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Are the origins of Tasawwuf from the pure Sunnah?



This is part of a Radio Islam series taking apart oft-mentioned contestations of ISIS propagandists. Those who aim ISIS rhetoric at unwitting South African audiences create confusion, mayhem and aim to weaken public faith in the guidance of our Ulama.


Part 5 of our series is answered by Abu Hudhaifa, Moulana Muhammed Karolia of Jaami’ah Mahmoodiyah (Dar-ul-Uloom, Springs).




a) Where does the concept pir/mureedi come from? Did such a thing, as a Shiekh and being a mureed, (follower) exist in the time of the Sahaba?

b) Are “Islaah Majalis” – gatherings in a bid to rectify the soul bid’ah?


Summary of transcript: Answer:


Peeri Mureedi is an allusion to tasawwuf. Therefore, question of whether peeri mureedi can be proven from Qur’aan and Hadith is actually whether there is substantiation for tasawwuf in Qur’aan and Hadith. Before answering this question, we first need to know what tasawwuf is.


Tasawwuf has been defined in various ways. Defining tasawwuf, one shaikh said that its beginning is إنما الأعمال بالنيت (actions are judged according to intentions) and its end is أنْ تعبد الله كأنك تراه(that worship Allah as if you are seeing Him). In short, it is the inculcation of sincerity. Others define tasawwuf as tazkiyyah-an-nafs (cleansing of the heart from all spiritual ailments; pride, jealousy etc.) It has also been defined as husn-ul-khuluq (adoption of good character, learning how to behave as a decent human being . . .) Ultimately, all the various definitions oftasawwuf boil down to the same thing: Qur’aan and Hadith. Tasawwuf is nothing but Qur’aan and Hadith and the implementation thereof.


Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam taught the Sahaabah (RA) the Qur’aan and practically demonstrated to them its tenets. In doing so, he did not explain that this is fiqh, this is usool-ul-fiqh, this is usool-ul-hadith etc. However, the passing of time saw the development of these subjects, each with its own characteristics and terminologies. The same could be said with regards tasawwuf.


In order to understand the sharee’ah correctly, we do not only look at the Qur’aan and Hadith. Instead, we also consider the practice of past Muslims (the ‘ulamaa specifically). Thus, tasawwuf may be substantiated by the practice of scores of muhadditheen and fuqahaa over the centuries. Time does not allow us to quote too many names. Nevertheless, I will suffice with three names; ‘Allaamah Ibn Taimiyyah, Haafidh Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah and Shaikh Abu Ishaaq Shaatbi. In their writings they praise the sufis and in fact, they too appear as great sufis. (I specifically mention these three scholars because they are respected and to a large extend followed by many people who oppose tasawwuf.)


Just as there are teachers and students in every field of study (hadith and its usool, fiqh and its usool etc.),tasawwuf is a branch of knowledge and thus, here too there will be a teacher and a student. The difference being that in tasawwuf the teacher is called a shaikh, peer or murshid and the student is called a mureed.


The peer-mureed relationship may be substantiated from the relationship between Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam and his Sahaabah (RA). Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam taught the Qur’aan and how to implement its injunctions. The shaikh (peer) does the same with his mureeds.


In the Surah Al-Fatihah, we read اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ – صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ . . . (Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you favoured . . .) Allah Ta’aala could have defined the straight path asصراط القرآن or صراط السنة etc. The reason why He did not do so and chose صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ(the path of those whom you favoured) is to indicate that in order to understand Islam correctly you need to follow the Ahlullah (true, Allah-fearing scholars).


Proof of the permissibility of islaahi majaalis is the majaalis of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. Remember that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam niether did not speak only of jihaad nor did he only speak of how to perform wudhu and salaah etc. He also spoke of pride, jealousy, greed etc. If the islaahi majaalis of the sufis are a bid’ah, would the hadith and fiqh lessons of the ‘ulamaa in their masaajid and classrooms also be bid’ah?


والله أعلم بالصواب


Abu Hudhaifa Muhammed Karolia

Jaami’ah Mahmoodiyah (Dar-ul-Uloom, Springs)

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