Maktūbāt (letters) of Hazrat Khwājā Ubaydullāh Ahrār (quddis sirruhū)

Title page: Letters of Khwaja Ahrar

Title page: Letters of Khwaja Ahrar

The Sufi letters (Maktūbāt) of Hazrat Khwājā Ubaydullāh Ahrār quddis sirruhū (1404-1490 CE) have been recently published and translated by Jo-Ann Gross, professor of history at the College of New Jersey. This is the first ever publication of these letters which contains Persian text and English translation. She has written an excellent introduction to the very rare and original manuscript containing the letters of Khwājā Ahrār and his deputies (khulafā). The manuscript is currently present in Uzbekistan and contains the original letters pasted onto the pages of the manuscript. The images of the handwritten letters in the manuscript are also provided in full. The book is available here:

The Letters of Khwāja ‘Ubayd Allāh Ahrār and His Associates

Here I present a few selected letters for the readers, under the right of fair use. These were written to the then king and contain advice to the sultān to establish the rule of Sharī’a.

Letter 20

The Prophet Solomon, (May the blessings of God be upon our Prophet and upon him), the pinnacle of magnanimity, required that the obstacles to the closeness to the blessings of the Almighty, which consist of carrying out the duties of obedience [to Him], be undertaken with heart and body, esoterically and spiritually, in true supplication and humbling [of oneself]. Without conquering the wicked carnal souls of jinns and humans, finding this meaning [ma’nā] will not be fully achieved. The attainment of this ability is not possible except through the Almighty. Through the utmost knowledge and perfect gnosis [lā-jaram, az sar-i dānish va kamāl-i ma’rifat] in the expression of supplications, he appealed to God, saying, “O Lord, forgive me, and give me such a dominion as none will merit after me.” Whatever the master of magnanimity in whose essence the desire for the attainment of happiness is imprinted, out of necessity, he shall do all that shall be the cause of finding this kind of ability. The subjugation of the carnal souls [nufūs-i sharīra] is sometimes through force and sometimes through magnanimity. The request from his Majesty is that [he] shall subjugate some through magnanimity so the people will be relieved from hardship. If subjugation is not feasible through magnanimity, then out of necessity he must undertake the means to bring them under [control] by force, on the condition that in undertaking those means, he [should] observe the command [farmān] of the master of the Sharī’a [sāhib-i Sharī’a, Muhammad], (the utmost greetings and blessings be upon him), because the universal goal is reverence for the master of the Sharī’a and of the Sharī’a [itself]. What is understood from the course [of action] of the servitors of both sides is that lawful permission is not [being] observed.

If I open this to discussion
Questions and answers will become lengthy.

The taste of the impression [naqsh] of love [of God] departs from me
And the engraving of service [naqsh-i khidmat] [to God] becomes the engraving [naqsh] of another kind.

Knowing one’s own limits and observing proper courtesy [adab] are among the requirements of the mystical state [lavāzim-i hāl] of the people of neediness [arbāb-i faqr]. More than this would be wearisome. Peace and respect!

The needy one, ‘Ubday Allāh

Letter 305

After the statement of supplication, the petition is that: insofar as victory cannot be imagined except through the Almighty, the victory of his Majesty, (exalted be his name), in contrast to the victory of his servants [bandegān], belongs only to the Sharī’a. In accordance with the noble passage [of the Qur’ān], “If you help God, He will help you,” it has always been the wish and desire of this faqīr that his Majesty may be engaged in the strengthening of the Sharī’a of the Prophet Muhammad, the Messenger of God. Although the signs of his Majesty’s success are increasing over time, the request of this helpless one is that, purely for God’s sake, he [the Sultān] may expend all his resolve to receive increasing success from the Almighty in annulling the strange and evil customs of the people of desire [rusūm-i muhdatha-i munkara-yi ahl-i havā] so that the Muslims may find tranquility, the darkness of the people of desire may be reduced, and the lights of the Sharī’a, [according to the āyat], “Light upon light, God guides to His light whom He will,” may appear in such a way that the fetters of desire may be sent to oblivion [‘adam-ābād]. Although the signs and the propagation of the faith of the Prophet Muhammad [are] apparent and clear in the rule [saltanat] of his Majesty, not one moment of rest must be taken from demanding its increase, because the tranquility of the Muslims is in the good fortune of his Majesty. Although my requests from his Majesty are many, the summary of all of them is that the acquisition of spiritual virtues [iktisāb-i fazā’il-i ma’naviya], which is linked to following the beloved of the first and the last [the Prophet Muhammad], (May the blessings of God be upon him and his family), should not be neglected for the sake of the worldly interests [musālih-i sūriya] established by the people of desire.

If I open this to discussion
Questions and answers will become lengthy.

The taste of the impression [naqsh] of love [of God] departs from me
And the engraving of service [naqsh-i khidmat] [to God] becomes the engraving [naqsh] of another kind.

Peace and respect!

The needy one, ‘Ubayd Allāh

 

This entry was posted in Maktubat (letters). Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *