The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship
Why We Recite the Maulids
by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
Maulid is an Arabic word meaning the celebration of a birthday, especially that of a prophet or saint.
In this discourse, M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (Ral.) is referring to two celebrations: one for the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Sal.) during the month of Rabï-ul-Awwal, and one for Qutb Muhyiddïn 'Abdul-Qädir al-Jïlänï (Ral.) during the month of Rabï-uth-Thänï. Because Qutb Muhyiddïn (Ral.) was born during Ramadän, the month of fasting, the celebration of his life is commemorated around the anniversary of his death.
The maulids last for eleven or twelve days, beginning after the late afternoon prayers ('asr) and lasting for about three hours. During that time numerous prayers of remembrance (dhikr), traditional stories (ahädïth), and verses of praise (salawät) are recited.
In the following discourse, M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (Ral.) explains the purpose and benefit of observing these maulids - to honor the wise ones who are our helpers and to praise Allah for sending them to guide us.
Note to the Reader:
The following traditional supplications will be found periodically throughout the text:
(Sal.) following any name used in reference to Prophet Muhammad, stands for Sallallähu 'alaihi wa sallam - Blessings and peace be upon him.
(Ral.) following the name of a companion of the Prophet, a saint, or khalïf, stands for Radiyallähu 'anhu/'anhä - May Allah be pleased with him/her.
(A.S.) following the names of angels and prophets, stands for 'Alaihis-saläm - Peace be upon him.
As-salämu 'alaikum. May the peace of God be with all of you. May His
benevolence and His blessings be with you all.
My very precious children, jeweled lights of my eyes who are born with me, my children who are mingled with the love of my heart and my eyes, it is said that last month was designated as the month of our precious Prophet Muhammad (Sal.), the Chosen Messenger, the Mustafär-Rasül, and this month has been designated as the month of Qutb Muhyiddïn 'Abdul-Qädir al-Jïlänï (Ral.).1 It has been this way since some time after 'Umar ibnul-Khattäb (Ral.), when the ancient Arab astrologers, the nujumis, divided the year into twelve months and established the nujum calendar. This method has been passed down from generation to generation over the last 1,400 years.
It is now 1,402 years since the Prophet Muhammad, Mustafär-Rasül (Sal.) appeared. It is said by the Arab astro-logers that he passed away at the age of sixty-three, however, Allah praises Muhammad (Sal.) saying, "O Muhammad, I would not have created anything but for you." According to this statement, the Rasül (Sal.) was brought into existence before creation began. Allah formed the Rasül (Sal.) within Himself as His Grace, His rahmat. Then, through the Rasul (Sal.), He formed and created all lives; He placed the mïm with the sukün in their embryos. Allah created the mïm and then stood as the alif that supported the mïm.2 Allah is the only one who can support and sustain this.
Everything is contained within that sukün, the eighteen thousand universes and all the creations that appear within those universes. Allah alone is the alif, the straight line, which supports this sukün, this extraordinary treasure (daulat). If there is no alif, there is no sukün; if there is no sukün there is no alif. Each one is connected to the other. That is the mïm which is present in all embryos as the sperm. It is present the moment the embryo takes form. This is Muhammad (Sal.), the sukün connected to the alif. It is clearly evident that Allähu ta'älä Näyan, the Lord, God Almighty, brought creations into existence through the mïm and sukün; we can actually see the sperm or mïm, join with the sukün at the time of conception. Medical science has even conducted experiments in this matter with the use of microscopes and has discovered that the sperm is shaped like a mïm.
Allähu ta'älä caused His power (qudrat), the light known as Muhammad (Sal.), to appear in this manner. He created everything out of His power and the mïm. This light known as Muhammad (Sal.) is the treasure that is connected to both the beginning of creation and the hereafter (al-awwal and al-äkhirah). Allähu ta'älä had this light known as the grace (rahmat) as a most precious treasure that did not belong to anyone. Then He asked all the mountains, the oceans, the lands, and the trees, "Who can accept this most precious light? Can you take this on?"
The power of this treasure caused the mountains, the earth, the oceans, and the trees to tremble. They cried, "O Allah, when You merely mention its name, all of us tremble! We cannot bear the weight of this treasure. We cannot bear it. It is impossible. We cannot accept this treasure. We tremble even at the mention of its name, and we are incapable of bearing it."
Later Allah summoned the angels, the resplendent beings, the qutbs, and the heavenly beings. "This is My treasure, a most precious treasure. Look at this and tell Me who will accept this light, this treasure of grace (rahmat)?"
Even though they were resplendent beings, when they looked upon this treasure, their own brilliance was swallowed and hidden by its light. Their brilliance was obscured and they spoke to Allah, saying, "O Allah, this light has swallowed all the light that came from us. We cannot sustain this light which is the light of Your power (qudrat). We cannot accept it."
Then, the Earth spoke up, "Yä Alläh, I will accept it."
"O Earth," Allah replied, "This is My treasure of perfect purity. It grew within Me, and it is very precious. If I give it to you, it will be a valuable treasure to everyone. It will benefit everyone and bestow grace upon them. O Earth, it will give you whatever you need. You can derive great benefit from it, but you have to return this treasure to Me. You have to place this most precious treasure in My hand."
This treasure is known as Muhammad (Sal.). It was made resplendent and complete and was then impressed upon the forehead of Adam (A.S.). This is the light that has been impressed on our foreheads, and it is connected to the time of creation, this world, and the hereafter (al-awwal, ad-dunyä', and al-äkhirah). This treasure is not the son of Aminah and 'Abdullah, the son who was born in Mecca and buried in Medina. According to its secret meaning, when it dies, all of everything will die, because all lives contain the mïm. The sukün and its support are present in all lives.
The light of Allah and Muhammad (Sal.) is present in all lives; if this treasure did not exist, all of everything would die. However, for those who think it is dead, it is dead. For those who think it is not dead, it is not dead. It depends upon the inner heart of each person. It is alive to those who say it is alive; it is dead to those who say it is dead; it is a sheikh to those who say it is a sheikh; it is a guru to those who say it is a guru; it is a messenger (rasül) to those who say it is a rasül; it is the Nür (resplendent light) to those who say it is the Nür; it is Muhammad (Sal.) to those who say it is Muhammad (Sal.), and it is the light of the heart, or Ahmad, to those who say it is the heart. It is An'am Muhammad (the Muhammad that supplies nourishment) to those who consider it to be An'am Muhammad. It is the Hayät Muhammad (the Muhammad that gives life) to those who consider him to be Hayät Muhammad. It is Awwal Muhammad (the Muhammad who is responsible for creation) to those who consider it to be that. And to those who think of it as Athi Muhammad (the Manifested), or Anäthi Muhammad (the Unmanifested), it is that.3
This treasure will benefit each person according to what they consider it to be. It will be Nür Muhammad (the Plenitude, the Light that emerged from Allah) to those who consider it to be Nür Muhammad. It will be seen as the sukün supported by Allah to those who consider it to be Alläh Muhammad.
There are reasons why we must understand these inner meanings. It is not sufficient for us to simply know the words of the Qur'an; we cannot benefit sufficiently from merely reciting the Qur'an. There is a specific intention with which the Qur'an should be recited, a certain manner in which it should be read and understood. This is why the Rasül (Sal.) told his followers, "Go even unto China to learn true knowledge, to learn 'ilm." He told them this despite the fact that they already had the Qur'an, because the only way to understand the wealth of the Qur'an is through the slaves of Allah who know its explanations. Only if the Qur'an is understood in this manner can we understand the Rasül (Sal.). And if the Rasül (Sal.) is understood, we can understand Allah. If we understand Allah and the Rasül (Sal.), then we can understand the one who exists within as the sukün and the mïm. And only then we can understand our own self.
The treasure that existed as the Final Prophet, (Sal.) the son of Aminah and 'Abdullah, as the First Prophet, in the beginning of creation (awwal), as the Rasül or Prophet in the hereafter (äkhirah), and as the Rasül in the period before creation (anäthi) - this treasure was revealed as Muhammad (Sal.).
