Imam Malik (r.a.) on the Relationship between Fiqh & Taswawwuf

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is a short commentary on the saying attributed to Imam Malik ibn Anas (r.a.) by Imam Ahmad az-Zarruq (q.s.).

Man taswawwafa wa lam tafaqaha faqad tazandaqa wa man tafaqaha wa lam taswawwafa faqad tafassaqa wa man jama’a baynahummaa faqad tahaqqaqa.

“Whoever acquires spirituality without jurisprudence is a heretic, and whoever studies jurisprudence without spirituality is a constant sinner, and whosoever combines both has attained the Truth.”

Tawhid is the fundamental principle of Islam; the two first approaches mentioned by Imam Malik (r.a.) - are blameworthy in that they transgress this principle; the third way upholds it and he therefore uses the term pertaining to realisation, Truth.

The first approach often manifests in neglecting the tenets of the shari’ah on the claim that inward realisation of the essence of the religion is “superior” and, therefore. absolves one from the outward observance of the commandments.  It is based on arrogance and ignorance.  It is arrogance because such a person is actually claiming to be superior to the prophets who all followed shari’ah.  And it is ignorance because such a one does not realise that we cannot come to realisation except by submission to Allah (s.w.t.).  In this case, he has submitted to his nafs and is actually guilty of the hidden shirk.  The statement of the imam could be understood as, “Whosoever professes inner realities of the religion without consolidating and affirming them by an understanding of the external forms has become a heretic.”

The second postulate could be understood as, “Who limits the religion to the realm of rational, literal understanding, while denying its spiritual essence and foundation has corrupted it.”  This second approach invariably manifests itself in a approach that censors those who do not subscribe to it.  Its adherents are no less infected ignorance and arrogance than the aforementioned heretics.  Wherever the unholy union of these two curses occurs, great damage is inevitable to the community.  We seek Refuge with Allah (s.w.t.) from them.


  1. Just wondering... What is the response to Muslims having prophetic dreams and visions about Christ coming to them?

  2. Wa'Alaikumus Salaam,

    It is possible to dream of Isa (a.s.). But the prophets would never ask you to worship other than Allah (s.w.t.).



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