The Ruling for Entering a Sufi Order

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from “The Ruling for Entering into a Sufi Order” Shaykh ‘Ali Juma’ah.

Sufism is the system of spiritual growth and the acquiring good character which leads a Muslim to the level of perfection, ihsan, which the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) described as “worshiping Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, know that He Sees you.”  Therefore, Sufism is a programme of growth which concerns itself with purifying the self of all its diseases which prevent one from reaching Allah (s.w.t.), and it seeks to rectify the crookedness of man’s self as it relates to Allah (s.w.t.), others, and to one’ self.

The Sufi Order is the body that takes care of this self purification and rectification, and the Sufi shaykh is the person who provides the necessary training for those seeking to be with Allah (s.w.t.).  The human self by its nature accumulates diseases such as arrogance, haughtiness, self-praise, selfishness, stinginess, anger, ostentation, leanings towards sinful acts, revenge, hatred, loathing, trickery, and greed.

Yusuf (a.s.) said, in the Qur’an:

“Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human soul) certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do Bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Yusuf:53)

For this reason, our pious predecessors were cognisant of the importance of a spiritual discipline that could rid the self of its diseases, be in harmony with society, and ultimately be successful in leading one to Allah (s.w.t.).  To maintain orthodoxy, Sufi Orders must contain certain characteristics such as strict adherence to the Qur’an and sunnah as Sufism is nothing more than the actualisation of the Qur’an and sunnah.  Anything that is against both the Qur’an and sunnah is not something that is a part or can be a part of Sufism.  Another trait is that Sufism cannot see itself as separate from shari’ah knowledge; rather it is its essence.

Sufism has three principles which are drawn from the Qur’an and sunnah.  The first is concern for the human self:

By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; ― truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it! (Surah ash-Shams:7-10)

The second is an abundance of invocation:

O ye who believe!  Celebrate the praises of Allah, and do this often; (Surah al-Ahzab:41)

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “Let your tongue be moist with the remembrance of Allah.”  And finally, renunciation of this world and a desire for the hereafter:

What is the life of this world but play and amusement?  But best is the Home in the Hereafter, for those who are righteous.  Will ye not then understand? (Surah al-An’am:32)

As for the role of the shaykh whom the Sufis takes litanies from and who guides them through the process of removing diseases from their hearts, he is the one who finds the most suitable program for each of his disciples, muridun, as was the practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.), who used to give advice to people as to what would draw them near to Allah (s.w.t.) based on their psychosomatic makeup.

For example a man came to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and asked, “Tell me of that which will keep me away from the wrath of Allah.”

And he said, “Do not become angry.”

Another person came and asked, “Give me something to cling to.”

And he replied, “Let your tongue be moist with the remembrance of Allah.”

There were those amongst the companions who increased their night prayer, others who read the Qur’an often, others participated in jihad often, others invoked often, and still others who gave charity often.  This does not necessitate leaving certain matters of the religion.  Rather, there are some acts of worship that a traveller on the Path to Allah (s.w.t.) increases to help him reach his goal.  It is for this reason that there are many doors to Paradise, but there is still only one Paradise.  The Prophet (s.a.w.), “For every people of a certain righteous act there is a door from the many doors of Paradise that call those people, and for those who fast there is a special door that is called ar-Rayyan.”  For this reason Sufi Orders have different methods of spiritual discipline depending on the specific shaykh and disciple.

From the above discussion, it is clear what true Sufism is, what the real Path to Allah (s.w.t.) is as well as who a true shaykh is; the one who adheres to the Qur‘an and sunnah.  We have also learned the reasoning behind the various Orders whereas the reality of them is one.  We should also mention that this above description does not apply to many of those who call to the way of Sufism today who in reality distort the realities of the path.  We find many who have no religiosity, no piety such as those who dance lewdly at different occasions and who also act as those who are entranced but are nothing but mere pretenders.  This is not of the matter of Sufism and we should not formulate our opinion of Sufism based on this.  Those amongst the scholars who understand and practice Sufism should come together and explain these issues further to help the masses understand truth from falsehood.

There is one matter left to be discussed; taking one’s spiritual methodology directly from the Qur‘an and sunnah.  This is a statement that outwardly seems to be logical, but in reality it can bring destruction.  We have not learned prayer and its conditions by reading the Qur‘an and sunnah.  Rather, we learned prayer from a science called fiqh, jurisprudence, that was developed by the jurists who derived rulings which constitute the corpus of Islamic law based on the Qur‘an and sunnah using many tools codified in the science of juristic methodology, ‘ilm usul al-fiqh.  There has never been any person who was able to read the Qur‘an and sunnah and directly create law.  There are also matters not covered by the Qur‘an and sunnah, especially in the science of Sufism, which makes it necessary to learn them from a qualified shaykh and his teachings.  These matters cannot be placed in books like the rules of Qur’anic recitation.  The science of Sufism has been codified since the time of Imam Junayd (q.s.) in the 4th Islamic century.  As time went on and social conditions worsened so did some of the Sufi Orders that held on to outward appearances that contravened the Qur‘an and sunnah.  Despite this, Allah (s.w.t.) will continue to protect and preserve Sufism as it is the true path to Him:

Verily Allah will Defend (from ill) those who believe: verily, Allah loveth not any that is a traitor to faith or shows ingratitude. (Surah al-Hajj:38)

From this above discussion, the different parts of the question have been addressed, and we ask Allah (s.w.t.) to Give us insight into His Religion and He is Most High and Omniscient.


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