Islam. October, 1990


Halil Necatioglu

One of the most important characteristics Muslims should possess is "justness," that is, being just. It is so important that even if it is unfavorable to one's self, parents, relatives or close friends, still one must never abandon truth and justice. Even if the truth is bitter, it must be spoken. One must support the innocent even if they are weak and take a side with those who are right. Oppressors and those who are wrong must be opposed. In fact, the holy struggle which is the best and most rewarding is speaking the truth straight forward to an oppressive ruler. For example, it is considered a charitable act not to cringe from an arrogant person, but rather to appear proud so as to show him his limits.

Two of the most important characteristics of a Muslim scholar are to speak the truth and to practice and apply his knowledge. One who keeps silent when it s time to speak out is "Shaitan-i Ahras--Silent Satan." On the Day of Judgement, such people will be punished with bites of hell-fire put in their mouths. Hence, those who have the knowledge of the truth must not remain silent. They must speak the truth, inform the interested parties, fulfill their responsibilities and stand by others who speak the truth. They must not support the oppressors.

The "spiritually traveling" believer who wants to attain the love, blessings and mystical knowledge of Allah must fully comply with the prescribed code of manners. One who lacks such manners will be deprived of the blessings of his Lord and turned away; he will fall to the lowest rank of the low. For this reason, this subject has been deliberated in Sufi literature in detail with plenty of warnings.

Among the code of manners are the following: Adab ma-Allah: the manners of servitude towards Allah; Adab ma-ar-rasul: the manners of belonging to the nation (Ummah) of the Prophet; Adab ma-ash-shaykh: the manners of a disciple towards his or her spiritual teacher or master; Adab ma-al-ikhwan, the manners of a disciple towards his fellow-disciples. You must learn and practice these splendid manners because they will enhance your life, bring peace to your spirit, enlighten your heart and fill it with joy. I would like to bring them up more often than I did in the past. Because the paths of Sufism, the paths of spiritual knowledge, are comprised of refinement and morality. Sufism is not a sop and dry matter or a baseless assertion; nor is it a way of dressing or a matter of form and show.

Sincerity (ikhlas) is the most essential requirement for those who are candidates for the path of spiritual refinement. Love, respect, fidelity, obedience, diligence and determination comes out of sincerity. Without these qualities, the spiritual transformation cannot take place.

Because of this, you must control and protect your sincerity; do not let it be harmed. Do not let a perverse thought spoil your good intention. Do not be fooled by the traps of your ego (nafs) and Satan.

The degeneration of sincerity and good intention is caused by nafs and Satan. Further degeneration is caused by accepting what is unlawful and by dishonesty. For example, when someone accepts bribery at work or cheats somebody, his heart immediately darkens. One who commits slander, backbiting, and suspicion immediately falls to a lower spiritual state and looses his love, respect and enlightenment. If one looks at that which is forbidden, he will immediately be subject to punishment and deprivation. Every science has a master; every branch of knowledge, a professor; every subject, an expert; and every complex road, a guide. In the Sufi path such a person is called a "murshid-i kâmil--perfect guide." When someone's suffers from a physical illness, he looks for the best physician without minding going as far as Europe or America. Likewise, a knowledgeable, experienced, scholarly, pious mature and perfect guide must be sought for spirituality. "The path is strenuous; guideless voyage, preposterous." It is a must to search for such a guide from the east to the west. Once such a guide is found, he must be fully surrendered to. Otherwise, it will not be possible to attain the goal of spiritual training.

A wise spiritual guide classified disciples on the Sufi path into three groups: murîd-i mutlaq, murîd-i majazî, and murîd-i murtad. The murîd-i mutlaq is the disciple of certainty, one who is committed himself to his shaikh's training. He is well-intentioned, pure-hearted and striving. He is a true disciple and will advance according to his degree of sincerity and capability attaining his goal eventually.

Murîd-i majazî is the figurative disciple. In reality, this disciple acts according to his own reason and follows his ego's desires, but he appears to be obedient to his shaikh. He is a disciple only in words or for his own interest. He may spend years in the tekke without any progress. In time he may even harm his spirituality and gets disappointed.

The third class of disciples is murîd-i murtad, the apostate disciple. This disciple first commits himself to a shaikh, but later he becomes fickle and disloyal upon receiving a treatment or an order from his shaikh which is not pleasant to his nafs. He even speaks loosely and shamelessly about his master, turns his back and leaves the tekke. All spiritual doors will be closed for this disciple. Wherever he goes, he will not be able to find the path for spiritual development. May Allah forbid, there is even a possibility of leaving this world in an evil state.

May Allah not separate us --even for a moment--from the path, the attributes and the servants which are pleasing to Him. May he deem us persistent in the path of His approval and the path of His beloved prophet and permanent in dhikr, gratitude and worship. May he grant us a beautiful passage to the next world, and May he honor us with heaven and His Beauty. With respects to the greatest of the prophets and the loftiest of allÉ