Advice & Counsel [Wasaya]
The following is the advice and counsel bequeathed by the consummate and learned one [al-kamil al-‘alim], the unveiler of the true realities [kashifal-haqa ‘iq], the exemplary model for all creatures [muqtada ‘l-kha’liq], the spiritual pole-star of Lordly attributes [al-qutb ar-rabbani], the immortal spiritual helper [al-ghatvth as-samadani], the reviver of truth and religion [muhyi ‘l-haqq wa l-din], Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Hasani al-Jilani (may Allah sanctify his noble innermost being):
O my dear son! I counsel you to practice true devotion [taqwa] to Allah and to be ever fearful of offending Him. I also advise you to be ready at all times to fulfill your duty to your parents and your duty to all the elders [masha’ikh], for Allah looks with favor upon His servant when he acts accordingly.
You must always be a faithful custodian of the Truth [Haqq], both in private and in public.
You must not neglect the recitation of the Qur’an, both outwardly and inwardly, in private and in public, with understanding and deliberation, with gravity and reflection and the shedding of tears. You must refer to the unambiguous wording of the Qur’an whenever a ruling is required, for the Qur’an is Allah’s evidence against His creatures. You must not take a single step beyond the bounds of [religious] knowledge [‘ilm], You must study the science of Islamic law [fiqh].
Do not be one of those Sufis of the ignorant and vulgar type, and shun the people of the marketplaces, for they are the thieves of our religion and the highway robbers on the road of the Muslims.
You must adhere to the beliefs of those who affirm the Divine Unity [ahl at-tawhid], and steer well clear of newly concocted doctrines [muhdathat], for every newly concocted doctrine is an heretical innovation [bid’ a] and an error.
You must not spend your time in the company of juveniles, women, heretics [mubtadi’a], rich people and the common folk, for this is a sure way to lose your religion. You should be content with very little of what this world has to offer. Spend most of your time in private places, and let yourself be moved to tears by your dread [of earning your Lord’s displeasure].
Eat nothing but lawful food [halal], for it is the key to all good things, and do not touch unlawful food [haram], unless you want the Fire of Hell to touch you on the Day of Resurrection [Yawm al-Qiyama]. You must also dress yourself in lawful attire. If you follow this advice, you will discover the sweetness of faith [iman] and worshipful service [‘ibada].
Be aware of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and do not forget your station in the presence of Allah (Exalted is He). Make it your frequent practice to perform the ritual prayer [salat] during the night, and to fast during the daytime.
Do not stand apart from the general congregation, unless you are an Imam and must therefore be in a position to set an example.
Flee from other people as you would flee from the lion. You must lead a private existence in order to ensure that you do not lose your religion. You must also do a lot of traveling. As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:
Go on an expedition! It will be good for your health and you will profit by it.
Be careful not to hurt the feelings of your elders.
Do not let compliments go to your head, and do not attach importance to critical comments that may be made about you. Let praise and blame be matters of equal indifference as far as you are concerned.
Be on your best behavior with all your fellow creatures, and always adopt a humble attitude toward them, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace] has told us:
If a person is humble, Allah will raise him up, but if a person is arrogant, Allah will put him down.
It is important for you to cultivate good manners under all circumstances, regardless of whether you are dealing with righteous people or with immoral characters. You must accord favorable treatment to all your fellow creatures, be they young or old, little or great. You must never regard them with anything less than a sympathetic eye.
Do not indulge in coarse laughter, for such laughter arises from heedlessness and it causes the heart to die. As Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) has told us:
If only you knew what I know, you would surely laugh very seldom and you would surely weep very often.
You must never feel safe from the cunning devices of Allah, and yet you must never despair of Allah’s mercy. You must live your life between fear and hope.
O my dear son! You must become detached from this world, for in the pursuit of it lies the loss of your religion [din]. You must make it your practice to keep the fast [sawm], to perform the ritual prayer [salat], to make your supplication [du’a ‘] loud and clear, to let your clothes be threadbare, your comrades paupers, your home a mosque [masjid], your property a knowledge of Islamic law [fiqh], your finery a pious abstinence [zuhd], and your intimate companion a Noble Lord [Rabb Karim].
Do not pay special attention to anyone until it is clearly apparent to you that he possesses these five characteristics: (1) He prefers poverty to affluence. (2) He prefers the hereafter to this world. (3) He prefers humility to haughty pride. (4) He is keenly aware of what is done in secret and what is done in public. (5) He is prepared to face death.
O my dear son! Do not let yourself be dazzled by this world and its splendors, for this world is green and ripe and sweet. If someone becomes attached to it, it attaches itself to him, and if someone rejects it, it rejects him in return. Besides, there is no way for it to last forever. By night and by day, you must always be prepared for the trip that will take you out of it and into the hereafter.
O my dear son! You must accustom yourself to solitude. You must be lonely, separate, attentive to your heart because of the fear of Allah. You must acknowledge the generous favors of Allah (Exalted is He). You must live your life in this world as if you were a stranger in exile, and then depart from it as you came into it, for you have no way of knowing what your tomorrow has in store for you at the Resurrection.
This concludes the wise advice expressed in such noble words by Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir. May Allah the Exalted be well pleased with him, and may He grant him contentment. May He include us among his sincere devotees and followers, and enable us to accomplish what he would wish for and approve.
Amin, O Lord of All the Worlds [ya Rabba’l-‘alamin].
–Hadrat ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, appendix to Jala’ Al-Khawatir [The Removal of Cares], trans. Muhtar Holland (Ft. Lauderdale: Al-Baz Publishing, Inc., 1997), 296-299.