Written by Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
The Sufi’s world today is blessed with the spiritual luminary of the modern age—Shaikh Hisham Kabbani, the prominent peace maker, scholar and promoter of the spiritual science of Islam across the globe.
Shaikh Kabbani is a spiritual mentor for millions of seekers around the world including in the UK, Southeast Asia and the United States. He has devoted all his life to spread the Islamic teachings of inclusiveness, peace, tolerance, religious harmony and other defining principles of Islamic spirituality known as Sufism.
Born and brought up in Beirut, Lebanon, Maulana Shaikh, Dr. Shaikh Kabbani is an America-based Sufi Islamic scholar and is actively engaged with his profound mission of strengthening Islam’s spiritual foundations and rendering social welfare services to people of every religion, ethnicity, race, and creed. Using a framework of traditional Islamic teachings, he mobilizes local community leaders to invest in community with an aim to establish humanitarian organisations and research centres. He particularly concerns himself with intensive deradicalisation of the Muslim youth in America. Shaikh Kabbani presides over the Institute for Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (ISCA), WORDE, the As-Sunnah Foundation and eShaikh.com, which provides online guidance in matters of jurisprudence, theology and responding to requests for prayers. He is also the founder president of the Islamic Supreme Council of America (ISCA), a non-profit, non-governmental educational organisation dedicated to teaching personal moral excellence.
Sufis believe we should speak spontaneously from the core of our hearts, with no prior preparation, when dealing with subjects like love and peace. Hence, Shaikh Kabbani exhorts that letters and numbers are highly significant in Sufi tradition. The Arabic word for love “Hub”, he says, is made up of two letters: Ha and Ba, the first denoting a lovely life and the second referring to the eternal existence of love.
Shaikh Kabbani asserts:
“My spiritual benefactor, Sheikh Nazim Haqqani asked me several times to visit India, considering it the place of infinite love and harmony. India is extraordinarily important for Sufis as it has given birth of the towering figures of Sufism. Indian people are greatly blessed as they live among the holy saints.”
“We view India, he said, as the citadel of learning and spirituality and therefore we show great reverence to the Ulema, Sufis and Islamic scholars born in India.” When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) recommend his companions by saying “Seek knowledge, even if you had to go to China”, he probably kept India also in his mind. Therefore, Sufis flocked towards India and put stay here for good, he said.”
He posed a question in his speech: what is there in the graves of the Sufi saints that attracts a surging crowd towards them? “It is nothing but their pure and all-embracing love for the mankind irrespective of faith, creed and ethnicity.” He answered.
He said that all the pioneers of Sufi orders laid great emphasis on the spiritual seclusion and focused meditations to attain closeness with Allah.
“Through the mystic mediations, Sufis actually sought to purify their hearts and souls, as the deeds of the heart, according to them, are more important than the deeds of the limbs and senses. Heart is the essence of the human being and the deciding entity of man’s righteousness or wrongdoings. This is clearly evident in a Prophetic tradition in which he says:
“In the body, there is a piece of flesh (Mudghah), if it is good, the whole body is good, and if it is bad, the whole body is bad; truly it is the heart.”
Shaikh went on saying: we should concern ourselves with the deeds of our hearts more than the deeds of our limbs and senses, because the good deeds of the limbs and senses like praying, fasting, and reciting the holy Qur’an may be acceptable only if the righteousness (taqwa) lies in the hearts.
Hailing from a great tradition of humanitarianism and social activism, Shaikh Kabbani urged people to shift their focus from the ritual acts to the voluntary worship, that is engaging with social welfare causes and charity works, as outlined in this Prophetic saying: Allah, the Exalted, has said:
“My servant keeps on coming closer to Me through performing voluntary worship until I love him so much so that I become his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me something, I will surely give him, and if he seeks My protection (refuge), I will surely protect him”.”
Shaikh Kabbani opines that though many Sufis were enormously rich, they lived like the poor to have the feel of being deprived of food and money and, thus, tried to eliminate the poverty from their villages, cities and the world at large.
Shaikh also told the story of a great Iraqi Kurdish Sufi Khalid Al-Baghdadi, the founder of a branch of the Naqshbandi Sufi order called “Khalidi”, who came to India and learned knowledge from a Hindu scholar who has had a profound impact on him.
Shaikh stressed the importance of giving in charity and said that we should not judge people’s morality while giving to them neither should we differentiate among them on the basis of religion caste or creed.