At the end of his Autobiography “Aap Beti” does Shaikhul Hadith Hadhrat Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlavi (Rahimullah) explain the meaning of ‘Nisbat’ and the four different kinds (or degrees) of it. Insha’Allah in a series of posts I’ll try to give you the English translation of the complete chapter on ‘Nisbat’. First off all Qutbul Aqtab describes the term ‘Nisbat’ in general as follows:
Maulana Thanwy has described ‘Nisbat’ in language easy for the ordinary man to understand. He says: “In it’s literal sense ‘Nisbat’ means ‘to be attached to’ or ‘relationship’. In it’s technical sense it means a person’s contact and relationship with Allah Ta’ala, i.e. permanent obedience to Him, and special relationship with him (acceptance of him and Allah’s being pleased with him), as happens in the case of an obedient lover to the worthy beloved.”
Maulana Thanwy describes the signs of a person of ‘Nisbat’: “When coming in his company you experience the effect that you become inclined towards the ‘Aakhirat’ and you experience a detachment from the Dunya (this world). Pious and righteous people begin to have an attachment to him and worldly people have very little inclination towards him.” But this recognition, especially the first part, i.e. ‘when coming into his company you experience inclination towards Aakhirat’ is less experienced by the general public and more discernible to those who follow the path of Sulook.
When one has understood the meaning of ‘Nisbat’. It is clear that a ‘faasiq’ (evildoer) and kaafir cannot be a man of ‘Nisbat’.
Some people wrongly describe it as a special condition in which a person is. (That is the fruits of Mujaahadah as a result of spiritual striving.) This can be attained by every disciplined person. To consider such a person as a ‘Sahib-e-Nisbat’ is the description of the ignorant ones. (Anfaas Eesa)
This shows that ‘Nisbat’ is a special kind of relationship and as strong as the relationship is, so strong will the ‘Nisbat’ (connection) be. A general relationship with Allah is something which every Muslim has, but the ‘Nisbat’ we are referring to, is a special kind of love and the fruit of a special form of relationship with Allah Ta’ala. Just like there are various degrees of this ‘Nisbat’, weaker and strong. The ultimate degree is one where one becomes drowned in the sea of love.
“It is useless searching for the shores of the sea of love,
O Heart, best is to be drown in it while crossing over.”
Shaikh Abdul Aziz in his ‘Tafseer Azeezi’ divided Nisbat into four kinds. This division makes the understanding of Nisbat easy and is also quite beneficial in distinguishing the one from the other. The article is in Persian and in ‘Laami-ud-Duraary’, I transcibed it into Arabic.
1. Nisbat In’ikaasi
2. Nisbat Il-Qau-lyyah
3. Nisbat Islaahi
The story of Sheikh Abu Saeed Gangohi (Rahimullah)
4. Nisbat Ittihaadi
Khwaja Baqi Billah and the baker (naanbaai)
The story of Shah Ghulam Bhek