Question: I’m a 16 yr old girl and I have wanted to join the sufi path and especially find a shaykh to purify myself. My parents find the sufis dodgy. Are they?
The Truth about Tariqas
Our scholars say that the first step to Allah is an opening from Allah. Your question is really a manifestation of that opening within. May Allah further facilitate you in your spiritual development and grace you and us all with the divine experience.
Do you require a spiritual guide?
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who is our guide in turn had a guide in the form of Allah, said:
أدبني ربي فأحسن تأديبي
My Lord has reformed me and perfected my reform (al-Durra al-Muntathirah, pg. 24, Abu al-Fadl ibn Nasir has authenticated the narration whilst most consider the narration, to the exclusion of its meaning, to be weak).
Thus a fortiori, you and I require a guide. Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda quoting one of our luminaries states, “You have two types of shuyukh (guides); Shaykh al-ilm and Shaykh al-tarbiya”. The former imparts knowledge in a very general manner whilst the latter takes you by your hand so to say, and delivers you to your destination. It is very much like requiring directions to a venue. Some of us simply need directions whilst others need somebody to take them by the hand and guide them to the place otherwise they will get lost. I am of the opinion that most of us fall into the latter category and thus require a Shaykh al-Tarbiyah to take us by our hands.
How do you find such a spiritual luminary to guide you?
I quote: When the seeker feels the need for it just as the sick person feels the need for a doctor, then she must have true dedication and correct intention and direct herself to Allah with a broken and subdued heart; calling upon Him in the darkness of the night, in his prostration and in every prescribed prayer saying, “O Allah, Guide me to one who can guide me to You, Cause me to reach one who will cause me to reach you (This is absolutely essential).
She must search those in her land and ask around and investigate looking with resoluteness and detail for a spiritual guide – paying no attention to the people who claim that there is not to be found any true spiritual guide in our age.
If she is unable to find anybody in her own city then she must look in other cities…”
Are there dodgy Sufis?
One of our luminaries was informed that a student of sacred knowledge was caught stealing red-handed. He responded by saying, “Impossible, a student of sacred knowledge can never steal. If verified then it can only be a thief in the guise of a student but a student can never be a thief”. So to answer your question, yes unfortunately there are dodgy people in Sufi garb but not dodgy Sufis :).
Regarding this phenomenon, Sh. Abd al-Qadir Isa has the following to say:
Sufism has been maligned by spurious individuals who have adorned themselves with its garments and ascribed themselves to it, doing it a great disservice by their statements, actions, and behavior. Sufism is completely innocent of them. It is from the greatest services to the truth that we can provide, to separate between the deviated false claimants of Sufism and the esteemed and truthful Gnostic Sufis. We must stop and take the stand of one who holds fast to the sacred law and religion and say, “There is a huge difference between Sufism and the Sufi; the would-be Sufi and his deviations and corruption in no way represent Sufism, just as the evil act of a Muslim in no way represents his Islam and his religion”.
So you certainly have to be very careful and wary of the charlatans.
As regards to a shaykh, in particular, our scholars say that the spiritual guide has to have conditions that he must fulfill before he is considered fit to guide others:
1) He must be knowledgeable of all things that are individually obligatory.
2) He must be a knower of Allah.
3) He must be well acquainted with the methods of purifying the souls and means to train them.
4) He must have permission from his own Shaykh to guide others.
I pray that with the little that we have shared that Allah infuses us with its understanding and that He enables us to practice upon it and that He, by virtue of His sheer grace and benevolence draw us all closer to him and facilitate for it.
Do remember us in your prayers.
In the care of Allah.
[Shaykh] Muhammad Carr
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani