Sufism: Its Essence & the Traits of its People: Book by Habib Umar

What is Sufism? This new treatise by Habib Umar ibn Hafiz and translated into English by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, covers the principles of Sufism and the characteristics of those who follow it.

What is Sufism?

This book seeks to clarify the meaning behind this often-misunderstood term. Sufism, or tasawwuf as it is known in the original Arabic, is the science of purifying the heart for the purpose of reaching Allah. This is done by acting with ihsan, or excellence, in every situation, and following the sunna of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace.

A true Sufi is someone who has reached the station of ayn al-yaqin, or the witnessing of certainty, which usually comes after many years of hard work. The people who try their best, but have not yet reached, are really quasi-Sufis, or mutasawif. As for the people who love them, but are not actively trying to progress spiritually, are attempting to resemble Sufis.

The Traits of Sufis

There are many people all over the world, who claim to be Sufis. Habib Umar outlines the ten traits that must be followed by anyone who claims to be a Sufi. These traits are universal to the various spiritual paths.

  1. Knowledge of the Qur’an and the Sunna: This forms the very foundation of the Sufism, and any actions that contradict the basics of Islam, are not from Sufism. This also means that the Sufis strive to follow the  sunna with utmost excellence. In fact, the isnad (chains of transmission) of all the major works of Qur’an, hadith, tafsir (Qur’anic exegesis), fiqh (jurisprudence) were passed down through the people of Sufism. Therefore, everyone today who is qualified to teach any of these sciences, has Sufis in their chain of transmission.
  2. Concern with perfecting the heart for the sake of Allah: Since Allah looks towards our heart, not our outward forms, Sufis prioritise working on their hearts to attain ihsan. Sufism is not about singing, clapping, or wearing specific clothing. Rather, it’s about removing everything besides Allah from the heart.
  3. Sincerity. Sufis should be extremely meticulous in analysing their actions, making sure that they are solely for the sake of Allah, and shy away from praise and recognition.
  4. Trueness: This entails doing everything possible to do a deed for the sake of Allah alone, with no pride or ostentation. This also means being humble enough to accept advice from everyone, and not to mind if others turn away.
  5. Humility of the heart: There are countless verses, hadith and stories which emphasise the centrality of humility. A Sufi does not raise themselves above others, or believe that they are better than anyone else, preferring instead to carry themselves with humility.
  6. Recognising the people of honor, and eliminating envy: By showing honor to people who posses it, they strive to give everyone their rights, and not have envy towards anyone.
  7. Remembering Allah abundantly: Sufis strive to make dhikr and remember Allah, with presence of heart, as much as possible.
  8. Conveying with excellence and eliminating discourteous argumentation: They strive for excellence by avoiding arguments unless absolutely necessary. If an issue arises, they clarify it in the best manner.
  9. Responding to evil with goodness, and having concern: A Sufi has utmost concern for others, and does their best to strive for their wellbeing. They forgive those who wrong them and respond to any evil they face with goodness.
  10. Love of Allah, preferring Him over all else: In their daily life, they consider Allah more important than everything, and strive to attain his love.

Sufism: Its Essence & the Traits of its People, is published by Dar al-Turath Islami. If you would like to learn more, consider enrolling in our On-Demand course The Path of Spiritual Excellence.

The Write Legacy: Interview with Dr Saadia Mian and Sr Ambareen Syed

Fatimah Gomez interviews two female Muslim authors, who were guest speakers at the recent Muslim Women’s Literary Conference. 

Dr. Saadia Mian

Fatimah: Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Saadia Mian, author of Crowning Venture, and a deeply inspiring person who also completed the memorisation of the Qur’an.

Dr. Saadia, you gave a beautiful uplifting talk about the journey of your book The Crowning Venture, and how this book has changed your life. I’d like to start off from the beginning— where did your writing journey essentially begin?

Dr. Saadia: Well to start with, I was writing on and off for the past five years, usually being inspired by the journeys that my medical career took me upon. I was always a reader, and this has enabled me to write even more.

Fatimah: From what you mentioned during your talk, writing The Crowning Venture was something very personal and involved you telling your reader many personal experiences that you went through along your journey in memorising the Qur’an. Can you tell us how you were so motivated write about these experiences, no matter how personal they were?

Dr. Saadia: Well you see, I realised that if I didn’t let people know and understand the beauty of the journey that comes with learning the Qur’an, nobody would ever know how journey is. I always ask myself, “Is this a message that will help others?” And with this mindset, we as writers have to be willing to write freely from our hearts and not be afraid of what others think of our writing or how they will respond.

Fatimah: And who would you say motivated you the most along your writing journey?

Dr. Saadia: Well, I had amazing editors that really pushed me to write what I wanted to convey to my readers without worrying about anything. They always supported me and encouraged me to write now and they would be able to edit everything later accordingly.

Fatimah: Many of us struggle with articulating the seriousness of our writing. How would you say is a good easy to show others how serious you are with your writing?

Dr. Saadia: I would say just keep on writing, push aside your fears and get your feelings out with your words. Eventually people will come to realise how passionate you are.

