Contemporary Tasawwuf and Shari`ah

Hesham Bazaraa

The following is a response to an questions posted by Br. Zillur Rahim. In summary he tries to accept Tasawwuf without accepting the continuing line of Sufis to this day. The countless Islamic scholars who have accepted Tasawwuf leave no doubt that it is a vital part of Islam. However some have raised doubts about what some Sufis have said. Some of this is misquoted and some is misunderstood. Insha'Allah I will present from my limited view some simple answers for the questions he poses.

he wrote:

>In reply to Br. Bazaraa, I would humbly comment that it is wrong to
>say that people give the impression that Tasawwuf is a reprehensible
>innovation. You will be correct if you say that many Muslims view
>that much of the Tasawwuf preached and practiced by the Naqshbandis
>and other sufi orders of today as innovations in the matters of deen.
>Tasawwuf, the way it was practiced by the prophet and his companions
>and the righteous followers is, of-course, part and parcel of Islam.

Many Salafis/Wahhabis certainly regard that Tasawwuf is a reprehensible innovation. You accept Tasawwuf and you say you deny the way it is practiced and preached by the sufi orders of today. Yet it has been show repeatedly that Tasawwuf throughout the Islamic era has been praised by the scholars of Islam including those of today. Do you think it suddenly completely failed today? You had said:

"I think "prophet's grave is better than Kaaba and the arsh, etc.," is just one of so many Sufi beliefs. " [here your words imply your disagreement with "Sufi beliefs" and you are suggesting that so many of them are incorrect, despite your affirmation that it is part of Islam.]

And that was the belief of Mulla Ali Qari'[d1014,R], among other scholars, a great and highly esteemed Hanafi scholar, and not a scholar "of today". It is possible that the number of very sincere Sufis today is less, but no doubt they can still be found, as Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, the Sufi Shaykhs of Imam Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Muhammad `Alawi al-Maliki al-Hasani etc..

>As we know of the companions, when some people saw them at nights
>they felt they knew nothing of this dun'ya because of their ritual
>devotion to Allah by staying up at night and making much of d'hikr
>and ruk'u and sujood. And when they were seen during the day
>fighting the enemies of Islam, some would think they knew nothing but
>the dun'ya. This is the balance that our great scholars and Imams
>allude to when they talk of tasawwuf.

Jihad as the Sahaba made both fighting the enemies of Islam under the banner of beloved Muhammad, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, and struggling to perfect control of their egos, is not "knowing about this dunya"[regardless of what people think], neither has it been abandoned by the Sufis of today.

>Hence quoting the great scholars of Islam and trying to justify
>tasawwuf is not the point here. No one is refuting tasawwuf.

Most Salafi/Wahhabis are trying to refute it. I can cite numerous examples if you have any doubts.

>Even contemporary scholars of Islamic Movements, like Hasan
>Al-Banna mentions his method to be the Sufi and Salafi method.
>It only means that his method subscribes to the understanding of
>the salafs and consequently their understanding and practice of Islam.

It is known that he gave Bay'a[pledge] to his students/followers and recommended a specific daily Wird[Dhikr]. I also heard that he was blessed with a photographic memory such that he could remember anyone he met, even only once many years later by name and in detail. Recently we have read that he also used to visit the graves of the pious Muslims, as is recommended by our Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam[Egypt is fortunate to have a large number of the the Awliya' buried under its soil]. Misunderstanding of some of the things I have mentioned about him have lead the Salafis to condemn him as an innovator as they have accused all the Sufis.


>What you have to convince us of is the source and justification of understanding of current sufis.

Issues that are Islamic and yet Sufis were accused of innovating have been the source of numerous articles and posts by As-Sunna Foundation of America[ASFA] and the Haqqani Naqshbandi Foundation for new Muslims. Such issues include Mawlid[which is celebrated in nearly every Islamic country by Islamic scholars and non-scholars], Tabarruk and Tawassul. Some issues they have been sarcastically criticized for addressing even after the accusations of shirk, such as kissing hands and standing out of respect! After the accusations were made, when the accusers found out they had been ignorant in their accusations, not a single one apologized, rather they said why is ASFA wasting their time with kissing hands, etc.. The majority of issues were answered and explained with numerous quotes from Quran and Hadith as explained by the great scholars of the past and present. Some issues have just been misquoted or are out of context.

