One of the greatest characteristic weaknesses of man is the control of his temper. How great Sufis have mastered this devilish evil is illustrated by the following few brilliant instances. Hazrat Shaikh Abul Hasan Ali Hujwiri of who is popularly as Data Ganj Baksh says, "insult or ridicule of the friends of God is their relishing food." A true Sufi relishes all ridicule and takes no notice of any insult done to him, as the following beautiful example shows:
Once Shaikh Abu Taner, a great Sufi of his time, was passing through a bazaar when some one hurled a jeering insult at him by addressing him as " Pir Zindigi" (meaning, "O you faithless Pir"). One of the disciples of the great Shaikh, walking with him was awfully enraged at this insult of his revered Pir and wanted to retaliate with the offender on the spot. But the Shaikh calmly restrained him. On reaching home, the Shaikh, to pacify the murids answer, showed him a bundle of letters in which writers, who were the countrys top-most dignitaries, had addressed him with all due regards, courtesies and Alqaabs (adorations). The Shaikh then warned his disciple: "Everybody has his own opinion or views about me according to the limits of his own knowledge and status. All opinions or views are mere expressions of ones own wisdom, ability or status. If someone calls me a Zindigi (faithless), why should we quarrel over mere reflections of his own ignorance? Certainly this reflection does not represent my actual personality and all that goes with it. The Alqaabs, good or bad, are mere prefixes or suffixes attributed to ones personality according to, the peoples own estimation and ability. We should take no impression of such irresponsible behavior. Even if it insults us, then God alone has the right and power to punish the offenders and we not? Who are we to take Gods law into our own hands and wreck vengeance?
Whether it is ones worldly career or spiritual enlightenment, the latter being extremely hard than the former, no one has ever succeeded without hard labor and personal sacrifices. Attainment of knowledge, which is the key to success, was never presented to anyone on a silver platter. It has to be acquired by hard labor and self-sacrifices and unflinching Faith in God more than in man. If we read the life-stories of the great Awliya of the world, we find unlimited examples of their struggle, sacrifices, sufferings, disappointments and other pinpricking trivialities of life before they reached before the pinnacle of success. As in the temporal world so in the spiritual word, the process of achieving success is one and the same.
According to Kash-ul-Mahjoob, there are 12 different firqas (groups) among the Sufis, apart from the 4 principal and most popular silsilas, namely Chishtia, Qadiria, Suhrawardia and Naqshbandia. Each firqa dealt with a particular subject, for example Mujaheda and Riyazat. This group was known as Sehlia and its leader was Hazrat Sehl-bin-Tastari. His teachings centered round jad-o-jehad, or strivings, culminating into riyazat (continuous practice) as a means to conquer the desires of ones nafs. Hazrat Ali Hujwiri (may Allah be pleased with him) agrees that, "opposition to the desires and longings of Nafs is the fountainhead of all devotion and prayer." To him, "ignorance of Nafs is the ignorance of ones own self, and the man who does not understand and master his Nafs cannot recognize God. Hence destruction of Nafs is the sign of the birth of Gods true love, while obedience to the desires of Nafs negatives his love for and obedience to God. Control over ones Nafs therefore, is the paramount injunction for a Sufi is he aspires to reach his goal."
Mans enemies Hazrat Ali Hujwiri further explains that "man is a slave of two things, viz (1) his wisdom and intelligence and (2) the desires of his nafs. One who is the slave of wisdom or intelligence, explores the faithful way to reach God, while those of who obey their nafs, roam about in the aimless wilderness of ignorance and sin only to disappear ultimately from the world in despair and disappointment." Some one enquired of Hazrat Junaid (may Allah be pleased with him) the way to acquire nearness to God and win His love. He replied; "Suppression of the greedy desires of Nafs is the only path to reach Gods divinity," Hazrat Ali Hujwiri further explains that "the best devotion to God is the suppression of the desires of the nafs although this task is even more as if trying to dig a mountain with a nail." He divides the desires of the nafs into 2 categories, that is, (1) sensuous pleasures and (2) greedy of worldly honors and distinctions. "By controlling ones sensuous desires, the world is saved of many of its ills and evils, while the struggle for honor and distinction must produce un-ending complications, dissensions and animosity among the people which is specially bad when it enters the Khanqahs of Sufi dervishes.
