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The primordiality of the Light in the access to the knowledge of the Prophet ﷺ

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

The basis on which the spiritual education of all Allah’s people (ahlul Allah) is based is the commonly accepted idea that the path leading to Allah is inevitably closed for anyone who would like to walk by following another direction than the direction of the Messenger of Allahﷺ. Our Shaykh, sidi Mohamed Fawzi al-Karkariy (radiAllahu ‘anhu) often repeat: “Walk toward Allah through the door of the Messenger of Allah and if you refuse then you are and will be veiled and excluded (from the people of the path)”.

On the other hand, the progress of someone in the Knowledge of Allah is function of his Knowledge of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ, and this according to the capacity and the predisposition of each to receive this specific Knowledge, not what can be given to you… because only knows Sayiduna Muhammad the Creator of Muhammad ﷺ. The objective of your Knowledge of the Prophet ﷺ is to reach the limit beyond we are   are totaly incapable to Know Him, and this will be realized when you will reach the hidden meanings of the verse : “and know that among /in you is the Allah’s Messenger” [s.al-Houjourate v.7].

Starting from this, it is necessary to know that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ can be considered in two ways. The first one consists in seeing him in the created world, which is to say to consider his carnal envelope, as a human being. The second one consists in to see him in his quality of Spirit and absolute spiritual realization. Most people, except those whom Allah has touched with His Mercy, know the Messenger of Allahﷺ only through his apparent image. And those who join the Physical and Spiritual Knowledge of the Beloved, they are the people who inherited from him the commandments and apparent rules as well as the the secrets of hidden science.

After this modest introduction, the reader may be interested to know more about this Hidden Knowledge (ma’rifa). And he will certainly say that as a Muslim he fulfills all his religious obligations and even regularly performs supererogatory acts, and yet in spite of all his efforts he has never reached this Knowledge… so where is the problem?

In order to answer, we must first of all understand that any adoration by which we have sought to approach Allah that does not increase our Knowledge of Him or that does not allow us to approach Him is defective. Indeed Allah accepts only what is good, and it happens that the hidden passions of the nafs and the poison that Shaytan administers with a master’s hand often interfere in our acts of worship without even paying attention to them. For this reason, many of our adorations are nothing else but gestures and have lost all their spirit. The problem lies in ourselves and not in acts of worship… And the cause of this is the disappearance of the Nur Muhammadi from the hearts. Through this Light we reaches the hidden face of the nafs and we discovers its vices… and by His Light ﷺ we accesses to the divine Knowledge.

Here a number of questions can be raised:

  • What do we mean by Noûr Muhammadiy?
  • How could we access to the vision of this Light?
  • Can we reach this visible with efforts?
  • If we have succeeded in obtaining this Light, can we say then that we have reached the Knowledge of the Prophet ﷺ as the people of Allah have done?

Know that what is meant by “Nur Muhammadi” refers to the Luminous reality (Haqiqa Nuraniya) of what is hidden behind the visible appearance of the Prophet ﷺ. You can also say that this is the “handful” taken from the Divine Light indicating and guiding toward the divine, in accordance with the Hadith Qudsi which says, “Oh Jaber, the first thing Allah created, is the Light of your Prophet” [Al-Bayhaqiy]. It was also reported in “tanwir al-muqbāss min tafsîr ibn ‘Abbâs” the interpretation of the verse: “A Light has come to you from Allâh”: “The word Light means the Messenger, that is to say: A Messenger has  certainly come to you from Allah”. Imam as-Souyouti, at-Tabariy and al-Qurtubiy reported a similar thing. On the other hand, Imâm as-Sâwiy reports in his Hâchiya of tafsîr al-Jalâlayn: “It is the Light of the Prophet ﷺ and it was called Nur because it illuminates the vision and guides in the right path, also because it is the basis and origin of all lights, whether it be a light in the proper sense or figuratively”.

