The spiritual training methods have travelled down to our times from Muslim saints of classical period of Islam.They knew that the inner self of a newcomer had to be purified first .The disease of the lower – self become ingrained and control ones behaviour, especially social activities and relations, unconsciously.These ills prove more detrimental to the development of pious character in a person.In old seminaries, therefore,the preliminary spiritual training did not consist in litanies,supererogatory acts of worship and secrets of secluded divinity .That would rather include activities assigned to the initiates to pinch their lower self and scrape away the haughty “I”- the nucleus of egocentricity – embedded deep inside them .The eminent saints would not induct everyone coming to them for spiritual training.They would only choose a few most docile and sincere disciples out of a hundred aspirants and then start imparting to them training in a rugged and rigorous way.
They tasked them to :
- Clean the Hospice(a home providing care for the sick or terminally ill) ,
- Broom sweeping the mud- plastered compound of the seminary,
- Washing dishes,
- Cooking food and
- Serving the seekers;
- They would also rouse people for early morning prayer ( tahajjud) and
- Supplying water for making ablution .
They used to continue doing such chores until humility and humbleness would be implanted in their psyche.The hard physical training would cleanse their inner self of maladies,evil intention,malicious thinking and cynical idiosyncrasy .They disciplined the souls of seekers to begin with and then they drew their attention to the service of the Lord and watching over the insinuations of heart.The celebrated Sufi,’Ali al-Hujwiri,set down the order of spiritual pilgrimage.
When a novice joins them ,with the purpose of renouncing the world,they subject him to spiritual discipline for the space of three years.If he fulfils the requirements of this discipline,well and good; otherwise,they declare that he cannot be admitted to the Path (Tariqat) .
- The first year is devoted to service of the people,
- the second year to service of God,and
- the third year to watching over his own heart.
He can serve the people only when he places himself in the rank of servants and all other people in the rank of masters,i.e. he must regard all, without any discrimination,as being better than himself,and must consider it his duty to serve all alike; not in such a way as to deem himself superior to those whom he serves,for this is manifest perdition and evident fraud ,and is one of the infections cankers of the age. And he can serve almighty God only when he cuts off all his selfish interests relating either to this world or to the next.►[Kashf al-Mahjoob, Page 54]
Ensuring the removal of all inner blemishes , the spiritual guide would start assigning them litanies and voluntary acts of worship to perform in seclusion.The trainee sufis would undertake these peculiar exercises under close supervision of the guide until they accomplished the training package with some spiritual station awarded to them finally.
Reference Book :- “O Brother” by Sahibzada Dr. Hussain Mohiuddin Qadri
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