INTRODUCTION TO TASAWWUF

TASAWWUF THE NATURE OF TASAWWUF

The department of the Shariat relating to a’male batini (esoteric acts or states of the heart) is called Tasawwuf and Suluk; and, the department of the Shariat relating to a’male zahiri (exoteric acts or physical acts) is called Fiqh. The subject matter dealt with by Tasawwuf is tahtheebe akhlaq or the adornment of character while the motive of this branch of the Shariat is the attainment of Divine Pleasure. The method of acquisition of this Divine Pleasure is total obedience to the commands of the Shariat.

Tasawwuf in fact is the rooh (soul) and state of perfection of the Deen. Its function is to purify the batin (the heart) of man from the lowly bestial attributes of lust, calamities of the tongue, anger, malice, jealousy, love of the world, love for fame, niggardliness, greed, ostentation, vanity, deception, etc. At the same time it (Tasawwuf) aims at the adornment of the heart with the lofty attributes of repentance, perseverance, gratefulness, fear of Allah, hope, abstention, tauheed, trust, love sincerity, truth, meditation, reckoning, contemplation, etc. In this way, attention towards Allah Ta’ala is inculcated in man. This is in fact the purpose of life. Tasawwuf or Tareeqat is therefore not at all negatory of the Deen and Shariat. On the contrary it is incumbent for every Muslim to become a Sufi (one who follows the path of Tasawwuf). Minus Tasawwuf, a Muslim cannot truly be described as a perfect Muslim.

THE NEED FOR TASAWWUF

Now that it is clear that Tasawwuf is not contrary to the Deen, but is in fact a branch of the Shariat, its need is evident. Hadhrat Hakeemul Ummat (rahmatullah alayh) states in the introduction of Haqeeqatut Tareeqat :

After rectification of beliefs and external acts it is fardh (compulsory) upon every Muslim to rectify his esoteric acts. Numerous Qur’aanic aayat and innumerable ahadith narrations explicitly indicate the fardhiat (compulsion) of this. However, most people of superficial understanding are neglectful of these because of their subservience to lowly desires. Who is not aware that the Qur’aan and the Ahadith are explicit regarding the significance of zuhd, qana’at, tawadhu’, ikhlas, sabr, shukr, hubbe ilahi, ridhabil qadha, tawakkul, tasleem, etc., while at the same time they emphasise the acquisition of these noble attributes? And, who is not aware that the Qur’aan and Ahadith condemn the opposites of these noble qualities, viz., hubbe dunya, hirs, takabbur, riya, shahwat, ghadab, hasad, etc., and has warned against them? What doubt is there in the fact that the noble qualities have been commanded and the bestial traits have been prohibited? This is the actual meaning of reforming the esoteric acts. This is the primary purpose of Tareeqat. It being fardh is undoubtedly an established fact.”

In Tareequl Qalandar, he says:

“All the authentic principles of Tasawwuf are to be found in the Qur’aan and Ahadith. The notion that Tasawwuf is not in the Qur’aan is erroneous. Errant sufis as well as the superficial Ulama (Ulama-e-Khushq) entertain this notion. Both groups have misunderstood the Qur’aan and Ahadith. The Ulama-e-Khushq claim that Tasawwuf is baseless since they believe that the Qur’aan and Hadith are devoid of it while the errant and transgressing (ghali) sufis assert that in the Qur’aan and Hadith are only the exoteric (zahiri) laws. Tasawwuf they say, is the knowledge of the batin (esotericism). According to them – Na uthu billah – there is no need for the Qur’aan and the Hadith. In short, both groups consider the Qur’aan and Hadith to be devoid of Tasawwuf. Thus in conformity with their opinion, one group has shunned Tasawwuf and the other group has shunned the Qur’aan and Hadith.”

TASAWWUF AND THE QUR`AAN MAJEED

Both external (zahiri) and internal (batini) acts and duties are commanded in the Qur’aan. Thus the Qur’aan while commanding Salaat and Zakaat:

“O People of Imaan! Establish Salaat and give Zakaat “,

also commands shukr (gratefulness):

“And be grateful unto Allah”. 
At one place is to be found:

“Fasting has been decreed upon you.” and

“Upon mankind is the Hajj of the Bait for Allah.”, 
while at another place is to be found:

“He (Allah) loves them (Mu’mineen) and they love Him.”, 
and:

“Those who have adopted Imaan are most ardent in the love of Allah.”

Similarly, along with:

“When they stand for Salaat, they stand half-heartedly”, 
is to be found:

“They show people (i.e. they perform Salaat in riya).”

