Sheikh Rislan al-Dimashqi
الشيخ رسلان بن عبد الرحمن بن عبد الله الجعفري
(d. ~540 H.)
| One ohe greatest
walis of Damascus. His chain goes
back to al-Sari
near Bab Tuma. With him
is buried: His Sheikh Abu `Âmir
on the qibla side; and on the southern side: Sheikh Abu Majd, Ibrahim
b. `Abd al-`Aziz al-Sanadi, the care-taker of the grave, Sheikh Najm al-Din b. Isra'il, and
Sheikh Ahmad al-Harun
(d. 13.. H./ 1961). – Within Bab Tuma is his home and a small mosque
used to worship, and a well that he dug with his own hands.
Reference: Ziarat al-Sham
Biographical notes from Qala'id al-Jawahir
His response to Sheikh `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani
Risala fi al-Tawhid
Sheikh Rislan al-Dimashqi
1. Sheikh Abu ` Amir al-Mu'addab – الشيخ أبو عامر المؤدب
2. Sheikh - YaSin – الشيخ ياسين
3. Sheikh Musallama – الشيخ مسلمة
4. `Aqilah – عقيلة
5. `Ali b. `Alim - علي بن عليم
6. Abu Sa`id – أبو سعيد
7. `Isa al-Haram – عيسى الحرام
8. Al-Sari al-Saqati – السري السقطي
May Allah bepleased wiht them all – رضي الله عنهم أجمعين
Source: Ziarat al-Sham
In Qala'id al-Jawahir [Necklaces of Gems], which is essentially a biography of Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him), Shaikh Muhammad ibn Yahya at-Tadifi includes the following section about Sheikh Rislan al-Dimashqi:
Biographical notes on
Sheikh Rislan al-Dimashqi
from Qala'id al-Jawahir
One of the leading Shaikhs who paid glowing tribute to him [Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (may Allah be well pleased with him)] was that splendid exemplar, Shaikh Raslan ad-Dimashqi (may Allah be well pleased with him).
He was one of the pre-eminent Shaikhs of Syria, one of those remarkable individuals who know through direct experience [a'yan al-'arifin], and one of those who are outstanding on account of their superior skills. He was endowed with lofty indications, with elevated aspirations, with truthful expressions, with supernatural charismatic exploits [karamat khariqa], with majestic spiritual stations, and with exalted situations. He held the highest degree of directly acquired forms of knowledge [ma'arif], the loftiest position in the realm of the realities [haqa'iq], and the foremost standing in nearness, clear unveiling and brilliant illumination [fath], as well as a firmly established empowerment and an effective aptitude for management.
He is one of the leading figures of this [spiritual] business, and one of its pillars, in terms of learning ['ilm] and practice ['amal], real achievement [tahqiq], direct knowledge [ma'rifa], and indifference to worldly concerns [zuhd]. He is one of those whom Allah (Exalted is He) has brought to the notice of his fellow creatures, and upon whom He has conferred acceptance and abundant veneration in their sight. He put him in firm possession of the spiritual states [ahwal] and of sainthood [wilaya], made him privy to the mysteries of the universe [asrar al-kawn], and granted him freedom of disposal in the realm of existence [wujud]. At his hands, He manifested wondrous marvels, for his sake He disrupted the customary patterns of nature, and He appointed him as a leader [imam] for the spiritual travelers [salikin].
He eventually became responsible for the training of all the seekers [muridin] in Syria. A group of its Shaikhs became affiliated with him, and not a few of its inhabitants enjoyed the benefit of his fellowship. The religious scholars ['ulama'] and the elders (may Allah be well pleased with them) pointed him out with profound respect and reverent admiration. Various animals used for transport alighted in his courtyard, arriving from every direction and by every route, and riders followed in his tracks from every deep ravine [min kulli fajjin 'amiq].3
Shaikh Raslan ad-Dimashqi (may Allah be well pleased with him) was charming, graceful, courteous and humble. He combined the most noble traits of character, the most perfect manners, and the most excellent attributes. He was also endowed with a sublime way of speaking about the process of real experiences [minhaj al-haqa'iq].
He explained, for instance, that one who knows by experience [al-'arif] is closely monitored in everything by his direct vision [mushahada], and that intimate knowledge [ma'rifa] becomes manifest in the revelation of insight. This is because one who knows by direct experience has already reached his spiritual destination [al-'arif wasil], but then the secrets of Allah (Exalted is He) are conveyed to him in a complete totality, by the lights that make him privy to the facts of the unseen [shawahid al-ghaib], and privy to the secret of control. Thus he is taken from his own person [nafs], then restored to his own person, firmly established in his heart. His being taken from his own person is an act of bringing near [to the Lord], while his being restored to his own person is a training exercise [tahdhib], and his self-control is a special assignment [takhsis]. The bringing near [taqrib] causes him to witness, the training causes him to exist, and the special assignment gives him a separate identity. Thus his separate identity [tafrid] is his existence [wujud], his existence is his witnessing [shuhud], and his witnessing is his witnessing. As Allah (Exalted is He) has told us:
The eyes do not perceive Him, [la tudriku-hu 'l-absaru] – but He perceives the eyes. [wa Huwa yudriku 'l-absar]. (6:104)
So His perceiving of the eyes is witnessed by the faculties of insight [basa'ir].
It was the enlightened Shaikh Abu Muhammad Ibrahim ibn Mahmud al-Ya'li who said:
"One day in the springtime, Shaikh Raslan (may Allah be well pleased with him) was in one of the gardens of Damascus, together with a group of his companions. One of them said to him: 'O my master, what is the saint [wali] who is fully endowed with the principles of enablement [ahkam at-tamkin].' 'My dear young son,' he replied, 'he is the one whom Allah (Exalted is He) has invested with the reins of management [tasrif].' His companion then asked: 'What is the distinctive mark of that condition, O my master?'
