Is it Necessary for Sufi & Dervish to Follow Shar’iah in Sufism? Or are They Forgiven From the Shari’ah Law? By Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi

Translated By: Mrs. Shehla Zubairi

The Inseparability Of Shari’ah & Tariqah

Are Saints (Walis), Sufis and Dervishes exempted or forgiven from following the rules of Shari’ah?

Many people are under the misconception that Sufis and Dervishes do not have to follow Shari’ah laws, just as Sufis and Dervishes prefer to reform the “soul” or “heart” of the people rather than following the outward commands of the Shari’ah. As a matter of fact, this is a false and misleading theory. Here we will mention a few sayings of famous Sufis which will clarify, that such misleading theories should be avoided. It is clear from many texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah that the commandments of the Shari’ah are binding on the Prophets.

There are thousands of sayings and instructions with regard to this matter given by elders. All of them are not being stated. However, the important ones are described below.

Shaykh Akbar Ibnul Arabi wrote in his famous book al Futuhat al Makkiyyah:

كل حقيقة علي خلاف الشريعة زنديقة باطلة

“The Hqiqah (Tasawwuf) that is against the Shari’ah is evil and is rejected.”

And in the Futuhat it is also written:

ما لنا طريق الي الله الا علي وجه المشروع لا طريق لنا الي الله الا ما شرعه

“We can reach to Allah Almighty only by following the Shari’ah. There is no way for us to Allah except what He has revealed in the Shari’ah.”

And in the Futuhat it is also written:

فمن قال ان ثم طريقا الي الله خلاف ما شرع فقوله زور فلا يقتدي بشيخ لا ادب

“Whoever claims that there is any way to reach Allah even against the Shari’ah is a liar in this statement, so do not make a person a follower or a leader who does not have Manner.”

Hazrat khwaja bayazid bastami says:

لو نظرتم الي رجل اعطي من الكرامات حتي يرتقي في الهواء فلا تغتروا به حتي تنظرونه كيف تجدونة عند الامر و النهي و حفظ الحدود و اداء الشريعة

“When you see a man who has been given miracles until he flies in the air, do not be deceived into believing that he is a Sufi, or a dervishes, or a saint, until you see that the commandments of the Shari’ah are followed. In doing so, he manages to avoid sins.”

Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi says:

الطرق كلها مسدودة علي الخلق الا من اقتضي اثر رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم

“All avenues for reaching Allah are closed to the creatures except the one who follows the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) step by step.”

And in the Futuhat it is also written:

فما عند الله من لم يحكمه بمكان فان الله ما اتخذ وليا جاهلا و فيه ان البطالة مع العلم خير من العمل مع الجهل

“There is no place in the sight of Allaah for a person who is ignorant of the commands of Allaah because Allaah has not made an ignorant person a Saint (Wali)”.

It is also mentioned in these Futuhat that “it is comparatively more acceptable if a knowledgeable person commits an indecent act rather than a completely ignorant person”. This is because if a true learned scholar commits an indecent act it would not be so unseemly that it would lead to disbelief. Because he is aware of the evil of this act, thus there is hope for repentance. Contrary to an ignorant person who even ignores the fundamentals and basics of Islam like Salat and fasting and he utters such foul things due to his ignorance that leads him to disbelief As he is not aware of the immorality of his act thus he does not even repent. There are thousands of statements from the elders about this.

The Slogan of “Hijab e Akbar” and “Freedom”

“Hijab e Akbar”: In the present age and time, in order to get away from the need to seek knowledge and implement it in their lives, ignorant people have learned two terms. For knowledge, they say there is “Hijab e Akbar” or veils between you and the lord. Secondly, for its implementation, they say there is the liberty to act. This is a wrong conception.

“Hijab e Akbar” is terminology in Sufism let me explain it in a simple way. Imagine that there are various curtains between you and the king and “Hijab e Akbar” is the last curtain between you and him you try and removed all curtains, till you reached the last one. After you cross this last curtain, you will be able to see the king and this is the ultimate stage. The same is the case with your lord if you want to remove the curtains between you and the lord you have to excel in knowledge and act upon it to reach the highest level. One who has not even acquired the knowledge is behind many many curtains. Hence, acquiring knowledge and training from books and Ulama is a prerequisite to come up to the last curtain.

