Translated from Shaykh Khalid Muhammad Thabit’s book:
From the Qutbs of the Ummah in the 20th Century:
Shaykh Ahmad Rida Khan al-Barlewi (India)
Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari (Egypt)
Shaykh Ahmad Bamba (Senegal)
The great and leading role that our shaykh al-Imam al-Ja’fari performed was in his bringing to life al-rabbaaniyya (lordliness: the state of being with Allah) in its pure and clear form in the age of materialism and desires.
This is a man from the followers of our master Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa Alihi wa sallam, who performed his role in life to the utmost, and exceeded in that many others, and yet did not by any degree relinquish any bit of the fixtures of our pure Islamic religion in its highest levels: the level of Ihsaan. And he did not take the excuses of those who used the excuse of the changing of times and circumstances, because the rabbaniyyeen never looked at anything except Allah, the creator of the circumstances and Time, and the creator of everything.
If you, oh noble reader, where to see one of his poems like “Sharaab al-Arifeen” (The Drink of the Knowers) you would have thought that it was composed by someone from the righteous salaf (predecessors) of the ummah: those who lived in the ages of purity and virtue, in the first centuries of Islam.
Imam al-Ja’fari did not say it- and say others like it- while secluded from the people in a cave on top of a mountain. No, he said it in the midst of life, coming and going between the people in the heart of Cairo: bustling, crowded, and full of all the contradictions of the modern age. However, a high level of uboodiyya (servanthood) had been realized in him, where the heart is with Allah, and the body is among the people.
Listen to him while he says in an easy language that is not difficult for anyone:
The drink is poured in the dhikr
A drink whose scent diffuses strongly.
We entered the presence of purity (hadrat al-quds)
And it was Laylatul Qadr
We drank the cup of Love
And it made us lovers for all our lives.
A drink pressed most sweet,
And it was the hour of pressing (‘asr)
In the depth of the night we were called
By the Lord of the Throne, for Fajr
So how many are those awake in supplication
And how many are those reciting the Dhikr (the Qur’an)
And how many are those up, crying,
With tears dripping down like rain drops.
So ask the prayer movements about them,
In the time when the night is passing.
And how many are in the mosque in i’tikaf,
Like a bird in its nest.
And how many are buying, selling,
But the love in their hearts like burning coals.
And how many are the worshipers walking
With the Qutbs and with al-Khadir
And how many are travelers, journeying
Like the birds and like the eagle.
And how many are the scholars, presenting
Pearls of knowledge, like the ocean.
And how many are doing dhikr at night,
Like the lion when it roars.
And how many are silent, reciting,
With their souls, in their innermost being.