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Death anniversary of Sufi saints (Urs)

Date published: 28 December 2021
Topic: Sufism



We are living in a materialistic world. Our mind and our hearts are always in need for a justification for everything we see, hear or do. We need to be materialistically convinced before accepting or believing into something. The reason for this is that we are living in a commercial world. Our mind and hearts are always full of doubts. The biggest doubt in this age is on the 'voice of the soul' (ruhaniyat). Muslims are losing the significance and respect for the 'mystic way of life' (tareeqat/silsila). Sufism (Tasawwuf), allegiance of oath (bayet), Sufi Masters and disciples (Peeri Mureedi), and the death anniversary of saints (URS) have become topics of debate. People perceive the mystic way of life (tareeqat) as a commercial activity. There are three reasons for this. Firstly, there are a lot of fake saints, who have made Sufism as their profession. These bogus saints are defaming the Ahlus Sunnah Wa Jama'ah, and creating a negativity belief amongst the Muslims regarding Sufism. Secondly, there are secular minded people who have attitudes against religion. They want to stay away from the Islamic religious law, and Sufism. Thus, they are critical of the mystic way of life. Thirdly, there are people disguising themselves as Islamic leaders and scholars, and have taken control of mosques and Islamic educational institutions. They are unlawfully and forcefully using these platforms to propagandize against the mystic way of life. They are putting in every effort to eradicate Sufism. But, the fact is that Sufism was never eradicated and it will never be eradicated. For some time, it may go underground, but it emerges back on the face of the world at appropriate times. By the will of Allah Ta'ala, the Sufis return and change the face of the world. This happens after every one-hundred years, for example; In Russia when socialism ended, The Islamic power emerged and many Islamic states got established. Where were these people all the period of socialism? Only Allah Ta'ala knows. This is the extraordinary capability of the people of the mystic way of life. The saints (Awliya Allah) perform their duties in front of the people as well as out of sight of the people. But they continue to perform their duties. The fact is that the mystic way of life (ruhaniyat), and Peeri Mureedi are a reality of life.


In the current era, the biggest propaganda is that URS is against the canonical law of Islam (shariyat). The deviants propagandize that URS is an innovation (bida'h) and polytheism (shirk). Such mischief allegations need to be set right.

Thus, the topic of URS is shed light on.


URS is an aggregation of three things:

1.    ZIYARAT e QUBOOR (Visiting graves)

2.    ESAAL e SAWAAB (Conveying rewards [sawaab] to the departed souls)

3.    MOHABAT FIL LAAH (creating brotherhood for the sake of Allah Ta'ala only)


URS is an aggregate of these three things. If these three things separately are inappropriate or wrong, then their aggregate will also be wrong and impermissible. But, if these three things separately are real, true, and correct, then their aggregate is also real, true and permissible. Let us consider each of these in detail.


ZIYARAT e QUBOOR (Visiting the graves)

On the death anniversary of a saint (URS), it is a ritual to visit the shrines of the saints. Visiting graves is proven from The Holy Quran:


'..And if when they do injustice unto their souls, then O Beloved they should come to you, and then beg forgiveness of Allah, and the Messenger should intercede for them'

(Surah An-Nisa. verse 64)


The commandments of Allah Ta'ala are not for till the life of Prophet . But, it is for all periods of time i.e. the commandments are for till the Day of Resurrection. As such, there is no restriction on time in this verse too. Hence, who have committed any type of transgression or sin, must come to the sacred shrine of Prophet . From this verse, we learn that Allah Ta'ala grants forgiveness if people present themselves in the court of Prophet and beg for forgiveness, and Prophet will intercede for them. The abode of Prophet Muhammad is a place of cure for all our ills; nobody is turned away without getting his needs fulfilled. ''


Let us not forget that Prophet Muhammad had a life of sixty-three years, and the commandments of The Holy Quran are for till the Day of Judgement. Then, after the demise of Prophet , how would people come to Prophet to beg for forgiveness?

The companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) of Prophet who were present during the life of Prophet used to come to Prophet . But, after the passing away of Prophet, the companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) used to visit the grave of Prophet. Thus, visiting the grave of Prophet is in reality going in the court of Prophet. So, we infer from The Holy Quran that we should go in the court of Prophet by visiting his blessed shrine. There is no specific instruction for this in The Holy Quran, but this is an inference. But Prophet gave specific clarification in these regards.


Prophet said, 'whoever visits me after my death, it is as if they visited me during my life'. Prophet also said, 'He who visits my grave, will be granted my greatest intercession'. From this decree, Prophet is prompting us to visit his grave. Not only that, Prophet himself used to visit graves.

The commandments of Prophet were either sermons, or by his nobel work and practice. The decree of visiting graves was both sermonized and exemplified by Prophet . 'It is narrated in the hadith that every year Prophet would visit the grave of the martyrs of The Battle of Uhud. This begs the question: 'why Prophet used to visit the grave of the martyrs of The Battle of Uhud annually?' The answer is that Prophet was exemplifying to his ummah to visit the graves of the devotees of Allah Ta'ala on a yearly basis. This proves the permissibility of URS. Prophet

Muhammad commanded to visit the graves as well as he himself visited the graves of the devotees of Allah Ta'ala annually. This became the yearly URS. Hence, the first motive of URS is to visit the graves of the devotees of Allah Ta'ala.


Hazrat Abdullah Ibne Buraidah(Radi Allaahu Anhu) reports from his father that Prophet said, 'I had forbidden you to visit graves, but now you may visit them. It will remind you of the Hereafter'. The Wahabis and their allies are propagandizing that we Sunnis visit the graves to worship them. This is a false accusation. When we go to the shrines of the pious or to the abode of Prophet , we don't worship the graves. This is a deception to mislead the people. These deviant scholars wrongly propagandize that visiting graves is polytheism (shirk). Prophet said, 'visit the graves. It will remind you of the Hereafter'. In another hadith, it is narrated by Hazrat Aa'isha(Radi Allaahu Anha) that Prophet used to visit the graves on the 15th night of Shabaan'. The companions(Radi Allaahu Anhum) also used to visit the graves. Visiting graves is a sunnah of Prophet .

The deviants quote this hadith in their argument against visiting graves: Hazrat Abu Hurairah(Radi Allaahu Anhu) reported that Prophet said, ' do not turn my grave into a statue that is worshipped. Allah Ta'ala has cursed people who take the graves of their prophets as places of worship'. (Musnad Ahmad).

They interpret this hadith as Prophet saying 'do not visit the graves, do not visit my grave'. By misrepresenting the meaning of the hadith, the deviants do not even realize that they are violating the decree of The Holy Quran, and the hadith. Allah Ta'ala stated in the Holy Quran, 'and if when they do injustice unto their souls, then O Beloved they should come to you, and then beg forgiveness of Allah Ta'ala'. Prophet said, 'whoever visits me after my death, it is as if they visited me during my life'. Do the deviants realize the consequence of misrepresenting the meaning of a hadith?

The deviants propagandize that the meaning of the hadith 'do not turn my grave into a statue that is worshipped' is 'do not worship my grave'. The scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah Wa Jama'ah explain this hadith as 'do not make my grave an idol/statue'. We, now have to understand what a statue or an idol is? Allah Ta'ala states in The Holy Quran:


'When he said to his father, O my father, why do you worship that which neither hears nor sees and nor it is of any use to you'

(Surah Maryam. verse 42)


In this verse, Hazrat Ibrahim(alaihis salaam) is asking his uncle Aazar why is he worshipping the idols? It is a stone that cannot see, nor hear, nor can it benefit or assist anybody. From this verse, we learn that idols cannot see, cannot hear, and they cannot assist or benefit anybody. Prophet said, 'do not make my grave an idol'.

