Karamas

Sufism is based on firm Qur’anic foundations that will remain until the Day of Resurrection:

  • Putting the love of Allah and the Prophet (ṣallā Allah ʿalaihi wa sallam) above every other feeling and attachment: “Say: ‘If your parents, your children, your siblings, your spouses, your kindred, money you have earned, a business you worry may slacken, and homes you cherish are dearer to you than Allah, His messenger, and striving in His cause, then wait until Allah brings His judgment.’ Allah does not guide the disobedient people” (9.24); “Say: ‘If you love Allah then follow me and Allah will love you and forgive your sins. Allah is forgiving, merciful” (3.31).
  • Striving against one’s lower self and its evil inclinations: “But as for him who feared the station of his Lord and prohibited his soul from lust (40), paradise is the abode” (79.41).
  • Unceasingly calling people to Allah using wisdom and peaceful means: “Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good admonition, and debate with them in the best manner. Allah knows best who stray from His way and He knows best the guided ones” (16.125).

Anybody who sincerely follows this way and meets its requirements receives all that Allah promised His good servants, including paranormal experiences. Later Muslim scholars have differentiated between the paranormal feats that were performed or experienced by the Prophets, who are servants whom Allah elected, gave revelation to, and drew near, and those that occurred and occur to the “Walīs,” who are servants that Allah brought close to Him. Scholars used the term “muʿjiza (miracle)” for any paranormal feat by a Prophet, and they coined the term “karāma” for any paranormal experience of a Walī.

The term “karāma” is derived from the verb “karrama,” which means “to honour.” It reflects the fact that such a paranormal feat “honours” the Walī for their sincere and truthful submission to Allah.

The following verses expressly state that the righteous people experience karāmas in this world:

Those who say “Allah is our Lord” and then follow the straight path will have angels descend on them [saying]: “Do not fear and do not grieve, but have the good news of paradise, which you have been promised. (30) We are your allies in this world and the hereafter. You will have in it whatever your souls desire and you will have in it whatever you request (31) — a gift sent down from One who is forgiving, merciful.” (41.32)

Allah reiterates this fact in the following verses:

Surely, Allah’s friends shall have no fear on them nor shall they grieve (62). They are those who believe and are pious (63). The shall have the good tidings in this world and in the Hereafter. There is no changing the words of Allah. That is the great triumph. (10.64)

The Prophet (ṣallā Allah ʿalaihi wa sallam) has also reported the following Qudsī speech[1] that shows how Allah honours the Walīs with paranormal feats:

I declare war against the person who shows hostility to a Walī of Mine. The most beloved things with which My servant comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him. My servant keeps on coming closer to Me through performing supererogatory acts of worship till I love him. When I love him I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, his sense of sight with which he sees, his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks. If he asks Me for something, I give him, and if he asks for My refuge (against something), I give him My refuge.[2]

But karāmas are never what the seeker targets; what they seek is nearness to Allah. Karāmas are one fruit and proof that the person is on the way to Allah. One significant difference between the muʿjiza and the karāma is that the Prophet is always commanded to talk about his miracles and publicise them: “As for the grace of your Lord, talk about it” (93.11). Karāmas, on the other hand, are divided into two groups, one that must be concealed and another that must be publicised. The former includes paranormal experiences that the seeker has during his worship, sleep, or daily life. Allah grants these karāmas to the servant to strengthen his faith, reassure his heart, and delight him. Being personal gifts to the worshipper, these karāmas, ḥaḍrat Shaikh Muḥammad al-Kasnazan stresses, must be kept secret by the dervish; they may share them only with their Shaikh.

The second type of karāma is granted in the context of calling people to the way of Allah. Accordingly, like the miracles of the Prophets, these karāmas should be publicised as reminders for people. All the karāmas in this book are of this exhortative type, hence they are being made public.

Footnotes

[1] The Qudsī speeches are revelations from Allah to the Prophet (ṣallā Allah ʿalaihi wa sallam) but they are not part of the Qur’anic revelation.

[2] Al-Bukhārī, Muḥammad, al-Jāmiʿ al-Ṣaḥīḥ lil-Bukhārī, Vol. 3, no. 6273, p. 493, Riyadh, 2008.

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