Response to a Misleading Article on Islam and Sufism

Assalamu alaikum,

The following is a response I wrote to an article, "SUFISM: The Deviated Path" by Yusuf Hijazi, which spreads many lies about Islam and Sufism. The conclusions I came to regarding this article are:

Here is the full response, which includes many references....
 


>SUFISM: The Deviated Path
>By Br. Yusuf Hijazi

Insha-Allah, we will endeavour to answer every point explicitly.


The Prophet (s.a.w.) taught us that it is important to check and be very
careful about what you say, and that your tongue is one of the things
that can lead you into the Fire.  It is unfortunate that, today, many
people spread lies about other Muslims.  And what do they use as their
sources?  They use the writings of non-Muslims!

The essay I am replying to is an example of this kind of writing.  It 
includes slander and lies about Muslims, and it uses as its source the 
writings of non-Muslims to criticize Muslims.  That this is done appears to
indicate that the author of this article considers himself closer to the
non-Muslims than to the Muslims, since he prefers to use non-Muslim
sources to slander his Muslim brothers in faith.

Insha-Allah, we will endeavour to point out the many errors which are 
contained in this article.  Insha-Allah, we will also endeavour to 
clarify that most of the sources used in the article are in fact from 
non-Muslims.  Why would someone use non-Muslim sources to attack his
fellow Muslims?  The only reason that comes to my mind is that such a
person may consider himself closer to the non-Muslims than to the
Muslims, and Allah knows best.

>Although many sects have appeared throughout the ages, none have outlasted 
>as long and spread their effects into the homes of so many as Sufism has. 

Only the first sentence, and already an error.  Tasawwuf is not a
"sect."  One of the great Sufis in history is Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi,
also known as Imam-i Rabbani, the great Renewer of Islam from India.
Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi wrote that the Shari`ah has three parts: knowledge, 
actions, and sincerity.  The role of Tasawwuf is to improve our practice 
of the third aspect of the Shari`ah, namely sincerity.

Do Muslims who endeavour to improve their sincerity constitute a "sect"?
Certainly not.

>The emotional attachment that a countless number of Muslims have towards 
>this sect is so powerful that any analysis should be purely from an 
>objective perspective; thus this article takes an objective approach, and 
>tries to be conservative rather than extreme in its analysis of Sufism. 

The author seems to imply that "emotional attachment" is a negative
thing.  Many people also have a strong "emotional attachment" to the
Final Religion of Allah, the religion of Islam.  Is this a bad thing
too?

>Its 
>conclusions however leave no doubt as to the alien nature of Sufi teachings 
>that have infiltrated into the religion that our beloved Prophet (s.a.w) 
>left us upon.

We shall see, insha-Allah.

>Sufism: Its Origins
> The word Sufi is most likely to be derived from the Arabic word "soof", 
>meaning wool. This is because of the Sufi habit of wearing woolen coats, a 
>designation of their initiation into the Sufi order. 

A number of origins of the word "Sufi" have been given.  

In the book "Secret of Secrets" (Sirr al-Asrar), which has been
attributed to Shaykh Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani, we read:

  There is a group of people called the Sufis.  Four interpretations 
  are given for this name.  Some see, looking at their exterior, that
  they wear rough woollen garb.  In Arabic the word for wool is _suf_,
  and they call them Sufis from this.  Others, looking at their way
  of life free from the anxieties of this world, and at their ease
  and at peace, which in Arabic is _safa_, call them Sufis on that
  account.  Yet others, seeing deeper, look at their hearts, which
  are purified of everything other than the Essence of Allah.  Because
  of the purity of those hearts, in Arabic _safi_, they term them 
  Sufis.  Others who know call them Sufis because they are close to
  Allah and will stand in the first row, in Arabic _saff_, before
  Allah on the day of the Last Judgement.

  [Shaykh Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani, Secret of Secrets, translated by
  Shaykh Tosun Bayrak, p. 65.]

>The early Sufi orders 
>considered the wearing of this coat as an imitation of Isa bin Maryam 
>(Jesus). 

Certainly some Sufis might have considered this, however it is certainly
far from universal.  Others would say because the wearing of a simple 
woollen garment is simple and unpretentious.

>In reply to this, Ibn Taymiyyah said: "There are a people who have 
>chosen and preferred the wearing of woolen clothes, claiming that they want 
>to resemble al-Maseeh ibn Maryam. But the way of our Prophet is more 
>beloved to us, and the Prophet (s.a.w) used to wear cotton and other 
>garments."1  

Ibn Taymiyah did criticize some sayings and actions of some Sufis,
while on the other hand praising others.  One of the Sufis he praised
was Shaykh Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani, the founder of the Qadiri tariqa.

Often, people today only show one side of Ibn Taymiyah's writings --
those where he criticizes *some* Sufis -- and ignores the other part of
his writings -- those where he *praises* some Sufis.  It is important to
keep this balance in mind, when considering the truth about Ibn
Taymiyah.

Ibn Taymiyah's general attitude to Sufism is given in the following
statement:

  "Some people accept everything of Sufism, what is right as well as
  what is wrong; others reject it totally, both what is wrong as
  well as what is right, as some scholars of _kalam_ and _fiqh_
  do.  The right attitude toward Sufism, or any other thing, is to
  accept what is in agreement with the Qur'an and the Sunnah, and
  reject what does not agree."

  [Quote originally from Majmu` Fatawa Shaykh 'l-Islam Ibn Taymiyah,
  compiled by `Abd 'l-Rahman 'l-Asimi and his son Muhammad, 
  Riyadh, Vol. X, p. 82.  English translation of this statement 
  from "Sufism and Shari`ah: A Study of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi's
  Effort to Reform Sufism" by Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari,
  published by the Islamic Foundation, 1986, p. 130.]

Ibn Taymiyah was certainly not opposed to Sufism, though he did oppose
some of the statements of some Sufis, such as Ibn al-Arabi, while on the
other hand greatly praising other Sufis, such as Shaykh Abdul-Qadir
al-Jilani.  Ibn Taymiyah even wrote a commentary on Shaykh Abdul-Qadir
al-Jilani's collection of talks, "Futuh al-Ghayb," which he had much
praise for.

More details on Ibn Taymiyah and Sufism can be found in the book,
"Sufism and Shari`ah" by Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari, published by the
Islamic Foundation in 1986, pp. 130-139.

>Sufism is known as "Islamic Mysticism," in which Muslims seek 
>to find divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of 
>God2. 

Reference 2 here which the author is using is Encyclopaedia Britannica.
It helps to demonstrate that he is relying on non-Muslim sources to
slander Muslims.

Regarding the statement, it is true that Tasawwuf is a path of
experience of getting closer to Allah.  However, it is usually
non-Muslims who call it "Islamic Mysticism," and the author has decided
to copy the probably non-Muslim authors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica 
in his use of the term.

>Mysticism is defined as the experience of mystical union or direct 
>communion with ultimate reality, and the belief that direct knowledge of 
>God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through 
>subjective experience (as intuition or insight)3  

This is a definition from a dictionary he has referred to.  It is not
clear that it has any relevence, since he has not used any Muslim
sources so far, but instead the author prefers to follow the words of
non-Muslims.

>Both the terms Sufi and 
>Sufism and Sufi beliefs have no basis from the traditional Islamic sources 
>of the Qur'an and Sunnah, a fact even admitted by themselves. 

The term "tafsir" and many other terms also have no basis from the Qur'an 
and Sunnah.  So what?  It is the meaning which we are discussing.  Clearly
there were commentaries on the Qur'an were a reality before such
commentary came to be known by the name "tafsir." The same also goes for
Tasawwuf, which is the science of perfecting your ikhlas (sincerity),
according to Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi.

>Rather, 
>Sufism is in essence a conglomerate consisting of extracts from a multitude 
>of other religions with which Sufi's interacted.  

The author does not give a reference here, however this theory comes
from non-Muslim orientalists of late last century and early this
century.  By following this theory, the author again shows that he
prefers to follow the words of non-Muslims rather than the words of
Muslims.

By the way, not even non-Muslim orientalists believe this any more.
This theory is nowadays only kept alive by those Muslims who find it
convenient, and use it to attack and slander other Muslims, and who like
to divide and weaken the Ummah.  

Why do they do this, and constantly weaken the Muslim Ummah?  I believe 
it is from the ego.... by attacking others, the ego gets a sense of
self-gratification and superiority, like Iblis who refused to bow down
to Adam, because he thought he was superior, as he was made from fire,
while Adam was made from clay.  May Allah protect us from such arrogance
and egotism, and help us to be humble.

>During the primary stages 
>of Sufism, Sufis were characterised by their particular attachment to zikr 
>(remembrance of Allah) and asceticism (seclusion), as well as the beginning 
>of innovated practices to 'aid' in the religious practices. Yet even at the 
>early stage of Sufism, before their involvement in innovated rituals and 
>structured orders, the scholars warned the masses of the extremity of Sufi 
>practices. Imam Al-Shafi' had the opinion that "If a person exercised 
>Sufism (Tasawafa) at the beginning of the day, he doesn't come at Zuhur 
>except an idiot". 

No reference has been provided.  You can provide all these references to
non-Muslim sources, but you cannot even provide a reference for a
supposed statement by Imam al-Shafi'i?  Why can't you provide the 
reference?

>Imam Malik and Ahmad bin Hanbal also shared similar ideas 
>on this new movement which emanated from Basrah, Iraq.  

Again, no references are provided for these claims.

On the other hand, we do have the reported saying of Imam Malik, who
said:

  "He who practices Tasawwuf without learning Shari`ah corrupts his
  faith, while he who learns Shari`ah without practicing Tasawwuf
  corrupts himself.  Only he who combines the two proves true."

