OUR FAILURE IS OUR LOSS 2

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Figure 1A: A leader receiving a pose of genuflection from a devotee.

PEDDLING PURITY

Rabī` al-Awwal/Rabī` al-Ākhir 1427

According to the feel good propaganda machine in the English speaking countries, Islam is on the march. It is the fastest growing religion in the United States, United Kingdom and just about everywhere else. Everyone is ready to be a Muslim.

Revival is abounding, growing day by day and reaching untold millions, convinced by a scientific miracle or by watching a debate series that Islam is the end all and be all.

Of course those that come into Islam are immediately exposed to the joy of born believers greeting them, if one should read the carefully crafted articles and newspaper ads penned by some Muslim apologists in the West. But the reality of the matter is much darker than what is being given. [1]

Rather than believe a media machine as well oiled as any other, should we not question these claims? Is Islam, dormant as a civilisation for one hundred years, really on the move or is the revival counted on merely counterfeit? Hopefully, if one should read the first instalment of Our Failure is Our Loss, they will understand that the internal and external forces against Orthodox believers and the Orthodox faith is great indeed.

But within this article we would like to bring attention to a more glaring reality amongst the Muslims, that being of the white washed spokesmen who are calling for the ‘revival of the Ummah.’ While no one can question the good nature of these preachers (as many of those saying this are Orthodox and not cultists), there are still a great many other queries that exist.

Those calling for the reinvigoration and revival of the Ummah are claiming to possess the means and have called the believers forward to rush, crowd by crowd, into the new Promised Land.

After theological and spiritual relativism, ecumenicalism that is taking place between Orthodox Muslims and cults (and sometimes false religions), the other pernicious tree is the rise of ‘confessional Islam,’ a movement riding on the heels of some of those claiming renewal for the Muslims.

Within the past fifteen to twenty five years, confessional Islam has been making major inroads into the English speaking countries where Muslims reside, having been diligently carried from the ravaged confines of the Muslim countries by its’ missionaries.

It comes with its’ own apparatus, technicians, guides, gurus and media savvy devotees. In many cases, Muslims are exposed to these spiritual masters during symposiums or study circles. Those in attendance are told by a ‘shaykh[2] to follow Islam, which it is the truth and one must implement the faith.

The area for concern that comes is when they are commanded to take the bai`ah (oath of allegiance) to the ‘shaykh,’ adhering to his words, that become the letter of the law. As the crowds fall over each other to move forward and grip the ‘shaykh’s’ hand, the meeting place takes on a static electricity reminiscent of a rock concert or cathedral.

Once the oath, usually based on the words of the ‘shaykh’ or his loyal devotees, concludes, they become the needy ones to the ‘shaykh’, the murīds. One can see the relationship begin to crystallise, the believer in him becoming more confident and strident in the words of the ‘shaykh.’

Often, he will not travel without the permission of the ‘shaykh’, conduct transactions without consulting him or take up acts of righteousness without asking for his opinion on their validity.

The follower or murīd is made to feel content by the company of the ‘shaykh,’ his desire their desire, his wish being their command. As he passes each stage of learning, having kept the company of the ‘shaykh,’ ‘murshid,’ ‘peer’ or wise man, he seeks that others should also join ‘the truth,’ so they too might be guided aright.

Now the murīd begins the search for new recruits. And this is precisely where the problems begin to spread. The recruiter seeks new members for the way of his master, perhaps he is even sent by recommendation.

Upon meeting a perspective new member, the barrage of questioning begins. [3] These questions tend to centre on the theme that the Muslims must be purified, they are in need of purification.

How could the Muslims possibly be purified without some sort of advisor to initiate the process? Someone who was skilled, illuminated, full with the light of Allah, could bring the necessary transformation about in the life of a believer.

Someone not aware of the questions posed to them may answer that they are doing fine, enjoying their life as a Muslim, learning and continuing to grow. But the recruiter would stress that this was not sufficient, that more was needed to be pure. At this point, the recruiter divulges the great secret, the words of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him,

Whoever dies and does not have a bai`a [4] on his neck, dies the death of Jāhiliyyah. [5]

It is with this, the interrogator explains, that someone will be purified on the Day of Resurrection. If anyone dies without this oath of allegiance, without pledging his bai`a to someone, he dies on other than Islam. [6]

Realising the grave matter laid out in the hadīth, anyone concerned for their Hereafter would want to avoid the calamity of dying on unbelief. At the earliest opportunity, the novice steps into the presence of the ‘shaykh’ and takes his oath of allegiance.

He has now joined the Tarīqah. [7] The believer now feels confident, pleased in his heart that he will not die on a faith other than Islam.

The protégé then will take the approval of his new master in almost every area of his life. What he is ordered to do, he commits without so much as an eye blink and feels no concern about repercussions.

Many of these leaders, although teaching new age religion, style themselves ‘Sūfī shaykhs,’ finding that many Muslims respond to titles that may match great luminaries of times past. At times, the new student will be put to tests, to check loyalty as well as development in the new environment.

This has included ritual periods of imposed fasting exceeding or at the level of 40 days,[8] imposed periods of seclusion[9] with sleep and nourishment deprivation, [10] taking and making use of whatever the teacher gives [11] and so on. If proven worthy, the student is allowed additional access to the ‘shaykh’, a revered rank and begins to enjoy status and authority among his peers. [12]

The writer has seen as an eye witness and has been reported to accounts in which students admit sins to the teacher, confess short comings in married life and also tell of internal workings and whisperings of their soul.

Indeed, no one has a right to fault sincere advice, but those being visited and gathered around are not being sought for advice, they are conducting a confessional. Rather than heading to Allah and asking for repentance, the follower pleads his case to the ‘shaykh’, being absolved by him of sin. The normal programme for absolving is the following,

a)      visualising the ‘shaykh’ when in seclusion or in public. [13]

b)     Asking permission to travel or seek any knowledge from the ‘shaykh[14]

c)      Seeking permission of the ‘shaykh’ to carry out praiseworthy or meritorious actions in the Revelation of Allah. [15]

d)     Giving the teacher’s ideas precedence over their own, although these may collide with right and wrong as the student knows it. But this is to be put in context that the ‘shaykh’ has more illuminated knowledge, thus the follower may be mistaken. [16]

Now that this programme is implemented, what has been replaced? The four points above usually replace or severely hamper the following,

a)      building a greater relationship with Allah[17]

b)     study of the faith in a systematic manner [18]

c)      learning the evidences of the revelation and acting upon them [19]

d)     preaching and testifying of the truth to wayward Muslims and also unbelievers. [20]

Doubt is often expressed by people who hear about human beings being taken advantage of in this way, especially when they are Muslims. It seems as if only gullible people would allow this, as if somehow their intelligence is lacking in an area where critical inquiry is needed.

This is not altogether fair, as there are more than just a few forces at work with regard to this issue. We attempted to address the fear of Divine Retribution due to the issue of bai`a, as well as the desire for acceptance and success. Group work and cohesion are also stressed, which help to mould the individual to norms without the organisation, although they are sinister.

But the final force at work has to do with personal responsibility. The structure of the group, although not always explicitly detailing the matter so, lends to a feeling that one bears no personal responsibility.

Those placing their trust in a personal ‘shaykh’ of the type mentioned may often times not feel the pressing desire to study and research about their faith. The points that he puts forward are halāl if he proclaims permissibility and harām if he proclaims impermissibility.

It is just that simple. [21] One rests assured regarding their faith, salvation, halāl, harām and spreading the word of Allah, as their personal guide has already taken this responsibility. One in this situation could be expected to do little more than what is presently taking place, which is nothing.

The stifling atmosphere, where few questions are asked and absolute obedience is rewarded with the students being crowned ‘shaykh’, only leads to the further spiritual atrophy of the follower. One can see this phenomenon now in the type of leadership that is produced and is currently being rapid fire replicated in English speaking countries where Muslims reside.

After 8-12 years of study, these new, fresh faced ‘shaykhs’, ‘Sīdīs’ and ‘Ustādhs’ also begin recruitment drives, taking under their wing unsuspecting victims to continue the same process of indoctrination and in effect putting to sleep another generation of what could have been dynamic preachers and grass roots believers working with the general people.

VIRTUE BY ASSOCIATION

Obviously, anyone that would challenge such an entrenched system, which is the same one prevailing in certain circles of the Muslim world, will find resistance. A common evidence quoted is where the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, stated,

‘The scholars are the inheritors of the prophets.’ [22]

If the scholars are the inheritors of the prophets, then they are obviously their successors and as such it would entitle them to a certain authority. That being the case, we should heed the words of the scholars, submitting to their authority, as the breadth and depth of their knowledge is far more steep than our own.

The scholars, they maintain, at times have a hidden knowledge of things that we fail to grasp. Thus, things that the ‘shaykh’ may say or do, although appearing to be kufr and shirk, are actually consonant with the Revelation. An example used for illustration is where the Prophet Mūsa, peace be upon him, met the great figure al-Khidr, peace be upon him. [23]

While taking a journey with the sage, the Prophet Mūsa, witnessed certain things that were reprehensible in his estimation and were condemnable. But when the time for them to part ways had come, al-Khidr, peace be upon him, explained the events and the divine plan behind them. [24]

Modern ‘shaykhs’ use this as evidence of the fact that the student does not always know the truth of a matter, so it is better not to speak up, even if seeming contradictions abound.

The teacher has access to knowledge that the student could never hope for, as his illuminated state is evident to all of his seekers. This way of logic and reasoning stifles any opposition that could be brought, those questioners or doubters merely being dubbed as ‘not very spiritual’ or ‘non-traditional.’ But questioning will still persist, which leads to the next line of defence, that of precedent.

At the presence of opposition to their orders or statements, sceptics will be told that this is the way of the Tarīqahs of old. Every Tarīqah has this method. From the outset, the beginning Tarīqahs, Qādirī, [25] Suhrawardī, [26] Chishtī [27] and Naqshabandī,[28] engaged in the same actions, thus negating them from these contemporary figures is to actually question history and Islamic scholarship at its’ highest level.

Enlightened ‘Sūfi Shaykhs’ will coo their detractors into submission, pronouncing the words, ‘Brother, there is a difference of opinion about this,’ or ‘This issue is not agreed upon,’ giving the innocuous appearance that the issue contains some shade of doubt, therefore, condemnation would be bigoted, sectarian and absolutely partisan.

There are now some defending the practice of samā`[29], use of stringed and wind instruments in worship for devotional purposes, stating that certain named scholars understood this to be the case.

If they in their knowledge, overflowing and mountainous in depth, accepted this, how could we then find condemnation? The oversimplification present simply has to be exposed. A scholar is not only revered for his scholarly demeanour, but first and foremost his evidence. If a scholar was of exalted character and would not pray, it would not be of any avail for him to quote his reasons why, as he is in direct contravention of divine writ. [30]

Those who hold fast to transplanting these same blameworthy practices into the countries where Muslims now reside also claim none other than Shaikh ul-Islam `Abdul Qādir al-Jīlānī, may Allah have mercy upon him, as a rallying cry to hide behind, using his name for all manner of things. Some of the most famous accretions attributed to him are,

a)      False banquets and gatherings, told to be in his honour and that he approved of silently or explicitly, with regard to Hereafter events as well such as punishment of the grave. [31]

b)     Gatherings of musical instruments being played during worship. [32]

c)      Use of his name to bolster some modern spear heads of Tasawwuf [33]

When examining their claim to Shaikh ul-Islam, one would have to examine his life and personal characteristics. Fortunately, his biography has not been lost in the vicissitudes of time, like in the case of religious figures such as Buddha, Zoroaster or Confucius.

The praise being to Allah, the Hanbalīs, his legal school, keep and have always kept copious records on their scholars. Those seeking to establish traditions from him regarding his personal and devotional life have plenty of sources from eye witness accounts. Eye witnesses include Imāms Muwaffaq ud-Dīn Ibn Qudāmah,[34] `Abdur-Rahmān ibn al-Jawzī [35] and other great Hanbalī figures.

Shaikh ul-Islam `Abdul Qādir al-Jīlānī, may Allah have mercy upon him, was once asked, ‘Has there ever been a walī of Allah upon other than the creed of Imām Ahmad ibn Hanbal?’ He replied, ‘Neither has that happened, nor will it happen.’ [36]

Many may not understand the significance of the question or the answer. The fact is, Shaikh ul-Islam al-Jīlānī, may Allah have mercy upon him, did not give ijāzah to non-Hanbalīs in a capacity to succeed him or in teaching Ihsān or other texts or sciences for that matter.

In fact, the very question, asked by a Hanbalī to him in a gathering of all Hanbalīs, indicates the absence of non-Hanbalīs in the gatherings. In addition to this point, his two most senior students, Imāms Muwaffaq ud-Dīn Ibn Qudāmah and `Abdur-Rahmān ibn al-Jawzī, never report from anyone else in the gatherings, be it music or otherwise. [37]

And as his Tarīqah was the first one that was fully operational in his lifetime and prepared, it would take the most precedence. The practices and methods of those scholars firmly grounded in the Sunnah, the Basran way of perfection that emanated from the household of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, have the most right to be followed and not later accretions attributed to them.

A RETURN TO RESPONSIBILITY

If one attempts to put all of this in context, a picture may emerge that shocks one into action. Confessional forms of Islam are nothing more than attempts (intentional or not) to divorce the believer from personal responsibility and the striving for knowledge, which was commanded when the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, stated,

‘Seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim.’ [38]

One seeking knowledge may take on a teacher or teachers as those with more expertise in an area may be needed to explain difficult issues. But  no ‘shaykh’, ‘Sīdī,’ ‘Ustādh,’ peer or murshid may efface a text or principle that has been laid down in the revelation. Neither of these figures has an opinion that could abrogate revelation. [39]

The individual believer is responsible for learning and implementing the foundational truths of the faith himself. No one will be saved from eternal judgement by their own works, sacrifices or someone else’s works, good or evil. As someone becomes aware of such knowledge, they will realise their own need to step forward and exercise vigilance in knowing the faith.

Fast food Islam simply will not be sufficient to give nourishment to a growing spiritual body. Going from strength to strength, from infanthood to maturity, the Muslim requires wholesome spiritual food that will edify and not undermine his or her state.

Everyone is tested in the scales of Revelation when discussing such matters. Allah has declared spiritual equality in opposing and accepting revelation,

Whoever contends with the Messenger after the truth has been made clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers, We will turn him over to that and roast him in the Fire. And what an evil return that is indeed. [40]

Thus for someone opposing the Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, or the believers (consensus), his or her personality, rank or status is irrelevant, as he or she is an opponent to revelation.

Bai`a indeed does have certain valid applications, but these things must be studied and understood carefully. There are examples in the Revelation of the oath of allegiance and they are governed by revelation. But when comparing to modern examples, there are at times gross discrepancies.

Followers sometimes pledge to kill, die for or submit themselves in total to the ‘shaykh’ even if it opposes their own understanding. [41] Other formulae may be more sensible but no less problematic, for where have these quatrains, couplets and lengthy stanzas of oaths originated from in the first three generations? And if they did not originate there, then in what way are we indebted to or in need of them?

Every believer has the right to question when things may seem unclear, as has been clarified by the Lord and enshrined in divine writ. Consider the case of the angels, who were concerned about the creation of human beings,

They said, ‘Will you place therein one who will do harm and shed blood in it while we are celebrating Your Praises and Glorifying You?’ He said, ‘I know what you do not know.’ [42]

The question posed by the angels was answered. Their questioning and receiving an answer shows the Divine Right to ask when something does not make sense or when certain circumstances require explanation.

Common Muslims have to start to hold leadership responsible for actions and statements made at symposiums and large gatherings. And especially when they are asked to surrender or cede authority, inquiry must be constant until definite evidence is produced.

Allah told us that in foundational matters, the Revelation is easy to understand and that we must strive to make sense of it. He proclaimed,

We have made the Qur’ān easy to remember. So who will take the time to remember and reflect? [43]

If it has been made easy to remember, then let us march forward with reflecting on and making the revelation paramount in our lives. Threats from so called ‘shaykhs,’ gurus and holy men should have no effect on the believer, as salvation is a gift from Allah, when He proclaimed,

And it will be proclaimed to them, ‘Enter the garden with what you used to do.’ [44]

He has also proclaimed,

Enter into My Presence, My Slaves. Enter My Paradise. [45]

It is the sole providence of Allah that one may be admitted into Paradise and saved from Eternal Judgement. Salvation and the forgiveness of sins is HIS SOLE DOMAIN,

You were on the very edge of going into the pit of the Fire and He gave you salvation from it. [46]

Allah said,

Whoever feared the Most Merciful in the unseen with a pure heart, it will be said, ‘Enter in peace. This is the Day of Eternity.’ There they have all that they desire and there is more with Us. [47]

Let no one have any fear of their teachers or leaders when forgiveness of sin, salvation and entrance into Paradise belongs to the Possessor of Majesty and Grandeur forever! And with Allah is every success.

Was-Salaam,

Abū Ja`far al-Hanbalī

 

 

 

 


[1] This is certainly not to say that no revival is happening at all or that people are not coming to a faith in the Lord. However, those that are selling this menu to kuffar are not being completely honest about their designs as well as some of the consequences of their actions in certain circumstances.

[2] This word carries two meanings. One is that of an old man, usually someone atleast forty years old. The second meaning, one who is learned in the faith and senior in knowledge amongst their peers, is the meaning most commonly intended and in vogue in our midst.

Those who abuse their office and are given this title (many apply it to themselves and often use it as one would use their first name) are yielded a form of authority over their flock that is more clandestine than the priest over his parish or the pastor over his congregation. A basic Muslim should be weary when people can wield absolute power without responsibility.

We have differentiated between two spellings of the word, those being ‘shaykh’ and ‘shaikh.’ The former refers to the counterfeit teachers and preachers selling confessional Islam while the latter denotes those preaching Orthodox faith from the past or now.

[3] The style of inquiry and interrogation used by recruiters seems suspiciously like those dialectics favoured by the cults. At times, the phrases, word usage and vocabulary are the same, designed to make the common Muslim feel that they are someone not measuring up or meeting the vigorous standard as propounded and demanded by the perspective of the organisation, which has put itself into place as correct Islam.

[4] This Arabic word carries the meaning of taking an oath of allegiance or obedience. This is generally done by clasping the hand (s) of someone and stating one’s obedience to them in a matter in so far as they do not disobey the revelation.

This was done in the times of prophets, kings and khalīfahs of the past. The oath doesn’t involve swearing by Allah or others than Allah, but is a pledge that one will adhere to what principles or orders they are given in so far as the one in authority is following the commands of revelation.

There are oaths of allegiance in matters such as military service in the Muslim army, obedience to a prophet, obedience to an appointed leader by the khalīfah and appointed scholars of the judiciary and so on.

The problem today is that some of those using this way are actually formulating their own words, taking their own devotees and commanding an almost Masonic form of power over anyone initiated. This has consequences in situations where these people might (and undoubtedly will when they over step their bounds) clash with revelation or the understanding of the first three generations.

[5] Collected by Imām Muslim in his Sahih collection under the Book of Imārah (Leadership), vol. 3, hadith #1476-77 as well as by Imām al-Bukhārī under the same chapter.

[6] What the recruiter fails to disclose (or may be ignorant of, as his ‘shaykh’ taught him) is that in the same chapter, for some five pages, the context of these āhādīth is fleshed out, referring to the bai`a given to the khalifah, who is in governance.

The scholars, from the first age to now, that have commented upon these texts, mention that the issue is connected with the state of the one who dies at a time of tribulation and does not have an Imām to discharge his rights for him. Please see Sahih Muslim bi-Sharh in-Nawawi, vol. 12, pp. 237-239 for further details.

