Sunday, August 31, 2008

From Dhikir to Kufr the Sufi way

What is Sufism

Sufism is often, willfully or otherwise, referred to by Sufis themselves, or by orientalists, as "Islamic mysticism", in order to give the impression that Islam is either wholly or partly an esoteric religion, with a set of dogmatic rituals to be understood by the elite alone-in this clase, the Sufis! Unfortunately, the lack of any sound critical analysis of the subject in the English language allows these orientalists to flood the English and North American book market with literature that stands unchallenged, and dupes naive Muslims into believing that true salvation can only be attained by pursuing a mystical order. Their vain goal strips Islam of its Universality.

True Muslims should be content with the name "Muslims given to them by Almighty Allah as he says: which means,

"He has chosen you (to conform to His religion) and has imposed no difficulty upon you in religion, the religion of your father Ibrahim. He named you 'Muslims' both before (in the preceding Divine Scriptures) and in this Book." (22.78)

Ibn Kathir elaborated on this verse, saying: "Allah has chosen the Muslims, honored them, and distinguished them exclusively of other nations by the most honorable Messenger and the most perfect religion, and He has not overburdened them with more than they can bear.

If Sufis insist that they are Muslims, then what is the sense of identifying themselves with Sufism rather than with Islam. The word "Sufism" was not familiar to those who lived in the first and the best three generations of as-Salaf as-Salih (the pious predecessors) who were commanded by Allah the Exalted and His Messenger (s.a.w)

Structure of Sufi Orders

Sufism presumes a fundamental link between the shaikh, head of the Sufi tareeqah (order), and the murid (novice), extending throughout their lifetime and continuing after their death. The murid takes an 'ahd (oath) of loyalty and swears obedience to the shaikh, who in turn promises to solve the murid's problems and deliver him from every dilema whenever he calls on his shaikh for help. The shaikh also promises to interced for him with Allah so that he may be admitted to Jannah

The murid pledges to be conscientious in practicing the set of dthikr (chants) assigned to him by his shaikh, to adhere to the rules of the order and to accept its claim on his loyalty for life over a wide range of behaviour affecting the well-being of the order. The quality and extent of the shaikh's hold over the murid is therefore almost total.

The murid's behavior even outside the order's group setting is expected to conform to rules laid down by the order. And where conflict with outside obligations arises, the murid must resolve it by acting as a Sufi and following his order's rules. The Tijaniyyeh Order makes every candidate for initiation pledge not to visit the grave of pious personality or visit any living scholar. This is one of the major factors in widening the rift between one order and another, causing an order to enter into conflict against his others in an attempt to convert, conquer or annihilate them.

The mechanism of the order structure in Sufism leads to many evil results:

- Division of the Muslim ummah into fractions and orders ruled by deviant and ignorant shaikhs, thus making the ummah an easy prey for conquest by non-Muslims.

- Enmity among the adherents of different orders, to the point that they will not marry into one another's families or cooperate with one another.

- Deception on the part of the shaikh, who falsely claims the ability to deliver the murid from difficulties and deadly problems the befall him. The shaikh even claims he will be present at the murid's death, regardless of time or place, and ridiculously enough, will instrut him in his grave on what to tell the two angels of the grave, and will argue with them on his behalf. Finally, the shaikh promises to intercede for him with Allah on the Day of Judgment, and to help cross over as-Siraat (the bridge over Hell) on that Day, and accompany him to Jannah.

This kind of deception, offering security in the grave as well as in the Hereafter, is a flagrant lie, not permissible under any circumstance. Sufi shaikhs lead simple-minded Muslims to believe in such claims, and the result is shirk (polytheism). Deceiving Muslims is one of the major sins.

- Insulating the murid as far as possible from the world outside the order as to exploit and manipulate him.

Development of Sufi Thought

Sufism is a blend of various thoughts and philosophies. By intermingling a few traces of Islamic teachings with it, the Sufi thinkers attempted to sanctify their doctrines and demonstrate its conformity to Islam

Greek philosophy, and in particular the teachings of Neo-Platonists, have left an indelible mark on many aspects of Sufism. This came about as a result of the translation of Greek philosophical works into Arabic during the third Islamic century. Greek pantheism became an integral part of Sufi doctrine.

Manicheanism is also one of the mainstreams of Sufism. N. Fatemi observed: "It is interesting how near to Manichean ideas the Sufis are, remembering that both Manicheanism and Sufism were nurtured in Persia.

Vedanta, the chief Hindu philosophy, which is an example of pantheism in its metaphysical strictness, also had a great impact on Sufism following the conquest of Sindh by Muhammad b. Qasim in the second century A.H.

Sufi occultism, with its host of philosophical and theosophical doctrines, is beyond doubt antithetical to Islam. Islam proclaims that the matchless entity and essence of Allah is totally different from that of His slaves, i.e., man. Sufis, on the contrary, subscribe to the belief that matter, man and God form in effect one single entity and essence.

Ibn Arabi's doctrine of pantheism was a combination of Manichean, Gnostic, Neo-Platonic, Vedantic and Christian philosophies and speculations, which he tried vainly to give an Islamic sanction by relating it to Prophetic traditions.

"Of his main theme," R.W.J. Austin wrote, "the one that predominates over the rest and to which they are subordinate in the oneness of being (wihdat al-wujood). The concept of the Oneness of Being is all-embracing one, in that all Ibn al-Arabi's other concepts are but facets of it, just as he would say that all distinction, difference and conflict are but apparent of a single and unique reality, the 'seamless garment' of Being, whose reality underlies all derivatives being and its experience."

Ahlu al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah, on the other hand, are agreed that Allah is One Alone, qualified with all the attributes wherewith He has qualified Himself and named with all names whereby He has named Himself, without resembling creation in any respect; that His essence does not resemble the essences of His creatures nor His attributes resemble theirs. Allah the Supreme says: which means, "There is nothing like unto Him; He is the Al-Hearing, the All-Seeing."

Muhiyddin Ibn Arabi, one of the leading authorities on Sufi mysticism, who captured the imagination and the adulation of Sufis around the world, was born in the year 560 A.H. (1165 A.D.), and pursued the study of the occult and the metaphysical doctrines of the Sufis."Such learning and accompanying practices," R.J. Austin wrote, "often led Ibn Arabi, even while he was still young man in Seville, to spend long hours in the cemeteries communing with the spirits of the dead."(!)

He talked about his "cemetery revelations" as matters of fact, and managed to compile a massive compendium on Sufism entitled Al-Futoohat Al-Mekkiyyah (the Meccan Revelations). Of this, Ibn Arabi wrote, "Some works I wrote at the command of God sent to me in sleep, or through mystical revelations."(!)

The other striking impression that Ibn Arabi wanted to leave on the readers of his Meccan Revelation is that he, too, as a spiritual and mystical figure, experienced the heaviness of revelation, resembling that of the Prophet (s.a.w). He noted that sometimes the pressure of mystical revelation was so strong that he felt compelled to finish a work before taking a rest.

Allah the Exalted particularly condemns such claimants, saying: which means, "And who is more disbelieving than he who forges a lie against Allah, or says, 'It has been revealed to me,' when nothing has been revealed to him, or who says, 'I will send down the like of which Allah has sent down.'"

According to the Qur'an, revelation is of two kinds. The first is the revelation that came from Allah to His Prophets and Messenger through an angel, such as Jibreel (Gabriel). This cam to an end with the death of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). The second is Satanic communication, of which Allah says: which means, "Shall I inform you on whom the Satans descends, on every habitual liar and sinner."

Muslims believe that the Prophet (s.a.w) is the last of the Prophets, with whom the line of Prophethood is closed. Therefore, anyone who claims to be a prophet or a recipient of Divine revelation is an imposter and an heretic. And besides, it sounds quite eerie for a young man to spend long hours in cemeteries "communing with the spirits of the dead." The Prophet (s.a.w) was told by Allah: meaning, "And you cannot make those who are in graves to hear. "Indeed, communion of this nature could very well lead to a theory such as pantheism.

In order to substantiate his theosophical and pantheistic doctrine and make it appear Islamic, Ibn Arabi resorted to ta'weel, which is giving far-fetched interpretations to selected verses of the Qur'an or Prophetic traditions from the Sunnah, changing their apparent meaning to one which falls in line with his beliefs, a technique which was used before him by all the 'Batini' or secretive sects that strayed away from the path of Islam. He referred to Almighty Allah as "Creator-Creature," and took pains to present the Divine Being in a theosophical context, and to convince his readers that Allah's creation springs from nothing other than His "fundamental being."

Thus, the god that Ibn Arabi believed in is, in reality, all the elements that constitute the universe: human, animal and every other existing thing. As an example he depicted his own master, as a divine reality. And to make sure his readers did not misconstrue his heresy, he further emphasized: "In relation to existence, He (God) is the very essence of existing things. Thus in a certain sense, relative beings are elevated in themselves, since in truth they are none other than He who bears the name Abu Said al-Kharraz."

From this heretical concept of Allah, one may deduce without limit, principles which contradict the prescripts and fundamental tenets and creeds evident in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. For example, man, as alleged by "Son of Plato," is nothing less than God Himself, and since Fir'awn (Pharaoh) was a man, his declaration of being a god would have been true according to Ibn Arabi's pantheistic doctrine.

Furthermore, if nothing exists in reality but God, then every animal, regardless of its family, is in reality god also. And since all existing things have one essence, wine is nothing but water, and every forbidden (haram) thing is lawful or (halal).

There can never be more abhorrent heretical belief than pantheism. Allah the Exalted is far removed from what Ibn Arabi and his followers ascribe to Him. Allah says: which means, "There is none like unto Him; He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. "And it does not befit believers to make far-fetched interpretations of the essence of Allah or His attributes. True Muslims accept them as they are given in the Qur'an or in the authentic traditions of the Prophet (s.a.w).

The above verse is an informative statement which connotes a command from Allah to the believers not to impute to Him any attribute or name other than those given to Him by Himself or by His Messenger Muhammad (s.a.w) in authentic traditions. Nor are they allowed to subject Allah to similitude or examples. There is a clear warning in Allah's word: which means, "So strike not similitude for Allah, surely Allah knows and you know not."

The Sufis, like their masters, would have us believe that their doctrines originated in the Qur'anic verses. They interpret certain verses freely, both linguistically and theologically, to corroborate their beliefs and give them Qur'anic sanction. Besides giving Qur'anic verses different interpretations, they also reduce them to symbols and codes and juxtapose them in a metaphysical perspective. To give an example of the seriousness of this perversion of language by the Sufis, the following verse is cited: which signifies, "O mankind, reverence your Lord Who Created you from a single person, and created there from his (female) mate, and from them both (Adam and Eve) scattered countless men and women."

From these straightforward words, one can easily understand that Allah created Adam first, and, according to numerous verses, He fashioned him from earthly matter, and subsequently he created Eve from one of Adam's ribs, as stated in the authentic traditions. In an attempt to substantiate his pantheistic beliefs, Ibn Arabi gave the above verse the following meaning: "From him (Adam) came forth the mate and child, who all came from the 'Universal Nature,' that is, God, Who is manifested in her (Nature's) many forms in the form of Adam, in the form of Eve and in the form of the progeny. "The Divine element, according to him, inhabits every being. "Glory be to God," Ibn Arabi exclaimed, "Who created things, being Himself their essence."
Manifest and Hidden Knowledge

Three fundamentals of Sufism which are innovations not sanctioned by the Qur'an or the Sunnah:

- The division of knowledge into exoteric, or manifest, asoteric, or hidden;

- The division of Islam into shari'ah (religious sciences) and the sciences of truth; and

- the addition to Islam of the Sufi order as the path leading to the truth.

Manifest knowledge and the sciences of jurisprudence, they assert, belong to the theologians and scholars of the general run of ordinary Muslims, whereas the hidden knowledge and the knowledge of truth are reserved for the Sufi priests, who preferred to call themselves the elite. They who claim the right to interpret the Qur'anic verses and Prophetic traditions in ways not only different from the apparent meanings, but contradict them.

All these dichotomies of knowledge are blameworthy innovations, of which the Prophet (s.a.w) said: "The practicing or upholding innovations in religion leads to Hell-Fire." He also said, "He who introduces into our religion unwarranted things shall be rejected."

Sufis support the innovative dichotomies by citing the abnormal things done by al-Khidhr when Musa was in his company, such as making a hole in a ship, killing a boy and restoring a falling wall, as chronicled in surat al-Kahf (18.60-82). They justify Musa's objections to al-Khidhr's deed on the grounds that Musa had acquired exoteric or manifest knowledge only, while al-Khidr was one of the elite possessed esoteric or hidden knowledge.

The Sufis do not realize that whatever al-Khidhr did was in accordance with Divine revelation, nor do they know that Musa's objections were due to the fact that his Divine Laws were different from al-Khidhr's. That is why al-Khidhr responded to Musa by saying,

"I have knowledge given to me by Allah which you do not know, and you have other knowledge given to you by Allah which I do not know," whereupon Musa acquiesced.

The Message of Islam makes no distinction between exoteric and esoteric, because they are the same. It abrogated all previous messages and religions. Those who founded Sufism and introduced it to Muslims as pure Islam meant to turn the Muslim nation into a static, dependent, indifferent and ascetic nation, living in poverty and degradation. They have opened the door to a host of clandestine and secretive sects to promote their perverse dogmas. They use esoterism as a pretext for misinterpreting the Qur'an and Sunnah, in order to drive Muslims away from sound religious knowledge, as indicated by some Sufi zealot, who consider knowledge as a hindrance in the way of the murid and a curtain which blocks his vision, "I prefer that the beginner (murid) does not occupy his mind with these three things: earning his living, seeking the Prophetic traditions or learning how to read and write, so that his worries may be confined."

What does it mean when a Muslim does not read or write? It means he does not learn, and if he does not, how, then, can he worship Allah in the manner that would qualify him to become His constant servant and His favorite? Al-Junaid's assertion actually means that the murid is to be kept ignorant and "pure" enough to occupy himself with dthikr or wird , so that he may join the ranks of those who receive "direct revelation from God," i.e. esoteric knowledge.

Thus the murid becomes content with esoteric knowledge in lieu of exoteric, and with knowledge of the hidden "truth" in lieu of Shari'ah, and therefore lives in both ignorance and apostasy, without piety or iman.

In Defiance of the Qur'an and Sunnah

The following are excerpts and quotations from well-known Sufi works presented along with corresponding beliefs from outside the fold of Islam. Relevant texts from the Qur'an and the Sunnah are also quoted for the sake of comparison, so that Muslims may judge for themselves whether Sufi beliefs are Islamic or not. Each quotation is footnoted with the reference from which it is taken.

The Sufis claim:" The ways unto God are as numerous as the number of creatures in the world. Ibn Mas'ood, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) made a straight line on the ground with his hand, then he said, 'This is the straight way of Allah.' Then he made (short) line on each side of the straight line; then he said, 'These (short) lines, each one has a shaitan inviting people to it.' Then he recited the verse: meaning,

'And this is My path straight. So follow it, and do not follow (other) ways, lest they lead you away from My path.'

Allah the Exalted says: "His footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth." The Prophet (s.a.w) said: "The seven heavens by the side of the kursi (footstool) are naught but as a ring thrown down in a desert land, and such is the Kursi with respect to the Arsh (the Divine Throne).

The sufis say: "When you unite with the Beloved (God), then there is neither command nor prohibition in matters of religion. Sufis habitually reject the doctrine of "the fear of God, the wrath of the Day of Judgment, the fury of the Hell-Fire and the promise of Jannah." Faith based on coercion, they say, is slavery, and God has created man with mind, free will and love. Therefore, the mainspring of Sufism is love not fear and obedience to the religious laws.

Allah the Supreme describes His Prophets, saying: meaning, "They used to vie with one another in good deeds, and they called on Us in hope (for rewards) and in fear (of punishment)." Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (s.a.w) said: "When one of you finishes reciting the last tashah-hud (in prayer, and just before making tasleem), let him seek Allah's protection from four things: from the torment of Hell-Fire, from the torture of the grave, from the afflictions of life and death, and from the affliction of the pseudo-Christ (ad-Dajjal)."

Abu Hurairah also said: "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said to a man, 'What do you say, (ask Allah for) in your prayer?' The man said, 'I recite tashah-hud, then I ask Allah for Jannah and seek protection of Him from the Fire; by Allah, I do not know you dendeneh (making du'a in a low and faint voice) nor the dendaneh of Mu'aadth.' The Prophet (s.a.w) replied, 'We make dendeneh about these two things.'"

Allah the Exalted describes His believers thus: meaning, "Verily those who fear their Lord with reverence, and those who believe in the signs of the Lord, and those who ascribe no partners to their Lord, and those who give what they give while their hearts are full of fear, because to their Lord they will return."

Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, inquired about the verse, "Those who give what they give..." saying, "O Messenger of Allah! Is it those who steal and commit fornication are fearful?" He said, "Nay, daughter of (Abu Bakr) As-Siddiq, rather, those who fast and pray who are afraid (that their acts of worship may not be accepted by Allah).

Allah the Exalted says: meaning, "Say (to men, O Muhammad!), 'If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins." Thus the love of Allah necessitates following the commands of the Messenger of Allah with hope for reward and fear of punishment in the Hereafter.

Jalal-uddin al-Rumi (d. 1273), an infamous Sufi philosopher, in his book Masnawi, confirms his belief in the theory of evolution. The following lines are recognized as the central theme of Rumi's work: "I died as mineral and became a plant, I died as a plant and rose to an animal, I died as an animal and I was a man.

What became the darwinian theory states that the origin of species is derived by descent, with variation from parent forms. In other words, man, according to the theory of Darwin and contrary to what Allah confirms in the Qur'an, was not created as a separate species.

Allah the Exalted says: meaning, "Verily, We created man from an extract of clay. Then We placed him as a drop of sperm in a safe depository."