What is the definition of Nisbat?




How is Nisbat transferred from the Sheikh, can it be transferred after Sheikhs demise?

Also does transfer of Nisbat necessarily have to mean the responsibility of Khilafat is also transferred?

Can you please clarify these questions; also correct me if my understanding of Nisbat is not right. I am referring to it in the sense of the Urdu phrase “Nisbat Muntaqil”.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-sal?mu `alaykum wa-rahmatull?hi wa-barak?tuh.
Respected Brother in Islam,

Your question entails many sub-questions. Please resubmit any one question (besides the last question) of your choice.

However, we will respond to your last sub-question pertaining to the definition of Nisbat. Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) states: “The linguistic definition of Nisbat is: To link/connect”. In the terminology of Tasawwuf, Nisbat means “The special link that a person has with Allah (Ta’ala), i.e. the link of acceptance and happiness like the connection between an obedient Ashiq (lover) and loyal beloved”. Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) says that Nisbat is “To be conscious of Allah (Ta’ala) at all times and to stay far away from disobeying Allah (Ta’ala)”. (Anfas e Eesa, Pg.19-20) Nisbat is attained through Mujaahadah, Ashgaal, Awraad, Muraqabaat, Riyadhaat, e.t.c. (Anfas e Eesa, Pg.19, Ashrafiyyah, Karachi, Pakistan)

Hadhrat Mufti e A’dham Mufti Mahmood al- Hasan Gangohi (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) states regarding the definition of Nisbat: “A special bond is created with Allah (Ta’ala) whereby one does not disobey Allah (Ta’ala) and constantly remains in His obedience. Everything is done with sincerity and one is constantly concerned that Allah (Ta’ala) should be pleased with Him. When this bond with Allah (Ta’ala) is strengthened, it is then termed as “Nisbat Ma’Allah”.This explanation has been given by Hadhrat Thanwi (Rahmatullahi Alayhi)” (Malfoodhaat of Faqeeh al- Ummah, Pg.425, 1431)

Hadhrat Shaykh al- Hadeeth, Moulana Muhammed Zakariyya Saheb (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) states in his autobiography entitled “Aap Beeti”: Hadhrat Shah Abdul Aziz (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) says: “In the terminology of the Sufis, there are four kinds of ‘Nisbat’.

1. The first kind is Nisbat In’ikaasi (Reflected Nibat).

It is that condition which is attained through Zikrullah and Shugl (spiritual striving), so much so that a purity of the heart is attained and like a mirror the heart reflects whatever comes before it. Thus when this mureed goes into the presence of his Sheikh, all the heart’s light rays and spiritual effects of the Sheikh become reflected in the heart of the mureed. For this reason this is called Nisbat In’ikaasi.

The effect of this Nisbat remains with the mureed only for as long as he is in the presence of his Sheikh or near him. When he leaves the Sheikh’s presence, the effect of this Nisbat ceases.”

My one opinion is that this form of Nisbat resembles a photo, which is in fact a reflection. When the reflection is captured through various substances, it becomes permanent and concrete. Some Sheikhs give ‘Ijaazat for Bay’at’ for people who have this ‘Nisbat’. It is to this Nisbat, to which Maulana Thanwy refers to, when he says that if through Zikr and spiritual striving a person exerts himself, this Nisbat is retained and even made more solid.

In my opinion this is the Nisbat regarding which Hadhrat Maulana Thanwi (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) said: “Sometimes an incompetent and imperfect one is given Ijaazat for Bay’at…”

When the terms ‘imperfect’ and ‘incompetent’ are used, it should be borne in mind that, that is in relation to the person. If Ijaazat is given to this person, he still requires much effort to retain this state and progress further.

2. The second Nisbat is “Nisbat Al-qau-liyyah”.

This Nisbat is stronger than the previous one. It may be likened to a person who takes a lamp (or latern) with oil and wick and goes to the Sheikh, where it gets lighted with the flame of the Sheikh’s love for Allah.

Shah Abdul Aziz(Rahmatullahi Alayhi) says: “The Nisbat is stronger than the first one and in this case, it is not necessary to remain in the Sheikh’s company. Even when he is absent from the Sheikh the Nisbat remains and for as long as the oil and the wick, (the wirds which he recites), the Nisbat will remain. This Nisbat requires the oil and a wick; in other words the Zikr, wirds and spiritual efforts, it also requires voluntary abstention from evil deeds. Evil deeds will extinguish the flame.”

In connection with this Nisbat there is one very delicate point. The degree of strength in the oil of the lamp will determine the strength to combat temptations. If the lamp is a small weak one, it will be extinguished by a very minor breeze, whereas if the lamp is strong than a very minor breeze will not effect it’s flame. It is my opinion that because of this, it is of the utmost importance that every person should protect himself against evil with great care, because it is so easy for his spiritual light to be blown out by sins. When it happens that news is received about another person who became involved in sin, in reality or not, you should never pay attention to it and neither should any objections and criticism be levelled against him or his Sheikh.

I believe that the majority of the Nisbat of my Elders were ‘Al-qau-liyyah’. Hence on many occasions I have heard from my Elders and their Mujaaz that when ‘Ijaazat’ was given, lightening-like light immediately started shinning in the chosen one and the effects thereof became evident in many ways. I am of the opinion that this ‘lightening’ which struck them, is in fact the casting of noor onto the heart of the mureed by the Sheikh. Many examples of this have been seen.

