riyada in arabic means "training" or "discipline". It was used by the arabs in relation to horse taming. Sufis refer to their discipline as "riyadat an-nafs": disciplining the soul / training the ego. Today, the word riyada has come to mean "sports". There is an Arabic proverb that says: "The purpose of sports (riyada) is not to win cups, but to discipline the soul". This blog is here to help me discipline my soul and train my body.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Waking Vision of the Prophet

(Q 49:7)

1) What is Death?

On the 12th of Rabee' al-Awwal, 11 years after the Hijra, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, died. This was something that many of his followers and companions could not believe, so that Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq, may God be pleased with him, had to stand up and proclaim: "O Men, if you have been worshipping Muhammad, then know that Muhammad is dead. But if you have been worshipping God, then know that God is living and never dies."

But what does it mean for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to have died? We know first of all that it means that his soul left his body. As for the body, we know from the saying of the Prophet that "Allah has forbidden the Earth to consume the bodies of the Prophets"[1]. We also know that Allah returned the Prophet's soul to his body in his grave, for he said, "No-one greets me except Allah has returned my soul to me so that I can return his salâm."[2] As explained by al-Suyuti and other commentators on this hadith, the meaning of radda (returned) here is that the Messenger's soul was returned to him permanently after the first person greeted him, and that he remained alive thereafter.

Thus a Muslim must believe that the Prophet's soul returned to his body and that he is alive in his grave. The Prophet told us that people are alive in their graves, and that for each person, "the grave is either a garden from the gardens of Paradise or a pit from the pits of hell." There are countless Prophetic sayings about this and we need not dwell on this, but simply quote the Messenger of God when he said, "The Prophets are alive in their graves, praying to their Lord" [3] and when he said that he saw God's Messenger Moses praying in his grave, while standing (standing is something that the physical body does, not the soul) [4].

Indeed, the Qur'an confirms to us twice that martyrs, are still alive in the spiritual world:

And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive, but you do not perceive. (Q 2: 154)

Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord. (Q 3: 169)

And if martyrs are alive after their death then the Prophets and Messengers who are higher than them in rank are surely alive as well, finding sustenance in the presence of their Lord. There can be no question about that. In fact, the Qur'an gives us proof that the life of the Messenger (pbuh) after his death is higher in honor, station, and dignity than that of the martyrs, for while the wives of martyrs can re-wed, the wives of the Messenger (pbuh) were forbidden from re-marrying after his death (Q 33:53), out of respect for the Messenger in his other life.

The Prophetic traditions also show that the Messenger of God met other Messengers and Prophets in Jerusalem on the Night of Ascension, and he led them in prayer, and later gave descriptions of their physical appearances. From this, the scholars of Islam concluded that they were all present in both soul and body.

So what does all this tell us about the death of the Prophets, and of Prophet Muhammad in particular, peace and blessings be upon them all?

As Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya said in Kitab al-Ruh, while paraphrasing al-Qurtubi:

"It has been authentically narrated from the Prophet (pbuh) that the earth does not eat the bodies of the prophets, and that he (pbuh) assembled with the prophets on the Night of Journey and Ascension in Jerusalem and in the sky, especially with our master Moses (pbuh), and he told us that no Muslim greets him except that God returns his soul to him to return the greeting and other things from which it becomes definitive knowledge that the death of the prophets, upon them be peace, is that they become hidden from us so that we do not see them though they are present and alive, and such is the state of Angels for they are alive and present but we do not see them." [5] Al Qurtubi himself has the following addition: "and none of our kind see them except those that God favoured with grace (karaama)."[6]

The great scholar and hadith master Ibn Hajar al-Haythami wrote,

"The proofs and the transmitted texts have been established as authentic in the highest degree that the Prophet (pbuh) is alive and tender... that he fasts and performs pilgrimage every year, and that he purifies himself with water which rains on him."[7] Indeed many of God's righteous servants, while performing the pilgrimage, have had their veils removed so that they saw prophets and past awliya circumbulating the Kaaba.

2) The World of the Spirit

The deaths of the Prophets, therefore, is a transition from one state to another, in which they are hidden from our view, except for those few who are granted vision of them. Whether they can be in their bodies in their graves but only with their souls outside the grave, or in their souls and bodies outside the graves, nothing is beyond God's power. The important thing to believe is that they are present and alive, in worlds that we do not see, perhaps in other dimensions.