He is saying that after his demise do not have a belief that Prophet cannot see, hear or benefit anybody. 'Am I a statue? Do not make myself an idol'.


Did Prophet fear that his ummah would worship his grave? Did he fear that his ummah will engage in shirk?

Prophet Muhammad having the 'knowledge of unseen' has said, 'I do not have any worry regarding my ummah committing shirk. My fear is that they may get totally engrossed in the worldly affairs'. (Bukhari).

Prophet said that his ummah cannot commit shirk, but the deviants are sayings that the ummah of Prophet are infidels (kafir). Whom do we believe? Prophet , or the Wahabis? From this hadith, we learn that the ummah of Prophet will never worship anything or anybody other than Allah Ta'ala.

So, what does 'do not make my grave an idol' mean? Prophet had the 'knowledge of unseen' that after his demise, there would be people who would stop others from visiting graves. They would equate the graves to idols. Molvi Ismail Delhvi, a Deobandi pioneer has translated the book written by Muhammad Ibne Abdul Wahab Najdi, 'Kitab Al-Tauheed' into Urdu language and named it 'Taqwiyatul Imaan'. In this book, he has written that the grave of Prophet is the biggest idol in the world. Ma'az Allah.

Prophet was aware that after his demise, there would be people who would create mischief; they would proclaim his grave as an idol. Hence, he told us fourteen hundred years ago that he is not an idol and don't call my grave an idol. The Holy Quran states the definition of idols as:


'..that which neither hears nor sees and nor it is of any use to you'

(Surah Maryam. verse 42)


Prophet is saying that he is the beloved of Allah Ta'ala, he is not an idol, and he is alive in his grave, he listens to the call of his ummah, he benefits those who present themselves in the court of Prophet Muhammad .


In a hadith, Prophet said, 'do not make my grave a Eid'. The Wahabis translate this hadith as Prophet saying, 'do not rush or gather for visitation, do not come to my grave'. They are propagandizing that during the journey of Hajj, the Hajjis should return to their homes from Mecca. They should not go to Madina to visit the abode of Prophet .' But Prophet has said, 'whoever performs Hajj to the House without visiting me has shunned me'. However, we have to be mindful of the fact that visiting Madina and the abode of Prophet is not a rite of Hajj, but the unique merits of Prophet 's city and his mosque attract pilgrims to visit. The Mu'mins are always eager to visit the city they have cherished for long and to pray in the mosque established by Prophet . The Muslims visit the court of Prophet Muhammad after Hajj, so that their Hajj is accepted in the court of Allah Ta'ala. Allah Ta'ala states in The Holy Quran:


'And if when they do injustice unto their souls, then O Beloved they should come to you and then beg forgiveness of Allah'

(Surah An-Nisa. verse 64)


In The Holy Quran, Allah Ta'ala is telling Prophet to call the people to his grave to beg for forgiveness of Allah Ta'ala, and the deviants misrepresent the hadith and tell the people not to gather at Prophet's grave for visitation. The deviants do this because they have hatred and enmity towards Prophet .

The literal meaning of Eid is 'anniversary festival', because Eid denotes two things: a time that returns (annually), and a time that one observes with festive activities.

Hence, literally the hadith should be translated as 'do not make the visit to my grave an anniversary festival. This is understood in the sense of an instance on the part of the Prophet that the believers should visit him frequently and at all times, rather than to visit him infrequently.

Hence, commemorating the death anniversary of a saint (URS) fulfils the sunnah of visiting the graves (ziyarat e quboor).


ESAAL e SAWAAB (Conveying rewards [sawaab] to the deceased)

In the gatherings of URS, we recite The Holy Quran, recite kalima, recite poetry praising Allah Ta'ala and Prophet Muhammad , we do dhikr of Allah Ta'ala, send durood and salutations upon Prophet Muhammad , and then convey the sawaab to the departed souls.' Prophet said, 'the dua made after the completition of The Holy Quran (Quran Khatam), is certainly accepted in the court of Allah Ta'ala'. Conveying rewards to the departed souls is proven from The Holy Quran and hadith. The two schools of Islamic theology, Asy'ariyah and Maturidiyah and the respected leaders of the Ahlus Sunnah unanimously agree on this. Hazrat Sa'd's(Radi Allaahu Anhu) mother passed away, so he(Radi Allaahu Anhu) asked Prophet , 'which charity is best?' Prophet replied, 'dig a well, and let people drink water from it'. Hazrat S'ad(Radi Allaahu Anhu) dug a well and Prophet said, 'this well is for Umme Sa'd'. (Abu Dawood).


It has become a routine for the deviant sects to destroy mosques, graves and shrines of the saints. Their fake justification is that rushing to, gathering at shrines for URS is shirk.

Prophet said, 'whoever recites Surah Ikhlas eleven times and convey the reward to the deceased in the graveyard, each deceased in their graveyard receive the reward multiplied by eleven times.

Prophet Muhammad made a 'will' to Hazrat Ali(Radi Allaahu Anhu) that after his demise, Hazrat Ali(Radi Allaahu Anhu) shall do qurbani on his behalf for the duration of his(Radi Allaahu Anhu) life.

Thus Esaal e Sawaab is proven from the teachings and the practice of Prophet . In the gatherings of URS, reward (sawaab) is conveyed to the departed souls.


MOHABAT FIL LAAH (creating brotherhood for the sake of Allah Ta'ala)

In URS, we gather to testify to Allah Ta'ala our brotherhood for the sake of Allah Ta'ala.

Hadith e Nabawi: On the Day of Judgement, Prophet will call for those who created relationship and brotherhood for his sake, those who created a bond amongst themselves only and only for the pleasure of Allah Ta'ala. Allah Ta'ala will provide shade for them when there will be no shade except shade granted by Allah Ta'ala. Now! Who are these people who love each other for the sake of Allah Ta'ala, who are called for meetings for the sake of Allah Ta'ala and parting upon that? These people are called the disciples 'Peer bhai' (mureed). The strongest feeling of brotherhood, love, and unity seen amongst the disciples (mureed) of a Sufi Master (Peer) cannot be seen elsewhere. There is an atmosphere of joy and happiness when the mureeden of a Peer' (be they Qadri, Naqshbandi, Soharwardi, Chisti) gather for the sake of Allah Ta'ala. They are overjoyed seeing each other and they embrace each other. The relationship between real brothers can break, but the relationship created between Peer bhai for the sake of Allah Ta'ala cannot be broken.

Now! Where do we get to see such gatherings? In the URS, and in the gatherings of dhikr of Allah Ta'ala.


URS is from the Arabic language. This is 'URS' as well as 'URUS' (literal meaning wedding).

Hazrat Abu Hurairah(Radi Allaahu Anhu) narrates that Prophet said, ' when the deceased is buried, two angels, Al-Munkar and Al-Nakir come in the grave and ask, 'what did you say about this man (Prophet Muhammad )?' So, he says what he was saying (before death). The pious with correct beliefs (aqeeda) will say, 'He is the slave of Allah Ta'ala and the Messenger of Allah Ta'ala'. So, they say, 'we knew you would say this'. Then his grave is expanded to seventy by seventy cubits, then, it is illuminated for him. Then it is said to him, 'sleep'. Then he says, 'can I return to my family to inform them?' The angels say, 'sleep as a newlywed, whom none awakes but the dearest of his family. Until Allah Ta'ala resurrects him from his resting place,'

'If he was a hypocrite (disrespectful), he would say, 'I heard people saying something, so I said the same; I do not know'. The angels will say, 'we knew you would say that'. So the earth is told. 'Constrict him'. So it constricts around him, squeezing his rib together. He continues being punished like that until Allah Ta'ala resurrects him.' (Trimidi)


'Sleep as a newlywed' refers to both the bride and the bridegroom. This is the night of happiness for the deceased. The angels tell the deceased to 'sleep as a newlywed whom none awakens but the dearest of his family'. This proves the argument that the Awliya Allah are not dead, but alive in their graves.

