Contents > Chapter 9: Knowledge of the Ghayb (Unseen) > Tasawwur-e-Shaikh



This is another concept related to knowledge and Sufism. Accordingly, a Sufi’s entire concentration is focused upon his Shaikh, to the extent of that he experiences the presence of his Shaikh at all times.


Tawajjuh and Tasawwur-e-Shaikh are similar concepts. In Tawajjuh, the Shaikh miraculously transfers his knowledge to his disciples (Mureeds) simply by concentrating upon them. In Tasawwur-e-Shaikh, the Mureed receives knowledge from his Shaikh miraculously by performing concentration exercise. Tasawwur-e-Shaikh or concentration exercises too have been borrowed from the Buddhist hermits and Hindu mystics.


1. It is mentioned in Arwah-e-Thalathah, Khan Sahib said that once Hazrat (Rasheed Ahmad) Gungohi was in an ecstatic state and the issue was of Tasawwur-e-Shaikh. He (Rasheed Ahmad Gungohi) asked, “Should I say?’ He was asked to speak. He again asked, ‘Should I say?’ He was asked to speak. He asked for the third time, ‘Should I say it?’ He was asked to speak. So he said, “For three complete years Hazrat Imadad’s (Imdadullah Muhajir Makki) face remained in my heart and I did not do anything without asking him first.” Then he got further excited, he said: “Should I say it?’ He was asked to speak. He said: “(For some) years Hazrat Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) remained in my heart, and I did not do anything without asking him first.” Saying that he got further excited. He asked, “Should I say it?’ He was asked to speak. But he remained silent. When people insisted that he should speak further, he declined them.”[1] 


It can only be imagined what was coming next!


2. From Malfoozat Hakim al-Ummat, “Once he (Ashraf Ali Thanvi) said, there are such pious people that they constantly see the Messenger of Allah. When Suyooti heard a narration, he would know whether it was a Hadeeth or not. Someone asked (how does he do so), so he (Suyooti) replied, ‘after listening the Hadeeth, I look towards the Prophet’s face. If he is joyous, I understand it to be a Hadeeth and if his face is gloomy then I know it’s not a Hadeeth.”[2]


Even the Sahabah, who were close to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) did not have the privilege for being in constant touch with him after his death. They had to suffice with the knowledge that they received from him during his lifetime. Umar Ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) was one of the closest companions of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), to the extent that Ali Ibn Talib (radhi allahu anhu) would very often hear the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) say, “I, Abu Bakr and Umar went (somewhere). I, Abu Bakr and Umar entered (somewhere). I, Abu Bakr and Umar went out.”[3] However, Umar’s (radhi allahu anhu) contact with Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) ended with his (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) death and Umar always regretted that he could not ask the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) about certain issues of Riba and inheritance. Once, he said in his sermon, while on the pulpit of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), “I wish Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) had not left us before he had given us definite verdicts concerning three matters, which are; how much a grandfather may inherit? The inheritance of Al-Kalala (the deceased person among whose heirs there is no father or son), and various types of Riba (usury)”[4]


Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was asked, ‘Who is the most beloved person to you.’ To which he replied, ‘Aa’ishah.’[5] But after the death of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) there was no transmission of guidance from Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) to Aa’ishah (radhi allahu anha). Qais Ibn Abu Hazm narrated that when Aa’ishah (radhi allahu anha) reached the place of Hawab. She heard the barking of dogs, she said: “I think I should return back. Indeed, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: ‘Who is it among you, upon whom the dogs of al-Hawab will bark!’ So, Zubar (radhi allahu anhu) said: ‘Will you return back! It is close that Allah may cause agreement between the people, because of you.”[6] These are the events leading to fighting between the Muslims, and Aa’ishah (radhi allahu anha) always regretted that she had not returned. This is a good example of how the companions referred to the sayings of Allah’s Messenger (i.e. the Hadeeth) for guidance after his death. They knew that in the Barzakh the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) could neither be communicated with nor could he be sought for guidance.

[1] Arwah-e-Thalathah p.265 (Published by Daarul-Ishaat (Karachi) Compiled by Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (no: 1976) story no: 306 and Tazkirat ar-Rasheed (a biography of Rasheed Ahmad Gungohi by Aashiq Ilaahi Merathi) vol.2, p.197.

[2] Malfoozat Hakim al-Ummat (Urdu) vol.7, p.109-110, Malfooz (saying) no. 171.

[3] Saheeh al-Bukharee, vol.5, p.25, no.34.

[4] Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) vol.7, no.493.

[5] Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.), vol.5, p.9, no.14.

[6] Musnad Ahmad.