Islam, February 1997

The Truth of Tasawwuf and Sufism

Halil Necatioglu

In the dawn of a blessed Ramadan day, I am writing to you from the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah al-Mukarramah. May the Peace, Mercy and Bounty of Allah be with you. May He protect you from all kinds of oppressions, evils, losses and mischiefs. Undoubtedly, the greatest mischief is the one that harms one's religion, beliefs, and life in hereafter.

The troubles and the tests in this Ramadhan has reached dangerous levels. Some people has attempted to harm the people's pure and sincere beliefs. Everybody seems to be making a statement on Tasawwuf and Sufism without having any knowledge about it; the beliefs of Ahl-i Sunnah -- those who follow the path of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) -- are under attack.

Let it be known undoubtedly that Tasawwuf is one of the most important and valuable disciplines in Islamic teachings, for it teaches how to be aware of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, how to reach Him, and how to earn His pleasure and approval. It is a way of becoming a close friend of Allah; it saves the servant from the hell fire and leads him to the paradise.

How one earns the pleasure and approval of Allah is stated clearly in the Qur'an, in the Sunnah of the Prophet, and in the Shariah. Tasawwuf upholds them and puts them into practice. Tasawwuf cannot go beyond the limits of the Qur'an, the Sunnah and the Shariah, for anything that transgresses these limits becomes nothing but disbelief, atheism and insanity. Moreover, it is not possible to earn the love and pleasure of Allah by committing disobedience and sin. Our beloved prophet, our leader, our guide, our role model Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh) is the most beloved servant and prophet to Allah. Consequently, we must follow the path of the Prophet to become a beloved servant of Allah, for this is the only way leading to the salvation.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived a very simple but pious life; he had so much worship and prayers. He had the best manners; he was a perfect servant of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. His nation followed his exemplary life and become Sufis. He was the king of the darwishes and the leader of the God-fearing and the pious. He was the source of manners and ethics. The Sufi paths are the branches and the continuation of his path, Tarikat-i Muhammadiyya. The Shaikhs and Murshid-i Kamils (perfect guides) are the roses of the rose garden nurtured by him. The true scholars are the spiritual heirs of the Prophet (pbuh); the Sufi Guides who joined with Allah in spirit are the officers of the enlightenment.

While many Tasawwufic issues such as purification of the self, remembrance, good manners, obedience to the scholars, learning and teaching Islam, respect for the scholars, piety, sincerity, devotion, and contentment are stated in the Qur'an and in the Sunnah of the Prophet and observed among the companions of the Prophet, it is not befitting to talk against the Tasawwuf, to deny the Sufi paths and the extraordinary capabilities of Sufis.

Once a servant follows the prophet and advances in his worship, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala provides him some extraordinary capabilities: He becomes the seeing eye, hearing ear, speaking tongue, grasping hand, walking feet of His servant. He helps His servant in all ways, answers his prayers, open ways for him, and bestows him with many spiritual and material bounties. Extraordinary deeds and actions surround the servant and everybody observes these miraculous actions with amaze. This servant becomes a close friend of Allah, the Qutb and Ghaws of his time. He becomes the true heir and spiritual successor of the Prophet, the leader of the Ummah, the guide of the believers. People must obey and submit to such a servant. Those who do not recognize such a servant and such a guide leave this world with a death of ignorance; they come to this world as blind and they depart as blind.

Submitting oneself to a perfect guide in order to receive a spiritual training, to obtain the knowledge of Allah, to correct the self, to abandon the ill habits and deeds, and to gain good manners, does not mean losing the freedom and personality. On the contrary, it means to get the true freedom, to escape the imprisonment by the self and the servitude to Satan, and to earn a great personality. It is "death" before the physical death and having a vital, glittering life.

A patient must submit himself to the doctor and follow his instructions to the letter. The companions of the Prophet submitted themselves just like that. Did they do something wrong or earn the pleasure of Allah? Those who do not know the Tasawwuf, Sufi paths, and the Knowledge of Divine Providence do not know the Shariah, either. With a broken Arabic and a rickety knowledge, these transgressors not only endanger their spiritual lives but also mislead people. It is a great unawareness and ignorance to state some of the verses of the Qur'an on a topic and ignore other verses on the same topic. May Allah guide them.

Those who bring up the false notions of our times and the wrong and stale anti-Ahl-i Sunnah ideas of the history again and again should read the works of some scholars who have discernment and who are truthful and well informed. They should abandon the haughtiness, stubbornness and dispute, for they repel the divine guidance.

The enemies of Islam may attack Islam; however, it does not make any sense at all for those who call themselves Muslims to be the supporters of the enemies. May Allah awaken them from the sleep of unawareness.

Our Lord! Make all of the Nation of the Prophet Muhammad see the truth as truth and follow it, and see the falsehood as falsehood and avoid it. Keep us with those whom You love and You are pleased with.