And where are these other worlds? Do not think that these other dimensions and worlds can be completely seperate from this world of the senses, or that the veils are as barriers that divide up the universe. No, they are all connected. In the words of Hassan Eaton,

The veils exist, but they are at least semi-transparent; the greater realities still shine through- though veiled- upon the lesser ones, just as angels may appear to men but only in disguise. "Paradise is closer to you than the thong of your sandal," said the Prophet, "and the same applies to the Fire." On a certain occasoin the people saw him apparently reach out for something and then draw suddenly back. They asked him the reason for this, and he replied: "I saw Paradise, and I reached out for a bunch of its grapes. Had I taken it, you would have eaten from it for as long as the world endures. I also saw hell. No more terrible sight have I ever seen..."

The thread of Being runs through all possible states of existence, all the dimensions, as does the thread of Mercy; this is already implicit in the basic doctrine of tawhid, for the One cannot be cut up into seperate pieces, nor can the different degrees of Reality be shut off from each other by impenetrable partitions.....

Moreover, if heaven and hell are so close to us- as the Prophet said they are- then, at least in a certain sense, we already live in these dimensions, though for the most part unaware of them, and no more than a thin membrane seperates us from the Joy and from the Fire.... Even in the physical environment which surrounds us, these extraterrestrial dimensions are perceptible to those gifted with sharp sight, and Islam is certainly not alone in making this point...[8]

In the words of the shaykh al-Darqawi,

"There where the world of bodies is, there also is the world of Spirits; there where the world of corruption is, there also is the world of purity; there where is the world of the kingdom (mulk), there also is the world of kingship (malakut); in the very place where the lower worlds are, there are to be found the higher worlds and the totality of worlds." [9]

Therefore those whom God granted with sharp vision may see through the veils and see the Prophets and more...

3) O Prophet! surely We have sent you as a witness, and as a bearer of good news and as a warner, And as one inviting to Allah by His permission, and as a torch spreading light (Q 33:45-46)

Two scholars were talking one day, and one of them said, "The Prophet (pbuh) has died." The other scholar replied, "Yes, he died, but God (swt) said, "and a torch spreading light", so if you say "extinguished after death" you have kafart (said something that amounts to a rejection of the Quran or Islam in general), and if you say "not extinguished" then we both agree that he is a light-giving torch in life and after death.

Sayyidna Muhammad (pbuh), is still a prophet after his death, for the present tense in the Quranic verse "Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation." (Q 33:56) tells us that he is still a prophet now, and that he is still alive and being whelmed with blessings and prayers by God and His angels.

As a living prophet, and a light-giving torch, the Prophet's light still guides humans to the Truth, and the Prophet himself told us of one benefit that will only come to us after his death,

"My life is a great good for you, you will relate about me and it will be related to you, and my death is a great good for you, your actions will be presented to me and if I see goodness I will praise Allah, and if see other than that I will ask forgiveness of him (for you)." [10]

But more than that, the Prophet can still guide people by appearing to them in their dreams or even while awake. "Whoever has seen me in a dream," said the Prophet, "has in fact seen me, for Satan does not appear in my form". [11]

Further, the Prophet (pbuh) said in a hadith reported by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, and Darimi, "He who has seen me in a dream will see me while awake, and the devil cannot appear in my form".[12]

The great scholar and hadith master al-Suyuti, considered by scholars of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jamaa'a to be the mujaddid of the tenth century, wrote a book called Tanweer al-Halak fee Jawaz Ru'yat an-Nabi wal Malak, or Enlightening the Darkness on the Possibility of Seeing the Prophet and the Angels [in the Waking State].

He begins by citing the above sahih hadith and comments on the way different scholars tried to twist the meaning of this hadith or to reject its clear zahir meaning and try to explain it away. He then quotes the famous Imam Ibn Abi Jamra's commmentary on Sahih al-Bukhari in which he warned, when discussing this hadith about restricting the meaning of this verse to the life of the Prophet or to judgment day or any explanation that limits or restricts the clear and general applicability of this saying, and cautions of two dangers of denying this hadith: 1- Not believing the Prophet and 2- Not believing in the unlimited power of God, who could as easily allow for men to see the Prophet while awake as He could bring the cow or the birds or the donkey to life (as mentioned in the Qur'an).

Then Ibn Abi Jamra mentions how it is reported of many sahaba and men of the salaf and the khalaf that they saw the Prophet in the waking state after his death and asked him about things that troubled them, such as the report about Ibn Abbas who remembered this saying of the Prophet and and kept thinking about until he went to the Prophet's wife Maymoona, and asked her about it, so that she brought him the Prophet's mirror and when he looked at it he saw the Prophet there and did not see his own reflection.

Ibn Abi Jamra then divides people into those who deny the karamaat of the awliya and those who accept them. As for those who deny them, then there is no reason to argue with them for they are deniers of has been proven clearly in the Sunna. And as for those who do believe in the karamaat, then they should think of this as a karaama, for the awliya can be miraculously granted sight (bi kharq al- 'aada) of things in the Higher and Lower worlds.

Then Suyuti says that for most people who see the Prophet in their dream, they will see him (pbuh) once in their waking state for the sake of honoring the Prophet's promise, and it usually happens in the moments before their death. But for others, vision of the Prophet happens to them throughout their lives, either frequently or rarely, depening on their striving (ijtihaad) and their upholding of the Sunna.

Suyuti then gives clear undeniable sahih hadiths from Sahih Muslim and other collections that Muslims can see angels in their waking state, and then quotes many of the most famous scholars of Islam on the possibility of seeing the Prophet while awake, and gives many examples of this from the most trustworthy sources and scholars.

And most visions of the Prophet, says Suyuti, happen in the heart, and then it advances so that it becomes by sight, but not the same seeing by sight that humans are accustomed to, but it is a special state whose reality can only be understood by those who experience it.

Beside this very small book by al-Suyuti proving the possibility of seeing the Prophet and the angels while awake, there is an entire full-sized (400 pg) book by Abi al-Fadl Abd al-Qadir bin al-Husayn bin Mighaizil al-Shadhili devoted to giving proofs and examples of the awliya of Allah seeing the Messenger of God in the waking state.

In the end, know that it was known among the companions of the Prophet, and among our righteous predecessors and those who followed them, and agreed upon by the greatest scholars that seeing the Prophet while awake is possible. And those who deny this must be very careful, for they cannot deny this without either disbelieving the Messenger of Allah, or trying to twist his words in order to suit their own views, or disbelieving in the unlimited power of Allah and His grace to his faithful servants.

And know that the Messenger of Allah is among you....a torch spreading light...

1. Sunan Abu Dawood, Sunan an-Nasa'i, Sunan Ibn Maja, and many other hadith collections.
2. Sunan Abu Dawood.
3. Al-Bazzar, Abu Ya'la, Bayhaqi, Ibn Asakir, al-Suyuti, and al-Albani, among others, mention this hadith as authentic.
4. Sahih Muslim, Sunan an-Nasa'i, and al-Bayhaqi.
5. Saleh al-Jaafari. Al-Muntaqa al-Nafees, pg 199-200. My (poor) translation.
6. Ibid, pg 202.
8. Gai Eaton, Islam and the Destiny of Man, pg 240-241.
9. Letters of a Sufi Master: The Shaykh ad-Darqawi, pg 41.
10. Al-Bazzar cites it with a sound (sahih) chain, and also in the Musnad of Ibn Abi Usama, it is also quoted by Qadi Iyad in his Shifa, by al-Subki, and by Ibn al-Jawzi in his Wafa of which he said he only used authentic traditions in it.
11. Sahih Muslim.
12. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood from Abu Hurayra, and a similar hadith from Abi Qutada narrated by al-Darimi.

For further reading:

*Saleh al-Jaafari. al-Muntaqa al-Nafees.
*Jalalludin al-Suyuti. Tanweer al-Halak fee Jawaz Ru'yat al-Nabi wal-Malak
*Abi al-Fadl Abd al-Qadir bin al-Husayn bin Mighaizil al-Shadhili. Al-Kawakib al-Zaahira fee Ijtimaa' al-Awliyaa Yaqdhatan bi-Sayyid ad-Dunya wal Aakhira


Blogger Silencer said...

This was a prelude to my discussion of the Tariqa Muhammadiyya.

January 24, 2007 at 4:48 PM

Blogger ismail b. marchman said...

salam alaikum wa salam ulahi ala rasulilah,

very good article... brother please vistit this blog and read the article on Tijaniyya. I would appreciate your editorial opinion

Jazak Allah Khair
it is a short read


April 11, 2007 at 10:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds spiritual and relaxing someway, but .. i'm very skeptical in accepting the prophetic sayings as many of them can be alleged by the narrators, so i'd rely more on the Qur'an .. As long as we have no such thing called tariqa in Qur'an and it's not known to be practiced by the Prophet pbuh, i doubt its effectiveness and truth.
It's the same reason i rejected Imamism idea in shiism ,, also the infaliability of imams and so on. If it was a strong rooted way of worship and gets us close to the prophet, how come there's nothing mentioned about it in Qur'an! It's humanly made .. but good article and the idea is spiritual and adds to one's faith overall..

