Discourse given to his Fuqara 17 June 2006

Discourse given to his Fuqara at Masjid al-Mansoor, Constantia, Cape Town, 17 June 2006


Pharaoh said, ‘Who then is your Lord, Musa?’
He said, ‘Our Lord is He Who gives each thing its created form
and then guides it.’
He said, ‘What about the previous generations?’
He said, ‘Knowledge of them is with my Lord in a Book.
My Lord does not misplace nor does He forget.’
Pharaoh said, ‘What is the Lord of all the worlds?’
He said, ‘The Lord of the heavens and the earth
and everything between them if you knew for sure.’
He said, ‘Your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers,
the previous peoples.’
He said, ‘The Lord of the East and the West
and everything between them if you used your intellect.’
He said, ‘Have you really thought about what you worship,
you and your fathers who came before?
They are all my enemies – except for the Lord of all the worlds:
He Who created me and guides me;
He Who gives me food and gives me drink;
and when I am ill, it is He Who heals me;
He Who will cause my death, then give me life;
He Who I sincerely hope will forgive my mistakes
on the Day of Reckoning.
My Lord, give me right judgement and unite me with the Salihun;
and make me highly esteemed among the later peoples;
and make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of Delight;
and forgive my father – he was one of the misguided;
and do not disgrace me on the Day they are raised up,
the Day when neither wealth nor sons will be of any use –
except to those who come to Allah
with sound and flawless hearts.’

(Ta Ha 20:49-52, Ash-Shu‘ara 26:23, 24, 26, 28, 75-89)

* * * * *

What these Ayats are really, are the answers that Sayyiduna Musa gave when questioned about Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, by this Ruler. Now, what is important about this is to understand that when you read Qur’an, you cannot fail to recognise that throughout it Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, tells you about the ancient peoples, He tells you how they collapsed, how they ran down, ran out of steam – how they came to an end. And they came to an end in specific ways that He warns us about.

But the important thing is that Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, is doing two things by telling us this. One is He is giving us the understanding of what is expected of the human creatures under His command, subhanahu wa ta‘ala. They are given a command from Allah, and it is their failure to obey that command which brings about their destruction.

But the other thing you have to see is that what happened in these ancient times that Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, narrates to us through the Qur’an, are things that have immediate meaning for us now, because it is not a history book, it is a Revelation. It is a revealing of how Allah deals with the human creatures, how He deals with people in the world of events throughout all of time. So it goes from an ancient point in the past, but you also have to understand that this is somehow very important to you and to the time you live in.

If you look at it another way, what you could say is that the view in the Qur’an about human events is the exact opposite of what you get when you turn on the news on television. Everything in the news on television is burning – ferocious – hot – moment – this one has been assassinated, these people have been murdered, this government has toppled, the police have crushed the uprising, and so on and so on – all of this urgent immediacy. Every day you are given some new shock. The perspective of the Qur’an is very different. It allows you to look at things with the sense that they themselves take the same place and the same rhythm as happened to these people in ancient times.

Look now at what we see. Look at the beginning:


Pharaoh said, ‘Who then is your Lord, Musa?’
He said, ‘Our Lord is He Who gives each thing its created form
and then guides it.’

You see, the first question of Pharaoh is, ‘Who?’ ‘WHO is your Lord?’ And the answer is an intimate answer, it is He Who gives each thing its created form, and then guides it. Now, if you go back to the Arabic:


He said, ‘Our Lord is He Who gives each thing its created form
and then guides it.’

The word for ‘create’ is ‘khalqahu’, and the word for ‘guide’ is ‘hada’, like ‘huda’. Our Lord is He Who gives each thing its Khalq, its creational form, and then He guides it. Now, Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, does not interfere with the creation, Allah RULES the creation. So the guidance is not something that, as it were, descends, as some idolater would imagine: some god descends and comes to the rescue, or like the ancient Greeks imagined: that the gods would ‘swoop in’ and interfere. It is not like that. These two words are very important:


He said, ‘Our Lord is He Who gives each thing its created form
and then guides it.’

The guidance is already built into the form, do you see? Allah does not interfere with the creation. As Ibn al-Arabi said, ‘Allah rules the creation from inside the creation.’ Remember, a form in the understanding of the Qur’an, and the Sufis’ understanding of the Qur’an which confirms what they find in it, is that a created creature is not something which is created and then that is it finished and made. It is not a creature until it does what that creature does. The bird is the one that sings a beautiful song, knows how to build its nest, knows its mating season, knows how to go from one side of the world to the other side of the world every year – all that is ‘bird’. You have not got a bird until you have the whole process from the moment it comes into the world until the moment it dies. Do you follow?

But this is true of the human being, and this is what we call the Destiny. What is the Ayat in which Allah mentions having tied man’s destiny around his neck?

Shaykh Abdarraheem Abdurrauf: ‘Surat al-Isra, Ayat 13 and 14.’

Recite that ayat:


We have fastened the destiny of every man about his neck
and on the Day of Rising We will bring out a Book for him
which he will find spread open in front of him.
‘Read your Book! Today your own self
is reckoner enough against you!’

Look at the first line:


‘We have fastened the destiny of every man about his neck:’

‘Alzamnahu’ means fastened. The verb is Lazama, which also means to make absolutely compulsory. Go back to what we were looking at:


He said, ‘Our Lord is He Who gives each thing its created form
and then guides it.’

It is He Who gives each thing its created form and then guides it, and that event is that described in the other ayat, which says, ‘We have fastened the destiny of every man about his neck, and on the Day of Rising We will bring out a Book for him.’ So what the Mumin has to understand is that he is created in a form that will make him do what he is going to do. The difference between the kafir and the Mumin is that the Mumin knows, and the kafir knows and cannot bear to look. He covers up.

In the famous Hadith, Rasul, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, was asked that if the camel is going to escape, what is the point of doing anything about it? Rasul’s famous answer, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, was, ‘Tether your camel and have Iman in Allah.’ In other words, you act by the maximum of your intellect, and trust that Allah is going to see that it goes with what your Niyyat is. And if the Niyyat is smashed, then that again goes to another ayat (Al-‘Ankabut, 29:2):


Do people imagine that they will be left to say,
‘We have iman,’ and will not be tested?

The tests are like when you make the sword, you plunge it into red-hot coal and then plunge it into water, and it is the opposites of these events that temper the steel and make it into a sword that can cut. The destiny means you are going to meet these trials, and you are also going to meet these openings and offerings.

Now, a man can be spoiled on getting the good time. Another man can be spoiled because he cannot handle the bad time. The strong Mumin is not distracted by the good times. Ibn Ata’illah says in his Hikam, ‘Days of trial are an ‘Eid for the Sufis.’ It means Allah is paying attention to you, He is forming you, He is making you, He is cooking you! He has given you this form and there is guidance in it. The Mumin takes the guidance, and the ignorant one does not take the guidance. The difference between the Mumin and the kafir is: both know, but the Mumin knows it is from Allah and he accepts that it is from Allah. ‘Alhamdulillahi ‘ala kulli Hal’ – All praise is due to Allah in every state – not just when things are good! Whatever happens, in every state, ‘Alhamdulillah’. Then he has an inner equilibrium.

The first question of Pharaoh is ‘Who?’ And the answer is this devastating reply. The next thing he said is:


He said, ‘What about the previous generations?’
He said, ‘Knowledge of them is with my Lord in a Book.
My Lord does not misplace nor does He forget.’

So Pharaoh asks, ‘What about the previous generations?’ Do you see what is at issue here? These are tremendous matters. The Qur’an is a Revelation, you see, it is not like a pious christian book of prayers, it has knowledge in it, it explains everything about how existence works. Pharaoh asks, ‘What about the previous generations?’ In other words, if this is true about you, what about all of them? And his answer is, ‘Knowledge of them is with my Lord in a Book. My Lord does not misplace nor does He forget.’

Now go back to the second part of the Ayat in Surat al-Isra’:


And on the Day of Rising We will bring out a Book for him
which he will find spread open in front of him.
‘Read your Book! Today your own self
is reckoner enough against you!’

Now you see the tremendous weight of this. What is true about you is true about all the previous peoples. In other words, everybody has gone through this process of test, from the time of Sayyiduna Adam and the two sons of Sayyiduna Adam. One son behaved in one manner, and the other son behaved in another manner. But they were destined to it, they were designed for it.

Every time there is a flood, or a disaster, or a famine, you see all the christians, astaghfirullah, asking, ‘Why does God allow this to happen?’ as if He was supposed to run a tight ship and suddenly things had gone wrong and He was to blame, and it meant He was not compassionate, astaghfirullah! This is ignorance, these are the people who believe that the bread is flesh that the wine is blood. It is primitive stupidity.

What it really means is: if it happened like this, then this is how it was to be. Rasul, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, has said, ‘Famine is next to kufr.’ Darfur – is next to kufr. If you have lost your worship of Allah and your fear of Allah and your Iman in Allah, then you are going to end up with this anarchy. It is not the fault of the government of Sudan, it is not the fault of the government of Mali, or Chad. It is because people have stopped worshipping Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala.

