Tasawwuf and Tariqahs

Insha’Allah, this blog entry is for a young friend of mine and anyone else interested in knowing more about tasawwuf and tariqahs. Please read through the comments for more.

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11 comments

  1. “The keys to acquiring the love of Allāh ta’ala are:

    1. Adopting the company of the pious (especially one’s shaykh).
    2. Abstaining from sins.
    3. Being punctual with one’s ma‘mūlāt (prescribed practices).

    When someone enters the company of his shaykh, his heart is kindled with the love of Allāh. However, when he leaves that blessed company, the flame of love is threatened by the gusting winds of the environment around him. If, affected by these winds, a person were to commit a sin, the love of Allāh ta’ala would be extinguished. It is therefore necessary to safeguard oneself from sins.

    Another necessity for keeping the flame of love kindled is fuel, which in this case is the remembrance of Allāh ta’ala prescribed by one’s shaykh in the form of ma‘mūlāt. Thus, punctuality in attending the company of one’s shaykh, abstinence from sins and completing one’s ma‘mūlāt are necessary steps towards securing the Love of Allāh.”

    (Source: In Shaykh’s Company http://www.shaykh.org)
    (In Shaykh’s Company is based on the teachings of Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat (hafizahullah), as compiled by his students)

  2. Why a shaykh?

    “Take the example of a person who wants to lose weight. In the initial weeks, with self motivation at its peak, he will exercise regularly, follow a special diet and do all the necessary things required to achieve his objective. However, after a few weeks once the initial motivation wanes, he will return to his old ways and will end up as he started, with no long term benefit whatsoever.

    In contrast, if this person had taken professional advice from the outset, he would have been able to set a timetable and develop a manageable action plan under expert guidance. This in conjunction with the continued supervision of the dietician would have resulted in long term benefit and success in his objective.

    This is precisely the example of the relationship between a shaykh and a murīd. A murīd will find great difficulty in purifying his soul and acquiring the recognition of Allāh ta’ala by himself. Thus he needs someone to slowly – but surely – guide him and take him along the path that leads to soul rectification and the recognition of Allāh ta’ala. That someone is the Shaykh.”

    (Source: In Shaykh’s Company http://www.shaykh.org)

  3. Don’t get lost…

    Once, our respected Shaykh ḥafiẓahullāh was being escorted to a janāzah ṣalāh in another city. Both the Shaykh ḥafiẓahullāh and the driver were unfamiliar with the route from the masjid to the graveyard, and there was nobody else there to escort them.

    The imām of the masjid was contacted who hastily arrived and asked them to follow his car. Within minutes they arrived at their destination.

    Shaykh, not missing this opportunity, used this very incident to explain a very important point. He said,

    “This is the exact example of tazkiyah; we all know where we need to reach, but without a capable guide who is familiar with the route, we cannot be sure if we are going in the right direction. Once we find an expert guide whom we trust and follow, we will reach our destination, Inshā’allāh.”

    (Source: In Shaykh’s Company http://www.shaykh.org/)

  4. What is Tasawwuf?

    By Khalid Baig

    “Verily, he who has purified the heart is successful and he who has despoiled it has lost.”

    A lot of people have misunderstandings about tasawwuf. Many think that it is something beyond Qur’an and Sunnah. Errant Sufis as well as the superficial ulema, although on the opposite ends of the spectrum, are together in holding this mistaken notion. Consequently the first group has shunned the Qur’an and Hadith while the second group has shunned tasawwuf. Actually, although the term tasawwuf, like many other religious terms in use today, evolved later, the discipline is very much part of the Shariah. The department of the Shariah relating to external deeds like salat and zakat is called fiqh while the one dealing with the internal feelings and states of the heart is called tasawwuf. Both are commanded in the Qur’an. Thus while commanding Salat and Zakat, the Qur’an also commands gratefulness and love of Allah and condemns the evil of pride and vanity. Similarly, in the books of hadith, along with the chapters on Ibadat, trade and commerce, marriage and divorce, are to be found the chapters on riya (showoff) takabbur, akhlaq, etc. These commands are as much a mandatory requirement as the ones dealing with external deeds.

    On reflection it will be realized that all the external deeds are designed for the reformation of the heart. That is the basis of success in the hereafter while its despoiling is the cause of total destruction. This is precisely what is known technically as tasawwuf. Its focus is tahzeebe akhlaq or the adornment of character; its motive is the attainment of Divine pleasure; its method is total obedience to the commands of the Shariah.

    Tasawwuf is the soul of Islam. Its function is to purity the heart from the lowly bestial attributes of lust, calamities of the tongue, anger, malice, jealousy, love of the world, love of fame, niggardliness, greed, ostentation, vanity, deception, etc. At the same time it aims at the adornment of the heart with the lofty attributes of repentance, perseverance, gratefulness, fear of Allah, hope, abstention, tauheed, trust, love, sincerity, truth, contemplation, etc.

    To diagnose and treat the diseases of the heart normally requires the help of an expert mentor or Shaikh. Here are the qualities of a good Shaikh.

    1. He possesses necessary religious knowledge.

    2. His beliefs, habits, and practices are in accordance with the Shariah.

    3. He does not harbor greed for the worldly wealth.

    4. He has himself spent time learning from a good Shaikh.

    5. The scholars and good mashaikh of his time hold good opinion about him.

    6. His admirers are mostly from among the people who have good understanding of religion.

    7. Most of his followers follow the Shariah and are not the seekers after this world.

    8. He sincerely tries to educate and morally train his followers. If he sees anything wrong in them, he corrects it.

    9. In his company one can feel a decrease in the love of this world and an increase in the love for Allah.

    10. He himself regularly performs dhikr and shughal (spiritual exercises).

    In searching for a Shaikh, do not look for his ability to perform karamat (miracles) or to foretell the future. A very good Shaikh may not be able to show any karamat. On the other hand, a person showing karamat does not have to be a pious person — or even a Muslim. Prominent Sufi Bayazid Bistami says: “Do not be deceived if you see a performer of supernatural feats flying in the air. Measure him on the standard of the Shariah.”

    When you find the right Shaikh, and you are satisfied with his ability to provide spiritual guidance, you perform baya or pledge. This is a two-way commitment; the Shaikh pledges to guide you in light of Shariah and you pledge to follow him. Then the Shaikh will give his mureed (disciple) initial instructions. They include the following:

    1. Perform repentance for all the past sins and take steps to make amends, e.g. if any salat has been missed so far in the life, you start making up for it.

    2. If you have any unmet financial obligations toward another person make plans to discharge them.

    3. Guard your eyes, ears, and tongue.

    4. Perform dhikr regularly.

    5. Start a daily session of self-accounting before going to bed. Review all the good and bad deeds performed during the day. Repent for the bad ones and thank Allah for the good ones.

    6. Perform muraqaba-maut (meditation over death) every night before going to bed. Just visualize that you have died. Reflect upon the pangs of death, the questioning in the grave, the plain of Resurrection, the Reckoning , the presence in the Court of Allah, etc This helps bring softness to the heart and break the tendency to commit sins.

    7. Develop humility. Even if you observe another individual committing the worst of vices you should not despise him/her, nor should you consider yourself nobler. It is very much possible that the perpetrator of the vice may resort to sincere repentance while the one who despised the sinner become ensnared in the traps of nafs and Shaitan. One has no certainty regarding one’s end. One, therefore has no basis for regarding another with contempt.

    The essential idea of tahzeebe akhlaq is to bring our natural faculties in a state of balance. The three basic faculties are anger, desires, and intelligence.

    Anger:
    When in equilibrium it results in valor, forbearance, steadfastness, the ability to restrain anger, and dignity. Excess will result in rashness, boastfulness, pride, inability to restrain anger, and vanity. A deficiency will result in cowardice, disgrace, and feeling of inferiority.

    Desires:
    Equilibrium here results in chastity, generosity, haya (decency), patience, and contentment. Its excess leads to greed and lust. The other extreme results in narrow-mindedness, and impotence, etc.

    Intelligence:
    Equilibrium here makes man wise, sharp-witted and one with great insights. Excess here makes one deceptive, fraudulent and imposture. Its lack results in ignorance and stupidity with the consequence that such a person is quickly misled.

    A person will be considered as having a beautiful seerah (character) only when these faculties are in the state of balance and equilibrium. Internal beauty varies with people just as external beauty does. The possessor of the most beautiful seerah was Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The beauty of our seerah is based on its closeness to his seerah.

    [Condensed from writings of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi]

    [Source: http://www.albalagh.net/general/what_is_tasawwuf.shtml%5D

  5. A poem by Markaz Sukoon:

    What is Tasawwuf ?

    Good character and awareness of God.That’s all Tasawwuf is. And nothing more.

    What is Tasawwuf ? Love and affection. It is the cure for hatred and vengeance. And nothing more.

    What is Tasawwuf ? The heart attaining tranquility – which is the root of religion. And nothing more.

    What is Tasawwuf ? Concentrating your mind, which is the religion of Ahmad (peace be upon him). And nothing more.

    What is Tasawwuf ? Contemplation that travels to the Divine throne. It is a far-seeing gaze. And nothing more.

    Tasawwuf is keeping one’s distance from imagination and supposition. Tasawwuf is found in certainty. And nothing more.

    Surrendering one’s soul to the care of the inviolability of religion; this is Tasawwuf. And nothing more.

    Tasawwuf is the path of faith and affirmation of unity; this is the incorruptible religion. And nothing more.

    Tasawwuf is the smooth and illuminated path. It is the way to the most exalted paradise. And nothing more.

    I have heard that the ecstasy of the wearers of wool comes from finding the taste of religion. And nothing more.

    Tasawwuf is nothing but Shari’at. It is just this clear road. And nothing more.

    [Source: http://www.markazsukoon.com/?p=1885%5D

  6. How to Become A True Muslim: Audio Workshop

    A believer can either be progressing towards his Lord, or becoming further distanced from Him. A sincere believer is characterized by an intense yearning to attain the closest station with His Lord, known as the Station of the Siddiqeen. Oftentimes we find this yearning to be lacking, or we find ourselves struggling to understand what this journey entails. This essential course will explore simple yet effective methods found in the Qur’an and Sunnah which result in a true and everlasting relationship of love between the believer and His Lord. Let us take hold of this opportunity to reignite our desire to come closer to Him, and learn how to become a true Muslim.

    [links to audio 4 part audio workshop: http://www.islamicspirituality.org/lectures/how-to-become-a-true-muslim%5D

  7. “… tasawwuf is the one science of the deen that is not academic, but actually requires experience; the key feature of Tasawwuf is that it is experiential…”

    [taken from part 1 of Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar’s talk on the Fundamentals of Tasawwuf, linked earlier]

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