Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and Sufism (Part Three)

­­Translated by Ismaeel Nakhuda

(Translator’s foreword: Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s erudition in Sufism is as clear as the sun. While an expert in many types of Islamic knowledge, his solid understanding of Tasawwuf is often overlooked, as a result of which his personality is projected as dry and solely concerned with the transmitted sciences. A close reading of his writings, however, show an individual who was literally on spiritual fire, engulfed in the love of Allah and fully aware of the intricacies of suluk.

Below is the third part of the sixth chapter of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz’s Mawqif A’immat al-Harakat al-Salafiyyah min al-Tasawwuf wa al-Sufiyyah. In the first part of this chapter, texts were produced detailing Shakh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s position in relation to Tasawwuf according to both his contemporaries and researchers from today. The second part contains a series of excerpts from the writings of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah that not only demonstrate the positive manner by which the shaykh regarded Sufism and the Sufis but that he was an expert in this important field. The third part is a continuation of the second. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz writes:)

10] Majmu‘ Fatawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (compiled and codified by ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Qasim al-‘Asimi al-Najdi al-Hanbali with the help of his son, Muhammad). First edition: 1381 AH, Matba‘ah al-Riyadh. Vol. 10, p. 5:

In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. All praise is for Allah alone, and peace and blessing on he after whom there is no prophet. All praise is for Allah, we seek His aid, we seek His forgiveness, and we seek refuge in Allah from the evil of our selves and the wickedness of our actions. He who Allah guides then there is none who can mislead him, and he who He misleads then there is none who can guide him. We testify that there is no deity save Allah alone, He has no partners, and we testify that Muhammad is His slave and His messenger, may Allah bless him and his followers and grant peace.

Proceeding thereafter: these are a few sentences regarding the actions of hearts which are called Stations (maqam) and Spiritual States (hal), and they are from the conditions of faith and the principles of the religion such as love of Allah and His messenger, relying on Allah, sincerity in religion, thanking Him, bearing patience on His judgment, fearing Him, and entertaining hope in Him and that which follows that.

Some of those from the people of faith whose right Allah has made incumbent necessitated that and asked for it to be written. All of us were hasty [in having it written]. Hence, I say that all of these actions are necessary on the entire creation—those who are fundamentally commanded—through the agreement of the imams of religion.

People, in relation to them, are of three levels as they are of three levels in relation to the actions of the body: a tyrant on himself (zalim li nafsih), moderate (muqtasid) and the one who hastens in good actions (sabiq bi al-khayrat). The zalim is the one who is disobedient by abandoning that which has been commanded or doing that which has been warned against; the muqtasid is he who fulfils the incumbent actions and leaves that which is forbidden; and the sabiq is he who draws close through those actions which he is able to perform such as the incumbent and recommended actions and by abandoning that which is forbidden and disliked. This is the situation even if the muqtasid and the sabiq may at times have sins which are erased through repentance—“Surely Allah loves those who are most repenting, and loves those who keep themselves pure” (2:222)—or through actions that erase sins or difficulties that annul sins or something else.

Both of the two types—the muqtasid and the sabiq—are from the friends of Allah who He has mentioned in His Book: “Listen, the friends of Allah shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve—those who have believed and have been fearful of Allah” (10:62-63). The boundary of the friends (walis) of Allah is those believers who are fearful of Allah (muttaqi). However, that is divided into types: the general [walis] and they are those who are muqtasid and the special [walis] and they are the sabiq. The sabiq are of greater rank such as the prophets and the siddiqs.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has mentioned both types in a hadith which al-Bukhari has narrated in his sahih from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) that he said, “Allah said, ‘Whoever has enmity for a wali of Mine, then he has announced war with Me. My slave does not draw close to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the duties I have obligated upon him. My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory deeds until I love him. When I Love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees and his hand with which he touches and his leg with which he walks. With Me he hears, with Me he sees, with Me he touches and with Me he walks. If he were to ask Me then I will definitely give him and if he were to seek My refuge then I will surely give him refuge. I do not hesitate to do something I am going to do such as My hesitation from taking the life of My believing slave; he dislikes death and I dislike hurting him yet that is necessary for him.’”

As to the zalim from the people of faith, then he has that level of wilayah (closeness to Allah) that is commensurate to his faith and his fearing of Allah (taqwa); this is just like the way he is to the contrary of that according to his level of unrighteousness. This is because at times righteousness that elicits reward and unrighteousness that elicits punishment can gather in a single person to an extent that it is possible he is rewarded and punished. This is the saying of all of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the imams of Islam and the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama‘ah who say that surely he who has in his heart a minute particle of faith shall not remain in the fire forever…

These esoteric actions, such as love for Allah, being sincere to Him, relying on Him (tawakkul), being pleased with Him etc. are all commanded in respect to the elite and common folk, abandoning them is not praiseworthy in respect to anyone, even if his standing were to increase…

However, people are divided in relation to these Stations into the elite and the common people—the elite have a special station and the common people have a common station. Its example is that the common people say that surely tawakkul is struggling with one’s nafs in search of sustenance, whereas the elite do not defend the nafs [in search of sustenance]. They say that the one doing tawakkul seeks by way of it many things, whereas the knower of Allah (‘arif) sees these matters from their peripherals and does not seek anything. Hence, it is said that the first [category] is wider than the tawakkul carried out in relation to the interests of the world, for the person doing tawakkul relies on Allah in rectifying his heart and faith, and safeguarding his tongue and intentions, and these are the most important matters for him. It is because of this that he intimately converses with his Lord in every prayer by His saying, “It is only You that we worship and it is only You from Who we seek help,” (1:5) and, “So worship Him and have trust in Him,” (11:123) and His saying, “In Him alone I have placed my trust and to Him alone I turn in humbleness,” (11:88 and 42:10) and His saying, “Say, He is my Lord, there is no deity save He; in Him do I place my trust and to Him is my return.” (13:30)

Worship and trust in Allah have been mentioned together in various places because they comprise the faith in its entirety and it is because of this that some from the predecessors said: Surely Allah has gathered all of the revealed books in the Qur’an and has gathered the knowledge of the Qur’an in the al-Mufassal[1] and he has gathered the knowledge of the al-Mufassal in al-Fatihah and he has gathered the knowledge of al-Fatihah in His saying, “It is only You that we worship and it is only You from Who we seek help.” (1:5)

11] Majmu‘ Fatawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah. Vol. 10, p. 82:

Those shaykhs who wrote regarding the Sunnah mention in their beliefs remaining aloof from those who often claim love and indulge in that without fear; this is because in there is corruption in which a group of the Sufis (mutasawwifah) fell into. The corruption in beliefs and actions that they fell into necessitated a group totally rejecting the basis of the way of the Sufis until those who are in error became two: a group that affirmed what is correct and false in it, and a group that rejected what is correct and false in it similar to the groups of people of kalam and fiqh.[2] What is only correct is affirming in it and in other matters that which agrees with the Book and the Sunnah and rejecting that which is in it and in other matters aside from it that which is contrary to the Book and the Sunnah.

