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Shaykh al-Alawî - Intimate Supplication - Foreword by Muhammad Suheyl Umar
English - Articles written
Écrit par Ahmad al-Alawî   
Samedi, 29 Décembre 2012 14:28
Index de l'article
Shaykh al-Alawî - Intimate Supplication
Foreword by Muhammad Suheyl Umar
A word from the translator Abdul-Majid Bhurgri
The Shaykh Ahmad Ben Mustafa al-Alawî by Abdul-Majid Bhurgri
Blessing of Crown
Intimate Supplication
Toutes les pages




Commenting on the Qur’anic mention of two pairs of Paradises, a great Sufi authority of our times had remarked, “… since all the Paradises are within the aura of the divine Essence there can be no sense of deprivation when Union gives way to a certain differentiation of Spirits.” Otherwise expressed, the marvelous presences which are to be encountered are too eloquent manifestations of the Divine Essence itself to give rise to anything but joyous wonderment. But here below Saints are no longer in the Paradise of Eden, and as things are and have been throughout historic times, the sense of separation from God and the return to the intrusive imperfections of this lower world can be overwhelming, despite the certitude of the Saint that the state of Union cannot be lost and that every apparent absence is within the framework of Presence. The soul spontaneously seeks a means of relief, and the chief means, needless to say is prayer. Another means of relief, not altogether unconnected with prayer, is “to give birth to a poem.” A parallel and no less frequent means of relief is “supplication” (munajat).


In a civilization that did not promote the writing down of inner experiences and in which autobiography was a relatively rare genre of literature, it is difficult to find windows into peoples’ souls. However, there is one genre of writing where people do open themselves up; not to others, but to God. This is “supplication” (munajat), the personal calling upon God. Supplications voice the concerns that Muslims have in trying to establish a right relationship with God; and it is rooted in the Prophetic practice being an important subgenre already in the Hadith literature. Many of the Prophet’s personal prayers were remembered and written down. In many cases, he taught others how to call upon God, and in other cases, people heard him repeating the same prayer on several occasions and memorized it. All this was meticulously recorded and in later Islamic tradition gave rise to a vast body of literature known as “supplication” (munajat) which provides unparalleled insight into the world of Muslim personal relationships with God and which has been loved as one of the great poetic assets of Muslim devotional life and supreme treasures of Sufism.


The recitation of the supplications that have been transmitted from the Prophet and other great Muslims is also one way for people to imitate their predecessors in talking with God and in trying to establish the right attitudes toward God. In addition, they may feel that they are establishing a personal nearness to the author of the prayers.


One of the first things that one notices in reading supplications is that the abstract language and the typical perspective of early Muslim theological writings are totally lacking. God is not a distant monarch who simply issues commands to his slaves and expects them to be obeyed.


Quite the contrary, He is present with the worshiper, listening to the supplications, and responding to them. Does He not say in the Qur’an, “Supplicate Me, and I will respond to you” (40: 60)? The God of supplication is, in short, a God who is conceived predominantly in terms of nearness and tashbih. It is a God to whom people can relate through love and intimacy. This is a God who is concerned with every detail of human life. People cannot have two domains, one for unimportant things that God does not care about, and another for God’s affairs: Tawhid demands that God cares about all human affairs.


In many forms of modern Islam, the depth of the personal relationship with God that is encouraged by the Qur’an and the Islamic tradition is pushed into the background. This is natural as soon as we remember that modernist Islam typically stresses the rational side of Islamic teachings, partly as an apologetic device to fend off Western criticisms of Islam, and partly as a theological principle to allow the integration of modern forms of knowledge—technology in particular—into Islamic countries. We must always remember that theological rationality, by its very nature, stresses incomparability (tanzih) and hence the impersonal and distant sides of God’s reality. Nevertheless, supplication still plays a major role in the religious life of Muslims, especially those who have not had the traditional worldview altered by modern education. In keeping with the earliest examples, supplication is eminently personal and allows people to see their intimate relationship with God in every dimension of life.


The unusual and absorbing texts of supplications (munajat), selected and translated from the Arabic in this volume, come from the pen of “A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century”, Shaykh Ahmad al-‘Alawi whose sanctity recalled the golden age of medieval mystics. It is a valuable document not only for students of Islam but for all who are attracted to spiritual matters and may serve as a key to a deeper understanding of Islam as a whole and of Muslim piety and spiritual life in particular.

Muhammad Suheyl Umar
Director Iqbal Academy . Lahore, Pakistan.



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