Wisdom for the Seeker is a compilation of letters written by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi. The letters are simple and succinct but comprehensive, covering all the aspects of life ‘deeni’ as well as worldly. The common subject of the letters is to advise the addressee and remind him/her about the teachings of Quran and Sunnah in a simple and philosophical language. Below are the summaries of the selected letters:
Concerning the Enemy Within:
The letter addresses one of sheikh’s students. In this letter, sheikh advices that the ‘nafs’ (self) is the enemy within more devious than the Satan itself. This nafs can trick human in to worshiping itself and its desires. Hence it is upon a person not to forget that his ultimate purpose in life is the love of God and to earn good deeds. Also, not to advertise your good deeds. The letter then gives a list of advices on how to build your character and how to lead a pious life, to read about your great elders, not to laugh pointlessly, to observe Tahajjud prayers, and to keep yourself busy in work. Lastly in this letter Shaykh advices to build a good character and to respect and be kind to others.
Concerning Islamic Law (Shariah) and the Heart:
In this letter Shaykh advices upon two topics; Shariah and Purification of Heart, this is because once you start observing Shariah, the process of purification of your soul, heart and being starts.
Shaykh begins by advising to observe Islamic Law that is Shariah, in every aspect of life if one wants to illuminate one’s life and purify one’s heart. Also, to purify one’s being, avoidance of such acts that incur guilt is necessary. The letter closes with Shaykh advising to prostrate Allah with absolute humility and with the hope of being forgiven.
Concerning pleasing others:
According to me, this was one of the most influential letters in the compilation. The letter begins with laying out the aim of Tassawwuf. Tassawwuf cleanses the heart, and such a heart then cares for the creation of human beings. This is the highest aim of Tassawwuf. If you cannot make anyone happy, at least don’t hurt them, whether with your actions or with your words.
A darkened heart is one which is diseased with hurting others. There are three signs of a Darkened heart; conceit, pride and performing acts in order to impress others. However, they can be removed if you repent to Allah with all your heart. A proof of darkening of the heart is running after your desires.
In the end, Shaykh advises that all the diseases of the heart can be cured by remembrance of Allah.
Concerning Adherence to the Sunnah:
In this It is mandatory on every believer to adhere with the way of Messenger that is the Sunnah. Leading life as per the Sunnah way ensures the acceptance of the person in the curt of Allah, since what Messenger’s way was, was in pursuit of the command of Allah.
Concerning Loaned Goods:
In this letter by loaned goods what it meant is; our wealth and belongings. Shaykh advises us not to fall in love with these materialistic objects, since they all are given to us by Allah. Hence, all of these objects should be seen as a loan to us.
Rather than falling in love with these perishable objects, we should identify the real Creator of these things and understand His greatness and wisdom. This opens the heart and transcends the veil of ignorance from it.
In the end Shaykh advises one to value one’s time and consume it in the remembrance of Allah.
Concerning Good Deeds:
There can be two pursuits for humans in this world, either to accumulate wealth or to accumulate good deeds. Wealth might help in this world, but is perishable. It may be a way to rule people but certainly not a way to rule their hearts. The only way to rule people’s heart as well as to win the pleasure of Allah is by gathering good deeds, and considering it your wealth. Since only the wealth of good deeds is the wealth that is permanent and will not perish.
Concerning Ten Signs of Good Etiquette:
One of the signs of perfect faith, honor, blessing and happiness is having a good etiquette. A good etiquette is displayed when one causes no harm or pain to others. The ten signs of having a good etiquette as per spiritual teachers are:
- Meeting people with cheerful attitude
- Empathizing with others
- Helping others
- Don’t obstruct people’s god actions and intentions.
- Don’t speak ill of others or pick out faults in them.
- Find your own faults and notice others’ goodness.
- Treat kindly even those who wrong you
- Accept the apology of others who have wronged you
- Choose moderation
- Stay away from worthless pursuits
For a Sufi it is his/her foremost duty to build his character and improve his etiquette if he really wants to get counted in the file of true Sufis of Allah.
The first step in anyone’s practical life is when you start your work. To work, you must be steadfast and determined to it. If you’re a hard worker, you can move mountains. But if you’re a procrastinator, even moving pebbles will seem deadly to you. Shaykh advises, that stop looking for opportunities, rather create them. To attain honor, expertise in the field that you pursue is required. Recognize bad company and stay away from them, but also recognize those who are stuck in bad company and help them to get out of it. Shaykh then advises n guarding your obligations, waking up early and offering the Tahajjud prayers. Lastly Shaykh lists down mistakes that are very imminent to humans in these times. They include falling in to the delusion of being ever-young, of leaving a sin once you have done it repeatedly, of the fact that people tell their secrets to others and think that others will not disclose them. They also advise that you should attend to your parents if you want your children to attend to you. Don’t procrastinate, form an opinion about someone by how they look, and don’t waste time on re-examining what has been examined by elders.
Concerning Early Morning:
In this letter Shaykh advises his daughter to offer Tahajjud prayers as offering Tahajjud is a sign of higher piety and the way of devout elders. He also advises that along with tahajjud prayers; send salutations on Prophet (Sallalaho-Alaihe-Wassalam) to multiply the reward hereafter. Next, ask repentance from God for your sins, and then do zikr and murqabah. After the Fajr prayers, the routine should be to recite the Holy Quran. The Sunnah is to take a short nap after lunch in the afternoon, in order to make the waking for and praying of Tahajjud easier.
Concerning Ill Will:
A sign of perfect faith is your good etiquette and character. One of the prime objectives of having a good etiquette is to be kind to the creation of Allah, and to be kind, hide faults of other people, forgive them for their wrong and accept others apologies. How you behave with the creation of Allah, Allah will behave the same swiftly with you on the Day of Judgment. With vices like jealousy, hatred, ill will and envy, the heart becomes utterly disturbed all to the dismay of the owner of the heart. The only creature rightly deserving of your hatred is Satan an your nafs (desires), so direct your hatred towards them. Lastly before picking faults in anyone, drag yourself in front of you for accountability and you will rightly understand who is better or who is faultier.
(And Allah knows better).