Our Grandsheikh was speaking about people who instruct the community on the
Islamic religion and topics relating to its practice.  According to the command of Allah
Almighty, there must be some people among each community who instruct people as
to what they may do, as to what has been permitted for them by Allah Almighty (Halal),
to warn them against those things which they must avoid, as they have been forbidden
to them by Allah (Haram).  Most people think that it is an easy job to address people:
take a book and read it – finish.  So many people think that it is only sitting and
speaking; either reading to the people from books and explaining, or sometimes
memorizing so that people think that he really knows a great deal – for one week they
prepare to give a half-hour sermon – this kind of teaching is only of the imitative kind.

A really important point for an instructor of the community is to understand the
wisdoms that he speaks about.  The fountain of wisdom is the heart, not the mind.  If
you can’t use your heart, you can’t be satisfied.  As long as you are giving lessons
from your mind, you and the people you are addressing are on the same level, and so
you cannot teach them anything; to teach the teaching of Allah and His Prophet, you
must have learned to teach with your heart.  If you teach from your heart, then the
teaching will be like honey.  But if you teach from your mind only – i.e. looking up
information in a number of books and then reproducing it – then you resemble one
who wings from flower to flower, like a bee, gathering the flowers’ nectar, then puts it in
a jar and calls it honey, but it is not honey.  Why not? – He says: “I saw a bee flying
hither and thither collecting the nectar of flowers, so I did as he did.”  But no honey
comes from his jar.  For honey to be made, the bee must eat the nectar, then the
honey appears of itself.

Therefore, you must not let yourself be fooled by those people who speak for hours
and hours on religion thinking they give honey, because the difference between what
they give and real honey is like the difference between heaven and earth.  People who
claim to be teachers are of two kinds : one kind are like wasps who go from flower to
flower like bees, but never produce any honey or beeswax.  Even if they have attained
the highest level of knowledge that the mind can encompass, if their teaching does not
come from the heart, it isn’t honey.  The other kind of teachers are like bees, their
teaching comes from the heart and is like pure honey.  How does one become such a
‘bee’? the Prophet says, if a person can keep sincerity (Ikhlas) with his Lord for forty
days, then his Lord will open up fountains of wisdom for that person.

During the time that Sayyidina Ali was Khalipha in Kufa, he traveled to Basra and
made his rounds of all the mosques in order to listen to the people who were teaching
in those mosques.  After visiting each of them and hearing every instructor speaking
from his pulpit, he issued a decree ordering all except Hasan al  Basri and Qadi
Shureyh to stop preaching; he forbade all of them to address people in the mosques.  
He said that all of the ‘instructors’ other than those two were only storytellers who
parroted stories without understanding their real significance, even if they were
claiming to be teaching people good.  Seyyedina Ali gave permission only to those two
to do any teaching in the mosques, - for the others, no need.

You may eat some rotten food, and your stomach might become upset and you will
induce vomiting, but whoever listens to something no-good cannot get rid of it so
easily, and it may stay with him until the end of his life.  It is for this reason that our
Grandsheikh cautioned his murids against listening to scholars who deny Tariqats and
Mushids, for maybe they will poison you.  If a person sits with such deniers, he must be
prepared to carry a heavy burden of darkness and live with an injured heart for one

Our Grandsheikh told the following tale in order to describe people to whom you may,
and indeed should listen: Ibrahim bin Adham, who is known as King of the Ascetics
(Sultan az  Zahideen), was a great king who one day heard the call to come to the way
of his Lord.  He left his kingdom and gave everything to his commanders, generals,
princes and royal family.  When he was just ready to leave the palace, he called one of
his slaves, who had been the palace gardener, and told him to come; then he gave his
royal cloak to that slave and asked him to give him his gardener’s coat in exchange.  
The gardener was astonished at this and full of fear; he said; “How may it be possible
for the lowest of servants to wear the kind’s royal cloak, and for the majestic king to
wear these dirty old rags?”  The king answered: “Oh my son, do you not know that last
night your Sultan became a slave of a slave of a slave..?  Now I am a slave of seven
slaves, the top one of them being a slave of the Almighty.”  See how quickly he came
to the level of humility, how he regarded himself as being nothing, as being level with
the earth.

Now our Grandsheikh says: “Oh Nazim Efendi, whoever desires to teach people in
mosques and Sufi schools (Zaviya) must be very careful, especially in these times in
which we are living.  In the time of Ibrahim bin Adham, he counted only seven masters;
now, in our times, if a person is not regarding himself as being on a lower level than
many thousands of people, if he is not regarding himself as the slave of many people
whom he deems superior to himself, then he will never be able to carry out his duty
effectively: he will never make them believe in their Lord, or if they are already
believing, he will never strengthen them in their faith.

For example, here we are in Damascus: if an instructor of religion can’t look at himself
as being a slave to everyone, it means that he has some egoism, and that egoism will
spread through his teachings to everyone who comes in contact with him.  
Grandsheikh was saying that if a man who addresses people doesn’t humble himself,
and won’t regard himself as being a slave in front of his audience of thousands, then
those people whom he is proposing to teach will ‘look down on him’ and his teachings.  
What I mean to say is that the people will hear so much good advice from that
instructor, but they will do exactly the opposite of what they were advised.

To prevent this from happening is no easy matter, because everyone who is studying
and learning and learning still more is, in most cases, going to become an egoist; and
when people come to him and listen to him, they will go off and do as he does.  So
many big sheikhs never admit or realize the necessity of fighting their egos, they just
continue amassing knowledge which benefits neither themselves nor anybody else.  
Their knowledge feeds only their egos.  They never consider, nor are they able to
perceive that an important element is missing from their religious lives.  And so, as
they won’t accept training at the hands of a Grandsheikh, they find themselves, along
with the teachings they have imparted being disrespected by those very people whom
they were thinking to help.  Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for a person who
wants to teach people to really see himself as their servant – to humble himself in front
of the people he is hoping to teach.

The son of Abdul Qadir al-Gilani was a famous learned man in his time, but he was not
humble and did not surrender to his father’s superior knowledge, as he regarded
himself as being much more learned and of a higher station than his parent.  He was
always astonished when he saw how the multitudes of his father’s disciples flocked to
the Grandsheikh’s lectures, and how, when he began to speak, so many seemed to
swoon away in apparent ecstasy.  Whenever he witnessed that amazing spectacle he
thought to himself: “My father’s knowledge is not as great as mine, I am seven degrees
higher than he is; so, if the people swoon in such a manner upon hearing his
discourse, what will happen to them when I speak?  I fear that if I address them they
might have to be carried out dead!”  So he thought.

Now, Grandsheikh Abdul Qadir was listening to all these thoughts passing through his
son’s heart; Awliya know so many things that are happening in the hearts of people
because Allah Almighty has given them that power of perception.  They may listen, but
they are not in need of always exercising this power. – Only when a particular situation
arises in which someone may well benefit from it will they put the power to use.  For
instance, they many listen to and then answer a question which might have been in
someone’s mind without that person having ever said anything about it.  By this
unsolicited answer, that person might be taken unawares and be able to learn

My Grandsheikh had such powers of perception, but concerning them he said to me :
“Oh my son, the power of perception is not really such a great and miraculous power
that one should covet and seek to gain, for it comes naturally to a saint; however, this
power was also given to Satan, so that, if goodness comes to us, he easily knows it
and seeks to turn us away from it.  So we cannot say that this power is very miraculous
for the saints, nor are they particularly interested in it, but if they are ordered by the
Prophet, then they may use it.”

And so, Abdul Qadir was sometimes listening to what went on in his son’s heart and
could understand that his son had a nagging desire to speak in public.  So one day he
said to him: “Oh my son, tomorrow I am going to be very busy, and since our followers,
spiritual sons and loved ones will be gathering at the great mosque, rather than
sending them away, perhaps you could address them in my place, so that they may be
pleased with you and not disappointed that there is no one to speak to them.”  
Needless to say, the son was very pleased about this and looked forward to the
chance of showing the people exactly where he stood in the way of knowledge as
compared to his father.

The next day, when the time for Abdul Qadir’s discourse arrived, his son mounted the
pulpit in his stead and, closing his eyes, began to speak like a fountain, gushing out
torrents from the highest level of his knowledge.  He spouted for about ten minutes
with his eyes closed in intense concentration; then, upon hearing not even the sound
of breathing coming from the assembly, he thought: “perhaps they have all died from
such sudden an exposure to this overwhelming knowledge.”  So he opened his eyes to
see what had happened, and there he saw the assembly, not dead – but sound
asleep.  Not one was awake, and now, as they fell deeper into their sleep, a number of
them began to snore loudly, like saws cutting trees.

Since no one was awake to hear his lesson, he quickly finished, came down from the
pulpit and moved through the mass of sleepers, carefully stepping, and left the
mosque.  When he arrived at his father’s house, he complained to him: “Oh my father,
do you know what happened?  I am amazed at the condition of these people!”  Abdul
Qadir asked him, “What happened? Did anyone die or faint?”  The son replied: “No, all
of them fell fast asleep, even when I left the mosque, no one was aware of it – and this
despite the fact that I was speaking to them on a level seven degrees higher than your
teachings;  I cannot understand what happened.”

Then this Grandsheikh said to his son: “Oh my son, who was sitting there on the
pulpit?”  The son, surprised, replied: “I was, of course.”  “Ah, you see, therefore, as
you were sitting there, they all fell asleep.”  “Oh my most venerable father, why should
it be like this when I sit there; don’t you sit on the pulpit in front of them the same as I

Then Abdul Qadir explained to his son: “No, my son, I don’t sit there, I leave that pulpit
to Allah Almighty and His Prophet and seat myself in the audience among the people
in order to listen to Allah and His Prophet – when a verse is read, we hear Allah
speaking to us, and when a hadith is read, we hear the Prophet speaking.  When in
this way I put myself among the assembly and leave the pulpit to Allah and His
Prophet, I leave myself behind, no more Abdul Qadir, just Allah and His Prophet
speaking through Gilani, but no more ‘I’ is there.  For this reason alone, Divine
Outpourings (Fuyudat) are filling people’s hearts and they can’t keep themselves; they
become happy and contented like fish in the sea.  But you are sitting there yourself,
saying ‘I know’, and you are appointing yourself deputy of Allah and His Prophet, and
so there is no true harmony emanating from your words, nor any Divine Aid (Inayah)
with you – that is why all the people fell asleep.  You killed them with your ego which
prevents any Inayah from coming to that assembly, so no benefit is possible from that
meeting; they are like fish thrown out of the sea, and it is your fault.”

“And thus, virtually every learned person is thinking that he is like a deputy of Allah
Almighty or the Holy Prophet; so their address to the people is full of pride.  They see
the people as being on the lowest level and themselves as being on the highest.  But,
if you put yourself on such a high level, how can your words possibly reach to those
lowly creatures whom you hope to benefit?  Allah Almighty Himself, in His Essence, is
with every creature, as it says in the Holy Qur’an: ‘And He is with you wherever you
are.’  So if Allah Himself sees it fit to be with His creatures through His Power,
Knowledge and Divine Will, how shall you mount yourself high and mighty upon a
throne of pride and look down at the rest of the world?  You miscreant!  You monster!  
You are killing them with your pride!”

Thereupon, full of shame and remorse, the son said to his father: “Oh my father and
my Grandsheikh, please guide me to the path you are on so that I may follow you in
it.”  He begged forgiveness of his father and followed him on his way until he reached
his heavenly station.
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