12] Majmu‘ Fatawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah. Vol. 10, p. 337:

The annihilation (fana) found in the speech of the Sufis is explained in three ways. The first is annihilation in the heart from intending anything aside from the Lord, and to have trust in Him (tawakkul), worship Him and perform that which comes with that. This is the correct truth, pure monotheism and sincerity. This in reality is the worship of the heart and its placing trust in, seeking aid in, devoting to, returning to and turning to Allah Who is One and has no partner and that which comes with that, namely knowledge of Allah (ma‘rifah) and spiritual states (hal). It is not for anyone to depart from this.

This is the sound heart regarding which Allah has said, “Save he who comes with a sound heart.” (26:89) This is the heart that is safe from corrupt beliefs, corrupt intentions and that which comes with that.

This annihilation is not contradictory to abiding in Allah (baqa), rather it and baqa gather together and so the slave is annihilated from intending anything apart from Him even though he is aware of Allah and that aside from Him. Its explanation is the saying of La ilaha illallah. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to say, “There is no deity save Allah, we do not worship except him, for Him is bounty, excellence and praiseworthiness.” That, in sum, is religion from beginning to end.

The second is the annihilation of the heart from seeing anything aside from the Lord. The first was annihilation from intending [towards anything apart from Allah] and this is annihilation from witnessing. The first was annihilation from worshiping something aside from Him and having trust in Him, and this is annihilation of knowledge of anything aside from Him and to look [only] at Him. In this annihilation there is a deficiency since witnessing realities as they are, which is witnessing the Lord Who is managing the affairs of His slave and commanding His Sacred Law, is more perfect than witnessing His existence, or a quality from His many qualities, or a name from His many names; annihilation through this [second type] would be annihilation from witnessing all aside from that.

It is because of this that the Companions were the most complete in witnessing, not that witnessing the Truth (Allah) in a holistic (mujmal) fashion would leave them short of seeing Him in a detailed (mufassal) fashion. However, much of this occurred to many of those of the latter times of this Ummah in the way death, unconsciousness, screaming and convulsion occurred to them. That is because of a heart that is weak in witnessing the realities as they are, witnessing dispersion in unity (jam‘) and multitude in one until they differed in the possibility of that. Many of them are of the view that anything aside from that is not possible because they are of the view that when the creation or a matter is mentioned then they have become preoccupied from the Creator and Commander. When an example of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his Caliphs is presented they claim this was specific [to them], refuse to answer or express surprise at the issue.

The reason for this is that he has estimated all of the creation according to that on which he found himself and it is because of this that some of them said: Indeed, when the Truth (Allah) manifests it is not possible to hear His speech…

It is in this form of annihilation that he at times says: “I am the truth (ana al-haqq),” “glory to me (subhani),” or “there is none in this jubbah save Allah.” This is because he is annihilated by that which he has seen from witnessing Him, by that which he has found from finding Him, by that which is mentioned from His mention, and by that which he has recognised from recognising Him (ma‘rifah). This is like the man who was drowned in the love of another. The beloved fell into the sea and so the other threw himself behind him. So the first said, “What made you throw yourself behind me?” He responded, “You became absent with yourself from me and I then thought that you were me.”

In stations like this, intoxication (sukur) happens which cancels the faculty of discernment (tamyiz) with the existence of the sweetness of faith as is obtained through the intoxication of wine and the intoxication experienced by the lover of images. Likewise, annihilation is acquired through the condition of fear or hope in the way it is acquired through the condition of love, and so the heart becomes absent from witnessing some realities. Speech or action similar to the actions of those intoxicated appear from him, this is the ecstatic utterances (shatahat) of some of the shaykhs such as the saying of some of them, “Set my tent up over Jahannam,” and other similar words and actions that are contrary to the Shari‘ah. At times, the person uttering them is not sinful.

13] Majmu‘ Fatawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah. Vol. 11, p. 510:

As to the wearing of the cloak (khirqah) which some of the shaykhs clothe the murids, then this is not something which has a basis on which there is reliable proof from the Book and the Sunnah, nor did the early shaykhs and majority of the later ones clothe their murids. However, a group of the latter ones saw that and considered it preferable.

Some of them have derived proof that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) clothed the mother of Khalid bin Sa‘id bin al-‘As and told her, sana. Sana in the language of Abyssinia means good. She had been born in Abyssinia and that is why he addressed her in this tongue.

They have also derived proof from the hadith of the cloak (burda) which a woman weaved for the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and one of the Companions asked him regarding it and he granted it to him. He responded, “I wanted it to be my shroud.”

In these two hadiths there is no proof for that which they do; for a man to grant another that which he wears is like granting him that which benefits him. His taking clothes from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is by way of barakah like taking his hair by way of barakah, and that is not like the wearing of clothes or a hat by way of following and emulation. However, it is similar in some ways with the kings taking off garments and bestowing them on those who they appoint as governors as if it is a hallmark and sign of governorship and nobility.

Because of this, they call it a bestowing of honours. The goal of this and its like is from the genre of that which is permissible. If a pious intention is adjoined to it then it is good from that perspective. As to making it a Sunnah and a way to Allah Most High, then the matter is not as such.

As to a group being attributed to a particular shaykh, then there is no doubt that people are in need of he from whom they can obtain faith and the Qur’an in the way that the Companions obtained that from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the Followers who obtained from them. By this, following the way of the first to accept Islam in goodness (al-sabiq al-awwal) is achieved. In the way man has he who teaches him the Quran and its like, likewise he has that person who teaches him the esoteric and exoteric religion.

