In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
In response to numerous requests from around the world for definite guidelines, I shall here summarize the main adab to be observed by our Shadhili tariqa at the weekly Latifiyya gatherings, larger regional or national gatherings, other, family tariqa events, and our annual suhbas in the various lands.
(1) Hosts of Latifiyyas and all who attend should do their utmost to make everyone who comes welcome. It is a privilege to serve one's brethren in this path. The Latifiyya has the Baraka of the permission of the sheikh, is under his auspices, and the host acts on his behalf by being solicitous, affable, and welcoming to tariqa members and visitors on an equal basis. A host is not high-handed or domineering, but regards himself as a servant, and confers with the sheikh (by email) if there are any unsolved questions of adab or procedure. Those who attend may also consult the sheikh, but only after they and others have talked to the host and been unable to carry their point.
(2) We come to Latifiyyas for Allah, so one must hang up one's nafs beside the door when one enters: no grudges, negativity, ill-feelings, or personal remarks are permitted. That So-and-so is present or not should not even enter into the mind of a true murid, since the Lord of that person is present.
(3) The lesson to be listened to is the current week's Latifiyya which Sidi Hamid provides from Amman. Only if unobtainable for that week may a host substitute anything else.
(4) A host is not entitled to cancel the Latifiyya. If he cannot conduct it because he is out of town, he delegates someone else to do so in his absence.
(5) The Latifiyya dhikr should begin the moment it is scheduled so people realize that they are responsible for making allowances for traffic or their personal circumstances to arrive on time.
(6) The Latifiyya gathering should last for about an hour, certainly no more than an hour and a half. If the sheikh has authorized a hadra in the area, it may be on a different day, which is superior, because it means more times to gather, or it may be before or after the Latifiyya. But the Latifiyya must take place at the best and most convenient time of the week for everyone, and the hadra, if on the same day, is considered enrichment. No one should feel compelled to attend more than the Latifiyya, except those who want the baraka.
(7) The host should serve simple refreshments: a beverage, and a desert or piece of fruit, for example. If this is a burden, as when the group is large, he may delegate bringing refreshments in turn to each member, or the group may collect funds and assign someone to be the steward who buys and regularly provides refreshments for all. Whenever there is any collecting of money for some need, whatever is received must be written down, and a printed-out account available on request to anyone who wants it.
(8) The closing supplication (du'a) of the gatherings should be by a single person, not take longer than two minutes, and include the Umma.
(9) The aim of the Latifiyya is dhikr and mudhakara or 'Sufi teaching'. The mudhakara imparts a high and exacting spiritual science that requires one's full attention to absorb. Like other disciplines taught at an adult level, whether literature, medicine, or mathematics, its purpose is to educate those endeavoring to master the discipline, in this case the travellers to Allah. It is essential to the path, and those who fall away from the gatherings are prey to the whisperings of the Devil, and often stumble and fall.
(10) In previous years, the number of children at the Latifiyyas has been relatively few, while now their numbers have expanded prodigiously by the bounty of Allah Most High. This is a tremendous blessing, and was what the prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) encouraged, hoped for, and envisioned for his Umma. The number of children at the Latifiyya however, by consensus of tariqa members from around the world, has now grown to a degree that obviates the primary purpose of the Latifiyya, which is dhikr and mudhakara. Remarks from every quarter of the globe necessitate that a new way be found for the sheikh to impart what he has to teach to murids. After the sheikh's istikhara, he has adopted the following guidelines to henceforth apply to all Latifiyyas, which each host is responsible to implement in a friendly and impartial manner, and without exceptions.
(11) The Latifiyya may only be attended by adults and by children who sit as quietly and attentively as adults, without anything in their hands, for the entire time. This applies to all children, including those of the host.
(12) Mothers with children too young to attend the Latifiyya are encouraged to organize their own weekly session to make the Latifiyya dhikr together and listen to the lesson. This is a gathering with the sheikh's permission, so for the sake of unity, there should not be more than one, except under extraordinary circumstances and by the sheikh's leave. Mothers are recommended to have it in a place with at least two rooms, one for those with babies and young children, and another for those with children training to attend the main Latifiyya by sitting like adults. All mothers should strictly apply the rules to children of no running around, chaos, or excessive noise during the lesson. It will give mothers weekly access to the Latifiyya. This session, if technical internet capabilities exist, may take place simultaneously, in a different place than the main weekly Latifiyya.
(13) Mothers who can attend neither, whether because of their children's behavior or other circumstances, shall be supplied with the weekly mudhakara recordings by the Latifiyya host on their request, though they should ask in advance. Before listening to it on their own, they should recite the shorter form of the Latifiyya found in the Awrad book.
(14) Similarly, after the Latifiyya the host may provide a recording of the weekly lesson from Amman to anyone who has missed it, so that everyone may hear it. Here, as with the mothers who cannot attend, the host may provide a CD if they are few, or if there are several, he may contact Sidi Hamid for a special link for them to obtain it directly themselves.
(15) All the audio lessons of the tariqa are copyrighted material. It is not permitted for anyone to post them on any website except Sidi Hamid on untotheone.com. or shadhilitariqa.com. He has been asked to produce, edit, and distribute all of the lessons and suhbas on a full-time professional basis, and to charge enough for his services to earn a living, because the sheikh believes this is the most sustainable means to insure the quality and availability of recordings to murids.
(16) The monthly potlucks and other activities continue to furnish a convenient time to get together that everyone is welcome to attend, children and adults, as their purpose is not primarily mudhakara, but the equally important function of a religious social life for families, who are likewise encouraged to organize picnics, camping trips, and other activities for parents and children alike.
(17) All suhbas after September 2008 as regards children and adults will be much the same as just described for the Latifiyyas. The sheikh comes to most countries but once a year, and the true murid should lay aside the time and resources necessary to attend in a way that will allow him the fullest benefit possible.
(18) The suhba's main mudhakara session may only be attended by adults and by children who sit as quietly as adults for the entire time.
(19) Children may be left with relatives or professional babysitters, just as one would if going to a weekend medical conference. Another option is that husband and wife alternate taking the children during the suhba sessions, or that mothers alternate with other mothers.
(20) Mothers with babies or young children must have a special location not in the vicinity of the main meeting hall to gather and hear the lesson live over the internet, where technically possible.
(21) Those who cannot attend should download a copy of the suhba to listen to from untotheone.com when Sidi Hamid finishes editing it.
The teaching of a living sheikh is essential to any true Sufi path. May Allah make it possible for us as long as we are alive, and fill our hearts with a due appreciation of His divine favor. Ameen.