Prestige and Genealogy
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
Meaning: O people! We created you from one man and one woman and divided you in nations and tribes, so that you may recognize one another. Undoubtedly the nobler amongst you is he who is the most pious in the sight of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (Al-Hujrat 13)
From this verse it has been proved that all the humans are equal on the basis of being Adam’s children and the standard of distinction and nobility is piety. At the same time, it is also obvious that the division of humans in nations and clans is exactly according to the Divine will and this division is not unreasonable. Rather, a lot of wisdom is implicit in it. One reason is the recognition of the individual by his particular clan. To recognize a man or his clan does not mean to know his name and profession only or the names of his father and grandfather. Instead, many factors are involved in ‘recognition’. For instance, which moral values are found in his respective community? Which traditions are related to his ancestors and which achievements are attributed to his clan? In which fields of life have they been excelling and performing marvelous deeds. Such achievements and qualities of the ancestors are not only the cause of recognition of the new generation but also become the reason of their brought up and guidance according to the great traditions. The achievements of the forefathers not only create proud feeling in the new generation but also persuade them to perform great marvels themselves. To be inspired by such values of ancestors is the symbol of a thriving nation. On this basis, genealogy or family background has been considered as a particular science and a large educational field among the civilized and intellectual societies. However, due to the vastly spread population and after the new forms of development, genealogy is not emphasized any more as compared to the era two or three hundred years back.
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) belonged to Banu Hashim the clan of Quraysh tribe which is the best of all the genealogies of the universe. He said about his clan and tribe,
“Allah made Kinanah the most respectable among the progeny of Prophet Ishmael and among the children of Kinanah, the Quraysh were granted prestige and among them Banu Hashim were the most honorable” (Muslim, Bukhari).
He further said,
“Allah created the creation and sent me in the best of all their groups. Then he chose for me the best of the best tribes and the best of the best families. Thus I am the best among them regarding my soul, existence and origin”. (Tirmidhi).
It is related by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Holy Prophet said,
“When Allah created the creatures, He sent Angel Gabriel who divided the people into two types. One of them was Arab and the other was non-Arab and among the Arabs were Allah’s selected people. Then the Arabs were divided into two kinds, one was Yemen and the other was Mudhar and from them was made another type that was Quraysh in which were Allah’s chosen people and then I was born in the best of the Quraysh. I am (the best) among them”. (Tibrani).
Abdullah Bin Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that he heard that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“The faithful never fosters grudge against the Arabs.” (Tibrani)
Difference Between Prestige and Genealogy
Genealogy is actually the origin, race or bloodline of a person. It denotes whose progeny he belongs to, for instance, the progeny of the Holy Prophet’s grandfather Hashim was titled as “Banu Hashim” and they made a separate clan while the progeny of Hashim’s brother Abd Shams made another clan named as “Banu Omayyad”. Every genealogy is initiated by the increase and spread in the progeny of one person i.e. every genealogy traces back to one individual. As the lineage of the Holy Prophet at last connects to Prophet Ishmael and he is considered from the nation of Ishmael i.e. “Bani Ishmael”. Whereas the community of ‘Bani Israel’ started from Prophet Ishmael’s brother Prophet Isaaq, in which Prophet Moses and Christ came.
Prestige refers to the honour or greatness which lasts forever or till a few generations due to one individual’s wisdom, piety, knowledge, empire, wealth, prophethood, Faqr and mysticism or for some other reason. Ibn Khaldun writes:
Prestige usually demolishes in the fourth generation because the person who is the founder of the family knows how much effort and struggle he has put in to gain such status, esteem and respect. That is why he does not let lose those values and qualities due to which his family has attained to such pre-eminence and famous background. Then the son, who has seen the ways of his father, also protects and values those qualities and achievements and tries to pursue them to a large extent but the difference between father and son is the same as is between a performer and an observer or between a proficient and a learner (just like difference between the final level of certainty gained through experience i.e. Haq-ul-Yaqeen and the certainty gained through knowledge i.e. Ilm-ul-Yaqeen). The third generation adopts the path of forefathers merely to emulate. Though, the glamour of the family honour is still intact. Apparently, there seems no difference between grandfather and the grandson but now the family prestige and eminence remains only superficially and is not practically maintained. At last, in the fourth generation this fascination is also broken. This generation does not think that such a prestige is gained due to their elders’ struggle rather they consider that their family is spontaneously distinguished since the beginning. In this misapprehension they consider themselves above the family, clan, and community and forego those qualities because of which their family used to be honoured. The fourth generation is discussed here in a broader perspective, otherwise certain families turn wayward even before this time or sometimes fifth and sixth generations may also maintain their family prestige.
