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Pakistan's westward drift: A stern Wahhabism is replacing the kinder, gentler Islam of the Sufis and saints

The drift is not geophysical, but cultural and ideological

The battle of two visions: An Islamist Theocratic State versus A Modern Islamic Republic


By Pervez Hoodbhoy


‘Alif’ is for Allah

‘Bay’ is for bundooq (gun)

‘Hay’ is for hijab

‘Jeem’ is for jihad

Tay’ is for takrao (collision)

‘Zal’ is for zunoob (sin)


For three decades, deep tectonic forces have been silently tearing Pakistan away from the Subcontinent and driving it towards the Arabian Peninsula. This continental drift is not geophysical but cultural, driven by a belief that Pakistan must exchange its South-Asian identity for an Arab-Muslim one. Grain by grain, the desert sands of Saudi Arabia are replacing the alluvium that had nurtured Muslim culture in the Indian Subcontinent for over a thousand years. A stern, unyielding version of Islam – Wahhabism – is replacing the kinder, gentler Islam of the Sufis and saints.


This drift is by design. Twenty-five years ago, the Pakistani state pushed Islam onto its people. Prayers in government departments were deemed compulsory; floggings were carried out publicly; punishments were meted out to those who did not fast during Ramadan; selection for academic posts required that the candidates demonstrate knowledge of Islamic teachings, and the jihad was emphasised as essential for every Muslim. Today, such government intervention is no longer needed due to the spontaneous groundswell of Islamic zeal. The notion of an Islamic state – as yet in some amorphous and diffused form – is more popular than ever before, as people look desperately for miracles to rescue a failing state. Across the country, there has been a spectacular increase in the power and prestige of the clerics, attendance in mosques, home prayer meetings (dars and zikr), observance of special religious festivals, and fasting during Ramadan.


Villages have changed drastically, driven in part by Pakistani workers returning from Arab countries. Many village mosques are now giant madrasas that propagate hard-line Salafi and Deobandi beliefs through oversized loudspeakers. They are bitterly opposed to Barelvis, Shias and other Muslims who they do not consider to be Muslims. Punjabis, who were far more liberal towards women than were the Pashtuns, are now beginning to embrace the line of thought resembling that of the Taliban. Hanafi law (from one of the four schools of thought or jurisprudence within Sunni Islam) has begun to prevail over tradition and civil law.


Among the Pakistani lower-middle and middle classes lurks a grim and humourless Saudi-inspired revivalist movement (which can be called ‘Saudi-isation’) that frowns upon every form of joyous expression. Lacking any positive connection to culture and knowledge, it seeks to eliminate ‘corruption’ by strictly regulating cultural life and seizing absolute control of the education system. “Classical music is on its last legs in Pakistan; the sarangi and vichtarveena are completely dead,” laments Mohammad Shehzad, a student of music. Indeed, teaching music in public universities is vehemently opposed by students of the Islami Jamaat-e-Talaba, religious fundamentalists who consider music haram. Kathak dancing, once popular among the Muslim elite of India, has no teachers left in Pakistan, and the feature films produced in the country are of next to no consequence. Meanwhile the Pakistani elites, disconnected from the rest of the population, comfortably live their lives through their vicarious proximity to the West.


School militarism

More than a quarter-century after the state-sponsored Islamisation of the country, the state in Pakistan is itself under attack from religious militants, and rival Islamic groups battle each other with heavy weapons. Ironically, the same army – whose men were recruited under the banner of jihad, and which saw itself as the fighting arm of Islam – today stands accused of betrayal, and is targeted by Islamist suicide bombers on an almost daily basis. The militancy that bedevils Pakistan is by no means confined to the tribal areas; it breeds feverishly in the cities as well. Pakistan’s self-inflicted suffering comes from an education system that propagates the jihad culture, which ceaselessly demands that Islam be understood as a complete code of life, designed to create in the minds of the school child a sense of siege and embattlement.


The process begins early. For example, the government-approved curriculum of a Class V Social Studies textbook prescribes that the child should be able to “Make speeches on Jehad and Shahadat”, and “Understand Hindu-Muslim differences and the resultant need for Pakistan.” The material placed before the Pakistani schoolchild has remained largely unchanged even after the attacks of 11 September 2001, which led to Pakistan’s abrupt desertion of the Taliban and the slackening of the Kashmir jihad. Indeed, for all the talk of ‘enlightened moderation’, then-General Pervez Musharraf’s educational curriculum, passed down with some dilution from the time of Zia ul-Haq, was far from enlightening. Fearful of taking on powerful religious forces, every incumbent government has refused to take a position on the curriculum. Thus, successive administrations have quietly allowed the young minds to be moulded by fanatics.


As such, the promotion of militarism in Pakistan’s schools, colleges and universities has had a profound effect on young people. Militant jihad has become a part of the culture in college and university campuses, with armed groups inviting students for jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan. The primary vehicle for ‘Saudi-ising’ Pakistan’s education has been the madrasa. During the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, madrasas provided the US-Saudi-Pakistan alliance that recruits needed for fighting a ‘holy’ war. Earlier on, this role had been limited to turning out the occasional Islamic scholar, using a curriculum dating back to the 11th century with minor subsequent revisions. The principal function of the madrasas had been to produce imams and muezzins for mosques.


The Afghan jihad changed everything. Under Zia, with active assistance from Saudi Arabia, madrasas sprang up across the length and breadth of Pakistan, and now number about 22,000. The free room, board and supplies provided to students has always constituted a key part of the appeal to join these madrasas. But the desire of parents across the country for their children to be ‘disciplined’, and to be given a thorough ‘Islamic’ education, is also a major contributing factor.


One of the chief goals of the Islamists is to bring about a complete separation of the sexes, the consequences of which have been catastrophic. Take the tragic example of the stampede in a madrasa in Karachi in April 2006, in which 21 women and eight children were crushed to death, and scores more injured; all the while, male rescuers were prevented from assisting. Likewise, after the October 2005 earthquake, as this writer walked through the destroyed city of Balakot, a student of the Frontier Medical College described how he and his male colleagues were stopped by religious elders from digging out injured girls from under the rubble of their school building.


The drive to segregate the sexes is now also influencing educated women. Vigorous proselytisers of this message, such as Farhat Hashmi – one of the most influential contemporary Muslim scholars, or ulema, particularly in Pakistan, the UK and the US – have become massively successful, and have been catapulted to heights of fame and fortune. Two decades ago, the fully veiled student was a rarity on any university or college campus in Pakistan. Abaya was once an unknown word in Urdu, but today many shops in Islamabad specialise in these dreary robes, which cover the entire body except the face, feet and hands. At colleges and universities across Pakistan, female students are today seeking the anonymity of the burqa, outnumbering their sisters who still dare to show their faces.


The immediate future of Pakistan looks grim, as increasing numbers of mullahs are creating cults around themselves and seizing control over the minds of their worshippers. In the tribal areas, a string of new Islamist leaders have suddenly emerged – Baituallah Mehsud, Fazlullah, Mangal Bagh and Haji Namdar among others – feeding on the environment of poverty, deprivation, lack of justice, and extreme disparities in wealth.


In the long term, Pakistan’s future will be determined by the ideological and political battle between citizens who want an Islamist theocratic state, and citizens who want a modern Islamic republic. It may yet be possible to roll back the Islamist laws and institutions that have corroded Pakistani society for over 30 years, and defeat the ‘holy’ warriors. However, this can only happen if Pakistan’s elected leaders acquire the trust of the citizens. To do this, political parties, government officials and, yes, even generals will have to embrace democracy, in both word and deed.


Pervez Hoodbhoy is a social activist and physicist at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad.


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  1. Sufism: The Deviated (Muslim) Path

    By Br. Yusuf Hijazi

    Although many sects have appeared throughout the ages, none have outlasted as long and spread their effects into the homes of so many as Sufism has. The emotional attachment that a countless number of Muslims have towards this sect is so powerful that any analysis should be purely from an objective perspective; thus this article takes an objective approach, and tries to be conservative rather than extreme in its analysis of Sufism. Its conclusions however leave no doubt as to the alien nature of Sufi teachings that have infiltrated into the religion that our beloved Prophet (s.a.w) left us upon. Sufism: Its Origins