>To quote you only a few, why don't you let us know where did the sufis get these following loud dhikrs from?
>'Hu, Hu; 33 times;
>'Haqq, Haqq' 33 times;
>'Hayy, Hayy' 33 times;
>Dhikr 'Allah, Allah' is increased from 1500 times to 2500 times by
>tongue and 2500 times by heart; the praise on the Prophet (salawat)
>from 100 to 300 times and on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays to 500 times.

Perhaps you are aware that Imam Hasan al-Banna recommended loud group dhikr in his book "al-Ma'thurat", as based on Hadith that commend it. Remember the posting on "the Love of Allah" in which it was said among the causes of mutual love between Allah swt and his servant according to Imam Ibn al-Qayyim[R] are:

"...Second, getting closer to Allah by performing voluntary deeds after completing obligatory deeds. This is as is stated in a Hadith Qudsi: "My slave continues getting closer to Me by performing voluntary deeds until I love him." [al-Bukhari]... "Third, continual remembrance of Allah under all circumstances, with one's tongue, heart and actions. The extent of one's love of Allah is determined by this.... "Fifth, the heart being avid of Allah's Names, and Attributes and the heart roaming in that garden of knowledge..."[End of Quote]

There are numerous Hadith recommending dhikr in general. If one where to decide to say, "La Illaha Illa Allah" one hundred and eleven times daily, or repeat, "Ya Latif" nine times daily those would not be reprehensible innovations even though they are not specifically cited in a Hadith with those numbers. Rather they would fall under the permitted voluntary dhikr of Allah swt using Quran and His names. Likewise Sufi teachers have recommended Dhikr, and have included for their students Dhikrs that encompass, repeating Allah's names, Salawat on the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, and Quran. Recently on msa-net we saw the example of how the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, 'COMMENDED' a Sahabi for INNOVATING a way of praising Allah swt after Ruku' in one Salat; what about outside of Salat?! I will quote that excerpt[I only received it as a part of Br. Hisham Hamed's reply]:

Consider this hadith: Rifa'a ibn Rafi said, "When we were praying behind the Prophet (SAW), >>and he raised his head from bowing and said, 'Allah hears whoever praises Him', a man behind him said, 'Our Lord, Yours is the praise, abundantly, wholesomely, and blessedly therin.' When he rose to leave, the Prophet (SAW) asked 'Who said it?', and when the man replied that it was he, the Prophet (SAW) said, 'I saw thirty-odd angels each striving to be the on to write it." [Related in both Bukhari and Muslim]

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani says in Fath al-Bari (Commentary of Sahih Bukhari) that the hadith indicates the permissibility of initiating new expressions of dhikr in the prayer other than the ones related through hadith texts, as long as they do not contradict those conveyed by the hadith [since the above words were a mere enhancement and addendum to the known, sunna dhikr]." [End of excerpt]

When one goes to learn Quran[or anything] from a teacher, he will give him certain excercises to read, a certain number of times to be repeated as the teacher sees the students progress. Likewise the Shaykh who is teaching Islamic spirituality and Ihsan[Islamic 'beneficence'] may first choose a certain number of repetitions of Dhikr [La Ilaha Illa Allah, Salawat etc.] to suggest to his student.

>And, very humbly, what is the source of the following statement? "In our time, grandShaykh Shaykh Abdullah ad-Daghestani >said, "Whichever of the People of the Last Time (akhir az-zaman), wishes to attain a high rank and an exalted state, and get >what a murid normally gets by means of seclusion (khalwat), and spiritual exercises, then he must continuously perform these >awrad (dhikr). With this awrad we have set the foundations for the higher stations, which are built on this foundation. The murid >ought to know that if he fails to attain an exalted station and high grade in this world because of his lack of effort, then he shall >not be separated from this world, but that the Shaykhs make him reach it, and reveal for him his station, either during his lifetime, >or at the time of the seven last breaths during the agonies of death.

