“The Sweetness of Life”
Shaykh Abu Madyan al-Tilmasani (may Allah have mercy upon him) said:
ما لَذَّةُ العيش إلا صحبةُ الفُقرَا
هم السَّلاطينُ والسَّاداتُ و الأُمَرَا
1. The sweetness of life is only tasted in the companionship of the fuqara’
They are the sultans, the lords and rulers.
فاصحَبهمُ وتأدَّب في مجالسِهم
وخلِّ حظَّك مهما قدَّموكَ ورَا
2. So keep their company and have etiquette in their gatherings
And cast away any desire for personal gain, even if they honour you
و استَغنمِ الوقتَ واحضُر دائماً معهم
واعلم بأنّ الرّضى يختَصّ من حضرا
3. Profit from your time and be constantly in their presence
And know that (Divine) pleasure is solely for those present
ولازِمِ الصَّمتَ إلاّ إن ئ سُلتَ فقل
لا علمَ عندي، وكُن بالجَهلِ مُستَتِرَا
4. Be constantly silent, unless you are questioned, in which case say:
“No knowledge have I,” and conceal yourself with ignorance
ولا تَرَ العَيبَ إلاَّ فيكَ مُعتَقِدًا
عيباً بدا بيِّنًا لكنَّه اسْتَتَرا
5. Do not witness deficiencies in other than yourself, and believe
Your deficiencies to be manifest, although they have been concealed
وحُطَّ رأسَكَ واستغفِر بِلا سببٍ
وقُم على قدمِ الإنصافِ مُعتَذِرَا
6. Lower your head and seek forgiveness without (apparent) cause
Be just in your judgement of yourself and seek pardon
وإن بَدَا منك عَيبٌ فاعترِف وأقِم
وجهَ اعتذارِك عمَّا فيكَ منكَ جَرى
7. If a fault appears in you, acknowledge it
And seek pardon for that which has come forth from within you
وقُل: عُبيدُكمُ أَولَى بِصَفحِكمُ
فسامِحُوا وخُذُوا بالرِّفقِ يا فُقَرا
8. Say: “Your small slave is most worthy of your forgiveness
So excuse me and be gentle with me, O fuqara’!”
هُم بالتَّفضُّلِ أَولى وهو شِيمتهُم
فلا تخَف دَرَكاً مِنهُم ولا ضَرَرا
9. They are truly people of generosity, and it is their nature
So do not fear from them harm or punishment
وبالتَّفَتِّي على الإخوانِ جُد أبدا
ح سا ومعنًى وغُضَّ الطَّرفَ إن عَثَرَا
10. In magnanimity towards the brothers be forever limitless
In things material and spiritual and avert your gaze if one of them stumbles
ورَاقبِ الشَّيخَ في أحوالهِ فعَسى
يُرَى عليكَ مِن استِحسَانِهِ أثَرَا
11. Observe the Shaykh in all his states, perhaps
A trace of his approval will be seen upon you
وقَدِّمِ الجِدَّ وانهَضْ عندَ خِدمَتِهِ
عساهُ يرضَى وحاذِر أنْ تَكُن ضَجِرَا
12. Display earnestness and be eager in his service
Perhaps he will be pleased (with you) and beware of being discontent
فَفِي رِضاهُ رِضَا الباري وطاعتِهِ
يرضَى عَليكَ فَكُن مِن تَركِهَا حَذِرَا
13. For in his pleasure and obedience is the pleasure of the Creator
He is content with you, so beware of leaving it.
واعلَم بأنَّ طريقَ ا ق لومِ دَارِسَةٌ
وحالُ مَن يدَّعِيها اليومَ كيفَ تَرَى
14. Know that the Way of the Folk no longer exists
And that the state of the one who claims to be upon it today is as you see
متى أراهُم وأنَّى لي بِرُؤيَتِهم
أو تسمَعُ الأذنُ منِّي عنهمُ خَبرَا
15. When shall I see them, and how may I see them
Or my ear hear news of them?
مَن لِي وأنَّى لِمثلِي أنْ يزاحمَهم
على مَوارِدَ لَم أُلَفِ بها كَدَرَا
16. Who am I and how can someone like me share with them
In drinking from springs in which I find no impurity?