May 11, 2007 at 12:37 PM

Blogger Silencer said...

anon- thank you for the kind comments. I also, about four years ago, began to distrust the hadith and even rejected completely, following the ideas of Rashad Khalifa. But then I read Nawawi's collection of 40 Hadith Qudsi, as well as many Sufi works quoting prophetic sayings, and it is as if their light pierced my heart and I "knew" that they were the truth.

See for example Nawawi's 40 Hadith Qudsi (also translated into english), or the BEAUTIFUL book called "101 Diamonds from the Oral Tradition of the Glorious Messenger Muhammad" which u can get from amazon for 8 dollars.

After this, I gradually came back to accepting hadith more and more, until I reached where I am now and that is:

I believe that the Qur'an, understood according to its clear and outward sense, gives us all that is necessary for us. But I also believe that the hadith of the Prophet complement the Qur'an. According to the hadith of Aisha (r.a.), the Prophet's manners and ethos were like the Qur'an itself, and so he was like a living walking Qur'an, so that we can learn from his example and his words, knowledge that gives us more than the essentials that we learn from the Qur'an.

I do also believe that all this extra knowledge taught by the Prophet is also found in the Qur'an, but cannnot be seen except by those who are granted spiritual insight to delve into the ocean of the Qur'an, and swim in its deeper meanings, for the Qur'an says that even if all the oceans in te world were ink, the words of God would never be exhausted. In fact, I believe that the answer to every single question on earth, for every time and place, can be found in the Qur'an, but that only people with an illuminated heart can find these answers.

In any case, I do not wish to argue with you over the authenticity of the hadith. "The ways to God are as numerous as breaths of the creatures" said Najm al-Din Kubra.

And if your way and your path is relying on nothing but the Qur'an, then all I can say is to make full use of that path, and to make the Qur'an your constant companion, and to read it and read it and read it as much as you possibly can, in arabic, even if you do not understand it, until your heart is filled with its light, and your limbs are an expression of its guidance.

And learn arabic for the sake of reading it in arabic if you do not speak the language, for translations are not the Qur'an, but the works of man.


May 11, 2007 at 4:24 PM

Blogger Silencer said...

p.s. for a more accurate translation of the hadiths in 101 Diamonds, see "Divine Sayings: The Mishkat al-Anwar of Ibn 'Arabi". It has the same hadiths of the prophet, in the same collection written by ibn arabi, with a more accurate translation and with the arabic originals in beautiful print. But while i only skimmed through this one, I read and loved the 101 Diamonds version.

May 11, 2007 at 4:37 PM

Blogger Silencer said...

and finally, you said that the tariqa is not mentioned in the Qur'an. But the tariqa Muhamadiyya is nothing but two things:

1) following the Prophet in his actions and sayings and states (Say: "If ye do love Allah, Follow me (ittabi'ooni): Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." - Q 3:31)

and see "Muhammadan Sufism and Mutaba'a" on the right hand side of my blog.

and 2) doing tasliya on the Prophet

(Q 33:56 and see " Origins of the Tariqa Muhammadiyya" also on the right hand side of my blog.)

May 11, 2007 at 5:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Akeed be7ky 3araby ;) ,,,
eh haidy ana..
you know what .. i think the only thing i can do is to follow this tarika somehow even partially without the bai3a part and see what will happen then.. i'll take it or leave it.
I love salawat el nabi idea but still not sure it might lead me anywhere or to a higher spiritual degree..

May 11, 2007 at 5:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

as-salamu alaikum

what is your view of:


posted on www.marifah.net

December 19, 2007 at 12:52 AM

Blogger Silencer said...

yes i have read the the entirety of al-Suyuti's book, this was only a translation of a small section of it, it is a great book.

Also, imam al suyuti was too humble to mention himself in his book, but it is known among scholars that he himself saw the prophet pbuh while awake 22 times and asked him about the hadiths, which ones are true and which ones are not.

December 19, 2007 at 6:29 AM

Blogger Ilyas said...

Salaams bro,

MashAllah! your blog is kool & displays sound understandings of the Path of Muhammed Sallahu alaihi wassalam.

A group of around 100 students in the UK are currently living the manifestations of Tariqa Muhammediyya you mention in your articles.

We know what you say is true because we are living it by the Grace/Mercy of Allah.

Please contact me on hilye@hotmail.co.uk


February 18, 2008 at 1:59 PM


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