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By Ustaz Syed Hasan Alatas

English translation by Radzi Sapiee

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim. In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, Most Merciful.  

Assalamu'alaikum, Peace be upon you.

1. Muqaddimah

Talking about Tariqat, then it cannot be separated from Tasawwuf as Tariqat is one of the branches in the world of Tasawwuf.Tassawwuf is essentially the shaping of self and character. It is a method to curtail and erase unsavory desires in order to achieve a clean mind and self.

Next, in order to get close to God Almighty, it is not uncommon for a Sufi, a Tasawwuf practioner to leave all the trappings of worldly, in fact family and society to be alone and go out on travels. In such exiles, a Sufi increases his remembrance of God and prayers including the non-obligatory Sunnah prayers. Here is the juncture were Sufis often got  trapped in Bida'ah (innovations), practising rituals which were never done by Rasulullah SAW and his companions. That is when they sometimes practice elements that should not be included in the first place.

At times a Sufi reaches a certain Maqom or spiritual level where they feel superior  to others. He thinks his ritual practice is most perfect and do not want to join the congregation of other human beings anymore. Some stopped doing the obligatory prayers thinking they have become very close to God. They thought they have been 'integrated ' in the existence of God, a state often associated with a spiritual concept called the Wahdatul Wujud, the oneness of all existence.

Refer back to the history of the Rasulullah SAW and his companions and we should be able to realise that the education, teaching and role model provided by Rasulullah is the best. The messenger of Allah and his companions never saw the world as a place of shame but rather a land or farm to be utilised to make profit for use in this world and the hereafter. Worship should be understood in its broad meaning, not just rituals like prayers and fasting. It also covers social aspects, like working to seek lawful means to support a family, seeking of knowledge to educate young people and one’s offsprings. Worship in its broadest sense is the main purpose for the creation of mankind, also jins, the invisible beings. This is embodied in Allah’s decree in the Quran : “Verily I did not create the jinns and mankind except to worship Me. " (Al-Zariat: 56)

Ritual prayers are usually conducted in about five or ten minutes only per go, day and night five times making a total of 5 x 10 minutes equals 50 minutes or so. On the other hand the obligatory fast of Ramadhan is performed only during daytime in the month of Ramadhan. So how about worship during the rest of the day and night within 24 hours in one year?

Islam is perfect, Islam covers all aspects of human life. If we look at the Qur'an and Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), it should be clear to us that God Almighty reminds us not to forget our destiny in this world. The Muslim Ummah is a people of distinction. The Qur'an teaches us to find happiness both in this world and the hereafter.

Like the flow of a river, the world must be experienced and gone through without getting washed away by its swift currents. Pure happiness does not lie in amassing property or money in the millions, having vehicles or luxury home but rather in clean hearts which are always close to God. Once again this does not mean we should run and leave the world to be alone forsaking our responsibility to our families and communities. This is not the right practice whatmore if the ritual and remembrance is not based on the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet.

One day Rasulullah SAW  heard three companions giving their opinions and daily resolutions. The first said to another : “I will continue to pray at night without sleep.”  The second then said: “I will fast every day during the year. " The third said:"I will stay away from women and not be married ever."

Hearing the discussion Rasulullah SAW approached them and said:

"By Allah, I am the person who most fear and full of piety for God, but yet I do not practice worship the way you have mentioned earlier. I also fasted, but not continuous, sometimes I do not fast. I also pray at night, but not before  getting some sleep. I also got married. That is my Sunnah and whoever hates my Sunnah is not included as my people.”" (Hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim).

From the advice of the Prophet SAW , we should understand that a Muslim should view this world with balance as to live happily here and also find happiness in the hereafter. A Muslim must make living in this world as means to find better life in the hereafter. The Quran and  Sunnah of the Prophet SAW have shown that the Ummah of Islam under the leadership of the Prophet are the best of mankind, distinguished in all fields bringing benefits to everyone. Rasulullah SAW has successfully made the Ummah strong in all areas, physical and spiritual. Although the number of Muslims when he started preaching was very low, in a short time (23 years) the Prophet managed to gather enough to match other Ummahs or groups of people. Their piety and faith in Allah Almighty was so strong that they found courage to sacrifice their personal interests in order to uphold the order of Allah. Everyone of them loves the Prophet more than they love their own selves. Therefore, Muslims have the strength to defeat enemies in all fields making them role models for mankind. Indeed Muslims are the best Ummah.

We live in this world only temporarily, just like a traveller in transit. Therefore we must be careful in our actions so as not to do anything that will harm ourselves in the long run. We must realise that we are not going to be here long as we will have to return to our actual home in the hereafter. A traveler must provide enough for his next trip and not get burdened by unnecessary supplies. A man of God should realise the temporary nature of the world. Therefore, we should use this world to get provisions in preparation for the afterlife.

Rasulullah SAW taught his Ummah not to be dazzled by the beauty of the world. Instead we are taught to live simple but full of blessings. Blessings come when a person is always honest,  accepting and content of the sustenance he received. Happiness lies not in the abundance of property but in the property being blessed. That is why Allah asked the Prophet to convey this to his family:

"O Prophet, say to your wives: If you want the glitter of this worldy life and its ornaments then come and I will grant your wish, (but) I will divorce you in a nice way. But if you desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the hereafter, verily Allah has prepared great rewards for those who do good amongst you. (Al-Ahzab: 29)

The Tariqat of Ahlul Bait:

The Tariqat or spiritual way of the Ahlul-Bait  is a way to leave desire and self-interest as to conform to the will of Allah based on the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet SAW. So what is commanded by Allah and His messenger is the guide for this Tariqat. At times we should isolate ourselves to reflect on the greatness of God, read the Quran, do more Sunnat prayers and the Ratib (recite selected verses of the Qur'an) aside from Wirids (Zikir or remembrance, Do 'a or supplication and invocation of the names of God)

In the Ahlul Bait Tariqat we are obligated to seek knowledge that is useful, do good deeds and praiseworthy things, ask God for forgiveness and extend our Sunnat prayers, Ratib et cetera. We only fear the wrath of God, we strive to be Wara' (leave all suspicious or doubtful things and practices). At times we fight in the way of Allah for justice and truth against all forms of tyranny and defend the downtrodden. Sometimes we seek lawful means to provide for the family while preaching and spreading Islam to the world. These we do with sincerity and noble intentions. This is the Tariqat of Ahlul Bait.

Meaning of Ahlul-Bait

Ahlul Bait are Rasulullah SAW’s closest family members. Allah has said:

إنما يريد الله ليذهب عنكم الرجز أهل البيت ويطهركم تطهيرا

(الأحزاب: 33)

Which means: "Surely God intends to remove sin from you, O Ahlul Bait, and purify you thoroughly. "(Al-Ahzab: 33).

This verse was revealed to Rasulullah SAW while he was at the house of Umm Salamah (one of his wives). Then Rasulullah SAW called Al-Hassan, Al-Hussein (the Prophet's beloved grandsons) and Azzahra Fatimah (the Prophet's beloved daughter) and asked them to sit in front of him. Next he called 'Ali bin Abi Talib (the Prophet’s son in-law and son to his uncle) and asked him to sit behind. Then Rasulullah SAW covered himself and everyone with the Kisa '(a kind of big and thick blanket) and said:

"O Allah, they are my Ahlul Bait, so get rid of filth from them and purify them as could be purified thoroughly.”1

That is when Umm Salamah also tried to enter the blanket, yet the Prophet prohibited her and said:"Surely you also are in goodness” (This he repeated three times).

This recollection of event known as the Hadith Kisa ' came from Muhammad bin Sulaiman Al-Asybahani who received it from Yahya bin Ubaid Al-Makki who in turn received from Atha bin Abi Rabbah. It was the later who said “Umar bin Abi Salamah (Rasulullah’s stepchild) has said that: ‘When verse 33 of Surah al-Ahzab was revealed to the Prophet he was at the house of Umm Salamah and he said what have been mentioned (above).’”

Many Hadith interpreters and historians believed the content of this verse was directed at Fatima binti Muhammad (SAW), her husband and their two children. This view was stated by Imam al-Wahidi in his book Nuzul Asbabun under article number 239, Imam al-Qurtubi in his Hadith interpretation volume 14 article 183, Sahib al-Dur al-Juz in his interpretation Manthur volume 5, articles 454-455 and Imam Muslim in his Sahih (collection of authentic Hadiths) volume 15 article 195.

So who is Fatimah?2  Fatima Azzahra is Rasulullah's favorite daughter, the wife of a leader and mother of martyrs. Her mother Khadijah binti Khuwailid was Mother of the Believers, a good obedient wife, patient and wise. Khadijah was always at the side of Rasulullah to provide support and ease his burden. She gave whatever she owned to him whenever it was needed. And when the angel Jibril (Gabriel) revealed God’s message to the Prophet at the Cave of Hira ', he returned to her telling what had happened...

"Cover me (with blanket)!” He was immediately covered, his body shivering like a man with fevre because of the great revelation received at the Cave of Hira '. The Prophet said to his wife Khadijah: "Why me?”. Then he told her what had transpired at the cave.

Khadijah heard his story with utmost concentration and immediately gave thoughtful opinions to ease his burden. He told Rasulullah SAW:

"God preserve us, O Abu Qassim! Be happy and resolute! By the self of Khadijah who is controlled by Him (God), I hope that you become the Prophet of this Ummah. By Allah! He will not disappoint you forever. Surely you are a person who connects brotherhood, (always) telling the truth, bear burdens, (likes to) honor guests and help those in distress. "3

Fatimah’s husband is Imam Ali bin Abi Talib RA to whom the Prophet has addressed thus: “Are you not satisfied with your position besides me which is like the position of Harun (Aaron) besides Musa  Moses), it is just there are no more Prophets after me.”4

Hassan and Hussein are the two young men of Paradise of which the Prophet has described as follows: "The two are my sons and the sons of my daughter. O Allah, my Lord! I love both of them thus do love them and love those who love them.”5

Rasullah SAW also said:

"All children are born to their mother, associated to their father, except for the children of Fatimah, I am their guardian, I am their ancestor and I am their father."(Hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad in his book Assyuyuti "Jami'il Al-Kabir)"

Most famous Tariqats have founders who are descendants of Ahlul Bait. For example:

  • Al-BaAlawi Tariqat’s founder is Al-Sayyid Muhammad Al-Faqih Muqaddam Ba Alawi bin Ali Al-Husseini.
  • Tariqat Qadiriyah Assayyid founder, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jailani
  • Tariqat Naqsyabandi founder Al-Sayyid Ash-Sheikh Bahauddin Naqsyabandi.
  • Ahmadiyah Tariqat Idrisid Assayyid founder Sheikh Ahmad Al-bi Idris al-Hassani.
  • Tariqat Syadziliyyah founder Al-Sayyid Al-Sheikh Abu Hassan Ash-Syazuli

Their teachings were mostly transmitted through the eminent religious master Imam Ja'far Al-Shiddiq, all having origins from the the practices of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, except Tariqah Naqsyabandiah which came from the companion Abu Bakr Assidiq.

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