Islamic Tasawwuf

In the time of the Prophet Hazrat Muhammad(Sall-e-Allah-o' wa Sallam), Tasawwuf was a reality without a name, today Tasawwuf is a name, but few know its Reality.

What is Tasawwuf

"There is no doubt that Tasawwuf is a founding branch of Islam. The word itself may have been derived from the Arabic word "Soof" (Wool) or from "Safa" (cleanliness), but its foundation lies in one's thorough sincerity in seeking Allah's nearness and trying to live a life pleasing to Him. Study of the Quran, the Hadith, and following the practical life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(Sall-e Allah-o' wa Sallam) and his faithful Companions provide unmistakable support to this reality". (Tasawwuf - An Objective Appraisal by Shaykh Allah Yar Khan)

The origin of Tasawwuf thus lies in the prophetic sunna. It became a distinct discipline when the majority of the Muslim Community lost intrinsic, spiritual strength as a whole, so Muslims of subsequent generations required systematic effort to attain it, and it was because of the change in the Islamic environment after the earliest generations, that a discipline by the name of Tasawwuf came to exist.

A Hadith magnifies its validity quoted by 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, who said:

As we sat one day with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), a man in pure white clothing and jet black hair came to us, though none of us knew him.

He sat down before the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) bracing his knees against his, resting hands on legs, and said: "Muhammad, tell me about Islam". The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: "Islam is to testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and to perform the prayer five times, give zakat, fast in Ramadan, and perform the pilgrimage to the Divine House if you can find a way".

He said: "You have spoken the truth", we were surprised that he asked the question first, then confirmed the answer himself. Then he said: "Tell me about true faith (iman),"and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) answered: "It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His inspired Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and in destiny, its good and evil".

"You have spoken the truth," he said, "Now tell me about the perfection of faith (ihsan)," and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) answered: "It is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you see Him not, He nevertheless sees you".

The hadith continues to where Hazrat Umar bin Khattab R.A. said:

Then the visitor left. I waited a while, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to me, "Do you know, 'Umar, who was the questioner?" and I replied, "Allah and His Messenger know best". He said:

"It was Gabriel, who came to teach you your religion" (Sahih Muslim, 1.37: hadith 8).

This is a sahih hadith, as one of the hadiths upon which the Islamic religion turns. The use of din in the last words of it, Atakum yu'allimukum dinakum, "came to you to teach you your religion" entails that the religion of Islam is composed of three fundamentals mentioned in the hadith: Islam, or external compliance with what Allah asks of us; Iman, or the belief in the unseen that the prophets have informed us of; and Ihsan, or to worship Allah as though one sees Him. The Qur'an says, in Surat Hijr: "Surely We have revealed the Remembrance, and surely We shall preserve it" (Qur'an 15:9).

What is not Tasawwuf?

"Kashf and Karamah are not essential to Tasawwuf though the pseudo-Sufis claim such gifts in order to gain various materialistic advantages. Nor is Tasawwuf in any way involved in hocus pocus and talisman trading. It has also nothing to do with prostration on tombs or the lighting of lamps on them. To predict the future is not Tasawwuf either, nor is neither calling the Aulia in absentia nor belief that they have the power to deliver mankind from its sufferings. No spiritual attention of a mentor can edify and enlighten a seeker and direct him toward the straight path without his own efforts and his own adherence to the Prophet's Sunnah. Charms for the veracity of kashf and ilham are not Tasawwuf, nor are ecstasy, trances, dancing and music. The irony is that all of these absurdities are taken to be essentials of Tasawwuf, whereas in fact they are its opposite".