Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A beautiful interview with Sh. Ramadan Al-Bouti, part 2: Modern Tareeqas and Innovation



[Assalaam alaykum,

I have not been able to add subtitles to the video but I have managed to provide the translation below. Please use the comment function if you have any questions. [Part 1, along with a biography of the Sheikh, can be found below (May 13, 2010)]]

Sh. Bouti: This is what prevents me from letting people kiss my hand.

Interviewer: Sheikh, your father, may Allah have mercy on him, Shaikh Mulla Ramadan Al-Bouti said to you in, I read it in in your book Hadha Waalidi [This is my father]: 'Know, my dear son, that all the Tareeqas, none of them are free of bida’, except for the Naqshabandiyya, as they are the least of them in terms of bida’.' What does he mean by that?

Sh. Bouti: (You know) What he’s really saying is that the Naqshabandi Tareeqa , which is the one that Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani saw, and Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani was a Hanbali in madhab, stern in clinging and adhering to the Book and the Sunnah. This sternness was inherited from him. Is that clear? And this is why you find that the Naqshabandi Tareeqa , in its adhkar, constantly relies on the way (tareeqa) that distances itself from bida’. You know…

Interviewer: Indeed…

Sh. Bouti: For example, there is the Shadhili Tareeqa nowadays, which affirms group dhikr, and standing up…

Interviewer: Indeed…

Sh. Bouti: and so forth, while at the same time the Naqshabandi Tareeqa says: ‘No. We should be sitting in dhikr just as it was in the time of Al-Mustapha, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.'

Interviewer: With a lowered voice…

Sh. Bouti: I.e. adh-dhikr al-khafi [concealed dhikr], it relies on adh-dhikr

Interviewer: al-khafi

Sh. Bouti: al-khafi. Indeed, it is not connected to bida’, and they inherited this from their Sheikh, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani, yes, and Sheikh Muhammad Awaisi Al-Qarani, who is known as Shah Naqshaband, and they were contemporary to one another. Both of them were , you know, sternly opposed to bida’. For this reason, the Naqshabandi Tareeqa was the least of Tareeqas in terms of bida’, even though there is bida’ in it today. Today, there is bida' in it, but if you were to compare between the bida’ that is in the Naqshabandi Tareeqa and that which is in other Tareeqas, you will find, as you said absolutely, quoting my father, that it is the least of them. An example of the bida’ that is present in the Naqshabandi Tareeqa and which has appeared recently is Ar-Rabita

Interviewer: Ar-Rabita Ash-Shareefa…

Sh. Bouti: Ar-Rabita, originally, is a bond between two beloveds, the murid and the sheikh. When the murshid is a true murshid, adhering to the Book of Allah and The Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger, preserving his soul (nafs) from the dunyā and its delusions completely, as we have said, of course, this person is a murshid. It is not possible for the murshid to rectify the murid unless love for the murshid has firmly established itself in the heart of the murid. This is the Rabita that was mentioned by Imam Ar-Rabbani, the author of Al-Maktubaat and other books. However, afterwards came along those who said: 'No. Ar-Rabita should be embodied in something else. If the murid is sitting and remembering Allah he should start his dhikr by imagining the sheikh, meaning that he says ‘Allah’ and ‘La ilaha illa Allah’' and so forth and an image of the sheikh is in his mind…

Interviewer: In his mind… to strengthen the bond between him and his sheikh

Sh. Bouti: Aha, this is bida’

Interviewer: But Doctor, but, maybe one of the reasons for Ar-Rabita, as they say themselves, is that someone, when they do dhikr of Allah, must rid themselves of all material things besides Allah, and the one material thing that is possible for him to use to distance himself is the sheikh, and the sheikh is a means of getting to Allah, in one way or another, and it’s only for a few seconds, not more…

Sh. Bouti: Yes, you are describing reality, let me ask you: is this matter affirmed and accepted by the Shari’ah or is it bida’?

Interviwer: “And don’t associate anyone with your worship of Allah.” [paraphrasing Al-Kahf 18:110]

Sh. Bouti: Fine, I am telling you what was said by one of the great men of this Tareeqa, Imam Ar-Rabbani, the author of Al-Maktubaat, he says, in the chapter on dhikr, the etiquettes of dhikr: ‘When you sit to do dhikr of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, you should not be thinking of anyone, not even the Messenger of Allah.'