  [The English translation of this comes from the book "Islamic Beliefs 
  and Doctrine According to Ahl al-Sunna" by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, p. 278.
  The original references are given as: "It is related by the muhaddith
  Ahmad Zarruq, the hafiz `Ali al-Qari al-Harawi, the muhaddiths `Ali bin
  Ahmad al-`Adawi and Ibn `Ajiba, and others."  More references are
  listed in a footnote, for those who wish to find the complete
  references.]

>Although it began 
>as a move towards excessive Ibaadah, such practices were doomed to lead to 
>corruption, since their basis did not come from authentic religious 
>doctrines, but rather from exaggerated human emotions.  

This is an incorrect exaggeration.  There is no limit to dhikr, there
are hadiths to this effect.  Are you claiming that there is a limit to
dhikr, in contradiction to the hadiths?

>Sufism as an 
>organised movement arose among pious Muslims as a reaction against the 
>worldliness of the early Umayyad period (AD 661-750)4. 

This is incorrect.  The earliest organized Sufi tariqa was the Qadiri 
tariqa, which was founded by Shaykh Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani (or, more
technically, by his sons).  Shaykh Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani lived in the 
12th Century CE.  To my understanding, the organization of the Sufi
turuq was a reaction to the Mongol invasion, which destroyed and 
disrupted everything in its path.  The various turuq were organized
in the wake of the Mongol invasion to help preserve their teachings.

>The Sufis exploited 
>the chaotic state of affairs that existed during the fifth and sixth 
>centuries A.H. and invited people to follow their way, alleging that the 
>remedy to this chaos was conformity to the guidance of their order's 
>Sheikhs. Dar al-Majnoon was established during the reign of Khalifah 
>Ma'moon, where he invited the scholars of the Romans and Greeks to meet 
>with the Muslims and 'discuss' their respective positions. This provided 
>the perfect breeding ground for the synthesis between Islam and Pagan 
>theology, to produce the Sufism of the likeof Ibn Arabi.

No references have been given, however such theories usually come from
orientalists, who are not Muslims.  I suggest it is probably likely that
the above story has come from non-Muslim orientalists, which the author
of this article seems to prefer to follow instead of the words of Muslims, 
even though not even present-day orientalists believe in this any more.

>The Mixing Pot
>With the demise of the Companions and their successors, the door became 
>open for the distortion of Islamic Principles. The enemies of Islam had 
>already burrowed deep into the ranks of Muslims and rapidly caused Fitnah 
>through their spreading of forged hadith and subsequently created new sects 
>such as the Khawaarij and Mu'tazilah.  Sufism gained its breeding ground 
>during this period, whereby it gained its support from the Dynastic Rulers, 
>who had deviated from Islam to the extent whereby magic was used as 
>entertainment in their courts, even though magic is considered as Kufr in 
>Islam.5 

I have never heard of Sufis using magic in the courts!  What a
ridiculous story.  The reference (5) given here is a reference to a book
by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, a present-day writer.  What was his
source?  Please provide original sources, since I wouldn't be surprised
if the source for this also came from non-Muslim orientalists, which is
where many such stories originate from, until they are copied by Muslims
seeking ways of attacking other Muslims and wanting to divide and weaken
the Ummah, by following the words of non-Muslims.

>During this period, Sufism developed its Shi'a flavour, indeed the 
>roots of contemporary Sufism have been traced back to Shi'a origins (see 
>later).  Sufi ideology and thinking flourished during the times of the 
>likes of Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi, Jalal Ad Din Rumi, and Imam Ghazali. Their 
>translation of Greek philosophical works into Arabic during the third 
>Islamic century left an indelible mark on many aspects of Sufism, resulting 
>in Greek pantheism becoming an integral part of Sufi doctrine. Pagan 
>practices such as Saint worshipping, the use of magic and holding venerance 
>towards their Sheikh overtook the Orthodox practices of Islam and had 
>little resemblance to the Islam left by our Prophet (s.a.w).  By examining 
>the mystic doctrines of Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism and other religions, 
>it becomes clear how closer Sufism is to these religions than to Islam. In 
>fact, Sufism is never characterised under "Islam" in any system of 
>catalogue, but rather under 'Mysticism'.  Sharda highlights these 
>unsurprising similarities by stating that: 



Sharda is a Hindu, to my understanding.  Again, we see the phenomenon of
trusting the words of non-Muslims more than the words of Muslims, which
perhaps shows with whom this author's true agreement lies.

The claim that Sufism originated in religions other than Islam comes
from non-Muslim orientalists, such as, for example, R. A. Nicholson and
others.  The above paragraph is another clear example of how this author
has preferred the words of non-Muslims more than the words of Muslims,
using theories by people like Nicholson (a Christian) and quoting the
words of Sharda (a Hindu).

The traditional Islamic perspective on Tasawwuf (Sufism) is that it
originates in the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
Each Sufi tariqa has a silsila (chain of authority) reaching back to the
Prophet (s.a.w.).  Modern orientalists also consider that Tasawwuf
originated in Islam, in agreement with traditional Islamic views on the
topic, and it is only the orientalists of late last century and early 
this century who proposed the theory the author of this article likes.  
It is shameful that some Muslims today have reached a stage where they 
prefer to follow non-Muslims even more than their own brothers in Islam.

>The following comparison 
>demonstrates the non-coincidental similarity that Sufism shares with other 
>religions:
>Concept of validity of all religions

<...Things deleted....>

Here the author claims that Tasawwuf teaches the validity of all
religions.  This claim is false and incorrect.  

A clear discussion of this, from the viewpoint of traditional Islam
(of which Tasawwuf is a part), can be found in the article by Nuh Ha Mim
Keller,

  "On the validity of all religions in the thought of ibn al-`Arabi and
  Emir `Abd al-Qadir"

at the web page

  http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/town/avenue/acf42/Islam/Nuh/amat.htm

Nuh Ha Mim Keller shows that the belief in the universal validity
of all religions is not part of authentic Sufi teachings, and not part
of the teachings of Ibn al-Arabi (contrary to the claims of the author
of this article and some others, who take only a very selective reading
of the writings of Ibn al-Arabi, rather than a comprehensive one).

>Union with the Creator
>Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'aala is completely distinct from His Creation. He 
>neither resembles His Creation, nor is He enclosed by it. Sufis however, 
>with their deviant doctrine of Wahdat ul Wujood, believe contrary to this. 

<...Rest on this topic deleted...>

There are differing opinions regarding this matter among those of the
Sufi path, and the author incorrectly does not acknowledge this.

For example, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi (the great Shaykh I mentioned
earlier), criticized Ibn al-Arabi's doctrine of Wahdat al-Wujud as being
erroneous.  This he has clearly stated in his writings.  He considers
this doctrine to be an error of not having traversed far enough along
the path of spiritual experience.  More information on this topic can be
found in the book "Sufism and Shari`ah" by Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari.

On the other hand, others also interpret "Wahdat al-Wujud" to mean
that nothing exists of itself, independent of everything else, except 
Allah.  Such an understanding is certainly within Islam, since everything 
which *isn't* Allah depends upon Allah for its existence.  For more on 
this understanding, see the article 

  "`Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi and Akram Safadi," by Ustadha Umm Sahl,

on the web page

  http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/town/avenue/acf42/Islam/MISC/nabulsi.htm

The approach taken by the author of the article I am responding to is
simply naive and incorrect, and certainly does not do justice to the
issue.

>Incorporation of Music in Rituals

Insha-Allah, I won't deal with this in great detail, as it is a lengthy 
topic in itself, with much discussion already by others, such as in the
writings of al-Ghazali, for example.

>Music of all forms is forbidden by the majority of scholars, and remains 
>attached to forbidden practices such as drinking, fornication and parties. 

This is false, as there is a hadith that the Prophet (s.a.w.) permitted
the use of the drum at weddings, for example.  Furthermore, if I recall 
correctly, there are hadiths which mention that Prophet Dawud (a.s.) 
played the flute.

A short answer on this topic is that:

- Many Sufi groups do not use any instruments or music whatsoever.
  I have attended a Naqshbandi tariqa which never uses any music or
  instruments, for example (I am speaking from experience).

- Some Sufi groups do utilize music, but with restriction, and this topic 
  has been discussed in detail by al-Ghazali.  

- There are other opinions regarding the permissability of music, so 
  stating that there is only one viewpoint of the Islamic scholars is 
  incorrect.

I have written some articles on this topic, discussing the various
evidences and hadiths and viewpoints of the scholars, insha-Allah if 
there is demand I would be happy to post my article on this e-list.  
In brief, an example of a scholar who is not opposed to music in an
absolute way is Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in his opinion stated in his book, 
"The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam."

>Sufi Sheikhs: Role Models or Deviants?
>Bayazid Tayfur al-Bistami  Bayazid is considered to be "of the six bright 
>stars in the firmament of the Prophet (s.a.w)"15, and a link in the Golden 
>Chain of the Naqshibandi Tariqah. Yet his life reeks of Shirin all aspects. 
> Bayazid al-Bistami was the first one to spread the reality of Annihilation 
>(Fana'), whereby the Mystic becomes fully absorbed to the point of becoming 
>unaware of himself or the objects around him. Every existing thing seems to 
>vanish, and he feels free of every barrier that could stand in the way of 
>his viewing the Remembered One. 

Such a state is mentioned in a hadith qudsi:


          On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with
          him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: Allah
          (mighty and sublime be He) said:
          
          Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at
          war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything
          more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon
          him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with
          supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him
          I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he
          sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he
          walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it
          to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant
          him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate
          about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death
          and I hate hurting him.
          
          It was related by al-Bukhari.


>In one of these states, Bayazid cried out: 
>"Praise to Me, for My greatest Glory!"  Yet this concept is to be found 
>nowhere in the Qur'an, nor Sunnah, nor in the behaviour in the Salaf us 
>Saalih.  

These statements are not considered to be statements of reality, but
rather statements of what they felt under ecstatic experience.  The
experience is one of overwhelming experience of Allah.

