This is the second part of the second session of a monthly series on the commentary of the Qasidah Burdah delivered by Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa in Nottingham.
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
All praise to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. And salutations and greetings upon our Master Muhammad and upon his family and companions.
I intend to study and teach, take and give a reminder, take and give benefit, take and give advantage, to encourage the holding fast to the book of Allah and the way of His messenger, and calling to guidance and directing towards good hoping for the countenance of Allah and His pleasure, proximity and reward, transcendent is He.
Or you see another great companion, Sayyidina Usayd ibn Hudhayr from the tribe of Aws, from the Ansar. May Allah be pleased with him. He is of those whom the angels would smile for him, enough smiles for him. They mention him and Sayyidina A’bad ibn Bishr would come out of a gathering of the Rasul they were just illumined, light, angels surrounding them. They said, “We would walk through the streets of Madinah on a moonless night and light upon light upon light. When they reached the crossroads, A’bad in one direction and Usayd in the other direction, then you would see light follow each and every single one of them.” That is Usayd ibn Hudhayr, the one who understands the nature of how we refine our souls, how we make our souls sensitive to those higher realities and although he is from the sons of Madinah he leaves Madinah. He goes beyond Madinah to pitch a tent in the midst of original creation; inside of the desert. Then he pitches his tent and ties his beast outside his tent and sits inside reciting the Qur’an. When you recite the Qur’an in a beautiful voice and beauty here is when it resembles the voice of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), angels descend. Sayyidina Usayd begins to recite the Qur’an and he hears his beast kicking up noise outside of the tent. When he goes outside he just sees light shoot up to the heavens. Then the beast becomes quiet and he says, “What was that about?” Then he goes back into the tent and recites Qur’an once again. Then he hears the beast start kicking up noise outside, that braying of a horse. That is a beautiful sound. Umm Ma’bad in the description of the voice of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), she uses the same word to describe it. What does it show you between the connection of the sound of a horse and the presence of angels? Just as we have a connection between the braying of a donkey and the presence of demons. They are the spiritual detectors that we can have. If you brought a donkey in here and if it started braying, demons are present. But, if you brought a horse and it starts making its noise then it means we have angels. And that would be our good opinion of this gathering as angels as in the hadith are His roaming ambassadors who roam the entire universe looking for circles of His remembrance and when they find it they land and they begin to surround the gathering all the way to the heavens to Allah. Then Allah says, “Reward every single one inside of that gathering.” An angel will seek higher knowledge and say, “O Allah, there was somebody in that gathering who didn’t want to be there and he wasn’t even paying attention in that gathering.” Allah says, “He is from them.” You could be in a gathering of knowledge/remembrance heedless against your will and Allah still rewards you as in the hadith in Sahih Muslim. Sayyidina Usayd goes out again and he sees light shooting to the heavens and the horse falls silent. He goes back in and recites the Qur’an, the horse begins to bray once again, he goes out and light shoots up to the heavens til the horse falls silent. He mounts the horse and rides all the way back to Madinah to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). He informs him about what has occurred. What does the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) say? “It was angels who descended for your recitation of the Qur’an.” Usayd ibn Hudhayr; Imam of the Companions. In a narration, inside of the masjid of the Prophet, he is a joker and making everybody laugh and people are rolling inside of the mosque of the Prophet. The Prophet enters and sees the “comedian”, the Prophet takes his stick and likewise pokes him in his hip. Usayd is like “Oh! Ow! Messenger of Allah you hurt me.” He learnt from somebody. So the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says, “what do you desire then?” He says, “I desire retribution, O Messenger of Allah.” So he makes the Prophet take off his shirt and thereby embraces him. Hadith in Abu Dawud. We ask Allah that we become of those who are flesh to flesh with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). One of the reasons why he would walk through the streets of Madinah tul Munawwara without any shirt on, just wearing an izaar, so people could go flesh to flesh.
Even that great woman, Rumaytha, a woman has to watch her adab with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). She said that she heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say a statement and she was close to him that she could have kissed his seal upon his back. What is she doing that close to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)?
So what is the matter with your eyes, that when you tell them to refrain, they only weep more?
And your heart – when you try to rouse it, it only becomes more bewildered.
Even when you address the eyes, they still don’t listen. What would cause the eyes to not listen to the soul? When Imam al-Ghazali says that nature of the qalb, when a man commands the eyes to see it sees, when it commands the eye to cry it cries and when it commands the ear to hear it hears, when it commands the tongue to taste it tastes. But here the commandment is to stop crying but the eye still cries. This is what Busiri says.
When you command the heart to waken, it wanders. It goes into the world of imagination and delusion.
Does the one in love suppose his love can be concealed
Between pouring tears and a blazing heart?
This is what you call in the science of rhetoric, iltifat. It is one of the rhetorical methods that Allah consistently employs inside of His book. What is occurring is that Imam al-Busiri in this tajreed (out-of-body experience) is speaking directly to his soul as is seen in line one and two. He takes iltifat from the second person to the third person, it’s like a distraction. He has moved from speaking in the second person to the third person. Why is this? Because now the actual hawa/nafs of Busiri is being confronted head-on. It’s reality is being disclosed. Imam Ghazali has an example that the nufoos of the human beings are like horses in symbolism. You learn to train a horse, you learn to train your nafs. As simple as that. That is why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I know more about horses than you.” You take a horse and stand a horse head-on. The first thing it does is turn away from you. That’s it. That is what Imam Busiri is doing right now, he is standing head-on with his own horse, his own nafs, and his nafs turns away from him as if now he is in the third person being distracted. Imam Busiri still addresses him in the third person in order to bring him back.
You are the love-lorn man. You are the one who is love-struck. But you reckon that your love may be concealed when there are torrents in one part of it and in another a conflagration. They say opposite cannot co-exist, he has a torrent of water another and fire burning him on the other. That is like the lover right there, that opposites can co-exist inside the lover. Like the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) described one of the angels of Allah to us, “The angel is one-half fire and one-half ice.” That is strange seeing a creature like that.
But here, “sab” is like intense love. Imam Busiri uses many darajat of love because the naseeb is about love. He will speak about hub, sab (intense love), hawa, wajd. He engages multiple degrees of love because love is not static. The first degree of love is hub that becomes more intense to alaka (a deep and profound attachment) and then it becomes ishq (infatuation) then shigar (real intense love where you will lose your mind) and then it becomes more intense to sa’af. Different degrees of love which a person can sojourn through. Sab means to pour and love is being poured into the heart of the love-struck. Love upon love upon love upon love.
You think someone who is really in love can conceal their love? If you can conceal your love then you are not in love. That is it. That is the semblance of it. It must manifest upon the limbs. “Whatever character trait a human being possesses, even if he tries to hide it, come may it be it will manifest.” – Zuhayr ibn Abi Sulma
If not for love, your tears would not pour forth over traces left by your beloved,
Nor would you be sleepless remembering the willow tree and the mountain
Talal is like a dilapidated building, to the Arabs it is better translated as an abandoned/Bedouin camp. When you go there and you see remnants that people once lived here. Why would a person cry over that? Imam Fakhr ad-Din Razi said, “Dirt is the most distant reality/entity that Allah has created from life.” What brings dead earth to life? How does Allah bring dead earth to life? Through water. That is the objective of the love-lorn/love-struck, he will cry tears over the talal. Over the elevated abandoned encampment such that perhaps he will bring life to it through the tears. Life for them is the presence of the beloved. That is where life exists. For passion you wouldn’t cry at an abandoned camp, love is what makes you do that.
Trees which relate to the Prophet. We know how the trees yearn for the Rasul (peace and blessings be upon him). Mountains that relate to the Rasul. We know how they yearn for the Rasul (peace and blessings be upon him). “Uhud is a mountain. We love it and it loves us.” – A mountain that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says. That is why when you see Uhud you should cry. You should weep at Uhud because it should not only remind you of the one Uhud loves but it should remind you of the love of Uhud that you lack inside your heart. It will be a great day for Uhud when Allah renders the mountains all crashing down as Uhud knows it is about to be in union with its beloved (peace and blessings be upon him).
So how can you deny this love when such honest witnesses
As weeping and looking gaunt have testified to it against you?
It is as if his soul is still trying to deny that it is in love so Busiri says how can you still deny your love when witnesses of tears and sickness have testified to it against you? There is a proof of love just like there is a proof of life. That is your tears and sickness that you are afflicted with.
Look at Sayyidah Fatima Zahra Batul (may Allah be pleased with her). The earth. In a tradition that Imam Ibn al-Jawzi brings, she goes to the actual grave of the Prophet. It must have been difficult days, difficult weeks, difficult months for her. Our Mother Aisha relates that when she sees Sayyidah Fatima Zahra Batul with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the Prophet whispers something in her ear. She begins to cry and cry and cry. Then the Prophet of Allah whispers something in her ear. She begins to smile and smile and smile. Sayyidah Aisha says I asked Sayyidah Fatima, “What is it that the Prophet whispered in your ear such that it made you cry and laugh?” Look at the Rasul here, how he controlled the emotions of a person. Just through a word he can make you cry. Just through a word he can make you smile. Sayyidah Fatima Zahra told us the nature of the word which is the essence of love, she said, “The Prophet told me that he is about to die, he is leaving me, that is torment so I began to cry. Then when he whispered in my ear he told me not to worry as you will be from the first of my family to meet me so I began to smile. Reunion with my beloved.” That is why you would see Sayyidah Fatima Zahra in the hadith of Ibn al-Jawzi that she would go to the grave of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and take the earth and place it upon her forehead. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Until after six months when Allah summons the great Fatima Zahra Batul to her beloved (peace and blessings be upon him). He dies in Rabi and she dies in Ramadan.
And the agony of love has inscribe two lines of tears and grief
Upon your cheeks, pale as bahar (a yellow spring flower to which the complexion is likened) and red as ‘anam (a small tree found in the Hijaz – West Arabia, bearing red fruits)
If passion had a pen and its tears were ink, it would inscribe love upon your cheeks. Love-sick passion which is wajd here has written upon your cheeks. Wajd inside of the nature of the Arabic language, that is the reality of existence. Wujood comes from the same word, existence. Wajd is like intense, infatuating love because the nature of existence is to find God. That’s it. That is wujood to find Allah. The nature of existence is to find that which Allah loves. That is the eureka moment! So now this wajd, deep love, has an affair written upon the two cheeks.
He is trying to compare tears to ‘anam which can also be roses. The tears are red because they are tears of blood. And your colour has turned yellow which is like spices. It is a proof of the state that he is in.
Yes, a vision of the one I love came to my by night, and I could not sleep,
Oh, how love hinders the tasting of delight with its suffering!
Now, he has provoked the voice out of the soul. This is important because it is a sign that someone is healthy. A sign that you are healthy is when you can hear your soul. A sign that you are healthy is when you can hear your nafs. You can see what its passions and desires are. The nature of your nafs as Allah says, “You prevent it from that which it loves/desires.” Imam Busiri has now for the first time been blessed by Allah to hear his nafs speak.
Ghazali mentions about one of the Imams of religion who is of those who struggled for the sake of Allah. One day, he heard his nafs say to him, “you should go to war.” He said, “how can my nafs be asking me to go to war?” The nature of the nafs is that it commands to evil. He returned to Allah and begged his nafs to speak to him. He wanted to understand the secret of why it was asking him to do that. Then the day came when Allah allowed his nafs to speak to him. The nafs said, “Every single day you kill me so what I figured is that if you go to war, you will be killed. And when you are killed, it is over. Once and for all. But even more than that, I am famous because I am of those who died inside of war (shaheed).” Look at the nafs Ghazali is saying.
Now the nafs of Busiri speaks. His loved one is the Rasul (peace and blessings be upon him). Wherever you turn there is your beloved (peace and blessings be upon him). And it haunts him because he wants a higher companionship than just being with the spirit of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). I love you with my entire being and I want to be with your entire being, the nafs of Busiri is saying.
Imam al Haddad says inside one of his poems: “What is it that you are relying upon? The reality of the dunya is like a brief dream in a brief nap.”
He says that in the midst of the night, this brief dream of the one he loves has kept him awake. The brevity of it should be such that when we have a brief dream we fall back asleep. But the power of that brief dream keeps him awake.
This is a special verse. Imam al-Bayjuri says that of the properties of this verse is that if after Isha you recite this line over and over and over again until you fall asleep, you will see the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). That is the word of Ibrahim al-Bayjuri. The Shaykh of al-Azhar in his time. Just to recite this verse over and over again after Isha until you fall asleep, you will see the Messenger of Allah inside of the dream state.
O you who would rebuke me for this pure love, accept my excuse.
If you were truly fair, you would not reproach me at all.
This is a conversation now between Busiri and his nafs and his nafs is now speaking to Busiri. “You, Busiri, who is blaming me for this unadulterated love? I seek your pardon, yet had you judged fairly you would not have blamed me at all.”
This love is innate. He is trying to say that I was created for this love.
One of the poets said: “The fault of a young man/woman is that which they do out of choice. There is no fault for somebody when the issue is innate.” – What Busiri is saying is that this is part of me so you cannot blame me for being me.
Ibn al-Fariq says, “Forget this censoring of me but try to engage in real love. And when you experience love then you can censor me.” – When you are in love then you can have a problem with me, you can find a fault with me being in love. Meaning, you won’t find a fault as you will have empathy.
Uzhree in this verse is the highest manifestation of love for the Arabs themselves. It is from a tribe of the Yemen called Banu Uzhra, this is what referred to when one says hubb or hawa al-uzhree. Variant tribes of the Arabs were famous for variant things. The traces of the famous tribe, Banu Mudlij, when you hear that name they are famous for something which relates to the kaafiya, they understand the genetics of humans. They can look at your feet and the feet of your son, your sister or your mother or your brother and they can tell you are related just by your feet. Like in the famous tradition of the Prophet, the munafiqoon (hypocrites) tried to get at the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). How do you get at him? Through those whom he loves. There was a person Hibb Rasulillah, it is not the beloved of the Messenger of Allah but it is the most profound way that you can address the one you love. It is not mahbub but someone you have intense love for. Who is this person? Usama ibn al Hibb. The son of the one he had intense love for. Whose that? Zayd. The hypocrites would spread wicked lies inside of Madina that they are not father and son. Usama is like jet-black in colour and Zayd is a lighter Arab so they would play on that. The mother of Usama is Barakah, Umm Ayman, “my mother after my mother” as the Prophet called her. Zayd and Usama are sleeping in the house of the Rasul under the same blanket and only their feet are exposed. Mujazaz al-Mudliji who is the great scientist of genetics walks in and sees their feet and says “father and son”. That is the moment you live for, just to see the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) smile as now everyone will accept it. You don’t except it from the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) but you’ll accept it from the Mudliji.
When the Prophet came out of the company of Halima Sa’diya at the age of 5/6, he is sitting at the Haram of Makkah with his grandfather Abdul-Mutallib and a mudliji comes along and sees the feet of the Prophet and he says, “it is the feet that bears a striking resemblance with the foot.” What is the foot? The foot of Ismael at the Ka’bah. There is no footprint that resembles that footprint like the footprint of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). That is beautiful for us. Every time we go to the Ka’bah, we get a sense of what his beautiful feet looked like and the imprint they made.
There were tribes famous for archery, others for rebuking. Banu Uzhra are famous for love. They die out of love. That is a secret in a hadith that when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sits with his women-folk at night and he mentions a beautiful story to them. One of them says, “That is hurafa (a fantastical story) but because it is from your mouth we believe it.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says, “Do you know who Hurafa was? He was a man from the tribe of Uzhra who was kidnapped by the jinn. Then he saw the advancement of the world of the jinn when the jinn eventually took him back to his people in Yemen. He told them what occurred and they simply said, ‘Hurafa, yeah right, Hurafa!'” This is where you get the meaning of hurafa.
We have a tradition as the people of Islam of people who die out of love right there at the Ka’bah. We have a tradition of people who die out of love of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) right there at the shubak in Madinah tul Munawwara. That is the love inherited from these great forbearers knows as Banu Uzhra.
May you be spared a state such as mine! My secret cannot be concealed
From my detractors, nor will there ever be an end to my malady
May you be spared my state can also mean may you be afflicted by my state. It can mean both simultaneously. Which does the nafs intend for Busiri? To spare him from the torment he is undergoing or does he want to be like two is company?
You gave me sincere good counsel, but I did not hear it,
Indeed the lover is quite deaf to those who blame him
Just like there are degrees of love, the Arabs also have degrees of deafness. Samam is in the middle. Waqa is at the start, it is the lowest degree. Above samam is sanj. Here it is samam that he is speaking about.
This month is called shahr Allah as-sam. The beginning of the year is the month of God which is deafening. This is a month of God and it should be a month in which we should profess our undying love for Him.
Indeed I even suspected the counsel of my own grey hairs rebuking me,
When I knew the counsel of old age and grey hair to be above suspicion.
When you have grey hairs it is a sign that you are approaching death. That is from the great bounties that Allah overflows unto us due to His Beloved (peace and blessings be upon him). When you find the Prophet inside of tears in a hadith in Tirmidhi and they ask him, “why are you crying O Messenger of Allah?” And he responds, “Allah has promised me not to punish somebody from my ummah who goes grey in religion. ” Right there we have cool tears of joy but they can also turn to hot tears which are of sadness and there it does. Why? He says, “Look how they treat Allah.”
We ask Allah for tawfiq.
Any mistakes, errors or misinterpretations of words are from me. Please correct me when you spot any mistakes.