Arrogance on Family Background and Lineage
In the times of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) every educated person used to get education of genealogy science. Umar Bin Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) was one of the forty educated persons of Arab and his family was known for expertise in the science of genealogy. In that period, it was essential to keep every person’s genealogical record safe. Although nowadays, genealogical record is not considered important to be kept. Even then, people of several nations consider association with their community as a cause of their pride after religion. Sultan Bahoo (may Allah bless him) particularly mentions his clan ‘Awan’ in most of his writings because it is a reason of pride for him that the Awans are the progeny of Ali Ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) from his wives other then Fatima-tuz-Zahra (may Allah be pleased with her). Therefore, to be proud of one’s community on the basis of traditions, values and achievements of forefathers is not non Islamic or unfair. Although the element of vanity, arrogance and disgust for other communities is wrong. It is a kind of arrogance that the person of high race looks down upon the people of low race and considers them worthless.
- Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) related that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “People should not feel arrogant over their ancestors otherwise Allah would humiliate them more than the dung worm.” (Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi)
- Related from Ahmad bin Hanbal (may Allah bless him) is the saying of the Holy Prophet, “My nation possesses four attributes of the age of ignorance; (1) to be proud of one’s prestige and genealogy, (2) to taunt others for their genealogy, (3) to associate rain to stars, (4) to moan on dead body.
Iman Ghazali writes in Ihya ullum al-Din (Revival of Religious Sciences Vol III);
- It is arrogance that a prestigious and genealogically high person considers the person with a lower genealogy, valueless and lowly even if the latter is more educated, intellectual and pious than him. Some people are so arrogant upon their genealogy that they take others as their slaves. They hate to keep any relation or even to sit with them. Often this notion is uttered by their tongues that they exclaim “What is the origin of others? I am the son or the grandson of such a noble man, how dare anyone talk or raise eyes in front of me.”
Arrogance upon genealogy is such a hidden illness in the innerself that most people with a high genealogy suffer from it no matter how educated, intellectually strong or religious they may be. During their usual mood they do not reveal it but in times of anger and anguish they lose their wisdom and manifest their self conceit. In the following Hadith such arrogance is condemned;
- A companion asked the Holy Prophet, “O Prophet! Is it a prejudice to love one’s community?” The Holy Prophet answered, “No! Rather prejudice is to help one’s community in committing oppression.” (Sunan Ibn Majah).
- Versala Bin Ashfa asked, “O Prophet! What is prejudice?” He replied, “To be helpful to the community in atrocity.”
It is related in ‘Sunan Abi Dawood’ that the Holy Prophet said, “He who invited (people) for racism does not belong to us.”
The Islamic Concept of Prestige and Genealogy
Islamic concept of genealogy is that all humans are the progeny of one father Adam and one mother Eve. No one is superior or inferior to other. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said in his farewell sermon “O people! Beware and listen carefully! Your Lord is one and listen carefully! Your father is one and listen carefully! An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a white over a black (merely because of lineage, community, country or region). Superior is only the one who is man of piety (i.e. the possessor of Faqr).”
The gateway to Faqr Ali Al-Murtaza (may Allah be pleased with him) says:
اَلنَّاسُ مِنْ جِھْۃِ التَّمْثَالِ اَکْفَائِ اَبُوْھُمْ آدَمُ وَالْاُمُّ حَوَّا ۔
Meaning: Physically, all the human beings are equal, their father is Adam and mother is Eve.
