Who is the Perfect Spiritual Guide (Murshid Kamil)?
When Prophethood ended, Allah sent perfect spiritual guides (Murshids) in the form of Saints, Fakirs and Dervishes. A perfect spiritual guide (Murshid) is the medium for the seeker to reach Allah. Also, he is the embodiment of righteousness, piety and truthfulness and is the perfect reflection of Prophethood.
Allah says in Quran:
Meaning: O believers! Fear Allah persistently and find vaseela (medium) to get close to Him. (5:35)
According to shariah, medium means that a person finds closeness to Allah through the beloved of Allah. In other words, through someone who is already close to Him, who has traveled the mystic path and knows its ups and downs. In mysticism, such person is known as Murshid, Spiritual Guide, Pir or Shaikh.
What is Shariah?
The literal meaning of shariah is straight and righteous path. Shariah reflects the commands and orders of Quran and Sunna. The shariah law actually disciplines the individual and congregational life. Shariah is a complete and comprehensive guide to code of life. Normally, people think shariah includes the five salah, fasting of Ramadan, Hajj and Zakat. Also, it is a mean to differentiate between lawful and unlawful.
In the Muslim society, parents start teaching their children the difference between truth and lie at an early age. They also impart the difference between the rightful and unrightful. Not only that, parents also lay emphasis on teaching the basics of shariah. For example, what is obligatory and what is forbidden in shariah. However, parents don’t teach the actual intent behind the shariah law.
Objective of Shariah
The main objective behind shariah is to worship Allah and seek His closeness after recognizing Him. People who really want to recognize Allah are truthful, loyal and forgoing in the way of Allah. They are humble and free of doubts, truthful and have firm belief in Allah. Such people certainly, find Allah. As Allah Himself guides them to the medium that can guide them towards His recognition and proximity. Such medium (called Murshid) has travelled the path towards Allah and knows its ups and downs.
Search for Spiritual Guide to Recognize Allah
In order to recognize Allah, it is essential to search for a perfect spiritual guide (Murshid). As without Murshid one can neither recognize Allah nor seek His proximity. However, the tragedy of the Muslim society is that we will cruise around the world to seek worldly knowledge. Also, we don’t hesitate to find an instructor to gain worldly knowledge but for recognition of Allah, we are content on reading Quran and offering salah at home. This clearly is not sufficient enough.
How Can we Recognize Allah Within Spiritual Guide?
The perfect Murshid is in fact the Universal Divine Man (Insan-e-Kamil). He is the manifestation of Allah and Divine Essence. As Allama Iqbal says:
خودی میں گم ہے خدائی تلاش کر غافل
یہی ہے تیرے لیے اب صلاحِ کار کی راہ
In this piece of poetry, Iqbal uses the word ‘self’ which in fact refers to Almighty Allah rather than self-esteem. He says, in order to recognize Allah, we have to understand and recognize our spiritual and inner reality. Only then we become capable of recognizing Allah. The human structure is not merely composed of skeleton and muscle mass. Also, the purpose of man’s creation is not just to eat, drink, get married and raise children. Rather, the purpose of man’s creation is much bigger and sacred. Man must ponder upon his reality, where he came from and what is his next destination? It is important to realize that soul resides inside the human body. The sustenance of which is to behold Allah’s an-Nur (light of Allah). This soul is so sacred that angels bowed before it on Allah’s order.
Iblis thought that Allah created man merely with dirt. He could not recognize the reality of soul hidden in man. Therefore, he wayward from the right path. He failed to realize that Allah Almighty concealed His secret in the soul. The soul urges for expression even within the mask of human body. It desires for the recognition of Allah. The physical self of man is nothing, the actual world resides within. Be it worldly knowledge or the spiritual knowledge, everything is within the man.
The Perfect Spiritual Guide Bestows Spiritual Knowledge
Knowledge is of two types, one which we gain from books and is taught in schools. The other kind of knowledge is the one inscribed on man’s inward. One cannot gain the later from books, rather the company of the Murshid grants this knowledge to the seeker. Moreover, intellectual exercises cannot reveal this knowledge rather only Divine love can bestow it upon man. As Allah secretly transmits it from beloved (Murshid) to the lover (seeker).
Verbal discussion confers verbal knowledge upon man. However, spiritual experiences bestow the spiritual knowledge. And in spirituality, only spiritual experience elevates the seeker inwardly. The way to recognize Murshid cannot be covered just by verbal discussions rather this blessing is conferred by Allah only. On whomsoever Allah confers it, becomes the knower of Allah and only he knows and recognizes the perfect spiritual guide (Murshid Kamil Akmal). In Sahih al-Bukhari, Abu Huraira narrates:
“I learnt two kinds of knowledge from Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Of these, the first kind is the one that I describe morning and evening. The second one is of the kind that if I reveal it, people may behead me.”
Murshid Sanctifies Inward so Seeker can Understand Spiritual Knowledge
To understand spiritual knowledge, one must have a pure inward. Allah confers this knowledge upon the one who bears the agony of being far from the Beloved and whose Divine love has burnt everything but Allah from his inward. The spiritual attention of the perfect Murshid sanctifies the inward of the seeker and enlightens it with Divine knowledge. Unless a Murshid illuminates a person’s inward with this kind of knowledge, he cannot gain closeness with Allah.
The existence of a human is like milk. Just like curd, lassi, butter and ghee are contained in the milk (as they all are obtained after processing the milk), similarly nafs, qalb and soul all are present at a particular point in the existence of humans. When we add a little curd in the milk and leave it overnight, the milk converts into curd. Furthermore, when we churn the curd, butter is produced which comes up and lassi is left below. Then we heat that butter on fire which removes the impurities from the butter and pure ghee is obtained. Similarly, unless the perfect Murshid eradicates the evils of the innerself from the inward, a seeker cannot recognize Allah. As the perfect spiritual guide has the power to separate the evil from the existence of the seeker through his spiritual sight and attention.
How Spiritual Guide Purifies the Inward of Seeker?
Sultan Bahoo says:
جاگ بنا دُدھ جمدے ناہیں باھُو، بھانویں لال ہووَن کڑھ کڑھ کے ھُو
We cannot convert milk into curd, unless we process it by adding curd in it. Even if we heat it to an extent that it is discolored. Similarly, until our good deeds are enveloped in the Divine love and processed under the spiritual attention of Murshid, we cannot reach close to Allah.
Allah bestows Quranic knowledge on all seekers equally, but the inward which is purified from the filth of the innerself by the spiritual attention of the Murshid is the one where vegetation of Divine love and proximity flourish.
One cannot understand Quran without the fire of Divine love in his inward. Therefore, one must stay away from the place that encourages recitation of Quran and worships without Divine love. As one cannot obtain guidance without Divine love which is obtained through the company of perfect spiritual guide.
Attributes of Perfect Spiritual Guide
The perfect Murshid is an embodiment of kindness, confidant of Divine secrets and the granter of Divine love.
- Murshid Kamil spiritually educates and makes seekers of Allah cross several mystic destinations.
- The perfect Murshid follows the same pattern as that was of Prophet Mohammad to his sacred companions.
- Murshid is the manifestation of Divine Self as well as His attributes.
- The perfect spiritual guide is the person who grants salvation to disciples in both the worlds.
- He purifies the inward of seeker and blesses him with recognition of Allah through the Ism-e-Allah Zaat.
- The perfect Murshid first absolves the seeker from worries and apprehensions of earning livelihood. Then he diverts his concentration towards the One who provides it (meaning Allah).
Quran orders to Follow a Perfect Spiritual Guide
Quran has ordered to follow and pray for the path of those upon whom Allah has bestowed His favor. Now the question arises that who are the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed his favor and whose path did Allah order us to follow? Also, what is Allah’s favor upon them?
The biggest favor is that Allah granted them with His closeness, Divine love and His own Self. He concealed Himself in them in such a way that they become His embodiment. Such a person is called the Murshid Kamil as he is the exact Divine Essence. In fact, he is the man of Allah who does everything only upon the will of Allah. Such Murshid sees Allah and every hidden or revealed thing with his physical as well as spiritual eyes. In fact, he is engrossed in the Divine vision in such a way that Allah says, “Indeed, You shall see the countenance of Allah wherever you gaze.”
A Perfect Spiritual Guide Takes Seeker to Allah
The scholars only teach the knowledge while Murshid opens the way that takes the seeker to the proximity of Allah. As Murshid himself has travelled on this path therefore, he is aware of all the ups and downs that come along the way. Indeed, without the spiritual attention of Murshid, all prayers and worships go in vain.
Sultan Bahoo says:
“Murshid knows every path and way stations of the esoteric self. Without Murshid Kamil Akmal you cannot gain any beneficence even if you knock your head all life in mystic exercises.”
The Murshid Kamil of the present era, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says:
It is impossible to attain Divine union without the guidance of perfect spiritual guide (Murshid). The path of recognition of Allah Almighty passes through the gate of shariah therefore, Satan with his full force has inhabited this gate. Firstly, he does not let man reach the gate of shariah. However, if a courageous person (by virtue of salah, fast, hajj, zakat) manages to get there, then Satan along with his force tries to strand him at the gate and prohibits him from going forward. Satan tries to mesmerize the man in the apparent charm and splendor of shariah. In other words, Satan tries not to let man reach the core or the soul of shariah. (Shams-ul-Fuqara)
Importance of Murshid
The job of the perfect Murshid is not only to open the door of Divine recognition on seeker but also streamline it for him. Moreover, Murshid also protects the seeker from the ploys and traps of Satan. Since only perfect Murshid (spiritual guide) is the true guide in this way. The perfect spiritual guide does not engage the seeker merely in physical worships and prayers. Rather he connects him to invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat. As this exercise along with the spiritual attention of the Murshid will take the seeker on the path of Divine recognition.
Perfect Murshid Enlightens the Inward of Seeker with Ism-e-Allah Zaat
Sultan Bahoo says:
الف اللہ چنبے دی بوٹی، میرے من وچ مرشد لائی ھُو
نفی اَثبات دا پانی مِلیس، ہر رگے ہر جائی ھُو
اندر بوٹی مُشک مچایا، جاں پُھلاّں تے آئی ھُو
جیوے مرشد کامل باھُو، جَیں ایہہ بوٹی لائی ھُو
In this couplet Sultan Bahoo has likened Ism-e-Allah Zaat with jasmine. Sultan Bahoo is the pioneer Arif (knower of Allah) who has used the metaphor of jasmine for Ism-e-Allah Zaat. This is because we sow the seedling of jasmine into the earth. Then it grows slowly into a plant and laden with flowers. The fragrance of these flowers envelops the surroundings. Similarly, spiritual guide bestows the seeker with contemplation and invocation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat. He then sows a seedling into the seeker’s inward. After that in the care of the spiritual guide the light of Ism-e-Allah Zaat gradually envelops the whole being of the true seeker thus illuminating it.
Sultan Bahoo says I want to share the secrets that Allah revealed on me with the whole world. However, these secrets are for the specially chosen seekers of Allah, I cannot reveal them on common people. I am subsided by the weight of carrying these secrets for so long. Now, wherever I gaze, I only see Ism-e-Allah Zaat. (Abyat-e-Bahoo Kamil)
Importance of Taking Oath of Allegiance on the Hands of Murshid
After reaching the court of Murshid, it is crucial to take oath of allegiance (al-bayah) on his hands. As only after al-bayah one can find out whether his Murshid is fake or perfectly accomplished. If after al-bayah, one gains the contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat then the Murshid is perfect and is the man of Divine Essence. However, if one does not attain the contemplation of Murshid then it is okay to break the oath of allegiance.
The seeker who keeps firm faith on his Murshid after oath of allegiance and by all means tries to be his obedient, eventually reaches his destination. Indeed, the ultimate destination for seeker is the Divine vision, recognition and union.
Perfect Murshid Grants Divine Love
It is important to note that to travel the path of Divine recognition and proximity, one does not need intellect rather he has to have the fire of Divine love. And only the spiritual sight of perfect spiritual guide can light the inward of seeker with this fire. Intellect cannot lead a seeker in the way of Allah, rather it creates obstacle in the way. A poet explained this very well in the following couplet:
عقل عیار ہے، سو بھیس بنا لیتی ہے
عشق بے چارہ نہ ملاّ ہے، نہ زاہد، نہ حکیم
Explanation: Intellect is devious, it can put on several false faces to justify different arguments. Love, however, is neither scholar nor worshiper. In fact, love follows nothing but his beloved (Murshid).
One cannot attain the recognition and proximity of Prophet Mohammad through intellect. The only way to achieve his proximity is to light one’s inward with the fire of his love.
بے خطر کود پڑا آتش ِ نمرود میں عشق
عقل ہے محو ِ تماشائے لب ِ بام ابھی
In the aforementioned verse, the poet says that only love can make a seeker leap into the fire for the beloved (Murshid). However, intellect just wastes time in arguments and objections.
Hence proved, that if a seeker is not accompanied with the guidance of the perfect Murshid he strays from the right path and is eventually ruined.
