Traditional Sufism as followed by the Zaidi Sayyids

Prior to hajj (pilgrimage) Imam Ahmad Raza (may Allah be pleased with him) received discipleship (bayat) in 1877 from an elderly Qadiri Pir of the Barkatiyya Sayyid family resident in Marahra. His father accompanied the 21-year old as both wanted to become disciples of Hazrat Sayyid Shah Al-e-Rasul (may Allah be pleased with him). Both him and his father were welcomed with unusual honors. Hazrat Shah Al-e-Rasul (may Allah be pleased with him) immediately accepted both as his disciples although a 40-day period of waiting and training called chilla were customary. 


The Barkatiyya family traces its descent to Zaidi Sayyids [Zayd, the son of Hazrat Zayn al-Abidin (may Allah be pleased with him)] who descended from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) through his beloved daughter Sayyida Fatima az-Zahra (may Allah be pleased with her) and her husband, the Noble Knight Hazrat Ali (may Allah ennoble his face). In the course of time they settled in Iraq. In the 11th century a branch of the family went to Ghazni. They joined the army of Sultan Mahmud Ghazni on one of his excursions to India. The name 'Barkatiya' adopted by the family refers to Hazrat Sayyid Shah Barkat Ullah (may Allah be pleased with him) who in 1660-1729 founded the Khanqah, [a building used for spiritual retreat and training] where later generations of the family lived and grew up in. Hazrat Shah Barkat Ullah (may Allah be pleased with him) was especially drawn to the Qadiri Order of Sufis, although he was also initiated into other Orders such as Chishti, Suhrawardi and Naqshsbandi. 


The Shajara (lineage-tree) gives detailed names and dates of the departed Mashaaikh of the above Qadiri Sufi Order and the present Pir-o-Murshid, His Eminence, Fakhrul Islam Allama al-Hajj Hafiz Maulana Muhammad Ibrahim Khushtar Siddiqui Qadiri Razvi.

As, Dr. Bakhtiar explains so eloquently the difference between the Law and the Way. The human response in the monotheistic belief is through religion in its universal sense as containing both Law and a Way. The Law contains the principles and practices, which regulate human behavior while the Way concentrates on the inner meaning within things. This relationship between Law and way is best expressed through the metaphor of a circle. The Law is the circumference, the Way as the radii leading to the center, Reality. Without a circumference, there would definitely be no Way, and without the way there would be no need for the radii, and without the center there would no understanding of Reality at all. Thus practicing of the Sunnah, sayings and practices of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), is more than a miracle. It is part of the Way.

In the time of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be pleased with him), there was a person who was looking for a Shaikh (a spiritual guide) to take Bayat. He wanted to choose the greatest Master of his time. For him the Master had to perform miracles. Somebody asked him to meet Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be pleased with him), the greatest of Saints. The man made up his mind to meet this Master to observe if he could see any miracle. So he went to meet Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be pleased with him) who welcomed him and asked him to stay in his guesthouse. But the latter wanted to be near him to observe him more closely. The Master accepted. One of the things he noticed that the Sheikh used to wear a beautiful cloak (jubba) to go outside however at home, he removed the beautiful cloak that the guest could see his dress was made up of rough cloth. The guest wanted to know the reason.

The Master then pointed out that the beautiful cloak was to please persons like him but the rough cloth was to please his soul. However the guest was not impressed. He also observed that the Master ate very simple and tasteless food whereas his guests were provided with palatable dishes. In fact the Master gave delicious food to his guests to honor them according the Sunnah. But he ate simple food to control his desire (nafs). Finally, the man decided to go away, disappointed for he had not seen a miracle. The Great Master, Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be pleased with him) asked him before leaving, whether he had obtained what he was looking for. The latter replied negatively. The Sheikh asked him whether he noticed him doing anything against the principles of the Sunnah. The man had to concede that the Master followed Sunnah very closely. The Master then told him:

"Al Istiquamatou fowqua' kiraamah" 


that is,


 "The establishing of Sunnah is more than a miracle".

Sunnah engulfs all aspects of life be it educational or social: marriage relationships, attitude towards children, guests and animals. Economic, political, scientific and ethical practices are also included. Islam points in essence to the core rooted in Holy Quran, the revealed book that lies at the foundation of the Tradition, and the Hadith, which are the teachings given by the recipient of the Quran, the beloved Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). The Quran and Hadith covers a wide range of topics, from Almighty Allah, Angels, Prophets, Jinn, the ego (nafs), toothbrushes and cleanliness. Thus to understand the wisdom offered in the Holy Quran and to put into practice on the basis of the model, called the Sunnah. 

Saints may be recognized by their firm belief in Allah and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). A Saint would never neglect a single Sunnah. However great and voluminous the knowledge of a person may be, it remains useless without practice and action. He might be a great orator but his words will remain empty without practicing Sunnah.