Foundations of the Spiritual Path!

07 April 2012


Below is a summary of Sheikh Hamza Yusuf's translation of 'Foundations of the Spiritual Path' by Sidi Ahmad Zarruq (1442-1493), a Shadhili Sufi Sheikh and founder of the Zarruqiyye branch of the Shadhili Tariqa:

The foundations of our paths are five:
1. Taqwa (mindfulness of Allah privately and publicly) - through scrupulousness and uprightness.
2. Adherence to Sunnah in word and deed - through caution and excellent character.
3. Indifference to whether others accept or reject one - through patience and trust in Allah.
4. Contentment with Allah in times of hardship and ease - by accepting what one is given and leaving one's affairs to Allah.
5. Turning to Allah in prosperity and adversity - by praising and being grateful to Him in times of prosperity and taking refuge in Him in times of affliction.

The foundations of the preceding five are:
1. Keeping high aspirations.
2. Maintaining Allah's reverence.
3. Service to others.
4. Fulfill one's resolves.
5. Magnify one's blessings.

The foundations of right conduct are five:
1. Seek sacred knowledge to fulfill Allah's commands.
2. Keep company with spiritual guides and other aspirants to gain insight into one's fault.
3. Forego dispensations and interpretations concerning injunctions for one's own protection.
4. Organize one's time with the remembrance of Allah to maintain presence of heart.
5. Suspecting the selfish soul (nafs) in everything in order to free oneself of its desires and be safe from destructive circumstances.

The foundations of what will cure a sick soul are five:
1. Eat and drink less.
2. Take refuge in Allah from harm when it actually occurs.
3. Avoid places where one fears misdeeds will occur.
4. Continually ask for Allah's forgiveness and devote prayers to the Prophet s.a.w publicly and privately.
5. Keep company with one who guides to Allah, unfortunately such a one no longer exists!

Abu Hassan Shadhilli said:
"Whoever directs you to this world has cheated you; whoever directs you to deeds has exhausted you; but whoever directs you to Allah has truly counseled you."
"My beloved counseled me not to put my feet anywhere except where I hoped for Allah’s reward, not to sit anywhere except where I was safe from disobedience to Allah, not to accompany anyone except someone in whom I could find support in obedience to Allah, and not to select anyone for myself other than those who increased my certainty, and how rare they are to find!"

The seekers of this age are afflicted by five things:
1. Preference of ignorance over knowledge.
2. Being deluded by spiritual impostor.
3. Unable to prioritize important matters.
4. Using spiritual path to inflate the selfish soul.
5. Trying to expedite spiritual opening without fulfilling its pre-requisites conditions.

The qualifications of the spiritual guide with whom the seeker may entrust his self are five:
1. Unadulterated spiritual experience.
2. Sound outward knowledge.
3. Celestial aspirations.
4. A pleasing state.
5. Penetrating inner perception.

The spiritual courtesies of a student with his/her guide and other wayfarers are five:
1. Follow the directions of the guides even if it contradicts one's own preference.
2. Avoid what the guide forbids even if it is highly adverse to the student.
3. Maintain utmost reverence for them in their presence and absence during their lives and after their deaths.
4. Give them their due according to one's ability without stint.
5. Relinquish one's own understanding, knowledge and leadership to that of the teacher unless these are already in accordance with one's teacher.

'It is necessary to read this every day, once or twice, and if that is not possible, then at least once a week until its meanings are imprinted on one’s soul and manifest in one’s behavior. Indeed, it contains that which enables one to dispense with many books and much advice, and it is said, “Surely they have been denied arrival by their neglect of the foundations.” Whoever reflects deeply on what we have said will acknowledge its truth, and he will continue to have recourse to it, using it as a reminder for him. Success is ultimately by Allah.'

- Sidi Ahmad Zarruq al-Barnusi, al-Farsi.

by Sidi Ahmad Zarruq
# Source: Seasons Journal, Spring/Summer 2003 - a publication of Zaytuna Institute, founded in 1996 by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Dr. Hesham Alalusi.
# Biography of Ahmad Zarruq (courtesy of Amal Press):
"Scholar, jurist, influential spiritual teacher and a prolific writer. Al-Kuhin remarks, 'it was calculated that from the time of his birth till death, he wrote half a page a day.' Among the most important of the Sufi writings are Zarruq's collected commentaries on Ibn Ata'illah's 'Hikam'; his commentaries on al-Shadhili's 'Hizb al-Bahr' and al-Jazuli's 'Dala'il al-Khayrat'; his discourse on innovation in Sufism, 'Uddat al-Murid; his personal litany, al-Wazifah; a commentary on al-Bukhari's 'Sahih' and 'Qawa'id al-Tasawwuf ' (The Principles of Sufism) which is his most famous work."