Guidance of Murshid is Essential in Spiritual Journey
As one cannot attain the knowledge of shariah without the guidance of a scholar. Similarly, one cannot walk on the path of spiritual journey without the assistance of the perfect Murshid. Undoubtedly, only the alchemic sight and attention of the perfect spiritual guide can remove the impurities and enlighten the inward of the seeker.
Sultan Bahoo beautifully explains this in following Punjabi couplet:
میں تاں ُبھلی ویندی ساں باھوؒ، مینوں مرشد راہ وکھایا ھُو
سبھے مطلب حاصل ہوندے باھوؒ، جد پیر نظراک تکے ھُو
باجھوں ملیاں مرشد کامل باھُو، ہوندی نہیں تسلا ھُو
Explanation: I was lost until my Murshid came to my rescue and put me back on the right track. One can achieve everything in the inward, once the Murshid enlightens the inward of the seeker with his spiritual attention. Without the guidance of the perfect spiritual guide, I am not certain that I am on the right path towards Almighty.
Seek Murshid Only to Gain Recognition of Allah
The biggest dilemma of the present era is that mass number of seekers take oath of allegiance on the hand of Murshid without verifying his authenticity. Mainly, people are attracted towards someone who has huge following or who is renowned. As people’s intention behind taking oath of allegiance is not to seek Allah’s proximity rather gain worldly favors. Thus, how can such seekers turn towards the right direction. In fact, these seekers are looking for a healer in the form of Murshid who can cure their diseases and take them out of their calamities. Once these seekers achieve their goal, they turn away from the Murshid.
It is important to note that a perfect Murshid can direct his each and every disciple towards Allah. However, opportunistic seekers themselves do not intend to seek the right direction. Such seekers are merely seeking an amulet or incantation from their Murshid by virtue of which they can attain their worldly desire. Whereas, it is obligatory on the disciple to fully present himself and all his belongings in the court of the perfect Murshid. In return, a perfect Murshid must protect his disciple in every way and take him to the ultimate destination of Divine proximity.
Who is the Perfect Spiritual Guide?
Sultan Bahoo says:
“Know that true spiritual guide (Murshid Kamil) is completely aware of all the states, words, deeds and acts of seeker. Moreover, he knows the level of gnosis and closeness to Allah, thoughts, arguments, considerations and waham of the seeker. Also, spiritual guide should be so much vigilant that he ever keeps his hold upon the seeker to the extent that the seeker speaks his words and breathes with his breath. Such a spiritual guide has a thriving inward and his seekers find him omnipresent, inwardly as well as outwardly, by the power of Ism-e-Allah Zaat and keep perfect faith in him.”
In short, if one is seeking the perfect spiritual guide (Murshid) to achieve Divine proximity, then he must have a perfect faith that certainly Allah will direct him towards the perfect Murshid. As Allah says in Quran:
Meaning: And those who strive hard for Our cause, We certainly guide them to Our ways. (29:69)
To sum up, one cannot achieve the recognition of Allah without the guidance and direction of the perfect Murshid. All the prayers and worships of a seeker are in vain if not performed under the spiritual attention of the Murshid.
The Perfect Spiritual Guide of the Present Era
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen is the perfect spiritual guide of the present era. Keeping in mind the needs of the present era, he has efficiently spread the teachings of Faqr around the world. Resultantly, millions of seekers of Allah have attained beneficence from the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat that he bestows on the first day of taking oath of allegiance from the seeker. By virtue of his spiritual attention, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen has sanctified the soul of many seekers of Allah and made the path of Faqr easy upon them.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen is the perfect and accomplished Murshid and the absolute light of guidance. Also, he is the Fakir who is the master of the realms. His alchemic sight has no boundaries and his spiritual sight benefits the seekers of Allah equally everywhere. Does not matter, whether the disciples are in his company or in any corner of the world. Additionally, his mere spiritual glance works like a burnisher for rusty souls. It cleans their inward from the darkness of the world and its love. If anyone is the true seeker of Allah, then he must take oath of allegiance on the hands of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen and attain the true understanding of Faqr which is the true heritage of Prophet Mohammad.
Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore (monthly Urdu magazine of Tehreek Dawat-e-Faqr) published this article in the April 2020 edition, titled as مرشد کامل اکمل. Rubina Farooq Sarwari Qadri originally penned this article in Urdu, while Fatima Noor Sarwari Qadri translated it in English with some changes. This article has been translated in English using the American English vocabulary. If you wish to read it in Urdu, then please:
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