If you read the above hadith carefully, you will see it refers to this
type of experience.  The key is that on the authentic path of Tasawwuf,
these statements are not considered to be statements of reality, but
rather of experience, and it is what is also referred to in the hadith
qudsi quoted above.


>Bistami's belief in the Unity of all religions became apparent 
>when asked the question: "How does Islam view other religions?" His reply 
>was "All are vehicles and a path to God's Divine Presence." 

I am not aware of such a statement.  What is the reference?  No
reference has been given.

<...Some more claims about Abu Yazid al-Bistami, again with no
references and which I have never heard of before, I have deleted....
please provide references...>

>But 
>strangest of all was his obedience to a dog he once came across. The dog 
>had apparently become upset at Bayazid's attempt to avoid him, to which the 
>dog spoke to him and scolded him. So Bayazid pleaded "O dog, you are so 
>enlightened, live with me for some time."17

You have left out most of the story!

Here is a summary of the story....

According to a Sufi teaching-story from Fariduddin Attar's "Tadhkirat
al-Awliyya," upon coming across a dog, Abu Yazid al-Bistami is reported 
to have said to the dog,

    "You are unclean outwardly, I am inwardly unclean.  Come, let us
    work together, that through our united efforts we may both become
    clean."

The dog rejected this suggestion to work together, since the dog's
view was that

    "You are not fit to travel with me and be my partner.  For I am
    rejected of all men, whereas you are accepted of men.  Whoever
    encounters me throws a stone at me; whoever encounters you greets
    you as King of the Sufis.  I never store up a single bone for the
    morrow; you have a whole barrel of wheat for the morrow."

At this, Abu Yazid lamented,

    "I am not fit to travel along with a dog, how then shall I travel
    along with the Eternal and Everlasting One?  Glory be to that God,
    who educates the best of creatures by means of the least of
    creatures!"

Abu Yazid al-Bistami was not too haughty to learn from a lowly
creature -- in fact, what he learned from the dog was simplicity and
humility, and to eschew haughtiness and fame.  Avoiding haughtiness is
a very fundamental Islamic lesson, since haughtiness is in fact what
caused Satan to rebel against God (Qur'an 2:34).  Those who are too
haughty to learn from a lowly creature are most likely in fact those
who need this lesson the most.

Unfortunately, by cutting out most of the story, the author of the
article I am replying to completely distorts the story, and the whole
meaning of the story is not given, which is about teaching humility, an 
important teaching of Islam.

>Ibn Arabi  

<...Rest deleted...>

Insha-Allah, I won't discuss Ibn Arabi.  For more, please refer to what
I said already regarding opinions on "Wahdat al-Wujud."

Also, insha-Allah, I won't discuss Hallaj, except to note that, among
the Sufis, there were also those who opposed him, such as his own
teacher, Junayd.

>Evidence Against their teachings: their beliefs and practices
>Position of the Sheikh and Wali
>The Sheikh or Wali is given a similar standing as that of a Catholic Saint, 
>or the Dalai Lama himself. Complete obedience is enforced on his followers, 
>and any questions are deemed as a betrayal of trust:

This is false, in my experience.  The Shaykh is a teacher, and is obeyed
as one would obey or disobey a teacher, in accordance with the Qur'an
and Sunnah.

>The Sheikh is given 
>the standing of a deity in Sufism. 

This kind of statement is slander of the worst kind, and is absolutely
false.  The relationship of a Shaykh and murid is just the relationship
of a teacher and student.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) condemned such statements in the strongest terms.

    It is reported on the authority of Ibn `Umar that the Prophet (may
    peace and blessings be upon him) said:

      Any person who calls his brother: O Unbeliever! (then the truth
      of this label) would return to one of them.  If it is true,
      (then it is) as he asserted, (but if it is not true), then it
      returns to him (and thus the person who made the accusation is
      an Unbeliever).

    [Muslim]

By saying that the role of the Shaykh is that of a deity, this
person is calling all Sufis to be mushriks.  According to the statement
of the Prophet (s.a.w.), if this person's claim is incorrect, then the
author of this article has, by his statement, left the religion of
Islam.  By my own witness and experience, the statement of the author is 
incorrect.

May Allah protect us from following the slanderous author of this
article in his fate.

>Distortion of the concepts of zikr, hadith, Qur'an
>Since the Qur'an and Saheeh Hadith cannot be changed, the Sufi's have 
>reverted to Ta'weel, a method of changing the apparent meaning of the verse 
>or hadith to have a hidden one. This provided them with sufficient lee-way 
>to support any concept they desired, by simply stating that the 
>verse/hadith had an inner meaning which only the Sheikh himself could know. 

It is true that the Qur'an has depths upon depths of meaning.  One does
not have to be a Shaykh to realize the incredible richness of the
Qur'an.  

  Say: "If the oceans were ink (wherewith to write out) the words
  of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the
  words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its
  aid."

  [Qur'an 18:109]

It is unfortunate if Allah has not given you the eyes to see it.