When there is knowledge, people behave differently. A doctor coming on a man bleeding behaves differently from an ignorant person, does he not? Because he knows what to do. But life is like that – and you have to know what to do when these things happen that are the difficulties of life. Shaykh Ibn al-Habib, rahimahullah, said, ‘As far as I am concerned this whole world is a hospital, and the Shuyukh and the Salihun are the doctors and the nurses.’ In other words, the ones who know what to do.

This is what you have to take on. This is what you take on by being Sufis, that you understand this. Part of this is that you cannot find that what is happening inside your own household has a prior importance and intensity and ferocity and seriousness than what is going on with your neighbours and all the rest of the world. Do you follow? You have two things. One is, if there is trouble inside the household, if there is trouble with you at a personal level, ‘We have given each thing its Khalq and We have given it Hada.’ So you say, ‘I must take the guidance. I must put it right. How do I put it right? I have been told how to put it right.’ Rasul, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, said, ‘Anger is fire, if you become angry, water puts out fire – do wudhu, that by the mercy of Allah the anger will leave you.’ It will calm you down. It is something so simple, but no, people lose their tempers, people rush out, and they fight in the household. More terrible things happen inside the household than happen in the battlefields. The guidance is there, but you must take the guidance, you must see that your life is under this – not microscope – but beam, so to speak, of illumination, and you must take benefit from it.

Then, in a sense, it is as if Pharaoh were cornered. So he asks the next question:


Pharaoh said, ‘What is the Lord of all the worlds?’
He said, ‘The Lord of the heavens and the earth
and everything between them if you knew for sure.’

Pharaoh has said ‘Who?’, now he says, ‘What?’ Do you see? He is trying to find a way out. That is because the answer has cornered him. What it has actually done is it has taken his crown away. It has taken his royalty, his majesty away. It has made him a slave, a slave of Allah, it has made him a slave of One that he cannot order and command – One Who orders and commands him. So to get out of it he says:


‘What is the Lord of all the worlds?’

Remember, ‘Rabb’ is almost always used in Qur’an specifically to indicate Allah in His role of governance, in His role of being the One Who orders and commands the universe. Rububiyyat is a term that our fuqaha use to indicate the process by which Allah governs this incredible harmony that we find in nature, how for example all the things in the forest have their balance. The tree is divided into three parts by the people who study these things: the creatures that live at the top of the tree, the creatures who live in the middle of the tree and the creatures who live down on the ground at the base of the tree. These are like three kingdoms; they interact somewhat with one another but they also have their own domain.

It is this harmony of these things that is called Rububiyyat, that they all work together. The hunter and the hunted, all the order in the ocean between the different types and levels of fish, intelligence in the ocean, from the whale to these molluscs and tiny creatures which also have in them an eye, this advanced secret of creation which is that they can see. The oyster has an eye, and the eye is the highest thing of the human creature. All this harmony of existence is Rububiyyat.

Pharaoh says, ‘What is the Lord of all the worlds?’

The answer is:


He said, ‘The Lord of the heavens and the earth
and everything between them if you knew for sure.’

‘Inkuntum muqinin’ – ‘if you knew for sure’. In other words it is a Rububiyyat of all the levels of existence, and he says, ‘if you knew for sure’ because it is a knowledge that is beyond our understanding. A lot of things about the natural order have only been discovered in the last hundred years. We are still finding plants in the Amazon, we are still finding washed-up carcasses of live things from the earliest times; we thought they were creatures of the sea that were extinct, but they are still turning up alive somewhere in some part of the ocean.

In other words, by the extent of your knowledge it is so, but if you knew for sure, the whole thing is like this. There is not any bit of existence that is not under this command.


He said, ‘Your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers,
the previous peoples.’

Again look how important it is: he says, ‘Your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers, the previous peoples.’ In other words every society is under the command of Allah. This transaction has been going on since the beginning of the human species. And then he says:


He said, ‘The Lord of the East and the West
and everything between them if you used your intellect.’

Now he says, ‘The Lord of the East and the West and everything between them if you used your intellect.’ If you do not use your intellect you will be kafir. You will say, ‘I cannot deal with this, I will cover it up,’ which is of course what Pharaoh is about to do, because he cannot handle it. This is a lack of intellect, it is not a superior intellect.

