hoped from divine mercy that such supplications will be accepted.1 The results of such acceptable prayers are either seen in this world exactly as requested, or they are accepted in respect of the eternal life in the hereafter of the one who offered them. That is to say, if what was sought does not occur exactly as wished, it should not be said that the prayer was not accepted,2 but that it was accepted in a better form.
YOUR SECOND QUESTION
Since the phrase, “May God be pleased with him” is used for the Companions of the Prophet (UWBP), is it appropriate to use it in the same way for others?
T h e A n s w e r : Yes, it may be used, because unlike “Upon whom be blessings and peace,” which is a mark of God’s Messenger (UWBP), the epithet, “May God be pleased with him” is not particular to the Companions, but should be used for persons who, like the Companions, attained to the “greater sainthood” known as “the legacy of prophethood,” rising to the station of God’s pleasure. Examples are the four Imams, and Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir Gilani, Imam-i Rabbani (Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi), and Imam Ghazali. But the general practice among religious scholars has been to use “May God be pleased with him” for the Companions; “May God have mercy on him” for the two generations succeeding them; “May God forgive him” for subsequent generations; and “May his mystery be sanctified” for the great saints.
YOUR THIRD QUESTION
Which were superior, the great imams and interpreters of the Holy Law, or the shahs and spiritual poles of the true Sufi paths?
T h e A n s w e r : Not all the interpreters of the Law were superior to the shahs and spiritual poles, only Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi‘i, and Ahmad b. Hanbal. But in some respects, some wondrous spiritual poles like Shaikh Gilani reached more brilliant stations in particular virtues. However, general virtue was the Imams’. Furthermore, some of the shahs of the Sufi paths were also interpreters of the Law; it cannot therefore be said that all interpreters of the Law were superior to the spiritual poles. But it may be said that after the Companions and the Mahdi, the four Imams were superior.
Ghazali, Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din, i, 457-66; al-Nawawi, al-Adhkar, 420-6.
Bukhari, Da’wat, 22; Muslim, Dhikr, 90-1.