The Qur’aan, like it reprimands and condemns the defaulter of Salaat and Zakaat, also states the evil of pride and vanity (takabbur and ujub).

The Same applies to the Ahadith. Like the chapters of Salaat, Saum, Ba’y (trade and commerce), Nikah (marriage), Talaaq (divorce) are to be found, so too do the chapters of riya takabbur, etc, exist. No Muslim can refute the fact that like the a’male zahirah are Divine Commands so too are the a’male batinah.”(Establish Salaat and pay Zakaat)”are positive commands just as (Adopt sabr and shukr)”are positive commands. Like the aayat: “Fasting has been decreed upon you”, establishes the Shar’i nature of Fasting, the aayat: “Those who have Imaan are the most ardent in the love of Allah”, establishes the Shar’i nature of Love for Allah. On closer examination and reflection it will be realized that all the a’male zahirah are designed for the reformation of the a’male batinah. The purification of the batin (the heart and soul of man) is the aim and the basis of najat (salvation in the Akhirat) while the despoiling of the batin is the cause of destruction.

Allah Ta’ala declares:

“Verily, he who has purified the nafs has attained victory, and he who has despoiled it has lost.”

“That Day (of Qiyamat) neither wealth nor sons will benefit (anyone), but that person who comes to Allah with a reformed heart.”

The first aayat asserts victory as being the consequence of the purification of the batin while the second aayat negates the utility of wealth and sons in the absence of a reformed heart. wealth and sons in the absence of a reformed heart. Imaan and Aqa-id (Articles of Faith) on which pivots the acceptance of all a’mal (actions), are conditions of the heart (i.e. the batin). It is manifest that a’mal are designed for the perfection of Imaan. It is therefore clear that the original purpose is the reformation (islah) of the heart by virtue of which man is ushered into the Divine Court of Acceptance and attains the lofty spiritual ranks. This is precisely what is known technically as Tasawwuf.

STATEMENTS OF THE SUFIYA 
In this regard Bayazid Bistami (rahmatullah alayh) says:

“Do not be deceived if you see a performer of supernatural fears flying in the air. Measure him on the Standard of the Shariat – how he adheres to the limits of the Commands of the Shariat.”

Hadhrat Junaid (rahmatullah alayh) says:

“All avenues besides the strict following of Rasulullah (saws) are closed to mankind.”

Hadhrat Nuri (rahmatullah alayh) says:

“Do not venture near to one who lays claim to a condition which brings about transgression of the limits of the Shariat.”

Hadhrat Khwajah Naseeruddin Chiraghe Dehlawi (rahmatullah alayh) says:

“Obedience to Rasulullah (saws) is imperative. Such obedience is essential in word, act and intention because Love for Allah Ta’ala is not possible without obedience to Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa (saws).”

Khwajah Mueenuddin Chishti (rahmatullah alayh) says:

“He who adheres to the Shariat, executing its commands and refrains from transgression, progresses in spiritual rank, i.e. all progress is dependant on adherence to the Shariat.”

Hadhrat Hakimul Ummat (rahmatullah alayh) says in Ta’limuddin:

“Whoever acquires the wealth of Wusul (Attainment, having attained the Love of Allah) has acquired it by virtue of following the Sunnat.”

THE TECHNICAL TERMS OF SHARIAT AND TAREEQAT
The fountain of all Islamic teaching is the Qur’aan and the Sunnat. The inception of this teaching was in the Majlis (gathering) of Nabi (saws). It was the initial stage of Islam which was present in its headquarters. It had a confined number of adherents, hence all branches of Islamic instruction – Tafseer, Hadith, Fiqh and Tasawwuf – were imparted at one venue, the Madressah of Nabi (saws). Separate departments did not exist. However, in this Madrasah of Nabi (saws) there was a permanent group of lovers of Allah and devotees of Rasulullah (saws) who were at all times engaged in the purification of the nafs, and the reformation of the batin by means of practical education. This group is called Ashab-e-Suffah.

Later when Islam acquired an universal status, the Ulama of the Deen formulated the teachings of Islam into separate departments. Those who rendered service to the Knowledge of Hadith are called the Muhadditheen; those who undertook the responsibility of Tafseer are called the Mufassireen; those who specialized in Fiqh are called the Fuqaha while those who took custody of the department of Islah Batin (purification of the nafs) became known as the Masha-ikh Sufiya. Hence, not a single one among the great authorities of former times ever divorced the Shariat from Tareeqat. On the contrary they also held Tareeqat in subservience to the Shariat.

To Be Continued, Insha-Allah Ta`ala