History is witness to the fact that khanqahs have always played most important role in reformation of society. Moreover, in the field of preaching, system of khanqah has been most successful in comparison to other preaching institutions. This is because the Saints in khanqah are blessed with beautiful attributes and spirituality of Holy Prophet. Hence, their spiritually effective and inspiring personality attracts non-Muslims towards Islam and Muslims towards betterment of character. Other institutions are mostly led by scholars who only have outward knowledge of religion. They can only inform about dos and don’ts of religion through sermons. Contrarily, Saints inculcate desirable traits replacing undesirable habits through their spiritually empowered sight. Scholars only prescribe remedies of spiritual diseases whereas Saints actually cure them.
Khanqahs provide persuasion of highest purpose i.e. closeness to Allah through spiritual elevation. Here, the Shaikh blesses his disciples with purgation of innerself and enlightenment of soul. Resultantly, their inward illuminates and relation with Allah strengthens so much so that angels envy them. Its outward effects are character elevation, enhancement of unity and goodwill and elimination of evil from society.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says;
- In madrasah, Allah is known through knowledge whereas in khanqah Allah is recognized through Divine love.
- In khanqah, the innerselves of seekers are purged by virtue of the company of perfect spiritual guide. Satan cannot enter the premises of this sacred place.
ROLE OF KHANQAHS
System of khanqah never faced downfall. Following the Holy Prophet pbuh, the Shaikhs of Sufi orders have made khanqahs in various parts of world. Since then the Sufi institutions have been spreading like a web. The expansion and widespread of khanqahs and preachers has only led to the massive spread of Islam. A large number of people converted to Islam owing to the greatness of khanqahs.
Khanqahs have always been a source of quenching spiritual thirst for seekers of Allah who are present in every era. Even the kings and royals have been visiting khanqah of Dervishes for beneficence and assistance. The worldly people, when face problems, rush toward Saints for prayer and help. Hence, khanqahs have been beneficial for everyone in every era. Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says;
- Of all the religious movements in history of Islam, the movement of spiritual orders has been the strongest, most credible and successful as well as having long lasting effects. This is because it is related with inward i.e. with gnosis and nearness to Allah which directly touch the soul. Islam has an esoteric and an exoteric aspect. Sharia is exoteric while mysticism is esoteric aspect that leads to the path of Divine reality and gnosis of Allah.
IMPORTANCE OF COMPANY OF SPIRITUAL GUIDE
Grandeur and sacredness of khanqah is by virtue of perfect spiritual guide who is the beloved of Allah. His company is the real source of spiritual elevation. That is why, Allah has commanded in Quran to acquire company of His chosen men:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ کُوۡنُوۡا مَعَ الصّٰدِقِیۡنَ
Meaning: O believers! Adopt piety and remain in the company of the truthful (9:119)
وَّ اتَّبِعۡ سَبِیۡلَ مَنۡ اَنَابَ اِلَیَّ
Meaning: Follow him who adopts the path of turning to Me. (31:15)
اَلرَّحۡمٰنُ فَسۡـَٔلۡ بِہٖ خَبِیۡرًا
Meaning: Allah is most Kind. (O aspirant to His gnosis) Ask of Him someone who has attained to His awareness. (25:59)
فَسۡـَٔلُوۡۤا اَہۡلَ الذِّکۡرِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ
Meaning: So, (O people,) if you do not know, ask the people of invocation. (21:7)
Allah has ordered to ask ا اَہۡلَ الذِّکۡرِ i.e. the people of invocation not the people of knowledge. People of invocation are Saints while people of knowledge are scholars. Allah explicitly commands to stay in the company of people who remember Him perpetually through invocation;
وَ اصۡبِرۡ نَفۡسَکَ مَعَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَدۡعُوۡنَ رَبَّہُمۡ بِالۡغَدٰوۃِ وَ الۡعَشِیِّ یُرِیۡدُوۡنَ وَجۡہَہٗ
Meaning: Stay tenaciously in the company of those who invoke their Lord morning and evening, ardently seeking (vision of) His countenance. And do not turn your eyes away from them. (18:28)
Many Hadiths impress upon the need of acquiring company of spiritual guide;
اَلرَّفِیْقُ ثُمَّ الطَّرِیْقُ
Meaning: First find a companion then set on a journey.
لَا دِیْنَ لِمَنْ لَّا شَیْخَ لَہٗ
Meaning: One who has no Shaikh (spiritual guide) has no faith.
مَنْ لَّاشَیْخَ یَتَّخِذُہُ الشَّیْطَان
Meaning: One who has no Shaikh, Satan surrounds him.
Once, the Holy Prophet pbuh was asked that which friend is better. He replied, “The one whose vision reminds you of Allah and whose conversation enhances your good deeds.”
He also said:
اَلشَّیْخُ فِیْ قَوْمِہٖ کَنَبِیٍّ فِیْ اُمَّتِہٖ
Meaning: A Shaikh among his disciples is like a Prophet among his nation.
مَنْ مَّاتَ وَ لَیْسَ فِیْ عُنْقِہٖ بَیْعَۃٌ مَاتَ مَیْتَۃً جَاھِلِِیَّۃً
Meaning: One who died in the state that he has not taken oath of allegiance to spiritual guide, he died as an ignorant. (Musllim-4793)
INCIDENT FROM LIFE OF PROPHET ENDORSING IMPORTANCE OF COMPANY OF SPIRITUAL GUIDE
Hanzala ibn Abi Amir relates that once he met Abu Bakr Siddiq on the way. Abu Bakr asked him, “How are you Hanzala?” Hanzala replied, “I have turned hypocrite!” Abu Bakr said surprisingly, “What are you saying!” Hanzala explained, “When we are in the company of Prophet and he tells us about the hell and heaven, it feels as if we are seeing them with our eyes. However, when we leave his company and go back to our homes, we forget all this. And get occupied with our family and business.” Abu Bakr said, “By God, same is my condition.”
Both of them went to the Holy Prophet and explained their state. The Holy Prophet replied, “I swear by Allah Who holds authority upon my life! If your state always remains the same, as it is when you are in my company and during the assembly of dhikr, the angels would shake hand with you on your ways and in your bedrooms. However, O Hanzala! One is blessed with this state occasionally.” He repeated this thrice.