Timeless Advice from Precious Beings
BismiLlah Al Rahman Al Rahim,
Warning: this episode is from my own recollection. Some parts may have been omitted, slightly changed out of lack of memory. May God forgive me if I have wronged any of our shuyukhs for not transposing their words correctly.
After ‘isha (evening) prayer, I was still shaken by it. My mind kept replaying what Shaykh Hamza said: “When you repeat the Jalal names of God over and over, you’re putting yourself in a lot of trouble. The divine names are powerful. You should be careful when using them. There was one man who kept on repeating [a certain name Jalal name], he started having illusions, and [not thinking straight].” I was terrified. If the Only One did this to one of His servants, to whom will I run to?
“It’s like over the counter drugs., said Sidi Yahya, Why would you repeat the name “Al Muntaqim” over and over again? These names are powerful. You should go for the Jamil names of Allah” Sidi Yahya always found a way to explain things to his Fiqh students in a gentle manner. As if he saw how young we were but still motivated and willing to embrace our religion whole-heartedly. Like toddlers learning to walk…
Before heading to our rooms to sleep, Shaykh Hamza was circled by some brothers, discussing “Islamic” attire. You don’t need to look like a Pakistani or a Moroccan, if you’re an American. Just pick up what’s islamically suitable from your culture and wear it. “I wear these jelbabs out of respect and love for the tradition and while I’m teaching, but not on a daily basis.” When they left, Sidi Hamza was talking with Sidi Yahya and some of the Rihla organizers.
“Shaykh Hamza, could I ask a question? What you told us, Sidi, about the divine names really scared me, how can I then draw closer to Allah, if I can’t use the divine names?
– You can use the divine names of God but with precaution, and use the beautiful names (Jamal) like Al-Rahman, Al-Ghaffur, etc. There are things you can do that will always benefit you no matter how many times you repeat them:
Salawat on our Prophet (pbuh)
Recitation of Qur’an
Performing the sunnah prayers, night vigils
Fasting the full moon days
and if you’re not married you can also fast Mondays and Thursdays…”
Some time later, I came across one of the shuyukh’s wife, she told me what Shaykh Muhammad Haydara from Gambia said about the divine names: “[They] are like God’s phone numbers.” When her daughter fell from a bike and opened her chin, on their way to the hospital, the mother kept on repeating “Ya Shafi, ya Shafi (oh Healer)”. A few days later, the stitches on her chin just fell as if nothing had happened to her… Sobhanna Allah.