Allah ﷻ said: “Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth! His light is comparable to a niche where there is a lamp” [S an-Noûr, v35]. According to ibn Jubeyr and Ka’b, the second mention of the word “Light” refers in this verse to the Prophet ﷺ. And many of the Companions said that the Prophet ﷺ emitted Light, that he was himself the Light: Abu Hurayrah (radiAllahu’ anhu) said: “I have never seen anything More beautiful than the Messenger of Allah; It is as if the sun were reflected on his face; When he smiled, the light reflected on the walls around him”. A woman of Bani Hamdan said, “”I did the Hajj with the Messenger of Allah then, somebody told her: “Describe the self!” She replied: “He is like the moon when it is full and unobstructed. I have never seen anyone like him before or after him””. ‘Aisha (radiAllahu’ anha) said: “He had the prettiest of faces; Its color was light. It looks like he has on his clean, clear forehead like an illuminated lamp”. Whenever he saw him, Abu Bakr (radiAllahu ‘anhu) said: “Behold the integrity and the chosen one who constantly calls for good. He looks like the light of the full moon freed from the darkness of the clouds”. Anas ibn Mâlik said: “The Prophet entered Medina on a Monday, making everything radiate in the city. And there he died on a Monday, leaving everything dark in the city”.

Allah ﷻ says in a very explicitly way: {O Prophet! We have sent thee [to be] a witness, a herald, a warner, calling to Allah by His permission; And an illuminating lamp} [Al-Ahzab, v. 45-46]. When the mother of the Prophet ﷺ brought him into the world, she saw a light springing out from her, showing her the palaces of Shem. The Prophet ﷺ said: “I am the fulfillment of the vow formulated by my father Abraham and the happy announcement made by Jesus. And my mother saw, when she carried me, a light springing from her by which was illuminated to her the palaces of Sham”. In his book al-Biddya wa l-Nihāya, according to sayidinâ ibn ‘Abbâs (radiAllâhu’ anhumâ), Imâm ibn Kathîr says: “When Abd el-Muttalib went with his son to marry him, they crossed the path of a psychic woman who had the knowledge of certain books and who was called Fatima bint marr al-Khuth’amiya. The latter, having seen the Light of Prophecy on the face of ‘Abdullah, told to him: “Oh young man, if you accepted to have a relationship with me now, I would give you a hundred camels”. Abdullah then answered her with these verses:

As for the Haram, death is preferable
and there is no solution that would allow you to achieve this

 

How could it be as you wish
whereas the nobleman loses his pride and his religion?

So he left with his father, who married him to Amina bint Wahb, and he remained with her for three days. After this, he thought about the psychic’s proposal and went to meet her. She said to him, “By Allah I am not an unstable person and hides things … it’s just that I saw Light on your face, and I wanted this Light to come back to me. However, Allah wanted her to go where He had decided”,

I wished this Light would reach me with pride
But every stone that is struck does not produce fire

[Al-Bidāya wa l-Nihāya]

Oh Lover … Perhaps you now understand the meaning of this Nur Muhammadi … and I wish that there is no longer any doubt in your heart about this, after having consulted these blessed proofs and these words coming from the Salaf and the khalaf … You are now surely aware of the primordial importance of this Light in the access to the Knowledge (ma’rifa) of your Prophet ﷺ, and you know that without it you will not be able to reach it, especially by realizing that this Light is seen with the naked eye, in the proper and physical sense, not in an allegorical or metaphorical sense. According to Orwata ibn az-Zubayr, ‘Aicha (radiAllahu’ anha) said: “I once borrowed a needle from Hafsa bint Rawâha with which I sewed the Prophet’s garment . The needle fell and (in the dark) I could not find it. Then enter the Messenger of Allâh  and i saw the needle reflect the rays of the Light of his face. Then I laughed and he said: “O little redhead, what makes you laugh?” I then gave him the explanation, and he said to me, raising his voice, “O Aicha, woe, woe, and woe to anyone who is deprived of the vision of that face, he is not a single believer or a disbeliever who does not desire to look on my face”” [Narrated by ibn ‘Assakir, al-Asbahâniy and as-Suyoûtiy].

