The Rights of a Spiritual Guide
Muḥammad Waqar Yunus Attari
(Sixth year student, Jamiat-ul-Madinah, Faizan-e-Ghawth-e-AꜤzam, Karachi)
A spiritual guide is called a murshid in Arabic and refers to someone who mentors a person on their journey to righteousness and Allah’s closeness. Sayyidunā Mujaddid Alf Thānī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states: “The murshid is the one who revives the dead heart and soul of the disciple and makes him reach the stations of divine unveiling and witnessing.”
The murshid is the one who leads us to the path of Allah Almighty and His Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. He teaches us the manner of acting upon the Sunnah and instils religious fervour in us. He also purifies our inward and outward and beautifies them with the illuminating lights of Islamic law.
Need for a spiritual guide:
Seeking proximity to Allah Almighty is the essence of felicity for every believing slave as the believers have been commanded to seek nearness in the court of Allah Almighty. To achieve spiritual closeness and to progress through the stages of the spiritual path, it is necessary to seek edification and guidance from a knowledgeable teacher who has personally attained Allah’s proximity. When those who seek proximity to Allah Almighty affiliate themselves with the saints, these saints make them traverse the stations of nearness through safe pathways.
The following are some rights of a spiritual guide. Take note of them.
Etiquette towards the spiritual guide:
It is necessary for the disciple to respect his spiritual guide in every regard. The Reviver of Islam, the Imām of Ahl al-Sunnah, Imām Aḥmad Razā Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states, “One should respect his [i.e., spiritual guide’s] clothes, place of sitting, children, home, locality, and city.”
Fulfilling the command of the spiritual guide:
It is necessary for the disciple that he does not let loose his own intellect upon the command of the Islamic law given by his murshid. Rather, he should humbly submit to his spiritual guide’s order. The Reviver of Islam, the Imām of Ahl al-Sunnah, Imām Aḥmad Razā Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states: “Whatever he (i.e., the spiritual guide) commands, he should neither question ‘Why?’ nor delay (implementing it). (Rather) he should give it precedence (i.e., preference and priority) over all other matters.”
Being mindful in the gathering of the spiritual guide:
Whenever the disciple comes before his spiritual guide, he should control his tongue and heart. Some of the pious predecessors state, “When seated with a worldly figure, sit whilst controlling your tongue, and when seated in the presence of a saint, sit whilst restraining your heart.”
It is stated in al-Fatāwā al-Razawiyyah, “Laughing ˹in the presence of the spiritual guide˺ is a grave matter. A person should keep his eyes, ears, and heart focused on him.”
One should not object to his spiritual guide:
The disciple must not object to his spiritual guide. In this regard, Imām Aḥmad Razā Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states: “One should avoid objecting to spiritual guides as this is lethal poison for disciples. Few and far between must be such disciples who harbour objections in their hearts against their spiritual guides and then attain success.”
Understanding the right of the spiritual guide
The disciple should understand the right of his spiritual guide. He should consider him to be the most beneficial teacher for him. He should be prepared to sacrifice his wealth, life, children, and everything else for him. He should remain in his hand like a deceased person in the hand of one who is living. He should be a friend to his friend and an enemy to his enemy.
We make dua to Allah Almighty that he grants us success in understanding the right of our spiritual guide and the ability to act according to this, and that he makes our accomplished spiritual guide, the leader of Ahl al-Sunnah, Mawlana Ilyas Attar al-Qadiri دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ pleased with us.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم