Detailed Section - Information about Tasawwuf
Intellectual Skepticism about Tassawuf
Hazrat Thanvi RAH says that like it is ordered in Quran majid to be steadfast in salah and pay zakat وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةََ and وَلِلّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتَِ and وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلّهِ meaning, “ But those who believe are most firm in their love for Allah” it is also ordered to exercise patience and extend gratitude towards Allah سبحا ن ؤ تعا لئ . In short, the manifested deeds (zahiri) as well as hidden deeds (batini aamals) are stressed upon in Quran sharif. The same holds true for the ahadith sharif as ahadith emphasize upon performing salah, fasting, paying zakat as well as keeping oneself away from show-off, self conceitness, enviousness & etc. In short, who can deny the fact that manifested deeds (aamal-e-zahiri) and hidden (batini) are both ordained by Allah سبحا ن ؤ تعا لئ and no one can refute their utility and choose just manifested (zahiri) and leave hidden (batini) behind, because it will mean putting oneself over the will of Allah سبحا ن ؤ تعا لئ . The manifested deeds (zahiri aamals) are all meant to cleanse one’s (batin) inner self and only cleansiness of batin can assure good reward in the life hereafter.
Allah سبحا ن ؤ تعا لئ says in Quran sharif that one who purifies one’s inner self (batin) is successful and one with a polluted inner self (batin) is failure. Also, it is given in Quran majid that يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ neither wealth nor offspring will be of any use but sound heart (qalb-e-salim). It is clearly indicated in both above ayats that without purification of soul, one cannot be succeeded in the life hereafter and no material gain can supercede sound heart (qalb-e-salim). Faith and believe in Allah سبحا ن ؤ تعا لئ (Emaan and aqaid), which is a prerequisite for acceptance of one’s deeds, is a hidden (batini) aspect and deeds are all meant to strengthen one’s faith. Thus it could be derived that only through purification of soul one can please Allah سبحا ن ؤ تعا لئ.
Hazrat Suleman Nadvi RAH answering one of the questioners has said that tassawuf is rather a practical thing and for this matter, true believers are required, who practically follow the footsteps of Hazrat Muhammad صلئ الله عليه وآ له وسلمin habits, shariah compliance, day-to-day activities, and etc. Their suhbut (company) is helpful to affect people positively and bring them to want to establish lost link with Allah سبحا ن ؤ تعا لئ and their suhbut (linkage) could be traced back to Hazrat Muhammad صلئ الله عليه وآ له وسلمwithout any break called inheritance tree or silsila. In plain words, the person who is in front of us has achieved confidence of his predecessors to be effective in spiritually training others (can do isla-e-nafs of others). Shah wali ullah Rah says that like we have a established system of hadith quotation, which can be traced back to Hazrat Muhammad صلئ الله عليه وآ له وسلم, likewise, we have established system of suhbut-e-Rasool (صلئ الله عليه وآ له وسلم) and it could also be traced back. The usefulness of Sahaba karam (companions of hazrat صلئ الله عليه وآ له وسلم) suhbut in impressing non-muslims to want to follow islamic principles was basically due to their suhbut with Rasool صلئ الله عليه وآ له وسلم. Thereafter, tabaeen (people who held suhbut of sahaba-e-karam) and taba tabaeen (people who held suhbut of tabaeen) were also effective in leaving their print (purification of soul) on other people as a whole group (jamaat). Thereafter, the tradition of group’s influence over the other group stopped and individual influence over individual started, which simply means that teacher and student relationship took over the previous tradition. This was also because of progression of time away from Hazrat Muhammad صلئ الله عليه وآ له وسلم, as Hazrat صلئ الله عليه وآ له وسلمhas once said that my period, the period after me, and the period after that period would be khar-ul-karoon (collective goodness will supercede evil forces) and thereafter, it will be shar-ul-karoon (evil forces will supercede collective goodness). Therefore, collective guidance tradition has ceased after taba tabaeen and individuals who were trained in tassawuf started guiding people individually (this thing is also called peeri mureedi, but peeri mureedi is just a name and its purpose is already explained above). Our ancestors used to call it suhbut holder of such and such person instead of peeri mureedi.
Sufis of now-a-days have completely changed the purpose and end product of tassawwuf but if they consider themselves real Sufis then they should at least follow the ones who played a major role in passing this tradition (tassawuf) to us and were near to Hazrat Muhammad صلئ الله عليه وآ له وسلمtime as compared to us.