Freedom: Let me define freedom now. Freedom means to escape from lust and worldly desires not from Allah’s commandments.

Suspicion: The Haqiqah or Tariqah (Sufism) are against the Shari’ah that’s why its mysteries have been kept hidden?

Some people have doubts that the knowledge of Haqiqah and tariqah (Sufism) is against the rules and regulations of Shari’ah because if it were not so, the elders (Buzurg & Mashaikh) would not have hidden its mysteries and secrets because Shari’ah is worth of expressing and communicating thus not to be kept hidden.

The answer to these doubts must be clearly understood. We do not claim that the knowledge of Shari’ah is the actual knowledge of Haqiqah (Sufism), what we are claiming is the knowledge of tariqah and haqiqah is not against shari’ah. This implies that if Shariah has forbidden something Tariqah and Haqiqah would not make it permissible.

For example, there is a civil law and criminal law, A deed which is permissible according to civil law cannot be unlawful according to criminal law. Although the subjects are different, for each one of them, one subject does not negate the subject of another. similarly, the subjects of the Haqiqah or tariqah (Sufism) do not go against the teachings of the Shari’ah. So the doubts that could come to the mind about keeping the mystery of Sufism concealed are countered.

what is the reason for hiding the knowledge or mystery of Sufism?

Now the question is, what is the reason for hiding the knowledge or mystery of Sufism? It should be noted that Imam al-Ghazali (may Allaah have mercy on him) has stated several reasons for this, the summary of which is as follows:

  • 1) the articles of Sufism are not opposed to shari’ah but because they are difficult & no conceivable by ordinary people and are harmful to them if not supervised by an authentic Shaikh.
  • 2) The reason for the secrecy in the teaching methods of sulook (Sufism) is that there is a possibility of disrespect and greed by the seeker, which is detrimental to the seeker.
  • 3) The reason for hiding the result of struggle (Mujahidah) and Revelation is the possibility of developing a sense of superiority and overbearing pride.

They are not concealed because they are opposed to shariah but for a good purpose otherwise, they will be rejected.

Following the Sunnah is must to find Allah

The brief summary is that you found Allah only with the knowledge of Shari’ah and by following the Sunnah. If any saint (wali) claimed otherwise he was misled. Maybe he made a mistake and is forgiven or the stories are wrongly narrated. But common people should not ridicule, make fun of it, or oppose it, as this leads to Kufr. This means one should not do anything against shari’ah like going round the tombs in circles, prostration in front of a Shaikh or his tomb. Follow a shaikh as long he follows Shariah, otherwise leaves him.

Hadhrat Noori (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

من رايته يدعي مع الله تعالي حالة تخرجه عن حد العلم الشرعي فلا تقربن منه

“Look at him who claims to be in the company of Allah Almighty and acts against the Shari’ah, so do not go near him”.

So It is necessary to follow Shar’iah in order to reach Allah.

Rules of Shari’ah are never waived

There is a mistake in the belief that at some stage in Sufism rules of Shari’ah are waived. This is unmistakably Kufr. As long as you are mentally alert and aware of your surroundings, you are bound to follow the rules of Shari’ah. They are never forgiven, although in a state of unconsciousness or insanity you are excused.

Hadhrat Ibrahim bin Shaiban Rah says:

علم الفناء و البقاء يدور علي اخلاص الوحدانية وصحة العبودية وما كان غير هذا فهو المغاليط والزندقة

“The knowledge of Sufism depends upon the oneness of Allah, sincerity, and the correct attitude of servitude. All other than this is deceit and non-religiousness.”

Hadhrat Junaid Rah narrated that some people say we have reached the pinnacle now why bother about following the rules of Shariah. He said yes, they have reached the end of Hell. And he said, “an adulterer is better than someone with this belief.” And he further said: “If I live for a thousand years, I will abide by the duties of the Shariah, but I will not ignore any action except which Shariah permits”.

Derived From: Taleem ud Deen, By Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi
Collected & Compiled By: Mufti Umar Badakhshani

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