Hazrat Mulla Ali al-Qari, in his book writes that sleep in the hadith refers to rest in peace. There will be no calamity or tribulations, only the mercy of Allah Ta'ala. So, we come to know that they are alive and there is no grief or fear for them. This is their second Eid, the second URS. Their first night in the grave is the night of happiness. This is the night the deceased meets the beloved Prophet . The third URS will be on the Day of Judgement, where Allah Ta'ala will appear, and the first URS is at the time of the death.


A significant point to note is that Islam does not permit to celebrate days of sadness and sorrow. But Islam has established celebrations on days of happiness. We celebrate Eid Ul-Fitr, Eid Ul-Adha annually.


When the saints (Awliya Allah) pass away, their souls depart with Imaan, it is their first URS. When the angels tell them to sleep as the newlyweds, it's their second URS. In this hadith, the word 'URUS' is mentioned, and 'URS' is derived from 'URUS'. Hence, URS- happiness, peace and comfort are proven from this hadith.


When a Mu'min passes away, it is a time of happiness for him because he will meet Prophet Muhammad . For a Mu'min, this is the greatest happiness. This is the reason we do not use the word 'died', but 'passing away or demise' (faut) of the Awliya Allah. It is a time of happiness for them (URS).


Prophet Muhammad said, 'when the dead are buried, and his relatives and those who took part in his burial leave him, he hears the sounds of their footsteps'. (Muslim).

The question is that if they can hear the footsteps, then why cant the pious hear the call of the people from their graves?

In the grave, the angels will ask three questions. First, 'Who is your Rab?' The Muslim will answer 'Allah Ta'ala'. Second, 'What is your deen?' The Mu'min will answer 'Islam'. However, success will depend on answering the third question successfully. Prophet Muhammad will appear in the grave and the angels will ask, 'what did you use to say about this man? (Before death). The answer will depend upon recognizing Prophet .

The Wahabis who refuse to believe in the Omnipresent and Omniscient (Haazir Naazir) of Prophet will become jittery. Contrary to their belief (aqeeda), Prophet Muhammad is present (haazir) in the grave. The angels will remind them that you used to say that Prophet has died and mingled with dust. Ma'az Allah. They will say, 'Look! He is alive and present here'.

The deviants refusing to believe in the haazir naazir of Prophet propagandize that a photo of Prophet will be shown in the grave. We ask these mischief deviants, 'do the angels carry cameras with them?'


However, when Prophet will appear in the grave, a Sunni will say, 'assalatu assalaamu 'alayka ya Rasoolullah', 'ya Nabi salaam'alayka', ya Rasool salaam 'alayka', and reply to the angels, 'he is our beloved Prophet Muhammad , the Messenger of Allah Ta'ala. The Mu'min will succeed in all the three questions. Allah Ta'ala will command the angels to lay the carpets from the Paradise underneath him and open the doors of Paradise. Isn't this happiness (URS)?


The angels will say, 'sleep as a newlywed'. Now! If anyone finds their beloved, do they sleep?

When the entire world sleeps, the saints (Awliya Allah) keep awake, invoke and weep in the court of Allah Ta'ala. After their success in the grave, the saints do not 'sleep'. They come back to this world to their disciples and lovers to inform them of their success.

So, from the hadith, the angels tell the pious and the people of command to go to sleep. But the deviants propagandize that they are dead. The Awliya Allah achieve success in the grave and this their happiness. This is their URS.



This article is an abridged English translation of an Urdu sermon delivered by his eminence, Peer Syed Imroz Dean Saifi, Hanfi, Maturidi of Masjid Anwaar e Madina, Surrey BC Canada

If there is an inaccurate translation, please pardon it and not let it be a means to negatively reflect on the honoured presenter.