Genealogically, all human beings are equal, nobody is superior to other. The base of superiority and greatness is the prestige earned by a person himself and not his bloodline. The reality to understand is that the value of man is due to his skill and talent not because of his genealogy. However, if skill, talent, prestige and high genealogy are possessed simultaneously then it adds to the greatness.
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
مَنْ سَلَکَ عَلٰی طَرِیْقِیْ فَھُوَ آلِی
Meaning: Whoever followed my path (Faqr), is my progeny.
Allah says about the people of Faqr:
(بنی اسرائیل۔21) فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَھُمْ عَلٰی بَعْضٍ
Meaning: We granted superiority to some over others (Bani Israil 21).
(الزخرف۔32) وَرَفَعْنَا بَعْضَھُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجٰتٍ
Meaning: We raised the grades of some upon others. (Az-Zukhruf 32)
Before discussing further, it is necessary to elaborate the genealogy of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Some scholars have described the Prophets’ genealogical tree from his father Abdullah upto Adam and some others described it from Abdullah to Prophet Abraham but the authentic saying is that the record of his ancestry from Abdullah to Adnan is undoubtedly correct because whenever the Holy Prophet described his genealogical tree, he ended it upon Adnan and never proceeded ahead. Umar Bin Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) also used to describe his lineage upto Adnan. Though, all the researchers and historians agree that the ancestor of Adnan is Prophet Ishmael who is the son of Prophet Abraham. We also start the genealogical tree of the Holy Prophet from Adnan.
It is proved from the Hadiths that to know and describe one’s prestige and genealogy in the best words without any arrogance, or to feel proud positively is the Sunna (ways and manners) of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). It is a way of being thankful to Allah on being born in a good nation. Following this Sunna, the prestige and genealogy of our spiritual guide Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman is being elaborated so that his disciples and devotees may know about his family background and other outward details as well. Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman does not believe in racial pride. He never affixed title of his caste or community with his name. His creed is only piety. Whenever he is asked about his community or sect, the answer is always the following verse of Bulleh Shah;
بلھے شاہ دی ذات نہ کائی
میں شوہ عنایت پایا اے
Meaning: Bulleh Shah has no caste, I am the same as my spiritual guide Inayat is. My honour and status is only because of my relation to him.
The prestige of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman is “Faqr” which is the unique legacy of the Holy Prophet. Faqr is the best blessing of the universe and the greatest standard of prestige and eminence. Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen has himself earned the prestige of Faqr for his family. As regards his lineage, he belongs to the Arain caste. The honour of sainthood has already been conferred upon several pious men of this community. Bulleh Shah’s spiritual guide Shah Inayat Hussain, Mian Sher Mohammad (Sharqpur Sharif) and Saieen Karam Elahi Kawan Wali Sarkar also belonged to Arain caste. Apart from them, countlesss Saints belonged to this community (For detail, consult “Saleem-ul-Tawarikh” and other books upon Arain history). After migrating from Arab to India (Sub-continent), this community got settled in the regions of Multan and Uch (in the present District Bahawalpur). Even today, hundreds of graves and shrines of its Saints are present there. On this basis Uch is called Uch Sharif (the esteemed Uch) out of respect.
Although Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen’s elders, especially his great grandfather and father were eminent in asceticism and possessed high levels in mysticism but in the present era, he is the perfect and accomplished Mystic of the Arain community and the source of pride for it. He did not inherit the wealth of Faqr rather he attained this blessing due to his unprecedented struggle, sincerity and ardent love for Allah, Allah’s Prophet and his spiritual guide.
Not only he belongs to the greatest prestige of the universe i.e. Faqr that includes him in the spiritual progeny of the Holy Prophet according to his saying;
مَنْ سَلَکَ عَلٰی طَرِیْقِیْ فَھُوَ آلِیْ
“Whoever followed my path (Faqr), is my progeny” but genealogically also, he belongs to the great community of Arain that is among the blue blood castes.