According to my understanding:

1.Authentic Hadiths show that Dhikr is one of the best actions.
2.Authentic Hadiths show that a continous good action is the best type of good action.
3.Authentic Hadiths show that those who love each other for the sake of Allah will reach an exalted station and be admired for it on the day of Judgement by all people.
4.Authentic Hadiths show that we can give the rewards of our deeds to others and they do reach them for their benefit.
5.Authentic Hadiths show that our actions are judged by our intentions and therefore a good intention is the basis of a good deeds acceptability.
6.Authentic Hadiths show that we will be with those whom we Love in the hereafter, even without our actions.
7.Quran shows that Allah has given some of His servants special knowledge and special powers;see 27:40 as an example.

Based on points 1-7 above and knowing that

a.Naqshbandi Shaykhs give as a gift[Ihda']the rewards of their deeds to the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, Prophets[S], the Prophets' families[R], the companions[R], pious Muslims and their disciples as well as supplicating for their[the disciples] behalf.
b.They Love the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam.
c.The intention of the Murid is Allah's pleasure.
d.The Shaykh and the Murid love each other for Allah's sake. e.A true Murid is one who in fact keeps his sincere purpose as well as the Love of Allah swt, the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, and his Shaykh.

then it is not unusual to say that if a Murid desires to reach a high rank and exalted station he should keep his dhikr daily, but even if he does not then if he is truly a Murid[see 'e' above], then he has been promised success[see 1-7 above especially 6].

The following is from msa-ec from brother Dr. Fouad Haddad of As-Sunna Foundation of America and clarifies points '4' and 'a' above :

"Ibn Abi al-`Izz al-Hanafi, who adopted the doctrines of Ibn Taymiyya, said in his commentary on Tahawi's `Aqida (1995 ed. 2:664-673): [...deleted...] But the proof that the dead benefits from other than what he has brought about in his life is in the Book, the Sunna, the Consensus, and the sound analogy.... [After citing several proofs he says:] As for the reaching to the deceased of someone else's reward for fasting, it is narrated in the two Sahihs [also Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and al-Nasa'i] from `A'isha that the Prophet said: "Whoever dies without making up an obligatory fast that he had missed, let his patron (wali) fast on his behalf.... The Lawgiver pointed, with the reaching of the reward of fasting, to the reaching of the reward for Qur'an-recitation and other such types of bodily worship. It is made plain by the fact that to fast is merely to restrain the ego from food through intention, and the Lawgiver has prescribed that its reward will reach the dead: what about the reward of recitation which is both work and intention?.... The recitation of Qur'an and its voluntary, unpaid donation to the dead do reach him, just as the reward of fasting and pilgrimage reach him. End of Ibn Abi al-`Izz's words."

>>And again, what is the source of the following claims? Can these be >substantiated on basis of Qur'an and Sunnah?
>On page 33 of the book `Mercy Oceans - Part 1', it reads "The Power of
>the wali is such that he only needs to say Kun (be) and that will be."

This has been reported by the universally respected Shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani[R], in one of his books. He was even respected by Imam Ibn Taymiyya[R] who took the Sufi Tariqa through his chain of teachers as reported before by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani[inspite of Ibn Taymiyya's criticism of some other Sufis].

The following quote is from the new director of ISNA:

"Allah tells us that the best way His servant gets closer to Him is to establish what Allah mandated as obligatory, and then the road is ever open, and the nawafel carry you closer and closer until Allah - as He states in the hadeeth qudsi (divine ideas paraphrased by the Prophet saw), becomes his eyes, his ears, his ears and his feet, and indeed until he becomes a divine servant who can say to something Be and it is."
[Dr. Hassan Hathout, Minaret, Aug/Sep 1996].

One must note that a Wali is one who forgoes his own desires and will, in acceptance of that which pleases Allah swt, and that which He wills. Thus Allah swt empowers him to carry out His divine orders. There are many aspects to the above words that I am not qualified to expand upon, however we all know that there are many circumstances that Allah swt will accept Dua's, and it was a trait of our beloved Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, that his dua's were accepted, and that Allah swt would grant some of the very pious the gift of accepting their dua's constantly and that Muslims have turned to such people for their dua's at times of hardships. Allah swt has also empowered some with the ability to carry out His will, whatever that may be. The best example of that is the Prophets, peace be upon them. Sayyidina Khidr[S] whom some scholars consider a Prophet and others do not, was also such a person. I believe that most Muslims believe that this super ability has been given to Awliya as well. Note again the reference above[Quran 27:40]where a vizier in the court of Prophet Sulayman[S] had the ability to bring the Throne of Sheba [Saba'] in the blink of an eye. If such an ability was given to the Awliya of the time of Prophet Sulayman, what about those in the time of the Imam of Prophets and Messengers, Sayyidina Muhammad, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam?! Certainly the examples of the Karamat[miracles] of Awliya of Islam is expansive. Therfore "Kun Fa Yakun" for a Wali is not his whimsical desires, rather it is his carrying out the Will of Allah swt through the power which Allah swt has given him.

