From the Layman’s Desk-15:
In the name of Allah, Most Beneficient, Most Merciful.
Sufism…continued from the last post:
Shaykh Shahidullah Faridi (1915-1978) states: “It can be seen from the Word of Allah, the Qur’an, that wherever something concerning man’s outward actions is decreed, its inward content and purpose is also stressed. Take Prayer for instance; Allah says ‘Observe Prayer for My remembrance’ (20:14); or ‘The believers have attained success; who are humble in their prayers’ (32:1), emphasising that the object of Prayer is not the mere outward performance, but to remember Him with a humble heart. In the case of fasting, Allah says, ‘Fasting has been decreed for you, as it was decreed for those who came before you, that you may be God-fearing.’ (2:183) Regarding sacrifice on the occasion of Pilgrimage, He says: ‘It is not their blood or their flesh which reaches Him, but the devotion from you.’ (22:37) On the subject of marriage: ‘It is one of His signs that He has made for you mates of your own kind that you may find peace in them, and He has created affection and kindness between you.’ (30:24) On spending for the poor: ‘They (the righteous) give food to the needy, the orphan and the prisoner, for the love of Him; they say: We feed for the sake of Allah only, and desire no reward or thanks from you.’ (76:8,9) If we reflect on these and other similar indications in the Qur’an, we are led to the conclusion that if it is necessary to observe the outward ordinances of our faith, it is equally necessary to develop within ourselves those qualities which are their soul; that these two are complementary and one cannot exist in a sound state without the other.”
According to him, from the Qur’an and the teachings of the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) we learn that this attitude should be inspired by love, hope, fear, gratitude, patience, trust, self-sacrifice and complete devotion; and that He should be felt to be constantly near. This is the inwardness of belief. Allah and his Prophet (peace be upon him) have taught us that man’s attitude to his fellow men should be inspired by sympathy, justice, kindness, unselfishness, generosity, sternness on matters of principle, leniency wherever possible, and that we must avoid pride, jealousy, malice, greed, selfishness, miserliness and ill-nature. Ihsan means performing something in the best manner, i.e. the consciousness and presence of Allah and the feeling of love and awe which accompany it must permeate both our faith and practice (Iman and Islam) and it is in proportion to this consciousness that our excellence in religion can be judged. This sense of presence is not to be confined only to worship but to all our actions. It is precisely the awareness of the nearness of Allah that the Sufis have as their ultimate goal in all their activities.
Therefore, from the above Hadith shareef it is abundantly clear that the Deen (Religion) involves submission to the revealed law (Islam), faith in the Shahada (Imaan), and the practice of inner illumination of Islam and Iman such as virtue, sincerity, sacrifice, love of Allah and his Messenger (sal Allahu Alayhi wasallam) and the pious believers the categories of whom are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, remembrance of Allah (Dhikr) and spiritual ways, fear of Allah, as well as the negation of envy, greed, covetousness, injustice and hatred as well as other evils of the heart, including the pursuing of the Nafs. Two aspects are embedded in Ihsan (1) To worship Allah as if you see Him; (2) To worship Allah with the thought that He sees us. So when the Sufis speak of “Mushahada” they refer to the first aspect; when they speak of “Muraqabah” they refer to the second aspect. The concept of Ihsan can be leart from the Gnostics, i.e. Aarif-billah and the Sufis and through the firm Ulema (Ulmaay-e-Billah). Thus, those who avoid association with the experts and practitioners of Ilm-i-Tasawwuf fail to achieve that knowledge which is a must for knowing the excellence of Islam and Iman.
According to Muhammad Than’ulla al-‘Uthmani ad’Dehlvi in his Irshad at-Talibin, it is understood from the Hadith al-Jibreel that in addition to Iman and ‘Ibaadat, there is an excellence named “Ihsan” which he calls “Wilaya”. When love of Allah occupies the heart of a Wali, his heart (qalb) loses itself in the observation, i.e. Mushahada of his Beloved. The Mushahada does not mean that he actually sees Allah, since Allah cannot be seen in this world. It actually means that a “Haal” (state) occurs to the Wali as if he sees Allah and this Haal is called the annihilation of the heart (fana’ al-qalb). It is this Haal which has been described by the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) in such words: “To worship Allah the Exalted as if one sees Him.”
