Book Review: The Drink of the People of Purity in Prayers upon the Chosen Prophet

The Drink of the People of Purity

Title: The Drink of the People of Purity in Prayers upon the Chosen Prophet (peace be upon him)
Author: Sayyidi Muhammad b. al-Qasim al-Qandusi
Translator: Shaykh Abdul Aziz Suraqah
Publisher: Muhammadan Press

There are a few pages of Shaykh Qandusi’s biography at the beginning of the book, this short excerpt below is from the back cover:

The knower of Allah, Shaykh Muhammad b. al-Qasim al-Qandusi, was born in Algeria and later settled in Fez, Morocco. He was affiliated with the Qadiri and Nasiri Sufi orders. He lived a life of obscurity as an herbalist and calligrapher, having written the Supreme Name (Allah) in his large, unique script that remains to this day in the Moulay Idriss II mosque in Fez. Towards the end of his life, he wrote books on the sciences of Sufism. He passed away in Fez in the year 1278AH/1861CE.

This book is a concise treatise on the extraordinary benefits of sending blessings upon the Chosen Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), an elaboration on the ihsanic (perfected) method of fulfilling the command from Allah, Most High, when He orders the believers in Surah al-Ahzab: Indeed Allah and His angles send blessings on the Prophet. O you who believe! [Ask Allah to] send His blessings upon him and [Ask Allah] to grant him Peace. The books aims to counsel the reader on the practical method of implementing this Quranic command and the well known hadith of Ka’b ‘Ujra (may Allah be pleased with him) in our lives, so that not even one day, nay one moment may not pass through our fingers but we ascend via this supplication, to the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself and to Allah, Most High.

Shaykh Qandusi states at the beginning of the book:

After considering the orientations of the various paths, and their ascension points from where seekers rise to the caravansary of their presence (hadratiha) and the source of their drink, I found that all of them are comprised of and opened with prayers sent upon our master, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). So the one who travels by the Prophet’s Supreme Ascension Point will have travelled the ascension points of every [master]; but the one who relinquishes it and holds instead to secondary ascension points will find his journey arduous. And it is no secret that he will be victim to disruptions, extreme distance, vast wilderness, aimless wandering, and made to carry a burdensome load. For such a person, the path requires a sound guide, be it a perfected Shaykh and spiritual trainer, or a truthful companion who knows the foundations of realization – but even then he will not see what is being shown to him until he exerts tremendous efforts on his own part. But the same cannot be said regarding the Ascension Point of prayers sent upon the Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), for it stands on its own for the one who travels its path. The traveller upon it is embraced by the luster of its lights, surrounded by it in its upward movement. He will not experience anything undesirable, be it a highway robber or brigand, and the prayers sent upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) will usher him into the caravansary of its presence with incredible swiftness.

For this reason, I have called its Ascension Point The Drink of the People of Purity in Prayers upon the Chosen Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). You can also call it: The Ascension Path to the Presence of the Crowned Master (Sahib al-Taj) (peace and blessings be upon him) or the Celestial Mount (Buraq) of the Hearts to the Carpet-Spread of the Beloved (peace and blessings be upon him), or The Physician’s Remedy for Uniting the Lover with the Beloved (peace and blessings be upon him).

Imam ‘Abd al-Wahhab Al-Sha’rani (may Allah be pleased with him) mentions Ka’b ‘Ujra’s (may Allah be pleased with him) hadith in the preface of the book:

Ka’b ‘Ujra (may Allah be pleased with him), “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I send abundant prayers upon you; how much of my prayer should I dedicate to you? ‘As much as you like’ he replied. I asked, ‘Should I dedicate a quarter of it?’ He replied, ‘As much as you like, and if you wish to add to that it will be better for you.’ I asked: ‘Should I dedicate half of it to you?’ He replied, ‘As much as you like; and if you wish to add to that it will be better for you.’ I asked, ‘Should I not dedicate all of it to you?’ He replied, ‘If you do that, your stress will be relieved and your sins will be forgiven.

The back cover reads:

The Drink of the People of Purity in Prayers upon the Chosen Prophet is a succinct guidebook for seekers who wish to deepen their connection with Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and experience his centrality in attaining worldly and Afterworldly needs. This Drink, described by the author as the “Ascension Point” from which seekers rise to the Divine Presence, is non other than heartfelt prayers and salutations upon the Chief of Creation (peace and blessings be upon him). This rare work, recently discovered and published in Arabic and now available in English, details a practical and spiritually effulgent way for seekers to seek intimacy and protection through the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

There are many more hadith which allude to Shaykh Qandusi’s premise, some of them are mentioned below:

These two hadiths are found in Tirmidhi:

Abdullah Ibn Masud (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The closest to me on the Day of Judgement will be the one who invokes blessings upon me most abundantly”

Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Verily supplication is suspended between the heavens and earth, and it does not ascend [to the heavens] until you send blessings upon your Prophet”

Therefore with every blessing invoked, we ascend thereby through the ranks of followers of the Chosen Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and our perpetual invoking grants us his company, nearness and closeness on the Day of Judgement in accordance to its abundance. Hence, this method of sending salutations upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is a path of ascension, it is the mount upon which we ride to reach his blessed company, and it is the cure for the lovers of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who long to meet him and long to be with him in the hereafter. Lastly, needless to say, nearness to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is nearness to Allah, Most Exalted. And if the source of all goodness, both worldy and other-worldly, is from the acceptance of our supplications and those very supplications are suspended between the earth and heavens until we have invoked blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

In fact, Shaykh Qandusi takes us a step further, he states:

This is why we say that we supplicate to Allah through sending prayers upon the Beloved (peace be upon him). Its etiquette (adab) and reality (haqiqa) is for us to intend in our hearts whatever we wish of worldy or Afterworldly concerns and then invoke prayers upon the Prophet (peace be upon him). After that we do not need to explain our wants, for Allah Most High knows what is concealed in the chests. So if we divest ourselves from our deficient tongues and make the Prophet’s blessed tongue (peace be upon him) the intermediary (wasita) between us and Allah Most High – through sending prayers on the Prophet (peace be upon him) – then we will have firm grounding.

In terms of the method of worldly ascension, Shaykh Qandusi writes:

At the start of the New Year, consider how much you must spend upon your dependents [if you have dependents], or upon yourself [for the coming year]. Draw up a detailed list of all the things you will need and calculate their full cost and see if they will cost you one hundred (dirhams) or more or less. Leave nothing unaccounted for, not even the cost of water and salt. After calculating the sum total of dirhams you must spend, send an equal number of prayers [upon the Prophet (peace be upon him)]

and later he states:

What Allah seeks from us is propriety (adab), and that is why we say: For whatever you wish to purchase or sell, conduct the transaction first with Allah Most High by sending prayers upon the Prophet (peace be upon him). Any time you wish to purhcase a mount or a servant, or to buy or rent a home or an orchard or a store, preface your transaction [with prayers upon the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)]. When your transaction is concluded make sure you bind it, then or later, with gratitude, expressed through prayers upon the Beloved (peace be upon him) just as you did at the beginning of your transaction. Do this, and Allah will put blessings for you in it.

Shaykh Qandusi also employs the Abjad numerical system in which each letter of the Arabic alphabet is assigned a corresponding number. Based on this, he continues to advise us:

This instruction also applies if a haughty tyrant transgresses against you, be he a bandit or unjust ruler, and pilfers your wealth. Do not turn your gaze toward him; speak to Allah instead concerning the issue, and give to Allah the value of what was taken from you, by sending prayers [upon the Prophet (peace be upon him)] in the number equal to [the monetary worth of what was taken] Do this, and Allah Most High will give you far better than what was stolen from you!

Shaykh Qandusi advises us to send blessings upon the Prophet (peace be upon him), with the start of each year, each season, at the beginning of each lunar mansion and with special emphasis on the special months and nights throughout the year.

There is much more that can be said about this book, it seems short, but it is packed with jewels, insight, and sage advice. Shaykh Abdul Aziz Suraqah has a two part lecture on the book which can be accessed by the links below. It also includes a fascinating story of how the original manuscript was found and subsequently translated. We pray that Allah grant us the ability to always increase our propensity for sending blessings upon the Prophet (peace be upon him), and by them He increase our nearness to his Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). May Allah also bless the individuals and their families who helped in any way in publishing and distributing this book. Ameen.

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