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Real Sufis vs. Fake ‘Sufis': Sufism Once Known For Intellectual Progress, Self-Sacrifice and Spiritual Training Is Missing

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

2 October 2021

Make A Distinction Between Fake And Real Sufis Before Denouncing Islamic Sufism

Main Points

1.    Before embarking on the mystical path, the Real Sufis were attracted by a range of scientific and intellectual achievements.

2.    The writings of the Real Sufis have been working for centuries to transform the darkness of ignorance into the light.

3.    It would be a grave injustice to accuse Real Islamic Sufis of idiocy by measuring the intellectual level of Fake Sufis.

4.    Religious experts have begun to disregard the practical need for spiritual education and training, which is one of the cruelties meted out to Islamic Sufism.

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Some so-called intellectuals and critics are fixated on gaining control of the intellectual world. Because of this infatuation, they don't mind talking nonsense about Sufis and Sufism in general terms, even if they don't understand it. Sufism is a cult of uneducated and ignorant people, according to the most typical charge levelled against Sufis in order to mislead truth seekers. They say that those who have insight and comprehension aren't even close to Sufism. Before making such absurd accusations, such detractors should learn about the history of Sufism. It's worth emphasising that real Sufis were attracted by a range of scientific and intellectual achievements before embarking on the Sufi path.

Imam Qushairi, Abu Talib Makki, Ibn Arabi, Imam Razi, Imam Ghazali, Ibn Khaldun, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Khawajah Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri, Shahabuddin Suhrawardi, Hazrat Zakaria Multani, Mujaddid Alf Thaani, Hazrat Ali Hujweri, Hazrat Yahya Maneri; all of them were not only the emperors of mystical instructions but also men of intellect and wisdom.

Is there anyone brave enough to accuse these distinguished academics and Sufi scholars of ignorance? The writings of these enlightened Sufis have been working for centuries to transform the darkness of ignorance into the light. The mystical emperor of Pakpattan used to declare that ignorance is a stupid monster whose eyes are incapable of distinguishing fact from mirage. According to him, the uninformed is unable to recognise and treat heart and soul disorders.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya did not confer a spiritual caliphate to anyone who was not a scholar [Aalim]. Refrain from three categories of people, according to Kashf Al-Mahjoob: 1) Ulama who are reckless, 2) Faqirs who are fraudulent, and 3) Sufis who are uneducated. According to Allama Ibn Jawzi, who is regarded as the founder of critics of Sufism and saints, Sufis were imams of Quranic sciences, jurisprudence, hadith, and commentary.

The lay critics of Sufism have forgotten that when the people in several parts of the world were plunged into the darkness of ignorance, Sufi scholars played a role in bringing them out of the darkness. One such star was Ibn Khaldun, known as the Imam of Philosophy and History. The emergence and fall of civilisations has been a popular topic among historians since Ibn-e-Khaldun provided the groundwork. According to British historian Arnold Toynbee, Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah was “a philosophy of history which is undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created.” Since then, a slew of authors, including Toynbee, have penned volumes outlining their opinions on how nations grow and collapse. Ibn Khaldun appears to be admired by all European philosophers. Ibn Khaldun has written extensively about the state of immersion [Istighraaq] in Sufism.

Another light flashed on the sky of Sufism, known to the world as Hazrat Imam Fakhr-Ud-Din Razi, during the same age of ignorance. Imam Razi passed on his wisdom to others after acquiring the worldly sciences and disciplines. He wrote books on a wide range of subjects, but philosophy, knowledge, and theology were his true calling cards. He established an enviable reputation in the rational sciences. Before him, writings on theology and philosophy were hazy and complex. Their thoughts and ideas were very vague. Imam al-Ghazali and Imam al-Razi solved the confusion of philosophical sciences very easily. They untied the knots of philosophy in such a way that the flowers of insight and awareness bloomed, fragrantly filling the souls of those yearning for truth. Imam Razi used to say that there is as much difference between the learned and the ignorant as there is between gold and clay. Following the exterior sciences [Zaahiri Ulum], Allah Almighty bestowed upon him great prominence. His knowledge was talked about all around the world. Wherever he went, the entire city, even the king, would greet him with open arms. He was well-liked by both the rich and the poor. Everyone was looking for a chance to see him.

According to the history of Islamic philosophy, Imam Ghazali, Al-Kindi, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina, Mullah Sadra, and Ibn Khaldun, among others, wrote and created reputations in distinct genres on specific sciences. However, Ibn Arabi's writing style was distinct from that of his predecessors, successors, and contemporaries. He favoured merging diverse sciences to reach findings. His way of thinking allows him to see unity in diversity. All sources of cognition, in their case, sum together the facts of the universe to produce ‘a whole’ in which truth manifests itself as light.

Shaykh Ibn Arabi is credited with hundreds of books on several sciences, the majority of which are unpublished or in the form of manuscripts that adorn big libraries around the world. Sheikh Akbar's Arabic publications have been translated into highly developed languages such as English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German, and a substantial supply of his commentaries and biographical literature has risen to the fore in recent years as the West has paid special attention to Ibn Arabi. When the Sufis’ lives are examined objectively, it becomes obvious that some of them were Muhaddiths, great interpreters, trustworthy jurists, brilliant philosophers and thinkers of their times.

By measuring the intellectual level of today’s so-called Sufis, it would be a gross injustice to accuse Islamic Sufism and actual Sufis of stupidity. Sufism, which was once famed for its spiritual method of training, has, unfortunately, become the subject of superstitions today due to the practices of today’s fake Sufis. Sufism has now been reduced to a handful of rites. So-called Sufis today have sacrificed the authenticity on which Sufism was founded. Fake Sufis have reduced the entire Tareeqat process merely to the festivities of Taawiz, Dum-Durood, and Urs.

Sufism and Tareeqah have boiled down to a set of rituals including swearing allegiance to the Shaykh. Unfortunately, as a result of this procedure, neither the Sheikh nor his disciples are aware of each other's current situation.

One of the cruelties meted out to Sufism is that religious experts have begun to overlook the importance of spiritual education and training. The second major flaw in the so-called Sufism is that the sciences of the Quran and Sunnah are confined to the domain of Maulviyyat. The so-called Pirs and fraudulent self-interested worldly Sufis established this thinking to deceive the masses. They believe that Maulvis, not saints or Sufis, are the ones who teach the Qur'an, Hadith, and jurisprudence. The Islamic sciences, which piqued the interest of true Sufis, are being denied in this manner, and an attempt is being made to persuade them that Tareeqah, spirituality, wisdom, guardianship, truth, and rational thinking have nothing to do with Islam.

In this situation, Muslims must recognise and be aware of so-called Sufis, as well as grasp and impart mystical teachings based on the Qur'an and Sunnah, in order to be in harmony with Hazrat Ghaus-e-Azam and Hazrat Khawajah Ghareeb Nawaz's mystical sciences.

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A regular Columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is a Classical Islamic scholar and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator.

URL:   https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-society/intellectual-sufism-spiritual-/d/125492


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