    The word Sufi is most likely to be derived from the Arabic word "soof", meaning wool. This is because of the Sufi habit of wearing woolen coats, a designation of their initiation into the Sufi order. The early Sufi orders considered the wearing of this coat as an imitation of Isa bin Maryam (Jesus). In reply to this, Ibn Taymiyyah said: "There are a people who have chosen and preferred the wearing of woolen clothes, claiming that they want to resemble al-Maseeh ibn Maryam. But the way of our Prophet is more beloved to us, and the Prophet (s.a.w) used to wear cotton and other garments."1

    Sufism is known as "Islamic Mysticism," in which Muslims seek to find divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God2. Mysticism is defined as the experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality, and the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (as intuition or insight)3

    Both the terms Sufi and Sufism and Sufi beliefs have no basis from the traditional Islamic sources of the Qur'an and Sunnah, a fact even admitted by themselves. Rather, Sufism is in essence a conglomerate consisting of extracts from a multitude of other religions with which Sufi's interacted.

    During the primary stages of Sufism, Sufis were characterised by their particular attachment to zikr (remembrance of Allah) and asceticism (seclusion), as well as the beginning of innovated practices to 'aid' in the religious practices. Yet even at the early stage of Sufism, before their involvement in innovated rituals and structured orders, the scholars warned the masses of the extremity of Sufi practices. Imam Al-Shafi' had the opinion that "If a person exercised Sufism (Tasawafa) at the beginning of the day, he doesn't come at Zuhur except an idiot". Imam Malik and Ahmad bin Hanbal also shared similar ideas on this new movement which emanated from Basrah, Iraq.

    Although it began as a move towards excessive Ibaadah, such practices were doomed to lead to corruption, since their basis did not come from authentic religious doctrines, but rather from exaggerated human emotions.

    Sufism as an organised movement arose among pious Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad period (AD 661-750)4. The Sufis exploited the chaotic state of affairs that existed during the fifth and sixth centuries A.H. and invited people to follow their way, alleging that the remedy to this chaos was conformity to the guidance of their order's Sheikhs. Dar al-Majnoon was established during the reign of Khalifah Ma'moon, where he invited the scholars of the Romans and Greeks to meet with the Muslims and 'discuss' their respective positions. This provided the perfect breeding ground for the synthesis between Islam and Pagan theology, to produce the Sufism of the likeof Ibn Arabi.

    The Mixing Pot

    With the demise of the Companions and their successors, the door became open for the distortion of Islamic Principles. The enemies of Islam had already burrowed deep into the ranks of Muslims and rapidly caused Fitnah through their spreading of forged hadith and subsequently created new sects such as the Khawaarij and Mu'tazilah.

    Sufism gained its breeding ground during this period, whereby it gained its support from the Dynastic Rulers, who had deviated from Islam to the extent whereby magic was used as entertainment in their courts, even though magic is considered as Kufr in Islam.5 During this period, Sufism developed its Shi'a flavour, indeed the roots of contemporary Sufism have been traced back to Shi'a origins (see later).

    Sufi ideology and thinking flourished during the times of the likes of Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi, Jalal Ad Din Rumi, and Imam Ghazali. Their translation of Greek philosophical works into Arabic during the third Islamic century left an indelible mark on many aspects of Sufism, resulting in Greek pantheism becoming an integral part of Sufi doctrine. Pagan practices such as Saint worshipping, the use of magic and holding venerance towards their Sheikh overtook the Orthodox practices of Islam and had little resemblance to the Islam left by our Prophet (s.a.w).

    By examining the mystic doctrines of Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism and other religions, it becomes clear how closer Sufism is to these religions than to Islam. In fact, Sufism is never characterised under "Islam" in any system of catalogue, but rather under 'Mysticism'.

    Sharda highlights these unsurprising similarities by stating that: "After the fall of Muslim orthodoxy from power at the centre of India for about a century, due to the invasion of Timur, the Sufi became free from the control of the Muslim orthodoxy and consorted with Hindu saints, who influenced them to an amazing extent. The Sufi adopted Monism and wifely devotion from the Vaishnava Vedantic school and Bhakti and Yogic practices from the Vaishnava Vedantic school. By that time, the popularity of the Vedantic pantheism among the Sufis had reached its zenith."6

    The following comparison demonstrates the non-coincidental similarity that Sufism shares with other religions:

    Concept of validity of all religions

    The Sufi doctrine of all religions being acceptable before Allah is derived from the Mystical beliefs of other religions, and not Islam, for Allah says: "Truly, the religion in the Sight of Allah is Islam..." [2: 19].

    Take for example the Buddhists:

    "No Buddhist who understands the Buddha's teaching thinks that other religions are wrong... All religions acknowledge that man's present state is unsatisfactory. All teach an ethics that includes love, kindness, patience, generosity and social responsibility and all accept the existence of some form of Absolute."

    The Sufis also believe the same: "Allah does not distinguish between the non-believer and the Faasiq (wrong doer) or between a believer and a Muslim. In fact they are all equal to Him... Allah does not distinguish between a Kaffir or a hypocrite or between a saint and a Prophet."7

    In al-Fusoos, Ibn Arabi leaves no doubt as to his conviction in the unity of all religions: "Beware of restricting yourself to one particular religion and disbelieving in everything else, so that great good would be missed by you, indeed you would miss attainment of knowledge of the affair in the form he is following. Rather be ready to accept all forms of belief. This is because Allah is higher and greater than to be comprehended by one belief to the exclusion of others. Rather all are correct, and everyone who is correct receives award, and everyone who is rewarded is fortunate, and everyone who is fortunate is one with Whom He is pleased."8

    Union with the Creator

    Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'aala is completely distinct from His Creation. He neither resembles His Creation, nor is He enclosed by it. Sufis however, with their deviant doctrine of Wahdat ul Wujood, believe contrary to this. Ibn Arabi, the Sufi scholar with whom which the concept of Wahdat ul Wujood is rightly attributed, asserted that since Allah's Attributes were manifested in His creation, to worship His creation is similar to worshipping Him: "So the person with complete understanding is he who sees every object of worship to be a manifestation of the truth contained therein, for which it is worshipped. Therefore they call it a god, along with its particular name, whether it is a rock, or a tree, or an animal, or a person, or a star, or an angel."9

    This is how far the Sufis deviated because of their reliance on Greek and Eastern philosophy, rather than the Qur'an and Sunnah. To them God is not Allah Alone with whom no one else shares in His Dominion, but rather everything we see around us, and ultimately our own selves! Glory to Allah, who Stated "There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer"[42: 11]. Looking at where Sufism derived its understanding from, we find the same ingrained beliefs:

    "When you live in the wisdom home, you'll no longer find a barrier between "I" and "you," "this" and "that," "inside" and "outside;" you'll have come, finally, to your true home, the state of non-duality."10

    "Finally, the experience of realisation matures sufficiently that the [spiritual aspirant] may rightly utter the startling assertion, 'I am Shiva' (a Hindu deity)".11

    "When I am in that darkness I do not remember anything about anything human, or the God-man.. I see all and I see nothing. As what I have spoken of withdraws and stays with me, I see the God-man.. and he sometimes says to me: 'You are I and I am you'".12

    Corruption of Tawheed in Allah's Attributes

    Sufis totally deny all of Allah's Attributes, such as His Face, His Hands, His Istawaa etc, using metaphorical meanings to explain His Attributes. Although the Companions and Tabi'een believed in them without any resemblance to His creation, the Sufi's deem His Attributes to be a part of His creation.

    Ibn Arabi went as far as to say that he saw Allah during one of his ecstatic trances, in the shape of a young blond boy sitting on a Throne! (see Bezels of Wisdom, London 1980). Other Sufi Gnostics followed suit in Ibn Arabi's trail: "In the writings of Ibn al-Arabi and Ibn al-Farid, eternal beauty is symbolised through female beauty; in Indo-Muslim popular mystical songs the soul is the loving wife, God the longed-for husband." 13

    Incorporation of Music in Rituals

    Music of all forms is forbidden by the majority of scholars, and remains attached to forbidden practices such as drinking, fornication and parties. However, after the Muslim conquest of the Deccan under Malik Kafur (c. 1310), a large number of Hindu musicians were taken with the royal armies and settled in the North. The acceptance of the Sufi doctrines, in which music was an accepted means to the realisation of God, enabled Muslim rulers and noblemen to extend their patronage to this art.14 At the courts of the Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan, music flourished on a grand scale, and Sufi Dervishes used music as a means to enter ecstatic trances.