>On page 1 of the book `The Naqshbandi Way' it reads,
>"Our master the Sheikh says that a person who manages to act on these
>principles in our times will achieve what earlier generations did not
>achieve _ he who attains an exalted stage and a great rank, such a
>rank which the Prophets themselves and the companions were unable to attain."

This is explained in a very long footnote starting on the same page of the book. Basically it is NOT saying the sincere seeker at this time will be like a Prophet, or better than one. It says that as recorded in several Hadiths the seeker at this time will be given a huge reward which is special for him/her and which is due because of the hardships of sticking with Islam in these trying times['like holding on to a burning coal], and which was not possible at earlier generations.

Imam Tabari[R] in his "al-Kabir" recorded that Ibn Mas'ud narrated that the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said[to the Sahaba]:

"Inna min wara 'ikum zamanu sabr, lilmutamassiki fihi ajru khamsina shahidan minkum"
"After you is a time of patience, for the one who is steadfast in it is the reward of fifty martyrs from yourselves"

This Hadith has been graded as Sahih[authentic]

The fact that the accuser who quoted the above excerpt from the Naqshbandi book did not quote its explanation, and instead tried to make us think it states that the Shaykh's murids are better than prophets, is evidence that the accusers are dishonest and will resort to gross distortion in order to put their fellow Muslims out of Islam in the eyes of others.

>On page 13 of the book Haqiqat ul Haqqani it reads,... On page 11 of the book Haqiqat ul Haqqani it reads,...
>On page 15 of the book `Haqiqat ul Haqqani' it reads,...

"Haqiqat ul Haqqani" is not an Haqqani Naqshbandi book; that is it is neither authorized nor approved of by Shaykh Nazim and Shaykh Hisham.

> I think this is what you should consider addressing, rather than claiming, over and over again, that tasawwuf is part of Islam. We >all know that.

If we all knew that why are so many Islam pages on the wwweb linked to books as "the other side of Sufism" which treats Tasawwuf as another religion. You may explore the following address to learn of its lies, distortions and slander of all Sufis and Tasawwuf:

http://sunnah.org/salafi/tosos.htm

>And I am sure Br. Amer will also remind you of enlightening us all
>of the stand on Palestine issue that the contemporary sufi sheikhs
>have taken. I know it is a minor detail, but since I do not know
>the answer to this, I am getting more and more curious over the time.

It is not a minor detail as the lives of the oppressed Muslims in Palestine is important to all of us. Shaykh Hisham and Shaykh Nazim are concerned with the well being of Muslims and potential Muslims[all] everywhere. They travel across the globe to revive in Muslims the Love of Allah, of Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, and of Islam. They show the beauty of Islam on their faces and in their actions, so that many non-Muslims after meeting them also fall in love with Islam and accept it. If Allah swt gives them a chance to influence a political event to raise the name of al-Islam then they do, as for example Shaykh Nazim has done in Cyprus many times and continues to do so. They have both met with political leaders, Muslim and non-Muslim to encourage them to love Islam, place it above politics and to support Muslims.

What is the best way to restore to the Palestinians their rights? I believe it is to increase their and our faith, sincerity and Love for Allah swt, His Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, and Islam. I do not think there will be any solutions without Islam. So, number one priority, in my opinion is Islam. As for peace talks, etc., that is politics and we have currently no significant influence on it, nor will we let it[Insha'Allah] deter us from our purpose to raise the word of Allah swt and His Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, to be above all in the hearts and eyes of everyone.

AlhamduLillah both Sufi Shaykhs have been successful with Allah's support in bringing Islam to so many people and making us all feel very grateful to be Muslims.

May Allah forgive me for my mistakes and forgive all of us.

>And Allah knows the best. > >Was'Salamu Alaikum, Zillur Rahim >...

Ph.D., P.E.

Wa Alaykum AsSalam,

Hesham