>The act of making Zikr in circles and jumping/moving 
>frantically is also totally unfounded. Zikr in the true Arabic sense means 
>"Remembrance of Allah." The Prophet's (s.a.w) method, which Muslims agree 
>to be the best and only acceptable one, of zikr consisted in reciting 
>Qur'an, discussing religion with his companions, and making Tasbeeh on his 
>hands. Yet the act of sitting in circles and loudly or silently chanting 
>"Allah, Allah" was never practised by the Prophet (s.a.w) nor the Salaf, 
>and all hadith which state that the Prophet (s.a.w) did so (such as when he 
>supposedly went into a room, told the companions to lift up their hands and 
>chant "La Ilaha Illa Allah" ) are unanimously agreed upon to be forged. 

There are a number of hadiths about making dhikr in a group, and making
dhikr saying "La ilaha illa Allah."

  Hazrat Jabir relates that he heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)
  having said:

    "The best remembrance of Allah is `La ilaha illa llah.'"

  [Tirmizi, also related in the Riyadh us-Saliheen of Imam Nawawi]

Another relevent hadith is the following one...

  Hazrat Abu Sa`eed Khudri relates that once Hazrat Mu`awiyah
  visited the mosque and saw a circle (of reciters).  He asked,
  "What has made you sit?"  The said, "We have assembled here to 
  remember Allah."  He said, "By Allah you did not sit except for
  this purpose?"  They affirmed, "We did not sit except for this."
  Hazrat Mu`awiyah then told them, "I did not ask you to swear
  on account of any malice.  None of you can match me for scanty
  narration of the Prophet (s.a.w.) (and as such have narrated 
  very few traditions about him).  The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)
  once visited a gathering of his companions and inquired,
  `What has made you assemble here?'  They answered, `We have
  gathered to remember Allah and praise Him for having led us
  to Islam and granted this favour to us.'  The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)
  inquired, `Do you affirm by Allah that it is so?'  The Holy
  Prophet's Companions affirmed, `By Allah we are sitting here for
  this purpose only.'  He said, `I have not put you on oath on
  account of any doubt, but angel Jibreel had visited me and told
  me that Allah felt proud of you among the angels.'"

  [Muslim, and also in the Riyadh us-Saliheen.]

This hadith shows clearly that

- In the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.), he approved of people 
  gathering in circles for dhikr (against the claims of the author
  we are responding to),

- The hadith is from Sahih Muslim, so it is a sound hadith.

This tradition of making dhikr in a circle in assembly continues in
the Sufi turuq.

The Qur'an also says in meaning:

  Lo!  In the creation of the Heavens and the earth and in the night
  and day are tokens (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding,
  such as remember Allah, in standing, sitting, and reclining.

  [Qur'an 3:190-191]

What this part of the Qur'an establishes is that posture is not
important in performing dhikr -- standing, sitting, or reclining.
Presumably other postures are also okay, so criticisms about posture
during dhikr is irrelevent.

Finally, the Qur'an also says

  Say: "Truly Allah leaves to stray whom He will, but He guides
  to Himself those who turn to Him in penitence -- Those who
  believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remebrance
  of Allah, for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts
  find satisfaction.

  [Qur'an 13:27-28]

This part of the Qur'an suggests that if from your dhikr you are
finding peace in your heart, then there is something good about
your dhikr.  It is for this experience of peace in your heart,
which is a reality which can be experienced, for which many on the
Sufi path do dhikr, to get closer to Allah.

>Ibn 
>Taymiyyah stated that this practice opened the door to Shaytaan, whereby 
>the Shaytaan would enter the gathering (since they were involved in 
>innovation) and take the form of a pious person. He also stated that the 
>recital of "Allah, Allah" was forbidden, as it was never declared to be a 
>form of zikr, and has no attached word to complete it (such as Allahu 
>Akbar, Subhaan Allah).26  

  The Prophet said, "The Hour will not arise before `Allah, Allah' is
  no longer said on earth."

  [Muslim]

This hadith clearly refers to repetition in saying, "Allah, Allah."

Much more discussion, based on clear hadith, regarding dhikr, can be
found on the web page

  http://sunnah.org/ibadaat/dhikrtable.htm

>The stories also of Khidr and his meeting with 
>the 'Awliyaa', the 40 Abdaal's who are always on the Earth and can be at 
>any place in the wink of an eye, are derived from Jewish and Christian 
>legends, not Islamic traditions.

Khidr is generally understood to be the one referred to in Qur'an 18:60 
onwards, who meets Musa (a.s.), though he is not named. 

>Innovation
>Imam Malik remarked: "That which was not religion at the time of the 
>Messenger and his companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, is never 
>to be religion today. He who introduces a Bid'ah (innovation) in the 
>religion of Islam and deems it a good thing, claims by so doing that 
>Muhammad (s.a.w) betrayed the Message."  The Sufis are to be found 
>indulging in and spending an enormous amount of resources defending 
>innovated practices, declaring them to be "good innovations." These include 
>celebrating the death of the Prophet (s.a.w) (a practice adopted from the 
>reign of Fatamids, who began this innovation in order to seek the pleasure 
>of the masses), 

I have never heard of "celebrating the death of the Prophet."  I wonder
where this came from???

>Why they still survive
>Emotional attachment
>The Sufi's have become such an integral part of the lives of so many 
>Muslims that Muslims are finding it difficult to accept that the Sufi path 
>is wrong, and accuse anyone who pinpoints the errors of Sufism as an 
>extremist or a follower of some 'deviant' sect.  Sufism calls to human 
>emotions rather than intellect and Islamic evidence. 

Well, I can only speak personally here.  The reason I am in favour of
Tasawwuf, or Sufism, is because it is through the practice of dhikr
within a Sufi tariqa that I felt my heart open, and I really felt some
closeness to Allah.

In contrast to the understanding of Islam of some other Muslims -- which
is often dry and devoid of spiritual reality, and consists instead of
slandering anyone who disagrees with them -- the people of the Sufi path
I have known are soft-hearted, speak kind words, and seem to truly
manifest the authentic spirit of Islam.

>For example, poetry 
>and music were the most popular form during the past hundreds of years, 
>whereby "Sufi ideas permeated the hearts of all those who hearkened to 
>poetry."27 

Yes, it is true, much Sufi poetry is very beautiful.  What is the
subject of this poetry?  Usually the subject of this poetry is their
overwhelming love of Allah.

  Those of faith are overflowing in their love for Allah.

  [Qur'an 2:165]

>Today, Sufism is followed by masses of people who desire to 
>leave behind the complexities of this world, instead of building the 
>ability to challenge it. Sufism provides the perfect escape, where its 
>followers can meditate instead of thinking about the other Muslims who are 
>suffering, let alone help them.

These claims are very strange, since it is often Sufi organizations
which are active in helping other Muslims.

>Similarity with pagan beliefs
>Sufism is so similar to other religions, and as we noted earlier very 
>tolerant of them, 

As I pointed out earlier, this claim is false.  The authentic Sufi
viewpoint considers Islam as the final religion.

The author does not distinguish between true Sufis and pseudo-Sufis,
which is a big mistake he makes.  All the great Sufis condemned the
pseudo-Sufis, who use the words of the Sufis, but know nothing of the
reality of the path.

>that a change to Sufism does not involve a complete 
>change of life, as Islam requires. So Buddhists, Sikhs, Taoists and mystic 
>Jews and Christians looking for an easy alternative find solace in Sufism 
>which perhaps only adds another dimension to their previous way of life, 
>rather than uprooting it and starting afresh

This is often a hallmark of pseudo-Sufism, not authentic Tasawwuf.

>Sufism offers its 
>followers a life carefree from fighting (Jihad), 

What a strange claim!  The Sufis have often been at the forefront of
Jihad.  The founder of the Islamic independence movement in Chechnia was
Shaykh Shamil, a Naqshbandi Sufi Shaykh.  The founder of the Chinese
Muslim independence movement in China last century was Ma Hualong, who
was also a Naqshbandi Sufi Shaykh.  The founder of the Ikhwan
al-Muslimeen, Hasan al-Banna, was a Sufi of the Hasafiyya tariqa.  And
there are many other examples in addition to this!

>politics, 

Again, Hasan al-Banna was the founder of the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, and he
was a member of the Hasafiyya tariqa.  One of the founders of the
Islamic movement in Turkey was Shaykh Mehmed Zahid Kotku, a Naqshbandi
Shaykh.  The man who was largely responsible to bringing much of India
back to authentic Islamic rule in the 17th Century CE, after the
pro-Hindu rule of Akbar, was Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, a Naqshbandi Shaykh.
The man largely responsible for helping to bring Islam to West Africa was
Uthman dan Fodio, a Qadiri Shaykh.  And there are many more!

The claims above, that Sufis are not involved with jihad or in bringing
the state to Islam, are clearly based on sheer ignorance of history.

>the initiative 
>to seek knowledge and teach it, the work of Da'wah, 

Again, this is complete ignorance.  Tasawwuf was largely responsible for
bringing Islam to Central Asia, Chechnia, China, Indonesia and Malaysia, 
the many countries of West Africa, and other places besides!

How can it be claimed that Sufis do not do Da'wah?  It is simply a
statement based on complete ignorance of history.

>Support from the governments
>Any group which manages to gain the support of an anti-Islamic Government 
>must be suspicious. During the reign of the tyrant Mustafa Kemal, under 
>whose leadership thousands of scholars were executed and Islamic practices 
>banned, special permission was granted by the Turkish government in 1954 
>allowing the Mawlawi dervishes of Konya to perform their ritual dances. 

What this statement ignores is that *all* the Sufi turuq were banned by
Mustafa Kemal.  So to claim that Kemal approved of the Sufis is again
based on complete ignorance of the history of Turkey.

In fact, it was *especially* the Mevlevi tariqa which was persecuted,
because the Mevlevi Sufis were close to the Ottomon Sultans, and a
number of the Ottoman rulers of history were actually members of the
Mevlevi tariqa.  