Let us meditate on this Hadith and on the manner in which the Light of the Beloved ﷺ was manifested for her, in the proper and physical sense, so that in the dark she could find the needle. We can also mention the history of Sahabi Hassan ibn Thābit (radiAllâhu ‘anhu) to whom the Qoraychites gave a sum of money (before he returned to Islâm) so that he would defame and calumniate the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Hassan therefore waited on a hill, waiting for the Prophet ﷺ to pass through, in order to see in him a characteristic that he might take in derision. And when the Beloved passed, Hassan watched him and went back to the Qurayshis, saying, “See, take your money I do not want it, as to whoever you wanted me to take for a raillery… Oh Allah be a witness that I testify that he is Your Messenger… “The Quraysh said, “What has happened to you? This is not the reason we sent you” He then answered them with this poem:

When I saw his resplendent Lights
I put my hands in front of my eyes

 

Fearing that its splendor would take my sight
because I cannot look beyond my ability

 

A Spirit of Light in a Moon Body
Such as a precious garment embroidered with stars

From this Qasida we draw several lessons:

The Light of the Prophet ﷺ is seen in the proper and physical sense, it is not an allegorical or metaphorical Light, indeed sayidunâ Hassân ibn Thâbit (radiAllâhu’ anhu) clearly says that he saw the light shining so he put his hands on his eyes because he feared loss of sight. This Light is only seen by those who have been guided by Allah. Therefore, according to the Divine Wisdom, this Light appears for some and remains hidden for others. Thus, when Allah wanted good for Hassan, He revealed to him the spiritual reality of His Prophet, and so the sahabi was guided. On the other hand, this spiritual reality was hidden for Abu Lahab, who only saw the external image and the carnal envelope of the Prophet ﷺ. It was this Knowledge which gave the Companions that strength and firmness in the way of Allah, and their Knowledge of the Prophet ﷺ varied according to the degree of their faith. Thus the one who saw this Light under the appearance of a moon is not identical to the one who saw it under the appearance of a Light that shines like a sword, etc…

Therefore any believer who wishes the Prophetic proximity and who has been deprived of his corporeal company will have to seek his spiritual company which means through His Light. But we know that this Light is seen by pure hearts… and it is here that we answer the question of how to access the vision of this Light:
The answer is found in on of the Sayidina ibn ‘ata’ iLlah al-Iskandari’s aphorism, which says: “When Allah wishes to grant success to His servant, He provides him forces of Lights and empty his being from darkness and futile things”

The Shaykh of our Shouyoukh, sidi Abdel-Qadir Mawlay al-Basha commented on this aphorism and said: “it means, when Allah wants to grant success to one of His servants who was choose for His Proximity, He then let him accompany the people of Light, that is to say the people of the secrets that hold these Lights, who are the people of the ma’rifa, and He will remove him from the company of low rank people, slaves of darkness and trifles. If He then wishes to abandon him, He experiences him by the contrary of this and the servant then becomes one of the abandoned… and as the Hadith says, everyone will be in the company of those whom he has loved”. The way to access this Light consists to accompany the people of the Lights, who are the suns of the guidance, and Allah has certainly recommended us to follow them by saying, “And follow the way of those who return to Me” [Surah Luqmân, v15]. The return to Allah and to the Shuyukh of tarbiya Muhammadiya having reached the noblest degrees of this kind of return to Allah after purification of the darkness of their ego to return to the original Light.

This basic teaching was understood by a great number of the greatest scholars in the community, who sought the company of the people of the Light in order to take part of it. For example, the Sultan of ‘ulama, al-‘Izz ibn’ AbdesSalâm (radiAllâhu ‘anhu) who, despite his status and particularly high rank in religious science, sought company and proximity to Imam Abu L-Hassan al-Shâdhiliy (radiAllâhu ‘anhu). And similarly Imam an-Nawawiy, who in the matter of tassawwuf followed Sheykh Yassine al-Marrakchiy (rahimahuLah) and always showed the best behavior towards him and hoped for his baraka … similarly for the Imam as-Suyuti and as-Sakhâwiy, and before them Imam Ahmad and al-Shafi’i, both have established two well-known madhabs of fiqh, and sought the presence of a shepherd called Chiban whose heart had been illuminated by the Divine Light and anyone who followed him would take advantage of it and would take from this Light. And there are so many examples. Thus our pious predecessors learned the fiqh, then turned to tassawwuf, and lots of books tracing the life of pious people have been. likewise  Imam al-Shafi’i said in one of his poems:

Knower of the fiqh and Knower of the Tassawwuf, do not be only one of them
By Allah I address you this advice

 

The first one is hard and dry, his heart has not tasted taqwa
As for the second, it is an ignorant one: how could an ignorant person become pious ?

This is because they knew that the only way to achieve this Muhammadian Light was by frequenting the noble holders of the Lights and the Secrets, following them, relying entirely on them and following their educational method. And because their hearts are in direct connection with the Prophet’s heart ﷺ and they are the holders of the sanad linking them directly to him, those who frequent them have in turn the possibility to bind themselves to him ﷺ. O Lovers, if you are convinced by our words … then you must follow the example of these Imam, and among them are scholars who have reached the degree of ijtihad mutlaq, while others have reached the degree of ijtihad muqayad , and in spite of that they have not been blinded by their knowledge, their statutes, or their particular privileges … besides, what are worth these pleasant things to the nafs in front of Muhammadan Light? Of course, the comparison is not even possible. So follow their example and search of a Murshid Kamil (an accomplished guide). We have here indicated the way by which one reaches the Nur Muhammadi but if you think that you can reach it by yourself, by your own personal efforts then know that in this case you will never reach it. If that were possible, then those great Imams, without stopping at  the extent of their knowledge and the quantity of their pious deeds, would not have been obliged to seek and take guides in order to illuminate their hearts.

In this sense, Sidi Ahmad ibn ‘Ajiba (radiAllahu’ anhu), who was a jurist, poet, exegete and specialist of the Arabic language, said: “It is true that I have fasted a great deal, prayed and prayed at night, yet I have not been able to attain the accomplishments of accomplished men except by frequenting accomplished men. ” He said this after taking the Tariqa Darqawiya from the hand of sidi Ahmad al-Buzidi (radiAllahu ‘anhu). After you have understood this, O Lover, we will answer your question as to whether, in the case where one should access to this Light, would it mean that he has reached the Knowledge of the Prophet ﷺ? The answer is yes and in the Knowledge of the Beloved ﷺ people divide into two categories: the first concerns people who have known him through what appears from him, they are the common believers. The second category concerns those who have not only known what appears to him but also part of what is hidden, and this is the elite of the Muslims, those who follow the words, the actions, the states and the secrets of the Prophet ﷺ, unlike the firsts who know only his words and actions.

Ibn ‘Ajiba said: “Anyone who has seen the Prophet ﷺ in a dream is part of the elite, anyone who has seen him awaken in his corporeal appearance is part of the elite of the elite. And anyone who has seen him in an awakening state in his luminous spiritual form is part of the elite of the elite of the elite”.

Whoever, the one who will sees the Prophet ﷺ in his carnal form will only see his Noble Spirit manifested in his apparent image, and yet this person will not have attained the equivalent of what those who see him in his spiritual reality … and those are those who have attained the true knowledge of the Prophet ﷺ, and it is indeed to this vision that sayidunâ Abu Abbas al-Mursiy (Radiallahu ‘anhu) referred to when he said: “By Allah, if the Messenger of Allah disappears from my vision even for a wink I will not count myself as being number of Muslims”. Sheykh Abu al-Hassan al-Warqani said: “Shaykh Abu Abbas at-Tanjiy said to us: “I took the wird of Sayidi Ahmad al-Rifa’i and he said to me: “I’m not your Shaykh. Your Shaykh is Abderrahim and he is in Qina, so find him. So I went to Qina and when I found Shaykh Abderrahim, he told me: “Did you know the Messenger of Allâh ﷺ?” I said no, and he said: “Go to Jerusalem, there you will know the Messenger of Allah ﷺ”. So I went as I  was told, and as I set foot in Jerusalem, I saw the heaven, the earth, al-‘Arch and al-Kursiy filled with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Then I returned to the Shaykh, who asked me again: “Did you know the Messenger of Allah ﷺ?” I answered yes, and he announced to me: “Now you have completed your journey. It is only by his knowledge ﷺ that the poles are poles and that the watad are watad””.

The people who see this Light understand and fully enjoy this story. So let us meditate on how the murid answered “No” to the question “Did you know the Messenger of Allah ﷺ”. Indeed, as a Muslim he obviously knew him in his apparent carnal form. What prompted him to answer this question in the negative was the fact that he knew that the Knowledge of the Prophet ﷺ Is only realized through the Knowledge of his luminous spiritual reality, which is confirmed by many Quranic verses, Hadith, and hadith of Sahaba describing the Prophet ﷺ without taking into consideration the experiences lived by the pious and sincere through the centuries tour our days.


The primordiality of the Light in the access to the knowledge of the Prophet

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