Interviewer: Not even the Messenger of Allah?

Sh. Bouti: Not even the Messenger of Allah, rather Allah’s attributes (sifaat), His attributes, not His Essence, should be all that occupies your mind, yes, the attributes of Mercy, the attributes of Forgiveness, the attributes of Patience, the attributes of Vengeance, yes, and Power and so forth. This is the speech of whom? The speech of Imam ar-Rabbani in his book Al-Maktubaat, and Al-Maktubaat is known, isn’t it? The Imams of this Tareeqa laid down this speech , and those who came after went against them and added things, so, who said, o brother, that the murid can’t enter Allah’s vastness without going via the murshid? If there is someone…

Interviewer: No one has said that. Ya Sheikh, they don’t say that blatantly. They say that the Ar-Rabita Ash-Sharifa is maybe, they want to, you know, makes the murid purer, he imagines the sheikh, then he clears his mind of the sheikh’s image. Then he does dhikr of Allah, Mighty and Majestic.

Sh. Bouti: If he wants, for example, to be purer, outside of remembering Allah, and he imagines the sheikh then there’s no objection. As we said, the murid should love his sheikh, and of course one of the consequences of love is to imagine the beloved. This is something natural. However, I sit in order to do dhikr of Allah, and I start saying 'la ilaha illa Allah', or 'Allah Allah', the ism mufrad. In this state, when doing dhikr, it is not appropriate to connect the dhikr of Allah to his sheikh. So, this is the point that I am raising regarding the matter.

Interviewer: Thank you very much for this, Ustadh, Doctor, our Ustadh and our Murabbi, Dr. Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan Al-Bouti, thank you very much.

8 comments:

Abu Muhammad said...

Salamun 'alaykum

I love the new look

Walking said...

As-salamu 'alaykum,

I love the shaykh very much and I've read many of his books, but I don't agree with him in matters of Rabita. How can he say that Mujaddid Imam Rabbani hasn't meant the same with Rabita like today. That's totally wrong. Everyone who's read a classic naqshibandi book will know this, and Rabita is not only in the Naqshibandi Tariqah... Imam 'Abd al-Wahhab al-Sharani talks about it also...

Walking said...

As-salamu 'alaykum,

I know I already gave a comment, but after reading it again, there must have been some translation failures, or I have to admit that Shaykh Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti hafizahullah is not really skilled on this topic. As a Naqshibandi I have to say, that his has some great errors. First it starts with him saying: "What he’s really saying is that the Naqshabandi Tareeqa , which is the one that Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani saw, and Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani was a Hanbali in madhab, stern in clinging and adhering to the Book and the Sunnah."

It is not possible that Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani has even heard about "Naqshibandi" or the Word "Naqshibandi". Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani rahimahullah died in the 1166, and Shah Naqshibandi was born in the year 1318.

Shaik Buti goes on: "Indeed, it is not connected to bida’, and they inherited this from their Sheikh, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani, yes, and Sheikh Muhammad Awaisi Al-Qarani, who is known as Shah Naqshaband, and they were contemporary to one another."

First of all, the Naqshibandi Order had loud dhikr at the beginning, before it was called "naqshibandi order". Amir Kullal, the Shaykh of Shah Naqshiband, was making loud dhikr and Shah Naqshiband avoided doing it. That both can't be contemporaries I already mentioned. After that: "Shaikh Muhammad al-Awaisi al-Qorani"? Who's that? Shah Naqshibandis name was and is Muhammad Bahauddin al-Bukhari.

The Shaikh goes on: "I am telling you what was said by one of the great men of this Tareeqa, Imam Ar-Rabbani, the author of Al-Maktubaat, he says, in the chapter on dhikr, the etiquettes of dhikr: ‘When you sit to do dhikr of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, you should not be thinking of anyone, not even the Messenger of Allah.'"

First of all: Everyone who has read the Maktubat will obviously see, that Imam Rabbani encourages his Muridin to practice Rabita, and also a great proof for this is the Biography which was written in his life time from one of his great Khulafa.

Second: Maktubat has no Chapters, so how can this be under the Chapter "Dhikr". Maktubat is without any Chapters, there are just letters and numbers of letters.

Subhanallah... I'm really sad to have written this, cause I really love Shaikh Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti...

Mahdi Lock said...

