Another fundamental of the Sufi order’s structure is the certified shaikh, necessary to give the murid his wird. This can also be given by the shaikh’s deputy. But the shaikh himself is the supreme authority, the one from whom the khulafa' (officials of the order) derive their positions. When a murid takes an oath it is really to the shaikh, although most will do it through the medium of their local deputy.
In the shaikh’s hands ultimately lies the invocation of formal sanctions for the murid. The main two laws pertaining to such a right are:
- The murid must not argue with his shaikh nor ask him for any proof of what he orders the murid to do.
- Whoever opposes his shaikh has broken the 'ahd, and is cut off from the shaikh. Even if he stays bodily close to the shaikh, the door of meddad (assistance) is closed to him.(42)
The Sunni Muslims believe that any single act of worship must be substantiated by the Qur’an and Sunnah only. Allah the Exalted says:
“Say (to them), ‘Produce your proof if you are truthful.'”(2.111)
It has been reported that Ali bin Abi Taalib, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
“Were religion to be subject to opinion, then wiping the sole of a boot (in ablution) would be better than wiping its upper.” (43)
The sufi believe that the shaikh is needed, for he links them with Allah. They feel that the shaikh of the tareeqah is “the inspired man to whose eyes the mysteries of the hidden are unveiled, because, according to Sufis, they see with the light of God and know what thoughts and confusions are in man’s hearts. Nothing can be concealed from them.” (44)
The knowledge of the unseen and unknown, and whatever man’s breasts conceal, is restricted to Allah alone; anyone else who claims such knowledge is contending with Allah and assuming His attributes.
The shaikhs, the leaders of chiefs of the Sufi orders, are regarded by their members as superhuman or divine and paid more awe and reverence than was paid to the Prophet (PBH) by his companions. M. Gilsenan describes how Sufis show their feelings of reverence to their shaikh at a hadhreh (sufi worship session):
At the hadhreh, he (the shaikh) leaves the ranks of participants first, while they are still seated on the floor, wrapped in his father’s robe, the symbol of authority, he walks out through the gap in the outer line made for him by the nuqaba’ with one hand raised to his breast in humble acknowledgment of the cries that echo around him: "ya sidi Salamah, ya sidi Ibrahim! meddad! meddad!" (help! help!), while the brothers sitting in the centre brush the carpet where he has trodden with their hands wash their faces and bodies with barakeh(blessings). Not only does he not let anyone kiss his hand, but no one is even allowed to approach him to touch him as he leaves. In order to maintain the awe and reverence according to him, the shaikh has to reinforce the concept of barakeh by increasing institutional space between himself and his muridin (disciples). By witholding himself from them, he makes the so-called blessing more difficult to obtain, therefore more sought after. Scarcity brings value. When the muridin try to reach him, his official keep them away. All blame devolves on them, while the shaikh remains above reproach, and the mystery is preserved, and all loyalty is concentrated and focused on him as “the living dramatic symbol and embodiment of the order and the way.” (45)
Doubtlessly, to take a learned shaikh as an exemplary and a teacher is praiseworthy and to be encouraged. It is not possible for anyone to know Allah, nor the things that please Him and the things that displease Him, and know how to worship Him, without receiving relevant instructions from a knowledgeable shaikh. But the dangerous part of this institution is that it often deputizes an illiterate who lacks the proper Islamic knowledge to instruct others in religion. It is a fact that most order’s shaikhs, who are usually self-appointed, have little or no religious knowledge. The most important qualification for a Sufi shaikh, besides his social influence or status, is the lenght of service he has extended, to his superior, the shaikh of the order, who has himself inherited the title in a chain of succession which Sufis falsely claim to trace back to the Prophet’s company.
Some shaikhs are bold enough to allege that they have no need of this imaginary chain, because their order derives directly(!) from the Prophet (PBH) , not merely in vision but in reality. Shaikh Muhammad at-Tijari asserts in his book, Jawahir al-Ma'ani(p.97):
In respect of the chain of authority to which Muhammadiyyed Tijaniyyeh Order is traced, he informed me, “We have acquired our knowledge from a variety of shaikhs, but Allah did not ordain that we be limited to such. Verily, our authority and teaching mission in this order has been acquired from the Master of the Universe Muhammad; indeed, Allah has ordained that we acquire the knowledge and that we reach Him by His agency. Therefore, no shaikh other htan at-Tijani is is entitled to act according to His judgment in the disposal of our affairs. As for the merits of the followers of at-Tijani, the Master of the Univers (i.e. Muhammad s.a.w) has told him (at-Tijani) that anyone who loves him is loved by the Prophet (PBH) , and shall not die before he is an absolute waliy or a favourite of Allah.”
The thoughtful Muslim can see how gross these lies are that they forge against Allah the Exalted and His Messenger (PBH) , and against the believers, with no shame or fear.
Oddly enough, Abdul-Qadir Eisa, head of the Shadthiliyyeh Order in Syria, has related that Shaikh Muhammad al-Djaza’iri, from whom he inherited the order, named the chair of the order’s leaders back to the Prophet (PBH) , among whom are many Sufi imposters and Batini zealots (deviant clandestine sectarians). The chain is claimed jointly by four Sufi orders: Qadiriyyeh, Shadthiliyyeh, Darqawiyyeh, and Ulaiwiyyeh.
All the Muslim ummah agreed that the Prophet (PBH) did not conceal any knowledge from his ummah, nor did he distinguish any of his companions with any particular knowledge. He conveyed the Divine Message as Allah commanded him in the best manner, for which he deserves to be the best of all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah. Allah the Glorious says in the Holy Qur’an:
“And who is more disbelieving than he who forges a lie against Allah, or says, ‘It has been revealed to me,’ when nothing has been revealed to him?”(6.93)
The Prophet (PBH) has severely warned those who forge lies against him, saying:
“Do not forge lies against me, because he who does so enters the Fire.”(46)
And he also said:
“He who willfully or intentionally forges a lie against me, let him occupy his seat in the Fire.”(47)