Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم

“Obey God, obey the Prophet (s), and obey your leaders.” (4:59)

We are meeting in this mosque and we have to ask, as the Prophet (s) ordered the Sahābah (ra) and all masters have ordered their followers after him, that one hour sitting here be counted as an hour of seclusion.  You are disconnecting yourself from the outer life and coming here for the honor of God, for the honor of the Prophet (s), and for the honor of your Shaykh.  To be good examples and good followers of the Path (tarīqah), you are leaving your lands, your homes, and everything, and coming here in order to benefit and learn something.  You are not coming here only to spend some time.  You are coming to take spiritual advice from your Shaykh.  That is why you have to listen well and act accordingly.  Do not come here and spend fifteen days of vacation, then go back out.  In that case, there is no need for coming.

The Prophet (s) has ordered all Sahābah (ra) to enter seclusion, to make retreat, to do meditation.  This means:  to keep the presence of their Lord and the love of the Prophet (s) in their hearts.  After the Prophet (s), all Sahābah (ra), and especially Sayyidinā Abū Bakr and Sayyidinā ‘Alī….the two with whom all orders of Sufism originated – taught their followers to enter seclusion.  Grandshaykh once said:  “One that did not enter seclusion in his life is as one who has wasted his life.”  If you do not seclusion in your life even one time, it means that you have lived for nothing.

You are not going to take anything with you.  You are going to take only what God has planned for you to take.  And God has planned for everyone to be a good believer.  That is why, when He created the spirits of humanity, He asked them:  “Who am I and who are you?” (Cf. al-‘Aarāf 172) Prophets and saints said:  “You are our Lord, and we are Your servants!” The rest said:  “You are what You are and we are what we are,” which means:  “We are not believing in You; if You are God, so are we.”  Those were the unbelievers.  God threw them into darkness for 70,000 years and then called them back and asked them again:  “Who am I and who are you?” Some of them said:  “You are our Lord, and we are Your servants,” and these were also believers.[1] We are those believers.  Don’t listen to your ego saying, as we said the first time God asked us:  “You are what You are, we are what we are!” Only after God threw the ego into darkness did it accept and say:  “You are my Lord!” Now, when we come to this earth another time – in a physical body after the first, spiritual creation – we are saying yet again:  “You are what You are, we are what we are.”  No one is accepting.

All masters of the Naqshbandī order have to put their disciples into seclusion, for the same reason that God has put our spirits into darkness for 70,000 years:  to polish us and to teach us good manners, and to make us accept later this fact:  “You are our Lord”; to break and kill their ego.  Only at that time they will say:  “You are our Lord; we are Your servants.

This is what Mawlānā is teaching us through all these years:  to be good servants to our Lord.  To obey our Lord.  But the ego does not accept.  Grandshaykh therefore said that, as the Prophet (s) has made the Companions (Sahābah (ra)) enter seclusion, he also had to make his followers enter seclusion.  If they do not enter in this life, they have to enter in the grave, for a duration of forty days.  This is a must on everyone.  Nothing can clean you of your bad manners except seclusion.

If you do not enter that seclusion you will never be cleaned.  You will be one of the “colorful” or “multicolored” rank.  The Naqshbandī order speaks of our present situation as the “colorful” or “multicolored” position (Maqam at-talween) – that is, constantly changing:  one day we are good, one day we are bad, one day we are half-and-half.  This cannot be taken away and we cannot be on one color except by entering seclusion.

Our brothers and sisters, try hard to make your Shaykh give you permission to enter seclusion.  We are not telling you to go up to him and say, “O my Shaykh, give me permission to go to seclusion.”  This is not the way.  The way is to try to accept what he is telling you without using your mind.  Keep faith in what he is telling you.


[1] Abu ‘Abdillah’s narration of the threefold division of souls on the Day of Promises and their sojourn in darkness in Hakim’s Nawadir al-usul, p. 417-418.