Biography of Hadrat Imâm Rabbânî

The book Maktûbât (Letters), originally in the Fârisî language, consists of three volumes. It also contains a few letters in Arabic. An elaborate printing of the book was accomplished in 1393 [1973 A.D.] in Nâzimâbâd, Karachi, Pakistan. It was reproduced by offset process in Istanbul. A copy of the Fârisî version exists in the library of the university of Columbia in New York, U.S.A. Maktûbât was rendered into the Arabic language by Muhammad Murâd Qazânî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’, and the Arabic version was printed in two volumes in the printhouse called Mîriyya and located in the blessed city of Mekka in 1316. A copy of the Arabic version occupies number 53 in the municipality library at Bâyezid, Istanbul. It was reproduced by offset process in 1963, in Istanbul. A number of the books written by Hadrat Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ were reprinted in Karachi, Pakistan. Of those books, Ithbât-un-nubuwwa was reproduced by offset process in Istanbul in 1394 [1974 A.D.]. The marginal notes on the book, which is in Arabic, provide a biography of Hadrat Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’. In the following section we shall present an abridgement from the biography. People who would like to know Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ more closely and with more detail would have to read the Fârisî book Umdat-ul-maqâmât, by Khwâja Muhammad Fadlullah, and the book Barakât, by Muhammad Hâshim Badahshî. The latter one, also in the Fârisî language and reproduced by offset in Istanbul, is of great help for the acquisition of stronger ikhlâs and more conscientious îmân

(Muhammad Murâd Qazânî was born in the Ufa town of the Qazan (Kazan) city of Russia in 1272. Completing his madrasa education in his hometown, he went to Bukhârâ in 1293 [1876 A.D.]. He studied higher Islamic sciences in Bukhâra and Tashkend, and went to India and thence to Hijâz in 1295. He carried on his education in the blessed city of Medîna, and attained a certain degree in Tasawwuf as well. In 1302 he translated the book Rashahât and then the book Maktûbât into Arabic. He also wrote a biography of Imâm Rabbânî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’ in Arabic).

Muhammad Murâd Munzâwî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’ was another scholar. He did not translate Maktûbât into Arabic.

There are various ways to learn the facts about past people; how they were, their knowledge and ignorance, their guidance and aberration, etc. The first way is, for instance, if they founded a madhhab or a regime, to study the institution they founded. The second way is to read their works, books. The third way is to hear people who are unprejudiced about them and who mention their merits and imperfections objectively. Now we will study Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ from these three viewpoints:

1– Imâm-i-Rabbânî, mujaddid wa munawwir alf-i-thânî, Ahmad ibn Abd-il-Ahad, has an ancestral chain that reaches back to the Amîr-ul-mu’minîn ’Umar-ul-Fârûq ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anh’ with the twenty-ninth paternal link. All his grandfathers were pious and virtuous people, and each of them was a greatest scholar of his time.

2– Implicit and indirect good news herald a person’s advent before he is born. Adumbration of this sort does not clearly name the person himself or his birthplace. An example is the news foretelling the advent of Mahdî. The occasional false pretensions to the name of Mahdî in recent history were merely attempts to exploit this latency. The same rule applies to the news foretelling our religious leaders (imâms). Examples of such news are the following hadîth-i-sherîfs: “If the religion (Islam) fled the earth and went to [the cluster of stars called] the Pleiades, a youngster of Asiatic origin would apprehend it and bring it back.” “Men will get into insoluble trouble and look for a scholar to solve their problem. They will see that none is superior to the scholar (who will be living) in Medîna-i-munawwara.” “Do not speak ill of the Qoureishîs. A scholar of their descent will illuminate the entire world with knowledge.” Of these hadîth-i-sherîfs, the first one refers to Imâm a’zam Abû Hanîfa, (the founder and leader of the Hanafî Madhhab,) the second one alludes to Imâm Mâlik bin Enes, (the founder and leader of the Mâlikî Madhhab,) and the third one foretells the advent of Imâm Shâfi’î, (the founder and leader of the Shâfi’î Madhhab) ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anhum ajma’în’, according to other Islamic scholars. All these conclusions, regardless of the authenticity of the facts they are based on, are of conjectural capacity and therefore they are not definite knowledge. Whereas they are identical with knowledge in the friend’s view, they aggravate the foe’s stubbornness and vulgarize the denier’s nescience. For, it is either moral laxity and ignominy or vulgar ignorance and recalcitrance to deny something in the face of the great number and the high status of the people who believe it. Such is the case with Wahhâbîs, who obstinately deny the hadîth-i-sherîfs, which we have quoted above, about our religious leaders (imâms). The same applies to the deniers of Mahdî, for in effect it means to deny the so many hadîth-i-sherîfs (concerning Mahdî). For this reason, (some) Islamic scholars say that a person who denies Mahdî becomes a disbeliever. By the same token, Jews and Christians deny Muhammad ‘alaihis-salâm’ although the good news about his advent is given in their holy books. We Muslims believe in him positively. Likewise, also, there are pieces of good news concerning Imâm Rabbânî ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anh’, which are definite and positive facts in the view of his friends, although, by contrast, they exacerbate the denial and the obduracy of the enemy. The believers’ faith is in their own favour, and the adversaries’ denial is at their own peril. In fact, a Believer ought to have a good opinion about another Believer, even though he is not someone he knows well.

Would it not, then, be wiser by far to have a good opinion about the Awliyâ, who are praised in myriads of books and whose own books fill the entire world and whose followers have always been the most valued and beloved ones of their times and whose goodnesses shine far and near with solar brightness?

3– Our Prophet ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ stated, “Of my Ummat (Muslims), there will come someone nicknamed Sila. Through his shafâ’at (intercession with Allâhu ta’âlâ for the slaves), many people will enter Paradise.” This hadîth-i-sherîf is written in the book Jam’ul-jawâmî, by Imâm Suyûtî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’. Providing an extensive explanation for the Awliyâ’s words on ‘Wahdat-i-wujûd’, Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ proved that they were compatible with Islam, and combined the two very vast Islamic oceans, i.e. the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya (the Islamic principles, tenets, acts of worship, commandments and prohibitions, ritual practices, etc.), and Tasawwuf (knowledge pertaining to heart and soul; orders, paths, methods and techniques for the purification and improvement of the heart and soul), (which had hitherto been considered apart from each other). This won him the epithet Sila, (which means reunion; combiner). One of his letters ends with the prayer of thanksgiving, “May hamd (praise and gratitude) be to Allâhu ta’âlâ, who has made me a sila between two oceans!” He was known with this nickname among his companions. No one before him had won the epithet ‘Sila’, which exists literally in the hadîth-i-sherîf giving the good news. It is a fact in the sunlight that the epithet had been meant for Imâm Rabbânî. He who believes this will be beloved to him. Supposing his belief were wrong, neither in this world nor in the next would he be blamed for having had a good opinion about a Muslim.

Imâm Alî ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anh’ stated as follows, in versified narration:

The doctor and the naturalist supposed that when men
Die and decay, they will by no means come back to life.
Were your word to prove right, I would lose nothing;
Since I am right, in Hell will you spend the endless life.

4– Mawlânâ Jâmî ‘quddisa sirruh’, in his book Nafahât, quotes the Shaikh-ul-islâm Ahmad Nâmiqî Jâmî as having stated as follows: “I subjected myself to the total amount, and even more, of the mortifications and afflictions suffered by all the Awliya, and Allâhu ta’âlâ blessed me with all the spiritual states and goodnesses enjoyed by the Awliyâ. Every four hundred years Allâhu ta’âlâ blesses one of His slaves named Ahmad with such grand gifts, in such transparency as all people will see the gifts clearly.” There are four hundred and thirty-five (435) years between Ahmad Jâmî and Imâm (Ahmad) Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’, and throughout that period there was no other Walî with the name Ahmad and the same degree of greatness. In all likelihood, Imâm Rabbânî must have been the target of Ahmad Jâmî’s congratulatory innuendo ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anhum’. This presumption finds credence in another statement made, again, by the Shaikh-ul-islâm Ahmad Jâmî ‘quddisa sirruh’: “After me there will be seventeen people carrying my name. The last one, which is the greatest and the highest, will come after the first millennium (A.H.).”

5– Halîl-ul-Bedahshî ‘quddisa sirruh’ states: “Of the great scholars constituting the (chain of scholars called) Silsila-t-uz-zahab, there will come a paragon of perfection in India. He will be peerless in his century.” Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ is the ineluctable addressee of the implication in this statement, since India produced no other scholar in the same silsila.

6– Imâm Rabbânî Ahmad Fârûqî ‘quddisa sirruh’ was born in the city of Sihrind, situated on the route between Lahore and Delhi, India. ‘Sihrind’ means ‘black lion’. For, the city was first established by Sultân Fîrûz Shâh on a site that had formerly been a jungle of lions. It was not long after being born when Imâm Rabbânî caught an infantile disease. So his father took him to his own master Shâh Kemâl Kihtelî Qâdirî. “Don’t worry,” said the profoundly learned scholar. “This child prodigy is going to lead a long life and make a very great person.” Then he held the child by the hand and kissed him on the mouth. Upon this the fayz and nûr (light, haloe) of Abdulqâdir Geylânî ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anh’ pervaded his blessed body. He received his initial education from his father, learned Arabic, and memorized the Qur’ân al-kerîm in his early childhood. Possessed of a mellifluous voice, he recited the sûras like a nightingale singing. He memorized several booklets on various sciences and went to the city of Siyâlkût (Sialkot), where he studied some positive sciences and learned a great deal from Mawlânâ Kemâladdîn Kishmîrî ‘quddisa sirruh’, who was the highest scholar of his time and the great teacher who educated the renowned scholar Abdulhakîm Siyalkûtî. He received ijâzât in Hadîth, in Tafsîr and in sciences of Usûl (methodology, procedures) from Qâdî Behlûl Bedahshânî, who was an ’âlim-i-rabbânî. He was only seventeen years old when he completed his education, in possession of ijâzât in all the branches of religious and positive sciences, as well as in sciences called Furû’ and Usûl. During his education, he received, through his father, the fayz and flavour in the hearts of the great men of Tasawwuf affiliated with the orders of Qâdirî and Cheshtî. His father was still alive when he already began to teach the disciples practical and spiritual sciences. In the meantime he wrote quite a number of books, among which are Risâla-t-ut-tehlîliyya, Risâla-t-ur-radd-ir-rawâfid, and Risâla-t-u-ithbât-un-nubuwwa (Proof of Prophethood). He was specially interested in belles-lettres. His eloquence, rhetoric, quickness of comprehension and great intelligence were objects of bewilderment for all the people around him.

7– With such superlative knowledge and unequalled spiritual perfection, his heart was burning with the love of the great guides of (the order of Tasawwuf called) Ahrâriyya. He was reading books written by the scholars of that path. A year after his father’s decease he left Sihrind for (a voyage to Mekka for the performance of the Islamic pilgrimage termed) hajj. Enroute to his destination, he called at Dehli, [i.e. Delhi,] and paid a visit to (the great spiritual master and scholar named) Muhammad Bâqî Billâh ‘quddisa sirruh’, who lived there. As soon as he entered the blessed sage’s presence, a nûr (light, haloe) shone up in his heart. He felt attracted, like a needle that was caught in a magnetic area. His heart became inundated with things unknown to him and which he had not heretofore heard of. He was going to come back after hajj and reap from the mellow spiritual source, yet the affection and the desire in his heart was too strong for him to wait that long. So the following morning he entered the great scholar’s presence again and extended his wish to attain the Ahrâriyya fayz. He remained there, in the blessed master’s service. Paying utmost attention to his own manners as well as to the perfectly adept guide’s words, he attached his heart to him. He preferred being with the owner of the Kâ’ba to going to the Kâ’ba. Exerting all his exclusively high talents and his well-endowed personality, he attained all sorts of perfections, which became manifest on his gifted person. So kind and magnanimous was his master’s compassionate concentration on him that it was hardly beyond two months’ time when he attained unprecedented spiritual realizations. A couple of months sufficed for him to become entitled to an unconditional authorization in the path of Ahrâriyya from his master, who ordered him to go back home thereafter, transferring most of his disciples to his care and sending them along to Sihrind. Back home, he began to spread zâhirî and bâtinî knowledge and nûrs to the world and to educate his disciples and students and guide them to spiritual heights. He was now an owner of universal reputation, and his own master joined in the influx of his admirers to reap spiritual lights from him. He would fill everybody’s heart with knowledge and haloes, and resuscitate and invigorate the religion of Muhammad ‘alaihis-salâm’. His utterly effective letters would encourage the time’s pâdishâhs, governors, commanders and judges to rally to the cause of Islam and to hold fast to the Sunnat-i-saniyya. He would raise a great number of scholars and Awliyâ.

8– Although he had acquired the spiritual knowledge (’ilm-i-bâtin) from Muhammad Bâqî ‘quddisa sirruh’, Allâhu ta’âlâ conferred even more upon him. And even this exceptional knowledge, which was peculiar to him, he publicized worldover. His master also would come to attain pieces from that knowledge, enter his presence and sit with adab (suitable manners). It was on one of those occasions that his master came, sensed that his master-disciple was busy with his own heart, told the servant not to disturb him (Imâm Rabbânî), and did not enter the room, waiting silently at the door. Some time later Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ stood up and asked who was at the door. “It is this faqîr, Muhammad Bâqî,” called his master ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’. Upon hearing the name, Imâm Rabbânî ran to the door and welcomed his master humbly and with suitable manners. His master would always give him glad tidings, praise him in the presence of his acquaintances, and command his disciples to adapt themselves to Imâm Rabbânî after his decease.

9– Sayyid Muhammad Nu’mân ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’, a very great scholar and one of highest disciples of Khwâja Muhammad Bâqî ‘quddisa sirruh’, relates: When my teacher told me to adapt myself to Imâm Rabbânî (after his death), I tried to tell him that it would be unnecessary, saying, “The mirror of my heart will only be towards your bright heart.” My teacher retorted, “What do you think Ahmad is? His solar light outshines thousands of stars like us.”

10– Khwâja Muhammad Bâqî wrote as follows to some of his acquaintances, who were the greatest scholars of his time: A youngster came from the city of Sihrind. He has very much knowledge. And his behaviour perfectly reflects his knowledge. He stayed with this faqîr, (the great scholar means himself,) for a few days. I have seen very much in him. I understand that he is going to be a sun that will enlighten the entire world. His relatives and all his brothers also are brilliant, valuable and knowledgeable heroes! And his sons, especially, are a treasure of Allâhu ta’âlâ each.

11– He said on another occasion: For the recent three or four years I have been exerting myself to guide others to the right path, to the way of salvation. Al-hamdulillah (May gratitude and praise be to Allâhu ta’âlâ)! My exertion has not come to naught, for a person like him has come out.

12– Khwâja Muhammad Bâqî ‘quddisa sirruh’ stated on another occasion: I brought this seed, which is a medicament for hearts and a cure for souls, from Samarkand and Bukhâra, and sowed it in the fertile soil of India. I spared no effort for the education and guidance of the disciples. When he surpassed all degrees and attained the highest grades of all sorts of perfection, I withdrew myself from between and left the disciples to his care.

13– In a letter that Khwâja Muhammad Bâqî Billâh ‘quddisa sirruh’ wrote to Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruhumâ’, he states as follows: “May Allâhu ta’âlâ bless you with the lot of attaining the highest grade and guiding all others as well! A line:

Earth has a share from the meal table of the beneficent! “The unornamented truth is that the Shaikh-ul-islâm Abdullah Ansârî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’ stated, ‘I was educated by Abul Hasan Harkânî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’. However, if Harkânî were alive now, he would ignore that he had been my teacher, come and kneel down before me.’ My inaction is not due to complacency or snub; on the contrary, I am awaiting a sign implying admission. This is the truth of the matter. May Allâhu ta’âlâ bless us with guidance! May He protect us from conceit and vanity! Sayyid Sâlih of Nishâpûr, who will be bringing you this letter of mine, came to me for the cure of his heart. Because I do not have time and I am not in a convenient state, I am sending him to you lest he should waste his time with me. Inshâ-Allah, he will attain your high and generous attention and obtain something proportional to his talents.

14– “May Allâhu ta’âlâ, for the sake of His beloved Awliyâ, whom He has chosen for Himself, guide also those wretched and impoverished mendicants of knowledge and sagacity, the hapless count-outs of all windfalls, and make them attain their wishes! I have been unable to present my true respect to your rank, which is a resource of Awliyâ. Yes, this is the only proper way of addressing oneself to a rank whose states are true to its name. To call you ‘my disciple’ would mean to display the most shameless insolence and to obscure the truth with the apparent contraposition. I request your benedictions, sir.”

15– In addition to his own master, most of the scholars and sages of his time mentioned his name with laudatory remarks that he perfectly deserved, refuted those who were uncivil enough to speak ill of him, and all of them gathered like moths around the light of his ma’rifat. The greatest and the most distinguished ones among them were Fadlullah Burhanpûrî, Mawlânâ Hasan-ul-ghawsî, Mawlânâ Abdulhakîm Siyâlkûtî, Mawlânâ Jemâladdîn Tâluwî, Mawlânâ Ya’qûb Sirfî, Mawlânâ Hasan-ul-Qubâdânî, Mawlânâ Mîrekshâh, Mawlânâ Mîr Mu’mîn, Mawlânâ Jân Muhammad Lâhurî and Mawlânâ Abd-us-salâm Diyukî. Muhaddith Abdulhaqq Dahlawî spent a greater part of his life criticizing him; however, when the mirror of his heart rid the rust and dust of his nafs so that the rays of that sun illuminated his heart, he began to praise him and to refute the slanders of the stubborn deniers.

16– Fadl Burhanpûrî, for instance, would take pleasure from listening to laudatory remarks about his beautiful attributes and enjoy hearing about his ma’rifats. He would say that he (Imâm Rabbânî) was the Qutb-ul-aqtâb, i.e. the imâm (religious leader, the highest scholar) of his time, that his reports about the secrets of truth were always right and valuable, and that his adherence to all the subtleties of the Islamic religion and his universal popularity attested to the fact that his words were true and to the high status of the spiritual states he were experiencing and displaying. During the Imâm’s ‘quddisa sirruh’ imprisonment, he would pray for his release after each of the five daily prayers of namâz. When people from the neighborhood of Sihrind came to him to express their wishes to become his disciples, he would rebuke them, saying, “So you live at a place close to Imâm Rabbânî and look for knowledge and ma’rifat at other places. Leaving the sun, you run to the stars for light. You astonish me.”

17– Hasan-ul-ghawsî would praise him very much. He writes as follows about the imâm in his book Manâqib-ul-awliyâ: “The owner of the rank of Mahbûbiyyat, the ornament of the chairmanship of the assembly of Wahdâniyyat, the expert of the rank of Ferdiyyat, and the chief of the rank of Qutbiyyat.”

18– Mawlânâ Abdulhakîm Siyâlkûtî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’ was another admirer of Imâm Rabbânî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’ who paid profound respect to the Imâm. He would struggle against his deniers. He would call him ‘Mujaddid-i-alf-i-thânî (Restorer of the Second Millennium). He is said (by the Islamic scholars) to have been the first person to call him this name. He would admonish the deniers, saying, “It is ignorance to raise objections to great people’s words without properly understanding what they mean. People who do so end up in perdition. To reject the words of Ahmad the master, who is a source of knowledge, fayz and irfân, stems from not knowing and understanding him.”

19– Muhammad Mu’min Kubrawî of Belh city sent one of his disciples to Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ for inâbat (repentance for sins), tawba (repentance and invocation for the forgiveness of sins, and resolution not to commit sins again), and sulûk (a term in Tasawwuf, which means ‘to enter a religious order; to make progress in one of the paths of Tasawwuf’). When the disciple entered Imâm Rabbânî’s presence, he conveyed the salâms which he brought from his master, from Sayyid Mîrekshâh, from Hasan Qubâdânî, and from Qâdil Qudât Tulek, and added: My master Mîr Muhammad Mu’min said, “I would go and be blessed with his lectures and serve him till death were it not for the hindrances such as my old age and the great distance. I would try to enlighten my heart with his nûrs, which have not fallen to anyone else’s lot. My body is far away, down here, yet my heart is up there. I beg him to accept this faqîr, (i.e. Muhammad Mu’min himself,) as if I were one of his pure disciples in his presence, and to scatter his blessed nûrs into my soul. Kiss his hand on my behalf, too!” The disciple kissed the Imâm’s hand again and, as he was leaving he said, “The blessed people in the city of Belh request of you to send them letters telling about sublime facts.” Upon this Imâm Rabbânî ‘qaddas-Allâhu sirrah-ul-’azîz’ wrote the ninety-ninth letter and gave it to him together with a few other letters. Some time later some devotees from Belh came to India with the report that upon receiving the Imâm’s ‘quddisa sirruh’ letter Mîr Muhammad Mu’min had read it with exuberant satisfaction and had said, “If great Awliyâ such as Bâyezîd the Sultân-ul-’ârifîn and Junayd the Sayyid-ut-tâifa were living now they would kneel down before Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ and not even for a moment would they be absent from his service.

20– One of the scholars of his time said, “The share that falls to the comprehension of scholars from Imâm Rabbânî’s ‘quddisa sirruh’ writings is identical with whatsoever ignorant people understand from the (words of metaphysical level called) hikmat that they hear from the (deeply learned and wise scholars called) hakîm.”

21– Another pious scholar of his time, whose religious practices were in harmony with his religious knowledge, observed as follows: “Experts of knowledge pertaining to heart and soul do either tasnîf (composition) or te’lîf (compilation). Tasnîf means an ’ârif’s writing the occult and mysterical pieces of knowledge that are imparted to him (and inspired into his purified heart). And te’lîf means to compile others’ words, to arrange them in a self-established order and then write them. It has been a long time since the business of tasnîf has left the world, although te’lîf still survives. However, what Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ has been writing perfectly fall into the category of tasnîf. They are not te’lîf at all. I am not one of his disciples. Yet I have been studying his writings minutely, and for reason’s sake I have not so far found a single word belonging to others. All of them reflect his own kashfs (findings of the heart) and the pieces of knowledge flowing into his heart. All of them are sublime, acceptable, beautiful, and compatible with the Islamic religion.”

22– When the greatest qâdî (Islamic judge) of his time was asked about the (spiritual) states that Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ had been experiencing and displaying, he replied, “The words and the states of the scholars of the knowledge of heart and soul are beyond the capacity of our minds. However, when I saw the states of Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’, I developed a realization and comprehension of the states and the words of the past Awliyâ. Before that, whenever I read about the states of the (past) Awliyâ and their peculiar acts of worship, I speculated a certain degree of hyperbolism about the written accounts. Yet, seeing his states and manners eliminated my speculations and hesitations.”

23– Abdulhaqq Dahlawî, a scholar of Hadîth, was formerly opposed to Imâm Rabbânî’s ‘quddisa sirruh’ writings; he would despise them and write refutations to them. Later, however, Allâhu ta’âlâ blessed him with seeing the truth; penitent of his former attitude, he made tawba. He wrote to Mawlânâ Husâmaddîn Ahmad, one of the graduates of Khwâja Muhammad Bâqî, about his tawba, as follows: “May Allâhu ta’âlâ’ bless Ahmad-i-Fârûqî with (all sorts of) salvation! This faqîr’s (Hadrat Dahlawî’s) heart is now true towards him. Curtains of humanity have gone up, and the blemishes of the nafs have cleared. Aside from the spiritual solidarity, it stands to reason that a religious superior like him could not have been defied. How unwise and crass I must have been! No words I would say now would suffice to express the shame and inferiority that my heart feels towards him. It belongs to Allâhu ta’âlâ, alone, to convert hearts and to change spiritual states.” In another letter, which Abdulhaqq Dahlawî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’ wrote to his own children, he said, “Tear the drafts of my letters which I wrote in opposition to the writings of Ahmad Fârûqî ‘sallamahullâhu ta’âlâ’! No longer is there any blur about him in my heart, which feels quite true towards him now.” This shows that his former opposition was merely human. It was the case also with all the other deniers. Jenâb-i-Haqq (Allâhu ta’âlâ) chooses some of His slaves and blesses them with His Compassion, saving them from the Hell of denial and guiding them to the Paradise of affirmation. The reasons for his tawba are not known for certain. According to some reports, he had a dream in which the Messenger of Allah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ reprimanded him. Some scholars say, on the other hand, that he drew lots on the Qur’ân al-kerîm, that once the âyat-i-kerîma which purports, “... If he is a liar, it is at his own peril. If he is telling the truth, Allâhu ta’âlâ will send onto you some of what He has promised to you,” came out, and that at another time the outcome was the âyat-i-kerîma which purports, “They are the beloved slaves of Allâhu ta’âlâ. Even in their business of buying and selling, their heart is not without Allâhu ta’âlâ in it.” According to a third report, the objections that he raised against him were consequent upon a letter that the adversaries of the blessed Imâm (Rabbânî) had sent to him, (i.e. to Abdulhaqq Dahlawî). When he realized the truth he repented and made tawba.

A note: When his children received their father’s letter, they destroyed the drafts. Yet other people also had had letters from him, (which contained his former opinions about Imâm Rabbânî). Those letters still existed in a few books written in Persian. However, beautiful refutations were written to those letters. Short biographies of the scholars who praised Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ would make up an entire book.

24– THE FIFTH PERSPECTIVE: When a person rises to fame owing to his virtues and perfections, a concomitant increase in jealousy follows. This has been the case since (the first man and the earliest prophet) Âdam ‘alaihis-salâm’. The jealousy of the ignorant is symptomatic of the abundance of the blessings possessed by the envied person. Our Master, the Prophet ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ states: “Of all people, prophets ‘alaihim-us-salâtu wa-s-salâm’, suffer the most disasters; next after them are scholars and then come the sâlih (pious, devoted) Muslims.” For that matter, Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ had a considerable share from disasters. How could it have been otherwise, since he was the mujaddid-i-alf-i-thânî? In other words, Allâhu ta’âlâ had sent him a thousand years after the Prophet, our Master ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’, as a restorer to rehabilitate and strengthen the Islamic religion. Is it an easy job to rehabilitate something, to restore it to its pristine purity, and to undo all the so many superstitions that have become established customs throughout years? Would it have been a simple fait accompli to strengthen Islam and purge it from the deeply rooted impurities at a time when wrongdoings, heresies and superstitions were on the increase, aberrations so widespread, and sham dervishes of Wahdat-i-wujûd were known as Islamic scholars?

25– Mawlânâ Shâh Abdul’azîz (1239 [1824 A.D.]), a son of Shâh Ahmad Waliyyullah (1179), ‘rahimahumullâhu ta’âlâ’, observes as follows: Wahdat-i-wujûd deteriorated into various anomalies among the common people. Misunderstanding the words of the great, the ignorant deviated from Islam in the process of time. The highly esoteric and valuable science (,i.e. Wahdat-i-wujûd,) became a demolisher of Islam, and a source of heresy for the shaikhs of Tekke, whose aberrant paths spread among the ignorant populace. [The comatose trends buttered the bread of the enemies of Islam. Representing some irreligious and immoral people as poets of Tasawwuf, they designed school curricula containing their irreligious words, thus having the younger generations read them in the name of poetry.] Allâhu ta’âlâ, with His infinite compassion for His slaves, created a great mujaddid, Imâm Rabbânî ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anh’. He blessed him with profound knowledge. Through him, He purified the minds of His slaves, separated right from wrong, and cleansed many a heart from heresy.

These magnificent accomplishments incurred the spite of some people and a torrent of persecutions, arrows and vilifications followed. The jealousies were even aggravated when, one by one, scholars and other virtuous and mature people left their paths and guides and hastened to join the disciples of the Imâm (Rabbânî) and to serve him. Conspiracies were resorted to for the purpose of exposing the Imâm to danger. For instance, they provoked the ignorant folk by spreading the lie that he abhorred the great Islamic shaikhs such as Junayd-i-Baghdâdî. They began to estrange the short-sighted people from the imâm by alleging that he denied the Wahdat-i-wujûd which was a science for spiritual improvement established by the great shaikhs of Islam. They tried to antagonize his admirers by asserting that he denied the Meshâikh-i-izâm and boasted of having attained the ma’rifat of Allâhu ta’âlâ directly without a guide. The defamations culminated when they finally tried to besmear him with the political felony of insubordination against the government and contempt for the laws and, into the bargain, many another libel which a Muslim could never commit against another.

26– His alleged denial of the Meshâikh-i-izâm was a blatant lie. The truth becomes manifest immediately upon beginning to read his book Maktûbât, which is a clear evidence of his profound respect towards the Meshâikh-i-izâm, so much so that he attaches beautiful meanings even to their words that are vulnerable to misinterpretation and which for centuries their enemies have exploited as fulcrums to bring their calumniations to bear, -as for their words that do not seem to be susceptible of a benevolent interpretation, he says that they were the erroneous words which those great people had said during their apprenticeship and which they corrected after attaining higher grades. He says that errors of kashf (in the paths of Tasawwuf), like errors of ijtihâd (committed by scholars who have attained the grade of ijtihâd), are not only pardonable but also meritorious acts that are likely to be rewarded (in the Hereafter). As regards his alleged denial of Wahdat-i-wujûd; those who read Maktûbât will know that the truth is quite the other way round and that he handles the matter with unprecedented adroitness by, on the one hand, protecting Islam’s honour and, on the other, paying heed to the dignity of those great people.

27– The statesmen under the time’s Sultân Selîm Jihânghir Khân, including his grand vizier, his chief muftî and his harem, were not Sunnî Muslims. However, most of the Imâm’s letters, and also his booklet Radd-i-rawâfid, especially, repudiate people without a Madhhab and explain that they are ignorant, stupid and base people. Imâm-i-Rabbânî sent that booklet of his to Abdullah Jenghiz Khân, the time’s greatest Uzbek Khân in Bukhârâ, with the note, “Show this booklet to the Iranian Shâh Abbâs Safawî! If he accepts it, things will be quite all right. If he does not, then it will be permissible to make war against him.” When the Shâh’s answer was in the negative, a war was made. Abdullah Khân took Herat (Hirât) and the cities in Khorasan. Those places had been captured by the Safawîs a hundred years before. Upon this all the lâ-madhhabî people in India cooperated, and their spokesmen showed the Sultân (Abdullah Khân) a letter which Imâm Rabbânî had written to his own master and teacher (Muhammad Bâqî Billah), i.e. the eleventh letter of the first volume, and said, “He considers himself, and claims to be, higher than all other people, even higher than Abû Bakr ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anh’.” The Sultân sent his own son Shâh Jihân to Imâm Rabbânî, inviting the Imâm and his sons and the other great scholars educated by the Imâm. He was resolved to have them all killed. Shâh Jihân went to Imâm, taking along a muftî with him. With them they had a fatwâ legalizing (Islamically) prostration before the Sultân (head of the Muslim state). (A fatwâ is a written answer which an Islamic scholar gives Muslims’ questions. A muftî is a scholar authorized to give a fatwâ). Shâh Jihân knew that Imâm Rabbânî was a true person. He said, “I can save you if you prostrate yourself before my father.” The Imâm replied that the legalization in the fatwâ stipulated darûrat (necessity, inevitability prescribed by Islam), that azîmat (the harder and more commendable choice) and ideal devotion to one’s faith would require refusal of a suggestion of prostration, and that nothing would save a person when the foreordained time of his death came. Leaving his sons and his ashâb (companions and disciples), he went alone. The Sultân showed him the eleventh letter and asked him what it meant. So beautiful and satisfactory was the great scholar’s answer that the Sultân, far below the level as he was to comprehend such sublime and esoteric facts, became cheered and released him apologetically. When the plotters saw that all their efforts had come to naught, they said to the Sultân, “This person has quite a number of men, and his words have caught on throughout the country. If we let him go, a chaos may follow. You see what a conceited person he is. He not only refused to show reverence, which in itself would suffice to prove his detestation, but also did not even condescend to salute you.” Indeed, the drunken, infuriated and ferocious appearance of the Sultân, as the imâm had found him upon entering his presence, had divested him of the respect and dignity that a personage in that position would normally have inspired, so that the great scholar had not even saluted him (by uttering the expression of salâm, which we have described earlier in the text). After a long debate with the assembly, the Sultân ordered that the imâm be imprisoned in the fortress of Gwalior, the most strongly fortified and the most dreadful fortress in the country. Like a nightingale caged in with lowly inmates, the Imâm’s ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anh’ blessed face was shrouded from Muslims’ sight. The harvest moon was covered with black clouds. So gloomy was the hapless night that Sayyid Ghulâm Alî, India’s renowned man of belles lettres better known with his nickname Âzâd, could not help exquisitely versifying the event in his doleful stanzas.

28– Formerly, Imâm Rabbânî ‘qaddas-Allâhu ta’âlâ sirrah-ul ’azîz’ had stated, “There are many other ranks that are above the ranks I have attained. Those higher ranks are attainable only by way of a training with Jelâl (Majesty, Wrath, Rage of Allâhu ta’âlâ, which materializes as disasters, misfortunes, cares). So far, I have been trained with Jemâl (Beauty, Grace of Allâhu ta’âlâ), i.e. with fondlings.” Also, he had said to some of his companions, “Between fifty and sixty, cares and disasters will shower on me.” It happened exactly as he had said, and he was blessed with those higher ranks as well.

29– Thousands of unbelievers imprisoned in the fortress were honoured with îmân and Islam owing to the barakat of the blessed Imâm ‘quddisa sirruh’. An approximately equal number of Muslims made tawba (for the sinful lives they had led before). In fact, some of them would later attain very high positions in Islamic scholarship. A striking example is the illustrious conversion to Islam of a great commander of the fire-worshipping Indians, who happened to be among the audience as the blessed scholar was explaining the eleventh letter to the Sultân and yielded to the merits of the Imâm’s religious steadfastness and the flavour and high standard of his wording. The Sultân’s vizier had appointed his own brother as a guard to wait upon the imâm with instructions that “the convict should undergo a harsh treatment.” Yet the fortunate brother, witnessing various karâmats (wonders and miracles) on the blessed imâm, and an awe-inspiring dignity, patience, and even exultation, instead of dejection, into the bargain, made tawba, doffed the halter of heresy, ornamented himself with the necklace of Ahl as-sunnat, and consigned himself into the pond of grace where bathed the truest disciples of the blessed religious scholar ‘quddisa sirruh’.

30– Not to the least extent did the imprisonment bear on the philanthropy that Imâm Rabbânî ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anh’ held towards the Sultân. Pleased with what he had done to him, he would always pronounce benedictions over him. As a matter of fact, some of the companions of the Imâm ‘quddisa sirruh’ had a design against the Sultân, which was very well within their power. Yet the Imâm prevented them, showing himself to them in their dreams as well as when they were awake, and advised them to pronounce benedictions over the Sultân. “Hurting the Sultân will cause harm to all the people,” he would say. Readers of Maktûbât will see these facts in all their clarity in the letters which he wrote to his sons from the dungeon.

31– Sultân Selîm Jihânghîr Khân’s son, Shâh Jihân ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’, rose against his father. He had a powerful army and was sincerely backed by most of the commanders who were apparently on his father’s side. Yet the advantages he had proved short of bringing him victory. He told his story to one of the time’s Awliyâ and asked for benedictions. The Walî said: Your victory depends on the benedictions on the part of the four poles (highest Walîs and scholars) of the present time. Three of them are with you. Yet the fourth one, who is the highest one, does not approve of your attempt. That exalted person is Hadrat Imâm Rabbânî Mujaddid-i-alf-i-thânî ‘quddisa sirruh’. Shâh Jihân went to the Imâm and begged the great scholar to invoke a blessing on him. The Imâm ‘quddisa sirruh’ counselled him to give up the plan to overthrow his father, saying, “Go to your father, kiss his hand and apologize! He will soon pass away and the sovereignty will be yours.” Shâh Jihân listened to his advice and gave up his plan. A short time later, in 1037 [1627 A.D.], his father passed away, whereupon he attained his wish, sovereignty. Then, how could one ever believe the jealous plotters’ slander that Imâm Rabbânî disobeyed the Sultân and flouted the laws?

32– Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ had spent two or three valuable years in the fortress, when the Sultân began to feel remorse for his wrongdoing. Having him taken out of the prison, he showed him kindness. In fact, he became one of his true disciples and faithful friends. He ordered him to stay for some time among the army. Later, he set him free and, with deep reverence, sent him to his homeland. When Imâm Rabbânî ‘rahmatullâhi ta’âlâ ’aleyh’ was back home, he had attained grades and states thousands of times higher than the spiritual positions which he had been occupying (before imprisonment). With the exception of his blessed sons and his successors whom he educated, no one can be privy to the occult and secret spiritual facts and ma’rifats permeating through his letters which he wrote in the aftermath. Those valuable letters of his complement the three volumes of Maktûbât.

33– Such afflictions and disasters befell not only the greatest Awliyâ, but also prophets ‘alaihim-us-salawâtu wa-t-taslîmât’, so that today’s Awliyâ and devoted Muslims will find solace in them and the afflictions and disasters that the ignorant witness to befall the contemporary Awliyâ will not be construed as symptomatic of iniquity (of the people who suffer them). Historians, who are unaware of this subtlety, write only about the pleasant facts concerning the Awliyâ, withholding some events which reflect their human demeanours. This sparing policy misleads their uncritical readers into visualising them as impeccable and angelic creatures; and, ergo, a most trivial sight of human weakness which they observe on a person who is said to be a pious and devoted Muslim or a Walî causes them to think otherwise, which in turn means that they cannot get a share from the spiritual gifts the blessed person has been endowed with, since you cannot acquire any blessings from a person about whom you have a bad opinion. Some people go even further wrong by gossiping about those pure Muslims. They do not know that Allâhu ta’âlâ hides His beloved slaves under the screen of human mediocrities. As a matter of fact, He declares, “I hide My beloved ones. Not everybody can recognize them.” Imâm Rabbânî ‘qaddas-Allâhu ta’âlâ sirrah-ul ’azîz’ offers a number of explanations on this subject in Maktûbât, while, on the other hand, Muhyiddîn Arabî ‘quddisa sirruh’ states in his book Futuhât that a peccadillo that breaks the heart and humbles the nafs is more useful than an act of worship which inflames the nafs and brings pride to the heart.

34– Having attained his loftiest aspirations, Imâm Rabbânî, Mujaddid-i-alf-i-thânî, Ahmad Fârûqî ‘quddisa sirruh’ reached the grades which Allâhu ta’âlâ bestowed on him, and thereafter, when the time which Allâhu ta’âlâ had foreordained, (i.e. the taqdîr-i-ilâhî,) came, he accepted the invitation extended by Azrâîl ‘alaihis-salâm’ (Angel of Death ) and attained the Refîq-i-a’lâ (Allâhu ta’âlâ) on the twenty-ninth day, Tuesday, of the blessed month of Safer (the second Arabic lunar month) in 1034 [1624 A.D.]. He was buried in the cemetery of Sihrind. May Allâhu ta’âlâ bless his soul with peace and his grave with plenty of nûr! May He make us attain the barakat of his valuable breath and his love! May He guide us to his shafâ’at and join us with his lovers who will assemble under his banner on the Rising Day! Âmîn.

35– People have different habits, different predilections, different wishes, and different thoughts. Therefore, not only as he was alive did he have admirers as well as adversaries, but also after his passing away two different groups of people held two opposite opinions about him. Whereas one group explicitly praised him, another followed the line of criticism. The antagonistic attempts, however, let alone choke his universally renowned ma’rifats, merely betokened evanescent snowflakes on a river. Or, rather, they contributed to his reputation, for, every attempt on the part of his adversaries to scatter poison his admirers counterplotted against with a variety of antidotal confutations. This reciprocal struggle proved fructiferous enough to give birth to more than seventy books specially devoted to this subject. One of them, perhaps the greatest one, the booklet Atiyya-t-ul wahhâb fâsila-t-u-bayn-al-hatâ wa-th-thawâb, a masterpiece composed by Muhammad Uzbekî Makkî, put the adversaries to a crying shame from which they should not have had the face to raise their heads. After the imâm’s passing away ‘quddisa sirruh’, many scholars lauded him and wrote very useful and important books. One of them is Mawlânâ Abdullah Itâqîzâda ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ, the Muftî of Mekka-i-mukarrama, the Shaikh-ul-Islâm, and the Imâm-ul-’allâma. We have not translated the passage from his book which occupies a few pages of the Arabic version.

