By Khalid Baig
21 July 2017
A lot of people have misunderstandings
about Tasawwuf. Many think that it is something beyond Quran and Sunnah. Errant
Sufis as well as superficial Ulema, although on the opposite ends of the
spectrum, are together in holding this mistaken notion. Consequently the first
group has shunned the Quran 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, “Verily, he who has purified the heart is successful
and he who has despoiled it has lost.” Thus while commanding Salat and Zakat,
the Quran 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 (show-off) Takabbur, Akhlaq, etc. These commands are as much a
mandatory requirement as the ones dealing with external deeds.
On reflection it will be realised 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 Tahzeeb-I-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 purify 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 harbour 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
Zikr 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 Bhait or pledge. This
is a two-way commitment; the Shaikh pledges to guide you in light of Shariah
and you pledge to follow him.
Equilibrium 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 Seerat (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 Seerat was the Holy
Prophet (PBUH). The beauty of our Seerat is based on its closeness to His Seerat.
— Courtesy: Albalagh.org