No doubt this Nisbat is stronger than the In’ikasi Nisbat. But there are two things in this regard which are very important: The continuous flow of oil and the wick, and the diligent application there-of. In other words the diligent and regular recitation of Zikr, wirds and the abstention of sinful acts. Although a minor wind cannot easily destroy him, yet is is always possible that the slight breeze can suddenly become intensely strong and similarly a minor sin can suddenly be replaced by major sins.

3. Third form of Nisbat is ‘Nisbat Islaahi’:

Hazrat Shah Abdul Aziz (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) has stated that this form of Nisbat is stronger than both the previous Nisbats and likens it to someone who digs a water canal and strengthens the bed and the shores thoroughly. Then he connects the canal with a strong-flowing river. When the strong currents of water enters the canal, the strength of the water sweeps everything lying around in the water like leaves, branches, bricks and sand along with it. Small stones and rocks are unable to stop the flow of the river, but a very major rock or landslide can block its flow.

I am of the opinion that among the predecessors, the system of ‘Ijaazat’ was such that they initially put great emphasis on self-rectification and the acquisition of good qualities, first. When they found the mureed sufficiently improved, they advocated Zikr and Awraadh and only then was the mureed granted ‘Ijaazat’.

4. Hazrat Shah Saheb (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) has mentioned the fourth form of Nisbat as being ‘Nisbat Ittihaadi’, which is the highest of all.

This is that relationship where the Sheikh applies his spiritual Nisbat, which is the bearer of virtuous qualities and very high perfections, to the ‘Rooh’ of the mureed with vigor and strength. So that those good qualities penetrate into him and through the pressure applied with, becomes so settled in the heart of the mureed, that finally from a spiritual point of view, there remains no difference between Sheikh and mureed.

In order to explain this Nisbat, Shah Saheb told an interesting story about Khwaja Baaqi Billah(Rahmatullahi Alayhi), the Sheikh of Hazrat Mujaddid Alf-e-Thanee(Rahmatullahi Alayhi). Khwaja’s grave is in Delhi.

Whenever these people used to be given presents or gifts, it was generally very embarrassing and hard for them to accept such gifts and most of the time, they did so basically to please the giver. However if ever a present was given at the time of need, it was gratefully accepted, with sincere duas from the heart. If the receiver then makes dua and begs of something on behalf of this giver, that thing is quickly granted to him by Allah. Such duas are not always made, but when they are made, they turn out to be very effective and successful. Some people having seen the effectiveness of these duas (at such times), have formed an opinion that whatever dua comes out of the mouth of the Sheikh is automatically answered. This is not a hard and fast rule.

Then there is another thing about these saints. If ever happened that a guest visited them at a time where there is nothing at home with which to entertain the guest, the gift of necessities presented to them at that time is greatly appreciated. I have already told how, if ever any of my elders visited another on, the host always tried his utmost to entertain to the best of his ability.

Shah Abdul Aziz writes that some important guests once came to visit Khwaja Baaqi Billah(Rahmatullahi Alayhi), while he was completely destitute with nothing to eat. There was a restaurant/bakery near his house. When the shopkeeper saw these saintly people gathering at Khwaja’s house, at an inappropriate time, he filled a large tray with various kinds of food and took it to the house.

Khwaja Saheb asked: “What is this?”

He answered: “Khwaja Saheb, I have seen some guests arriving at your place and I have brought some food for the guests. Please accept it.”

Khwaja Saheb was very pleased and later, in his extreme pleasure he said spontaneously: “Ask of me whatever you wish to ask.”

The shopkeeper thought for a while and said: “Please make me just like yourself.”

Hazrat (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) thought for a while as he hesitated and then said: “Ask anything else.”

Again the man replied: “No, that is what I would like.”

As he had already told the man to request whatever he wished, and the man repeatedly insisted on the same thing three times, Khwaja took him into his room and locked the door from the inside. It is not known what kind of spiritual attentions (Tawajjuh) Khwaja showered on him. (It could be something similar to the incident which happened between Hazrat Jibraa’il Alayhis Salam and Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam at the time of the first revelation of the Quran. Jibraa’il Alayhis Salam told Rasulullah to read. When Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam told him that he could not read, Jibraa’il Alayhis Salam three times in succession embraced him and pressed him against his breast thrice and at the third time Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam asked what should he read. Then the first words of the Quran were revealed.)

When after a while they both emerged from the room, they both were completely alike and identical, even in outward (physical) appearance. Hazrat Khwaja (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) came out as he went in, while the shopkeeper-cook was in a high state of ecstasy. Soon afterwards he(Rahmatullahi Alayhi) passed away. May Allah grant him (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) a high rank in the Hereafter.

Death comes for sure, and when it comes there is no postponement or change possible. Here is a man who had been a cook all his life but at the time of death, he (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) left this world in the form of Khwaja Baaqi Billah(Rahmatullahi Alayhi). (Aap Beeti, Pg.631- 644)

These types of incidents can be comprehended only by those who believe and accept the depth of Tasawwuf. It may be difficult for someone who doesn’t understand the depth of Tasawwuf to comprehend such incidents.

We make Du’aa that Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) grant each one of us his Nisbat. Aameen.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Mahmood | darulmahmood.net

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