Hazrat Kwaja Syed Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki of Delhi, the first spiritual successor of Hazrat Kwaja Muinuddin Chishti of Ajmer (may Allah be pleased with them) suffered extreme hardships and privations during the course of his mujahedas and riyazat (strivings). According to "Siyar-ul-Aulia", (p.49), it is recorded that in the beginning of his career, he could afford to have some sleep but in the concluding years of life, he never slept and used to say: "If I ever sleep, I feel uneasy and sick." For 20 years he never slept in the night, nor did he ever touch his back to the floor even for a whiles rest. He was also all the time deeply absorbed in muraqba (lost in devotion of God), so much so that if anybody came to see him, he regained consciousness with some difficulty and delay. It was only at the time of namaz that he regained the state of sehav (normal). In the concluding years of his life, he had committed the Holy Quran by heart and used to recite and finish it twice every day. According to "Jawama-ul-Kalam", Kwaja Qutbuddin used to remain in his cell in a state of broken-heartedness, tongue-tied, sighing and weeping. When the crowd of eager devotees and visitors swelled outside his hujra, he came out to meet them and ordered his murids in the Khanqah to offer the people a cup of simple water if there was nothing else to offer hospitality.
One of the greatest characteristic weaknesses of man is the control of his temper. How great Sufis have mastered this devilish evil is illustrated by the following few brilliant instances. Hazrat Shaikh Abul Hasan Ali Hujwiri of who is popularly as Data Ganj Baksh says, "insult or ridicule of the friends of God is their relishing food." A true Sufi relishes all ridicule and takes no notice of any insult done to him, as the following beautiful example shows:Once Shaikh Abu Taner, a great Sufi of his time, was passing through a bazaar when some one hurled a jeering insult at him by addressing him as "Pir Zindigi" (meaning, "O you faithless Pir"). One of the disciples of the great Shaikh, walking with him was awfully enraged at this insult of his revered Pir and wanted to retaliate with the offender on the spot. But the Shaikh calmly restrained him. On reaching home, the Shaikh, to pacify the murids answer, showed him a bundle of letters in which writers, who were the countrys topol of nafs. He said, "Slay your Nafs with the sword of mujahedas and faith." Thus according to Sufis it is impossible to control Nafs-e-Ammara without mujahedas and riyazaat. There are, however, certain Ulema (theologians) who raise all sorts of objections against them, but the Sufis offer the authority of the Holy Quran in favor of mujahedas which says, "Those who perform mujahedas in Our Path, We certainly show them Our path." Again, the Holy Prophets own exemplary character and life provide irrefutable authority in favor of mujahedas. His devotion in the seclusion Ghar-e-Hira, his nightlong prayers (namaz) which caused swelling of his feet, and the exemplary conduct of close associates who followed the prophets traditions are enough testimony to refute the Ulemas contentions or objections against mujahedus. It is true, sometimes a Mujahed (one who performs a mujaheda) has to be away and cut off from all worldly connections but there are glaring instances of great Sufis who married and had children and relations. But they had to fix a limit to their matrimonial duties and worldly relations. That is why their jehad (which means struggle) was against Nafs (appetitive) soul more than anything else. The biggest mujaheda or jehad-e-Akbar of man to lead a virtuous life in Islam is against his Nafs-e-Ammara. It is a great misfortune that the word jehad is very often misunderstood and misused. Its use in todays politics by Muslims is sheer hypocrisy.
Sufi dervishes and saints have performed such awful mujahedas even the very thought of which makes one shudder with horror. And, even under such dreadful tests of self-mortification, they never forgot their daily duties to God and kept up namaz at all costs on their daily timetable.