14] Majmu‘ Fatawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah. Vol. 11, p. 497:

Chapter: As to what they mention regarding their excessiveness in relation to the shaykhs, it is necessary to know that the pious shaykhs that they follow in the religion follow the way of the Prophets and Messengers like the first to accept Islam from the Muhajirs and Ansar and those who followed them in goodness and those who in the Ummah have a truthful tongue.

The way of these people is to call the creation to Allah, His obedience, the obedience of His Prophet, following His Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

The purpose is that the religion in its entirety is for Allah and the word of Allah remains lofty for indeed Allah Most High says, “I did not create the jinns and the human beings except for the purpose that they should worship Me. I do not want any sustenance from them, nor do I want them to feed Me. Surely, Allah is the All-Sustainer, Possessor of power, the Strong.” (51:56-58)

“And when My slaves call unto Me, then I am close, I answer the call of the caller when he calls Me.” (2:186) It is narrated from some of the Companions who said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, is our Lord close so we may whisper to Him or far so we call out to Him?” Allah Most High then revealed this verse.

He Most High is All Hearing, Close, the Answerer and Most Compassionate. He is more compassionate with His slaves than a mother with her child. He knows the condition of slaves that others do not know and is able to fulfil their needs that others are unable to do. He has such mercy for them that others cannot have that much mercy.

The shaykhs who lead them, guide to Him and instruct towards Him in the way imams do so in Salah; they pray and people pray behind them like the guide who brings the pilgrims to the House. The guide and the shaykhs all head towards Him; they have no divinity, rather whoever creates for them any of that, then he is from the genre of the Christians and those who ascribe partners.

15] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah published by Imam Muhammad bin Sa‘ud Islamic University (at its own cost) in 1403 AH. Part 1, page 81:

Chapter: In that which Shaykh Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri has mentioned in his famous book regarding the ‘aqidah of the Sufi shaykhs, he has mentioned their various anecdotes with which it is proved that they were in agreement with the beliefs of many of the Ash‘ari scholars of beliefs (kalam). That was the belief of Abu al-Qasim who acquired that from Abu Bakr bin Furak and Abu Ishaq al-Asfarayini. The majority of this belief was in agreement with the principles of the Salaf and the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama‘ah. However, it was deficient in that and included the abandoning of some of that on which they were and an increase in opposing that on which they were.

What is established and correct from the senior shaykhs is in agreement to that on which the Salaf were, and this is that which it is necessary to mention. For indeed what is correct, explicit and preserved from the senior shaykhs, such as Fudayl bin ‘Ayad, Abu Sulayman al-Darani, Yusuf bin Asbat, Hudhayfah al-Mar‘ashi, Ma‘ruf al-Karkhi until Junayd bin Muhammad, Sahl bin ‘Abdullah al-Tustari and their like clarifies the reality of the writings of the shaykhs.

Several have gathered the writings of the shaykhs verbatim or as they understood them. Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Ishaq al-Kalabadhi wrote the book Al-Ta‘arruf li Madhahib al-Tasawwuf which is the most excellent of that which Abu al-Qasim has mentioned, the most correct and closest to the madhhab of the predecessors of the Ummah, its imams and its senior shaykhs. Likewise, Mu‘ammar bin Ziyad al-Asfahani, the shaykh of the Sufis, and Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman Muhammad bin al-Husayn al-Sulami compiled the speech of the Sufis. They were in that of a lofty level and far from innovation (bid‘ah) and desires (hawa) than Abu al-Qasim.

Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman—even though he was lesser of the two men—would object to the way of the al-Kullabiyyah and would consider them to be innovators. That was the way that Abu al-Qasim supported. He (Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman) has a book criticising kalam and opposing that which Abu al-Qasim supported. Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman was the greatest of those from who Abu al-Qasim took the speech of the shaykhs and he relies on him in the majority of that which he narrates for indeed he has several books.

Likewise, it is not known regarding the majority of the shaykhs who Abu al-Qasim mentions in his Risalah [al-Qushayri] that any of their shaykhs supported the way of the al-Kullabiyyah and the al-‘Asharis which Abu al-Qasim supported, rather the contrary is narrated regarding them. Whoever has been explicit from among them, then he has been explicit in their opposition, this is also the case with the shaykhs of his era who he names: “As to the shaykhs who were our contemporaries and who we met—even though we did not have the opportunity to meet them—such as the ustadh, the martyr, he who was most eloquent and unique of his era Abu ‘Ali al-Daqqaq, the shaykh of his era Shaykh Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman al-Sulama, Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali bin Jahdam who dwelled in the Haram (mujawir al-haram), Shaykh Abu al-‘Abbas al-Qassab in Tabrastan, Ahmad al-Aswad al-Daynwari, Abu al-Qasim al-Sayrafi in Nisapur, Abu Sahl al-Khashshab who was a great man there, Mansur bin Khalf al-Maghrabi, Abu Sa‘id al-Malini, Abu Tahir al-Jahdari—may Allah sanctify their souls—and others.”

Indeed, these shaykhs, such as Abu al-‘Abbas al-Qassab, had many famous books regarding the Sunnah and opposing the way of the Ash‘ari Kullabiyyah which is not the subject here.

Likewise, the majority of the shaykhs of the Muslims from the earlier and latter times who are the voices of truth in the Ummah such as Shaykh Yahya bin Yusuf al-Sarsari mentioned and composed in his poetry from Shaykh ‘Ali bin Idris who was his shaykh that he asked Qutb al-‘Arifin (pole of the knowers of Allah) Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Qadir bin ‘Abdullah al-Jili.[3] He said, “Oh my master, can there be a wali of Allah who is not on the belief of Ahmad bin Hanbal?” He responded, “It has never been and shall never be.”

