This letter, written to Mulla Ibrahim by Imam Rabbani Ahmad al-Faruqi al-Sarhandi, explains the hadith informing that this Ummah will part into 73 groups:
It is declared in a hadith that this Ummah will part into 73 groups, 72 of whom will go to Hell. This hadith informs that the 72 groups will be inflicted torment in the fire of Hell. It does not inform that they will stay in torment eternally. Remaining in the torment of Hellfire eternally is for those who do not have iman (faith). That is, it is for disbelievers (kuffar). The 72 groups, on account of their corrupt belief, will go to Hell and will burn as much as the corruptness of their belief. One group, the 73rd, will be saved from Hellfire because their belief is not corrupt.
If, among the members of this one group, there are those who committed evil deeds and if these evil deeds of theirs have not been forgiven through tawba (repentance) or shafa’ah (intercession), it is possible that they, too, will burn in Hell as much as their sins. All of those who are in the 72 groups will go to Hell, but none of them will remain in Hell eternally. Not all of those who are in this one group will go to Hell. Of these, only those who have committed evil deeds will go to Hell. The 72 reported groups of bid’at (heresy), who will go to Hell, should not all be called disbelievers, because they are ahl al-qibla. However, of these people, the ones who disbelieve the Islamic tenets that are indispensable to be believed, as well as those who deny those rules of Islam that every Muslim has heard and knows, become disbelievers.
The scholars of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah declare: “If a Muslim’s statement signifies 100 meanings 99 of which causing disbelief and one showing that (s)he is a Muslim, it is necessary to take this one meaning, thus saving him/her from the state of disbelief.” Allahu ta’ala knows the truth of everything. His Word is the most reliable word.
It was reported that the poor ones of this Ummah would go to Paradise half a day before the rich ones. This half day is equal to 500 worldly years because one day expressed by Allahu ta’ala is as long as 1000 worldly years. It is declared clearly in Surat al-Hajj that this is so. Allahu ta’ala, alone, knows why it is that long because the next world does not have the night, the day, the month or the year, which exist in the world. The poor people having the privilege of going to Paradise earlier are those poor people who obey the Islamic religion and who are patient. To obey Islam means to do what it commands and to avoid what it prohibits. And there are grades and degrees in poverty. The highest of grades is obtained in the rank of fana (it means forgetting everything except Allahu ta’ala). A faqir (Sufi) who is in this grade knows everything other than Allahu ta’ala as poor and needy. [There is not a creature who does not need Allahu ta’ala, that is, who is not poor before Him.] He forgets all creatures. He remembers none of them. He who has attained all grades of poverty is superior to the one who has attained a few. It is for this reason that the state of a person who has reached the grade of fana and who is poor and needy outwardly is better and more valuable than that of a person who has reached the grade of fana but who is not poor outwardly. (Vol. 3, Letter 38)
In appearance, he seems to need being served;
Innerly, though, he pays himmat to those who deserved.
It will sure be misleading to judge by appearance;
Receiving the himmat requires seeing the essence.
Haqq ta’ala has His beloved ones concealed;
Their inner with appearance He covered.
The lover will get from afflictions such pleasure,
As will not be in anything, be itself pleasure.
People unaware will not believe this; yet,
In Qur’an, Haqq ta’ala says so by ayat.
If a person attends a wali’s luminous suhbat,
His heart will open, nurs will his inner illuminate.
Desires of the nafs will no more titillate him;
Secrets of this way will at once open before him.
Adhere to the Shari’at, then search for a murshid.
Cannot find one? Then love is enough if you are candid.
Those who have attained these two blessings,
Will receive fayz from the heart of murshid’s.
Haloes gushing out from the Messenger’s heart,
Will flow into them due to loving regard.
Abd-ul-hakim Arwasi was a wali;
His words and manners was its testimony.
From Sayyid Fahim he took over caliphate;
In his every behaviour was seen karamat.
Do not think that the murshid is hard to recognize.
His behaviour will always be Shari’at-wise.
If a person is without the Shari’at in deeds and words,
Run away from him, whatever stories he fabricates.
Shari’at prescribes how deeds are to be done;
Shari’at and iman make up Islam; the rest, none.
Ýman means to believe, Shari’at means practices;
Being Muslim requires these two performances.
Believers have parted into groups, seventy-three;
Ahl as-Sunnah is the single right group, blame-free.
Fayz: It means occult, inexplicable, invisible rays of spiritual knowledge which the blessed heart of the Messenger of Allah radiates continuously, and which will be radiated as long as life on earth continues. If a Muslim adapts himself perfectly to the Qur’an al-karim and to the Islamic principles of behavior taught by the Messenger of Allah, which in turn can be learned from those true Islamic scholars called the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah, or from their books, the heart of that fortunate Muslim begins to receive those spiritual rays. The flavor enjoyed while receiving these rays cannot be described to a person who has not tasted them yet.
Haqq ta’ala: Allah Most High
Himmat: to keep the accomplishment of only one thing in the heart
Karamat: extraordinary events worked by Allahu ta’ala through a wali
Murshid-i kamil: a great scholar who has reached perfection and can make others attain it
Nur: spiritual light, halo
Suhbat: keeping company with a wali and thus to be blessed with his words
Wali: a person whom Allahu ta’ala loves