Abu Anees Barkat Ali: an erudite sufi saint
A man well known as Abu Anees Muhammad Barkat Ali, addressed lovingly as Babbaji, was born in 1911 in the District of Ludhiana (East Punjab) and died on 26th January 1997. He was an embodment of all the qualities and character-traits of the great sufi masters and the pious of the past (salf salehim). Once again he revived, practised and displayed the essential of the Faith, living the while a simple and meaningful life that his devotees take pride in.
As a young army officer in Royal Indian Engineers (Roorkee Cantt) he served for thirteen years only and was boarded out honorably in 1945 for his hermetic practices that he had sensed and perceived irretrievably form Makhdum “Ala-ud-Din “Ali Ahmad As-Sabir (d. 1290 CE) by his regular attendance at his khanqah in Kalyar on the bank of a canal , some six miles due North-East of Roorkee.
Having been duly rewarded and blessed spiritually there, he took his ba’iyat (allegiance) at the hands of a living Shaikh, Syed Amir Al-Hssan Ambalvi (d. 1955) whom Babaji often referred to as Shah Walayat (Sultan of Mysticism), reaping and enhancing further his erudition and knowledge under his tuition and in his company.
Command by his Sahikh, Babaji and his family migrated to the new homeland in Pakistan in 1947 and after initial wanderings for a year or so finally settled at Salarwala in District Faisalabad where he founded an institute called Dar-ul-Ehsan and wrote and published his master pieces:Kitab Al-Amal Bis-Sunnah Al-M’aroof Tartib Sharif Volumes 1-6; Makshoofat Man azil-I-Ehsan Volumes 1-5 ; Asma’ Al-Nabi Al Karaim (PBUH). He completed his saying, Maqalat-I-Hikmat volumes 1-30, at Camp Dar-ul-Ehsan, another convent, a prototype of his mentor Al-Kalyari’s , he founded after his still another migration in 1983 to an open farraland on the bank of a canal situated some six, miles away form the City of Faisalabad on Samundri Road.
Some of Abu Anees Muhammad Barkat Ali’s monumental works have already been translated into English and are published and distributed free of charge by Dar-ul-Ehsan Publications based in Huddersfield, UK, and registered as an international religious charity with the Charity Commission (London). The books in Urdu, Arabic and Persian original have been scanned on to CDs and DVDs for wider distributions to the benefit of the Muslim Ummah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in particular and interested non-Muslims in general.
Even during his life time his publication reached all over the world and people visited him from far and wide. His scholarship was acclaimed by leading scholars of his time. Dr Abdul Alim, the Rector of Al-Azhar University (Cairo) and Professor Hussain Nasr, the Vice-Chancellor of Tehran University in 1387 AH, later on the Shah of Iran’s roving ambassador on Iranian Culture, and the author of several voluminous and celebrated books on contemporary Islam, both visited him to pay their homage.
Babaji wrote and honoured Professor Hussain Nasr with a stunning spas’name (welcome address) in Persian that was also published in one of his monthly issues of Dar-ul-Ehsan. The address portrayed Babaji’s deep devotion to and respect for the descendants of the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH) on the one hand and appreciation of the Professor’s contribution to Da’wah-o-Tabligh Al -Islam on the other. One of the couplets of the address reads thus.
“A voice came to me from the quarters unknown;
‘Beware! O the dwellers of (Pakistan) the land renown,
The Honorable visitor, the offspring of the Prophets’ Crown (PBUH),
Is Hussain Nasr, the Spirit of the Faith, wearing the dan’s gown.'”
Professor Sayed Hussain Nasr currently holds the Chair of Cultural Studies in one of the leading American Universities.
Dr Hakim Ghulam Mu’in-ud-Din Chisti, an American convert to Islam and Shaikh Al-Chistiyyah of America, has described Babaji’s religious practices in the following words:
“He is truly the embodiment of heart and soul of the Din of Islam, and all people should strive to emulate him as he is one who comes so to fulfilling the sunnah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH).”
It was much less to do with his clairvoyance and miraculous utterance than his magnetic person and charming disposition that people visited him. His smile was so captivating that a visitor said goodbye to him alright, but left his heart and mind behind with Babaji, longing to come back for his blessings again and again. When another American visitor was asked, he replied:
“In Babaji’s company I found myself spiritually invigorated and physically elevated in peace with myself.”