Likewise, Shaykh Shihab al-Din Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin Muhammad al-Suhrawardi narrated, Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din ‘Abdullah bin Ahmad ‘Umar al-Faruthi that he heard this story from him; I also found it hanging [on a wall] in the handwriting of Shaykh Muwaffaq al-Din Abu Muhammad bin Qudamah al-Maqdisi. Al-Suhrawardi said, “I had decided to read some knowledge of kalam and I was hesitant whether I should read Al-Irshad by Imam al-Haramayn or Nihayah al-Iqdam by Shehrastani or his shaykh’s book. I went with my maternal uncle Abu al-Najib and he used to perform Salah next to Shaykh ‘Abdul-Qadir.” He says, “Shaykh ‘Abdul-Qadir turned to me and said, ‘Oh ‘Umar, what is the provision of the grave? What is the provision of the grave?’ I then recanted from that idea.” He informed that it was revealed (kashf) to the shaykh what was in his heart and forbade him from kalam to which al-Qushayri and his like affiliated themselves to.

Likewise, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan bin Ghanim narrated to me that he heard his maternal uncle Shaykh Ibrahim bin ‘Abdullah al-Armawi that he had a teacher who he used to recite to and that he recited to him the beliefs of the latter Ash‘aris. He said, “I used to go to him and my father and Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Armini[4] heard.” He said, “My father said, ‘What is this oh Ibrahim?’ I said that the teacher taught this. He said, ‘Oh Ibrahim, leave this. I have travelled the earth and met with this and this wali of Allah. I did not find any of them on this belief. I only found them on the beliefs of these.’ He then pointed to his neighbours, the people of hadith and Sunnah from the pious Jerusalamites (maqadisah) who were there.[5]

Shaykh Muhammad bin Abu Bakr bin Qawwam also narrated to me that he heard his grandfather Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Qawwam say that when it reaches you regarding the people of such a place, and Shaykh Muhammad named them to me, when it reaches you that among them is a believing man (mu’min) or pious man, then accept that as the truth. And when it reaches you that in them is a wali of Allah, then do not believe. I said, “Why not oh my master?” He said, “Because they are Ash‘ari.” That is a lengthy chapter.

Whoever looks at the beliefs of the famous shaykhs, such as Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir, Shaykh ‘Adi bin Musafir, Shaykh Abu al-Bayan al-Dimashqi and others, then he would find that a lot. He will also find that he who goes towards the madhhab of the people of kalam, even if he interprets it allegorically, then there is in it a deficiency and turning away from the rank of the perfect walis of Allah; he will also find that he who is deficient in the knowledge of the beliefs of the Ahl al-Sunnah and its followers and admirers, and [is deficient in the] dislike of that which is contrary to that and rebuking that, in terms of being empty of the knowledge of perfect Sunah and the belief of bid‘ah, then you shall find him deficient from the rank of the walis of Allah who are firm in the knowledge of the beliefs of the Ahl al-Sunnah and its followers. “Allah has set a measure for everything.” (65:3)

That which Abu al-Qasim has mentioned in his Risalah in terms of their beliefs, manners and way, in it there is much goodness, truth and religion. However, in there is a deficiency from the way of the majority of the perfect walis of Allah, and they are the choicest individuals of the three generations and those who treaded their path. He has not mentioned in his book the imams of the shaykhs from the three generations. In addition to what is in his book in terms of beneficial information in terms of anecdotes and narrated matters, there are also in it hadiths, weak hadiths and those that are false. In it are ambiguous words that have true and false meanings in terms of both narration and opinion. “Allah has set a measure for everything.” (65:3)

Allah Most High said, “Be upholders of justice, witnesses for Allah, even though against youtselves or parents and relatives. One may be wealthy or poor but Allah is the better caretaker of both. So do not follow desires, lest you should swerve. If you twist or avoid (the evidence), then Allah is all aware of what you do.” (4:135)

I have written in distinguishing that which Allah has made easy and I have strived in following the path of the moderate Ummah who are witnesses over the people, not the path of those who raises the Ummah above its worth in its beliefs and Tasawwuf, but the path which is most perfect and correct which has been mentioned in terms of knowledge, situation, speech, action, beliefs and justice; nor the path of those who lowered it below its worth in terms of beliefs and Tasawwuf from those who exceed the limit in criticising the people of kalam or criticising the way of Tasawwuf in absolute terms. Allah is most knowledge.

16] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah. Part 1. Page 94:

Abu al-Qasim has mentioned in the biography of Shaykh Abu ‘Ali bin al-Katib, and he had remained in the company of Abu ‘Ali al-Rudhbari and others, and he was alive after AH340. He said, “The Mutazalites considered Allah free from faults (tanzih) from the perspective of intellect and erred, whereas the Sufis did His tanzih from the perspective of knowledge and were correct.”

I say: Shari‘ah is what is meant by the world ‘ilm found in the speech of the Sufis and their many advices such as Abu Ya‘qub al-Naharjuwi, “The best of spiritual conditions is that which is adjoined to knowledge.” This is like the words of Abu Yazid, “I struggled with the self (mujahadah) for thirty years and I found nothing more difficult on me than knowledge and following it. If it were not for the differences of the ‘ulama I would have remained behind. The differences of the ‘ulama is a source of mercy except in stripping bare divine unity (tajrid al-tawhid).”

This is like the saying of Sahl bin ‘Abdullah al-Tustari: “Every action that you do without following guidance, regardless of whether it is an act of obedience or disobedience, then this is living according to the carnal self. And each action that you do with guidance, then it is punishment on the carnal self.”

Abu Sulayman al-Darani said, “Some days, a point from the issues of the people occurs in my heart and I do not accept it except with two just witnesses: the Book and the Sunnah.”

His companion Ahmad bin Abu al-Hiwari said, “He who acts without following the Sunnah, then his action is redundant.”

Abu Hafs al-Nisapuri said, “He who does not weigh his actions and speech all the time with the Book and the Sunnah, and does not hold in suspicion his thoughts, then do not count him in the register of men.”

Junayd bin Muhammad said, “All of the paths are closed to the creation except he who follows in the steps of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).”

He also said, “He who has not preserved the Quran and written hadith then he should not follow in this matter because our knowledge is confined to the Book and the Sunnah.”

Abu ‘Uthman said, “He who appoints the Sunnah on his self as leader in speech and action, he shall speak with wisdom, whereas he who appoints desires over his self as leader in speech and action, then he shall speak of innovation. Allah Most High says, ‘If you obey him then you shall be guided.’” (25:54) Abu Hamzah al-Baghdadi said, “He who has learned the path to Allah, his journey shall be made easy for him, and there is no guide for the path to Allah except following the Prophet in his conditions, speech and actions.”

He who spoke of knowledge in their speech was Abu ‘Uthman al-Nisapuri, “Association with Allah should be carried out with excellent etiquettes (husn al-adab) and uninterrupted reverence and thought; association with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) should be carried out by following his Sunnah and adhering to the exoteric aspects of knowledge; association with the walis of Allah should be carried out with respect and service; association with family should be carried out with good manners (husn al-khalq); association with friends should be with perpetual joy as long as there is no sin; and association with the ignorant (juhhal) should be with du‘a for mercy for them.”

Abu al-Husayn al-Nuri said, “Do not venture near he who you see claiming to be associated with Allah Most High while leaving the limits of Shar‘i knowledge.”

He also said, “The most beloved of things in our age are two: a scholar who acts on his knowledge and a knower of Allah who speaks regarding His reality.”

… Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman al-Sulami said, “I heard my grandfather Abu ‘Amr bin Nujayd say, ‘Every spiritual condition (hal) that is not an outcome of knowledge, its harm is greater on the individual than its benefit.’ He was asked regarding Tasawwuf, he said, ‘Patience when commanding the good and forbidding the evil.’”

The reason why they have described Shari‘ah as knowledge (‘ilm) is because the community are people of purpose, intention, action and spiritual states. This is their speciality. However, at times one of them acts without Shari‘ah knowledge but with that which he feels and the intention of which he finds in his heart, even though it is not legislated and commanded. This is something that many of them are embroiled in due to their preferring their knowledge of spiritual tastes (dhawq) and ecstasy (wajd) over the requirements of knowledge that is legislated and their acting on spiritual tastes for which there is no legislated knowledge.

There is no doubt that this is following the desires without guidance from Allah. This is that which Allah has rebuked the Christians with whom the erring Sufis and worshippers have similarities in many matters, it is because of this that Sahl made it from the destiny of the carnal self.

Because of this Abu Yazid became weak in following knowledge for indeed struggling against the whims of the carnal self is carried out by the majority of souls such as the worship of the polytheists, the monks from the People of the Book, the worshippers of idols and their like. All of that is from this. They carry out such asceticism and struggle (mujahadah) in worship that is not carried out by Muslims. However, that is false and not legislated and because of this their actions do not elicit an outcome save that which they so deserve.

The sincere Muslim, when he worships Allah in that which has been legislated, Allah opens up to him the lights of guidance in a short time. The guided ones from among the shaykhs of the worshippers and ascetics advise following legislated knowledge in the way the people of steadfastness in knowledge advise following their knowledge which the people of steadfastness from the worshippers and the ascetics tread. As to those who have strayed from the two groups, they reject what is legislated: either in terms of knowledge or actions, both of which is the way of those who have attracted [Allah’s] anger and the deviant.

Sufayn bin ‘Uyayanah said, “They used to say, ‘He who has become corrupt from the ‘ulama has a likeness with the Jews, and he who is corrupt from the worshippers has a likeness with the Christians.’”

As a result, Abu al-Qasim intended to refute them in Al-Risalah [al-Qushayriyyah]. When he mentioned the shaykhs who mentioned them, he wrote, “This is the mention of a group of the shaykhs of this circle. The purpose of mentioning them at this point is to caution that they were in consensus on venerating the Shari‘ah, adorned with treading the path of spiritual struggle, in agreement on following the Sunnah, not void of any of the etiquettes of religiousness, agreed that he who is void of [correct] dealings and spiritual struggle and has not established his situation on the foundation of piety and fear of Allah (taqwa) is devising a lie against Allah Most High in that which he claims, such an individual is deviated from the right path, destroyed in his self and a cause of destruction for those who have been enamoured by him from those who have been inclined to his falsehood.”

When the meaning of the word knowledge in their terminology is known, then [we can understand] the saying of Abu ‘Ali bin al-Katib that “the Sufis declared Him free from impurity and imperfection (tanzih) in terms of knowledge,” in other words from the perspective of Shari‘ah which is the Book and the Sunnah; they declared Allah free from that which He made Himself free from. They were correct in this. As to the Mutazalites, they did His tanzih through the analogy of their intellects and whims. They intended to negate from Him all of the attributes that are present due to their assumption that this is anthropomorphism (tashbih). They were not guided to understand that the Creator is described with that which befits Him and that the creation is described with that which befits it, and that attributing the name, even though it is agreed on, to Allah makes it special and confines it to that from which the likeness of the creation is negated.

That which Shaykh Abu ‘Ali has mentioned that the Sufis oppose the Mutazalites is an issue on which there is agreement for indeed the principles of the Sufis do not agree with negating the attributes of Allah (sifat), rather they are the most distant of people from I‘tizal in sifat and destiny (qadr).

17] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah. Part 1, page 144:

Abu al-Qasim mentioned without a chain (isnad) from Junayd that he said, “Indeed, the first thing that the slave is in need of in terms of correct belief is the creation to know his Creator and how the temporal (muhdath) came into existence; by this he will recognise the attributes of the Creator from the created and that which is eternal from that which is temporary. He will humble himself to His call and admit the necessity of obeying Him for indeed he who has not recognised that which is for Allah, has not admitted the kingdom for He who deserves it.”

This excellent speech is appropriate for Junayd; this speech includes differentiating between the created and the Creator so that the salik does not fall into unification (ittihad) and incarnationism (hulul) as many groups have. He has mentioned two principles: firm belief and submission, because iman is speech and actions; he mentioned knowing the Creator, humbling to His call and admitting the necessity of obeying Him.

This is from the principles of the Ahl al-Sunnah and the imams of the shaykhs, especially the Sufi shaykhs, for indeed the basis of their way is intention which is the basis of action; they are in intention, worship, actions and manners the most grounded among them in speech and knowledge, and in respect to that they are the most diligent and most focused, rather he who has not entered into that is not from the people of tariq in any way.

18] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah. Part 1, page 163:

The Sufis, among them are the correct and incorrect as are found in those aside from them. They are not in that greater than the Companions and the Followers, and no one is infallible in everything that he says except the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

19] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah, part 1, page 212:

This issue, i.e. the issue of the definition of words, all of the Muslim groups have disapproved of it, even the fuqaha and scholars of fiqh principles (usul). The writers on the principles of fiqh are on the mathhab of Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafi‘i and Ahmad; they mention words and its types such as the imperative (amr), the negative command (nahi), the predicate (khabr) and that which is general and particular. They say that these forms fall under the word kalam according to all of the groups of the Ummah—its scholars of usul, jurists, hadith scholars and Sufis[6]—except these people. So, how can this statement be attributed to the scholars of usul in a general and particular fashion?

20] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah. Part 1, page 221:

Because of this, you find dislike between the fuqaha and the Sufis, and between the ‘ulama and the fuqara in this way. What is correct is that all of those communities are praised whose condition is that which Allah and His Messenger praised as mentioned in the Book and the Sunnah, and that all of those communities are disapproved whose condition is that which Allah and His Messenger has disapproved of as mentioned in the Book and the Sunnah. The Muslim should strive in realising His words, “Guide us to the straight path, the path of those You have favoured, not of those who earn Your anger nor of those who go astray.” (1:6-7) The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The Jews are the ones who earned anger and the Christians are those went astray.”

21] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah, part 2, page 15, while commenting on a story that Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri mentioned regarding Abu Bakr al-Shibli and Abu al-Husayn al-Nuri in which there is some shatahat:[7]

The like of these words and stories are not befitting to be mentioned for following or treading the path and way (tariqah) as they contain that which is contrary to the command of Allah and His Prophet. The person from who the like of these issues originate is either excused due to the limitations in his ijtihad or absence in his mind whereas those who follow him are not excused as the truth and path is clear. Even if his sin is forgiven, because good intention and pious action are attached to it, it is necessary to explain that which is praiseworthy from that which is disapproved of so that truth does not become mixed with falsehood.

Abu al-Husayn al-Nuri and Abu Bakr al-Shibli (Allah’s mercy on them) were known to have at times altered minds, so much that al-Shibli went to hospital twice. Al-Nuri (may Allah have mercy on him) was in it and he was for it. He died in a densely marshy area because spiritual rapture (wajd) had overtaken him and his mind was lost. He whose condition is like this is unsuitable to be followed in a situation that is not in agreement with the command of Allah and His Prophet, even if the person is excused or forgiven, and even if he has a great ranking in terms of faith, piety, sincerity and praiseworthy stations. In that he is no greater than those who were first in bringing faith from the Migrants and Helpers (Muhajir and Ansar) and those who followed them in goodness for indeed they are followed in obedience and they are only mentioned in a beautiful way. In terms of that sin or ta’wil that they did, which is not what Allah and His Messenger commanded, they shall not be followed in that. This is the principle the following of which is imperative.

22] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah. Part 2, page 56:

Abu al-Qasim said, “Know that it is the way of Allah with His walis that when they share quarters [in the heart] with something that is apart from Him (ghayr) or ponder on something [apart from him] or they allow their heart to be intimate with something [apart from him], then the matter becomes confusing for them and Allah becomes jealous of their hearts so that they sincerely return to His Self, free from that which they had allowed to dwell with them.”

He said, “I heard al-Sulami say, I heard Abu Zayd al-Marwazi the jurist say, I heard Ibrahim bin Sinan say, I heard Muhammad bin Hassan say, ‘While I was traversing the mountain of Lebanon a young man came towards us. The hot air and wind had burnt him. When he saw me he turned and fled. I followed him and said to him, “Advise me something.” He responded, “Fear Him, for indeed He is very jealous and does not like to see in the heart of His slave anything aside from Him.”’”

He said, “I heard al-Sulami say, I heard al-Nasrabadhi say, ‘Allah is very jealous, and among his jealousy is that he has not made a path apart from Him.’”

I say that this jealousy is included in that jealousy which the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) described when he said, “Allah’s jealousy is that the believer should not go to that which Allah has forbidden for him.” The greatest sin is that you make a partner for Allah and He has created you and that you make another deity with Him. There is major polytheism and subtle polytheism. Those who are in the middle carry out the necessary monotheism (tawhid) and those who have gone ahead and drawn near carry out the recommended aspects along with the necessary aspect. There is nothing more beloved to Allah than monotheism and there is nothing more hated for Him than polytheism. It is because of this that polytheism is not forgiven, rather it is the greatest oppression.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant, which the wind bends sometimes and at other times it makes it straight. And the example of a hypocrite is that of a cedar tree which keeps straight till it is uprooted suddenly.”

So, Allah Most High afflicts His believing slave with difficulties so that He may purify him from sins and shortcomings; it is from His mercy on His sincere slave that He turns him away from that which He feels jealous of. It is as Allah Most High mentions, “Thus We did, to turn evil and lewdness away from him. Surely, he was one of Our chosen servants.” (12:24), and as He said, “He is such that he has no authority over those who believe and place trust in their Lord.” (16:99) So, when He removes from him that which He feels jealous of, then that is from His mercy on him and His choosing him, even though there is difficulty in that. At times He prevents that which he dislikes and at times to purify him through means of affliction when He is jealous of that. So, when the slave does something which elicits jealousy, He shall punish him according to his sin.

It is as Abu al-Qasim has mentioned, “It is narrated from Sarri that he said, ‘Once upon a time, I was seeking a truthful person (siddiq) when I passed by some mountains where I came across a group of people who were afflicted with trouble and were sick and blind. I asked them about their situation. They said that here is a man who comes out once a year, he supplicates for them and they are cured. I patiently remained until he came out and supplicated for them and they were cured. I followed his tracks, caught up with him and said to him, “I have an inner illness, what is its cure?” He replied, “Oh Sarri, leave me alone for indeed He is jealous and would not allow you to dwell with anything apart from Him as then you would fall from His eyes.”’”

This is from the saying of He Most High, “Do not set up any other deity along with Allah, otherwise you will sit condemned, forsaken,” (17:22) and, “So do not invoke any other god along with Allah, otherwise you will be among those who are to be punished.” (26:213)

23] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah. Part 2, page 150:

For indeed, actual pleasure follows the attaining of that which is appropriately sought after; the actual pleasure is not the acquisition of that which is suitably sought after as some of the philosophers and people of creed (kalam) believe and the mentioning of which is predominant among the people of Tasawwuf and worship, and also predominant in the speech of the ‘ulama of kalam who are the people of scrutiny, theory and creed, and also in the speech of the people of spontaneity (ahl-badiha) who are the people of deliberation, need, proofs and eliciting proofs.

Each of these two matters have types and categories, some of which are true and some of which are false, all of them need to be looked at in view of the Book and the Sunnah for the best word is the Word of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad.

It is because of this that the imams of guidance from among those who spoke on knowledge and creed or in relation to actions, guidance and Tasawwuf would advise following the Book and the Sunnah and forbid that which departs from that as Allah and the Prophet ordered them. Their words in relation to this are much and widespread such as the speech of Sahl bin ‘Abdullah al-Tustari: “Every rapture (wajd) that does not bear witness to the Book and the Sunnah is false.”

24] He also mentions in the book Al-Istiqamah. Part 2, page 161:

For indeed intelligence at times denotes the inherent ability in a person with which he comprehends, and at times it denotes the actual comprehension, remembering and knowing.

The first is from the saying of Imam Ahmad and others predecessors: “Intelligence is natural disposition and wisdom is sagacity.” The second is from the saying of a group from among our companions and others: “Intelligence is a type of necessary knowledge.”

Both of them are correct for indeed intelligence in the heart is like vision in the eye which at times means the actual sense and at times the ability that Allah has placed in the eye with which information is acquired; surely each of them is from the knowledge of the slave and what he has discerned. In his knowledge and movement there is strength and each of them has power—there is no strength or power save with Allah (la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah).

Because of this, you will find the upright shaykhs from among the Sufis advising the acquisition of knowledge and ordering the following of it just as you will find the upright people of knowledge advising the acting on knowledge and commanding that. This is because in each path there is a fear of abandoning what is necessary in the other.

25] Hafiz Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah also mentions in the book Rawdat al-Muhibbin wa Nuzhat al-Mushtaqin, page 281:

Surely, the lover takes delight from the mention of the beloved and His remaining in his heart without separating from Him. Indeed, He is his intimate friend and companion; he does not take delight from anyone aside from Him. He feels aversion from those who preoccupy him from Him.

Taqi al-Din bin Shaqir narrated to me. He said, “Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah one day left and I left behind him. When he reached the desert and were separate from people where no one could see him, I heard him recite the poem of a poet:

I come out from between the houses so that I may

Speak regarding you with the heart in secret and unhindered[8]

26] Hafiz ‘Umar bin ‘Ali al-Bazzar writes in Al-‘Alam al-‘Ulyah fi Manaqib Ibn Taymiyyah, page 56, in the chapter regarding some of his miracles and insight:

More than one from the reliable individuals informed me of some of that which they witnessed from his miracles and I shall mention some of them in summary and begin with some of what I saw.

Among them is that there was between me and some erudite individuals disagreement in a number of issues and our debate in relation to them became prolonged. We began to shorten the discussion in each of the issue by saying we would refer to the shaykh and that which he gives preference to. Then, the shaykh, may Allah be pleased with him, came. When we intended to ask him regarding that, he began first and began mentioning to us each issue one after another as we did. He began mentioning the majority of what we had done in each issue and mentioned the views of the ‘ulama. Then he gave preference to that which the proof supported until he arrived on the last of what we had intended to ask him and he clarified for us what we intended to do with him. My companion and I, and those who were with us were left speechless and wonderstruck by what appeared before us and what Allah had revealed to him from what was in our hearts.

Whenever in those days in which I remained in his company a question would occur to me, my heart had hardly stopped thinking about it that he would begin to mention it; he would mention the answer in many ways.

The shaykh, the pious, the reciter Ahmad bin al-Harimi narrated to me that he travelled to Damascus. “It so happened that when I got there I had no money at all and I did not know anyone from there. I began walking in its streets like a confused person when a shaykh came and hastily headed towards me. He made salam and behaved in a cheerful way with me. He put a purse in my hand in which there were some authentic dirhams. He then said to me, ‘Now, spend this and free your mind from that difficulty in which you are in for Allah shall not let you go to waste.’ He then returned on his tracks as if he had not come except for me. I prayed for him and became very happy with that. I said to some of the people who I saw, ‘Who is this shaykh?’ One said, ‘It’s as if you don’t know him, this is Ibn Taymiyyah.’ For a long time I never saw him cross this road. My main reason for travelling to Damascus was to meet him. I realised that Allah had revealed me and my situation to him. I did not need anyone after that during my stay in Damascus. Rather, Allah opened up to me from where I had no inkling. I enquired about him after that and headed to visit him and make salam with him. He would treat me with dignity and ask about my condition and I would praise Allah Most High.

The shaykh, the ‘alim, the reciter Taqi al-Din ‘Abdullah, son of the shaykh, the pious, the reciter Ahmad bin Sa‘id narrated to me. He said, “I travelled to Egypt when the shaykh was residing there. By chance I got there at night and I was feeling heavy and ill, and we dismounted in some places. I had hardly waited when I heard someone calling my name and teknonym. I answered and I was weak. A group of the shaykh’s companions, some of whom I had met in Damascus, entered on me. I said, ‘How did you know of my arrival and that I had came at this time?’ They mentioned, ‘The shaykh informed us that you had arrived and that you were ill. He ordered us to hurry in bringing you. We never saw anyone come and we didn’t say anything.’ I then knew this was from the miracles of the shaykh, may Allah be pleased with him.”

He also narrated to me: “I was ill in Damascus in such a severe illness that prevented me from even sitting. I couldn’t feel anything when the shaykh was suddenly by my head and I was feeling heavy with fever and illness. He called me and said, ‘Wellbeing (‘afiyah) has come.’ He had hardly left when I became well and was cured at that time.”

… He also narrated to me that Shaykh Ibn ‘Imad al-Din al-Muqri al-Mutarriz said: “I came to the shaykh had with me at that time some money for my expenses. I offered him my salam and he responded to me. He welcomed me and brought me close. He did not ask me whether I had money for my expenses? After some days my money finished and I wanted to leave his gathering after I had prayed with the people behind him. He forbade me and sat me close to him. When the gathering finished, he gave me a bunch of dirhams and said, ‘You’re now without money so make use of this and I was left surprised by this. I realised that Allah had revealed to him my condition at the first instance when I had money with me and at the end when it had ended and I was in need of money.”

A person who I do not doubt told me that the shaykh, may Allah be pleased with him, at the time that the Mongols descended on the Levant to take Damascus and other cities, its people trembled and were extremely fearful. A group them went to the shaykh and asked him to supplicate for the Muslims and so he turned to Allah. He then said: “Listen to glad tidings. Surely, Allah will grant you victory on such a such day after the third when you will see heads on top of each other.” He who had narrated to me said: “I swear be He in Whose hands is my life (or he swore like this), three days had only passed as he said when we saw their heads as the shaykh had said outskirts of Damascus loaded on top of each other.”

The pious and god-fearing Shaykh ‘Uthman bin Ahmad bin ‘Isa al-Nassaj narrated to me that the shaykh, may Allah be pleased with him, used to visit the ill in hospital (bemaristan) in Damascus everyday. Hence, he once came according to his habit and visited them. He reached a young person from among them, supplicated for him and so he was cured very quickly. He came to the shaykh intending to do salam. When the shaykh saw him he greeted him in a cheerful way and drew him close. Then he gave him some money and said: “Allah has cured you, now promise to Allah that you shall hasten your return to your town. Can it be permissible to leave your wife and four daughters without any money and for you to reside here?” The young man said: “I kissed his hand and said master I repent to Allah on your hand. I was amazed at what he had revealed to me. I had left them without money and no one from Damascus knew of my situation.”

Al-Bazzar, having narrated a number of miracles, writes:

I say that the miracles of the shaykh, may Allah be pleased with him, are very many. This short book is unsuitable of containing more than the amount mentioned here.

27] Hafiz ‘Umar bin ‘Ali al-Bazzar writes in Al-‘Alam al-‘Ulyah fi Manaqib Ibn Taymiyyah, page 73, in relation to the death of the Shaykh al-Islam (may Allah have mercy on him):

They said: Everyone heard of his death to a point that there was none left in Damascus who was able to attend his funeral prayer and intend to go but attended it and made themselves free for it; this occurred to an extent that the bazars of Damascus were shut and life stopped at that time. With his death people were in a state that preoccupied them from the majority of their matters and means of sustenance. The emirs, the leaders, the ‘ulama, the jurists, the Turks, the soldiers, men, women and children from the elite and common people all came out.

They said: As far as I know no one remained behind from the majority of people except three people who were famous for opposing him. They hid from people fearing for themselves as they were convinced that when they would go out people would stone them and kill them. He, may Allah have mercy on him, was washed and shrouded.

They said: Those who attended his washing from the elite and common people crowded round the left over water from his washing until each of them had taken a little amount.

Then his bier was taken out, people saw it and leaned towards it from every direction, each of them intending to acquire blessings (tabarruk) from it to an extent it was feared that the body may be crushed before reaching the grave…

A group of those who were present at that moment and saw the people and those who prayed over him agreed that they were over 50,000 in number.  Those well versed in narrating and history said: “a funeral of this number was not heard of except the funeral of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, may Allah be pleased with him.”

… That which was seen at his funeral was not seen at the funeral of anyone else in terms of respect, reverence, greatness, standing, people’s honouring of it, respecting it, revering the individual, praising him on account of his knowledge, actions, asceticism, worship, turning away from the world, being preoccupied with the hereafter, poverty, giving preference to others (over himself), kindness, chivalry, patience, steadfastness, bravery, insight, to move ahead and come out openly with the truth, to show ruggedness to the enemies of Allah, the enemies of His Prophet and those who turn away from His religion, to aid Allah, His prophet, His religion and its people, to show humility to the friends of Allah, to lower his self to them, to show them generosity, nobility and reverence, to not take an interest in the world, its adornments, bounties and pleasures, and to show extreme eagerness for the hereafter and to constantly seek it to an extent that you would hear that and its like from men, women and children. All of them would praise him in relation to that which they knew of him.

They said: He was buried that day, may Allah be pleased with him and return over us his many blessings… The recitation of the Qur’an was completed (khatam) many times for him during the nights and days in many places the numbers of which cannot be recorded, especially in Damascus which was under siege, Egypt, Iraq, Tabriz, Basra etc. to an extent that many people made reading for him their habit and volumes of the noble Qur’an (al-rub‘ah al-sharifah) would be circulated among people to recite and gift its recitation to him.


Previous sections:

Sufism and the Imams of the Salafi Movement: Introduction
Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Sufism
Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim and Sufism – Part One
Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim and Sufism – Part Two
Imam al-Dhahabi and Sufism
Hafiz Ibn Kathir and Sufism
Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali and Sufism (Part One)
Hafis Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali and Sufism (Part Two)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and Sufism (Part One)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and Sufism (Part Two)


  1. The al-Mufassal are the short surahs of the Qur’an which have many breaks in between them. Mufassal means divided. There is a difference of view among the ‘ulama as to where they begin. Some say they begin at Surah Qaf until the end of the Qur’an whereas others say they begin at Surah al-Hujarat (translator). []
  2. This is also regretfully the case with a group of the Salafis who attribute themselves to Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz). []
  3. This is Abu Muhammad Muhyu al-Din ‘Abdul-Qadir bin Musa bin ‘Abdullah bin Janki Dost al-Hasani al-Jilani, or al-Kilani or al-Jili, the shaykh of the Qadri Sufis who was from among the major ascetics and Sufis (translator). []
  4. Most likely of Armenian descent as his nisbah indicates (translator). []
  5. There was a group of Hanbalis who had taken refuge from the Crusaders in other parts of the Levant, including Damascus, and were often called the maqadisa (plural of maqdisi) because of their origins from Bayt al-Muqaddas and its surrounding areas and cities (translator). []
  6. Note how he considers the Sufis a group from the various groups within the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) such as the Hadith scholars, the jurists and the scholars of usul. This is found abundantly in his writings (Shaykh ‘Abdul Hafiz). []
  7. Shatahat is the plural of shath and are words that are not in line with Shari‘ah and spoken by some Sufis while experiencing a spiritual state. Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi writes in Ta‘lim al-Din that “shath are those words spoken without choice and are contrary to exoteric rules due to being overwhelmed by warids (divine inspirations). Such a person is not sinful but should not be followed” (translator). []
  8. This poet is Majnun, the beloved of Layla, as mentioned by al-Antaki in Tazyin al-Aswaq (Shaykh ‘Abdul Hafiz Makki). []
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