Assalaam alaykum 'Walking',

Jazakum Allah khayran for the message.

I can see that this interview, and particularly what Sheikh Al-Bouti says about Ar-Rabita, is clearly disturbing you.

For further details, you need to have a look at the Sheikh's book 'Hadha Walidi' (Damascus: Dar Al-Fikr, 1997), pages 101 to 104.

In the book, as in the interview, he does not deny 'Ar-Rabita' outright, but explains that the modern understanding of 'Ar-Rabita', which is to picture or imagine the Sheikh while doing dhikr of Allah, is bida'. This is also the opinion of his father, Sheikh Mullah Ramadan Al-Bouti, may Allah have mercy on him. The original meaning of 'Ar-Rabita' is the love of the mureed for his shaykh, and there's absolutely no objection to that.

Therefore, to say that Imam Ar-Rabbani encouraged his murids to practice 'Ar-Rabita' doesn't necessarily mean that the Imam intended it the way it is understood down.

As for the quote from Al-Maktubat, in the book 'Hadha Walidi' the Sheikh gives the reference as "Maktub 190, fi Tahreedh 'ala Mudaawama adh-Dhikr ma' Bayyan Kayfiyat Adh-Dhikr, v.1 p.161, Istanbul edition."

In the same book the Sheikh Al-Bouti explains that tasawwuf must be rooted in the Book and the Sunnah, and then the practice of the first three generations of Islam, and you can see the posts 'Purifying the Soul' and 'Dancing in Dhikr' for further details. In short, dhikr is part of ibada khasa (not mu'amalat) and therefore nothing can be added to it without definitive proof.

In response to your claim that it is 'totally wrong' to say that imagining/picturing one's 'shaykh' during dhikr is bida, I would say that the onus of proof is on to you to show that such a practice is from the Book, the Sunnah and/or the first three generations. By Book and Sunnah, I do not mean an aya or hadith that could be interpreted to support your position. Rather, I would like to see proof that your understanding of 'Ar-Rabita' has actually been passed down as an 'aml (practice) from the first three generations.

And with Allah alone is every success.

Assalaam alaykum,

Mahdi

Mahdi Lock said...

p.s. The latest edition of Hadha Walidi, which I have, was published in 2006.

Muhammad said...

Salamun alaykum!

As I saw some misconceptions of Sheikh Buti's narration amongst the commentators here I felt I had to post a clarification.

With all respect to the Sheikh Buti I totally agree with him in his sayings.

First of all I am myself a follower of the Naqshbandi Tariqah and among the first things we learn is that it is absolutely forbidden to imagine/think of your sheikh during the dhikr.

Dhikr is mentioning Allah's name and the mind should ONLY think about Allah (His attributes). There is absolutely NO doubt about this!

It is though a pity the way Sheikh Buti is presenting his concept making the look as if all the Naqshbandi tariqahs today have this bid'a incorporated, although this actually is concerning some subgroups.

Thus Rabita is without doubt an essential tool binding the murid to his sheikh and could/should be done always and at any time EXCEPT when doing dhikr!

I would like Sheikh Buti to visit my Sheikh to realize that the real Naqshbandiyya still exists as it was during Shah Naqshband q.s.

Anonymous said...

Bro Muhammad,
Assalamualaikum,

May I know your Sheikh as I am also the folllower of Naqshabandi.
s_naim@hotmail.com

Mr. Zayd said...

Salam Alaikum, Much respect for all Shuyukh and I respect Shaykh Ramadan al-Bouti but this interview makes it seem like he is calling all other Turuq and in fact many other Naqshbandi Turuq as some sort of offshoot heresy which is apprehensible. Hadra is completely established and correct according to almost all Sufi Shuyukh and most Naqshbandis and almost all of them outside of the Subcontinent and some of the Middle East. What is this about not thinking of Nabi (s) in Dhikr? Yes you are focusing on Allah but surely you can think about his most beloved. Salawat is Dhikr and every Naqshbandi Shaykh would say it is obligatory to think about Prophet (s) then. During Rabita you MUST focus on the Shaykh or what Rabita is it? I am a Naqshbandi Haqqani (Nazimiyya) and we do Hadra and foocus on the Shaykh during Rabita and also do loud Dhikr and soft Dhikr because in these times people's knowledge is incomplete and the hearts are drawn closer and purified easier through loud Dhikr. Shukran.