The Fifth Letter explains that sainthood is divided into three as small, great and medium sainthood.
The Fifth Letter
In His Name, be He glorified!
And there is nothing but it glorifies Him with praise.
In his Letters (Maktubat), Imam-i Rabbani1 (May Allah be pleased with him), the hero and a sun of the Naqshbandi Order, said: “I prefer the unfolding of a single matter of the truths of belief to thousands of illuminations, ecstasies, and instances of wonder-working.”
He also said: “The final point of all the Sufi ways is the clarification and unfolding of the truths of belief.”
He also said: “Sainthood is of three sorts: one is the ‘lesser sainthood,’ which is the well-known sainthood. The others are the ‘middle sainthood’ and the ‘greater sainthood.’ ‘Greater sainthood’ is to open up by way of the legacy of prophethood a direct way to reality without entering the intermediate realm of Sufism.”
He said also: “The spiritual journeying on the Naqshi way is with two wings.” That is, “Through having firm belief in the truths of faith and carrying out the religious obligations. If there is defect in these two wings, the way cannot be traversed.” In which case, the Naqshi way consists of three ‘veils’:
The First and most important is direct service to the truths of belief; Imam-i Rabbani travelled this way in his later years.
The Second is service to the religious obligations and Glorious Sunna under the veil of the Sufi way.
The Third is to work to eliminate the sicknesses of the heart by way of Sufism and to journey with the feet of the heart. Of these, the first is the equivalent of obligatory, the second, close to obligatory, and the third, Sunna.
Since the reality of the matter is thus, my conjecture is that if persons like Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Gilani2 (May Allah be pleased with him) and Shah Naqshband3 (May Allah be pleased with him) and Imam-i Rabbani (May Allah be pleased with him) were alive at the present time, they would expend all their efforts in strengthening the truths of belief and tenets of Islam. For they are the means to eternal happiness. If there is deficiency in them, it results in eternal misery. A person without belief may not enter Paradise, but very many have gone to Paradise without Sufism. Man cannot live without bread, but he can live without fruit. Sufism is the fruit, the truths of Islam, basic sustenance. In former times, through spiritual journeying from forty days to as much as forty years, a person might rise to some of the truths of belief. But now, if through Almighty Allah’s mercy there is a way to rise to those truths in forty minutes, it surely is not sensible to remain indifferent to it.
Thus, those who have studied carefully the thirty-three Words state that they have opened up just such a Qur’anic way. Since this is a fact, I am of the opinion that the Words written about the mysteries of the Qur’an are a most appropriate medicine and salve for the wounds of this time, and a most beneficial light for the totality of Islam which has been subject to the assaults of darkness, and a most right guide for those wandering bewildered in the valleys of misguidance.
You know that if misguidance arises from ignorance, it is easy to dispel. Whereas if it proceeds from science and learning, it is difficult to eliminate. In former times, the latter were one in a thousand, and of these only one in a thousand could come to the way through guidance. For such people fancy themselves. And they do not know, but they suppose that they do know. I think that Almighty Allah has bestowed the Words at this time, which are flashes of the Qur’an’s miraculousness, as an antidote to this atheistic misguidance.
The Enduring One, He is the Enduring One!
S a i d N u r s i
1. Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was also known as Imam-i Rabbani, Ahmad Faruqi, and as the Regenerator of the Second Millenium. He lived in India 971/1563 - 1034/1624, where he purified the religion of Islam of polytheistic accretions and efforts to degenerate it, and reformed Sufism. (Tr.)
2. Sayyid ‘Abd al-Qadir Gilani (Geylani), known as the Gawth al-A’zam, was the founder of the Qadiri Order and a towering spiritual figure in the history of Islam. He lived 470/1077-561/1166. (Tr.)
3. Muhammad Baha’uddin Naqshband. He was the founder of the Naqshbandi Order, and died in 791/1389 in Bukhara. (Tr.)
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