Monday 4 May 2015

Lessons from a Cup of Tea

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

By Hadhrat Moulana Abdul Hamid Is`haq Saheb (Daamat Barakaatuhum)

It is well-known that tea is a most popular and widely consumed drink. People, throughout the world, drink tea - whether it is black tea, milk tea, green tea or herbal tea with a blend of spices. And tea is not only enjoyable but is sometimes addictive.

Whilst many of us drink tea daily, we will not think beyond that cup of tea. However, the Auliya Allah[1] take lesson from everything around them and benefit us with their wonderful analogies and teachings.

Hadhrat Moulana Abrarul-Haq Saheb (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) had presented some unique lessons from our habit of drinking tea. Alhamdulillah, a few additional points had also come to mind.

Hadhrat (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) had explained that the tea that we enjoy is first plain water, which is colourless, tasteless, and generally free. …A price is not really attached to it, as people also distribute and give water for free.

Once a tea bag is placed in water, its properties change. ...Its colour begins to change until it turns black. It is no longer called water. Its name changes to tea. It is also no longer available for free. A price is now attached to it. Its effect changes: Water cools a person, tea lifts him up.

The main condition that brings about change is that the company is “hot company”. The water will have to be hot. If the teabag is placed in cold water, the results will not be the same. Thus, the water is first boiled.

…From another angle, we know that boiling water is the most effective method of purifying it. Boiling water kills off any bacteria that is living in it and lessens the possibility of sickness. However, water has to be kept boiling for a few minutes to purify it adequately.

When a person chooses the company of a Sheikh, sincerely seeking the ‘Ishq (Love) and Ma’rifat (Recognition) of Allah Ta’ala, there will also be Islaah (reformation), whereby, the bacteria and germs of sins are killed off. This is conditional to the sincerity and commitment of the Saalik[2] as well as the amount of time that is spent in the company of the Sheikh.

One’s Ta’alluq (connection) with one’s Sheikh should be such that there is Munasabat (compatibility), Aqeedat (confidence) and Azmat (respect). These qualities will facilitate Islaah – like how hot water makes possible a delicious cup of tea.

The Mureed who comes into the Suhbat (company) of the Sheikh with the correct intentions, will, Insha-Allah, experience immediate changes if he follows through with whatever he is directed to do. 

Like the water changes colour due to the effect of the tea bag infused in hot water, so in the company of the Sheikh, the Mureed’s heart will also be coloured with the sacrifice of evil desires.

Some Mujahadah (striving) and Qurbani (sacrifice) are required. There will have to be some effort made in giving up sins – both Baatini (internal) and Zaahiri (external) sins.

Allah Ta’ala commands us thus:

وَذَرُوْا ظَاهِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَبَاطِنَهٗ ۚ

“And Leave Sin, The Outward And The Inward…”
[Surah Al-An’aam 6 : 120]

From a different perspective: Like how the clear water undergoes change and turns black in the company of the teabag, in the company of the Sheikh, the Mureed undergoes a different change!

Often, a Saalik thinks himself to be very pious and sincere, due to his Ibaadaat and other good works. However, after establishing a connection with a Sheikh and keeping his company, the Mureed realises that his heart is darkened with weaknesses that he did not perceive before. Sometimes the darkness and blackness is due to Riyaa (ostentation/show), Takabbur (pride), Ujub (conceit/vanity) and other such spiritual sicknesses which become manifest to him. He realises he is far from being sincere and righteous. Humility is then cultivated within him.

The ‘blackness’ could also allude - so to say - to the mistakes and faults in his A’maal. His deeds may not be carried out properly due to incorrect knowledge and flawed understanding of Dien. As such, the person’s Taharah, Salaah and other A’maal may not even be valid. This correction and rectification of his Aqaa’id and Ibaadaat are also found in the company of the Sheikh.  This is the milk, which is added, whereby these aspects of one’s Dien become right. 

Just as the water imbibes the fragrance of the tea, so the Mureed’s heart and soul will then be beautifully fragranced with the love of Allah Ta’ala.

