Propriety on the path (Tariqa) consists in following the Law (Chari’a), protecting our deeds, without calling upon its rakhs (indulgences), abiding by adeb and remaining diligently in the service of the Master of all masters.
This is the meaning of adeb. Every moment (Waqt) has its own adeb. Every state (Hal) has its own adeb and every rank (Maqam) has its own adeb. By complying with adeb, all requests will be granted and all desired goals will be achieved. Turning away from adeb lead to the path of ruin; we seek protection from ALLAH against the evil of our nafs and the faults that we have committed.
According to the Fuqaha (jurists), adeb signifies the accomplishment of everything that comes after the obligations and the Sunna, that is to say the meritorious deeds which are inherent to human nature, such as sleeping and waking, eating and drinking, evoking and invoking, etc…
According to Sufi people, adeb means following any path of goodness and accomplishing any good action. So, adeb contains all the sublime qualities and good traits of character in accordance with religious duties and devotion to God.
Whosoever acquires these qualities acquires adeb and is educated regarding ALLAH (The Glorified and The Exalted) and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon). The definition of jurists is contained within that of the Sufis.
Hasan Basri (may ALLAH be pleased with him) said:
- Religious instruction
- Asceticism in this world
- And recognizing ALLAH’s blessings upon us.”
According to some, followers of adeb can be divided into three categories:
- For the people of this world, adeb is excellence in elocution and eloquence, the acquisition of knowledge, of the confidences of kings and of the poems of the Arabs.
- For the religious, adeb is taming the soul, disciplining the body, preserving sacred limits and abandoning passion.
- For the elite, adeb is, above all, the purification of the heart, respect for the secrets, loyalty to the covenant, safeguarding time, and diminishing the interest that they bear towards their own thoughts.
It is said that there are three categories of adeb:
- Adeb of the Law (Charia)
- Adeb of devotion (Khadma)
- Adeb of Truth (Haqiqa)
Adeb of the Law means not transgressing its limits; Adeb of devotion is increasing in devotion without thinking about it.; Adeb of Truth is knowing what is yours and what is for others.
A Knower (‘Arif) taught the following adeb to Umar ibn Abdelaziz (may ALLAH be pleased with him):
“Fear that which ALLAH asks you to fear, beware of that which ALLAH asks you to beware of, take only that which is yours, because at the moment of death, the certainty will come to you. Salam.”
He also wrote (or words to that effect):
“Know that the greatest fear and the most horrific circumstances are before you, either for your salvation or for your ruin. Know that he who holds himself accountable will be victorious and who does not will be unsuccessful. Whoever is attentive to the consequences of his acts will be saved and whoever follows his passion will be led astray. Whosoever shows mercy will be successful. He who fears will seek refuge, he who seeks refuge is attentive, he who is attentive observes, he who observes gains understanding, he who gains understanding acquires knowledge. Therefore, if you stumble, come back. If you have regrets, make amends. If do not know, ask. If you are angry, control yourself. Hold tight to this adeb if you want to be among the beloved.”
The source of all adeb is contained in the following words of ALLAH (The Glorified and The Exalted): “And whatever the Messenger has given you - take; and what he has forbidden you - refrain from.” (Surat 59, verse 7) And also: “You have indeed in the Messenger of ALLAH an excellent example” (Surat 33, verse 21).
Whosoever complies with these two verses achieves success in terms of adeb and whosoever does not comply with them, separates himself from the realm of adeb. These two verses are the straight path for all who are sincere and awakened.
Muhammad ibn Aslam (may ALLAH be pleased with him) said:
“The basis of Islam is contained within its obligations and its obligations are contained in these two sentences:
- Accomplishing that which ALLAH and his Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) have ordained is an obligation, and abandoning all that ALLAH and his Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) have forbidden is an obligation.
- Do that which is allowed, and do not do that which is not allowed.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “ALLAH has educated me and it is the most perfect education.”
So adeb is inward and outward education. If the servant is educated both outwardly and inwardly, he becomes an educated Sufi. It may only be called an education if it contains certain points. A servant’s adeb can only be completed by acquiring noble qualities.
In another narration, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“ALLAH has educated me and it is the most perfect education, then he ordained me to cling to the noble qualities and recited: “Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish.””(Surat, verse 199)
Youssuf ibn Houssein (may ALLAH be pleased with him) said:
“With adeb, knowledge is understood. And with knowledge, deeds become valid. With deeds, we gain wisdom. With wisdom, we practice asceticism (zuhd). With asceticism, we abandon this world. By abandoning this world, we long for the Hereafter. By longing for the Hereafter, you acquire degrees with ALLAH.”
Ibn Mubarak (may ALLAH be pleased with him) said:
“Adeb with devotion (Khadma) is better than just devotion. Indeed ALLAH said: “[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed” (Surat 67 verse 2) ”
He also said: “He who neglects adeb will be punished by being deprived of the Sunnah (the prophetic traditions); he who neglects the Sunnah will be punished by being deprived of obligations; he who neglects the obligations will be punished by being deprived of Ma’rifa (Mystical Knowledge).”
He also said: “A little adeb is more needed than a lot of knowledge.”
He also said: “For the Arif (Knower), adeb is the equivalence of repentance for a person who reverts to religion.”
Lastly, he said: “People have spoken and explained at great length about adeb: we ourselves say that adeb is self-knowledge (Nafs).”
This means that the nafs is the source of ignorance and that abandoning adeb leads to entrenchment in ignorance. If one knows one’s own ego, one will see the light of Ma’rifa (Divine knowledge) as is exemplified in the following words: “He who knows his ego knows his Lord.”
On this topic, Ibn Ata ALLAH said (or words to that effect): “The nafs is inclined towards incorrect adeb; the servant must rigorously follow the rules of adeb. By its very nature, the ego tends to contradict everything (that is beneficial) so the servant should endeavour to bring it back to proper morality (Mutalabat). Whoever abandons these efforts on his nafs (his own ego) has let go of the reins of his nafs and neglected to pay attention to his own ego; as long as he helps it, he is considered to be its associate.”
Djuneid (may ALLAH be pleased with him) said: “He who consents to the demands of his nafs, is instrumental in his own destruction, because adoration goes hand-in-hand with adeb and corruption is contrary to adeb.”
It has also been said: “Adeb is both the inner and outer education of the servant. The outward education is carried out through the intermediary of the Sharia (The Law) by following the Sunnah in word and deed. The inward education is realized through Reality (Haqiqa) that is to say satisfaction with everything that ALLAH has decreed, receiving and accepting everything with eagerness as a blessing from ALLAH.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “It is better for a man to educate his own child than to offer one Sa’ (unit of measurement) of charity.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Man can offer no better gift to his child than the gift of adeb (than teaching him right conduct).”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The right of the child over his father is that his father gives a beautiful name, that he chooses the best “belly to carry him” (the best mother to carry it in her womb) and that he teaches him the best adeb.”
This means that he teaches his child the adeb of The Law which is compulsory, that he encourages him to develop noble characteristics, and that he chooses the best “belly to carry him” which means that the mother should be religious, of pure origin, he chooses everything that can facilitate the study of the Coran and of the Knowledge for his child.
Research and translation by Zawiya Tidjaniya el Kubra in Lyon, France