allah’s pleasure.
I wish everyone to understand Islam and treat it impartially. I wish all people to get at least the basic knowledge about Islam, so that Allah will not be angry with them.