Shaykh Muhammad Salih al-Ja’fari

By Dr. Atiyya Mustafa.

A word of truth should not be suppressed for any reason, or spoken for the sake of one’s desire. Truth deserves to be followed, and the Truth (most high and sublime) took from His slaves a bond and oath to express what they know and to clarify what they understand. Some speech might not be attached to great benefit at certain times, and so it is not said because its time is not yet due, or it is not needed, or the like. As a saying goes, “Not everything that is known is to be said, and sometimes things are to be said, but their time has not yet come, and sometimes the time has come for things to be said, but the people to hear it are not yet present.”

The truth is that I – like others – know much about sayyidi Muhammad Salih al-Ja’fari (may Allah preserve him), and what is not known about him is even more, for he is a descendant of the blessed tree of people who went to great lengths to hide their efforts to draw near to Allah (most high) so that they remain purely for the sake of the countenance of Allah (most high). Furthermore, spreading some of what is known about him was not of great benefit during the presence of his father, sayyidi Shaykh Abdul Ghani al-Ja’fari (may Allah be pleased with him) amongst us, and wisdom therefore dictated silence about them at that time; when there was need to give advice for the sake of Allah (most high), only as much as was needed sufficed. However, now that sayyidi Muhammad Salih (may Allah be pleased with him) has carried the trust and taken on the responsibility, and the affair of the Path was given to him, including the act of calling to it and preserving its main fixtures, it has become necessary to mention some of what is known about him. This is out of wanting good for others for the sake of Allah (most high), and assisting one another in acts of good and piety, and to fulfill the right of the word of truth when its time has come, and the people for whom it is meant are present. So who is sayyidi Muhammad Salih? And what what his position in relation to his father and grandfather (may Allah be pleased with them)?

Sayyidi Muhammad Salih al-Ja’fari is the eldest son of sayyidi Shaykh Abdul Ghani Salih al-Ja’fari, the great man of struggle and effort, the great Knower of Allah who ordered the Path and declared it, in name and and form, in heritage and methodology, in mosques and students. He strove for the sake of Allah (most high) the way He deserves that we strive for Him, until death came to him.

Sayyidi Muhammad Salih is the eldest grandson of the Knower of Allah (most high), sayyidi Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari (may Allah be pleased with him) who was overjoyed at the birth of sayyidi Muhammad Salih when he was born, happy at the glad tidings that his line of descendants will continue, and Allah’s giving will continue for him. Sayyidi Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari was the scholar who acted upon his knowledge, the virtuous shaykh of upbringing, and the complete Wali of astounding secrets and apparent lights.

Sayyidi Imam al-Junayd (may Allah be pleased with him), the Chief of the Community, said, “When Allah (most high) grants one of His secrets to one of His slaves, He is too shy to take it from him at his death, and therefore puts it in his descendents.” Therefore the preservation of the secret of sayyidi Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari and the secret of sayyidi Shaykh Abdul Ghani in their progeny and descendants is undeniable. It is not surprising, therefore, to see in sayyidi Muhammad Salih (may Allah preserve him) the inheritance of knowledge, wisdom and forbearance, leniency, generosity, nobility, and right guidance and direction.

Allah (most high) showed that there is inheritance of honor and leadership, whether it be relating to prophecy or otherwise. He (most high) said, {They were offspring, one of the other} (3:34), {And Solomon was David’s heir} (27:15), and He (most high) said, quoting Zakariyya (peace be upon him) when he prayed for a son – who would be the Prophet Yahya (peace be upon him) – {One who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob} (19:6). Likewise He (most high) said about the owners of the wall in Sura al-Kahf (quoting al-Khadir peace be upon him), {As for the wall, it belonged to two youths, orphans, in the Town; there was, beneath it, a buried treasure, to which they were entitled, and their father had been a righteous man..} (18:82). Sayyidi Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari (may Allah be pleased with him) said in his book Fath wa Fayd wa Fadl min Allah, quoting sayyidna Ja’far al-Sadiq (may Allah be pleased with him): “It is said that this father was their tenth ancestor.” How is it then when it is the direct grandfather? Allah (most great and majestic) said, {And as for those who believe and their offspring follow them in faith, We will unite with them their offspring and We will not diminish to them aught of their work} (52:21).

