What is the place of Sufism in Islam? What truth is there in ‘religious experiences’, contacts with the Divine, etc.? Some people hold such phenomena in high regard, claiming the similarities between experiences of people from different religions and from opposite corners of the globe, to be proof. How should people who claim to be Sufis or believers/followers of Sufism be seen? Isn’t prayer and remembrance also a form of contact with the Almighty, SWT?
Praise be to Allah.
The word Sufism was not known at the time of the Messenger or the Sahaabah=Prophet Muhammed’s companions or the Taabieen=next generations after Prophet Muhammed’s companions. It arose at the time when a group of ascetics who wore wool (soof) emerged, and this name was given to them. It was also said that the name was taken from the word soofiya (sophia) which means wisdom in Greek.
The word is not derived from al-safa (purity) as some of them claim, because the adjective derived from safa is safaai, not soofi (sufi). The emergence of this new name and the group to whom it is applied exacerbated the divisions among Muslims. The early Sufis differed from the later Sufis who spread bidah (bad innovation in Islam) to a greater extent and made shirk in both minor and major forms commonplace among the people, as well as the innovations against which the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) warned us when he said, beware of newly invented things, for every newly invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is a going-astray. (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said it is Sahih hasan).
The following is a comparison between the beliefs and rituals of Sufism and Islam which is based on the Quraan and Sunnah.
Sufism has numerous branches or tareeqahs, such as the Teejaniyyah, Qaadiriyyah, Naqshbandiyyah, Shaadhiliyyah, Rifaaiyyah, etc., the followers of which all claim that their particular tareeqah is on the path of truth whilst the others are following falsehood. Islam forbids such sectarianism. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
and be not of al-mushrikoon (the disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, polytheists, idolaters, etc),
Of those who split up their religion (i.e., who left the true Islamic monotheism), and became sects, [i.e., they invented new things in the religion (bidah) and followed their vain desires], each sect rejoicing in that which is with it. [al-Room 30:31-32]
The Sufis worship others than Allah, such as Prophets and awliya [saints], living or dead. They say, Yaa Jeelaani, Yaa Rifaai [calling on their awliya], or O Messenger of Allah, help and save or O Messenger of Allah, our dependence is on you, etc.
But Allah forbids us to call on anyone except Him in matters that are beyond the person’s capabilities. If a person does this, Allah will count him as a mushrik, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
And invoke not, besides Allah, any that will neither profit you, nor hurt you, but if (in case) you did so, you shall certainly be one of the zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers). [Yoonus 10:106]
The Sufis believe that there are abdaal, aqtaab and awliya (kinds of saints) to whom Allah has given the power to run the affairs of the universe. Allah tells us about the mushrikeen (interpretation of the meaning):
Say [O Muhammad]: And who disposes the affairs? They will say. Allah. [Yoonus 10:31]
The mushrik Arabs knew more about Allah than these Sufis!
The Sufis turn to other than Allah when calamity strikes, but Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
And if Allah touches you with harm, none can remove it but He, and if He touches you with good, then He is Able to do all things. [al-Anaam 6:17]
Some Sufis believe in wahdat al-wujood (unity of existence). They do not have the idea of a Creator and His creation, instead they say that everything is creation, and everything is god.
The Sufis advocate extreme asceticism in this life and do not believe in taking the necessary means or in jihaad, but Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
But seek with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world [al-Qasas 28:77]
And make ready against them all that you can of power [al-Anfaal 8:60]
The Sufis refer the idea of ihsaan to their shaykhs and tell their followers to have a picture of their shaykh in mind when they remember Allah and even when they are praying. Some of them even put a picture of their shaykh in front of them when they are praying.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Ihsaan is when you worship Allah as if you can see Him, and although you cannot see Him, He can see you. (Reported by Muslim).
The Sufis allow dancing, drums and musical instruments, and raising the voice when making dhikr, but Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts [al-Anfaal 8:2]
Moreover, you see some of them making dhikr by only pronouncing the Name of Allah, saying, Allah, Allah, Allah. This is bidah and has no meaning in Islam. They even go to the extreme of saying, Ah, ah or Hu, Hu. The Sunnah is for the Muslim to remember his Lord in words that have a true meaning for which he will be rewarded, such as saying Subhaan Allah wa Alhamdulillah wa Laa ilaaha illa Allah wa Allahu akbar, and so on.
The Sufis recite love poems mentioning the names of women and boys in their dhikr gatherings, and they repeat words such as love, passion, desire and so on, as if they are in a gathering where people dance and drink wine and clap and shout.
All of this has to do with the customs and acts of worship of the Mushrikin. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
Their salaah (prayer) at the House (of Allah, i.e., the Kabah at Makkah) was nothing but whistling and clapping of hands.
Some Sufis pierce themselves with rods of iron, saying, O my grandfather! So, the Shaytan=Satan come to them and help them, because they are seeking the help of someone other than Allah. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
And whosoever turns away (blinds himself) from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent (Allah), We appoint for him a shaytan (devil) to be a qareen (intimate companion) for him.
The Sufis claim to have gnosis and knowledge of the unseen, but the Qur’an shows them to be liars. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
Say: None in the heavens and the earth knows the ghayb (unseen) except Allah [al-Naml 27:65]
The Sufis claim that Allah created the world for the sake of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), but the Qur’an shows them to be liars. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
And I (Allah) created not the jinn and humans except they should worship Me (Alone). [al-Dhaariyaat 51:56]
Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, addressed His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with the words (interpretation of the meaning):
And worship your Lord until there comes unto the certainty (i.e., death). [al-Hijr 15:99]
The Sufis claim that they can see Allah in this life, but the Qur’an shows them to be liars. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
[Moosa said:] O my Lord! Show me (Yourself), that I may look upon You. Allah said, you cannot see Me [al-Araaf 7:143]
The Sufis claim that they take knowledge directly from Allah, without the mediation of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and in a conscious state (as opposed to dreams). So, are they better than the Sahaabah=Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him companions??
The Sufis claim that they take knowledge directly from Allah, without the mediation of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). They say, Haddathani qalbi and Rabbi (My heart told me from my Lord).
The Sufis celebrate Mawlid and hold gatherings for sending blessings on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), but they go against his teachings by raising their voices in dhikr and anaasheed (religious songs) and qaseedahs (poems) that contain blatant shirk. Did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) celebrate his birthday? Did Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, the four imaams or anyone else celebrate his birthday?
Who knows more and is more correct in worship, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Salaf, or the Sufis?
The Sufis travel to visit graves and seek blessings from their occupants or to make tawaaf (ritual circumambulation) around them or to make sacrifices at these sites, all of which goes against the teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): Do not travel to visit any place but three mosques: al-Masjid al-Haraam [in Makkah], this mosque of mine [in Madinah] and al-Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem]. (Agreed upon).
The Sufis are blindly loyal to their shaykhs, even when what they go against the words of Allah and His Messenger. But Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
O you who believe! Do not put (yourselves) forward before Allah and His Messenger [al-Hujuraat 49:1]
The Sufis use talismans, letters, and numbers for making decisions and for making amulets and charms and so on.
The Sufis do not restrict themselves to the specific blessings on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that were narrated from him. They invented new formulas that involve seeking his blessings and other kinds of blatant shirk which are unacceptable to the one on whom they are sending blessings.
Regarding the question of the whether the Sufi shaykhs have some kind of contact, this is true, but their contact is with the Shaytan=Satan, not with Allah, so they inspire one another with adorned speech as a delusion (or by way of deception), as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
And so, we have appointed for every Prophet enemies Shaytan=Satan (devils) among mankind and jinn, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion (or by way of deception). If your Lord had so willed, they would not have done it [al-Anaam 6:112]
And Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
And, certainly, the Shaytan=Satan (devils) do inspire their friends (from mankind) [al-Anaam 6:121]
Shall I inform you (O people!) upon whom the Shaytan=Satan (devils) descend?
They descend on every lying, sinful person. [al-Shuara 221-222]
This is the contact that is real, not the contact that they falsely claim to have with Allah. Exalted be Allah far above that.
(See Mujam al-Bida, 346 359).
When some of these Sufi shaykhs disappear suddenly from the sight of their followers, this is the result of their contact with the Shaytan=Satan, who may even carry them to a distant place and bring them back in the same day or night, to mislead their human followers.
So, the important rule here is not to judge people by the extraordinary feats that they may do. We should judge them by how closely or otherwise they adhere to the Quraan and Sunnah. The true friends of Allah (awliya) are not necessarily known for performing astounding feats. On the contrary, they are the ones who worship Allah in the manner that He has prescribed, and not by doing acts of bidah=Bad innovation in Islam. The true awliya or friends of Allah are those whom our Lord has described in the hadeeth qudsi narrated by al-Bukhari in his Sahih (5/2384) from Abu Hurayrah, who said:
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Allah said, whoever shows enmity towards a friend (wali) of Mine, I declare war against him. My slave does not draw close to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties that I have enjoined on him, and My slave continues to draw close to Me with supererogatory (naafil) acts, so that I will love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.
And Allah is the Source of Strength and the Guide to the Straight Path.