As for “Muraqabah” let’s see what Ibn Taimiyya says in his book the name of which is translated as “The Steps of the Followers.” He points out the verses from the Holy Qur’an in this regard. For example, Allah says: “And know that Allah knows what is in your minds; so fear Him.” (2:235). “And Allah is ever a Watcher over all things.” (33:32). “And He is with you, wherever you may be.” (57:4). So his student, Ibn Qayyim, says: The meaning of this hadith is the definition of muraqabah. Namely, the endurance of the servant's knowledge and his conviction and certainty that Allah is watching over his internal and external affairs. To have this knowledge and certainty at all times is called muraqabah. It is the fruit of the servant's knowledge that Allah is his Watcher, Over-seeing him, Hearing his utterances, and Observing all of his deeds at all times.
Therefore, we accept Tazkiyyat an-Nafs and the state of Ihsan, purification of the heart, as it is an important part of the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and the teachings of the Holy Qur'an. Being ignorant of the Tazkiyyat an-Nafs, the Wahhabis ignore the inclusion of Ihsan in the Deen. Hadrat Ali ® used to say: “Whoever is ignorant of a thing is its natural enemy.”
Awliya Allah are the real Sufis and they have nothing to do with the pseudo-sufis who belittle the religious obligations of the Sacred Law and claim freedom from observance of the daily five prayers and fasting. Therefore, care must be exercised in distinguishing the real from the fake Also remember, just because there are people who have made Sufism their business in pursuit of worldly affairs, it does not give a licence to anyone to brand even those who wage the spiritual warfare for the sake of Allah. Don’t fall into the trap of Awliya-Allah haters who dupe innocent Muslims by equating the misdeeds and omissions of the pretenders with the Awliya Allah. Awliya Allah are the most ardent practitioners of the Sacred Law (Shariat). Apart from the performance of compulsory religious duties, their supererogatory prayers (Nawaafil Ibaadaat) are extraordinary. Their Taqwa (piety) and Tawakkal (Trust in Allah) is phenomenal. As for their knowledge, that is much above the even learned religious scholars since they learn also from the Kashf or the spiritual unveilings which they experience owing to their nearness to Allah but in accordance with their ranks. "The miracles of saints are absolutely true and correct, by the acceptance of all Muslim scholars. And the Qur'an has pointed to it in different places, and the Hadith of the Prophet (s) has mentioned it, and whoever denies the miraculous power of saints are only people who are innovators and their followers." [al-Mukhtasar al-Fatawa, page 603]. Ibn Taymiyya says, "what is considered as a miracle for a saint is that sometimes the saint might hear something that others do not hear and they might see something that others do not see, while not in a sleeping state, but in a wakened state of vision. And he can know something that others cannot know, through revelation or inspiration." [Majmu'a Fatawi Ibn Taymiyya, Vol. 11]
The deniers of Ma’arifa can never attain any “rank above the sedentary”. Hence the reason why there never was any Awliya Allah among the heretics; nor will there appear any in the absence of the unbounded love for the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam) and his progeny, and for the reason that there is no love and attachment in the real sense of the term for Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam) and family, some of which is evident from: (1) The destruction of the Islamic heritage including the home of the Messenger of Allah and family and his Companions; (2) Their attempt to bring Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam) at par with their own lowly stature by addressing him (s) as their “Elder Brother” which nullifies their Islamic faith according to Sunni Ulema. Even the Companions ® never addressed Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam) as such and neither did they ever think of him as an ordinary human being having wives and children. Add to this the denial by heretics of the Kashf and Karamaat (marvels) of the Awliya Allah and belittling their status, especially that of Shaykh al-Akbar, Hadrat Ibn al-‘Arabi who had exposed through his writings that Satan used to appear to the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wasallam) in the form of an old man of the Najd – Shaykh an-Najdi. It is only the lovers of Allah and His beloved devotees who attain the gnosis (Ma’rifat). Allah loves and honours His Awliya and those who love and honour the Awliya Allah in fact love and honour Allah.
Please remember that if those preachers point out to the passages in the works of Ulema criticizing the “Sufis” we must at once realize that such Ulema are pinpointing only the false ones and not the real Sufis. For example, the Salafis (the hardcore Wahhabis) cite Talbis Iblis (Satan’s Deception) of ibn al-Jawzi (1116-1200 c.e.) to show his “hostility” towards Tasawwuf. The truth is otherwise. As Shaykh Haddad clarifies, that book was written against innovated practices of many groups including the philosophers, Philologists, Theologians, Hadith scholars, Jurists, Preachers and certain Sufis. And when we are speaking of those “certain Sufis”, they do not belong to the Ahle Sunnah but to the group of Halulis (incarnationists), Mujassamiyah (anthropomorphists) and Tanasukhis (reincarnationists) and those removed from the inner circle of Sufis and those mentioned by Hadrat Ali b.Uthman al-Hujweri (reh.) in Kashf al-Mahjub, the earliest Persian textbook of Sufi doctrines and in its own way equal to the Risala of al-Qushairi. Ibn al-Jawzi actually wrote many books of manaqib or "merits" about the early Sufis, such as Manaqib Rabi`a al-`Adawiyya, Manaqib Ma`ruf al-Karkhi, Manaqib Ibrahim ibn Adham, Manaqib Bishr al-Hafi, and others. His Sifat al-safwa (The manners of the elite) an abridgment of Abu Nu`aym's Hilyat al-awliya' (The adornment of the saints), and his Minhaj al qasidin wa mufid al-sadiqin (The road of the travellers to Allah and the instructor of the truthful) are considered pillars in the field of tasawwuf. Therefore, flourishing Talbis Iblis in the face of Sunnis by Salafis on the contrary goes to strengthen the case for Ahle Tasawwuf. Also, Al-Dhahabi, a student of Ibn Taimiyya, considered Abu Yazid al-Bistami (Awliya-Allah) a reasonable and sound source of hadith.
While discussing about the Wahhabi forgeries and manipulations and tamperings of the Islamic Book in previous post, we mentioned that they have deleted the entire chapter on Tasawwuf from Ibn Taimiyya’s Majmu’a Fataawa which considers various aspects of Sufism. In Book, Volume 2, pages 396-397 of Majmu'a Fatawa, he speaks about fana also known in Sufism as annihilation. According to him: "This state of love is the state of many people that are from the people of Love to Allah `azza wa jall, they are the people of the love of Allah and the People of the Will (al-irada) of Allah, it is typical of many of the people that love God and seek Him. Because that person has vanished in his lover, in Allah `azza wa jall Դhrough the intensity of the love, because he vanished in Allah's love, not his own ego's love. And he will recall Allah, not recalling himself, remember Allah , not remembering himself, visualizing Allah [yastashhid], not visualizing himself, existing in Allah, not in the existence of himself. When he reaches that state 'Ana al-Haqq' (I am the Truth) or 'Subhanee' (Glory to Me!) and he will say 'maa fil jubba ill-Allah' (there is nothing in this cloak except Allah), because he is drunk in the love of God and this is a pleasure and happiness that he cannot control." He also said: And because of that [situation] many of the saints like `Abdul Qadir Jilani, have an excuse because they are in a state of love (Ishq)." He specifically names Hadrat Abd al-Qadir Jilani ® because he was his Mureed. As Shaykh Haddad points out, according to Ibn `Abd al-Hadi, Ibn Taymiyya also declared himself a follower of several Sufi orders, among them the Qadiri path of Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani.8 In al-Mas'ala al-Tabriziyya Ibn Taymiyya declares: "Labistu al-khirqa al-mubaraka li al-Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir wa bayni wa baynahu ithnan - I wore the blessed Sufi cloak of `Abd al-Qadir, there being between him and me two shaykhs."9 He even wrote a commentary on Shaykh Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani's collection of talks, "Futuh al-Ghayb," which he had much praise for. Regarding Kashf, Ibn Taymiyya himself has said in his book al-Furqan bayna awliya' al-shaytan wa awliya' al-rahman(p.52.): "It is established that the awliya' possess spiritual communications (mukhatabat) and unveilings (mukashafat)."
Therefore, Ibn Taimiyyah accepts Sufism (Tasawwuf) along with the Four Madhhabs as Sunni Muslims do. The Wahhabis reject it as ugly innovation, forgetting that Ibn Taimiyyah himself was a Qadri Sufi, that Imam Nawawi, ibn Hajar Asqalani, Imam ibn Jawzi and Abu Hamid al Ghazali, among many others Ulema, were all Sufis of a very high caliber
However, later in life, because of the many ugly words that Ibn Taimiyaa uttered which diminished the greatness of Holy Prophet (sal Allahu alaihe wasallam), his tirade against Wasila, his criticism of the righteous Caliphs and Ulema, his anthropomorphic tendencies in attributing hand, feet shin and face to Allah literally and also attributing movement and direction to Allah in the manner of a creature as well as redefining Tawhid, gained him the notoriety and condemnation of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’a. No doubt, centuries later these negative aspects were lapped up by the Najdi scholar and founder of Wahhabism, Muhammad ibn Wahhab, and later Salafi scholars who suppressed ibn Taimiyya’s positive views on Tasawwuf.
The basis of Sufism is Divine Love and service to the creation for the Sake of the Creator. Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said that another area of misunderstanding is that people with vested interest propagated that the Sufis taught monasticism and renunciation of world. Sufism was debunked to prove as if the Sufis were the creation of another world having nothing to do with practical realities of life. The fact of the matter is that Sufism is the embodiment of peace, tranquility and love and nothing else. It represents the best in humanity for its welfare.