The Prophet (may Allah bless him – and his family – and grant him peace) said regarding inheritance, “Fatima is a piece of me,” and “Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn.” Likewise sayyidna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) said, as in the narration of al-Bukhari, “Respect Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) by respecting his family members.”

Our Shaykh, sayyidi Salih al-Ja’fari (may Allah be pleased with him) explained the matter of inheritance and the rights that are attached to it, and what it carries of effects and blessings in his prose and poetry. You see him say in prose, “Three people possess two rights….The Shaykh’s son, his wife, and his close student….” The Shaykh’s son is at the forefront because he combines two of these positions within himself, and because of the responsibility and trust which he carries. Likewise what the Shaykh wrote on this topic in poetry is great, and we will mention just one example of it:

Look at the branches on the trees

they will tell you about the father and his sons

A lion roars if his cub is frightened

and the cub’s honor is protected by the lion!

Whoever reads the books and poetry of the Shaykh will find much on this subject.

It was not surprising, then, to see sayyidi Muhammad Salih (may Allah preserve him) remaining firm in the most difficult of situations that all of the Shaykh’s students had to go through when their shaykh died. Many of them were close to collapsing and losing their minds, and even the mountain sayyidi al-Husayn (may Allah preserve him) was mightily shaken despite his resoluteness, firmness, hardness, and rigor. Some melted, and almost everyone lost their minds, and everyone’s strength almost collapsed. Yet sayyidi Muhammad Salih (may Allah preserve him) remained firm, with Allah’s support, to gather everyone together, and unite them, and unify their word, and carry the trust, reminding everyone of the greatest lover of our master the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)…

It was the Greatest Siddiq who could hardly bear it whenever the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was ill, so how could he possibly bear the news of his departing to the Highest Companion? However, despite his intense love and passion, when the time for seriousness came, and the catastrophe exceeded all bounds, Allah (most high) kept him firm so that the service and the guidance of the shaykhs does not pause, and so that he could say the word of truth which was more difficult for him than the cut of a slaughter knife or the blow of an Indian sword: {Muhammad is not except a Messenger; Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you turn about on your heels?} (3:144).

He said it, his hurt suffering in ways that only Allah (most high) knows, from the anguish of separation and the intensity of sorrow. Sayyidi Muhammad Salih (may Allah preserve him) reminded us, through his action, of that stand taken by sayyidna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), at the passing of his beloved father, the shaykh for whom he would sacrifice himself, and his most treasured beloved. He said to us, “Stand firm.. Have patience… The Shaykh does not need this anxiety from you.” As the shaykh was being lowered into his grave, and one of the brothers said, “don’t cry now, not now, ” sayyidi Muhammad Salih said, “Not now and not later! The Shaykh has moved to the proximity of his Lord, well pleased and well pleasing, and has found rest from the tests and troubles of this world.”  It was as if he was repeating what sayyidna Abu Bakr said, “How good is your state in life and in death, oh Messenger of Allah!” It was as if he was saying to his father, the descendant of that blessed tree, “How good is your state in life and in death, father!”

A few days after the passing of the Shaykh, in the large tent were the Mashyakha of Sufi Turuq brought the Ramadan nights to life next to the Mosque of Imam Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him), sayyidi Muhammad Salih (may Allah preserve him) gave the good tidings to the brothers when he said: “Sayyidi the Shaykh ( may Allah be pleased with him) came to one of the brothers in a dream vision and said to him, ‘Convey to my son Muhammad Salih and to all the brothers that I am in great good, and in the best of states, and all the tiredness that I had is gone now. Advise them to hold firm to the Gathering of Remembrance, and to preserve our methodology, and the unity and brotherhood.”

I will not forget here to mention what sayyidi Shaykh Muhammad Salih al-Ja’fari (may Allah preserve him)  related to us during the visit to the Ahlul Bayt and the Awliya and the Righteous that is unique to the Tariqa Ja’fariyya Ahmadiyya Muhammadiyya. He told us that he saw his father sayyidi Shaykh Abdul Ghani al-Ja’afri (may Allah preserve him), who told him to convey his greetings to all the brothers, and to tell them to hold firmly to the Gathering of Remembrance and the poems of Madeeh (prophetic praise). His greatest counsel was to tell them to be sincere in their love of the Ahlul Bayt (may Allah be pleased with them all).