As for the "special permission," it was not permission for the tariqa to
function, but just permission to give a show as a tourist attraction.
It was probably a further plot to try to kill the tariqa, and certainly
not a favour.

>The 
>Sheikh of the Naqshibandi's of America has greeted and received praises 
>from the President of America Bill Clinton himself. And why shouldn't he, 
>since the 'Islam' he portrays is one of pacifism and unity with the 
>Kuffar.

To my understanding, the Shaykh in question is inviting people to Islam,
including Bill Clinton.  This is in the tradition of the Prophet
(s.a.w.), who dictated letters which were sent to various rulers,
inviting them to Islam.

It is a shame that this author's knowledge of Islamic history seems to
be so amazingly poor.

<....Some repetition here, which I already addressed above, so it has been
deleted....>

>For example, Ibn 
>Taymiyyah is attributed to have been a member of the Qadiri order and had 
>been initiated, and spoken great words on Bistami and his likes. Yet Ibn 
>Taymiyyah spent the majority of his life fighting against the teachings of 
>Sufism, was imprisoned because of them, and bluntly stated "...Ibn Arabi 
>who wrote "Al-Fousous," and other slandering atheists such as Ibn Sab'een 
>and his like. They even witness that they are simultaneously the worshipers 
>and the ones being worshiped."

It is unfortunate that the writings of Ibn Taymiyah are not studied by
the above author.

Ibn Taymiyah divided Sufis into three groups.

The first group were those who, according to Ibn Taymiyah, were never
"intoxicated" and did not lose their sense of discrimination, and who
never said or did anything even remotely against the Qur'an and Sunnah.
In this group, Ibn Taymiyah included Ibrahim ibn Adham, Junayd, and
Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani, for example.

The second group were those whose experience of _fana_ ("annihilation")
and intoxication (_sukr_) weakened their sense of discrimination, and
made them say words which they later realized were incorrect (in their
outer sense) when they became sober.  However, he does not condemn their
experiences or what they said or did, and he offers apology for them on
account that they were in an intoxicated state, and had lost control
over reason.  In this group, Ibn Taymiyah includes Abu Yazid al-Bistami
and Abu Bakr 'l-Shibli.

The third group are those who Ibn Taymiyah strongly criticized.  Those
in this group include al-Hallaj and Ibn al-Arabi.

This is reported in the book, "Sufism and Shari`ah," by Muhammad Abdul
Haq Ansari, pp. 130-132.  A large portion of chapter 5 of this book is
devoted to discussing Ibn Taymiyah's views of Sufism.

Therefore, to say that Ibn Taymiyah uncritically condemned Sufism is
completely incorrect.  Rather, he supported some Sufis, and condemned
some, based on his understanding of Shari`ah.

>Conclusion
>Sufism was doomed to destruction from when it first emerged, because of its 
>deviation from the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah. The small excess, 
>the little innovation, led to the snowball effect, such that it emerged as 
>a movement for well-meant increased Ibaadah and Zuhd, to Kufr and 
>Innovation.  

These claims have certainly not been proved in this article.  Rather,
what we have mostly seen are a mixture of lies about the Sufis, based on
non-Muslim sources, lack of knowledge about many hadiths and lack of
knowledge about history.  We have also seen accusations of shirk and
kufr, however, we have also seen that, according to a hadith, if this 
author is incorrect in his claims, then he is in fact the one who has 
left Islam, and will pay for leaving Islam in the life to come.

>In truth, Islam is sufficient for us, and it is only Shaytaan 
>who wishes to turn us away from our religion, to make us exceed the limits, 
>and fall into his trap. The only sure way to avoid this is to grasp tightly 
>onto what was left to us by our beloved Prophet (s.a.w), the Qur'an and 
>Sunnah, as understood and believed and acted upon by the best people to 
>have lived: the Salaf us Saalih, the Companions and those who followed 
>their footsteps.

In conclusion, we note:

- Most of his sources criticizing the Sufis are in fact non-Muslim
  sources.  This author seems to like to use non-Muslim sources to
  criticize and condemn Muslims, and to weaken the Muslim Ummah.

- Most of his claims are demonstrably false, and the author is
  therefore guilty of spreading lies and slander about other Muslims,
  an act which is strongly condemned by the Prophet (s.a.w.), and
  which has major consequences in the next life.

- The author accuses all Sufis of shirk and kufr.  According to the
  Prophet (s.a.w.), if he is wrong in these claims, then the author
  of this article has himself left Islam.

- The author also lacks knowledge about Ibn Taymiyah's views of
  Tasawwuf.  Ibn Taymiyah praised some Sufis, and criticized others,
  on the basis of his understanding of Shari`ah.

- The author also does not distinguish between authentic Tasawwuf
  and pseudo-Sufism, which is a major mistake.

- The author apparently is not aware of a number of hadiths which
  support saying dhikr in a circle, saying "La ilaha illa llah,"
  and saying "Allah Allah" as part of dhikr.


May Allah bless and reward those who seek closeness to Him sincerely.


Wassalam,

Fariduddien Rice