Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Sufi vs a Muslim?


O son, I'm disturbed by these statements which I will quote hereby and wish to clarify to you the lisan al-din (language of faith) as I know it, as I have learned it from the gnostics (arif). May Allah protect us and keep us on the straight Path. Wallahu'alam.

How can anyone say "Islam is different from Sufism"
- when sufism is the essence of Islam? Sufism is a branch of Islamic knowledge which belongs to the third category after iman (faith) and Islam (submission to the Divine Will); it represents ihsan (excellence or virtue). It is the epitome of Islam regardless if one consider himself a sufi or not. A sufi is definitely a muslim first than anything else. In fact, it is a maqam which the Prophet wants all muslims to strive for - to worship Him as though we see Him.

How can anyone say 'a sufi lives in the name of Allah' and 'dies for the sake of Allah'. 'But a Muslim strives to approach Almighty God.'- when a sufi just like any other muslims profess at least 5 times a day: 'inna solati wanusuki wamahyaya wamamati lillahirobbil 'alamin? (My prayers, my worship, my life and my death is for the sake of the Lord of the Universe)
- when a sufi is guided by a pertinent motto which is 'Ilahi anta maqsudi waredhoka matlubi' meaning 'Lord You are my goal and Your mercy is what I aim for.' Isn't this an act of approaching Allah?

How can anyone say, "our goal is not to 'perish' but to 'bloom'. This is done not 'for Allah' but to bring us 'toward Him'. Allah is not far away from you therefore try to reach Him. Allah is closer to you than yourself."- when a sufi's goal is to let his false/lower self perish and let Allah the 'wajibul wujud' (must exist) bloom after all he is only 'mumkinal wujud' (possible existence) and he knows what his reality is and hence he knows He The Reality.
- and this is done obviously for Allah because that's what He wants as in
laila haillallah (no god but Allah)
billah (with Allah)
minallah (from Allah)
illallah (except Allah)
lahauwala quwata illah billah
(there is no power and no strength save with Allah)
kullumin indallah (all is from Allah)
and he is forever seeking to see His face wheresoever he turns as in 'liwajhillah'?
- at the same time a sufi is surely one who commit himself towards Allah with each breath for he is continuously circumbulating the kaabah of his heart with Allah as the only occupant of his heart?
- so how can Allah be far away from a sufi when He is the closest to him for a true sufi devotes his life to be taqarrub (close) to Him and by Allah's grace so many of the sufis we know are regarded as muqarabbins (the near ones)?

O son, be careful when you hear these false allegations towards a sufi for many do not understand what sufism or tasawuf really is and per chance they are envious of the name sufi whereas a sufi by any other name is a sufi, and a sufi will not care if anyone calls him that or not, for one cannot detach the fragrance of rose from the rose.

The quotation below is from "Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature" By Norman Calder, Jawid Ahmad Mojaddedi, Andrew Rippin. Published by Routledge, 2003

Al-Ghazali: The Path of the Sufis
On al-Ghazali (d 505/1111) and the book from which this passage is taken "al-Munqidh min al-dalal" (Deliverance from Error). As was suggested above the entire treatise is probably better understood as a work of epistemology. The aim is to show that the right knowledge will deliver one from error. Here he speaks autobiographically about the knowledge of the Sufis, the last group whom he describes on his quest for knowledge. It is therefore with the Sufis that al-Ghazali finds his thirst for certain knowledge of the truth satisfied. He describes the practical steps necessary for purifying one's heart, and the importance of direct experience or 'taste' for mystical knowledge. Al-Ghazali discovers that the path of the Sufi saints bestow on the seeker direct experiences that are comparable with the experiences of prophets, in this way providing irrefutable proofs of the truths of religion. Following the discussion provided here, he is able to argue for the reality of prophecy in general, through a faculty of perception grounded in the soul, which can be verified by non-prophets through taste i.e. direct experience on the path of the Sufis.

Al-Ghazali's own words:
"When I had done with these sciences, I turned my efforts to the Sufi way. I came to know that their way became complete only through both knowledge and practice. The sum of their sciences is the removal of soul's deficiencies, and cleansing it off its reprehesible and vicious qualities, so as to achieve a heart empty of all save God and adorned with the constant remembrance of God."

O son, listen to this man, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali for he has "contributed significantly to the development of a systematic view of Sufism and its integration and acceptance in mainstream Islam. He was a scholar of orthodox Islam, belonging to the Shafie school of Islamic jurisprudence and to the Asharite school of theology. Ghazali received many titles such as Sharaful A'emma (شرف الأئمّة‎), Zainuddin (زين الدين), and Hujjatul Islam, meaning "Proof of Islam" (حجّة الاسلام)."

Alhamdulillah alla kulli hal. Praise be to Allah in every circumstances.
Further reading: Sheikh Hamza Yusuf quoting Sidi Ahmed Zarruq on why some people wrongly reject Sufism.


  1. Assalamualaikum

    JazakAllah Sr Ezza for the detailed explanation.


  2. Wa'alaikumsalam OZ,
    Thank you for visiting Lisan al-Din.
    May Allah 'delivers us from error' and increase us in knowledge and gnosis (makrifah).