Title: Wisdom for the Seeker – Volume I – Letters of Advice
Author: Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi
Translators: Mr. and Mrs. Mansoor Sikander
Publisher: Mecca Books (2013)
Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi is one of the leading shaykhs of spiritual training (tasawwuf) in the present era. Formally granted authorization in the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi spiritual path, he retired from his position as an electrical engineer at the age of forty to devote himself entirely to the service of Islam. More details of Shaykh Zulfiqar can be found on his website: http://www.tasawwuf.org/
This is a short book, consisting of 92 pages and is a collection of Shaykh Zulfiqar’s letters that he wrote to his students. Originally this work was published in Urdu, and the translation here is a selection of 24 letters from the original work. Faqir Publications has also published this work in the past, and it appears that Mecca Books has republished it with updates in book design and typography by Shaykh Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf. Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar, a student of Shaykh Zulfiqar’s, writes in the Prologue:
Such compilations are part of a longstanding tradition among the people of tasawwuf, i.e. publishing the teacher’s letters of advice for the general benefit of the believers.
The 24 letters are quite succinct and yet comprehensive. They speak to various aspects of the process of preparing one’s heart to meet Allah, touching on topics such as good character, the rights of others, the importance of following the sunnah and living and working in the modern world. In order to provide a potential reader with an idea of what is contained in this book, a few short excerpts are provided below:
In Letter 5: Concerning the Enemy Within, the Shaykh writes:
Maintain careful watch and take account of yourself. To forget one’s good deeds and to be ever repentant on one’s past sins is the practice of our great elders. Carry out your Islamic duties whether you want to or not, and make a habit of concealing your good deeds. Never advertise them.
In Letter 18: Concerning Ten Signs of Good Etiquette, in which the Shaykh elaborates the importance of good manners and etiquette, he writes:
This is why I say that neither the Creator nor His creation is pleased with someone who has bad etiquette. The seeker (salik) who considers spiritual training (tasawwuf) to be complete simply with the completion of his litany is ignorant; both the remembrance (dhikr) of his heart and his tongue are faulty.
In Letter 19: Concerning Work, the Shaykh writes:
I was pleased to learn that you have started working, and now you must work steadily with determination. Your working hard is mandatory. Remember that a mountain is a pebble for the hardworking and a pebble is a mountain for the lazy. To move a mountain you must first learn how to move pebbles.
Further on in the same letter, the Shaykh writes:
Remember this principal well: a large stone can become an obstacle in the way of a weak person, but becomes merely a stepping-stone for the strong-willed. Acquire expertise in your field and you will attain honor, and those who follow will value you and your guidance.
Again in the same letter, Shaykh Zulfiqar lists 8 drastic mistakes, of which we will share the first 2:
1. Do not fall into the delusion that you will always remain strong, youthful and wealthy.
2. Do not fall into the delusion that you will stop sinning after doing a sin a few times.
Overall, the book is beautifully designed and assembled. The letters of Shaykh Zulfiqar are applicable to to all readers, as they are light and easy to read and brings about the desire in one’s heart to start and continue the internal struggle to purify ones heart in preparation of meeting Allah. Additional information about this book may be found here: http://www.tasawwuf.org/writings/wisdom_seeker/
May Allah increase all those who assisted in making this book available, and grant the readers success in their lofty endeavors. Ameen.