Praise be to Allah Who has chosen for us the religion of Islam, the only religion acceptable to Him, and Who has made us a just and equitable nation that we may bear witness to the fact that all the Messengers conveyed the Divine Messages to their peoples, and Who has made the Messenger Muhammad (PBH) our witness on the Day of Judgement.
Among the statutes that Allah has prescribed for us is enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong, saying:
“Let there be among you a group of people to call for good conduct, and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and those are properous ones.” (3.104).
In His infinite wisdom, Allah the Exalted allows one who is incapable of rectifiying wrong by His hand to do so by his tongue, or at least to abhore it in his heart. The inability to do so indicates lack of Iman (faith).
The punishment for not enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong is a grave one. The Prophet (PBH) said: which means,
“You must enjoin the good and forbid the wrong, or else Allah will soon send upon you His punishment; then you will supplicate Him and He will not respond to you.”
In another tradition, the Prophet said: which means,
“Or else, Allah will turn your might against your own selves.”(1)
It is in application of this ordinance, and in response to those concerned Muslims on the North American Continent and elsewhere, that I present this critique on Sufism. It would, In Sha’ Allah, prove useful to put in the hands of those Muslims who are unaware of the hidden dangers of Sufism, and who, due to their shallow knowledge of Islam, or for other reasons, are duped into believing that salvation is attained only by way of ascetic mystical doctrines, and that the relationship between man and Allah is maintained through a few self-appointed priests.
Deviation from the right path led some Muslim rulers at certain stages of history to believe the perfection of thought could be reached by mixing Greek philosophies with Islamic beliefs. They contaminated the purity and simplicity of Islam as a way of life. This opened the door to esoterism, elitism and mysticism, which later developed into a religion of its own.
The religion of Islam is based on the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (PBH) and the exemplary pattern of his life. Shaikul-Islam Ibn Taimiyyeh, may Allah grant him His mercy, said:
“Allah has sent His beloved Prophet (PBH) with guidance and the religion of truth; by so doing, He perfected His favours upon those who followed that guidance, the Muslims, and made manifest their rights and obligations.” (2)
It follows that no human being has the right to enjoin on people anything other than what Allah or His Messenger (PBH) has enjoined, nor to prohibit them anything which neither Allah, the Exalted nor His Messenger (PBH)has prohibited. He who does so would be contending with Allah by introducing a totally different religion, thus following the example of the People of the Book who have taken their priests and rabbis as gods besides Allah.
It is the way of innovators to introduce a bid’ah in the form of words or deed, impose it on those who fall under their influence, and force them by one method or another to uphold it. Thus did the Khawaridj (3), Rawafidh(4) and the other deviant sects.
The Sufis exploited the chaotic state of affairs during the fifth and sixth centuries A.H. and invited people to follow their way, alleging that the remedy to this chaos was conformity to the guidance of their order’s shaikhs. They invented their own orders and set their own criteria to distinguish loyalty from animosity, though these criteria were not sanctioned either by Qur’an or the Sunnah. Imam Malik b. Anas, may Allah grant him His mercy, emphasized;
“That which was not religion at the time of the Messenger and his companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, is never to be religion today.”
He went on to say;
“He who introduces a bid’ah in the religion of Islam and deems it a good thing, claims by so doing that Muhammad (PBH) betrayed the Message,”
(i.e. he did not convey it fully and perfectly as commanded by Allah), despite the fact that Allah revealed;
“This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you al-Islam as religion.” (5:3)
The Prophet (PBH) made a point of opening all the speeches with a warning against bid’ah (innovations) in matters of religion. His warning words signify:
“Verily, the best of speech is the Book of Allah, and the best of guidance that of Muhammad (PBH) and the evil of all religious matters is their own innovations. Every innovation is a bid’ah, and every bid’ahis a misguidance, and very misguidance is in the Fire.” (5)
Al-Sunnah is the second decisive source of Islamic jurisprudence. Discarding all or part of it is an act of KUFR (disbelief). In fact, adhering to the Qur’an and Sunnah, is a hedge against deviation as confirmed by the Prophet (PBH) who said:
“I have left you with two things after which you shall never go astray, as long as you adhere to them: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah. The two shall never part until they attend my hawd al-Kawther.”(6)
(i.e. until the Day of Judgment).Adhering to anything other than the two aforementioned Divine sources is deviation itself. We are commanded by Allah to hold only to that which the Messenger (PBH) has commanded and taught, and to refrain from that which he had forbidden.(7). Qur’anic texts and Prophetic traditions signify:
- Turning away from the Book and the Sunnah is the practice of disbelievers and hypocrites.(8)
- It is incumbent on Muslims to refer their disputes and controversial issues to the two Divine sources.(9)
- Refraining from them leads to failure and the loss of authority and power.(10)
- The Messenger (PBH) is our model of the best way of life. (11)
Considering the above terms of refrence, we are able to scrutinize Sufism and Sufi orders and evaluate them from the perspective of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (PBH) .
The Muslim Ummah (nation) has experienced numerous physical catastrophes, but has always managed to survive each one, stand upright again and continue its mission with determination and perseverence, regardless of how great a toll they took. Spiritual catastrophes, however, leave perpetual scars to mar the beauty of Islam.