|Doing: One's Daily Wirds|
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5. The Gatherings of the Tariqa
It goes without saying that belonging to the tariqa means coming to the majalis or ‘gatherings’ of dhikr and instruction established by the sheikh in one’s area, be it the Latifiyya, hadra, or annual suhba of tariqa members during his visits to other countries.
The Latifiyya is described below on page 46. The hadra is a dhikr made standing together in a group, motion and breath in unison, to the singing of mystical poetry. It is discussed in a separate article called The Hadra that clarifies its place in Islamic law and its value for the ruh, particularly at the higher reaches of the path. Those interested may read this, though it suffices to say here that the hadra is part and parcel of our tariqa, and whoever wants something may either take it as it is—or leave it.
The benefits of the gatherings, if sometimes plainer at the end of the path, are many. One is that the baraka of the group is the true wind that fills the sails of the traveller, not his own motions. Our din itself is a social din. A second is that group dhikr is different in kind from that made alone, and no less salutary to the ruh. A third is that the food of the heart is wisdom, and if it never hears any, it dies. For all these reasons, “One must gather, listen, and follow, if one is to benefit,” as our sheikhs say. Nothing comes of a disciple who thinks he has no need of the gatherings. Many travellers, ancient and modern, have erred in this and ended their path debarred from its spiritual effulgence from whence they least expected.
If there is no gathering in one’s area, one should recite the Latifiyya aloud with one’s family or others, or alone. One should have the permission of one’s sheikh before attending the gatherings of other tariqas, for not everything that glitters is gold.
6. The Special Wird
The Wird al-Khass or ‘Special Litany’ is the Supreme Name “Allah,” without number or limit, termed “special” because it is methodically recited only by those the sheikh has put through the khalwa or ‘dhikr in seclusion’ under his strict supervision. Prior to this, those on the second muraqaba lesson are permitted to recite the Name sixty-six times a day if they wish, provided they have been personally taught it by the sheikh, though even this is of limited benefit because they do not yet really know what they are reciting. The Name is not recited without permission.
Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman says that only “a few” of those who have taken the tariqa from him have entered the khalwa, by no means all who ask, but only those the sheikh’s spiritual intuition tells him can benefit from it, given their state, time, and readiness.
After a disciple has finished the khalwa, he must recite the Name each night before bed to consolidate and deepen his spiritual meanings, particularly that of fana' or ‘annihilation.’ This is imperative, and no other time of the day will do, though there is no set amount beyond three minutes; it might rather be three hours, or all night, as everyone knows their own need: “Rather, a human being clearly sees himself ” (Koran 75:14). The sheikh sometimes recommends fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes at night, and a few moments after each prescribed prayer, but the primary basis of the Wird al-Khass or is that it is absolute (mutlaq), without number or time. It is meant to become perpetual.
Particular divine names such as “Ya Hayy,” “Ya Jabbar,” and so forth, like the Supreme Name, require permission to recite, except in limited numbers of short duration. This is because each divine name carries a particular power, and the heart and mind of the disciple may not be prepared to handle an overload of this power, just as an electrical appliance is designed to handle only a certain type of current.
The Sheikh al-Akbar says:
The Wird al-Khass should be accompanied by five or ten minutes of daily readings in the dhawqi or ‘experiential’ literature (or tapes) of the tariqa as recommended by the sheikh.
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