"The Shaikh responded by picking up four twigs. He singled out one of them and said: 'This twig represents the summer. He singled out another and said: 'This twig stands for the fall, the autumn season.' He singled out another and said: 'This one represents the winter.' Then he singled out yet another and said: 'This one stands for the spring.' He then took the twig which he had designated for the summer, and waved it to and fro with his hand. As he did so, the weather grew intensely hot. Then he threw that twig away, picked out the one he had designated for the fall or autumn, and waved it to and fro. As he did so, along came all the typical features of autumn and the season of the fall. Then he threw that twig away, picked out the one he had designated for the winter, and waved it to and fro. As he did so, the winter winds began to blow, the weather grew bitterly cold, and then the leaves began to wither on the trees in the garden, and so on. Then he threw that twig away, held onto the one he had designated for the spring, and waved it to and fro. As he did so, the trees turned green with fresh leaves, the branches began to blossom, and the breezes of springtime blew.
"Then he gazed at the birds on the trees in the garden. He went over to one of the trees, gave it a shake, and signaled to the bird perched on it: 'Glorify your Creator!' The bird responded by warbling a most lovely tune, filling the listeners with sheer delight. Then he moved over to another tree, and did the same again, and so on, until he had come to each of the trees. Of all the birds, only one had failed to break into song, so the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) said to it: 'May you not stay alive!'-and it promptly fell dead on the ground."
On another occasion, fifteen men came to visit him, but the only food he had in store consisted of five flat loaves of bread. He set these before them, after crumbling them with careful precision, and said: "In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. O Allah, bless us in what you have provided for us, for You are the Best of providers!" Even when they had eaten till their hunger was fully satisfied, a quantity was still left over, so he divided it amongst them, piece by piece, and they traveled on to Baghdad, eating from it throughout the entire length of their journey.
It was Abu Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Kurdi who said: "I once saw the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) traveling through the air. At one time he would be walking, at one time he would be traveling in a cross-legged posture, at one time he would be flying by like an arrow, and at one time he would be passing over the water."
He went on to say: "I also saw him at 'Arafat, and at all the sacred shrines [masha'ir]. Then I lost sight of him, so when I came to Damascus I asked the people of that city about him, and they told me: 'By Allah, he has not been absent from us for as much as one whole day, except on the Day of 'Arafa, part of the Day of Sacrifice [Yawm an-Nahr], and the Days of Tashriq.'"
He also said: "I saw him sitting one day with a lion snuggled against his feet, but he was too absorbed to take the slightest notice of the lion.
"One day I saw him on the outskirts of Damascus, throwing pebbles, so I asked him to explain, and he said: 'These are arrows, aimed at the Franks.' At that very point in time, the Franks had moved out toward the coast, pursued by an army of the Muslims. Shortly after that, people said: 'We saw pebbles descending from the sky, raining down through the air upon the heads of the Franks.' A large number of them perished because of the stones cast by the Shaikh. It even happened that a single pebble would strike a mounted knight, and he and his horse would both be destroyed, through the grace of the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him)."
He was resident (may Allah be well pleased with him) in Damascus, which he regarded as his home town, and it was there that he died. He was buried on its outskirts, and his tomb is a conspicuous site, regularly visited down to this day of ours.4 While his bier was being carried on the necks of the bearers, green birds attended and perched on his bier. The people also saw cavaliers mounted on gray horses, circling around the funeral procession. They had never seen them before, nor did they ever see them afterwards.
May Allah be well pleased with him!
Sheikh Rislan al-Dimashqi was one of those who responded when Sheikh `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani in Baghdad made his famous statement: "This foot of mine is upon the neck of every saint of Allah". This is documented in Qala'id al-Jawahir as follows:
...Shaikh Raslan ad-Dimashqi, who bent his neck in Damascus, and told his companions about what had happened. Then he said: 'To Allah be attributed the excellence of one who drinks from the oceans of holiness [quds], who sits on the carpet of intimate knowledge [ma'rifa], and who witnesses the mystery of the magnification of Lordship [Rububiyya] and the glorification of Uniqueness [Wahdaniyya], so that his personal nature is annihilated in the beholding of Grandeur [Kibriya'], and his personal existence becomes extinct in the direct experience of reverential awe. For upon him is conferred the garment of intimate friendship [uns], and he ascends through the degrees of providence ['inaya], until he reaches the station of the permanent abode [maqam al-qarar], and is wafted to the spot made fragrant by the breezes of the Spirit of Eternity [Ruh al-Azaliyya]. Then he utters words of wisdom from the sources of radiant lights, and, in the deepest folds of his innermost being [sirr], he mingles with the hidden mysteries. He is in the state of present awareness as long as he is conscious, and in the state of consciousness even when his ordinary faculties are obliterated. He maintains an attitude of modesty, rejoices in well-mannered behavior, and speaks with humility. He acts boldly when the need arises, and approaches every individual with specific care and attention. He receives his guests with respectful hospitality, for his Lord has endowed him with the most excellent greeting and salutation.' When someone asked Shaikh Raslan: 'Are there any in existence who match this description?' he replied: 'Yes indeed, and Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir (may Allah be well pleased with him) is their leader!'"
Risala fi al-Tawhid
by Sheikh Rislan al-Dimashqi
Risalat f'it Tawhid
Concerning the Affirmation of Divine Oneness
by Shaykh Wali Raslan ad-Dimashqi
translation by Muhtar Holland
© Damas Cultural Society
Latest update: 2008-June-01