…A revert to Islam had beautifully said that we can take the following lesson from a tea bag: the more the hot, boiling water is poured over it, the more the flavour and bland of the tea comes out! Similarly the more the Mujahadah (striving / exertion) and hardships a person endures, the greater the blend of Islam and Imaan that comes forth.

Step by step, like how tea is made, the Sheikh’s effort is on the Mureed’s Aqaa’id, Ibaadaat, Mu’aasharaat (social conduct), Mu’aamalaat (business conduct) and Akhlaaq – on the line and pattern of the noble Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam).

Another thought that comes to mind is that as the Mureed develops his spirituality, the sheikh guides the Mureed, to introduce the pure milk of Ikhlaas in his Ibaadaat, Mu’asharaat, Mu’amalaat and Akhlaaq – and undertake all actions solely for Allah Ta’ala.

…Hadhrat Moulana Mazhar (Daamat Barakaatuhum) had mentioned a beautiful point regarding tea. Hadhrat (Daamat Barakaatuhum) explained: In preparing tea, generally, a little milk is added compared to the cup full of black tea. Despite the milk being a little – perhaps even a few drops – it changes the colour of the tea, which is black. Despite the tea being more, its black colour does not overcome the white milk; rather it is the small amount of white milk that overcomes the black tea.

Similarly, despite the high level of darkness and blackness of the Fitnahs that we find all around, we should not allow Fitnahs to overcome us; rather we should overcome the Fitnahs by the milk of Taqwa. We should also influence people towards Dien in the effort to overcome that darkness.

Most people will only enjoy their tea when it is sweet. Sugar, honey, or some other sweetener is then added.

In the case of the Mureed, the Sheikh makes an effort on his character and corrects his behaviour. The person’s speech and character then becomes pleasant. So by adding 'sugar', the Akhlaaq comes right.

The Sheikh also initiates the Mureed in Zikrullah which sweetens his heart and soul. 

The tea is not a perfect cup of tea even with the sugar added. It needs to be stirred by means of a spoon … and not a straw. When stirring the tea, there will be little knocks and bangs against the cup. If the tea is not stirred, the sugar will settle and remain at the bottom of the cup. By stirring the sugar, the person will enjoy a delicious cup of sweet tea.

For the Mureed, the little knocks and bangs are the final aspects of Mu’aamalaat and Mu’asharaat that are to be corrected. They are a means of making him complete as a human being. …Like the final knocks of the panel beater who is knocking out the last dents of the car. Alhamdulillah, the Sheikh does not make the Mureed “Japanese reconditioned”, but the Mureed becomes “Allah reconditioned”.

After this effort to make a delicious cup of tea, the tea is termed as “Lapdoz, labsoz, Labrez” which means that it is a hot, sweet full cup of tea and this is the type of tea we desire “Harroz” daily.

Any person that undergoes this process of Islaah and Tazkiyah will, himself, find great enjoyment every day. He will be enjoying the sweet taste and beautiful fragrance of Allah Ta’ala’s Ishq and Ma’rifat.  Added to this, Allah Ta’ala will love him and when Allah Ta’ala loves, then this love spreads in the heavens and in the earth – and the angels in the heavens and the people in this world will also love him.

Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) had said: “When Allah loves a person, He says to Jibra’eel (Alaihis Salaam), ‘I love this person, you should also love him.’ Jibraeel (Alaihis Salaam) then also loves that person and announces in the heavens, to the angels, that such a person is loved by Allah, ‘You all should love him.’ Then the dwellers of the heavens also start loving him, and then his Qubooliyat (acceptance or love) spreads on earth.”[3]

We should not delay in the matter of our Islaah. Life is too short. Start the process of Tazkiyah and Islaah, as well as this journey towards Allah Ta’ala. 

Know Allah Ta’ala and Love Allah Ta’ala, before reaching Allah Ta’ala and meeting Allah Ta’ala. ...As someone has aptly said: “Turn to Allah Ta’ala before you return to Allah Ta’ala.”

May Allah Ta’ala grant us all the concern to undertake this very noble effort of Islaah and Tazkiyah and become Allah Ta’ala’s Friend and enjoy the sweetness of His Love.

[1] Auliya Allah : Friends of Allah Ta’ala
[2] Saalik: One seeking Allah Ta’ala
[3] Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim