Who are the Sufis?


Who are the Sufi?
Praise be to Allaah.
We must understand that the word al-soofiyyah (Sufism) refers to wearing woollen clothes [the Arabic word soof means “wool”] and nothing else.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
The word al-soofiyyah (Sufism) refers to wearing woollen clothes; this is the correct meaning. It was said that it comes from the word safwat al-fuqaha’ (the elite of the fuqaha’) or from Soofah ibn Add ibn Taanijah, an Arab tribe that was known for its asceticism, or from Ahl al-Suffah (poor Muslims in Madeenah at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) who used to stay in the mosque), or from al-Safa (the mountain in Makkah), or from the word al-safwah (meaning elite), or from the phrase al-saff al-muqaddam bayna yaday Allaah (the foremost rank before Allaah). All of these views are weak (da’eef); if any of them were true then the word would be saffi or safaa’i or safawi, not sufi.
Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 11/195
The word “Sufism” was not known at the time of the Messenger or the Sahaabah or the Taabi’een. It arose at the time when a group of ascetics who wore wool (“soof”) emerged, and this name was given to them. It was also said that the name was taken from the word “soofiya” (“sophia”) which means “wisdom” in Greek. The word is not derived from al-safa’ (“purity”) as some of them claim, because the adjective derived from safa’ is safaa’i, not soofi (sufi). The emergence of this new name and the group to whom it is applied exacerbated the divisions among Muslims.
Sufism (tasawwuf) did not appear until after the first three generations which the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) praised when he said, “The best of mankind is my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them…” (narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2652; Muslim, 2533; from the hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ood).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
With regard to the word soofiyyah (Sufism), it was not known during the first three generations, rather it became known after that.
Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 11/5
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The words al-faqr and al-tasawwuf (i.e., Sufism) may include some things that are loved by Allaah and His Messenger, and these are things that are enjoined even if they are called faqr or tasawwuf, because the Qur’aan and Sunnah indicate that they are mustahabb and that is not altered if they called by other names. That also includes actions of the heart such as repentance and patience. And it may include things that are hated by Allaah and His Messenger, such as some kinds of belief in incarnation and pantheism, or monasticism that has been innovated in Islam, or things that go against sharee’ah and have been innovated, and so on. These things are forbidden no matter what names they are given… And it may include limiting oneself to a certain style of clothing or certain customs, ways of speaking and behaving, in such a way that anyone who goes beyond it is regarded as an outsider, although this is not something that has been stipulated in the Qur’aan or Sunnah; rather it may be something that is permissible or it may be something that is makrooh, and this is a bid’ah that is forbidden. This is not the way of the friends of Allaah (awliya’ Allaah); such things are innovations and misguidance that exists among those who claim to follow the Sufi path. Similarly, among those who claim to be servants of knowledge there are innovations that involve beliefs and words that go against the Qur’aan and Sunnah, using phrases and terminology that have no basis in sharee’ah. Many such things happen among those people.
The wise believer agrees with all people in that in which they are in accordance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah and obey Allaah and His Messenger, but he does not agree with that in which they go against the Qur’aan and Sunnah and disobey Allaah and His Messenger. He accepts from every group that which was taught by the Messenger… when a person seeks the truth and justice, based on knowledge, he is one of the successful friends of Allaah and His victorious party…
Al-Fataawa, 11/280-290.
But what Shaykh al-Islam said about the view of Sufis depending on their situation is almost too theoretical for our times, when the objectionable matters that he referred to have become part of the path of those who call themselves Sufis nowadays, in addition to the different occasions they celebrate such as the Mawlid, and their exaggeration about their living shaykhs, and their attachment to shrines and graves, where they pray and circumambulate the graves and make vows to them, and other well-known practices of theirs. Because of these matters, the correct approach now is to warn against them with no reservations. This is what was agreed upon by the Standing Committee in their answer to a question about the ruling on the Sufi tareeqahs that exist nowadays. They said:
Usually those that are called Sufis nowadays follow bid’ahs (innovations) that constitute shirk, as well as other kinds of bid’ah, such as when some of them say “Madad ya sayyid (Help, O Master)”, and call upon the qutubs (“holy men”), and recite dhikr in unison using names by Allaah has not called Himself, like saying “Huw, Huw (He, He)” and “Ah, Ah (a contraction of the word ‘Allaah’)”. Whoever reads their books will be aware of many of their innovations that constitute shirk, and other evils.
The early Sufis differed from the later Sufis who spread bid’ah (innovation) to a greater extent and made shirk in both minor and major forms commonplace among the people, as well as the innovations against which the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned us when he said, “Beware of newly-invented things, for every newly-invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is a going-astray.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said it is saheeh hasan).
This tareeqah and its like are among the innovated ways that go against the Qur’aan and Sunnah and the way followed by the best generations. All the shaykhs of these tareeqahs have made up their own wirds (phrases to be uttered as dhikr), hizb (books of du’aa’ to be read daily by their followers) and ways of worship by which each of them may be distinguished from the others; this goes against sharee’ah and divides the ummah.
Allaah has blessed this ummah by perfecting its religion and completing His Favour upon it, so everyone who comes up with an act of worship or a way that was not brought by sharee’ah is effectively rejecting what Allaah has said and accusing the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) of betraying the trust.
Along with this innovation of theirs, they may also be lying by claiming that they received their tareeqah from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), or that they are following the path and guidance of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs (al-khulafa’ al-raashideen).
The scholars of the Standing Committee were asked:
Is there any such thing in Islam as the numerous tareeqahs like the Shaadhilyyah, Khalwatiyyah etc? If there is such a thing, what is the evidence for that? What is the meaning of the verses in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al‑Muttaqoon (the pious)”
[al-An’aam 6:153]
“And upon Allaah is the responsibility to explain the Straight Path. But there are ways that turn aside (such as Paganism, Judaism, Christianity). And had He willed, He would have guided you all (mankind)”
[al-Nahl 16:9]
What are the ways that separate people from the path of Allaah, and what is the way of Allaah? What is the meaning of the hadeeth narrated by Ibn Mas’ood, according to which the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) drew a line and said, “This is the path of guidance,” then he drew lines to its right and another to its left and said, “These are other paths and on each path there is a devil calling people to it”?
They answered:
There is no such thing in Islam as the tareeqahs that you mentioned, or anything else like them. What there is in Islam is what is indicated by the two verses and the hadeeth that you quoted, and what was indicated by the hadeeth in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Jews split into seventy-one sects, and the Christians split into seventy-two sects. My ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of which will be in Hell except one.” It was asked, “Who are they, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said, “Those who follow the same path as I and my companions are on today.” And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “A group among my ummah will continue to follow the truth and to be victorious, and they will not be harmed by those who forsake them or oppose them, until the command of Allaah comes to pass when they are like that.” The truth lies in following the Qur’aan and the saheeh, unambiguous Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). This is the path of Allaah, this is the Straight Path. This is the straight line mentioned in the hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ood, and this is what was followed by the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) (may Allaah be pleased with them and with their followers among the early generations (salaf) of this ummah, and with those who follow their path). All other tareeqahs or groups are the paths mentioned in the verse (interpretation of the meaning):
“… and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path…”
[al-An’aam 6:153]
Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 2/283, 284
The following is a comparison between the beliefs and rituals of Sufism and Islam which is based on the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
Sufism has numerous branches or tareeqahs, such as the Teejaniyyah, Qaadiriyyah, Naqshbandiyyah, Shaadhiliyyah, Rifaa’iyyah, etc., the followers of which all claim that their particular tareeqah is on the path of truth whilst the others are following falsehood. Islam forbids such sectarianism. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“… and be not of al-mushrikoon (the disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah, polytheists, idolaters, etc),
Of those who split up their religion (i.e., who left the true Islamic monotheism), and became sects, [i.e., they invented new things in the religion (bid’ah) and followed their vain desires], each sect rejoicing in that which is with it.” [al-Room 30:31-32]
The Sufis worship others than Allaah, such as Prophets and “awliya’” [“saints”], living or dead. They say, “Yaa Jeelaani”, “Yaa Rifaa’i” [calling on their awliya’], or “O Messenger of Allaah, help and save” or “O Messenger of Allaah, our dependence is on you”, etc.
But Allaah forbids us to call on anyone except Him in matters that are beyond the person’s capabilities. If a person does this, Allaah will count him as a mushrik, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And invoke not, besides Allaah, any that will neither profit you, nor hurt you, but if (in case) you did so, you shall certainly be one of the zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers).” [Yoonus 10:106]
The Sufis believe that there are abdaal, aqtaab and awliya’ (kinds of “saints”) to whom Allaah has given the power to run the affairs of the universe. Allaah tells us about the mushrikeen (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say [O Muhammad]: ‘…And who disposes the affairs?’ They will say. ‘Allaah.’…” [Yoonus 10:31]
The mushrik Arabs knew more about Allaah than these Sufis!
The Sufis turn to other than Allaah when calamity strikes, but Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And if Allaah touches you with harm, none can remove it but He, and if He touches you with good, then He is Able to do all things.” [al-An’aam 6:17]
Some Sufis believe in wahdat al-wujood (unity of existence). They do not have the idea of a Creator and His creation, instead they say that everything is creation and everything is god.
The Sufis advocate extreme asceticism in this life and do not believe in taking the necessary means or in jihaad, but Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“But seek with that (wealth) which Allaah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world…” [al-Qasas 28:77]
“And make ready against them all that you can of power…”   [al-Anfaal 8:60]
The Sufis refer the idea of ihsaan to their shaykhs and tell their followers to have a picture of their shaykh in mind when they remember Allaah and even when they are praying. Some of them even put a picture of their shaykh in front of them when they are praying. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Ihsaan is when you worship Allaah as if you can see Him, and although you cannot see Him, He can see you.” (Reported by Muslim).
The Sufis allow dancing, drums and musical instruments, and raising the voice when making dhikr, but Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“The believers are only those who, when Allaah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts…” [al-Anfaal 8:2]
Moreover, you see some of them making dhikr by only pronouncing the Name of Allaah, saying, “Allaah, Allaah, Allaah.” This is bid’ah and has no meaning in Islam. They even go to the extreme of saying, “Ah, ah” or “Hu, Hu.” The Sunnah is for the Muslim to remember his Lord in words that have a true meaning for which he will be rewarded, such as saying Subhaan Allaah wa Alhamdulillah wa Laa ilaaha illa Allaah wa Allaahu akbar, and so on.
The Sufis recite love poems mentioning the names of women and boys in their dhikr gatherings, and they repeat words such as “love”, “passion”, “desire” and so on, as if they are in a gathering where people dance and drink wine and clap and shout. All of this has to do with the customs and acts of worship of the mushrikeen. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Their salaah (prayer) at the House (of Allaah, i.e., the Ka’bah at Makkah) was nothing but whistling and clapping of hands…”
[al-Anfaal 8:35]
Some Sufis pierce themselves with rods of iron, saying, “O my grandfather!” So the shayaateen come to them and help them, because they are seeking the help of someone other than Allaah . Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whosoever turns away (blinds himself) from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent (Allaah), We appoint for him a shaytaan (devil) to be a qareen (intimate companion) for him.”
[al-Zukhruf 43:36]
The Sufis claim to have gnosis and knowledge of the unseen, but the Qur’aan shows them to be liars. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say: ‘None in the heavens and the earth knows the ghayb (unseen) except Allaah…’” [al-Naml 27:65]
The Sufis claim that Allaah created the world for the sake of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), but the Qur’aan shows them to be liars. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And I (Allaah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).” [al-Dhaariyaat 51:56]
Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted, addressed His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) with the words (interpretation of the meaning):
“And worship your Lord until there comes unto the certainty (i.e., death).” [al-Hijr 15:99]
The Sufis claim that they can see Allaah in this life, but the Qur’aan shows them to be liars. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“[Moosa said:] ‘O my Lord! Show me (Yourself), that I may look upon You.’ Allaah said, ‘You cannot see Me…’” [al-A’raaf 7:143]
The Sufis claim that they take knowledge directly from Allaah, without the mediation of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and in a conscious state (as opposed to dreams). So are they better than the Sahaabah??
The Sufis claim that they take knowledge directly from Allaah, without the mediation of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). They say, “Haddathani qalbi ‘an Rabbi (My heart told me from my Lord).”
The Sufis celebrate Mawlid and hold gatherings for sending blessings on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), but they go against his teachings by raising their voices in dhikr and anaasheed (religious songs) and qaseedahs (poems) that contain blatant shirk. Did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) celebrate his birthday? Did Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, the four imaams or anyone else celebrate his birthday? Who knows more and is more correct in worship, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the Salaf, or the Sufis?
The Sufis travel to visit graves and seek blessings from their occupants or to make tawaaf (ritual circumambulation) around them or to make sacrifices at these sites, all of which goes against the teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Do not travel to visit any place but three mosques: al-Masjid al-Haraam [in Makkah], this mosque of mine [in Madeenah] and al-Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem].” (Agreed upon).
The Sufis are blindly loyal to their shaykhs, even when what they go against the words of Allaah and His Messenger. But Allaah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Do not put (yourselves) forward before Allaah and His Messenger…” [al-Hujuraat 49:1]
The Sufis use talismans, letters and numbers for making decisions and for making amulets and charms and so on.
The Sufis do not restrict themselves to the specific blessings on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that were narrated from him. They invented new formulas that involve seeking his blessings and other kinds of blatant shirk which are unacceptable to the one on whom they are sending blessings.
Do the Sufi shaykhs have some kind of contact?
This is true, but their contact is with the shayaateen, not with Allaah, so they inspire one another with adorned speech as a delusion (or by way of deception), as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And so We have appointed for every Prophet enemies – shayaateen (devils) among mankind and jinns, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion (or by way of deception). If your Lord had so willed, they would not have done it…” [al-An’aam 6:112]
And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“… And, certainly, the shayaateen (devils) do inspire their friends (from mankind)…” [al-An’aam 6:121]
“Shall I inform you (O people!) upon whom the shayaateen (devils) descend?
They descend on every lying, sinful person.” [al-Shu’ara 221-222]
This is the contact that is real, not the contact that they falsely claim to have with Allaah. Exalted be Allaah far above that. (See Mu’jam al-Bida’, 346 –359).
When some of these Sufi shaykhs disappear suddenly from the sight of their followers, this is the result of their contact with the shayaateen, who may even carry them to a distant place and bring them back in the same day or night, to mislead their human followers.
So the important rule here is not to judge people by the extraordinary feats that they may do. We should judge them by how closely or otherwise they adhere to the Qur’aan and Sunnah. The true friends of Allaah (awliya’) are not necessarily known for performing astounding feats. On the contrary, they are the ones who worship Allaah in the manner that He has prescribed, and not by doing acts of bid’ah. The true awliya’ or friends of Allaah are those whom our Lord has described in the hadeeth qudsi narrated by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh (5/2384) from Abu Hurayrah, who said:
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah said, ‘Whoever shows enmity towards a friend (wali) of Mine, I declare war against him. My slave does not draw close to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties that I have enjoined on him, and My slave continues to draw close to Me with supererogatory (naafil) acts, so that I will love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.’”
And Allaah is the Source of Strength and the Guide to the Straight Path.
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