Fundamentals of Tasawwuf
Purification of the Soul
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani
In the Name of God, Most Merciful, Most Beneficent
All praise to Allah Almighty who has created the universe from absolute nothingness; who has brought all creations into existence and illuminated them with His Light, adorning them with His Names and Attributes; and who reflects them in the mirror of His Reality. He has honored His special servants by letting them behold the splendor of His light; and by manifesting to them His abiding presence He has raised them to an exalted station.
May Allah's blessing and greeting of peace be on our beloved Prophet Muammad (s), who is a Sun from the Unseen Light of the Divine Presence, who came forth and outshone the Light of the sun. As he perceived he informed, and as he discovered, he described. With his Light the Light of Prophecy pierced forth, and the lights of prophets thereby appeared. You cannot find among lights, one more luminous than his. Who can be brighter than the one who dawns forth on all creation? His fervor has preceded all fervors, his existence preceded Absolute Nothingness, and his name preceded the Pen, because he was before all that is. He is the Master of this creation. His name is Muammad (s). His Attribute is One. His word is confirmed. His attributes are most honored. O Wonder at his appearance, at his visions, at his greatness, at his fame, at his Light, at his Purity, at his Godliness, at his Power, at his Visions, at his Reality, at his Essence.
He was and he is from preeternity to posteternity. He was known before the universes. He was known before Creation. He was known in Allah's Divine Presence as the Heart of the Essence, where the Essence was manifesting itself through him. He was the Sincere Servant to his Lord from that time. He was mentioned before there was a Before and he will be after there is an After. He is the Sign (ayat) for all signs. He is the pearls of all jewels. He is the Rainbow of all colors. He is connected with Allah, and neither is he nor can he ever be disconnected. All others' knowledge is but a drop in his Ocean granted him by Allah. The centuries are but moments in his time. He is the Root and Basis of Existence--for if not for him there would be no other creation. He is the First in Connection. He is the last in prophethood. He is the Internal in Truth and the External in Knowledge.
Allah sent him as His Representative from His Light and as a Sincere Servant for His Creation, raising him up to His Divine Presence and placing his name beside His Name. He was a prophet when Adam was between clay and water. Greetings of peace be on his family and illustrious companions -- Allah be pleased with them all -- who were guided by the greatness of his deeds, the clarity of his speech, the light of his guidance, and the perfection of his religion; who drank from the Oceans of his good manners, of his ethics, and of his perfect state; who bathed themselves in the Spring of his secrets of the attainment of Knowledge and Truth.
Tasawwuf is the Path of Tazkiyya - Purification of the Self - of the Companions of the Prophet (s) and those who follow them. It consists in continuous worshipping in every action, both external and internal, with complete and perfect discipline according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (s). It consists in maintaining the highest level of conduct and leaving wrongdoing, cleaving to the Sunnah and the Shari`ah. It consists in keeping awareness of the Presence of Allah, Almighty and Exalted, on the way to self-effacement and complete experience of the Divine Presence.
Its root has two branches: if someone receives from both these roots he will gain everything in this life. The first root draws completely from the example of the Prophet (s), and the second root draws from the example of the perfected shaikh, who will direct the seeker to the Presence of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. To these shaikhs the reality of Dhikr -- Remembrance of God -- is to banish heedlessness and to exist in the Divine Presence.
There are two ways to practice Dhikr:
Both practices are mentioned often in the Qur'an and in the Sunnah of the Prophet (s), and by means of it one can reach, and be honored by being in, the Divine Presence. Through constant dhikr, one trains the heart to be constantly present with the Almighty Lord.
Imam Amad relates in his Musnad the following hadith with a rigorously authentic (sahih) chain of transmission:
The Prophet (s) alluded to this secret when he said, in the following hadiths mentioned respectively by Suyuti in al-hawi li-l-Fatawa and by Bukhari in his Sahih.
This knowledge is again alluded to in the following authentic hadith related by Tirmidhi:
This knowledge is the heavenly knowledge possessed only by prophets and their inheritors, the saints. The latter are defined thus by sayyidina cAli (r):