The Beacon II

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Signs on the Horizons by Shaykh Michael Sugich.

“It is hard for an outsider to understand how deeply troubling the loss of a living shaykh is for the disciple and there is a natural human tendency to fill the immense gap left by the death of one’s guide with a comforting placeholder.  Many Sufi orders become hereditary in this way, with the son of the shaykh taking the mantle by acclamation to sustain the way.  The great awliya’ within the Darqawiyyah Habibiyyah Order had the profound integrity not to settle for what might have been reassuring and the Habibiyyah carried on for decades, surviving on the extraordinarily powerful practice and legacy of the great 20th century shaykh.  During this period, numerous people tried to declare themselves as shaykh of the Order, but Si Fudhul and others quashed these false claims.

One of my teachers in Makkah al-Mukarramah, Shaykh Isma’il, once said to me, ‘There is nothing worse on the face of the earth than the man of false claims.’  The living shaykh is the spiritual equivalent of a heart or neurosurgeon, with the power to heal hearts and minds.  An unqualified pretender without the authentic transmission, knowledge and Authority from God and His Prophet (s.a.w.) can be as lethal and dangerous as a medical quack and can do untold damage to the unwitting or misguided soul.

Mawlay al-‘Arabi ad-Darqawi (q.s.) wrote, ‘Beware, beware lest you allow yourself to be deceived by someone, for how many there are who appear to be preaching for God when in reality they are only preaching for their desires.’

Shaykh Isma’il also told me succinctly, 'Anyone who claims to be a shaykh of ma’rifah is a liar.’  The true shaykh does not have to make a claim.  He simply is.  It does not mean that the true shaykh does not acknowledge his role.  He simply does not have to stand up and proclaim and defend his claims.  One pretender to the mantle of Shaykh ibn al-Habib created a great deal of confusion when he made his claim, which reached as far away as Makkah al-Mukarramah, where I was living.  Si Fudhul knew the man and I had been asked by someone living in Makkah to ask Si Fudhul his opinion on the matter.  I posed the question.  With a withering look, Si Fudhul shook his head and said dismissively, ‘He behaves with the hauteur of a king.  This is not the behaviour of a true shaykh.  This fellow only ever had authority to call people to Islam, nothing more.’

At that point in my life, I was without a living shaykh and was deeply concerned about this as all the great Sufi treatises stress the importance of keeping company with a living master.  I asked Si Fudhul what to do and he said, ‘In this time, it is very difficult to find a living shaykh, nearly impossible.  Make the shari’ah your shaykh.’”


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