Again, you have to understand the importance of this. The Lord of the East and the West and everything between them if you used your intellect. Now you find you are charged, as Mumin, with this thing. This is what the intellect is for, to understand the nature of the human creature on the face of the planet, in a specific place in a specific time with a destiny round his neck that has to be fulfilled. That is not on the news on television. That is not the viewpoint of democracy. We have no social project. We have obedience to Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, and it is embedded in acts of worship and then in the command to be concerned about other people: the widow, the orphan and so on, as it says in Qur’an.


He said, ‘Have you really thought about what you worship,
you and your fathers who came before?’

Address this to the present-day atheists, and the christians. He said, ‘Have you really thought about what you worship, you and your fathers who came before? Have you thought about it?


‘They are all my enemies – except for the Lord of all the worlds.’

Sayyiduna Musa says this. In other words, worship belongs to Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, and He is the Lord of all the worlds.


‘He Who created me and guides me;
He Who gives me food and gives me drink;
and when I am ill, it is He Who heals me;
He Who will cause my death, then give me life;
He Who I sincerely hope will forgive my mistakes
on the Day of Reckoning.’

He then tells us that Allah is ‘He Who created me and guides me’ – this goes back to the beginning. ‘He Who gives me food and gives me drink. And when I am ill, it is He Who heals me.’ Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was asked when he was ill, ‘Who made you well?’ and he said, ‘The same One Who made me ill.’ This is knowledge as opposed to ignorance.

The next part is, ‘He Who will cause my death, then give me life.’ So the event of death is His command, His decision, His time, His place – in every situation: war, peace, city, desert. ‘He Who I sincerely hope will forgive my mistakes on the Yawn ad-Deen,’ on the Day of the Transaction, on the Day of being presented the bill, of being presented the Book of the Life. When you can say that, then you are on the Sirat al-Mustaqim and you have strong Iman. Sirat al-Mustaqim is not fastening your belt not to be frightened. Sirat al-Mustaqim is knowing this: the food is from Him, drink is from Him, when I am ill He heals me, He will cause my death, and He will give me life, He will raise me up, and then I will come and I will have all this whole record to present to Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala.

Then this wonderful Du‘a:


‘My Lord, give me right judgement and unite me with the Salihun;
and make me highly esteemed among the later peoples;
and make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of Delight;
and forgive my father – he was one of the misguided;
and do not disgrace me on the Day they are raised up,
the Day when neither wealth nor sons will be of any use –
except to those who come to Allah
with sound and flawless hearts.’

So what we are asking for is ‘Qalbin Saleem’, and this is the Maqam of the Ahl as-Sufiyya, to have ‘Qalbin Saleem’. This is why we gather every Saturday, it is to strengthen this inside ourselves and to enrich ourselves in the Dhikr, and in going beyond ourselves in becoming intoxicated in the singing and the recitation of Qur’an.

* * * * *

That is just taken from two Suras, put together to show you, as it were, the answer of Sayyiduna Musa to Pharaoh, and the obvious importance of this, because it repeats itself in different forms to instruct us and to guide us. So we must take benefit from it. In itself it is like a Wazifa which you can recite and which is very beautiful. If someone becomes a new Muslim you could give it to them, because really this is where we are, and that is where all the other people are. This is where we stand, and that is where everyone else stands – somewhere else. But this is where we stand. It is a very good thing for a new Muslim to be given: this is how we answer the people of the world and the forces of the world when they ask their question. This is our answer.


Pharaoh said, ‘Who then is your Lord, Musa?’
He said, ‘Our Lord is He Who gives each thing its created form
and then guides it.’
He said, ‘What about the previous generations?’
He said, ‘Knowledge of them is with my Lord in a Book.
My Lord does not misplace nor does He forget.’
Pharaoh said, ‘What is the Lord of all the worlds?’
He said, ‘The Lord of the heavens and the earth
and everything between them if you knew for sure.’
He said, ‘Your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers,
the previous peoples.’
He said, ‘The Lord of the East and the West
and everything between them if you used your intellect.’
He said, ‘Have you really thought about what you worship,
you and your fathers who came before?
They are all my enemies – except for the Lord of all the worlds:
He Who created me and guides me;
He Who gives me food and gives me drink;
and when I am ill, it is He Who heals me;
He Who will cause my death, then give me life;
He Who I sincerely hope will forgive my mistakes
on the Day of Reckoning.
My Lord, give me right judgement and unite me with the Salihun;
and make me highly esteemed among the later peoples;
and make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of Delight;
and forgive my father – he was one of the misguided;
and do not disgrace me on the Day they are raised up,
the Day when neither wealth nor sons will be of any use –
except to those who come to Allah
with sound and flawless hearts.’


‘Peace!’
A word from a Merciful Lord.

(Yasin 36:57)