In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.
The 9 fundamentals (mabadi’) of a subject by Sayyid Abu Bakr Shatta.
Sayyid Bakri Shatta mentions the specific application of the nine fundamentals on the subject of tasawwuf in the commentary of the Hidayatul Adkiya ila Tariq al-Auliya of the gnostic (Arif billa) Shaykh Zain al-Din ibn al-Shaykh ‘Ali ibn al-Shaykh Ahmad al-Mi’bari.
The example used by the Sayyid is that of Tasawuf (The subject of the purification of the heart). These nine points are not limited to the subject of Tasawuf but rather for any study or field of work.
Find below an extract from the original Arabic followed by the translation into English,
1. The definition of the subject or endeavor.
The subject must be defined. As for the definition of Tasawuf, know that tasawuf is the knowledge that allows one to understand, have insight and know the manners and feelings within a person regarding his good or bad nature. It gives one insight and allows one to know the states of the heart, the good and evil.
2. The object of the study
What is the objective of my study? And as for the objective of the study of Tasawuf, it is to study the self ‘Nafs’ and the different states in which one can find the self in. Examples include the self in a state of anger, happiness, sadness, lust, aggression, calmness, tranquility, satisfaction and so on.
3. What are the fruits of the study?
You must know what the fruits of the subject are. As for this subject of Tasawuf, its fruits are the cleansing of the heart from all negative and lower qualities then filling it with mercy, compassion and its end is vision of the reality.
4. What are the laws of the study?
As for the study of Tasawuf, it is considered ‘wajibun aynun’ obligatory on every ‘mukallaf’ sane and mature Muslim. I say it is compulsory just like he must clean his outer body for the ‘fiqh’ prayer, even more important is that he cleans his inner body when he stands before His Lord.
5. The virtues or highness of the study
Know that the highness and rewards are an encouragement and brings about perseverance and dedication. As for the highness of Tasawuf, it is the highest knowledge within the Law as it brings about purification of the heart and soul and therefore it is placed above all other lists of priorities.
6. What is the subject’s relationship to other knowledge areas?
As for Tasawuf, it is the root of all knowledge and all else (knowledge areas) are its branches. And the relationship of Tasawuf with the inner is like relationship of Fiqh with the outer.
7. Who started this area of knowledge or where did it come from?
Who were the first to write and speak of the subject? As for the knowledge of Tasawuf, this knowledge was documented and taught by the leaders of the Umma and from them are included Junaid al-Baghdadi and al-Muhasabi.
8. Where is the subject and knowledge derived from?
Where did the scholar who wrote on the subject derive his evidence and knowledge from? And as for Tasawuf, it comes from the Words of Allah; the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him), those of certainty ‘Auliya’ and the sources are nothing more than the Quran and the Sunnah.
9. What are the main topics discussed in the subject or area of endeavor?
Know that it is of utmost importance to be acquainted with the topics in discussion regarding your subject. As for Tasawuf, the topics include ‘Tawakul’ dependence, ‘Khalwa’ seclusion, ‘Raja’ Hope, ‘Rahma’ Mercy and its opposites.
And this is the tradition and ‘adab’ manner before approaching a subject of study and these steps will make it easier for the seeker to master the subject. And you will never master a subject unless you have love for it and to love the subject you need to know its history, founders and its benefits.
Documented by Muhammad Allie Khalfe.
Translated by Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks.