Indeed all praises are due to Allah, we praise Him, we seek His help, we ask for His forgiveness, and we rely solely on Him. We seek His refuge from the evil in our souls and from our wicked deeds. Whoever Allah guides, no one can misguide. And whomever Allah misguides, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, He is One, with no partners, and I testify that Mohammad (ﷺ) is His Messenger and His slave.
Tracing Roots of Sufism
Based on Ibn Juwzi’s Talbees Iblees
O mankind, fear your Lord, the One who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and from them spread many men and women. O People fear Allah, as he should be feared, and always speak the truth. He will direct you to righteous deeds and He will forgive your for your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has indeed achieved a great achievement.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "The best speech is the Book of Allah and the best guidance and example is that of Muhammad (ﷺ) . And the worst of all things are the newly invented things (in religion), for every innovation is error and misguidance." [Reported by Muslim] and in another narration, "every newly invented matter (in religion) is a bid'ah and every bid'ah is a dalaalah (misguidance) and every dalaalah is in the (hell) Fire." [Reported by At-Tirmithi].
In another warning the Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Whoever introduces into this affair of ours something that we have not commanded, it is to be rejected." [Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "He among you who witnesses an evil, let him change it with his hand, if he cannot do that, then by his tongue, if he cannot do even that, then with his heart, and this is the weakest faith." [Reported by Muslim].
During the time of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), affiliation was due to Islam (اسلام) and Eaman (ايمان). Thus they identified people as either Muslims (believers) or Kufar (non-believers).
Then the time came when they called people “Zahidoon”1 (زاهدون) or “Abidoon” (عابدون), due to their Zuhd2 (زهد).
Then there were those who disconnected themselves from worldly life for Zuhd (زهد). They became distinguished due to their piousness and they were known for their specific manners and etiquettes.
Tassawuf3 (تصوف) in the beginning was associated with Zuhd (زهد). Further those who associated themselves with tassawuf permitted listening [to music] and dancing (رقص و سماع). Thus they got the attention of those who wanted the hereafter (آخره), since these people of tassawuf on the surface appeared to be Zahidoon (زاهدون). They also received attention of those who were after the worldly life because they saw comfort in listening [to music] (سماع) and dancing (رقص) and other activities.
[We will inshallah discuss in detail the roots of word soof (صوف), soofa (صوفه), suffah (الصفـّـه), and soofia (الصوفيه). We will also discuss roots of Soofia, their books and their misguided practices.]
TRIBE OF SOOFA صوفه
The person who became famous for serving around Kabaa (بيت الله - House of Allah), his nickname (لقب) was “soofa” (صوفه), while his real name was Ghaus bin Mur (غوث بن مّر). He devoted his life to serve around House of Allah (before Islamic period). Other people followed him in serving around Kaaba. People called this group صوفيه.
Abu Mohammad Abdul Ghani (ابو محمدعبدالغني بن سعيدالحافظ رح ) said that he asked Walid bin Qasim (قاسم بن وليد), “what is this Soofi association (نسبت)?”. He said: “In pre-Islamic age there was a tribe called “soofa” (صوفه), they migrated to Makkah for the sake of Allah to serve the Kabaa (House of Allah). They settled around the Kaaba. Those who imitated them were known as “Soofia” (صوفيه)”.
Abdul Ghani (عبدالغني رح) said that these people are associated with famous Bsoofa (بصوفه), who was the son of Ghaus bin Mur (غوث بن مّر), who was brother of Tamim bin Mur (تميم بن مّر).
Zubair bin Bakkar (زبير بن بكّار) said it was the responsibility of Ghaus bin Mur (غوث بن مّربن اوبن طانجه) (before Islam). Then it was shifted to his son. People used to call him “soofa” (صوفه). So when the time came to take permission for pilgrim (hajj), Arabs used to ask him for permission, they say “O sofa (صوفه), do we have your permission”.
Zubair (زبير) said that Abu Ubaidah (ابو عبيده) described Soofa (صوفه) or Soofan (صوفان) as those who were financially depended on others, especially the people who came for pilgrimage, while they (soofa) were responsible for one of the rituals of pilgrimage (مناسك حج); i.e. they will help people to perform their pilgrimage and take money for their living. There were called “soofa” (صوفه) or “soofan” (صوفان).
Ibn as-Sayeb al-Kalby (ابن الساب الكلبي) said Ghaus bin Mur (غوث بن مّر) was named Soofa because his mother had many sons who died, and she made Nazr (نذر - oath to god) that if he (Ghaus) survived then she would tie “soof” (صوف) on his head and leave him to serve Kabaa. Later she fulfilled her promise. Thus people called her son (Ghaus) “soofa” (because he wore soof). Later his children were also called “soofa”.
There are other stories in regards to why he was named soofa.
Later it was said about soofa that they facilitated people in pilgrim and gave them permission to move between Arfat (عرفه) and Minna (منيا), and Minna to Kabaa. This responsibility remained with his children and moved to Aduwan (عدوان), and then children of Aduwan (عدوان). Later Quraish (قريش) assumed this responsibility.
PEOPLE OF SUFFAH أهل الصفـّـه
There is an opinion that Tassawuf (تصوف) was affiliated to People of Suffah4 (أهل الصفـّـه) because they saw patterns in People of Suffah (أهل الصفـّـه) that were similar to “soofa” (صوفه); that is, they disconnected themselves from comforts of world for sake of Allah and always remained poor (penniless -فقير). The People of Suffah (أهل الصفـّـه) ware always poor and needy and they used to present themselves in company of the Messenger (ﷺ). They neither had money, nor family or place to live.
Thus a place (صفـّـه) was assigned for them in the Prophet’s Mosque (مسجد نبوي). There is a narration from Al-Hassan (الحسن رض) that there was place (صفـّـه) made for old poor Muslims (ضعفاء مسلمين), so the other Muslims used to provide food and sustenance to them. The Messenger (ﷺ) visited them in morning and called them “يا أهل الصفـّـه ”, and they replied “وعليكم السلام يارسول الله”. Then He (ﷺ) asked them “كيف اصبحتم”, and they replied by saying that they passed their morning with peace.
Abuzar Ghafari (ابو زر غفاري رض) said that he was from People of Suffah (أهل الصفـّـه) and by the evening they would go to the Messenger (ﷺ). Thus the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) asked people to take one of them to their house and feed him, when less than ten of them remained then the Messenger (ﷺ) would invite them to eat with Him (ﷺ) . After their meal, the Messenger asked them to sleep in the mosque (مسجد نبوي). These people continued this practice at the time of need until Allah SWT gave Muslims the victory, after which they left the place.
It is incorrect to associate these people with Sufis or Sufism in any way because otherwise they would be called safi (صفي).
Some said they are called “soofi” (صـوفية) because they wear “soof” (صوف). This name appeared approx. 200H (Hijra, Islamic calendar), when the first generation of Sufis proclaimed Tassawuf (تصوف). They described its meaning in great details. According to them the meaning of tassawuf (تصوف) is controlling Nafs (self - نفس) by extreme rituals, patience (صبر), faithfulness or sincerity (اخلاص), staunch worship (زهد). This in turn will help in righteousness that will earn them success in this world and hereafter.
Junaid bin Mohammad (جنيد بن محمد) was asked about the meaning of Tassawuf (تصوف), he replied it is stopping from all evil actions and doing the righteous deeds.
Ibn Jawzi (ابن جوزي رح) said that in the beginning this is how these people lived, but then Iblees (ابليس) played tricks on them about few things, then the people who came after them, until a later generation came whom Iblees (ابليس) took full control of. He stopped them from seeking knowledge (علم) and instead taught them that rituals are the real objective and purpose. When they completely disconnected themselves from knowledge (علم), they went wayward.
Some Sufis learned that the real objective is to completely leave worldly life. Thus they disconnected themselves from the world to the degree that they stopped eating and drinking, thus depriving themselves from the blessings of Allah SWT. They compared sustenance (مال) to snakes and scorpions. They didn’t realize that Allah swt created sustenance (مال) for a reason.
Some extreme Sufis who wanted to control their Nafs (self - نفس) so much so that they wouldn’t lie down on floor (to sleep).
Perhaps these people had good intensions, but Alas! There methods were corrupt and completely against the Shariah (Islamic law - شريعه).
Some Sufis who due to lack of their knowledge in deen, when they received fabricated (موضوع) Hadith (news or tradition – حديث), they followed it in ignorance.
Some Sufis specifically talked about abstinence from eating and earning money (فقروفاقه). Some of them wrote books about it like Haris Muhasabi (حارث المحاسبي).
Later Sufis organized a complete madhab (religion - مذهب) around Tassawuf (تصوف) and invented new practices and methods of rituals; such as. Listening [to music] (سماع), dancing (رقص), ecstasy (وجد), wearing torn clothes that are patched with small pieces of cloth (مرقع), clapping etc.
Later Sufis added much to such innovations. Their Sheikhs kept on inventing new ideas and practices for them, not because they kept away from scholars (علماء) or knowledge, but because of their own state of ignorance, they presumed that this is indeed real knowledge (علم).
Thus they named this newly innovated practice as The Hidden Knowledge (علم الباطن) and they named actual shariah (علم الشريعه) as The Outward Knowledge (علم الظاهر).
Some Sufis due to weakness from abstinence from food received some really crazy ideas. They thought they are having visions. It seems that they imagined some pictures in their minds and kept themselves busy thinking about it. These people are in between Kufr (disbelieve - كفر) and Biddah (innovation بدعه - ). Their followers invented more of such practices; their creed (عقيده) became completely corrupt. Some of them believed in Hulool ( حلول - incarnation or the belief that the Creator may be indwelling in His creation – exalted be Allah above what they say) and other believed in unification with God (الاتحاد). Thus Iblees (ابليس) kept playing tricks on them in creating new innovations that they even declared new Sunnah (traditions of the Prophet – سنـّـه) for themselves.
BOOKS OF SOOFIA
Abu Abd ur-Rahman as-Salmah (ابو عبدالرحمن السلمى) wrote the book of as-Sunnan (السنـّن) for them and collected their Tafasirs (exegesis of Quran - تـفـاسير) where he mentioned various strange Tafasirs of Quran by Sufis that not based on any known principles in Islam. Rather, they base it all on their [misguided] methodology and their strange experiences from aviding food and extravagance in the Quran.
Ibn Jawzi (ابن جوزي رح) said that Abu Nasr Siraj (ابو نصر سراج) wrote a book for Sufis with the name Lamah as-Soofia (لمع الصوفيه). He wrote his corrupt believes (عقيده) and idle talk.
Abu Talib Makki (ابو طالب مكي) wrote Quwat ul-Quloob (قوت القـلوب) in which he reported false hadiths (news or tradition – حديث) without Isnaad (certificate - اسناد ). For instance, praying day and night etc. which are totally fabricated hadith and were based on corrupt beliefs (عقيده). He repeatedly wrote “قال بعض المكاشفين” meaning "some people of Kashf said so" (كشف - unveiling, people with hidden knowledge). When in fact, the statements he quoted were merely heretical. He narrated in his book that Allah SWT shows Himself to some of his pious Awlias (friends - أوليا). Mohammad ibn Allaaf (محمد ابن علاّف) said that Abu Talib Makki (ابو طالب مكي) went to Basra after the death of Abu al-Hassan Salem. There, he (ibn Allaf) listened to some of his lectures. Later Abu Talib went to Baghdad and in one of his sermons said “In the rights of creation (مخلوق) there is noone more harmful than the creator (خالق)”. When people heard this, they left him and called him Bidatee (بدعتي – heretical innovator). Ibn Jawzi (ابن جوزي رح) also said that this book Quwat ul-Quloob (قوت القـلوب) was written to promote Sufism and it had heretical speech about Attributes of Allah swt.
Ibn Jawzi (ابن جوزي رح) said Abu Naeem Isfahani (ابو نعيم اسفهاني) wrote a book for Sufis named al-Hiliyah (الحيـّـه), he called Abu Bakr, Omar, Usman, Ali (ابو بكر و عمر وعثمان و علي) and various esteemed companions (صحابه), and Hasan Basari (حسن البصري), and Sufiyan Suri (سفيان ثوري), Ahmed bin Hanbal (احمد بن حنبل رح) as Soofia (صـوفية).
Similarly, Salmah (سلمى) in Tabaqat Soofia (طبقات صوفيه) mentioned Fazeel and Ibrahim bin Udham and Maroof Karkhi as Soofia (صـوفية). If by declaring these esteemed men as soofia, Salmah implied that they were Ahle-Zuhd (اهل زهد) and Tassawwuf is a famous madhab in which Zuhd is the foundation, since these esteemed men practiced it, then this is true.
But, Zuhd (زهد) and Tassawuf (تصوف) are two different things. The evidence is such that no scholar (of Sunnah wa Jammah) objected to Zuhd (زهد), whereas everyone criticised sufi Tassawuf (تصوف).
Abdul Kareem wrote the book ar-Risalah (الرساله) for Sufis. Mohamd bin Tahir Muqaddasi (محمد بن طاهر مـقــّدسي) wrote Sifwat at-Tassawuf (سفوة التصـّوف) for Sufis.
Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (ابو حامد الغزالي رح) came along and wrote for them the book Ahya Uloom Ad-Din (أحياء علوم الدين) that is inline with their methods (Tariqah) and filled it with fabricated hadiths that he did not know about. In the "Science of Revelation Al-Mukashafah" (علم مكاشفه - not exactly revelation وحي, but it is close to it as Wahy وحي is revelation to Prophets, and Mukashafah مكاشفه is revelation to Sufis), he deviated from the Laws of clear straight understanding (قانون فقه), as he said that the stars and the son and moon that Ibrahim AS (ابراهيم عليه السلام) had seen are the veils (حجا ب) of Allah SWT, and not the stars we know, and this is the same sort of the Batiniyah tafseer (كلام باطنيه).
He claimed in his book al-Mufsah bil-Ahwal (المفصح بالاحوال) that the Sufis see (with their bare eyes) the angels (ملاْئكه) and souls of the Prophets (ارواح الانبيأ), and they hear their voices and they benefit from them. Not only that, he claimed that they even get higher in the phases to a level where words cannot express (the feelings).
Ibn Jawzi (ابن جوزي رح) said the reason they wrote such falsehood is due to lack of knowledge in Sunnah and Islam in general. And whatever method of soofia suited them, they adopted it. They thought that this indeed is pious worship (زهد).
CORRUPT BELIEFS OF SOOFIA
Salaf (سلف) use to have certain stiffness in their dealings. They would protect Sunnah and stay away from Biddah (innovation - بدعه) at all cost.
But these soofia are much different. People get attracted to them because their outwardly methods seem to have purification (تزكيه) and worship (زهد), and they combine comfort (راحة - in deen) and listening [to music] (سماع). Thus it attracts the general masses. Initially soofia (صـوفية) use to hate kings, and the rich, but now their friendship runs deep with this class.
All these books that Soofia wrote didn’t have any objectivity towards attaining knowledge, instead they are documentations about life experiences of some soofia which they named Batin (باطن - hidden knowledge).
A question was asked from Ahmed bin Hanbal (احمد بن حنبل رح) in relation to bad passing thoughts5 (وساوس و خطرا ت) , he replied that the companions and their followers (صحابه و تابعين) didn’t discuss it. We mentioned before that when Ahmed bin Hanbal (احمد بن حنبل رح) heard the writing of Haris Muhasabi (حارث المحاسبي), he told his peer that it is not permitted (جائز) for him to be present in their (صـوفية) company.
Abu Zar-ah (ابوزرعه) also warned us about Haris Muhasabi (حارث المحاسبي). He said behold! Stay away from such books; these are books of innovation (بدعه) and falsehood. Just hold firm to (authentic) Hadith. You will find in it (Hadith) that you will not care much about such books (of Soofia). The person asked: but these books (of soofia) have6 (عبرة). Abu Zar-ah replied that if the person cannot find (عبرة) in the book of Allah swt (i.e Quran), then he cannot find (عبرة) in any other book. Did you ever see Malik bin Anas or Sufiyan Suri or Awzaee (مالك بن انس و سفيان ثوري و اوزاعي) or other scholars writing books on (وساوس و خطرا ت). These soofia have rejected people of Knowledge (أهل علم), sometimes they bring Sanad (certificate - سند) of Haris Muhasabi (حارث المحاسبي), sometimes Abdur Raheem Dabaili (عبد الرحيم الدبيلي), sometimes Hatim Asum (حاتم الأصم), and sometimes Shaqeeq (شقيق). These people (soofia) hasten to adopt Biddah (biddah - بدعه).
