Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
As-Salaamu alaikum warahmatullah
I would like to know about Sufism. Is it a part of Islam or is it something which has just been made up by fraudulent people who are marketing it as religion? What I hear sometimes makes me think this is a “hoax” – a money-making racket. Many talk about shaykhs, peers, taking bay`ah, Islaahun nafs, etc. I would appreciate a correct understanding of the ideology. What is the purpose?
Respected Sister in Islam,
Wa-alaykumus Salaam wa-Rahmatullahi wa-Barakaatuhu
1.) “Sufism”, or Tasawwuf / Tariqah is very much a part of Islamic teachings. Shari'ah is knowledge and Tariqah is acting upon that knowledge. It covers all aspects of Deen, by following in the footsteps of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam), and revolves around the purification of the heart and soul, the reformation of the nafs (self / ego), developing intense love for Allah Ta’ala and a connection with Him, such that we submit to Him, with heart, mind, soul and body. The Qur`aan Shareef alludes to Tazkiyyah (purification of the soul) and Islaah (reformation) a number of times.
2.) Unfortunately, many have spoilt the good name of “Sufism” or Tasawwuf, by introducing actions which are not in conformity with Islamic teachings. Some people have made Tasawwuf appear like another religion, or they have brought into Tasawwuf, the ideas and rites of mysticism from other religions. Moreover, there are many bogus ‘peers’ who are just in it for money. Therefore caution needs to be exercised in choosing a spiritual mentor.
3.) Bay`ah is a practice (Sunnah) of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam), which has been carried down, through the ages, by our spiritual guides.
It is through the Barakah (blessings) of Bay`ah that a person is able to easily and steadily traverse and progress through the different stages in the spiritual world, in a more efficient manner. The seeker is constantly drawing direction and guidance from the spiritual guide who has proficiency and expertise in the field.
Bay`ah is choosing a spiritual doctor (a Shaykh) for your spiritual ailments. The Shaykh must be one whom you are most compatible with, and whose teachings, you readily accept and follow. Of course, the Shaykh must be on Haq. There are many fraudulent people in the guise of the pious. The Shaykh must be learned, experienced, pious and wise – for such a person must have your best interests at heart.
The objectives are Islaah and complete obedience to Allah Ta’ala and Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam). The Mureed (disciple) should therefore inform the Shaykh of his or her spiritual weaknesses: hasad (jealousy), kibr (pride), riyaa (ostentation), hirs (greed), hubbud-dunya (obsessive love for the world) and so forth – or sins such as missing out Salaah due to laziness, backbiting, casting lustful gazes, listening to music, being involved in an illicit relationship, etc.
The Shaykh, if he is ‘Kaamil’, will not look down upon his Mureed when informed of such sicknesses – just as a doctor will not look down upon his patient, because his patient has cancer, or a brain tumuor, or some other disease or disorder.
The right of the Mureed over the Shaykh is that the Shaykh then makes Islaah of that spiritual malady – thus the Shaykh prescribes some remedy and also makes Dua. For the Mureed to experience the benefits and curative properties in the Shaykh’s treatment, it becomes necessary to now follow the Shaykh’s advice. This is the mode and manner to restore spiritual health.
As an example: The Mureed thinks himself to be pious and great, and better than others. He looks down upon those who do not do good deeds as he does, who do not dress according to the Sunnah like he does, or who do not have a beard as he does. …He considers himself superior, and considers others as sinful, immoral and condemned to hell-fire. This then is ujub (conceit) and takabbur (pride).
The Mureed should thus explain his condition by informing his Shaykh: I think of myself as pious. I see my piety to be my achievement because of my efforts. I look down upon those who do not do what I do. I do not keep their company because I consider it is below my dignity to be with such people. …etc.
So the Shaykh will prescribe some suitable remedy, depending on various other aspects of the Mureed.
If the Mureed has a problem in controlling his anger, he should inform the Shaykh: I am very temperamental – and I lose my anger when my wife does something wrong, even if it is something small. I sometimes swear her, curse her, and even threaten with Talaaq….
The Mureed must spell out his weakness by giving an example of his behaviour.
Just saying that I have anger, pride, jealousy is not very helpful to the Shaykh. …What makes you feel that you have pride or jealousy?
The more specific you are in informing of your sickness, the more specific and exact will be the remedy, Insha-Allah.
4.) In this journey of love, the Mureed will experience different spiritual states and conditions. However, this is, as I generally describe, the scenery, enroute, as we travel to reach our destination. The scenery, no matter how beautiful, is not the destination. The objective is securing the Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.
…This too requires explanation. You could listen to the talk or read the book: Feeling spiritually low? – which you will find on the website (YunusPatel.co.za).
5.) You can also listen to the talks: “Tasawwuf made Easy”, and can download the book ‘Ikhlaas’ from the same website. The book includes some discussion on Tasawwuf.
6.) May Allah Ta’ala fill our hearts with His Love and guide us all on the Path of Divine Love, and grant each one of us the crown of His Friendship. May Allah Ta’ala grant Taufeeq of obedience and protect us from anything that is displeasing to Him.
Was-Salaamu alaykum wa-Rahmatullahi wa-Barakaatuhu
Yunus Patel (Maulana)
 Kaamil : a devout, proficient, learned and impeccable Shari'ah adherent