Attributes of the Dervish
A dervish has Faith in Allah and loves and prays to the Creator and is compassionate to His Creation.
A lover believes in the last Prophet, Hazreti Mohammed Mustafa, may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him, and loves him more than anything but Allah, and respects his family, companions, followers and the ones who love him.
A lover learns, knows and joyfully and happily follows God’s ordinances.
A lover knows the fear of Allah and learns, knows, and avoids that which is forbidden by Him.
A dervish should earn his living through right action and according to Allah’s Law, should eat lawfully, clothe himself lawfully, and stay only in lawful places.
A lover does not lie, is always truthful, and advises truthfulness.
A lover is generous; he gives what he has lawfully earned for Allah’s sake, and is also generous with help and advice.
A dervish is patient in his faith, in his religious duties and in cases of hardship, and should advise others in patience.
A lover does his prayers five times daily without fail, and whenever possible in congregation, and considers this Allah’s greatest gift.
In addition to his daily prayers, he should do the voluntary devotions, the most important of which is the Tahajjud prayer, which was obligatory for the Prophet (saws).
In addition to the thirty days fast of Ramadan, a dervish should fast the first, middle and last days of the Arabic months, and is advised to fast 9 days in the month of Zul Hijjah, 11 days in the month of Muharram, most of the days of Rajab, and some of the days of Sha’ban, but especially on the day of Barat which is the 15th of Sha ’ban.
He must learn and follow as much as he can of the Sunnah (Traditions) of the Prophet (saws).
If the dervish is well to do, he has to go to the Hajj once in his lifetime, but he also should go to Madina to visit our Master the Messenger of Allah, and to Jerusalem, Damascus and Baghdad, and he should visit the Shrines of the Saints.
If he has means, he should distribute his Zakat with joy, and if he is poor, he should help less fortunate ones with his hands, his words and his time.
The dervish has to be clean and pure. Not only his body and his environment, but his heart should be cleansed of arrogance, especially pride of his spiritual state, hypocracy, envy, grudges, anger, and negativity in general. His speech has to be cleansed of gossip and blame, his sympathies from love of money and possessions, and of fame and position.
The dervish cannot drink alcohol or take any other intoxicants which are forbidden by Allah. He should also avoid all excesses and oppose his desires, and pray for help in educating the flesh.
A dervish should not stay too long in the presence of his shaykh unless he is asked to do so.
When he is in the presence of his shaykh, he should sit on his of knees, be extremely careful of unbecoming behavior, and avoid speaking unnecessarily and should follow proper "adab". He should consider his shaykh’s mistakes better than his own best achievements, and should attribute his development and inspirations totally to the shaykh. To act contrary to this will prevent the dervish’s advancement.
A dervish should consider that when he is in the presence of the shaykh, it is as if he were in the presence of Allah, of Allah’s Messenger, of the Saints and the Saint of his order, and act accordingly.
He should follow his teacher’s orders without fail, and with joy.
He should not try to test his teacher.
He should not criticize or even think critically of the acts of his master, even if they seem categorically opposed to the laws and ways of the religion and the path. He should remember that all actions and words of his teacher are in accordance with the Will of Allah.
A dervish has to know and follow the prayers, the rituals, and manners of his sect as taught by his teacher. He should hold the honor and name of his sect higher than anything else.
He should show respect and obedience to men of knowledge and wisdom. It is satanic to try to argue with men of knowledge It should not be forgotten that the wise men are the inheritors of the prophets, and the mystical masters, the Shaykhs, are the inheritors of the Messengers of Allah. If there exist differences between the theologians and the mystics, it is on surface matters, in essence they are in agreement. As to the leaders of men, the politicians, they govern with Allah’s permission. Men are governed by those whom they deserve. If a nation is good, its governors are good. Let it not be forgotten that Allah is the curer of hearts. A dervish should not speak against the men of knowledge and the people who govern. He should consider all misfortune as his own doing and be patient and thankful for what he has, as all good and bad come from Allah.
He should never be tyrannical or hurt people.
He should always be ready to sacrifice everything for Allah and His Messenger and His Faith.
All existence should be pleased with the dervish.
A dervish should have in one hand Allah’s Book and in the other the Traditions of the Messenger of Allah. He should wear on his head the crown of Faith, and on his back the cloak of Religious Law. His eyes should see lessons, and his tongue should say the dhikr. Around his waist he should wear the belt of service to humanity, in his heart he should have compassion for Allah’s Creation and love and fear of Allah, and his feet should be in attendance to serve. In his hand he should hold the art of service to others. His ear should hear only the truth. His mind should be occupied with the temporariness of the world and the eternity which is the afterlife. Above all, he should at all times be ready for the trip from this temporal world to the eternal world.
He should have his ablution at all places and at all times.
He should continue to ask for mercy and forgiveness of Allah with every breath, and never forget his sins and wrongdoings. He should ask for redemption, and shed tears for his wrongdoings. Above all he must understand that it is his previous sins that cause new sins to come (as punishment for not asking forgiveness), and he should accept that his sins belong to him while the good that he does belongs to Allah.
If he misses a prayer he should remember that this is a punishment for a wrongdoing.