Again, the Reader is cautioned that when we speak of Sufism he or should consult the work of a Ahle Sunna scholar and not the fake pseudo-sufis; nor the early Orientalists because of their anti-Islamic stance. Nor should he rely on the work of Wahhabis/Salafis who depend heavily on the Orientalists since they too are against Tasawwuf or Islamic Sufism and they depend heavily on the Orientalists for that matter. The early Orientalists never travelled to Baghdad, Kufa, Hijaz and other places in Arabia, but were content with travelling to India and Persia (Iran) and writing down their Travelogues. They studied Persian poetries and the works of Shirazi and Omar Khayyam, for example. They even confused Saffavid Dynasty with Sufism. They never studied Arabic, nor the Holy Qur’an and the ahadith but collected stuffs from the Persian Qahwa-Khana and gave it the name of Sufism. They had no interest to study Islam. Their interests lay in Poets/Poems, Philosophy, and Metaphysics for some 350 years. Erroneously for them, Hadrat Fadhlullah ibn Abi’l Khair (d.440 A.H.) was the pioneer of Tasawwuf and introduced as such in Europe, when in fact Islamic Sufism was already at its zenith 250 years before ibn Abi’l Khair. Sir John Chardin translated Shabistri’s Gulshan-e-Raz and said this was the source of doctrine: mixing Theology, Metaphysics, Philosophy and Mysticism, and thought that the Code of Conduct of a Khanqah was Sufism. Anyway, all this a subject by itself that has been studied deeply by our Sunni scholars in refutation of those Orientalists. In short, as Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadir, who in fact has exposed the Orientalists in his long series of Urdu lectures on Tasawwuf and Orientalists, states: Rejection of Islamic accomplishments and achievements was the basic target of the non-Muslim orientalists. They debunk the true face of Islam and present it as fact before the world….It was the mission of the orientalists that they presented the Islamic achievements in lop-sided and disfigured forms so that Islam could not be known as religion of peace, harmony and enlightenment. Non-Muslim scholars go to the extent of saying that Islamic law and Philosophy were borrowed from Greece, whereas Islamic mysticism from Hinduism and Christianity.
Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri cites an example of how the above misconceptions occur. According to him, the eminent Professor R.A. Nicholson has been quoted by many Orientalists to show that Sufism has been derived from Christianity. Now Professor Nicholson himself is responsible for the error since he has quoted a certain incomplete incident involving Ibrahim bin Adham (Reh.) wherein he writes in The Mystics of Islam: “Though little direct evidence is available, the conspicuous place occupied by the theory of gnosis in early Sufi speculation suggests contact with Christian Gnosticism. It was communicated to Ibrahim ibn Adham by a man whom he met while travelling in the desert, and as soon as he pronounced it he saw the prophet Khadir (Elias).” In other words he presumed that the said man whom the Sage met in the Syrian desert was a Christian monk or friar who taught the Sage some “Wazifa” for meeting Khidr (a.s.) – which is false. Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri explains that Professor Nicholson being an authority in the western world hardly anyone will doubt his veracity and as such is quoted by other Orientalists. Anyway, the said incident itself has been borrowed from Risala al-Qushairiyya (Treatise) of Abul Qasam al-Qushairi, which has also been quoted by Abdul Rehman Sulami, Abu Nuaym and many others in Arabic books. All of them further explain that after meeting with Khidr (a.s.), the first question that Ibrahim bin Adham asked Khidr (a.s.) was, who was the person who had met him in the desert. Khidr (a.s.) then revealed to him that “he was my brother Dawud (a.s.)”. Note how this fact has been suppressed to advance the theory that the said person was a Christian monk in order to falsely prove that Sufism has been borrowed from Christianity. This is how the Orientalists work to distort Islam and mislead those who read their books.
The plain truth is that Tasawwuf has impacted certain aspects of Christianity postively. This would require a detailed study by our Islamic scholars to show such an impact. However, as a layman I can only quote how in 1219 c.e., the famous Fransiscan friar, Francis of Assisi had gone to Egypt to convert Sultan Malik al-Kamel to Christianity in order to avoid the Fifth Crusade. Of course, there was no conversion but a peace agreement was worked out with the Muslims which the Crusaders outrightly rejected it. During the time the friar and his brother were there in Damietta and later in Jerusalam to live among them as “lesser brothers”, a great change occurred in his notion about prayer and devotion. It is mentioned in J. Hoeberichts, Francis and Islam (Franciscan Press, 1997):
Francis ... saw the faith of the Saracens and was profoundly impressed by their prayer while everyone else called them unbelievers ... he listened with great attention to all that God was telling him through the Saracens' lives and history, and while others looked down on them, Francis was full of admiration: God had gone among the Saracens before him and had been the source of much that was good and beautiful. [Francis] was struck by the great reverence [the Muslims] had for their holy book, the Qur'an ... and for the holy names of God, which they continually recited with great devotion and reverence….These names continued to captivate Francis' mind, and ... in his Testament he ... asked his brothers that, wherever they found 'the most holy written names and words of the Lord in unbecoming places,' they must see to it that 'they be collected and placed in a suitable place.' The respect and reverence for the most holy names and words of the Lord was clearly one of the major concerns of Francis, ever since he returned from his visit to the Saracens…. Whenever Francis would find anything written, whether about God or about man ... he would pick it up with the greatest reverence and put it in a sacred or decent place ... [W]hen he was asked by a certain brother why he so diligently picked up writings even of pagans in which the name of the Lord is not mentioned, he replied: 'Son, because the letters are there out of which the most glorious name of the Lord God could be put together. Moreover, whatever is good there does not pertain to the pagans, nor to any other people, but to God alone, to whom belongs every good. [“It is far more likely that he referred to "the Qur'an, and other Islamic writings, which he had seen during his visit to the Saracens, who were commonly called 'pagans.’ The Islamic devotion of the Names of God, which evidently exerted an influence on Francis' thought, often takes the form of dhikr, or "remembrance of God."] There are other details as to how when he went back he gave instructions to the Church to follow certain regulations which were definitely influenced by Sufism.
Modern orientalists also consider that Tasawwuf originated in Islam, in agreement with traditional Islamic views on the topic. It is only the orientalists of late last century and early this century who in their haughty display of knowledge of comparative literatures such as the Upanishads, Gospels, Persian poetries, etc., proposed the wrong theories about Islam and Tasawwuf. It is shameful that some deviants today have reached a stage where they prefer to follow non-Muslims and come out with all the ridiculous theory that Sufism is “a religion of its own” insinuating that thousands of Sufi scholars are following a religion other than Islam. Thus they deny not only the Hadith-i-Jibreel since Tasawwuf which was known as “Ihsan” during the times of Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) is very much a part of Deen, but also the Sunnah of Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) and the way of the Salaf-as-Saaliheen.
Next, understanding the language of the Sufis is a must for their critics in order to arrive at a sound assessment. As Ibn Ata Allah al-Iskandari ® (d.789 AH) said: Sufis are masters of literary figures which convey much deeper meanings, use of exaggerated or hyperbolic language that point out the heightened spiritual awareness and the words which convey secrets of the realm of the Unseen. Literalism, on the other hand, can cause error of judgment, since it tends to be superficial. The “dry strain and fanatic” literalism of ibn Hazm in branches like Fiqh are well-known. An example will suffice: In explanation of the Prophetic tradition, “Let no one urinate in still non-running water then use it to bathe,” ibn Hazm stated the following: (1) Anyone other than the person urinating in such water can bathe with that water; (2) He and other person might use the water if the urine reached the water indirectly, say by being poured from the container, or after falling on high or nearby ground first; therefore this hadith applies only if one urinated into the water; (3) It does not apply if one defecated in the water; it applies only if one urinated into it. Thus, according to Imam Nawawi the above is the ugliest form of hardened literalism. Similarly, some deviant scholars have fallen a prey to anthropomorphism (Tajsim) while explaining the Quranic verses pertaining to Divine Attributes and Attributes of Acts, and generally promoting it, all of which is non-Islamic. This is specially true of the followers of ibn Taimiyya. Coming back to the language of the Sufis, the ideas therein are not contrary to Islamic Shariah. It is it misunderstood then the fault lies in failing to understand ilm-i-Tasawwuf, the imagery, metaphors, allusions, connotations, denotations, references and contexts and other figures of speech that are richly interwoven into the tapestry of the expression. Islamic scholars point out that ecstatic utterances are known in the technical vocabulary of the Sufis as a shatha, which uttered in the state in which their self is absent they are not taken to account for it we have proof of it in Sahih Bukhari about a slave in the middle of a desert in which the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) says that because he finds his lost beast he shouts out in joy 'Allah you are my slave and I am Your lord!' The Prophet explained that that slave made a mistake in his ecstatic state after finding his animal. This is someone who finds their animal, so how much greater for someone who has found his Lord?! What about his state of ecstasy? Many examples could be given but this is not our main subject-matter.
To continue, Insha Allah.