Anecdotes and Quotes of Maulana Thanawi (RA)
The following are from 'Malfoozat', a book of anecdotes by Hakim ul-Ummat, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (ra):
When a woman attains nisbat-e-batini, she acquires a lofty and a wonderful pedestal. Once during a drought, people went to a saintly lady and asked her to make dua for rain. She went to a small raised platform whereon she usually performed her Namaz. She loosened her hair and swept the platform with it. After sweeping she raised her gaze towards the heaven and supplicated:
I have done the sweeping, you now sparkle the water. As she said this, rain started to come down in torrents. Humility and supplication are indeed wonderful.
- (Nisbat-e-Batini: A special, lofty relationship of proximity with Allah Taala).
A man came and requested that dua be made for him. Hadhrat Thanvi (R.A.) said:
Brother! You too make dua and I also shall make dua.
The man said: My tongue is not fit for dua.
(In other words, he did not consider himself worthy of making dua.)
Hadhrat Thanvi replied: Do you recite the Kalima? The man said: Yes. Hadhrat Thanvi:
Kalimah has greater blessing than dua. How come your tongue is worthy of reciting the Kalimah? In fact, shaitan made dua at the very time when he as being cursed by Allah Ta'ala.
He supplicated: Grant me respite until the day when people will be resurrected.
Allah Ta'ala answered his dua: You are among those who have been granted respite.
When even shaitan was not deprived of acceptance of dua, how can we be deprived? Shaitan has deceived us into believing that our tongues are not worthy of making dua. People consider this attitude to be humility.
People now consider spiritual states of ecstasy (kayfiyat) to be the goal of Sulook (Tasawwuf). Even if animals at times experience certain conditions of ecstasy when influenced by music and singing. Once an expert, in a challenge, defied his opponent, saying:
You will be able to measure my expertise and excellence when you behold the wild beasts of the jungle, subservient under the sway of my influence. Let us go to the jungle and sing our songs. At that time I will put a rope around the neck of every animal. It is left then to you to remove the ropes from their necks.
They went into the forest and the expert commenced his bewitching singing. So enthralling was his singing that wild animals came out from all directions and submissively stood in is presence. He took hold of the animals one by one and put a rope around each one's neck. He than ceased his singing; the animals scattered and disappeared into the forest. He now challenged his rival to start his singing, gather the animals and remove the ropes. However, he was rendered helpless. Emotional states are common to both man and beast. Such states in man, therefore, do not represent any achievement or excellence.
Natural characteristics do not change. Only a diversion is introduced in them. The experts (in Tasawwuf) do not attempt to eliminate in them. The natural characteristics are the subjects of Allah's Wisdom. Hence, attempts should not be made in the futile exercise of transforming the natural propensities in man. Only the direction should be changed. The natural propensities in man should be diverted from evil and channeled into the direction of virtue.
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
Beware of the firasat of the mu'min, for verily, he sees with the Noor of Allah.
(Firasat is the intuitive capacity of perception in the heart of the Mu'min. This ability varies with Taqwa and Deeni responsibility.)
A person who is doubtful in his thoughts can be corrected. However, one who has already decided an issue cannot be corrected. He will argue with a preconceived notion. There is, therefore, no need to become involved in argumentation with such persons. The Truth has already been sufficiently manifested and disseminated.
The Hadith: Verily, actions are with intentions, pertains to permissible acts and worship. It does not apply to sins. The Hadith means that good deeds accompanied by good intentions are acceptable. It does not mean that sins accompanied by good intentions are transformed into virtuous deeds.
The statement: We should move with the times, is absurd. The times refer to our collective actions which are under our own control. How then should we become subservient to these?
- Judge Akbar Husain
I have a strong relationship of love with my wife. Is this not perhaps harmful (for spiritual progress)?
Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) replied:
If is not harmful, On the contrary, it is beneficial. However, if she acts in conflict with the Deen, then beware. Love for someone who is irreligious constitutes a danger to one's own Iman.
People who are much enamoured by supernatural displays, will be with Dajjal in greater number. I have heard this from my seniors. I have also heard that Dajjal will have the appearance of a Majzoob. (Majzoob is a saint whose mind appears to be deranged as a result of his total engrossment with Allah's remembrance and love.) This indicates that hal (a spiritual state) is not sufficient. The vital need (for rectitude) is obedience to the Sunnah. Those people whose attention is focused only on spiritual/supernatural states while not accepting the Deen as the requisite for Tasawwuf, will find it very difficult to be saved from the traps of Dajjal. Dajjal will do everything, but he will not be able to act in accordance with the Sunnah. Only the followers of the Sunnah will be safe from Dajjal's trap.
A deceit cannot imitate the Sunnah. The effect of Sunnah is spiritual reality which the deceit can never acquire. The difference between a deceit and a true follower of the Sunnah will become manifest by observation.
I claim with emphasis that if a person submits fully (to the Shari'ah), the result will be barakat (blessings) in abundance. But one should be steadfast. In the beginning one will not discern benefit. However, later such noor (spiritual light) will be perceived that peace of mind without obedience will not be possible. In fact, the effect of such obedience will extend to others.
The intelligence of an obedient (servant of Allah) is enhanced at the time of hardship and he becomes more alert because Allah Ta'ala creates irfan (spiritual insight and vision) in him on account of his obedience and piety.
People search for comfort (and pleasure) in the works of the Deen. While such comfort does occur, it is only after accomplishment of the work. But people desire to attain this comfort first. Their similitude is that of a sick man who complains of his ill- health. While he wishes for good health, he abstains from medicine.
Health without eliminating the sickness is not possible. The eliminating of sickness cannot be effected without medical treatment. However in the affairs of the Deen the intelligence of people has become deranged (because they are reluctant or refuse to adopt correct methods for spiritual reformation and benefit).
Speaking on the state of the masses, Hadhrat (rahmatullah alayhi) said:
Initiating any work on the strength of the masses is extremely foolish and negligent. Neither are their beliefs reliable nor their declaration of love. Even their opposition is unreliable. They will do whatever they feel to do. They will suddenly switch allegiances.
A Molvi Saheb asked: What is the reality of majzub? How does one become a majzub?
Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) replied:
Sometimes a very strong warid snatches away the aql. (Warid is a spiritual inspiration). This rank of majzubiyat is acquired by way of majahadah (striving against the desires of the nafs). The various affairs of this world are entrusted of these majzubs. They are responsible for the systems which operate in the world. On the other hand the Ahl-e-Irshad (those Auliya who are actively involved in the moral reformation of the Ummah) are the Representatives of the Rasool. Their rank is far superior. The actual thing is obedience (to Allah and His Rasool) Kasf and Karamat are not excellences. Similar (seemily miraculous) wonderful feats are demonstrated even by the Ahl-e-Batil (kuffar, magicians, sorcerers, etc). Once the wife of a man in either America or Germany, who was deeply in love with her, died. The husband took a photograph of her dead body. When he developed the film, to his surprise, five photographs emerged. Of these five, one was of his wife and four other people. He recognised two of the photographs. The other two were the pictures of strangers whom he did not recognize. The man concluded that the only explanation is that at the time of taking the photos, the souls of the other four deceased must have been present, hence the five photographs. However, what is amazing is the photographing of invisible entities. How did this happen? (Also, how did five different photos emerge from the single photograph taken by the man?-Translator) Look! Such amazing feats are manifested on the hands of even Ahl-e- Batil. It is precisely for this reason that the Ahl-e-Haq (Ulama-e-Haq) say that the criterion is obedience to Allah and the Rasool.
The power of the mind is an accepted fact. I have heard the following episode from Maulana Muhammad Yaqub (rahmatullah alayhi):
A man imagined that a lion attacked him and struck its paw against his back. So strong was his imagination that a lion's claw marks were discernible on his back. Even blood would flow from the wound of his imagination.
This is the reality of mesmerism. It is the assertion of the power of the mind. The claims of the appearance of arwah (soul) are all baseless. These things are all in the manifestations of the mind.
Hadhat Thanvi narrated the following episode, which he heard from Moulana Muhammad Ya'qub (rahmatullah alayhi):
It happened prior to the 1875 mutiny (i.e. the uprising against the British). A wealthy Pathan resident of the town of Jalalabad, dist. Muzaffarnagar, had supported the Hindus in the construction of their shrine. The wealthy Pathan after sometime became very ill. Molvi Ghulaam Husain Saheb who was a hakeem in Thanabovan, and also among the auliya, went to Jalaalbad to attend to another patient. The wealthy man's relatives called the hakeem to attend to him. After feeling his pulse, the hakeem said that there was no longer any hope for the sick man (i.e. the wealthy Pathan). So saying, he stood up to leave, but the sick man grabbed his hand and implored: For Allah's sake don't leave me. Just now two men with a cage of fire appeared in front of me, telling me that they will be taking me away locked in that cage. When you appeared, they moved off saying that they would soon return to take me. If you go they will come.
Thereafter the man died. Several people in their dreams were instructed to abstain from all acts of islae-thawab for this man because he had died a kafir. Na-uthubillah!
Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) added:
The barkat of Ahlullah (Auliya) is such that the Angels of Punishment withdrew. Some sins while thought to be insignificant are exceptionally grave in the ultimate end. Participation in the customs and festivals of the kuffaar is of this kind.