About the Text
The Shehu commences with the methodology of repentance (tawba) to Allah from every outward sin. Repentance was and will remain the door by which Adam and his descendants return to Paradise and by means of which they attain the station of khalifa. The Shehu then renders in a clear and succinct fashion nine chapters which clarify t he methodology of the transformation of the inner self.
The Path to Paradise is an explanation of the means (waseela) to the end (nihaaya). The means (waseela) are repentance (tawba), awareness (taqwa), uprightness (istiqaama), austerity (zuhud), solitude (`uzla), piety (wara`a), fear (khawf), hope (raja’), contentment (ridaa’), surrender (tasleem), sincerity (ikhlaas), tranquility (tamaa’neena), watchfulness (maraaqaba), gratitude (shukr) and praise (hamd). Each of these stations has its specific science, action, and spiritual state which the Shehu explains in a very simple manner in order for the novice, and the specialist to attain the highest stations with Allah ta`ala.
The path or Way which the Shehu delineates in this text is a description of the primordial spiritual path tread by the masters throughout the ages. It is the ‘Great Way’ and the ‘Path to Paradise’ which the ancient sage Liu I-Ming described when he said:
“The Great Way is hard to know . . . No laziness can be admitted here. . .It requires a stable mind and a firm will, ‘taking a stand without changing,” “working by day and wary by night,” getting stronger with perseverance. Only after that can you accomplish it. Do not let a little bewilderment make you change your mind, do not let a little experience of its effect induce you to relax your work. Do not let a little material hardship divide your mind; do not be discouraged that your strength is insufficient. Do not have false imaginings about attainment of the Great Way.
Do not fear that the road is too long. Keep going with steadfast determination, keeping your attention on the Way, going straight forward, and naturally a day will come when you will arrive…Otherwise you vacillate and hesitate, not making any progress, perhaps diligent at first but winding up negligent. Even if the Great Way is in sight, you cannot attain it yourself…If you do not establish a sense of purpose so firm that life and death cannot change it, and use the great strength of an indestructible man of iron, how can you transform the mundane back into the celestial?”
It is clear from the above the Path to Paradise is an ancient one whose travelers have delineated the journey from beginning to end. The SANKORE’ INSTITUTE is honored to present this excellent work Tareeq’l-Janna (the Path to Paradise) of Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio to the reader.
It is his commentary upon the teachings of Imam Abu Hameed al-Ghazaali on the sciences of the transformation of the character. Shehu Uthman considered al-Ghazaali to be one of the sole authorities in this science, the other authoritative source being Imam al-Muhaasibi. The Shehu also wrote a book delineating the teachings of Imam ‘l-Muhaasibi called Mulakhas Min Asraar Kalaam Shaykh ‘l-Faqeeh ‘l-Muhaasibi (A Summary of the Secrets From the Teachings of the Shaykh and Jurist al-Muhaasibi). Like the sages of the distant past, the Shehu outlines the Path and the Way so that the traveler does not get lost and lose hope during his journey.
The SANKORE’ INSTITUTE invites the reader to learn and act upon what the Shehu has laid out for him in this concise but blessed book. For the African Muslim and non-Muslim reader, this book enables you to communicate with one of your own righteous ancestors whom Allah blessed with success and victory in this life and success in the next. For the non-African Muslim, this book is a chance for you to examine the spiritual ingredient which enabled the Muslims in Africa to be resilient in the face of imperialism and colonization when the rest of the Muslim world had capitulated inwardly and outwardly to foreign domination.
It is also a chance for you to put in practice that most foretelling of the prophetic traditions,
“Hearing and obeying is obligatory upon you, even if there be placed over you an Abyssinian whose head is like a raisin.”
For the novice (mureed) and traveler (saalik) on the path to Allah, this book will facilitate your spiritual journey and make traveling the path easy. Shaykh Abu Hamza ‘l-Baghdadi said,
“Whoever knows the path of truth, traveling it is made easier for him.”
This book can act as a guide until you are blessed to place your hand in the hands of one who has completed the path. For the teaching Shaykh’s and the realized guides this book is a proof for you and a banner which delineates your arrival at what Allah has given you from His bounty. May Allah increase us with the like of you as long as the earth spins on its axis.
Shaykh Muhammad Shareef