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The True Scholar: A Person of Knowledge and Action by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

This podcast is a recording of a talk that Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gave in Johannesburg Habib Umar’s tour. He speaks about the definition of a true scholar.

Click here to access the podcast. 

In Johannesburg, Shaykh Faraz spoke about the characteristics of a true scholar, or, a true Sufi as, “A person of knowledge who acted upon their knowledge, so Allah granted them knowledge of what they didn’t know.”

The first step to this, is simply being a person of knowledge, or ilm. Each time has its particular challenge. In our times, we see many educated Muslims who still have questions and doubts. We need to remain connected to sacred knowledge, so that we can help others clear up their doubts and misconceptions. Complaining about people who are disrespectful or rude will not help. In fact, even knowledgeable people can start having doubts if they disconnect from the knowledge and their teachers. Therefore, we should always have a regular routine of learning, even if small.

The second step is aml, or action. We have a responsibility to embody our knowledge and take our deen seriously. The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, was known as The Honest and Trustworthy, even before he became a Prophet. We carry the trust of the religion, and we should ask ourselves whether we are fulfilling that trust.

The third aspect is haal, or our state with Allah. We should be engaged in correcting ourselves, and work on spiritual purification. A great scholar from Damascus, Shaykh Ali Zafar, used to give fiery sermons, saying, “O you who have turned away from your Lord! O you who have forgotten the command of your Lord!” The listeners used to cry and repent. One of his students went back to visit his hometown, and was asked to give a sermon. He did it in the same way as Shaykh Ali had, but before two minutes had passed, the congregants got angry and beat him. When he returned and told the story to his Shaykh Ali, he told him,” My son, when I address people, I am addressing people, I place myself in front of myself. I’m not putting anyone down, I’m talking to myself. And because I’m being true to Allah, people are being affected.”

May Allah allow us to be those who apply what they know, so Allah gives them knowledge of what they do not know.


Does Sufism Inherently Feed Into Perennialism? Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad

Perennialism – is the belief amongst some Muslims that all religious are valid paths to Allah a direct result of Sufism and the understanding of Islam as having multiple schools of thought?
Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad answers in under three and half minutes.

Shaykh-Abdul-Hakim-MuradShaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, also known as Timothy John Winter, is one of the most influential and highly regarded Muslim scholars in theworld today. He is Director of Studies (Theology and Religious Studies) at Wolfson College and the Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cambridge University, United Kingdom. He is Dean of the Cambridge Muslim College, which trains imams for British mosques. He has translated a number of books from the Arabic, including several sections of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya’ Ulum al-Din. He is a frequent international speaker and writer and also a regular contributor to the prestigious BBC Radio 4’s prestigious Thought for the Day.

Resources for seekers:

What is Sufism? (tasawwuf)

Answered by Shaykh Gibril Haddad

Al-Hamdu lillah was-Salat was-Salam
`ala Rasulillah wa Alihi wa Sahbihi wa man Walah

“Before asking what is Sufism, we should ask what is Religion.”
(Shaykh Nazim in an interview with the BBC, London 1991)

Shaykh al-`Arusi said in his marginalia
titled Nata’ij al-Afkar al-Qudsiyya (Bulaq, 1920/1873):

“Religion (al-dîn) is an orchard of which the fence is the Law (al-sharî`a), the inner grove is the Path (al-tarîqa), and the fruit is the Reality (al-haqîqa). Whoever has no Law has no Religion; whoever has no Path has no Law; and whoever has no Reality has no Path … ”

“The way of the Sufis consists in ten items:

(1) The reality of tasawwuf which is defined by truthful self-orientation (sidq al-tawajjuh) to Allah Most High.

(2) The pivot of truthful tawajjuh is to single out the heart and the body for [obedience of] Allah Alone.

(3) Tasawwuf in relation to Dîn is like the soul in relation to the body.

(4) The Sufi examines the factors of perfection and deficiency.

(5) The Jurist examines whatever discharges liability (mâ yusqitu al-haraj) while the scholar of juridical/doctrinal Principles (al-usûlî) examines whatever makes one’s faith valid and firmly established. Therefore the Sufi’s perspective is more specific than both of theirs, consequently their criticism of him is valid, while his criticism of either of them is invalid. Hence ‘the Sufi among Jurists is better than the Jurist among Sufis.’

(6) To display the nobility of tasawwuf, its evidence being both by demonstration and by textual precedent (burhânan wa nassan).

(7) Fiqh [jurisprudence] is the precondition for the validity of tasawwuf and that is why it has precedence over it.

(8) Terminology and its specific applicability to each discipline exclusively of others.

(9) The keys of spiritual opening concerning which there are four rulings: first principles; truthful aspiration towards attainment; longing for spiritual realities; and quitting the guideline of what is transmitted (al-manqûl) once one obtains self-realization (al-tahqîq).

(10) It is a wonderful and strange path built on the permanent following of what is better and best: in doctrines it consists in following the Salaf; in rulings, fiqh; in meritorious deeds (al-fada’il), the scholars of hadith; and in high manners (al-âdâb), all that is conducive to the wholeness of hearts.”

Some definitions of tasawwuf:

Tasawwuf: Purification of the self from all that is other than the remembrance and obedience of Allah; the realization of ihsân (excellence); zuhd (asceticism) combined with ma`rifa (knowledge of Allah); the attribute of the Sufi. “Ceasing objection” (al-Su`luki); “Abandoning the world and its people” (Ibn Sam`un). “Tasawwuf is neither knowledge nor deeds but an attribute with which the essence of the Sufi adorns itself, possessing knowledge and deeds, and consisting in the balance in which these two are weighed.” (Ibn Khafif)

Some definitions of the Sufi:

Sûfî, pl. Sûfiyya: One who follows the path of tasawwuf, “He who gazes at the Real in proportion to the state in which He maintains him” (Bundar). They wore wool (sûf): “I found the redress of my heart between Makka and Madina with a group of strangers ­ people of wool and cloaks” (ashâb sûf wa `abâ‘). Sufyan al-Thawri as cited from Khalaf ibn Tamim by al-Dhahabi, Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ (Dar al-Fikr ed. 7:203).

Hajj Gibril

GF Haddad ©
[2000-09-29]