As-Suhba (The companionship)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
و الصلاة و السلام على أشرف المرسلين
و على اله و اصحابه أجمعين

In arabic:

As-Subha means spending time with someone developing relationship

For the Sufi:

The companionship is both spiritual and physical, gathering together all the characteristics of the Divine Presence coming from the soul of the one who is accompanied to the body of the one who is accompanying.

Allah ﷻ says: “when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us”
[surah tawbah / verse 40].

So, the companionship (as suhba) is the key which opens the door of the good and the companions reached their rank only because of their companionship with the Beloved ﷺ.

The Human being does not know the defaults of his ego (nafs), this is why he needs a perfectly clean mirror which shows him the reflection of his visible and hidden facets. Indeed, Sayiduna Abu Hurayra (radiAllah ‘anhu) narrates that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said : “The believer is a mirror for the believer, and the believer is the brother of the believer. He safeguards his property for him and defends him from behind”.
[sunan Abu Dawud, hadith n°4275].

So he must have a “Rabbani” companion who totally extinguished his ego (nafs). A companion who will be for him like a mirror and who will show him step by step the reality of his ego allowing him to understand its particularities. He needs a companion who has totally reduced his human characteristics to nothingness and who subsists only by his Lord. A companion who will remember him Allah just by the look.

There are several kinds of companionship according to the will , to the nature and to the spiritual state of the mureed ( pupil). Among them :

  • The companionship by Love (suhbatu l mahabba)
  • The companionship by education and effort (suhbatu t tarbiya wa l mujahada)
  • The companionship by Vision ( suhbatu n nadhar)
  • The companionship by the wird (suhbatu l wird)
  • The companionship for blessings (suhbatu t tabbarruk)

The companionship by Love (suhbatu l mahabba)

It is a suhba dominated by what is beautiful and pleasant. He who experiences this kind suhba is loved and we act with him with gentleness and affection. As the companionhip between the dog and the people of the cave.

Allah (ta’ala) says:  “They will say there were three, the fourth of them being their dog; and they will say there were five, the sixth of them being their dog guessing at the unseen; and they will say there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog.” [surah al kahf/ verse 22].
The Truth gave us here a, excellent example of companionship and loyality that tender hearts and which can not be understood by people with limited intelligence. This dog is described with compliment and honor in the following verse : “while their dog stretched his forelegs at the entrance”. There are indication and deep meanings in this verse for he who has a heart. Listen and pay attention.

This dog is a dog in love (muhibb) which is entirely extinguished in the service of his masters. Nothing worries him excepted his masters’s contentment and he wants nothing but serving his masters. The dog is totally emancipated from any needs or complaint coming from his ego(nafs). He is glad when his master is glad and he shows anger when his master is angry. He takes as friend, he who his master took as friend and he takes as enemy, he who his master took as enemy. He only worries about the limits conservations of his master without never feeling fatigue and weariness.

His “I” (âna) is extinguished in the He (Huw) of his master. The pronoun “I” is no longer part of his vocabulary: He forgot the meaning of his pronoun and he no more wants something for himself. All his language came down to the Ha’ and the Waw of Huwa. The numerical value of the letter Ha’ is five. Five refers to the five pillars of Islam while the numerical value of the waw is 6 which refers to the 6 pillars of faith (Iman). The whole thing is considered by the letter “kaf” of “Ka’anaka Tarah” (as you see Him). This is the completion of his will and his ultimate expectation. This is his hidden secret with which his heart perceives everything.

All his being exists just by the He (Huw) of master. He only talks about Him, by Him, in Him and He no longer refers to someone else. He no longer sees other signs except those coming from him. He literally melted because of Love and He is wandering in Passion as a crazy.

The Sultan of Lovers said in one of his poems:

He is love, submit yourself, entirely, because this passion is not easy
He who is dependent on it can not reach it
As long as his intellect is
live in a state of complete emptiness because love rest is punishing
Its beginning is an ilness and its end is an execution
but death for him is passion for me
The one I love preferable for me than my own existence
I advise you full knowledge of Love by the One who I see
Choose for yourself wht you desire
If you want to live happy then die while contemplating Him
and if you can not. It is because intense Love has his own people
He who will not die in his Love, will not live by Him
And it is under the work of the bee that we found what they produced

When the pre eternal divine election was sent down and was manifested upon the dog, he could reach the largest part because of the purity of his companionship as well as his irreproachable behavior with his master. So He was introduced in the cave of the heart and the theophanies of the sublime beauty were unveiled for Him. Then he began to wander in the Lights of the intense Love, permitting to his soul to fly away to the stations of divine Proximity.

The tongue of this spiritual state said :

I shut myself away with the Beloved while between us there was a Secret more delicate than the breeze blowing.
I was given to contemplate what I could meditate and I became a perfect knower despite I was uncertain.
I was filled with stupefaction, between His Beauty (Jamal) and His divine Rigor (Jalal)
open yourself to the contemplation of His Sublime Face
and my tongue began to express the state of my soul
you will notice that the beauty of everything is there
and if all this beauty could be gathered in only one visible image
it would be an extended crescent moon

The companionship by education and effort
(suhbatu t tarbiya wa l mujahada)

This kind companionship is like the companionship between sayiduna Mussa and al Khidr (‘alayhimu salam). Its external aspect is coercive (Jalaliy) while its inside reality is beautiful and pleasant (Jamaliy). This kind of companionship is covered with tests and and it is requested to the disciple to show the best behaviour and to sacrifice what he loves the most.

Ibn Kathir narrates the story of this companionship in his exegesis of the Quran :

“Think with attention on the examplary behavior of the Kaleem (‘alayhi salam). How He endured difficulties and travel fatigue to join the one who will permit him to increase his knowledge. Where are you compared to al Kaleem (alaihi sallam) ? What does your knowledge worth compared to his knowledge ? What does your spiritual state worth in front of his spiritual state ? And despite that he showed humility and he sought Knowledge to a servant.

The Beloved ﷺ refers to this slave in the following hadtih :
“Allah will say on the Day of Judgment: “Son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me.”
“My Lord, How could I visit You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?”
“Did you not know that one of My servants was sick and you didn’t visit him? If you had visited him you would have found Me there.”
Then Allah will say: “Son of Adam, I needed food but you did not feed Me.”
“My Lord, How could I feed You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?”
“Did you not know that one of My servants was hungry but you did not feed him? If you had fed him you would have found its reward with Me.”
“Son of Adam: I was thirsty, but you did not give Me something to drink.”
“My Lord, How could I give a drink when You are the Lord of the Worlds?”
“Did you not know that one of My servants was thirsty but you did not give him a drink? If you had given him a drink, you would have found its reward with Me.”
[sahih Muslim, hadith 4668].

This servant with who you would find Allah if you came to visit him is in reality Sayiduna al Khidr (‘alayhi salam) himself. First of All, Al Kaleem (‘alayhi salam) asked the permission (idhn) to begin his companionship with the best manners possible:
“May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?” [surah al kahf / verse 66].

Pay attention to the aspect of his words (which is difficult to transcribe in English), think about the purity of the comprehension: this is an example for all mureeds that Allah ﷻ gratified by the companionship of fullfiled sufi.

At that moment, the shaykh decrees the first test which is in reality a pre eternal rule:
“He said: “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience.”” [surah al kahf / verse 67].
and the mureed answers with good manners (adab):
“[Moses] said, “You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in [any] order.”” [surah al kahf/ verse 69].

Here we come to the question: Why does the mureed release himself (by saying if Allah wills) while the Shaykh does not ? Because the mureed’s knowledge is a knowledge falling to him as a muslim (‘ilm taklif) and it is a limited knowledge while the Shaykh’s knowledge is a divine and an unlimited knowledge coming direclty from Allah (‘Ilm Laduni). Then al Kaleem (alaihi sallam) added good manners upon good maners (adab) by saying that He will not disobey to none of his shaykh’s order. Indeed, even if his shaykh has reached the sepreme degree, he would be useless if the mureed does not follow his words to the letters. The mureed would definitively draw away. Just like the best doctor would be totally useless if his patient refuses to take his medicine.

Saydi Ibn ‘Ajiba (qudissa sirruh) wrote:
“The story of Sayiduna Mussa with al Khidr (‘alayhi salam) showed the difference between the islamic scholars (ahlul dhahir) and the knowers. The scholars are filled to settle the problems in the external world while the knowers are filled with what is hidden. The scholars draws in the Shari’a Ocean while the Knowers draws in the Ocean of Haqiqa. This is the meaning of “Jami’u al Bahrein”. Because Sayiduna Mussa (‘alayhi salam) who is the Ocean of Shari’a met Al Khidr (‘alayhi salam) who is the Ocean of Haqiqa.”

We are not saying that Sayiduna Mussa did not have a part of the Haqiqa Ocean because he combined the both, but the Truth (al Haqq) wanted to sent down the kaleem to the sublime accomplishment through humility in seeking knowledge. This how Sayiduna Mussa (‘alayhi salam) was educated after he claimed he has was the most erudite man of his time without returning the merit to Allah ﷻ.

Ibn ‘Ata Allah iskandari (radi Allah anhu) said his Hikam :

He has prohibited you from claiming for yourself,
among the qualities of created beings,
that which does not belong to you;
so would He permit you to lay claim to His Attribute,
He who is the Lord of the Universe?

For example, we can quote the story of Imam Abu l Hassan Shadhili (radiAllah ‘anhu) who told him: “You impose yourself eighty days of hunger for your Lord. As for me, I have not eaten since 9 months”

wWe can also quote the story of Imam al Junayd and Sirri. In a sufi gathering, they began to talk about Love (Mahaba), each one showing what he has reached as station. Then a woman came out near the door wearing clothes made of whool bringing them to their reality. Because they showed off about how deep and strong their knoweldge was. Allah called them to order through a woman.

The anecdote of Sayiduna Mussa with al Khidr (‘alayhi salam) is a great encouragement to each muslim to seek Knowledge in particular the esoteric knowledge.

Imam al Ghazali (radiAllahu ‘anhu) said on this subject that it is a religious duty (fardh ‘ayn) for muslims because no one is exempt of faults or sins excepted the Prophets (‘alayhimu salam). As for Imam Abu l Hassan Shadhili (radiAllahu ‘anhu), He said: “He who will not enter in this science, he will die on great sins without een realizing it.

The scholar sidi Abdelwahid ibn ‘Ashir said in his famous poem :

He must keep the company of a shaykh, a knower of the various paths
The shaykh will save him from the destructive points in his path
The shaykh will remind the disciple of Allah when he sees him
and will make the servant reach his Master
He must reckon and take to account the lower self with each breath
He must weigh his thoughts with the correct balance
He must guard over the wajib acts which serve as his base capital
The mandub deeds are their profit which he successively obtains
He must do plenteous Arabic verbal remembrance with a clear mind
and the help in doing all of this is from his Lord
He must strive against the lower self for the Lord of the worlds
He must embellish himself with the stations of Certainty
Fear, hope, thankfulness, patience, repentance
abstinence, dependence (on Allah), contentment and Love
He must be true o Him who sees him in all of his dealings.
He must become happy with what the One God decrees for him
He will become with this a Knower of Allah
who is free abd those other than Allah will leave his hear
so The One God will love him and choose him
for His sanctified presence and make him among the elect

And Saydi ‘Abdulkareem Al Jili said in a poem:

If the predestination is favourable for us, or if destinity guides us
To a true Shaykh, an excellence in Haqiqa
then do what satisfies him and follow his will
and do not contest anything because you do not know
What concerns Him and (know that) dispute is confrontation
The story of the noble Khidr is sufficient
with the murder of the child and the confrontation of the Kaleem
When the glow of the day replaced the night of his Secret
And when the sword choped off darkness
the Kaleem was excused
This is the knowledge of Sufi :
In this knowledge : Unique and amazing things


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