Hakim al Umma Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) is most likely the “Mujaddid” of the fourteenth century hijrah. In addition to almost more than thousand publications encompassing various aspects of Islam, he left behind himself approximately 250 individuals (khulafa) who had been trained thoroughly and could lead others on the path of Tasawwuf.
All of these khulafa were like guiding stars leading people to the path of perfection. They came from all walks of life. Many were religious scholars, some physicians, some other professionals/government servants and few lay people. All served the religion to their utmost. However, some outshined others. Hazrat Dr. Abdul Hayy Arifi ra is one of them. Having had the opportunity of being in attendance to his Sheikh for a long duration he benefited a lot and absorbed Hakeemul Ummat ra’s specific manner, style, elegance, states and tastefulness regarding the path (tareeq) thoroughly.
Early Life & Education
Being a descendant of Sayiddena Abu Bakr as-Siddique radhi Allahu anhu, he was born in conservative middle class family in Uttar Pradesh, India in 1316/1898. At seven years of age he completed the Holy Quran and started school. Eventually he graduated in 1923 from MAO College, at Aligarh. Furthermore, he studied law at Lucknow University earning the certification for L.L.B.
From 1926 till 1935 he practiced law at various places. However, due to certain reasons he had to terminate his law career. He studied Homeopathic Medicine in 1936 and continued to practice it till his death in 1986 at Karachi.
Relationship with Hakeemul Ummat ra
Hazrat Dr. Abdul Hayy Arifi ra had been in contact with Hakeemul Ummat Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi ra since 1917. At that time his paternal grandmother and some other family members had become mureed of Hazrat Thanwi ra. However, it was from 1923 (at 25 years of age) that Dr. Abdul Hayy ra himself started serious efforts of islah (self reformation). In 1927 he became a mureed<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>. This relationship developed and matured over time till the death of Hakeemul Ummat Mawlana Ashraf Ali sahib ra in 1943.
During this duration he corresponded regularly with his Sheikh on matters relating to tareeq (path)<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>. He visited Thana Bhawan often to be in company of his Sheikh. His sincerity, enthusiasm and devotion for islah and taqwa soon gained Hakeemul Ummat ra’s attention. In 1935 received the khilafat (license) to initiate and train others.
ذکر ان کا چھیڑ کر دیکھے کوئی اے عارفی
بے خودی کیا چیز ہے وارفتگی ہو تی ہے کیا
After the passing away of Hakeemul Ummat ra’s Hazrat Arifi ra maintained close ties with his senior khulafa, like Khawaja Azizul Hasan majzoob, Mawlana Abdul Ghani Phulpuri, Mufti Mohammad Shafi’, Allama Sayyid Suleman Nadwi and Baba Najam Ahsan rehmatullah alehey ajmaeen.
Out living all these shuyukh, in his last years Hazrat Arifi ra seems to have been selected by Allah SWT for propagating His message and performing the Prophetic task of ‘tazkiya’ (cleansing the morals from blame worthy traits and developing praise worthy characteristics).
Many people around the world benefited from him. His advice and counseling guided many stray, deviant or perplexed individuals towards Allah SWT’s pleasure seeking life. And many fortunate persons gained a perpetual, sustainable and mutually congenial relationship with Allah SWT (nisbat-e-batini) under his close supervision and training.
Hazrat Arifi ra lived a very active life till the end. He demonstrated exemplary punctuality for his routine. He attended his clinic regularly. There he had a daily brief gathering for the seekers (talibeen). A weekly meeting was reserved for those traversing the sulook and another majlis was for the general masses. He also served as the nazim (Superior-in command) of Darul Uloom Karachi during his last years.
Having lived a productive life Hazrat Arifi ra breathed his last after a brief illness on Rajab 1406 (27 March 1986) at Karachi. His janazah prayer was led by Sayyidi wa sanadi Mawlana Mohammad Taqi Usmani sahib db. He was buried in the graveyard of Darul Uloom.
Summarizing Hazrat Arifi’s teachings Sidi wa sanadi Hazrat Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani sahib db said: The outstanding feature of Hazrat’s training was that he delivered individuals from the fear of strenuous struggles and feats (assumed to be necessary to attain relationship with Allah SWT). He gave them hope. Bringing about a change in their thought process (that is, every action is done for the pleasure of Allah SWT) using succinct advice. <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
Here we provide few samples of those advices:
1. Sidi wa sanadi Hazrat Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani sahib db said: My Sheikh (Arifbillah Dr. Abdul Hayy Arifi ra) used to tell us, “Talk to Allah SWT”
Tell Him, “O Allah! I was involved in all these bad deeds, now I have taken the step to reform. Some of the sins I gave up but giving up the rest of them is becoming difficult for me due to the overpowering by my lower-self (nafs), shaytan, environment and my circumstances.
You alone can remove these overwhelming factors. It is not within my capability to do so. O Allah! Please, remove these crushing obstacles or else do not reprimand me in hereafter regarding them.”
2. Instructions for good means: to tell someone a beneficial thing for his advantage. If this well-wishing intention is not there then it is arrogance (kibr) (and not amr bil ma’ruf).<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
3. The Four Marvelous Gems:
Arif billah Dr. Abdul Hayy Arifi ra pointed out that any given moment in a salik’s (person traversing the path) life only four states can exist. They are;
- Either, he is happy and content from his present situation, or
- He is unhappy and distressed by things happening against his wishes, or
- He is guilty of a mistake or a sin committed, or
- He is worried about anticipated future mishaps or disasters
There can not be a fifth sate.
For each of these if he develops the habit of practicing the following he will be in a perpetual state of remembrance.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>1. <!–[endif]–>For first state, he thanks Allah SWT for these bounties. Bearing in mind that he did not deserved them and it was only the mercy of Allah SWT to grant them. And Allah SWT is capable of taking them away at any time. This is thankfulness (shukkur).
<!–[if !supportLists]–>2. <!–[endif]–>For the second, he is patient. He understands that Allah SWT knows what’s best for him and He decides accordingly. I with my limited knowledge, insight and experience can not decide this. This is Patience (sabr).
<!–[if !supportLists]–>3. <!–[endif]–>For the mistake, he repents. Fulfilling the three criteria for repentance. That are, he is remorseful, he leaves the sin immediately and finally he pledges never to commit it again. This is Repentance (taubah).
<!–[if !supportLists]–>4. <!–[endif]–>Finally for the future worries he takes refuge in Allah SWT. Asking His help and protection for such calamity. This is taking refuge (istiaza).
One who develops the routine of practicing these praise worthy actions appropriately, he is in constant contact with Allah SWT.
4. An individual enthusiastically informed Hazrat Arif-billah Dr. Abdul Hayy Arifi ra that by Allah SWT’s grace he had attained the station of Ihsan. That is, worshipping Allah SWT as though you see Him and if that is not possible as though He sees you.
Hazrat Arifi qaddas sirrahu congratulated and encouraged him. And then inquired that if this ihsan was attained only in namaz or it was also present at other times, like dealing with house hold members especially wife.
The individual looked in bewilderment and informed that he thought this ihsan was only meant to be limited to namaz.
Hazrat Arifi ra explained to the audience in detail that this is a common mistake. We tend to limit deen to formal acts of worship (ibadaat). Our all other activities seem to be independent of the fact that each and every moment of our life we are as much a slave of Allah SWT as in namaz.
The genuine ihsan is perpetual. The slave is aware that he is being watched and he will be accountable for whatever he does. Hence, he has utmost respect and does not do any thing inappropriate.
5. Special effort should be made to keep a beautiful attitude towards one’s wife.
She has adopted your companionship leaving her parents, siblings and other close relatives. You have to compensate her for all these caring relationships by loving her dearly.
If you are patient on anything hurtful from her you will be rewarded (by Allah SWT). Her inappropriate attitude can not be corrected by your anger and wrath. The best way to achieve that is to control your anger completely at that moment. And some time later (at an appropriate occasion) gently and with compassion let her know the mistake she made. (With this approach) even if she has a grain of aptitude for correction, she will accept your counsel and reform herself.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
6. There is a physical puberty and similarly there is a spiritual puberty.
It is difficult to realize the exact timing of the physical puberty. However, it is the natural human phenomenon that a time comes when this stage is reached and functions associated with it start appearing. Similar is case with spiritual puberty.
Body needs food and nutrition for growth and development to reach the physical puberty.
In the same way spirit needs nutrition for its growth and eventual puberty.
What is this food & nutrition for the spirit?
It is being thoroughly steadfast on mustahabbat (recommendable), nawafil (optional extra) works and excessive zikir (remembrance) (i.e. after fulfilling faraiz, wajibat and sunun to the best of one’s ability).
If these are provided, the spirit (batin) continues to nourish and grow. Eventually a stage is reached when the capabilities of heart and spirit are so developed that the Salik (traveler on the path of sulook) attains spiritual puberty. In other words it can be expressed as nisbat-e-batini (ta’luq ma’ Allah/Love of Allah SWT) is achieved. This bounty is a pure gift from Allah SWT and is not dependent on salik’s own effort.
