Renouncing
The World For 40 Days
by Sh. G. F. Haddad

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Question:
i was talking with a friend of mine and i mentioned what is quoted from Sahl ibn Abdullah that if one were to abandon the world for fourty days sincerely then miracles would manifest in you (Risalah of imam qushayri). He said that the Imam is not in a position to say such a thing especially by fixing a set time frame of fourty days. Personally i have learnt the the kashf [unveiling] of the awlia which do not contradict the sharia are held to be in the category of possible or impossible and one is neither obliged to accept or reject it. I have been looking for info for my friend to convince him that there is nothing wrong with this statement as it is possible that Allah subhaana wa ta`ala revealed this to him. Do you know of anything mentioned on this point in traditional books?

Wa `alaykum as-Salam:

The statement related by Imam al-Qushayri in the Risala Qushayriyya from the great Wali, Sahl al-Tustari, whose speech consistently resembled Hadith, is a basic rule for ego-control and spiritual advancement in the sufi principle of supervised seclusion (khalwa) and is also reported from Imam Malik by his student Ibn Wahb, as cited by al-Dhahabi in the Siyar (Risala ed. 8:109), Allah have mercy on all of them, in the wording "None renounces the world and guards himself except he will speak wisdom," both of them paraphrasing the Prophetic Hadith:

"Whoever wholly dedicates to Allah forty days, the wellsprings of wisdom shall appear from his heart to his tongue."

Narrated by Ibn Abi Shayba (7:80), al-Quda`i in Musnad al-Shihab (1:285), Ahmad, Hannad, and Ibn al-Mubarak, all three in their Zuhd, al-Daylami in Musnad al-Firdaws (3:564), Abu Nu`aym in the Hilya (5:189, 10:70) and others through so many chains both from Companions - Ibn `Abbas, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, Abu Musa al-Ash`ari, `Ali, Abu Dharr, and Anas - and mursal - from Makhul and Safwan ibn Sulaym - that it reaches the grade of hasan sahih  according to Shaykh Ahmad al-Ghumari in al-Mudawi li-`Ilal al-Jami` al-Saghir wa-Sharhay al-Munawi (6:108-111).

Its modality refers to (1) observing congregational prayer from its very start as well as (in Imam Zayd's narration in his Musnad) (2) fasting and (3) consuming only licit sustenance. Cf. Sharh Sunan Ibn Majah (1:58), Fayd al-Qadir (4:273, 6:43-44), and Kashf al-Khafa' (2:292-293). For four more similar hadiths see al-Mudawi (6:295-298). A fourth meaning is Godwary simple living as illustrated by Imam Malik's statement.

Its purpose also includes repentence as illustrated by the statement of Abu `Amr ibn `Alwan the student of al-Juynayd:
"... Then I sat alone somewhere, fervently asking for Divine forgiveness. I decided to live austerely for forty days.... " Cited by Ibn al-Jawzi in the chapter on al-Junayd in his Sifat al-Safwa.

Even if there were no Prophetic hadith to that effect it would be enough for a heart devoid of hypocrisy and fallacious reliance on its feeble nafs [ego], to know that the experts of zuhd are lavishing on our undeserving persons the benefits of their experience and that this is an agreed-upon matter of tajriba [test, experience] and tibb al-qulub [medicine for the heart] for our benefit, not a vain advertisement for themselves such as what we might interpret through the self-pleased prism of our own sin-glutted souls.

Moreover, even if there were no teachings of the Awliya to that effect, it was known even to Aristotle that "Human nature is a matter of habits" and it is a truism of contemporary psychology that if you can control a habit for 21 consecutive days you can break it once and for all. Otherwise how could people break the evils of cigarette and drug addiction? So this is a karama [benefit] given to all humankind and not only to the Believers.

However, Hikma [wisdom] is the lost property of the Believers and they are the first ones to take it and bow to its truth wherever they find it, contrary to every proud satan that loves to find fault in the teachings of the Awliya because he himself is a shaykhless orphan. How truly wonderful is the Divine generosity toward the Friends of Allah in the fact that Allah Most High, in order to raise their levels ever more, keeps employing the wagging tongues of arrogant imbeciles against them, not only in their lifetimes but for centuries on end!

Tawfiq is from Allah.

GF Haddad






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2005-06-11

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