[7] This is an Arabic word, signifying way, path or travelling method.

[8] When queried about this point, many advocates quote the story of the Prophet Mūsā, peace be upon him, as a precedent, but this only complicates matters. There are a number points with the Prophet Mūsā, peace be upon him, that need consideration.

1)       He was a prophet, so this was commanded of him.

2)       He was in the presence of Allah, who gave him food, drink and preserved him from need to relieve himself and so forth.

3)       The Last Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, only laid down for us the 30 day (or 29 in certain years) fast of Ramadan to be as purification and law for us. Outside of this, one would only fast thirty days if they were making up a mixed fast.

Even the great Imam Ibn an-Najjād, may Allah have mercy upon him, known for his righteousness, fasted every other day, the fast of the Prophet Dawud, peace and blessings be upon him.

4)       There is yet to be decisive evidence brought by a ‘shaykh’ that this is needed for a pupil or to be imposed. Until a definite evidence is brought for imposition, it must be rejected, for we have not been commanded in this regard.

5)       At times, these 40 day fasts, again attempting to follow the Prophet Mūsā, peace be upon him, have been done in a fashion where the adherent is taking almost no nourishment.

Cases have been reported of malnutrition, death and also other abnormalities. The question that should be answered is why they would subject someone to this when they have not been commanded in Revelation to do so in the first place.

[9] This at times includes novices being given a picture of their ‘shaykh’ and told to concentrate on it, staring at it frequently and waiting. During the ‘remembrance’ sessions, followers are told that in seclusion, they should try to visualise their ‘shaykh’ to imagine that he is always with him.

These practices, although the building blocks for auto-suggestion (hypnotism while one is awake but without them knowing it), they have yet to be born out by any text or the first three generations.

[10] This bears some resemblance to the aboriginal sweat lodge ceremonies carried out in the United States by such tribes as the Lummi, Muckleshoot and Klamath Falls. But an unequivocal text has yet to be given on enjoining this as a way of practice for followers. No text is produced by these figures that prove their pupils must endure these rigours.

[11] There was an eye witness account the writer came to know from a believer who left one of these groups in which adherents were actually passed a plate of human excrement and made to eat it.

It was later explained by the teacher that the follower had to annihilate himself in the ‘shaykh’, to actually become so trusting that no matter what could be given, the student could make use of it. After the person recovered in a hospital from shock as well as the poisoning of the excrement, he promptly left that group.

[12] Where do we find the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, giving his love to believers based upon these initiations and gruelling tribulations which sometimes result in personal injury to followers? If this was not the way of the greatest human being that ever lived, why should it be our way?

[13] There are some who put great hope in their teacher giving them salvation on the Day of Resurrection or even pre-empting the questioning in the grave due to their holiness. The folly that this leads to is unimaginable in terms of personal responsibility.

[14] Even such a mundane act as whether or not one may take their wife to one hospital rather than another is not left to the seemingly unilluminated follower, but entrusted to his teacher.

[15] Thus certain actions will be sunnah in one’s madhhab according to the mu`tamad of one’s madhhab, yet a teacher will tell the student not to do them, or that they are forbidden in his ‘lodge’ or gathering and that if one does them they will be expelled.

The choice would then be stark for someone following the Hanbalī School. Should they choose 400,000 scholars that passed down knowledge through more than twelve centuries or upgrade their knowledge due to a guru to whom someone has become attached?

[16] Members of the ‘lodge’ are often given blanket approval for impermissible actions and witness them in their teachers. Evils multiplied a thousand times include touching members of the opposite sex, the use of tobacco and other narcotics in religious ritual, dance accompanied with the use of string and wind instruments, alcohol used as a means of worship and many other disturbing trends.

When these are bought to their attention, the confused member or onlooker is told that these things cannot be understood by them as they are only following sharī`a, the outward laws, while not understanding haqīqah, the true reality of things. Thus their questioning would only be superfluous and hamper their reaching the desired goal.

The writer, upon witnessing an act such as this, once requested evidence for these displays of evil. The reply he received was, ‘Asking for evidence is actually the proof of your ignorance.’ The point was simple. Critical analysis of any kind was merely rejected, acceptance and trust taking precedence over inquiry and presentation of evidence from Revelation.

[17] It is here that the most dastardly of deeds comes into play. These same ‘Tarīqahs’ will sap all hope of individual success and intimacy with Allah from a believer by bellowing, ‘You know, you can never become pure by yourself. You must have a ‘shaykh’. You need a ‘shaykh’.

Without a murshid, you’re lost in life, you will never make it.’ These clever catch phrases and slogans are used to reduce strong willed, able bodied believers into spiritual sludge, easily and effortlessly malleable in the hands of someone with ill intentions.

[18] One can witness members in these organisations and ‘lodges’ that know not the word of salvation or the content of it. These same people, who are Muslims, are woefully ignorant of the Word of Allah and His Prophet.

In this state, someone can only become a slave when not having access to the unadulterated Words of Truth. We have been told to study the revelation and its’ command (Surat ul-Qamar, ayah 42), yet the ‘lodges’ see fit to leave their students as they are, lost in the ‘shaykh’, intoxicated in his presence.

[19] If one is busy with the teacher, how can they have time to work, enjoy life or live independent from his watchful gaze? At times, students are discouraged from marrying outside the group, fearing incompatibility.

[20] Perhaps in need of address is this terrible neglect. As one takes on the robe of the group or the manner of his ‘shaykh’, he actually becomes more alienated from the people, remote from the common society and even aloof from the work of faith.

Grassroots work in the urban war landscape of the United States, specifically the prison system (which the writer is well acquainted with) is suspiciously absent from the presence of these ‘lodges’ and their leaders. Both Muslim and kāfir are unaware of their impact, indeed perhaps even their existence.

What appearances that are made are at times staged and other times for soliciting need or sustenance from followers, who are further goaded for time and money. It is a sad indictment, but one which must be faced.

[21] What the writer is referring to is the actual foundations of faith, basic knowledge of what is permissible and impermissible and general points and relevant issues of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong.

The believer is made responsible for these in respective order where Allah has proclaimed in sūrahs Muhammad (47), ayah 19 (faith), Mā’idah (5), ayaat 1-5 (basic issues of permissible and impermissible) and Luqmān (31), ayah 17 (basics of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong).

So no one can put this in the hands of a leader or teacher and merely feel absolved of their personal obligations. However, if a teacher or leader is a scholar and able to pass judicial rulings, it would not be necessary to know in depth knowledge about the subject at hand.

But it should be understood that more often than not, those passing these rulings or giving orders are not muftis and tend not to give reference to any that garner rank. The problem becomes compounded when a leader becomes leader over souls in a movement and speaks on issues of foundational faith and non-essentials, both of which he is not within his depth to comment upon.

[22] Collected by Imām al-Bukhārī in his Jāmi` and classed by him as sahīh.

[23] This is mentioned by Allah in His Revelation in Surat ul-Kahf (18), ayaat 60-82

[24] And this is the primary difference between the reprehensible innovations carried out by some ‘shaykhs’ and that of al-Khidr, peace be upon him. Indeed, there is a similarity between the actions of al-Khidr and the ‘shaykhs’, both of which are seemingly wrong or evil in their outward form. But this is the only similarity.

There are a number of important discrepancies that disqualify these ‘shaykhs’ from using al-Khidr as an evidence for their erratic and oft-times depraved behaviour,

a)       al-Khidr, peace be upon him, was receiving news of the unseen from Allah, who was putting it in his heart. This is directly opposite to the false teacher, who claims this but in fact is either working by his own whims or lead astray by the adversary, Shaitan.

b)       The meeting between the two was ordained by Allah, not by the whims of a modern teacher, holy man or guru.

c)       When questioned by the Prophet Mūsa, peace be upon him, the figure in question gave responses bound in revelation, truths revealed to him. When these ‘shaykhs’ are questioned, they have excuses, verses, āhādīth out of context or the words of other figures like them who are outside of the first three generations and thus there is no consensus on their actions.

d)       The Prophet Mūsa, peace be upon him, asked for evidence, something that was given when the time came and their journey came to an end. When demanding evidence from the modern guru or holy man, the response is that these are illuminated individuals, therefore there must be some wisdom (the work ‘hikmah’ is oft-repeated and misused) that is driving him to do these things, a wisdom not embodied in any text, but in the heart of the ‘shaykh’ who is a ‘gnostic of Allah.’

[25] This is named after the legendary Shaikh ul-Islam `Abdul Qādir ibn Mūsā al-Jīlānī (470-560 AH/1077-1166 AD), one of the greatest Hanbalī scholars of his time and a strong preacher of salvation and purification. Although originally coming from Jīlān in today’s Iran, he came to Baghdad and studied with scholars of high calibre, showing promise for the future.

His Tarīqah began as a hostel for students, wives fleeing domestic abuse and a refuge from recovering alcoholics and criminals. These people in turn became scholars or were reformed to upright believers.

Some stayed at the hostel in the capacity of groundskeepers, cooks and the like. Of those that are claiming the Qādirī title so boastfully, where is the grassroots work that this way was founded upon? Indeed, much of the Tarīqah posturing has become little more than sloganeering.

[26] The shaikh of this Tariqah was originally Diyā ud-Dīn as-Suhrawardī (490-562 AH/1097-1168 AD), a scholar of great repute who was born and raised in Baghdad in Iraq. He taught at length on purification of the heart and return to the Revelation as a source of complete guidance.

Although the organiser and Imam of the Tarīqah, however his nephew Shaikh `Umar ibn Muhammad as-Suhrawardī (543-632 AH/1145-1234 AD), became more popular and is held by many to be the real organiser and codifier of the Tarīqah. This was later taken to India, where it spread there and to parts of South East Asia. The early scholars of the Suhrawardī laid great emphasis on transmission and memorisation of hadīth, in addition to fiqh.

[27] The Imam and teacher was Abū Ishāq ash-Shāmi (329 AH/940 AD), a high ranking scholar from Syria who was sent to Afghanistan to preach the faith. He settled in the town of Chesht (also Chisht) near Herat in modern day Afghanistan and taught people Islam in depth, from elementary to advanced level.

One of the vigorous supporters of this way came later a scholar named Shaikh Mu`īn ud-Dīn Chishti (547-634 AH/1141-1236 AD), bringing more Hanafī fiqh as well as an emphasis on personal devotion to India.

Shaikh Abū Ishāq and his students laid great emphasis on supplication, particularly memorising of all supplications related to sustenance and health, thus when calamity struck they could depend on Allah and Him Alone.

The Shaikh believed that someone having knowledge of these and all other supplications could be an effective preacher as well as cultivating and bettering their relationship with Allah.

Shaikh Abū Ishāq also stressed that students were not to allow themselves to mix their Islam with the animistic practices present around them. How sad it is that the dynamism originally underlying the Chishti scholars of India, Afghanistan and South Asia has declined.

[28] The Imām was Muhammad Bahā ud-Dīn Shāh Naqshaband (717-791 AH/1317-1388 AD), a Hanafi scholars born in Central Asia. This scholar and his early students laid heavy emphasis on proper recitation of the Qur’ān, commentary of the Qur’ān and discussion on the reasons for revelation.

They believed that someone who understood the Qur’ān in a holistic manner could make a dynamic impact on society at large. Some of have credited this knowledge and emphasis as the reason for the longevity of the last Islamic governing system, the Ottomans, who were overwhelmingly Naqshadandī in principle.

[29] The word linguistically means, ‘hearing, listening,’ but has also been taken to refer to many other things. In one context, this word refers to large gatherings of Remembrance of Allah, in which there are readings of Qur’ān, Sunnah texts, testimonies of faith taken from people desiring to embrace Islam and so forth.

In another context, the word refers to the use of wind and string instruments for worship and Remembrance of Allah, as well as dancing to the instrumentals, which sometimes takes place in certain circles. At times, narcotics or alcohol are also sought. It is this second type of samā` that the writer is referring to, so the reader should not be confused.

[30] This is the same thing that has happened with wind and string instruments. Scholars have used their rank as the measuring stick, shifting the ground from evidence and the first three generations, to their outward character.

[31] Consistent demands for them to produce the historical precedent for these actions leading back to Shaikh ul-Islam and his inner circle (including Imāms Muwaffaq ud-Dīn, `Abdur-Rahmān ibn al-Jawzī, Ibn al-`Imād and others) have never been met or satisfied.

Rather, only facile dismissals have been brought. Tradition has been given precedence over Revelation and even history. One would have to exercise caution, for could this not lead to the conditions mentioned in Sūrahs al-Mā’idah (5), ayaat 40-51, at-Tawbah (9), ayah 31 and others which give ominous warning about following traditions of scholars over matching with the truth.

[32] Those who would claim they may use wind and string instruments, Shaikh ul-Islam condemns them when he says,

‘They consider it lawful to play the drum, the mandolin and other musical instruments. They have no rules of lawfulness in their relations with women. They are unbelievers and it is permissible to shed their blood.’ (Kitābu Sirr il-Asrār wa Mazhar il-Anwār, pp. 114-115)

Shaikh ul-Islam says of clapping and dancing in circles of remembrance,

‘They claim that it is lawful to dance and clap hands. They claim for their shaikh a special status that puts him beyond the jurisdiction of the Sharī`a. This is an innovation, entirely incompatible with the practice of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him.’ (Kitābu Sirr il-Asrār wa Mazhar il-Anwār, pp. 114-115)

[33] One point to remember is that Shaikh ul-Islam mentions this in a chapter regarding Sufis. Previous to mentioning these blameworthy people who claim to be Sufis, he mentions the Orthodox Muslims who follow the way of truth when he says,

‘The People of Tasawwuf are divided into two categories, the second category containing some eleven subgroups.

‘The first group consists of the Orthodox Muslims, The members of this group possess words and deeds that agree with the Sharī`a and the way. They are Muslim Orthodoxy, some of whom will enter the Paradise without reckoning or trial.

Some will have an easy reckoning and trial after which they will exit from the Fire and enter the Paradise. They will not be condemned to the Fire for eternity which is different to the kāfir and the hypocrite.

‘The rest of these are people of innovation…’(Kitābu Sirr il-Asrār wa Mazhar il-Anwār, pp. 114-115)

[34] 541-620 AH/1146-1223 AD. One of the major resources for the Hanbali School and Shaikh ul-Islam for his time, this Imām was sometimes referred to as, ‘the Muftī of the Mortals.’ Although versed in the sciences of Sharī`a, he was also a very studious astronomer and mathematician.

He was also a soldier in the Islamic army and was a Sūfī of the Qādirī Order, having taken initiation directly from Imām `Abdul Qādir al-Jīlānī, may Allah have mercy upon him.

[35] 509-597 AH/1115-1202 AD. Shaikh ul-Islam of the Hanbalīs of his time, member of the Qādiri Tarīqah in Baghdad and one of the best students of Shaikh ul-Islam `Abdul Qādir al-Jīlānī, may Allah have mercy upon him. While in his youth, he memorised more than 100,000 āhādīth and the Qur’ān in his youth.

A direct descendant of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, and a best friend to Imām Muwaffaq ud-Dīn may Allah have mercy upon him, he brought over 10,000 people into Islam with his hands. He wrote over 300 books and was a senior theologian of high standing in the seminary that he founded.

[36] Al-Istiqāmah, vol. 1, pp. 85-86

 

[37] One then has to wonder, how have all of these non-Hanbalīs in creed and fiqh become involved with the Tarīqah when the first Qādirīs possessed no one from another madhhab? Claims made by some to the Qaadiri Tariqah seem even more fanciful when remembering that again, the Shaikh gave no unbroken ijāzah leading back to himself to anyone from another madhhab.

Those who have any transmission back to him have interrupted or connected transmissions. The writer has only been able to find two authentic links of transmission from non-Hanbalis (and these are interrupted or connected, not unbroken) back to Shaikh ul-Islam, one being a Mālikī source and one coming from one Hanafi source.

Besides this, evidence is lacking regarding thousands upon thousands claiming allegiance to a scholar who did not believe they could become a friend of Allah without leaving their present madhhab.

[38] Collected by Imāms al-Baihaqī and Ibn `Adī and classified as authentic.

[39] We have seen numerous examples within the past several decades of an almost Sanhedrin establishment of figures claiming themselves to be scholars. In Jordan, one figure proclaimed that in this day and age, polygamy would be impermissible, due to the emotional harm that results [a clear contravention to Surat un-Nisā’ (4) ayah 3] while another stated that the women veiling themselves completely is ‘bad da`awa’ (a contravention of the practice of the Prophet’s wives, may Allah be pleased with them) along with one claiming that ‘Father’ was one of the names of Allah that was abrogated later along with the Trinity (please see Surat ul-Mā’idah (5,), ayaat 72-75 regarding the consequences of such words). But their authority has often been left uncontested by those under their sway, which actually should elicit more concern than the statements which are clearly blasphemous.

[40] Surat un-Nisa (4), ayah 115

[41] There was an eyewitness account that the author was referred to in the United States in which followers of a certain ‘shaykh’ were actually told to make two units of prayer to their dead founder, intending him and praying specifically to him, attempting to visualise him.

The ex-member explained that he believed this to be clear idolatry, but at the time was so overwhelmed with the responsibility of not dying without an oath of allegiance on his neck, that he acquiesced to the command.  How many others submit their intellects in a matter that Allah has given no right? Has Allah not made the matter clear in His Proclamation in Surat ush-Shūrā (42), ayah 21?

[42] Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 30

[43] Surat ul-Qamar (54), ayaat 17, 22, 32 and 40.

[44] Surat ul-A`rāf (7), ayah 43

[45] Surat ul-Fajr (89), ayaat 29-30

[46] Surah Āli Imrān (3), ayah 103

[47] Surah Qāf (50), ayaat 33-35

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3 responses to “OUR FAILURE IS OUR LOSS 2

  1. Good blog, my brother, but what does the Imam al Ghazzali RA say about wind instruments? Why does he declare them permissible in his last work Keemiya e Saadat [and elsewhere tpoo I’m told] on the authority of the hadith of Ibn Umar in Sahih Muslim?

    One can argue that he was wrong in his conclusions, but may I respectfully put to you that this a matter disagreed upon, and some great scholars and saints have considerd audition of music permissible within certain strict conditions, as an AID to concentration etc,. not a substitute for Islamic worship. For this they have used the Qur’an & Hadith.

    Once again, let me stress they may have MISINTERPRETED the evidence, but let that be, that is their “wrong ijtehad” and their followers, ALLAH most High will decide wherein they differed on the day of judgment.

    These include some great luminaries including Hz Mevlana Rumi, Hz Mehr Ali Shah, Hz Banda Nawaz etc., Hz Ain ul Qudhaat etc etc

    We are not talking about New Age versions of Sufism, but proper Sema in Traditional circles.

    fi aman Allah,

    please don’t be offended.
    -A Chishti & Soharwardy brother.

    God bless.

    • as-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,

      Noble brother,

      Thank you for coming on the blog and posting. I will need to have exact references to the statements made as I have never heard or read them. If you could pass those over (no internet or e-mail quotes but the actual documents traceable to a manuscipt or book with an ISBN) I would appreciate it.

      The real stumbling block for people is when they insist on claiming lineage to a scholar that not just called it impermissible but stated that they would be unbelievers for doing so and it is permissible to shed their blood. I think once that is put in perspective, the severity of the claim being made by the person can be understood.

      Claims to Shaikh `Abdul Qadir al-Jilani that have no substance are many, so it is time to challenge them.

      was-Salaam,

      brother in Islam,

      al-Hajj

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