Sufi Shaykh Muhammad Mamunur Rashid
This monograph explains why a Muslim should learn Sufism or Tasawwuf. The line of reasoning of the author follows the arguments made by the Great Mujaddid Ahmad Sirhindi in his book the Maktubat-I Imam Rabbani primarily being based on Volume I, epistle 266. Drawing his arguments from the Koran and the Hadith, the author demonstrates that it is obligatory on every Muslim to learn Sufism.
Translated and distributed by:
Sufi Peace Mission/ Sufi Tarikah of Pure Mujaddidi
PO Box 4604
Berkeley CA 94704
Islam is the Straight Path. Only the travelers on this Straight Path may reach the correct destination. “Satisfaction of God” is the greatest treasure and that may be realized only on this path. Our blessed master Muhammad (peace be upon him) has described this Path in detail in his twenty-three years life as a prophet. He is the prophet of all men: men of the past, men of the present and men of the future. He is the “prophet of the prophets.” He is also the prophet of the Jinns, the angels and in fact, the entire creation. He is the “beloved” of Allah. If you follow him, you will attain success in this world and the last world. There is no other path to attain Allah, except the path that he has established. That man is truly wise who has devoted his life to faithfully follow the Blessed Prophet (peace).
Islam is the complete religion, i.e. the complete “Din” or “code of life.” It is complete with such a type of completeness that there is no opportunity to add or subtract from it. That is, this Din is beyond the necessity of any change, be it addition or be it subtraction. Prophet Adam (peace) sowed the seed of this Din. The prophets (peace) who followed him nurtured the sapling that was this Din. When it came to the Great Prophet (peace), that Din grew to be a full-blown tree. As Allah said: “This day, We have perfected your Din for you.” Our first duty is to reflect this Din into our life completely. Such is the command of Allah (Almighty and Exalted is He!). He said: “Believers! Enter into [a state of] total submission [towards Allah].”
We will have to search for the complete Din within the Koran and the Sunnah. We may not search beyond these two sources. For the Blessed Prophet (peace) said in his Last Sermon: “After me, if you hold on to two things, then you will be saved from misguidance. They are the Koran and my Sunnah.” Also, our interpretations of the Koran and the Sunnah must be in accordance to the interpretations made by the honorable Imams of the Sunnite Community. Because all the misguided factions of Islam, e.g. the Shiites, the Salafis or the Wahhabis, the Kharijites, the Mutazilites, the Mawdudites etc., they all offer the proofs for their interpretations from the Koran and the Hadith (i.e. the body of reports on the Sunnah.) However, their interpretations of the Koran and the Sunnah are false. These interpretations arise from their Animal Souls. Only the honorable ulama of the Sunnite Community has realized the true meaning of the Koran and the Sunnah. Their interpretations follow the honorable companions (may Allah be satisfied towards them) and the pious predecessors. This community has attained satisfaction of Allah! This Community has attained salvation! Therefore, the first obligation for every Muslim is to perfect their own creed in accordance with the creed of this Community.
Having perfected our creed, we should try to faithfully follow the Shariah. For success in this world and the last world lies in the following of the Shariah. Shariah has three components: Knowledge, practice and sincerity of intention. These three things complement one another. If you reject any one, the other two become valueless. So we should try to attain each one of these three components with equal enthusiasm. Now let us discuss each of these three components briefly.
All of these three components of the Din ¾ knowledge, practice and sincerity of intention ¾ are critical. If we reject any one of these, the other two becomes valueless. For example, if we practice the practice and possesses the sincerity of intention but he has no knowledge then its valueless. Or if we have the knowledge and the sincerity of intention but lack only the practice then its also valueless. Again if we have the knowledge and the practice, they will be valueless without the sincerity of intention
We need to seek the help of a Sufi Shaykh to learn this “knowledge of the heart.” To learn the “knowledge of the tongue”, one may study in a seminary or Madrasah. Or he may study books of religious jurisprudence. Or he may converse with a scholar. Likewise, to learn the “knowledge of the heart”, one has to seek help from such a person whose heart has been illuminated with the light of perpetual Zikr. To attain spiritual companionship of such a person, it is necessary to enroll or to take Bayat, i.e. become a student or Murid. Via the string of the attachment of love, the light of Zikr is transmitted from the heart of such a teacher to the heart of the student and then it also becomes lighted with the light of Zikr. It is then that the heart of the student may realize inner peace. An authority of the “knowledge of the heart” is called a Sufi Shaykh, Pir or Murshid. Along with the learning of the “knowledge of the tongue”, one should learn the “knowledge of the heart”. For he is certainly misguided who does not learn this priceless knowledge from a Sufi Shaykh or Murshid who is a friend of Allah. As Allah has said, “Whom Allah misguides, you will not find a “friend” [of Allah] or a “Murshid” to guide him.” And he would be guilty of the sin of failing to perform an obligatory action
Now that we know that learning the “knowledge of the heart” is obligatory, we need to have a clear conception about the limit of this obligation. So now let’s examine, “How much of this “knowledge of the heart” are we obligated to learn?”
Let’s first answer the general question, “How much of the knowledge of the Din are we obligated to learn?” We know that Islam stands on five pillars: Profession of the Faith, Prayer, Fast, Hajj and the Tithe. To realize these five pillars in our lives, it is obligatory for us to attain the knowledge of how to perform these five practices properly. However, whoever among us is not rich, Hajj or the Tithe is not obligatory for him. So it is not obligatory for him to attain that knowledge which is required to perform those practices. In short, according to the Shariah, whatever practice someone is required to perform he is required to learn the knowledge necessary to perform those actions. Every individual Muslim is not obligated to become a scholar of the Hadith, a commentator of the Koran or to commit the entire Koran to memory. Likewise, with respect to the “knowledge the heart,” it is not obligatory for every individual Muslim to become a friend of Allah with an exalted rank e.g. Pole, Succor, Substitute, Peg or Mujaddid.
Now we can answer the specific question, “How much of the <<knowledge of the heart>> are we obligated to learn?” Learning that much “knowledge of the heart” is obligatory by dint of what a Muslim’s heart becomes free from the love of things other than Allah and instead realizes inner peace. As Allah has stated: “The Day [of Resurrection] whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail. But only he [will succeed] who comes with a heart in inner peace” And the heart may realize inner peace when it lighted with the light of Zikr. Inner peace lies in none else but the Zikr of Allah. As Allah has stated: “In the Zikr of Allah do hearts find inner peace.”
Sufi Tarikahs teach us the “knowledge of the heart” that enables us to attain sincerity in our intentions. We need to have sincere intention behind every pious act. It is in the Hadith that all actions will be judged according to the intention behind them. Let’s examine this concept of “sincerity of intention.”
Heart is the locus of intention. Pronouncing the intention is not obligatory. Intention in the heart is what is obligatory. Making intention is obligatory before performing any act of worship. The heart is the seat of intention of all action, be it good or be it evil. Satan, the sworn enemy of man, makes it his home and whispers evil suggestions to him. As long as Satan can rule over the heart, sincere intention can’t grow there. Since Satan has made the human heart his home, it is impure. Intention of the impure heart must be impure. Therefore, in order to purify the heart, Satan must be driven out of there. Only then there can be sincere intentions behind actions. It is said in the Hadith, “Satan sits in the heart of men. If the heart is engaged in Zikr of Allah, then Satan flees it. Instead if the heart is heedless from Zikr, then Satan stays there and whispers evil suggestions.”
Allah does not accept our Prayers if we harbor thoughts of things other than Allah during Prayers and that would surely happen if our hearts were impure. For Allah has said in a Hadith report, “If someone prays a Prayer that is not completely for Me, I reject that Prayer.” So Satan tried his best to interrupt our Prayers. For he knows that if our Prayer is pure then he will be unable to defeat the power from Allah that we will gain through Prayer. Prayer is the gist of all devotional actions and when it will be pure, we would be able to abstain from all actions that Allah detests. As Allah has stated, “Verily Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust actions.”
Allah accepts only a pure and sincere Prayer. He accepts a Prayer only when the devotee prays having purified his body, clothes and the heart. And the devotee’s sole intention is the satisfaction of Allah. And the devotee performs all the pillars of the Prayer properly. Allah is Pure. Only the pure may succeed in worshipping Him. Not only the body, the heart of the devotee should be pure as well. Ablution or bathing creates outer purity. And the Zikr of Allah that takes place in the heart creates inner purity. For the Prophet has said, “There is a part in the human body. If it is wholesome, all his actions are wholesome. And if it is unwholesome, all his actions are unwholesome. That bodily part is the heart. ”
Therefore, the heart should always be doing the Zikr of Allah spontaneously. And this Zikr should be permanent. Whenever the heart will be heedless from the Zikr of Allah, Satan will rule it. He will then contaminate the heart that is the source of all good actions of man. By ruining man’s single-minded attention to Allah during Prayer, Satan will destroy it. Prayer is the key to salvation from all evil actions. It says in the Hadith: “A Prayer is not accepted without a presence of the heart.” So a Prayer done when the heart is under the suzerainty of Satan is invalid. At least during the Prayer, Zikr of Allah should be in the heart of man. For Allah has stated: “And establish Prayer in order to do my Zikr.”
“Knowledge of the heart” is critically important as it enables us to repel this satanic threat and instead pray Prayers that are acceptable to Allah. When we learn this knowledge, our hearts will be immersed in the never-ending Zikr of Allah and thus we would save ourselves from this dangerous predicament. So we should seek the help of an authority of the “knowledge of the heart.” The “real” Sufi Shaykh is an authority of this knowledge. The purpose behind enrolling any Sufi Tarikah is to attain nothing else but “sincerity of intention.” It is not those perverted aims with which many people throng the Sufi Shaykhs often. And many people who call themselves Sufi Shaykhs nurture these aims which are far from the true aim for what people should come to Sufi Shaykhs.
Now we understand why it is necessary to enroll in one of the many Sufi Tarikahs. The purpose is to enable us to perfect our following of the Shariah. For unless one enrolls in a Sufi Tarikah and learn the “knowledge of the heart” from this “educational institution”, one may not realize true sincerity of intention.
The Pure Mujaddidiya Tarikah may be the most appropriate Tarikah for this time as it’s very easy. All Sufi Tarikahs share the same purpose ¾ learning the “knowledge of the heart.” However, in most Tarikahs, you will have to do “hard struggle” to learn the knowledge. In contrast, you will NOT have to do any “hard struggle” to learn in this Tarikah; actually, it’s practices are very easy-to-do. Allah loves hard-to-do good deeds. Likewise, He also loves east-to-do good deeds. Today, life is complicated and people have little time available and therefore may prefer to practice an easy-to-practice Tarikah. In this Tarikah, the student may attain a state where his “heart is permanently doing the Zikr of Allah spontaneously,” i.e. by itself. You’ll know it because you’ll feel physical sensations along with inner growth. Your heart would be vibrating with the Zikr just as it says in the Koran, “Verily the faithful are them whose hearts vibrate when they do the Zikr of Allah.”
This Tarikah is appropriate for this time also because it assiduously clings to the Sunnah and steer away from deviations. Many other Tarikahs employ deviant practices that opposes the Sunnah and the Shariah e.g. loud Zikr, singing, dancing etc. In contrast, the practices of this Tarikah strictly conform to the Sunnah. They are silent Zikr, meditation, supplication etc. Also the esoteric science that its adherents experience totally conform to the Sunnah.
In this Tarikah, the disciple realizes that state of perpetual Zikr without much effort on his part. Instead, the Shaykh projects his spiritual energy i.e. gives “face-turnings” to the disciple and he attains progress because of it. That Zikr may start instantaneously with the enrollment or Bayat. At most, it may take forty days. And the disciple spontaneously starts to receive esoteric knowledge through his illuminated heart. More bodily centers are illuminated in the next stations and they are also attained very easily and very fast. Once you complete a sequence of stations, you’d attain the station of “heart in inner peace.” It is on that station, you’d attain true sincerity and your Prayers would be accepted. Learning Sufism as far as that station is critical, in fact it is obligatory since it is obligatory that Prayers be sincerely for Allah.
Should you choose so, you may elect to learn more and grow closer to Allah. Then you may progress even more and arrive on the sublime station of “soul in inner peace.” It is the point where your instigating soul is pacified and become obedient to Allah. As Allah declares, “O soul in inner peace! Return to your Lord being well pleased yourself and well pleasing towards Him. ” However, reaching that point would be supererogatory while reaching the point of heart in inner peace would be obligatory.
Choosing a competent Sufi Shaykh is critical. It should be kept in mind that the Tarikah does not take the student to the destination, he who takes is the Shaykh. However exalted may be the Tarikah, only a Shaykh with complete perfection in that Tarikah is capable of taking the students to the desired destination. If the Shaykh lacks perfection, the Tarikah alone cannot take you to the desired destination.
All of us Muslims should be concerned about the fact that today we are in distress. We must keep in mind the saying of the Prophet: “All Muslims are brothers.” We must remember the Message of Allah: “You are a one-in-all community.” We are the community most despised in the world. Our prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the chieftain or Imam of all the prophets. And likewise we are to be the leader of all communities. Instead, what’s the reality? Be it in a Muslim-majority country or be it in a Muslim-minority country, everywhere we are persecuted. In some places we are persecuted by our own Animal Souls due to affluence, again in some other places we are persecuted by the enemies of Islam due to poverty, lack of education or minority status.
We must elevate ourselves from this abysmal state. We should immerse ourselves in the struggle to regain our lost glory. And we need to be engaged in constructive self-criticism and free ourselves from our faults. Whatever we may be, be it a peasant, be it a worker or be it the president of the country, we are primarily servants of Allah and members of the Muhammadan community. How are we all doing our jobs?
How are our heads-of-state doing their jobs? The obligation on our head-of-the-state is to institute Shariah in the country so that there may be justice in the society. Law of Allah is the only law. O the head-of the-state! How dare you preserve laws against the Laws of Allah in the world of Allah! Remember! You’ll have to answer Allah in the last world!
How is our ulama doing its job? The duty on the ulama is to educate all Muslims in the knowledge of the Din: the Islamic code of life. And to answer questions that pertain to the current time in the light of the Koran and the Sunnah. And to elevate the Shariah to a more exalted station. O the ulama! You consider yourselves to be the deputies of the Prophet. But where is the sacrifice like that of the Prophet (peace)? Are you really carrying out the duties of the deputies of the Prophet (peace)? Aren’t you engaged in a contest for name, fame, power and money? The Prophet (peace) said: “In the last world, that scholar will be most severely punished who hasn’t benefited from his own knowledge.” Haven’t you forgotten it?
How is our Sufi Community doing its job? The duty on the Sufi community is to develop the flow of light of love for Allah in the inner realm of man. But what’s happening actually? O the Sufi community! Your primary pre-occupation now is the earning of money by selling indulgences, selling amulets, doing spiritual work for a client for his worldly gains for money, curing diseases through spiritual work for money, singing and dancing, serving the rich and powerful as sycophants and so on. You call yourselves servants of the Din but you do the work of the enemies of the Din!
It’s critical that our leaders are reformed. It is said that the enemies of the Din are three: 1) the head-of-state seeking personal enrichment 2) the ulama seeking worldly gain 3) the fake Sufis. Therefore, unless these three groups are reformed, the Din may not prosper. The devout head-of-state, the devout ulama, the Sufis who has attained perfection ¾ they are the ones who can be compatriots in the exalted work of elevating the Din.
Although the common Muslims are not directly responsible for perverting the Din, still they cannot deny responsibility totally. It is necessary on them as well to seek the help of devout ones among the ulama and the Sufi Shaykhs in order to learn the knowledge of the Din. Instead, they seek the help of the ulama and the Sufi Shaykhs for worldly gain. And a large section of the ulama and Sufi communities are serving the demand of the Animal Souls of these common Muslims.
Many intellectuals are enveloped by the darkness of ideas opposed to Islam and they cannot avoid their responsibilities either. A deluge of anti-Islamic ideas is flooding us but where are our intellectuals? They are always absorbed in the study of thick anti-Islamic books and researching the ideas that are in them. But they have no time to study the Koran or the Hadith. Do they not know that the Shariah commands us to learn the knowledge of the Din? It is obligatory on everyone ¾ on the educated, uneducated, workers, peasants, industrialists, journalists, scientists, intellectuals, and so on.
We all need to examine ourselves critically. Our heads-of-states, our ulama class, our Sufi Shaykhs, our socially conscious intellectuals ¾ they all are included within the Muslim community. If any one of us falls astray, the rest cannot remain heedless since we all are a one-in-all community. We know that if a single limb of us grows weak, it harms us all, it makes our combined strength weaker. Therefore, as a part of our communal self-criticism, let each of us look at our own selves carefully. And let’s answer:
First, we’ll have to able give affirmative answers to these questions for our own selves. Second, we’ll have to spread this news to our own family, to the country and to the world. It is only then that the complete Din will be established in our lives. It is only then that we’ll be able to perform our duty to spread the Din or Tabligh, establish the Din or struggle for the Din or Jihad. He who cannot establish the complete Din in the realm of his own being, will he be able to establish the Din in the country or in the society ever? Never!
Therefore, my Muslim brothers! Let’s take heed! Keeping the plan to establish complete Din in the society, in the country and in the world before us, let’s immerse ourselves in the quest to follow the complete Din for our own selves. Peace in the beginning and in the end!
All-Powerful Chooser [qa:dir-I mukhta:r]
Animal Souls [nafs,pl.anfus].
Beatific Vision of Allah [dida:r]
Day of Resurrection [qiya:ma].
divine revelation [wah*I:]
establish the Din [iqamat of Din]
free choice [ikhtiya:r].
heart in inner peace [qalbin sali:m]
inner peace [sali:m]
knowledge of the tongue [<ilm al-lisa:n]
knowledge of the heart [<ilm al-qalb]
measuring out [taqdi:r]
miracles of the friends[kara:ma:t al-awliya:>]
miracles of the prophets [mu<jiza:t al-anbiya:>]
nearness to Allah [wila:ya]
newly arrived thing [h*a:dith]
not similar [bi-mithl]
one-in-all community [ummatan wa:h*idatan]
pious predecessors [salaf].
projection of spiritual energy [“face-turning” or tawajjuh]
rejection of the faith [kufr]
Sincerity of Intention [ikhla:s*]
soul in inner peace [nafs-I mut*mainnah]
spread the Din [tabli:gh]
struggle for the Din [jiha:d].
Sufi Shaykh [Shaykh al-tariqa, Murshid]
Sunnite Community [Ah*l al-Sunnah wa al-Jama<a]
Instigating soul [nafs-I ammara]