The sick were treated free of charge at Babaji’s hospitals where he administered at both Camp and Dar-ul-Ehsan campuses twice a year eye camps for hundreds of thousands blinds suffering from cataract and other eye ailments. The hospitals are carrying out un-stintingly and continually the selfless and free services to the less privileged, deprived and disadvantaged members of the public. To this kind of community development spirit, Babaji alludes in his foreword to The Book of Sufi Healing:
“Not even the highest degree of dedication to worship may earn anybody the claim of divine forgiveness or recompense in any other form, yet there is one thing that everybody should make sure of, which shall not go unrequited under any circumstances by Allah the Almighty, and that is the selfless service to the ailing humanity.”
Babaji set up a madrassah in his sanctuary for the education of the children of the new converts to Islam. He devised courses and wrote primers/books of his own which are these in wide use in mosque schools. For the converts themselves, who were primarily nomads, he had the houses built with the moneys received from his friends. His life has been an exemplary model of the fiscal propriety in Islam for emulation by individual and collective life stances in Pakistan.
These words in his memory are our token of love for him as also invitation to the readers to delve into his writings for the good of our souls and welfare of the collective life in the motherland whose security and prosperity were upper in his mind and embedded deep in his heart. A couple of years before his demise, he is on record with the Pakistan TV interview, having prayed passionately for the good of Pakistan, her integrity, prosperity and glory amongst the comity of world nations.
For those who had a calling for it, Babaji imparted spiritual knowledge in some fourteen different mystical Orders, including most importantly the Mustafwiyyah and Qadariyyah. His scholarship would have us believe his deep study and reading of the mystical literature. For example, the sufi masters in the mystic orders stand divided over the Nature and Dhat (Being) of Allah the Almighty the one called the Wujudiyyah (everything is with Him) and the other the shuhudiyyah (everthing is with Him). Muhiyyid-din Muhammad Ibn Al-Arabi(d. 1240 CE), the Shaik Al-Akbar of Sapin, is the well-known exponent of the former and Shaikh Badar-ud-Din Ahmad As-Sirhindi (d. 1624 CE), Mujaddad Alif-Thani, of the latter. Reconciling the two Babaji writes that it is the same light (nur) of Allah the Almighty that permeates and pervades the dry blade of grass as it does in a rose referring at the same time to the saying of the Holy Messenger (PBUH):
‘ponder over the shuyunat (qualities/attributes) of Allah the Almighty and not His Dhat.”
He laid a great deal of stress on character building and strong moral ethics. In this regard, his Makshoofat Manzal-Ehsan is a dossier and sum total of Maqaram Al-Akhlaq (the praise worthy morals) and Makhraj Al-Akhlaq (the desultory or derogatory conduct).
In fulfillment of the fivefold cardinal sufic parameters above the daily sessions of dhikr are held uninterruptedly in his life time and still are at his seminaries and at the households of some of his devotees. The dhikr has been commanded by Allah the Almighty; the Holy Prophet (PBUH) performed it as it is the cure for the ailments of physical body and ills of the society. Babaji ate and slept little, dressed simply and wrote profusely. He gave away by the evening the daily donations and presents that he received from his friends and devotees, lived like birds with trust in Allah the Almighty. He died on 16th Ramadan Al-Mubarak, the day when his shrine in Camp Dar-ul-Ehsan is jam packed with thousands of his devotees from throughout Pakistan and abroad thus paying homage to their dear mentor at the anniversary.\
Babaji Hazoor’s message for all of us is:
“O people! We have come to this world to earn for the life hereafter. Allah the Almighty has created us for His worship and everything of the universe for ourselves. Everything belongs to us and we to Allah the Almighty. This world is illusory, perishable and we are guests here for only a few days. We will have to leave our worldly wealth behind. We have nothing except our good deeds to take with us to the world hereafter. O people! Turn towards Allah the Almighty. This world and everything that it contains is temporary and only for a short time. It is subject to destruction. It will only last a few days. O people! We are not going to live here forever and nor are we to return. Everything that belongs to the world will be left behind. We can take none of it with us. We have come to the world in order to earn for the next ever-lasting life. What ever we sow here we will harvest there. O people! Fear Allah the Almighty do what is commanded and shun what is forbidden. Allah the Almighty has emphasised the importance of Salat / Prayer. Let no worldly job stop you. Give your Zakat whole heartedly.. Pay your due in full and make sure it reaches the needy people. O people! The creation is Allah the Almighty’s family. Be kind to the family of Allah the Almighty. Seek the pleasure of Allah the Almighty in the service of his creation. Let unity, understanding, love and brotherhood flourish among the Islamic nation.”
Babaji Hazoor has diagnosed and provided solutions to the problems we have individually and collectively. On an individual level, for each and every one of us. If we want to become better people, if we wish to be better Muslims. Then Babaji Hazoor informs us;
Do not tell lies, it is forbidden, stop it!
Do not backbite, it is forbidden, stop it!
Do not tell tales, it is forbidden, stop it!
Do not be jealous, it is forbidden, stop it!
ZikrAllah, The remembrance of Allah the Almighty, Ahlan Wasalan, most welcome.
Babaji Hazoor is such a person who has devoted his life, dedicated his life for the cause of Islam. In fact, when Babaji Hazoor adopted this life. Babaji Hazoor took a vow, a promise to Hadrat Ala-ud-Deen Ali Ahmad As Sabir Kalyari (REM) to devote his life to:
Zikrallah – The remembrance of Allah the Almighty
Dawah o Tabligh – Invitation to and spread of Islam
Kidmat Khalq – free service to humanity
Time ticked on for over half a century, over the years the political rules and peoples fortunes changed. But this man of Almighty Allah has miraculously kept his promise, praying and supplicating. Owning nothing whatever of worldly possessions.
Babaji Hazoor had nothing of material value of this world. He lived a life of simplicity, but with unbelievable, unshakeable trust in the creator and sustainer, Allah the Almighty.
Babaji Hazoor commands and urges us all to be occupied in three tasks, three jobs.
Dhikr – the remembrance of Allah
Dawah-o-Tabligh – invitation to and spread of Islam.
Kidmat Khalq- free service to humanity.
With regard to Kidmat Khalq (service to mankind) Babaji Hazoor writes:
“The best achievement is that you should benefit mankind but should not expect any reward in return. Serve everyone but do not expect any service from anyone. O living one! Live in this world in such a manner that you may enlighten the world. Neither have you to come to this world time again nor will you be sent here again. Your life should be an example for your nation. Indeed service to the sick without remuneration is the most exalted and accepted worship of Allah the Almighty.”
Do not forget our beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) states:
“If a person goes to visit a sick patient in the morning 70,000 angels send blessings and pray for his forgiveness till evening. If he goes to visit in the evening 70,000 angels say blessings and pray for his forgiveness till morning.”
In another hadith it is narrated:
Whoever visits the sick, an angel in the Heaven calls out:
“May you reap happiness in the Hereafter, may your walking in this world and the next be blessed, and may you enjoy a high rank in the Heaven”
All this benefit and forgiveness is for a single visit to a patient. What would it be for continual treatment and care!
Babaji Hazoor informs us:
Worship is liked by Allah the Almighty
Service is liked by Humanity and Allah the Almighty
Worship may be accepted or rejected by Allah the Almighty, as He pleases.
Service is always accepted by Allah the Almighty.
Service is the best worship and is granted to the best of people.
At Darul Ehsan, Babaji Hazoor has established a well-equipped hospital for free use by everyone. Twice a year eye camps are held. Where eye operations, accommodation for patients and relatives, food for all present are provided free of charge. Many people born blind have been blessed by eyesight.
Also at Darul Ehsan, Babaji Hazoor opened the world’s first Quran Mahal. Today the Holy Quran’s that become worn out are sent to Darul Ehsan where they are beautifully stored and given the respect they deserve in the Quran Mahal.
Selfless service to the ummah of the last Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) is Babaji’s aim and order for every devotee of Darul Ehsan.
Dawah-o-Tabligh, invitation to and spread of Islam is a task which everyone of us must be engaged in.
Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Quran:
“You are the best of people evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong and believing in Allah.”