أُحِبُّهم وأُدارِيهِم وأُوثِرُهم
بِمُهجتِي وخصُوصاً منهمُ نفرَا
17. I love them, seek to please them and prefer them
Over my own self, specifically a group amongst them.
قومٌ كرامُ السَّجايا حيثُما جَلسُوا
يبقَى المكانُ على آثارِهِم عَطِرَا
18. They are a folk noble in character, wherever they sit
That place remains fragrant from their traces
يُهدِي التَّصوُّفُ مِن أخلاقِهم طُرفًا
حُسنُ التَّآلُفِ منهُم رَاقنِي نَظَرا
19. Tasawwuf bestows (upon the seeker) a choice portion of their noble attributes
The intimacy which they display is a joy for me to behold
هُمْ أهلُ وُدِّي وأحبابي الذينَ همُ
مِمّن يجرُّ ذيولَ العِزِّ مُفتَخِرَا
20. They are the ones for whom I reserve my affection, my loved ones
Who proudly bear the honour with which they have been invested.
لا زالَ شَملِي بِهم في اللهِ مُجتمِعًا
وذنبُنا فيهِ مَغفورًا ومُغتَفَرا
21. (I ask) that I am constantly united with them for Allah’s sake
And that our transgressions (against Him) be forgiven and pardoned
ثمَّ الصَّلاةُ على المختارِ سيِّدِنا
محمَّدٍ خيرِ مَن أوفَى ومَن نَذَرَا
22. Then may blessings be bestowed upon the Chosen One, Our Master
Muhammad, the best of those who fulfil their vows.
A Brief Biography of Shaykh Abu Madyan al-Tilmasani
He is Shaykh of Shaykhs, Master of the Gnostics Sayyidi al-Ghawth Abu Madyan Shu`ayb bin al-Hasan.
He was born in Andalus in the sixth century of the Hijra. He worked as a shepherd in his childhood but his thirst for knowledge caused him to leave his home and travel to North Africa. He spent some time in Marrakesh before settling in Fes. Here he studied under the two Imams and gnostics `Ali bin Harazim and Abu Ya`zza al-Hazmiri. The latter would test his resolve until he saw that he was worthy of passing on his knowledge to him. It is also narrated that he met with Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani who invested him with the mantle of the people of tasawwuf.
He was a scholar of the Sacred Law, and when people came to seek his fatwa according to the school of Imam Malik he would reply instantly. He was well versed in hadith, particularly the Jami` of Imam al-Tirmidhi, which he memorised. Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din was his constant companion. He had a public gathering in which he would exhort the people to hold fast to the religion of Allah and seek His pleasure. He said: “the sign of ikhlas (sincerity) is that your witnessing of the Real (Allah) causes you to be unaware of the creation.” He also said: “There is a vast difference between the one whose aspiration is the maidens and palaces of Paradise and between the one who desires that the veils be lifted and to be constantly in the Divine presence.” “The one who knows his own self will not be deluded by the praise of people, and the one who serves the pious will be raised through his service.”
It is recorded that twelve thousand seekers reached knowledge of Allah at the hands of Shaykh Abu Madyan. Among those who learnt from him was the great Shaykh Ibn `Arabi. Shaykh Abu Madyan sent an envoy to Tarim with instructions to invest the “Greatest Master” al-Faqih al-Muqaddam (died 653) him with his khirqa or mantle, symbolising the transmission of spiritual authority. He also instructed his envoy to go to Shaykh Sa`id bin`Isa al-`Amudi (died 671) in Qaydun in the Dow`an Valley to likewise invest him.
Shaykh Abu Madyan finally settled in Bajaya in modern-day Algeria. His influence was such that his students and followers were spread throughout the Maghrib. This was a cause of concern for the Muwahhid sultan of the time, Ya`qub al-Mansur who summoned the Shaykh to his presence. The Shaykh duly prepared to go and meet the Sultan. This was difficult for his students to accept but he promised them that he would not actually meet the Sultan. When he reached the city of Tilmasan he fell ill and it became clear he did not have long left to live. One of his students requested that he give them a farewell counsel. He replied: “Has not my whole life been counsel for you?” Soon after he died and was buried outside Tilmasan in the year 594. His final words were “Allah al-Hayy” (“Allah is the Living”).
Please make dua for the sister who sent this to me.