O son, know that before I met the genuine tariqah murshids I now know, I had come across a couple of pseudo-guides. How do we tell the real from the fake? By the grace of Allah, if we search and ask, He will guide. Bi-iznillah. And this must be experienced individually as it pertains to one's heart and belief. I often get queries from newcomers to the tariqah asking basic questions like, why do people seem to love the murshid so much? Who is he? Who is Shaykh Nazim? Obviously we cannot impart our certitude to another person. People have different degrees of yaqin about different things.
Everyone who came to the tariqah was led by a unique reason in ways that were unique to them. If you talked to the followers, you would hear some amazing stories. I am yet to meet Mawlana Shaykh Nazim in person, InshaAllah. I met his khalifah Shaykh Hisham and the first time we met I could feel that it was the right one. Of course like many newcomers, we all needed some kind of proof or confidence because our hearts are full of satanic whisperings (khatir syaitani). Proof or certitude that a guru is genuine comes gradually but surely. In my case, after taking bay'at with Mawlana Shaykh Nazim through Shaykh Hisham (May Allah give them both long life) I said to myself, 'Well if Mawlana is a true wali, as has been said, I want to be able to hear from him live everyday'. True enough, the next day I learned that the tariqah was getting Sufilive broadcast his sohbet, live, everyday. Subhanallah!
I also wish to stress that a murshid or one's tariqah guru is not the same as any other mu'aleem or guru from whom one takes knowledge. The relationship with the former is much more formal and real on account of the bay'at (pledge) that you have taken with him. So last week, when I had to give a quick intro on the tariqah and the guru to one newcomer, I said things which might have sounded unconvincing to that person. I said, the murshid is responsible for you dunya and akhirah. She said, 'would it be ok if I took bay'at and not do what I am supposed to do?' Fine, I said, do what you can but know that, even if you don't see your murshid because he is so far away, he will always be with you spiritually, guiding you. Bi-iznillah. Oh, really?, she said, how's that possible?
I said that from experience after taking bay'at with him plus experiences with other pseudo-guides before him, so I could compare. Real tariqah murshids are able to prevent you from being misled by syaitan. I used to favor a couple of 'spiritual' personalities who talked eloquently about sufism, who preached about 'being nothing' and all the popular Sufi maxims. They have many followers and admirers, many. By the grace of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim, I was shown through whisperings in my heart and through vivid dreams, the realities of these people. Subhanallah!
O son, I will repeat for the umpteenth time that the path is slippery and without guidance and formal relationship (bay'at) with a genuine murshid, you will fall hard on your face, many times! So go walk in search of a murshid if you don't have one yet. Why bother? Because a murshid will guide you towards self purification, he will make you be constant in remembering Allah, and most importantly he is your link to Rasulullah s.a.w.
Then again, that may have sounded superficial and meaningless to you. So I dare you to go and search for a guru; perhaps meet some fake ones first; fall, get cheated, get harrassed or whatever, until you meet a real one and have certainty that he is the one for you. It does not have to be Naqshbandi. Just find one for yourself so long as you are connected with the Beloved of Allah, sallallah alaihi wasallam.
May Allah keeps us on the Straight Path.