“Let there rise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. They are the ones to attain happiness.”
“Invite all to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them in ways that are best.”
The last message in the last sermon by our beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) is for invitation to and spread of Islam. It is Darul Ehsan’s mission to spread the message of Islam, as far and wide as possible. Babaji Hazoor himself wrote personal letters of invitation to world leaders and prominent individuals in the hope that they will submit and embrace Islam.
In addition to that Babaji Hazoor is constantly urging and commanding his followers to practise the teachings of Islam and then to inform and encourage others to do likewise. Babaji Hazoor considers it his duty to invite and awaken people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike to Islam. Part of the aim is to eliminate ignorance among Muslims about their own faith and to introduce new Muslims to the realm of Islam, so that they may taste the sweetness of the Din.
Babaji Hazoor writes,
“Our work is to spread Islam to Allah the Almighty’s people, in His kingdom and for His sake. This has to be done right up to the last breath of our life. We must do this with complete trust in Allah the Almighty. We must spread Islam where it has not reached, going there where no one has gone before. It should always be borne in mind that you are a mubaligh of Islam. The religion of Allah the Almighty.
It is therefore imperative that all your words and actions reflect your adherence to the Holy Quran and Sunnah with sincerity and rightness, so that you may become an example for others.”
Babaji Hazoor regards the importance of following the example of our Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) as absolutely essential. At Darul Ehsan everything to the smallest, minute detail is according to the sunnah of our beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him).
It is widely known that Babaji Hazoor often declared He would like to be corrected if he lacked the practice of any of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him).
In the words of an American convert who visited Babaji Hazoor, he writes:
“Babaji Hazoor is the person all people should strive to emulate as he is one who comes so close to fulfilling the Sunnah of beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him).”
The essence of really loving the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) is beautifully summed up by Babaji Hazoor.
He repeatedly states:
“Devotion to the Holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) is my faith
Love, my way of life
And obedience my goal.”
And by being on this path over one hundred thousand (100,000) individuals have come into the fold of Islam, embraced Islam at the hands of Babaji
With regard to invitation to and spread of Islam, Babaji is also the author of over 400 books all various aspects of Islam.
All Darul Ehsan publications, which run into thousands of pages, are supplied free of charge for the benefit of the ummah of the last Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him). Each book is unique. For example, Babaji Hazoor has written Asma Al Nabi Al Karim (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) – The Bounteous Names of the Holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him). This is a five-volume book in which Babaji Hazoor presents one thousand four hundred and thirty eight Holy Names of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him).
Every place has a speciality the speciality of Darul Ehsan is Zikr Illahi – The remembrance of Allah the Almighty.
Baabji Hazoor reminds us:
Where there is Allah’s Zikr, there is Allah’s Blessing.
Where there is Allah’s Zikr, there is Allah’s Mercy.
Where there is Allah’s Zikr, gloom and grief disappear.
Where there is Allah’s Zikr, worries and anxiety vanish.
Where there is Allah’s Zikr, Shaitan cannot enter.
Where there is Allah’s Zikr, health abounds.
Where there is Allah’s Zikr, there is peace of mind.
Where there is Allah’s Zikr, there is the hearts satisfaction.
Aloud Zikr has many benefits
Loud Zikr gives the knowledge of the Zikr to those who don’t know.
Loud Zikr creates amongst the non zakirs the fondness and inclination for remembrance.
Loud Zikr has tongue, heart and mind, all three occupied in worship.
Loud Zikr protects the Zakir against drowsiness, sleep and laziness.
Loud Zikr has all its blessings reaching to all those places where the Zakirs voice reaches.
Loud Zikr afford to the Zakir many witnesses who bear testimony on the day of Judgement.
Loud Zikr is sought after by the angels.
Loud Zikr have glad tidings given to them by Allah the Almighty.
Take it, that when ever we remember Allah the Almighty. Allah the Almighty is remembering us. We remember Him amongst human beings, He remembers us amongst the angels.
Now just for yourself what can be better than to be remembered by Allah amongst the Angels?
The Prophet (Peace and Blessings be Upon him) stated:
“One meeting of Zikr wipes out, counter balances two million evil sittings”
Allah the Almighty states:
“In the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.”