36– A profoundly learned scholar who praised Imâm Rabbânî ‘rahimahullâhu ta’âlâ’ after his passing away is Ziyâeddîn Mawlânâ Khâlid ’Uthmânî Baghdâdî ‘quddisa sirruh’, a leader of ârifs, a guide to truth, a paragon of the highest attainable spiritual grades, an owner of physical and spiritual perfections, and an ocean of knowledge. The following paragraph is a paraphrased translation of the couplets in the ninety-fourth page of his Persian divan, in which he utters the delicacies of his lofty soul:

“Yâ Rabbî! Please do forgive me for the sake of the haloes in the eyes of Ahmad Fârûqî ‘quddisa sirruh’; a wayfarer of that endless path; a leader of the owners of knowledge; a source of the occult secrets which are neither perceptible to the human sight nor attainable with mind; an owner of greatness beyond the human cognizance and which Thou, alone, knowest; an ocean where meanings foam and crest like waves; a chief of a world where material beings or places do not exist; a source of nûr whose lights illuminate India; a beloved slave for whose sake the city of Sihrind was transmuted into the valley where Mûsâ (Moses) ‘alaihis-salâm’ received the Word of Allâhu ta’âlâ; a document to prove the greatness of the religion of Muhammad ‘alaihis-salâm’; a light for the assembly of the keen-sighted; a commander of the army of absolute piety; a master who not only has attained unthinkable spiritual heights but also guides those who follow his path! Please do overlook my black face! So ruthlessly have I abused myself, innumerable are the faults I have committed, and so disloyal have I been in my promise. Yet the endlessness of Thine ocean of forgiveness and compassion makes me feel hopeful. Thine infinite Kindness, alone, do I rely on. For, ‘I am the Forgiver,’ Thou sayest.”

37– Another scholar who praised him was Hadrat Sayyid Tâhâ Hakkârî ‘quddisa sirruh’, a profoundly learned savant, a virtuous Walî-i-kâmil, a possessor of innumerable karâmats (wonders, miracles), and the highest of the Awliyâ educated and trained by Mawlânâ Khâlid Baghdâdî ‘quddisa sirruh’.

38– Another scholar who praised Imâm Rabbânî ‘quddisa sirruh’ was Sayyid Abdulhakîm Efendi ‘rahmatullâhi ’aleyh’, a gem of scholarship and an ideal perfection among the Awliyâ. He states as follows in a letter which he wrote to a devoted Muslim: “Dhikr, and so the effect of dhikr, is a deep sea. No one has reached down its depths. It is a such rough ocean that the entire world is quite unaware of any one of its waves. It is such a vast mass of water surrounding the world that the entire universe would not be able to comprehend it. Dhikr is a spiritual state that occurs in the hearts of those who make dhikr. It is something impossible to describe, to write about, to explain.

“A person who knows Allâhu ta’âlâ becomes speechless. He cannot find words to describe what he is experiencing. He becomes overwhelmed with bewilderment. He is quite oblivious to the world and to other people. As Allâhu ta’âlâ is the Person whose dhikr is being made, likewise, He, alone, is the Person who makes dhikr. He, alone, is capable of making dhikr of Himself. Who are poor creatures to make dhikr of Him? However, He commands His human creature to make dhikr of Him the perfections in the grades of Wilâyat attained by the Awliyâ-i-kirâm, Maktûbât, written by Imâm Rabbânî Ahmad Fârûqî, is the most valuable and the highest of the books explaining both the perfections and the ma’rifats in the grades of Wilâyat and the ma’rifats and the kamâlât (perfections) and the subtleties peculiar to the grade of prophethood.]

An excerpt from one of his letters translates into English as follows: “... who has read and partly understood the book Maktûbât, which is the most useful book from worldly as well as religious points of view and whose compeer in the Islamic religion has not so far been written... .” He, (i.e. Abdulhakîm Efendi,) would say, “A person who knows a little Persian (Fârisî) language will understand Maktûbât better if he reads the Persian version. For the Turkish version rendered by Müstekimzâde Süleymân Efendi is both complicated and erroneous.” Müstekîmzâde Süleymân Efendi, a disciple of Muhammed Emîn Tokâdî, passed away in 1202 [1788 A.D.]. His grave is adjacent to that of his master at Zeyrek, Istanbul. The book Maktûbât was printed various times at various places. A splendid edition was made in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1392 [1972 A.D.]. It consists of two volumes. The first volume contains the first part, and the second and third parts are incorporated in the second volume. The two volumes were reproduced in pulchritudinous copies in Istanbul by offset process for which best quality paper was used. A Persian abridgement of Maktûbât was rendered in 1080 [1668 A.D.] by Muhammad Bâqir Lahôrî, an eminent one among the hundreds of Awliyâ educated and trained by Muhammad Ma’thûm Serhendî, one of the blessed sons of Imâm Rabbânî. The abridged version, entitled Kanz-ul-hidâyât by the author himself, is of a hundred and twenty pages and contains twenty hidâyats (subtitles). It was printed in Lâhôr in 1376 [1957 A.D.] The same blessed Walî wrote another book, entitled Urwa-t-ul-wusqâ, in the Fârisî language.

Inheriting from Rasûlullah, he was mujaddid alf thânî;
A mujtahid in all sciences, he was in Tasawwuf Ways al-Qarânî.

He spread Islam worldover, illuminated every Believer;
Awaken the unaware did the most exalted Imâm, Rabbânî.

All tenets in Islam he knew well, the Sharî’at he obeyed well;
Rank with unbelief as the entire world was, like Abû Bakr was he.

All received fayz from his sohbat, commanders and governors alike,
He descended from ’Umar Fârûq, true people give testimony.