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Sayings and Doings of Great Sufi Scholars

Those great Sufis and founders of tariqahs all taught that the proper methodology and the route to success in this life and the Hereafter is to follow the methodology and Sunnah of the Prophet.

Al-Junayd al-Baghdadiyy, who is the master of the path of the Sufis, said, "Our path is guided by and based on the Book of Allah, and the Sunnah of the Messenger." Shah Naqshaband, another great name among the great Sufis, said, "The correct way to our path is to follow the Prophet, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam." Among the famous sayings of our Master Ahmad ar-Rifa^iyy is: "The tariqah is the same as the laws of the Religion, and the laws of the Religion are the same as the tariqah." This means the tariqah applies the rules of the Religion, and the rules of the Religion order that which is practiced in a sound tariqah. Abul Hasan ash-Shadhiliyy, the founder of the Shadhiliyy tariqah, said, "If extraordinary matters happen with you that contradict the laws of the Religion, the Book of Allah, and/or the Sunnah of the Messenger, then definitely leave them out and follow the rules of the Religion."

Those great Sufis, founders of tariqahs, all advised their students to acquire the knowledge and implement it. Imam Ahmad ar-Rifa^iyy, the founder of the Rifa^iyyah tariqah, advised the Muslims at large to quote the sayings of Malik, Ahmad, ash-Shafi^iyy, and Abu Hanifah. This is to highlight the importance of learning the matters of the Religion through the great scholars of Islam, the scholars of the four most recognized schools of thought.

Al-Ghajdawaniyy, who set the foundation for the Naqshabandiyyah tariqah, wrote a letter to one of his students. In his letter he said,

I urge you to acquire the knowledge and the good manners and to be God-fearing. Follow the traces of the good scholars who lived during the first 300 years after the immigration of the Prophet and the scholars who followed their path after them. Adhere to Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama^ah. Study the fiqh, [that is, the knowledge of the rules of the Religion]. Study the hadith, [the knowledge of the sayings of the Prophet]. Study tafsir, [the interpretation of the Qur’an], and beware and avoid those who are ignorant and claim to be Sufis.

The Prophet, did not indulge his appetite; He ate a little with the intention of supporting his body to be able to carry out Allah’s orders. It is known that an entire month would pass and the Prophet would not light a fire in his house to cook. Rather, he and his family would choose to eat dates and drink water. Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, at one time, was a very wealthy man. After he became Muslim he gave all of his money to help the Muslims and to support the propagation of Islam. After that, he was seen carrying merchandise on his shoulder to sell in order to earn a humble living for himself and his family. This is the situation of the Sufis. They are humble, not arrogant. They do not indulge their appetites or their selves. Even though they might be engaged in some worldly matters, it is for a religious reason, and their hearts are not attached to these matters.

Al-Junayd, the son of Muhammad al-Baghdadiyy, is known as the Master of the true Sufis. He lived during the beginning of the 4th Hijri century. He was a faqih. He was knowledgeable in the matters of the Religion. He was a scholar of hadith. Linguists, scholars of the language, and scholars of the Religion used to come to attend his circle to benefit from his knowledge. Among his sayings is: "We did not acquire this level of Sufism just by talking about it; but rather, we acquired it through spending the nights awake in prayer, experiencing hunger from fasting the days, and going against our worldly desires." This is, of course, after acquiring the knowledge and implementing it--all in sincerity to Allah.

Hence, Sufism is very much a part of the Religion of Islam. History is full of many great examples of true Sufis. It is only intelligent on our part to follow their example and beware of those who claim to be Sufis--yet spread falsehood and misguidance. Moreover, we must fulfill the obligation of ordering the lawful and forbidding the unlawful by warning the Muslims at large from those misguided people who cheat them in the matters of their Religion whether they claim to be Sufis or not.