Fatimah: And what would be one piece of advice you’d like to leave us with?

Dr. Saadia: The best thing that I can tell you is to find people who are willing to support you and who you can lean on throughout your writing journey. This path of writing isn’t meant to be travelled alone.

Fatimah: Thank you Dr. Saadia, for giving us this amazing opportunity of benefiting from your experience and words.

Dr. Saadia: You’re very welcome.

You can find out more about The Crowning Venture here. 

Sr. Ambareen Syed

Fatimah: Here we also have with us Sister Ambareen Syed, author of the Henrietta Gee series and mother of six beautiful children.

Tell us, Sister Ambareen, where did you first discover your passion for writing?

Sr. Ambareen: Well, ever since I was young, I was always a big reader. I loved reading sci-fi books and when I started to hit my teen years, I started entering contests with my manuscripts and won them, which encouraged me forward along my writing journey.

Fatimah: And what inspired you to write the Henrietta Gee series?

Sr. Ambareen: It began with storytelling. I used to create stories of this girl named Henrietta and tell them to my kids. They always begged me for more stories and this encouraged me to write them down. Eventually, these stories grew into the Henrietta Gee series.

Fatimah: Amazing. It’s always beautiful seeing inspiration coming from your own children.

Sr. Ambareen. (Laughs.) Yes, definitely.

Fatimah: How would you advise Muslim writers of today to embed the spiritual perspective into their writing?

Sr. Ambareen: Firstly, we must understand that other people will always connect differently to our writing, compared to how we do. But it’s also important that we take advantage of this opportunity of literacy that has been presented to us and use this, striving to uplift our society with our works.

It also comes back to your intention. You have to think of your intention before you write, think about what kind of feelings you want to leave your readers with. What kind of lesson do you want them to think about and take to heart. This makes a difference in our manuscripts because it gives a meaning to our words, creating a message for our readers.

Fatimah: Very important. I know a lot of young writers out there today who are passionate about their work but don’t feel encouraged enough to stay motivated along the journey of literacy. What would you like to tell them to encourage them forward?

Sr. Ambareen: Keep writing. Just keep along at it, don’t even bother to edit your ideas. You want to let the creative process and ideas flow out first, and then later you can hard-core edit everything.

Fatimah: Well thank you so much Sister Ambareen. I’m so glad that you were able to share some of your time with us and hopefully, have motivated and inspired others with your words. Until next time.

Sr. Ambareen: Alhamdulillah, it was my pleasure.

You can find out more about the Henrietta Gee series here. 

Fatimah Gomez is 15 years old, and the second eldest  of five. She’s currently in high school and has had a passion for writing since age 9. Recently, she completed her first book for Muslim youth, which she intends to publish soon. She enjoys playing and watching soccer, training for taekwondo, jdm cars, discovering the beauty in art and poetry and connecting with Allah’s creation.

What is the Muslim Women’s Literary Conference?

On October 27th, 2018, Daybreak Press held its 4th Annual Muslim Women’s Literary Conference. Fatimah Gomez was an attendee and gives us an overview of the conference.

The Muslim Women’s Literary Conference, which took place in Toronto, Canada at a college chapel, was a golden opportunity. It was hosted by Daybreak Press, an independent publishing company that strives to empower and raise the voices of Muslim women from all over the world.

Daybreak Press lets women recognise their identities by taking a firm hold of their own narrative. The organisation is part of Rabata, a larger, academic-focused organisation that aims to provide an uplifting and spiritual experience of Islamic education for women.

There were many speakers from diverse backgrounds, who spoke about the importance of using words to convey a heartfelt message. Discussions explored the topic of serving others with the fruits of our lives and religion through our own words. As Shaykha Tamara Grey, the founder of Rabata said, we are very fortunate to have the ability to showcase the beautiful writing that Muslim women have to offer through a platform as large and easily accessible as Daybreak Press. As we have seen in our history, few literary works and manuscripts written by women have survived.

Ustadha Shehnaz Karim, who has studied under various scholars of Syria, spoke about writing through a spiritual lens, whether for ourselves or for others. This is a way of connecting with God and finding inspiration along our spiritual journey to Him. “The written word is something holy,” she said.

Because of that, how we convey our messages to others is very important, lets them know who we are. She said that writing can be a means of prayer, writing to Allah when we’re not ready to openly talk to Him. Instead, we can choose to freely express ourselves through written words, and this creates meaning and a beautiful and sincere connection with our Lord. When we reflect on what we have written, we are ultimately discovering who we are, through a mirror of our own words.

When it comes to self-identity within today’s societies, it’s very important as Muslims to see ourselves and our identities reflected in literature. This helps us initially recognise who we are, which later leads to a stronger image of who Muslims are.

Sister Ambareen Syed, a writer and mother of six, mentioned that beautiful virtues are universally recognised by readers. And when our audiences are ready to hear the virtues of our religion through written works, we must be ready to step forward and be willing to articulate the golden image of Islam. She explained that we can do so by replicating a prophetic model in our texts, through characters and ways of beliefs. With this in mind, we are striving to uplift and elevate our society by the power of our own words alone.

It is vital to make a sound intention before writing, because without it, the writing loses its purpose. If one has the ability and gift to touch their readers and communicate a message that remains true to their identity, then they must pick up the pen and write, taking this priceless opportunity to send their message to our readers. As Muslims, we are people of faith and we strive to close the gap of misunderstanding by realising the true identities of who we are and letting the world hear our articulations. We must write to provide a voice for ourselves and others, because if we don’t, nobody else will.

Fatimah Gomez is 15 years old, and the second eldest of five. She’s currently in high school and has had a passion for writing since age 9. Recently, she completed her first book for Muslim youth, which she intends to publish soon. She enjoys playing and watching soccer, training for taekwondo, jdm cars, discovering the beauty in art and poetry and connecting with Allah’s creation.

Can I Sell Books Containing Weak Hadiths and Pictures?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

Shall I stop printing and selling books in which the author has used some drawings of muslim scientists conducting some experiments in the past and also used a really weak Hadith?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

There is no problem publishing such a book.

Firstly, some of the content you take issue with has been deemed permitted according to certain scholars, such as the pictures that you describe. According to the Maliki school, for example, such pictures would not be deemed prohibited.

Secondly, no book is perfect save the Quran. This means that a book may sometimes incorporate something erroneous, a weak tradition here and there, and the like. In such situations, if the good clearly outweighs the harms arising from these errors, there would be no issue in publishing such a work.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas  graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman where he spent five years studying Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford and continues his traditional studies with scholars in the United Kingdom.

Is It Permissible to Use Books That Have Drawings of Angels?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

Is it permissible to use books for educational purposes that have drawings of angels? I’ve seen works by Muslims that includes illustrations where angels are depicted like humans with wings.

Answer: assalamu alaykum

The basis is that illustrations of animate objects, which include angels, is permitted when used for educational purposes as in the case with children’s books. Therefore, using such books would be permitted.

However, one should avoid illustrations that (a) clearly define the features of an animate being, such as a body with a face with eyes, ears, and a mouth and (b) may lead to incorrect conceptions of what these beings represent in our tradition.

In the case of angels, one should use images that are an outline of a body with wings without clearly defined features of the type you describe. However, if you do use the types of images described in your question, this would not be sinful as there are mainstream and acceptable scholarly opinions that would allow it, which can be adopted in educational contexts.

See: Is It Permissible to Buy and Sell Children’s Books With Illustrations?

The Maliki View on Pictures of Humans and Animals

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas  graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman where he spent five years studying Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford and continues his traditional studies with scholars in the United Kingdom.

Find Islam Difficult? Here Are Some Easy Good Deeds, by Mufti Taqi ‘Uthmani

A common misunderstanding which deters people from the Islamic faith is the idea that Islamic teachings are difficult to practise. There are in fact, countless easy opportunities each day when we can amass reward for the Hereafter, but which we miss due to lack of knowledge. Mufti Taqi ‘Uthmani’s book, Easy Good Deeds is an invaluable resource for those who want to know and do more.

The book details many good deeds that a person can easily practise without major effort. The Mufti Taqi has highlighted actions over a wide spectrum of areas, ranging from worship to social conduct, all of which entail minimum effort but reap abundant reward. This concise work will help readers appreciate the importance of many righteous actions, realise how easy it is to perform them, and ultimately imbue them with the spirit to practice Islam in its entirety. Translated by Shaykh Javed Iqbal. Our thanks to Turath Publishing for this video.

Mufti Taqi ‘Uthmani is one of the leading Islamic scholars living today. Author of more than 40 books, he is an expert in the fields of Islamic law, Economics and Hadith. For the past 35 years, he has been teaching at the Darul-Uloom in Karachi that was established by his father Mufti Muhammad Shafi, the late Grand Mufti of Pakistan. He also holds a degree in law and has sat as Judge at the Shari’ah Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is a consultant to several international Islamic financial institutions and has played a key part in the move toward interest free banking and the establishment of Islamic financial institutions. He is the deputy chairman of the Jeddah based Islamic Fiqh Council of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). Cover: Paperback Author: Mufti Taqi ‘Uthmani.

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Resources good deeds and good intentions for seekers

The Concept of Faith in Islam – by Habib Ali al-Jifri – Full book (English and Arabic) in PDF

The Concept of Faith in Islam – Habib Ali al-Jifri


Download the pdf of The Concept of Faith in Islam by Habib Ali al-Jifri: English // Arabic


Habib Ali al-Jifri states in the introduction:


We will consider the topic of the concept of faith by means of the following points:

1. Faith (iman) in its lexical and technical meanings.

2. The meaning of faith, and its articles.

3. The levels of surrender (islam), faith (iman) and excellence (ihsan).

4. The relationship between excellence and surrender and faith.

5. The increase and decrease of faith.

6. Aspects of the effect of faith on actions and vice versa.

7. An explanation of the six articles of faith.


Other titles published by Mabda, and available in PDF:

Download the pdf of The Concept of Faith in Islam by Habib Ali al-Jifri: English // Arabic