It was this Muhammad (Sal.) that was initially concealed as a mystery within Allah, for a specific reason. Finally, Allah issued forth this mysterious thing from within Him, as a light that then entered and filled Aminah's womb. This form did not come from semen, neither did it contain earth, fire, water, air, or ether. It was created from light.
When this Muhammad (Sal.) was given birth to by Aminah, there was no sign of blood, placenta, or any of the normal signs of birth. It was not like the usual birth of a child. Aminah, was alone, with no one to assist in the delivery. When the child dawned from within the womb, when this light emerged, the heavenly beings and houris came in the form of white doves and stroked the stomach of Aminah. She lost consciousness and knew nothing of what happened.
Then the sound of Allah came, "When Muhammad emerges, hold him so that he does not touch the earth." According to that command, the form (sürat) of Muhammad (Sal.) emerged robed in white silk. This light emerged dressed in a long white silk robe saying, "Allähu Akbar! Allah is the Great One! Lä iläha ill-Alläh! There is nothing other than God; only God is! You are the Great One. You are the One who exists forever." It worshipped in this manner.
The houris supported him and the angels surrounded him and all the while Aminah was unconscious, unaware of anything. Then the sound of Allah came again, "Bring My Muhammad to heaven." He instructed the heavenly beings to lock up the seven hells and decorate the eight heavens. He told them to take Muhammad (Sal.) around the eight heavens, bathe him in the water of heaven, and adorn him in pure silk. All the celestial beings, houris, angels, archangels, and resplendent beings came, kissed him on the forehead, and bowed down to him. In this state, Muhammad (Sal.) was taken around the eight heavens so that he could survey them. The umbrella of Allah's grace (rahmat) was given to him, and then he was returned to Aminah once again. Aminah opened her eyes as the child was placed in her arms and exclaimed, "My son." It was then that the name Muhammad (Sal.) was given to him.
The one who emerged in this way is Muhammad (Sal.). No one has seen his body, his form, his excreta, or his shadow. Did he have any semen? No, he did not. He had no shadow, his feet never touched the ground, and he had no feces or urine. There were no such signs. Some people will see him as a symbol, others will not be able to do so. Some will see him as Muhammad (Sal.), the son of Aminah, others will see him only as light. This is how it will be. Some people will not know him and others will be able to know him. This is the nature of that which exists as Muhammad (Sal.).
Human beings have designated and set aside a particular day for Muhammad (Sal.). However, there is no particular day for Muhammad (Sal.). Every day is his day. Nor is there a particular month for Muhammad (Sal.). Every month is his month. There is no particular week for Muhammad (Sal.). Every week is his week. Every breath is his breath. Every year is his year. As explained in the Qur'an, when the sukün and the alif join together, that is Muhammad (Sal.). When that ceases to be, Muhammad (Sal.) will no longer be.
There may come a time when the Qur'an will not be here; that may be on the Day of Reckoning (Qiyämah), when destruction comes. Until that time, Muhammad (Sal.) will be here. If there is life in your inner heart (qalb), Muhammad (Sal.) will be the life of that life. If there is breath in your body, it will be the breath of Muhammad (Sal.). If there is sound in your body, it will have originated from the sound of Muhammad (Sal.). If this does not occur, then you will be dead according to your limit.
Muhammad (Sal.) came and showed us perfectly pure wisdom, perfectly pure light, and perfectly pure ways of being. It is for this reason that we pay our respects to him. This is our way of demonstrating our respect. We do not place a statue or idol of Muhammad (Sal.) before us and worship it. Ignorant people say that we are comparing Muhammad (Sal.) to Allah, that we are equating him to God. They say that we are worshipping a tomb and so on.
In government buildings, we see statues of famous people who had been leaders of the country or who had helped the country in some way. Statues of these people are erected and every year they are decorated and a cele-bration is held in their honor. In their own country they make these people important, even though they may be sinners or may have destroyed other countries. Even though one group curses such a person, another group wor-ships him saying, "He is a great man. He helped our country." Like this, many statues have been erected by man.
A child honors his dead father whom he loved by reciting verses and prayers in remembrance of him. He pays respect to his father in this manner. Kings are often praised and honored in a similar way. When people honor other people in these ways, should we not honor one who, as Allah's Messenger, showed us the right path, taught us to have good conduct, strengthened our faith (ïmän), taught us the peace and equanimity of perfect purity, told us to trust all lives as our own life, and protected all lives as his own? Should we not pay our respects to such a great being, such a Prophet, such a Messenger of Allah who showed us the good path? Is it forbidden (haräm) for us to honor him?
Does this mean that we are comparing him to Allah or placing him as an equal to Allah? When statues of men are being constructed and honored, is it wrong to honor the one who brought us the wealth (daulat) that set us on the right path, the one who helped us in so many ways? Are we making a comparison when we pay our respects to the one who has helped us and when we give praise to the One who created such a helper? When we praise the One who gave us this treasure and pay respect to this treasure for having helped us, are we saying that they are equal? Are we making something equal to Allah? Should we not do what we are doing? Is it wrong to do so? We must reflect on this.
Some people who do not think deeply about these issues say that honoring Muhammad (Sal.) is making him equal to God and to the truth. There is one group of people who deny the existence of God, another group that will not speak about God, another group that does not understand the truth, and yet another that continually creates new groups. Only such groups, who want to perpetuate their own glory, say such things.
On this day (ascribed to the birth of Muhammad (Sal.)), we should praise the immeasurable one of grace, the incomparable one of love, the divine Messenger known as Muhammad Mustafar-Rasül (Sal.) who brought the true faith (dïn) and the Qur'an. We should praise this exalted treasure that has the beauty and bliss which will calm human beings and make them peaceful.
What is this month that has been set aside for Muhammad (Sal.)? It is a month in which we honor Muhammad (Sal.) and give praise to Allah. We thank Muhammad (Sal.) and praise Allah. This is why we ob-serve the maulid, like we did today. This is not wrong. We are not making a comparison, even though some people may claim that this is what is we are doing. But you, children who are true believers (mu'min), if you have absolute faith (ïmän), then it is your right and privilege to honor resplendent beings, the qutbs, the friends of God (auliyä') and the prophets who came to help us and show us the right path. And it is your right and privilege to give praise to Allah, the One who sent them. It is our duty to do this. This is what we have to do. We should think about this.
Many changes are taking place in the world today. Because of false proclamations, situations are developing in which people are ready to destroy the favorites of God and the prophets. These people want to destroy the name of the Rasül (Sal.), the name of Allah, the names of truth, and the names of those who have trust and faith. They have decided to convert men into satan. They want to convert those with true faith (ïmän), change them into something else, take them off the straight path, and lead them astray.
However, children, you who are true believers (mu'min) must try to behave as true believers. Look at how we take care of the teeth that God has given us. When there is a problem, we either extract them, treat them, or safeguard them in some way, do we not? In the same way, should we not protect the treasure that exists as the Rasül (Sal.), as the faith (ïmän), wisdom, light, and strength within us? We should safeguard this treasure that is so helpful to us, should we not? We should honor it, should we not? We must think about this.
We should understand that the treasure that was with Allah in the beginningless beginning, in the time of creation, and in the hereafter (anäthi, al-awwal, and al-äkhirah). We should understand that this treasure alone is Muhammad (Sal.), and it dwells within Allah at all times. It lives in our soul and wisdom. In the place of truth, this treasure and God reside together.
My children, there is another treasure that existed as the Qutb (Ral.)4 as God's mystery in the
time of creation,(al-awwal). Finally, fifty-one generations after
Muhammad (Sal.), after fifty-one signs, the Qutb (Ral.) was sent as the son of
Fatimah (Ral.). He was sent as a form, as a symbol. The name given to this Qutb
was Muhyiddïn 'Abdul-Qädir (Ral.). The mysterious Qutb (Ral.) was given a name,
made into the form of man (insän) and shown as a symbol or
representation to mankind, just as Muhammad (Sal.) was sent down in form as a
When the Qutb (Ral.) was born to Fatimah (Ral.), he, too, was clothed in white silk and the ?nest linen. In the womb, he displayed several miracles and signs. While still in the womb, he settled several conflicts that even kings could not deal with. This treasure spoke when he was only a four-month-old fetus; he settled legal disputes and even had a thief imprisoned. After he emerged from the womb, he continued to speak about justice and right conduct. This is the Qutbiyyat 5 that came bearing the name of Qutb. He came as a representation, a light known as Muhyiddïn 'Abdul-Qädir al-Jilänï (Ral.). Just as Allah sent His Messenger (Sal.), the Rasul, as a symbol, He also sent His Qutbiyyat in a form.
This form, like Muhammad (Sal.), also emerged from the womb without any signs of blood. That light was Qutb Muhyiddïn 'Abdul-Qädir al-Jïlänï (Ral.), and this is the month designated for him. He performed several miracles and displayed great wisdom. He emerged from the womb during the month of Ramadän and fasted in his very first month of life, refusing to nurse. In doing so, he showed others the way to perform this obligatory duty. The purpose of fasting is to understand hunger, disease, and old age and to realize the hunger of other lives. The Qutb (Ral.) gave us the means to do this. The Qutbiyyat came as a resplendent light and showed us the five duties (furüd) - faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage. Countless miracles were performed; wonder after wonder was seen.
This light started to speak on the very day it was born. One day when he was two months old, he was crawling around outside, and he saw the sun rising. "Can you catch it for me?" he asked his nurse. She said she could not, so he flew upward into the sky. The sun contracted all its rays and its heat, drawing them within itself. It encircled the baby, held him, and then brought him back to the cradle.
Meanwhile, the nurse had told his mother what had happened, and the mother was running around crying because she could not find her child. "O God," she pleaded, "I did not have a child for sixty years and now You have given me this child. I asked You for a child and You gave me one. Now I have lost it." As she was running about in great distress, the baby lay in the cradle, smiling.
The Qutbiyyat (Ral.) was in such a state that the sun and the moon would come, bow down, and worship him. They would contract their rays and speak to him. Such was the state of the Qutbiyyat (Ral.) when he was only two months old.
It is said in the oral traditions (ahädïth) that if the foot of the Qutb (Ral.) does not touch a person, he will not attain wisdom or grace-awakened wisdom (gnänam)." Wise people have spoken about this in their songs. They say, "If the foot of the Qutb (Ral.) does not touch a person in the beginning of creations (al-awwal), he will not attain eternal happiness and grace-awakened wisdom." The Qutb (Ral.) is known as the sheikh to wisdom, grace-awakened wisdom, and truth. The foot of the Qutbiyyat (Ral.) must either touch a person in the beginning of creation or a person must take the light of absolute faith (ïmän) and with it touch the feet of the Qutbiyyat (Ral.) in this world. Only when this is done can one attain wisdom, true knowledge ('ilm), grace-awakened wisdom, and divine qualities. This is one explanation.
There is a day designated by the world to honor such a Qutbiyyat (Ral.). However, the Qutbiyyat (Ral.) is present every day in everyone. According to the manner and location in which each person has placed the Qutbiyyat within himself, that treasure will dawn there and reveal its strength and benefits. For those who have not done that, this month will at least make them aware of the Qutbiyyat; this month will at least signify to them that they have a Qutbiyyat within them, which is the strength of their wisdom and the guide to their determined faith (ïmän).
Therefore, if we hold a maulid, or a feast, to honor the Qutb (Ral.), are we setting up a comparison? Because the Qutb (Ral.) is a sheikh to wisdom and a guide to our life, our wisdom, and our body, we honor him and give praise to the One who brought him down to us. This is what the maulid is about. We praise God directly, and we also praise Him by honoring the great ones, the prophets, and the wise ones that He sent down to us as guides. We give praise to God and we honor the ones who are our examples and guides. Is this wrong? No, it is not. We do this in a state of true faith.
People in the world say different things; they deceive one another in many ways and do many things that are wrong. They say, "Do not worship Allah, the Rasül (Sal.), the Qutb (Ral.), and the friends of God (auliyä'). Tear them down, kill them, and throw them out!" In the present time, certain groups are burning books written in the past, Qur'ans from the olden days, the ancient traditions (ahädïth), and the writings of other great men. They burn them, saying, "These are all incorrect. If you know of any such books or people, throw them out!" There are large groups of people with such ideas.
However, children, you who have wisdom and absolute faith (ïmän) should praise Allah with absolute faith and honor the great ones. Even Allah's Rasül (Sal.) did this. He paid respect to those who had wisdom, to those who were older than him, to those who had attained divine knowledge ('ilm), and wisdom, and to those who knew the oral traditions (ahädïth).
We should remember this in the present state of the world. We need wisdom to be able to pay our respects, to attain the strength of wisdom, and to realize Allah. We need wisdom to strengthen our faith (ïmän). It is only through the wisdom of the Qutb (Ral.) that we can understand good and bad, right and wrong. As long as we do not have that wisdom, as long as we cannot distinguish good and bad, we are like animals. A dog cannot distinguish between truth and trash, between good food and bad food. It does not have analytic wisdom, and therefore, it will eat filth, as well as plain rice and specially prepared rice dishes. That is its way. It does not distinguish between good and bad, permissible and impermissible, good actions and bad actions, good food and bad food.
Only if we understand the power of wisdom and the divine qualities can we understand what is good and bad in our lives. Then we can know right and wrong, permissible and impermissible, truth and falsehood, heaven and hell. It is to understand these things that we study wisdom, follow those who have wisdom, honor such people, and give praise to Allah. This is why we do these things.
Therefore, my children, we do these things for a purpose. Let us try to do this while we still have life. Each child must think about this, strengthen your faith (ïmän), understand these reasons, and search for the wisdom to understand what is right and what is wrong.
At the appropriate times, we should honor the wise ones who have come - the Qutbiyyat (Ral.), the Rasülulläh (Sal.), and the prophets. Until the time when we commune directly with them and unite as one, we should at least honor them in this way and give praise to Allah. When we finally reside together in the same place, this will not be necessary. Why is this so? Because, at that time, we will be face to face with one another and nothing else is necessary. But, until then, we must pay our respects to the wise ones and give praise to Allah. Establish this in your inner hearts and have certitude. Strengthen your hearts with certitude, despite what others may say. Do not go astray. Let us go to wise people, learn wisdom, and strive to understand what is good and what is bad.
Amïn, may this intention be fulfilled. May Allah help us.
1. Qutb Muhyiddïn 'Abdul-Qädir al-Jïlänï (Ral.) was a renowned saint who was born in Gïlän, Persia about 1077 A.D. and reportedly died about 1166 A.D. (470-561 A.H.). As a youth he was exceptional in truthfulness, patience, insight, and asceticism. After travelling to Baghdad and mastering the study of the Qur'an religious laws, and the traditions of the Prophet (Sal.), he withdrew into meditation for eleven years, after which in a vision God gave him the name Muhyiddïn (reviver of pure faith). His simple, clear, and subtle discourses on wisdom, conduct and purity, and the compassionate care with which he humbly welcomed all who sought him, combined with the many miracles and visions experienced by those who sought his aid, led to his being called Ghauthul-A'zam (the supreme saintly helper) and Qutbul-Aqtäb (Qutb of all Qutbs).
3. These are some of the eleven causal names bestowed upon
Muhammad (Sal.) by Allah before the Prophet was manifested.
For further explanations see the book 'Asmä'ul Husnä: The 99 Beautiful Names of God, by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen.
4. Divine analytic wisdom, the wisdom which explains; that
which measures the length and breadth of the seven oceans of the nafs, or base
desires; that which awakens all the truths which have been destroyed and buried
in the ocean of maya; that which awakens true ïmän (absolute
faith, certitude, and determination); that which explains to the hayät,
to life, the state of purity as it existed in awwal, the beginning of creation;
the grace of the dhät, the essence of God, which awakens the
hayät of purity and transforms it into the divine
Qutb is also a name which has been given to Allah. He can be addressed as Yä Qutb or Yä Quddüs, the Holy One. Quddüs is His wiläyat, His power or miracle, while Qutb is His action. Wiläyat is the power of that action. Lit.: Axis, axle, pole, pivot. Also, a title used for the great holy men of Islam.