It is not surprising, then, for this inheritor to have remained firm in that circumstance, and to remain firm in all circumstances. For he is the one who was chosen by the Men of Allah to carry this trust, and this great and precious responsibility. Sayyidi al-Husayn (may Allah preserve him) spoke about this after the passing of sayyidi Shaykh Abdul Ghani, at the time when the Bay’ah was renewed with sayyidi Muhammad Salih as Shaykh of the Tariqa. At that moment sayyidi al-Husayn said:

“O Brothers. The renewal of the Bay’ah with my brother Muhammad Salih as Shaykh of the Tariqa is not based on protocol, regulation, or management. It is but confirmation of a vision that I have seen. I have seen sayyidna Imam al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him), a short while before the passing of sayyidi Abdul Ghani, and he is the one who chose sayyidi Muhammad Salih to be the Shaykh of the Tariqa after my father Shaykh Abdul Ghani. He is the one who appointed him as the Shaykh of the Tariqa.”

The Bay’ah was renewed so that the brothers do not feel any sluggishness in their aspiration or loss in their determination. The truth that no man of intellect can deny, is that sayyidi Muhammad Salih (may Allah preserve him) has been qualified for this responsibility for a long time. He is the one who was close to his father, his trustworthy adviser, and his right hand man. He drank from his beautiful character, was quenched from his knowledge and wisdom, and quaffed from his secrets and lights. Sayyidi Shaykh Abdul Ghani (may Allah be pleased with him) indicated to this many times in his life, for he would delegate him to represent him in everything, even in giving the Path and taking the Bay’ah in front of the brothers in the Gathering of Remembrance. Out of his great etiquette and his self-effacement, however, he would give the path in a nearby room, far from the Shaykh, out of etiquette and humility. Therefore the connection of the chain, and the continuation of the spiritual giving, is as clear as the Sun in the middle of the day.  This is not simply in the matter of physical inheritance, but when it comes to the law, the following, the spiritual travel, the inner vision, and the realization in the sciences: that penetrating, illumined inner vision, full realization, and complete inheritance. How many times did sayyidi Muhammad Salih (may Allah preserve him) mend hearts, and comfort those in need, whether from the Tariqa or otherwise, and how many times did he have clairvoyance into people’s states, and how many times did he heal wounds and pains, and how many times were hopes and ambitions finally attained through his hands.

His father and shaykh had raised him – as he had raised all the brothers – to have firmness and steadfastness in the world of spiritual heights and witnessing. One year, in the final night of the Mawlid of sayyidi Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari (may Allah be pleased with him), he saw his grandfather in the waking. Before he even spoke, his father surprised him by saying, “Stay where you are! Your grandfather will come and sit next to us.” In this Shaykh Abdul Ghani (may Allah be pleased with him) wanted to teach him to remain firm as he himself had been firm for all those years, in preserving one’s secrets, and in giving spiritual upbringing for the brothers purely for the sake of Allah (most high), and seeking His reward, and to have no interest in becoming known.

He spread the path and preserved

his secrets, by Allah.

He did this to dedicate his time to spiritual upbringing and guidance, and to preserve the minds of the murids.

One time sayyidi al-Hasan saw our master the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the Gathering of Remembrance, and told this to his brother al-Husayn (may Allah preserve them all). He went and conveyed this to his father, but his father remained quiet and motioned to him not to announce it.

Of those things which confirm the inheritance of the Shaykh is his great aspiration which showed most clearly after the passing of his father. This became clear through the great attention that he gave to the Gatherings of Remembrance, and to visiting the different centers, and in the blessed trip to all the centers in Aswan, and the preservation of the heritage and legacy. The Shaykh has refurbished and renewed the blessed dining area in the main center in Cairo, and has completed the building of the maqam of sayyidi Shaykh Abdul Ghani (may Allah be pleased with him). The spiritual aspiration of the Spiritual Heir is from the spiritual aspiration of the shaykh in the Barzakh, nay in this case the two shaykhs in the Barzakh. He who looks at his shaykh with two eyes, one eye seeing him, and another eye seeing his connection to the shaykhs in the Barzakh, he will find his eye most content and joyful.

Further Reading:

The Role of the Living Shaykh and the Role of the Shaykh of the Barzakh: Part 1, Part 2.

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