Spiritual Demotion in the path of Faqr and Sufism means to retreat from the perfect spiritual guide and towards worldliness.
- O believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) and those who are Ulil Amr (اولی الامر) amongst you. (4:59)
- Saints derive Ulil Amr to be the truthful who is the perfect spiritual guide, representative of Prophet Mohammad in each era and whose responsibility is to spiritually train the people. (Sufism-The Soul of Islam)
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani said:
- Find the man who is like a mirror for your faith. You can correct your faith by looking at him just like you beautify your physical appearance by looking in the mirror. Be wise! Why this lust and what for! You say that you do not need anyone for guidance, while it is the saying of the Prophet, “The believer is other believer’s mirror.” When a believer’s faith is perfected, he becomes a mirror for the rest of the mankind. People check their faith in the mirror of his conversations, meetings and proximity. (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani, Section-61)
Life without Pledging Allegiance
The Holy Prophet said:
- One who died in a state that he had not pledged allegiance to the perfect spiritual guide, died in complete ignorance. (Muslim 4793)
So searching for the perfect spiritual guide and covering the spiritual journey of Faqr with perseverance and steadfastness under his guidance is compulsory for Hazrat Mohammad (pbuh)’s umma. Sultan Bahoo says about seekers who show interest in following and serving the perfect spiritual guide at first, but run away at the time of test:
- The disciple who does not take his spiritual guide dearer and nearer than his life, cannot be called a disciple. He is just perplexed. (Sufism-The Soul of Islam)
Fakirs and Sufis use the term Rajat (Demotion) in Faqr and Sufism for such perplexed people.
What is Rajat?
The word Rajat is a derivative of the Arabic word Raja ( رجع ) lexically meaning “someone who leaves”.
Sultan Bahoo says:
- Demotion actually means to be inclined towards other than Allah which eventually stoops one down to falsehood. (Qurb-e-Deedar)
In the path of Faqr and Sufism Rajat means to face away from the perfect spiritual guide, leave him and incline towards the worldly lusts.
What is the Cause of Spiritual Demotion?
Allah has created a balance in this world. The one who follows this balance can successfully stay on his journey towards the truth. Or else there are countless dangers and pains in the path of Faqr and Sufism. The perfect spiritual guide takes seeker through many states in this path due to which he experiences many different conditions. He has many observations which are in fact bestowal of the perfect spiritual guide. And there is no excellence of the seeker in it. For Example, many a times some miracle manifests through the seeker due to company of the perfect spiritual guide. Sometimes Allah answers his prayers quickly. Unveiling and observations reveal. This might lead to demotion and devastation if the seeker inflates his ego by thinking these miracles are his.
Sultan Bahoo says:
- Obey the commands of the Fakirs, as whoever disobeys them, is disgraced in both the worlds. (Kaleed-ul-Tauheed Kalan)
Ibn Arabi says:
- Where spiritual states and the associated thoughts are a blessing, they are but also a big veil.
We should always keep in mind that the seeker experiences many unveilings and hidden revelations in the path of Faqr and Sufism. If seeker does not believe in spiritual guide nor stays connected with him in these situations, his spiritual journey ends. The desires of innerself dominate him but he misunderstands that he is still on the right path. Resultantly, he falls into the blind pit of destruction.
Types of Demotion
There are two types of demotion:
- Temporary Demotion
- Permanent Demotion
1. Temporary Demotion:
If the seeker commits some human error during the spiritual states and unveiling, he faces demotion. Resultantly, his spiritual station is confiscated temporarily. If seeker repents truly and corrects his mistake, not only the spiritual guide forgives him but he restores his spiritual journey. It is the excellence of the Sarwari Qadri perfect spiritual guide that he never lets his disciple remain in the state of demotion for a long time. That is, if the seeker is sincere and humble.
Sultan Bahoo says:
- A seeker should be pure and sincere. (Fazal-ul-Laqa)
The aim of perfect spiritual guide when he demotes the Sarwari Qadri disciple due to his human faults is not to punish him, but to teach him. So that he feels ashamed of his mistakes infront of Allah and continues his spiritual journey with even more hard work, sincerity and love under the guidance of the spiritual guide.
Sultan Bahoo says:
- If a Saint having spiritual union has been dropped from the spiritual world or from the angelic world being demoted from his rank, seeks mediation of this treatise, it will prove a perfect spiritual guide for him. If he does not make it his mediator, he is liable and if he does then we are responsible to elevate him back to his status. (Risala Roohi Sharif)
2. Permanent Demotion:
Only the hypocrites, spies, and greedy disciples face permanent demotion. Such disciples are selfish and do only what they wish. The perfect spiritual guide inwardly and outwardly keeps giving them a chance of forgiveness. Because he is there to benefit the creation of Allah and magnanimously excuses the faults of his disciples. But if the disciple is constantly obstinate and keeps disobeying, Allah reveals his hypocrisy.
- No one depraves man, he depraves himself. Depravity means to do only what one wills and leave the right path for one’s benefit. Moreover, to make one’s own path and be stubborn about it.
Sultan Bahoo says:
- A dog is better than the seeker who is insincere, disrespectful, unfaithful and shameless. The disciple who loves this carrion world stays deprived of the desire for gnosis. (Fazal-ul-Laqa)
- If somebody gives up perseverance and courage and returns to the world and its people being fed up of Faqr and Ism-e-Allah Zaat, he is demoted from the level of having Faqr, the Divine secret and the rank of being falcon as if he is a vulture whose eyes remain on the carcass. Therefore he is disgraced and dishonoured in both the worlds. His heart is never contented with the world and his eyes are ever filled with the appetite of the world. (Mehak-ul-Faqr Kalan)
The Incident of Spiritual Demotion
Data Gunj Bakhsh relates an incident of spiritual demotion:
Once a disciple of Shaikh Junayd of Baghdad misunderstood that he had reached the extreme level of spiritual journey. And that loneliness is better than company for him. So he left his spiritual guide, went in solitude, and turned away from the Shaikhs. Every night someone brought a camel to him and said “Come! Let me take you to heaven”. He rode the camel and rose up to high levels. He would eat great food in the company of beautiful people where he would stay all night. And then he would sleep and wake up at his lonely residence.
Ego and imperiousness had overwhelmed him and arrogance enveloped him. He would not stop talking about himself. When Shaikh Junayd of Baghdad came to know of this, he went to the place of disciple. He found him lost in ego and arrogance. He asked about the situation and the disciple told him everything. Shaikh Junayd of Baghdad advised him to recite hawqala
( لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّۃَ اِ لَّا بِاللّٰہِ الْعَلِیِّ الْعَظِیْم) thrice when he goes to that place at night. So when he was taken there as before he recited the hawqala thrice just to experiment although he had become a denier of his spiritual guide. Suddenly, the people who brought him ran away screaming. He found himself sitting on a pile of filth and garbage and bones of dead animals were lying around him. Then he realized his mistake, asked for forgiveness and never left the company of his spiritual guide again. There is nothing more disastrous for a seeker than leaving his spiritual guide’s side. (Kashf-ul-Mahjub)
Shaikh Saadi says:
- You can never appreciate anyone else’s excellence as long as your ego intoxicates you.
The innerself is a companion that helps the seeker travel the true path with perseverance and also the one that drops him down. Firstly, the disobedient innerself urges to disobey and rebel esoterically. Now, if the seeker is not humble in front of his spiritual guide then the tyrant innerself throws him into the dark corners of demotion. Sultan Bahoo exhorts to stop the innerself from rebellion and cover the path of Faqr with perseverance:
- The seeker of Allah must always go against the desires of innerself and beware of it every moment because it is an infidel, a brigand and an enemy inside his being which can attack him any time. So, the seeker ought not to be oblivious of it and should ever fight against it whether he is sleeping or awake, experiencing sobriety or spiritual intoxication. (Ain-ul-Faqr)
Signs of Spiritual Demotion
My Murshid Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen says:
- The removal of love and longing for the spiritual guide from seeker’s heart in the path of Faqr is a sign that the seeker will deviate from his spiritual journey meaning he is demoted.
Demotion begins with negative thoughts. That means, the seeker has negative and immoral thoughts about his spiritual guide and fellow disciples. If these thoughts sustain and dominate him and he expresses them verbally and practically then this is disobedience and disrespectful.
The signs of demotion are:
- Seeker becomes arrogant upon the miracles that occur from him due to the spiritual guide’s favour.
- Seeker gets trapped in people inclining towards him.
- He loots people by disclosing their hidden information.
- God forbid! He thinks of himself greater than his spiritual guide.
- He inclines towards the world.
How to Save Oneself from Spiritual Demotion?
One important thing that the seeker should keep in mind to save himself from demotion is that he must be humble, respectful, loyal, and modest in the company of his spiritual guide. He should trust him and think of him as a representative of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He should not fail at carrying out his commands and always see his spiritual guide as superior to him.
Remember! In the path of Faqr, seeker can never be safe from the tricks of the innerself, world, and Satan. Until he reaches the level of annihilation in Allah and becoming immortal with him under the perfect spiritual guide’s leadership. Because there is a Satan in every realm (The physical world, the angelic world, the realm of power). He does not let seeker reach the realm of Divinity, his ultimate goal.
Syedna Ghawth-ul-Azam says:
- Allah Almighty said to me: O Ghawth-ul-Azam! Now that you intend to enter my sanctuary, do not be attracted to the physical world, the angelic world, and the realm of power. Because the physical world acts like Satan for scholars, the angelic world for Mystic, and the realm of power for Saint. So whoever is satisfied with any one of these, is among the rejected ones from my court.
How Does Seeker Advances On His Journey
Seeker of the right path can safely progress on his journey only with company of the perfect spiritual guide. Because he is the great spiritual teacher who is familiar with all the rules and regulations of training and all the ways of mysticism. The perfect spiritual guide is a spiritual doctor who deracinates all the diseases of the soul and throws them away. He blesses the seeker with the Ism-e-Allah Zaat and saves him from demotion. There is no level in the way of Faqr hidden from him. However, the seeker must be obedient and clever about dealing with the innerself. The spiritual guide does not bless the seeker who is disobedient, rebellious and doesn’t comply with the system of sharia and Sufism.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen says about the manners of company of spiritual guide:
- Whoever comes near the spiritual guide with sincerity should only keep in view the love of the spiritual guide and must not check his good and bad. Detecting good and bad is the job of spies, not the true seekers of Allah.
Therefore the only thing required to pass through the path of Faqr without veils is the company, obedience and respect of the spiritual guide.
This blog is English translation of an Urdu article of the magazine “Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore” for the month of February, 2021. The title of the Urdu article is: Rajat (رجعت).
Originally penned by Aneela Yaseen Sarwari Qadri from Lahore is presently in English by Mohammad Bin Moghees Sarwari Qadri, exclusively for websites.
Q1. What is Spiritual Demotion?
Ans: Spiritual Demotion actually means to be inclined towards other than Allah which eventually stoops one down to falsehood.
Q2. How does one demote from a Spiritual Rank?
Ans: Many a times some miracle manifests through the seeker due to company of the perfect spiritual guide. Sometimes Allah answers his prayers quickly. Unveiling and observations reveal. This might lead to demotion and devastation if the seeker inflates his ego by thinking these miracles are his.