Mohammad Ibn Abdel baqi (محمد بن عبد الباقي) told us that Zun-noon al-Misari (ذو النون المصري) was the first one to talk about the order of phases and the ranking of the people of Wilayah8 (ترتيب الأحوال ومقامات أهل الولاية). Salmah (سلمى) said Abu Salam Durrani (أبو سليمان الداراني) was kicked out of Damascus (دمشق); people said that he proclaimed that he sees and talks with Angels. People testify that Ahmed bin Abu al-Hawari (ابوالحواري) that he placed Awliyas (اوليأ) before prophets (انبيأ), hence he was forced to leave Damascus. People of Bistam (أهل بسطام) kicked out Abi Yazid (أبي يزيد) because he used to say Hassan bin Esa (حسن بن عيسى) said that he experienced Miraj (معراج) similar to the Messenger (ﷺ).
Salmah (سلمى) also said that Haris Muhasabi (حارث المحاسبي) proclaimed corrupt belief about attributes of Allah (swt). Ahmed bin Hanbal left him after that, and he lived in hiding until he died.
Ibn Jawzi (ابن جوزي رح) said Abu Bakar Khalal (ابو بكر خلال) wrote in his book Kitaab us-Sunnah (كتاب السنه) that Ahmed bin Hanbal said to stay away from Haris Muhasabi (حارث المحاسبي) because he is root of evil.
SOOFIA IN THE BEGINNING ACCEPTED THAT TRUST IS ONLY BUILT UPON QURAN AND SUNNAH:
Ibn Jawzi (ابن جوزي رح) said that in the beginning soofia accepted that trust is only built upon the Book (of Allah swt) and Sunnah (of the Prophet ﷺ). Later on they were deceived by Iblees (ابليس) due to lack of (proper) knowledge.
Abu Salam Durrani (أبو سليمان الداراني) – a sufi – said that sometimes when a sufist point concurred in his thoughts he would not accept it for days, until he find two evidences (شاهدين عدلين) meaning from the Book (of Allah SWT) and Sunnah.
Abu Yazid Bastami (ابو يزيد) – a sufi – said that if you see a person who was given miracles (الكرامات), don’t be deceived (by his miracles) even if he flies in the air and sits, until you verify his situation in enjoining right and forbidding wrong, and protecting Shariah limits.
Abu Yazid Bastami (ابو يزيد) said whoever stops reciting Quran, agreements with Shariah, enjoining with jamaat, walking with Janazah (funeral), and visiting sick (patients), and he claims himself to have hidden knowledge (باطن), is a Bidaati (innovator - بدعتي).
(سريا) said whoever stops following Shariah outwardly but proclaims to have hidden knowledge (باطن) is wrong.
Junaid (الجنيد) said that our religion of tassawuf (Sufism) is limited by the Book (of Allah swt), Sunnah and principles. He also said that our knowledge is bound by the Book (of Allah swt) and Sunnah, whoever doesn’t memorize the Book, and doesn’t write Hadith, and doesn’t learn Fiqh (Islamic Law) should not be followed. He also said that we didn’t take Tassawuf (Suffism) from heresay (القيل والقال), instead by bearing hardness of hunger, and by leaving the beloved and luxuries of worldly things, because Tassawuf means to keep your dealing with Allah SWT very clean, and reality of Tassawuf is to separate from worldly life. Hence Haritha (حارثة) said that I recognized my Nafs (self - نفس) from dunya (worldly life), thus I stayed awake at night and remained thirsty the whole day.
Abi Bakr Saqaf (أبي بكر الشفاف) said whoever outwardly crosses the limits of right/wrong (حدود الأمر والنهي) will be forbidden from witnessing hidden knowledge (الباطن).
Abu Hassan Noori (الحسين النوري) told his people that if you see a person who proclaims anything that exempts him from the limits of Shariah, then don’t go near him.
Ibn Jawzi (ابن جوزي رح) said that when it was proven from the sayings of Sufi Sheiks that some of their sheikhs made mistakes due to lack of (proper) knowledge. Then if these mistakes are due to wrong riwayah (narrations) falsely attributed to these people, then we will reject (such riwayahs), because there is not limit on speaking truth. And if these riwayahs (narrations) were rightly attributed to them but are wrong (i.e. conflicts with Shariah, Quran and Sunnah) then we will advise people to stay away from such religion (madhab).
It doesn’t matter who the person is (i.e. wrong is wrong regardless of status of the person). Those who are not soofia but have similarities to the madhab (religion) of soofiahave numerous mistakes.
We will (inshallah) discuss some of the mistakes of soofia (in next episode) that has reached us. Allah swt knows well that our objective in describing these mistakes is merely to protect Shariah, clearly distinguishing right from wrong,and increase the awareness amongst people for the sake of Allah swt.
It’s the tradition of all Scholars that they point out mistakes of each other merely to express the truth (حق). They didn’t mean to spread defects of wrongdoers. If any illiterate (of deen) questions how we can object to some pious and zahid (زاهد) person, then such statements cannot be trusted. This is because obedience is only to thecommands of Shariah (i.e. Allah swt) and not to people. Sometimes even the Awliya (friends) of Allah and people of heaven (أهل جنـّة) make mistakes. To point out their mistakes deos not mean challenging their status.
We must learn that if some one respect the status of a person but does not pay attention to his actions and his reasons, his example is of a person who witnessed the miracles of Esa AS (عيسى عليه السلام) but never paid attention to (teachings of) Esa AS. Thus he proclaims of Esa AS as Lord (falsely). If he had thought Esa (is mere human who) also lived by eating and drinking, then he would’ve never given him such status (of being Lord), of which he is not eligible. (There is no one worthy of worship, except Allah swt).
END OF PART - I
- Plural of Zahid. i.e one who does Zuhd
- Dr. Abdelhaleem explained to us that: Zuhd (زهد) in the Arabic sense: is "not to want something", so it is a passive word. It was used as an adjective in the hadith of Al-Boukhari and Ahmad: "if the Momen pays the right of Allah and those whom he support, he gets two rewards, ka'ab Ibn Ubaie said: he does not get questioned nor the Momen Muzhed (the one that has very little of Dunya that it can never be looked at or wanted)".
It is however only used in Islamic sense as the avoidance of dunya and its material. It was not used to describe a certain group of people in the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) or the four khalifas. It appeared when Islam spread into new areas of the world and materialistic style of life started to take over, some of the Tabe'een and the Tabie al-tabe'een concentrated on the practice of Al-tazkiyah تزكيه "purification" and hence to get away from Dunya, as a symbol of that. That is why the first Zuhaad were not considered Ahlul Bidaa, as they just magnified a certain area of Islam "purification" and tried to overcome the new wave of materialism....
- Tassawuf (تصوف) is Sufism or Mysticism; in which a person seeks to find divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. 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).
Imam Al-Shafi' had the opinion that "If a person exercised Sufism (Tasaawafa) at the beginning of the day, he doesn't come at Zuhur except an idiot".
The people of Suffah (أهل الصفـّـه - in Arabic the word "suffah" is the place where you put your feet on together means where you stay like the couch they call it Suffah. And it is connected to the word "Saff" means Row (صف) where people stand and not move
- وساوس و خطرا ت means the whisperer of Evil and the bad passing-by thoughts. Al-khatarat means whatever crosses a person's mind that is not good, and causes him doubts in Deen or Aqida same as the Wasaawes. Such as in the hadith: one has the idea of: so, Allah created the creatures, then who created Allah. This is Khatarat and Wasaawes, and it comes in respect to Aqeeda and Biddah..
- عبرة means wise lesson, from the Arabic word A'abara عـبـر means to cross from a place to another, as in an event where you take the lesson and you carry the meaning of that lesson to your own situation and use it
- The order of phases what Sufis say about the person goes through different phases such as the Jam and Mahw افجكغ نافكحن and the like. These are the A'ahwal (الأحوال - phases)