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FAITH, PRACTICE and PIETY

BOOK REVIEW

 

FAITH, PRACTICE and PIETY- An Excerpt from the Maktubat.

Original by the Great Mujaddid Ahmad Sirhindi.

Introduced, Translated and Annotated by Irshad Alam.

Published by Irshad Alam, Sufi Peace Mission, 4A, Gulshan Avenue, Gulshan-2, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh. Pp.186, 2006.

Reviewed by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph.D., President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc., 7102 W. Shefford Lane, Louisville, KY 40242-6462. Website: WWW.IRFI.ORG

This book is a translation of a Maktub or epistle (epistle # 266, Volume I ) from the Maktubat of the Great Mujaddid Ahmad Sirhindi.  This epistle was written to the two sons of Khwaja Baqibillah who was the Sufi Shaykh of Hazrat  Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi. The names of the two sons were: Khwaja Abdullah and Khwaja Ubaidullah. Here the Mujaddid explains the necessary duties of Islam in the light of the Hadith Report, "Islam is knowledge, practice and piety ('Ilm, 'Aml, 'Ihsan)- hence the title of the book.

The author of this book is the great Mujaddid (Renewer of Islam) Ahmad Sirhindi (died in Delhi in 1624 CE), who was the Mujaddid for the second Millennium Hijri (Mujaddid-I-Alfi Thani). His full name was Badr al-Din Abu al-Barakat al-Faruqi and was born on 14th Shawwal in 971 Hijri(1564 CE).  He created the Mujaddidi-Naqshbandi Tariqah by taking the old archaic Naqshbandi Tariqah as its base and adding the transmissions (nisbat)  of Qadri, Chishti and many other Tariqahs and the unique perfections that Allah granted him. The Mujaddid wrote one big book, the Maktubat-I-Imam-i-Rabbani or the Epistles, as well as seven monographs. They form the main body of knowledge of the Tariqah.

The first requirement  on every Muslim is to bring faith in the creed of the mainstream Muslim community. Therefore the first discussion by  Mujaddid Ahmad Sirhindi focuses on the articles of creed of this community. The second requirement is to practice the "practice of Islam".  Here the great Mujaddid argues on how to properly perform Wudu (ablution) and Salat (prayer) which are  the primary obligatory practices in Islam. The third requirement is to practice "Ihsan" with the proper piety so that God and God alone is the object of our worship.  According to Mujaddid Ahmad Sirhindi that Sufism comes in hand as a "technique" to realize the proper piety ('Ihsan).

The great Mujaddid then discusses the practices of the Mujaddidi-Naqshbandi Sufi Tariqa. The word "Naqshband" stands for  two ideas: naqsh which means "engraving" and suggests engraving the name of Allah in the heart, and band which means "bond" and indicates the link between the individual and his Creator. This means that the Naqshbandi follower has to practice his prayers and obligations according to the Glorious Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and to keep the presence and love of Allah alive in his/her heart through a personal experience of the link between himself/herself  and his/her Lord.

The Mujaddid proves that the deviant practices such as loud Zikr (Dhikr), singing (with musical instruments), dancing, etc. contravenes the laws of this Tariqa.  And admonishes (to advise or caution)  his master's sons for practicing them.

Professor Giv Nassiri wrote ".. this is the only translation of an entire long epistle of Maktubat I- Imam-I Rabbani translated directly from Persian to English."

 In the beginning the book covers the life and writings of  Mujaddid Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi and Preamble: Ode to Khwaja Baqibillah.

 

As per the title, the Book has three parts. Part I is titled Faith, Part II is titled Practice and Part  III is titled Piety.  The books ends with Technical Terms and Endnotes.

 

Sufi Irshad Alam has produced a remarkable, fascinating and challenging translation of a part  of the Maktubat-I-Imam-I Rabbani.  In  translating from Persian to English Sufi Irshad Alam has overcome the  difficulties of  this  great task and has enabled the reader to gain approach to  some of the meanings of Imam-I Rabbani. Sufi Irshad Alam   needs to be  commended for his meticulous and painstaking   translation  that produced this book. This book gives  insights  into the Original work  done by the Great Mujaddid Ahmad Sirhindi. This book is concise and up to the point covering a  lot of material  that is  unknown to  ordinary Muslims, as well as scholars.

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