Shirkat e bazam muhasir un kay karam per hay magar
Meri jabeen to ho chuki waqaf e neyaz e sang e dar
7. “Shaytan has three ‘ع’ (the Arabic letter ‘ain (. Meaning that
- He is a devout worshipper (‘abid( عابد [prayed for thousands of years prior to slipping]
- He is a tremendous scholar (‘alimعالم) [Former teacher/instructor of other angles]
- He is a great Gnostic (‘arif/عارف) [Evident by his attitude at the time of Allah SWT’s wrath. He knew that if he makes a request even at this moment of fall it will be accepted]
But he lacks the fourth ‘ainع ’. That is, he is not a true lover ((عاشق. If he had been a true lover he would have surely prostrated (to Hazrat Adam alehes salaam, on Allah SWT’s order without any reservations. The lover does as the Beloved commands!)
Brothers! We neither want to be mere worshippers nor only Gnostics.
We only want to be sincere lovers.
We want to be true lovers; because it is due to this that our bond and relationship with Allah SWT can never be cut off.
And for this, Allah SWT has told us to follow the example of His beloved messenger salallaho alehey wa ‘alehi wasalam. For whoever follows his noble example he becomes Allah SWT’s beloved.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>
In addition to eighteen homeopathic medicine publications, he compiled the following books:
- Uswa-e-Rasool e Akram salallaho alehey wasalam: This is a practical manual or a hand book. It details all the Sunnah of Holy Prophet salallaho alehey wasalam. Making the following of Sunnah simple.
- Maasir e Hakeemul Ummat ra: This is a biography of Hakeemul Ummat Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi ra. It portrays Hakeemul Ummat ra’s specific manner, style, elegance, states and tastefulness regarding the path (tareeq) thoroughly in a unique way. An essential reading for all.
- Basair e Hakeemul Ummat ra: This is a text book of Tasawwuf. It is compilation of extracts from the marvelous works of Hakeemul Ummat ra. Absolutely indispensable for each and every Salik.
- Ma’arif e Hakeemul Ummat ra: Another compilation from Hakeemul Ummat ra’s unique and important teachings.
- Jawahir e Hakeemul Ummat ra: Another compilation from Hakeemul Ummat ra’s unique and important teachings particularly related to Tasawwuf.
- Islahul Muslimeen: Another compilation from Hakeemul Ummat ra’s unique and important teachings especially related to implementing deen fully in contemporary westernized society.
- Fihrist talefat e Hakeemul Ummat ra: A detailed list of all the 1072 publications of Hakeemul Ummat Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi ra.
- Ihkam e mayyit: Detailed rulings on matters related to terminal illness, death, burial etc. as per Hanafi fiqh. Reviewed and authenticated by Mufti Rafi’ Usmani db.
- Ma’amoolat e yomiya wa muktasar nisab e islah: A daily program (wird) and a concise syllabus for reformation. An essential primer for mureedeen.
- Seerat conferenso kay leay lamha fikeria: A sincere and solemn admonition for the contemporary gatherings held, particularly in month of Rabiulawal to discuss the life of Holy Prophet salallaho alehey wasalam. It particularly identifies the lack of serious devotion in such events. As is witnessed by open ridicule of the explicit teachings of the Holy Prophet salallaho alehey wasalam in these very events.
- Intabah khusoosi: Based on the command of Holy Prophet salallaho alehey wasalam to a pious person in repeated dreams, another serious advice for abandoning the prevalent sins and transgressions and repenting sincerely.
- Sihba-e-sukhan: Urdu poetry. Verses reflecting the experiences of an insightful, true traveler on the path. Speech of yearning heart of a pure devotee and sincere lover of Allah SWT.
یہ مرے اشعار یہ ضربات قلب بے قرار
ہیں مرے وجدان حسن و عشق کے آئینہ دار
Mawlana Mohammad Rafi’ Usmani db and Mawlana Mohammad Taqi Usmani db are among the most outstanding khulafa<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–> of Hazrat Arifi ra. Allah SWT preserve them and allows us to benefit from them abundantly. Ameen!
All in Urdu
- Sawanih wa talema’t e Hazrat Arifi by Sayyed Riazuddin sahib, Idaratul ma’arif, Karachi
- Monthly, Albalagh, (Arifi memorable issue), Maktaba e Darul Uloom, Karachi
- Sukoon e qalb, janab Wasil Usmani sahib
- Malfoozat e Arifi, Mawlana Manzoorul Hussaini sahib
- Islahi Khutbat, Sayyidi wa sanadi Mawlana Mohammad Taqi Usmani sahib db