If an ugly act occurs through him, he should not forget that it is due to his past actions (He is being used by Allah.).
He should not overeat or sit at the table before he is hungry, and he should leave the table before he is full. He should wash his hands before and after every meal. When he takes his ablutions, he should brush his teeth.
He should be very generous and obedient to his mother, father and teachers. Generosity and obedience to one’s mother and father is equal to generosity and obedience to Allah. Obedience to the teacher is even superior to that. However, for the one who does not know Allah, there is no love or compassion. For the one who does not believe in the day of last judgement, there is no knowledge of truth or truthfulness to others. And for those who do not know and accept the Prophet, there is no knowledge of God. Even if one thinks he knows God, he will know Him wrongly. He will take a pagan image for God. He who wishes to find God, to know God and to be in Truth, has to go through him. In return, He will give him faith which will show the truth to him. He who loves the Prophet will have his faith completed. He who knows Hazreti Abu Bakr will know trustworthiness and loyalty. He who knows Hazreti Omar will know justice and be just. He who knows Hazreti Osman will know humility. He who knows Hazreti Ali will know knowledge and wisdom, and will know the value of wisdom and respect of the wise. He who knows Imam Hassan will not give value to this world. He who knows Imam Husayn will not lower his head to tyrants. You who do not obey Allah and his messenger and your mother and father, how can you expect obedience from people? You, with your faith incomplete, with your wish incomplete, without love for Him nor seeking His pleasure, not fearing His fire and punishment, not trying to know Him, how can you hope for His compassion and mercy? Know Him and you will be forgiven, and then He and all His Creation will love and show compassion for you. Believe in the day of last judgement so that nobody can fool you. That will make you respectful of the rights of people and the creation. He who knows the Prophet knows God. He who obeys him obeys God. He who is faithful to him is faithful to God. He who denies him denies God. He who revolts against him revolts against God. God, whom the messenger calls upon is God, and God whom your nafs calls upon is an idol. The one who does not educate his child to love Abu Bakr should not hope to receive from that child any obedience, loyalty or trustworthiness. If he does not show him the example of Omar, he cannot hope for justice. You must teach him love of Uthman, so that he will have humility and faith, and teach him the love of Hazretti Ali so that he will be generous and knowledgeable and be a servant to the one who teaches him ‘a letter’. You have not taught your child love and fear, so he does not obey you, does not have love and compassion for you. You have not taught him about the day of last judgement, so he has no respect for the rights of Creation. You did not teach him the love of the Messenger, so how can he love God?
A dervish should not inform people that he has submitted himself to the will of God; people will see that by themselves.
A dervish should be compassionate, generous and helpful to his family, children, in-laws, neighbors, and people whom he knows or does not know.
A dervish should not communicate with bad people, but he should not see himself as better or above them.
A dervish should not like or dislike anybody or anything in an egotistic and selfish way. His likes and dislikes should be for God’s sake.
If a dervish sees any potential for salvation in someone who is known as bad, he should befriend him in order to lead him to the straight path.
He should visit graveyards and remember that this is his final destination.
He should visit the sick and the poor, especially of his Brotherhood. However, he should try to satisfy the needs of everyone, without consideration for religion or sect.
A dervish should never forget his Shaykh, should visit him every day, every other day, or at worst, once a week. If he is far he should write.
He should have the power to resist misfortune and show patience. Know that the dervish’s cuff will never be free from dogs and his head from the stick of Yazid, as Pharaoh was to Moses, Nimrod to Ibrahim and Abu Jahil to Mohammed (saws).
As he will know that all is from God, he should accept everything; he should submit his will and should always be pleased with God and seek His pleasure in everything so that he can be pleased with Him.
In every act and thought he should remember God, his hands working for this world and his heart yearning for God.
No matter how insignificant, for a good deed he should go miles; no matter how insignificant, from the danger of a bad thing he should run for miles. Everything about him should be truthful, completely trustworthy, and exemplary.
He should not cut trees or break a living branch. He should not be a burden on anyone. He should have various crafts and professions in addition to degrees so that in any eventuality he will not need to ask for help from others.
He should not waste time for his life, which is his greatest treasure, should not be spent without thought of God. Every minute should have a material and a spiritual value.
The dervish should master his hand, his tongue and that which is below his waistline. He should prevent unfaithfulness by his hand, desires by that below his waist, and gossip by his tongue. He should not say everything which comes to his mind, should know how to keep secrets, and should not blame or hurt people. All creation should be safe from the tongue and hand of the dervish, and should only benefit from his tongue and hand.
A dervish should not play with magic, divination and fortune-telling.
He should know what is lawful and unlawful, what his obligatory and voluntary duties are and also what is clean and unclean, and all the signs of his religion and sect.
He should take whatever his teacher gives him with great joy and love.
When he takes something from the hand of his teacher he should kiss his hand. When he gives something to his teacher, he should kiss his hand.
When he stands up in front of his teacher he should place the big toe of his right foot on top of the big toe of the left foot. This is a sign of readiness to receive orders.
Translated from "Ziynet-ul Kulub", Sheik Muzaffer Ozak Al-Jerrahi Al-Halveti pages 58-66