Poem: The Would-Be Sufi and the Would-be Salafi by Novid Shaid

The Would-Be Sufi and the Would-be Salafi

By Novid Shaid, 2011



Once there were two neighbours
who were locked in a rivalry,
for one was a would-be Sufi
and the other a would-be Salafi.

“You’re a man of shirk and innovation!”
argued the Salafi,
“You’re an arrogant man,” smiled the Sufi,
“You lack spirituality!”

“I yearn for past!” cried the Salafi,
“For the salaf us saliheen!”
“I yearn for the saints!” cried the Sufi,
“For the likes of Jilani!”

Whenever they passed on the pavement,
They would bicker like some angry bees!
“Where’s your daleel for Milad?” roared the Salafi.
“Where’s your ishq?” growled the pretentious Sufi.

“I’m the true follower of the Sunnah!”
“No! That title belongs to me!”
“You’re not invited to my popular halaqa!”
“And we don’t consort with ghair-muqallideen!”

It happened that one of their neighbours,
was a man of technology,
an eccentric, wild-haired scientist,
who had built a time machine.

So he thought he would conduct an experiment
To assess his time machine,
“I know, I’ll try it on the Sufi!
And his friend, the Salafi!”

After putting the idea to the Salafi,
He said: “this sound likes a bida’ to me!”
“Sound like you’re a wuss!” laughed the Sufi
“Where’s your faith in Allah’s decree!”

“No one calls me a wuss!” said the Salafi
“with this experiment, I agree!”
“If he’s doing it now,” said the Sufi,
“Then it’s definitely for me!”

So the scientist told them to listen
While he explained the intricacies,
“You have to explain your destination
Where’ll you go for your first journey.”

Then they both sat down in the contraption,
and strapped themselves in tightly
“To the time of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal,
To Imam Hasan Al Basri.”

And they bickered as the gadget travelled
Through time and the galaxies,
“Imam Ahmad is the true Salafi!”
“None can compare to Hasan Al Basri!”

With a thud and a great explosion
they landed far from the seas,
in the dominion of the stern leader
Mamun son of Harun Al Rashid.

When they emerged from their aircraft
It was too hard to believe
That they had travelled through time and the universe
To the time of the Salaf Us Saliheen!

And lo and behold who stood there
With a book in his hands, peaceful, at ease
But no other than the almighty scholar,
Imam Ahmad of the Hanbalis!

“Welcome my friends from the future!”
And the Salafi was on his knees,
“I’m not worthy of this my master!
You are the true Salafi!”

“But this isn’t fair,” said the Sufi,
“What about Hasan Al Basri?”
“Oh, I loved to meet him,” said Imam Ahmad
“Let’s travel to him with speed.”

So they took Imam Ahmad with them
Further on back in some degrees,
Landing on the shores of the Tigris
Where they found, Hasan Al Basri.

“How wonderful!” said the Sufi.
“You are the Imam of the pure Sufis!”
Then the Sufi and Salafi starting bickering,
Who was the truest in their beliefs.

But Imam Ahmad and Hasan Al Basri
Of the travellers they took no heed,
Instead they looked at each other
In a state of eternal peace.

“I am Ahmad Ibn Hanbal”
“I am Hasan Al Basri”
“You are the greatest of the Salafis”
“You are the imam of the pure Sufis”.

“Let me learn from you my brother”
“No you’re greater in mastery!”
“I love you for the sake of Allah”
“You remind me of the saaliheen”.

Then in horror the travellers followed them
watching them speak so graciously
They loved each other like no other
This true Salafi and this true Sufi.

Suddenly, the travellers were excited
For the imams seemed to disagree
on a point of fiqh and aqueeda
it seemed they had different beliefs.

“Although we have our difference,”
“We’ll agree to disagree,”
“But I still love you for the sake of Allah!”
“May He unite us again by the Lote tree!”

The would-be Sufi grumbled,
Frowning sat the would-be Salafi,
For their amazing journey had ended
Rather disappointingly.

After they gave their salutations
To Imam Ahmad and Hasan Al Basri
They asked the machine to return,
Back to the 21st century.

When the machine reappeared with a rumble
the scientist jumped up with glee,
“did it work!?” he asked with wonder.
“yes, it did,” they both replied sadly.

And they went back to their houses,
shut their doors, this time rather quietly,
when they walked on to their different masaajid,
they avoided each other purposely.

From that day on something happened,
To the Salafi and Sufi,
Instead of bickering and fighting,
They offered salaams to each other rather meekly.

And they stopped labelling themselves with the titles
That they used before with such surety,
Because now they had learned the true meaning,
Of a true Salafi and a true Sufi.