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In the Name of God بسم الله

Practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the cave of Hira [Irfan]

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alberto941

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Salam aleykum brothers and sisters,

According to many traditions, both before and after receiving revelation, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to go to the cave of Hira and seclude himself there for different periods of time. The exact practice he engaged in while there has not been described in detail, and has been referred to in different sources as contemplation (tawassur), remembrance (dhikr), deep thinking (tafakkur) and vigilance or meditation (muraqaba).

Since two years ago, I started to wonder about the details of the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and tried to find an answer in every book I could find. The most complete description I found was in the book "The Compass of Truth", written by the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh. Dara Shikoh was himself a follower of the Qadiri sunni sufi order founder by Abdul Qadir Jilani. The shaykh of Dara Shikoh was Miyan Mir of Lahore. The book is not copyrighted and can be read for free in the following link:

https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.102305

According to Dara Shikoh, the practice in which the Prophet engaged is known in sufi circles as Sultan-al-Dhikr or Sawt-i-sarmadi, and consists of listening attentively to the "sound of silence", a sound resembling a waterfall that is heard by listen attentively to complete silence. When full concentration is achieved, after much practice, Irfan, understood as gnosis or knowledge of God, can be achieved.

On this same practice, in the book "The Alms Bowl", the following anecdote is narrated by Shaykh Kalimullah Sajehanabadi:

"In my youth, one day I went to a spiritual master to learn the right way and the straigh path. Before this point, I was always engrossed in devotional exercises. In fact, my devotions became so intense that I was left with a spiritual thirst that no devotion could quench. The master thought deeply and then said: "it is suitable for you now to be engrossed in the eternal sound (sawt-i-sarmadi), which is known amongst the yogins as the unstruck sound (anahad). I replied "I will do so, if you would confer this teaching to me." He then told me: "firmly close the holes of both ears with your forefingers. Then concentrate and listen within your mind for a sound that resembles the sound of water continuously falling from on high. Turn your entire concentration to listening for this sound and do not be distracted from hearing it even for a moment. When you become proficient in listening to this sound, then withdraw your fingers from your ear bit by bit. As you do this, continue to concentrate on hearing it such that even in the world's din you are not absent from this sound. [...] I disdained the practice due to not believing it was part of the Sunna, and thinking it was an innovation coming from the influence of the Indian yogins. Many years later I arrived to the blessed city of Medina, the city that is lit up by the presence of the Prophet Muhammad. I arrived in the presence of my spiritual giude, Shaykh Yahya Madani, and told him of this event. He said: "This practice is very good and benefitial, it bestows upon one a state of obliteration of obliteration (fana al fana).""""

The Shaykh that praised the practice in the last story is a great shaykh of the Chishtiya sufi order, as can be seen in the following link:

https://www.chishtiya.org/blog/2016/10/27/hazrat-shaykh-muhyi-ad-din-yahaya-madni-r-a/

This means that both the Qadiri and Chisthi orders support the practice.

Interestingly, the state described in the last story, fana al fana, is deemed in some Shia Irfan treatises as the ultimate goal of spiritual practice, the annihilation of the self.

Some other points in support of the practice:

- Edward Salim Michael is a meditator who devoted himself to this practice for years. He claims to have known the divine by means of the practice. The most strange thing he has reported is the ability to have 360º vision as a consequence of the practice. This ability was also claimed by the Prophet himself in several hadith narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira and compiled by Bukhari and Muslim.

- Ajahn Sumedho is a buddhist monk of the Thai forest tradition, who has devoted his life to the practice of this meditation. He claims to have reached the buddhist insight into "no-self", which seems to be the buddhist equivalent to the station of fana al fana.

- The Prophet was reported to cover his ears when he heard any music. It could be hypothesized that he did it to preserve the practice of hearing the sound of silence.

The purpose of writing this post was to ask if any of you knows of references to this practice in Shia sources or in the secret knowledge of the Imans, since both the Qadiri and Chisthi orders claim to have originated on Iman Ali. The only thing I have found so far from the Shia viewpoint discussing this practice is a document based on the lectures of Dr Shaykh Mansour Leghaei, who studied the Islamic Seminar at the university of Qom for 12 years, under a number of renowned scholars including, the Grand Ayatollah Hossein Vahid Khorasani, Grand Ayatollah Mousa Shubairi Zanjani, Ayatollah Hassan Hasanzadeh Amoli, Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli, Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, Sheik Mohammad Bahjat, and the late Ayatollah Bahrol-Oloom Mirdamadi. In his course he clames there are 10 stages to Irfan, the last of which he calls hearing (as sama). He writes: "The concept of hearing is one of the most controversial issues of Irfan. Some people ignorantly think of music and dancing from a jurisprudential perspective. Urafa make the wording of the books quite ambiguous because they feel as though not everyone should be able to understand the terminology of their wording and what they mean. The music that the Urafa are talking about is a spiritual music. []"

Please brothers and sisters, if you know of any Shia sources discussing this practice, share it with me. Also please share your opinion on what practice did the Prophet do during his seclusion in the cave of Hira.

Thanks in advance for your replies and for reading my post.

Best regards,

Alberto.

 

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