    Allah's Messenger (s.a.w) said in a lengthy hadith concerning the appearance of vile acts, "...when singing-girls and stringed instruments make their appearance, wines are drunk, and the last members of this people curse the first ones, look at that time for a violent wind, an earthquake, being swallowed up by the earth, metamorphosis, pelting rain, and signs following one another like bits of a necklace falling one after the other when its string is cut." [Tirmidhi ].

    The deception of Sufism is brought to full light by looking at the lives of their esteemed leaders, the Sheikhs of whom which they place full trust in heir knowledge and obey their every command, and by contrasting the Orthodox Islamic teachings against the Sufi alternative.

    Sufi Sheikhs: Role Models or Deviants?

    Bayazid Tayfur al-Bistami

    Bayazid is considered to be "of the six bright stars in the firmament of the Prophet (s.a.w)"15, and a link in the Golden Chain of the Naqshibandi Tariqah. Yet his life reeks of Shirin all aspects.

    Bayazid al-Bistami was the first one to spread the reality of Annihilation (Fana'), whereby the Mystic becomes fully absorbed to the point of becoming unaware of himself or the objects around him. Every existing thing seems to vanish, and he feels free of every barrier that could stand in the way of his viewing the Remembered One. In one of these states, Bayazid cried out: "Praise to Me, for My greatest Glory!"

    Yet this concept is to be found nowhere in the Qur'an, nor Sunnah, nor in the behaviour in the Salaf us Saalih.

    Bistami's belief in the Unity of all religions became apparent when asked the question: "How does Islam view other religions?" His reply was "All are vehicles and a path to God's Divine Presence." Was this the Message of Tawheed which the Prophet (s.a.w) practised and was followed by the Sahaabah? He attributed the believers to be the same as the disbelievers themselves, who Allah describes as being worse than cattle (Surah 7, verse 179) and dogs; the same disbelievers who the Prophet (s.a.w) stated he had been commanded to fight till they testified that there was no deity but Allah.

    The whole life of Bayazid is rife with such contradiction to Eeman. From a young age, he left his mother stating to her that he could not serve Allah and his mother at the same time.16 When walking through the streets, he once called out "I am God; why do you not worship me?" He spent his time sitting with his head resting between his knees, one of his companions stating he did so for thirty years. But strangest of all was his obedience to a dog he once came across. The dog had apparently become upset at Bayazid's attempt to avoid him, to which the dog spoke to him and scolded him. So Bayazid pleaded "O dog, you are so enlightened, live with me for some time."17

    Ibn Arabi

    During the late 12th and early 13th centuries, under the influence of speculative mysticism, Ibn al-Arabi produced a system that created a complete chasm between the law and Sufism. In societies, such as Islamic India, that had a strong pre-Islamic heritage of mysticism, this chasm became much wider.18

    Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi holds perhaps the highest position amongst all Sufi Schools, and was pivotal in the permanent split between Islam and Sufism. He claimed to have received direct orders from the Prophet (s.a.w) himself, including a book of completely new hadith never seen or heard of before.

    Prior to his receiving 'revelation', Ibn Arabi was well known to attend nightly parties in Seville. During one of these nights, he heard a voice (his drunk inner self?) calling to him, "O Muhammad, it was not for this that you were created". He fled in fear to a cemetery, where he claims to have met, and received instruction from, Jesus, Moses and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. From his books, innumerable forged sayings attributed to the Prophet (s.a.w) have been used, to the extent that countless of Muslims consider these to be real.

    The following are quotes from Ibn Arabi:

    "The man of wisdom will never allow himself to be caught up in any one form or belief, because he is wise unto himself".19

    "All that is left to us by tradition (Hadith) is mere words. It is up to us to find out what they mean"20. (This reflects his alliance with Baatini (inner) meanings and interpretations)

    "He (Ibn Rushd) thanked God that in his own time he had seen someone (Ibn Arabi) who had entered into the retreat ignorant and had come out like this (knowledge of inner meanings)- without study, discussion, investigation or reading"21


    Junaid was the fourth head of the Safavid order who sought to transform the spiritual strength of the order into political power. What may be unknown to his followers however was his policies of military adventurism combined with Shi'a and Sufi piety.22 His son, Haydar, himself established the Safavid dynasty and the Twelver Shi'a Islam in Iran came under his grandson, Isma'il I.

    He was said to have blown a fatal breath at his slave-girl, to which he argued that she was ruining his forty years of spiritual practices.23

    This so-called 'Saint', a supposed friend of Allah, made the following remarks:

    "I saw a thief who was being gibbeted. I bowed to him... for being true to the profession he followed."

    " He who fears Allah never smiles".

    "One moments forgetfulness of the Lord ruins a thousands years worship".

    Mansur al-Hallaj

    Mansur is renowned for his claim "Ana-l-Haq" (I am the Truth), for which he was executed for apostasy. Yet he is still revered by Sufis even though he abandoned all the laws governing Tawheed.

    He was said to have lived in one cloak for a full twenty years, along with a scorpion inside. He stood bare-footed and bare-headed for one year at the same spot in Makkah. During his prayers, he would say "O Lord! You are the guide of those who are passing through the Valley of Bewilderment. If I am a heretic, enlarge my heresy." He also said "I denied your religion (Islam) and denial is obligatory on me, although that is hideous to Muslims."24

    Abu Yazid

    Abu Yazid once prayed one Juma'a prayer in 24,000 different places. He told the religious authorities in one place: "I was praying in 12,000 different houses of worship today." They asked: "How?" He said, "By the power of the Lord Almighty. If you don't believe me, send people around to ask." They sat and waited until messengers returned saying that he was seen in so many places. Abu Yazid said later: "I was afraid to say 24,000, so I only said 12,000." So Abu Yazid clearly lied, when he could have simply not mentioned anything in the first place.

    Are these truly the ones who we are told to receive the knowledge of our religion from? Do these men reflect the teachings of Islam? A man who left obedience to his mother, to the obedience of a dog? Are we supposed to follow men who receive revelation in a cemetery after spending the night at a party? Or a man who kills his slave girl for 'disturbing' his worship? To us, Islam calls smiling a charity, not a deviation from Allah's Pleasure. Islam forbids prostration to anyone but Allah. The Prophet (s.a.w) used to make du'a seeking Allah's guidance, not begging for heresy. And Islam teaches us truthfulness, not lies.

    Evidence Against their teachings: their beliefs and practices

    Position of the Sheikh and Wali

    The Sheikh or Wali is given a similar standing as that of a Catholic Saint, or the Dalai Lama himself. Complete obedience is enforced on his followers, and any questions are deemed as a betrayal of trust: "The seeker must submit to the will of the Sheikh and to obey him in all his orders and advice, because the Sheikh has more experience and more knowledge in Haqiqat, in Tariqat and in Shari'ah," and "he must agree with the opinion of his Sheikh completely, as the patient agrees with the physician".25

    Yet Muslims believe that any single act of worship must be substantiated by the Qur'an and Sunnah only. Allah the Exalted says:"Say (to them), 'Produce your proof if you are truthful'." [2: 111], and the Prophet (s.a.w) said "The created is not to be obeyed over the Creator."

    The Sheikh is given the standing of a deity in Sufism. Attributes which belong to Allah, are also assigned to their Sheikhs. They seek help from them, whether they are dead or 10,000km away. They believe that their sheikhs know everything their students are thinking, and that they converse with the Prophet (s.a.w) on a regular basis (in reality).

    Distortion of the concepts of zikr, hadith, Qur'an

    Since the Qur'an and Saheeh Hadith cannot be changed, the Sufi's have reverted to Ta'weel, a method of changing the apparent meaning of the verse or hadith to have a hidden one. This provided them with sufficient lee-way to support any concept they desired, by simply stating that the verse/hadith had an inner meaning which only the Sheikh himself could know.

    In the Bezels of Wisdom, Ibn Arabi presents certain aspects of what he terms "Divine Wisdom," as he conceives it. But Ibn al-Arabi interprets the relevant verses of Surat Noah in the most outrageous fashion, since he suggests meanings diametrically opposed to those accepted by all Muslim scholars. He interprets the "wrongdoe," "infidels," and "sinners" in Surat Noah as 'saints and Gnostics' drowning and burning not in the torment of Hell, but rather in the flames and water of knowledge of God. Ibn Arabi regarded the idols worshipped by Noah's people as divine deities. Allah condemned their deed saying: "And they (Noah's people) said, 'Do not abandon your gods, neither Wad, Suwa', Yaghooth, Ya'ooq nor Nasr'. " [71: 23]

    On which Ibn Arabi commented:

    "If they (Noah's people) had abandoned them, they would have become ignorant of the Reality ... for in every object of worship there is a reflection of Reality, whether it be recognised or not."

    The act of making Zikr in circles and jumping/moving frantically is also totally unfounded. Zikr in the true Arabic sense means "Remembrance of Allah." The Prophet's (s.a.w) method, which Muslims agree to be the best and only acceptable one, of zikr consisted in reciting Qur'an, discussing religion with his companions, and making Tasbeeh on his hands. Yet the act of sitting in circles and loudly or silently chanting "Allah, Allah" was never practised by the Prophet (s.a.w) nor the Salaf, and all hadith which state that the Prophet (s.a.w) did so (such as when he supposedly went into a room, told the companions to lift up their hands and chant "La Ilaha Illa Allah" ) are unanimously agreed upon to be forged. Ibn Taymiyyah stated that this practice opened the door to Shaytaan, whereby the Shaytaan would enter the gathering (since they were involved in innovation) and take the form of a pious person. He also stated that the recital of "Allah, Allah" was forbidden, as it was never declared to be a form of zikr, and has no attached word to complete it (such as Allahu Akbar, Subhaan Allah).26

    The stories also of Khidr and his meeting with the 'Awliyaa', the 40 Abdaal's who are always on the Earth and can be at any place in the wink of an eye, are derived from Jewish and Christian legends, not Islamic traditions.


    Imam Malik remarked: "That which was not religion at the time of the Messenger and his companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, is never to be religion today. He who introduces a Bid'ah (innovation) in the religion of Islam and deems it a good thing, claims by so doing that Muhammad (s.a.w) betrayed the Message."

    The Sufis are to be found indulging in and spending an enormous amount of resources defending innovated practices, declaring them to be "good innovations." These include celebrating the death of the Prophet (s.a.w) (a practice adopted from the reign of Fatamids, who began this innovation in order to seek the pleasure of the masses), reading Qur'an over the dead and seeking blessings form them, and the building of extravagant mosques (even though our Prophet (s.a.w) forbade this. Anas reports that the Messenger of Allah said: "The Hour will not come to pass until the people vie with each other in (building) the mosques." [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, anNasa'i, Ibn Majah] ).

    Emotional attachment

    The Sufi's have become such an integral part of the lives of so many Muslims that Muslims are finding it difficult to accept that the Sufi path is wrong, and accuse anyone who pinpoints the errors of Sufism as an extremist or a follower of some 'deviant' sect.

    Sufism calls to human emotions rather than intellect and Islamic evidence. For example, poetry and music were the most popular form during the past hundreds of years, whereby "Sufi ideas permeated the hearts of all those who hearkened to poetry."27 Today, Sufism is followed by masses of people who desire to leave behind the complexities of this world, instead of building the ability to challenge it. Sufism provides the perfect escape, where its followers can meditate instead of thinking about the other Muslims who are suffering, let alone help them.

    Similarity with pagan beliefs

    Sufism is so similar to other religions, and as we noted earlier very tolerant of them, that a change to Sufism does not involve a complete change of life, as Islam requires. So Buddhists, Sikhs, Taoists and mystic Jews and Christians looking for an easy alternative find solace in Sufism which perhaps only adds another dimension to their previous way of life, rather than uprooting it and starting afresh.


    Ibnul-Jawzee says in Talbees Iblees: "Sufism is a way whose beginning was complete avoidance of the affairs of worldly life, then those who attached themselves to it became lax in allowing singing and dancing. Therefore the seekers of the hereafter from the common people became attracted to them due to the avoidance of the worldly life which they manifested, and the seekers after this world were also attracted to them due to the life of ease and frivolity which they were seen to live."

    Sufism offers its followers a life carefree from fighting (Jihad), politics, the initiative to seek knowledge and teach it, the work of Da'wah, and allows a person to indulge in worldly activities such as music, magic, and other prohibited acts.

    The leader of the Naqshibandi Tareeqa in America, was quoted in the media as saying the following: "You have to be both material and spiritual. Sufis can give people joy in their spiritual life. Well, Madonna is giving people a kind of joy in their material life... You cannot say she is wrong. Sufis don't object and criticise - they are accepting everything. That's why, when my children are looking at Madonna on MTV, I say, 'Let me come and look also!'"

    Support from the governments

    Any group which manages to gain the support of an anti-Islamic Government must be suspicious. During the reign of the tyrant Mustafa Kemal, under whose leadership thousands of scholars were executed and Islamic practices banned, special permission was granted by the Turkish government in 1954 allowing the Mawlawi dervishes of Konya to perform their ritual dances. In fact, they have become a regular attraction nowadays, performing around the world along with their Turkish Mystical Music State Ensemble. 28

    The Sheikh of the Naqshibandi's of America has greeted and received praises from the President of America Bill Clinton himself. And why shouldn't he, since the 'Islam' he portrays is one of pacifism and unity with the Kuffar. Twisting of evidence

    Since the Qur'an and Hadith are readily available, and cannot be changed, the Sufis have resorted to another trick used by other Mystics: Ta'weel, or changing the apparent meaning of a verse or hadith to a secret inner one which only a certified Sheikh could explain!

    They also rely on providing the mass with forged hadith, such as the one stating the beseeching of Adam (a.s) in the name of Muhammad when he sinned; the stories of Khidr; the rising of the Prophet (s.a.w) from his grave so a person could kiss his hand and so on.

    Because of the lack of knowledge the general mass possess on the knowledge of Hadith and Aqeedah, they believe what they are told, and pass on the stories to other generations, becoming distorted even more along the way.

    Another smart tactic is to attribute forged sayings in support of the Sufi's from the righteous scholars. For example, Ibn Taymiyyah is attributed to have been a member of the Qadiri order and had been initiated, and spoken great words on Bistami and his likes. Yet Ibn Taymiyyah spent the majority of his life fighting against the teachings of Sufism, was imprisoned because of them, and bluntly stated "...Ibn Arabi who wrote "Al-Fousous," and other slandering atheists such as Ibn Sab'een and his like. They even witness that they are simultaneously the worshipers and the ones being worshiped."

    The Damage to the Ummah

    Sufis distracted the Muslims from the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah towards the servitude of the Sheikh. Muslims thus became alienated from the teachings of Islam, and possessed no protection from the innovations and trappings of the deviant sects. Teachings such as "He (the follower) must not look to any other than his Sheikh" did nothing to cement the community. Rather, it sent the ball rolling for the wars between the various Mathabs, which culminated in fighting, rejection of each other faiths, and praying at different stations in Makkah itself.

    The Sufi's have left a lasting impression on the image of Islam, portraying it as one of peace and apolitical, and anyone who contravenes this is an impostor and considered an extremist. By relying on forged hadith such as the 'bigger Jihad is Jihad'ul Nafs (i.e. struggle against the self)' and its like, Muslims have been made to believe that work and family is the greatest Jihad, rather than establishing Allah's religion on Earth though the use of the sword.

    The Sufi influence undoubtedly contributed greatly to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The pacifist views they spread, the lack of Shari'ah knowledge, and their befriending of the disbelievers, made sure that no one would oppose the vast changes being made to the Ottoman Laws. By 1880, the Tanzimat period was in full force, where Shari'ah was replaced by European Laws (except in limited circumstances such as in Hadd punishments), yet little opposition was heard29. Whilst the masses were busy in the construction of extravagant mosques and spinning around in circles, the Ottoman Empire was overtaken by Masons and eventually torn to parts.


    Sufism was doomed to destruction from when it first emerged, because of its deviation from the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah. The small excess, the little innovation, led to the snowball effect, such that it emerged as a movement for well-meant increased Ibaadah and Zuhd, to Kufr and Innovation.

    In truth, Islam is sufficient for us, and it is only Shaytaan who wishes to turn us away from our religion, to make us exceed the limits, and fall into his trap. The only sure way to avoid this is to grasp tightly onto what was left to us by our beloved Prophet (s.a.w), the Qur'an and Sunnah, as understood and believed and acted upon by the best people to have lived: the Salaf us Saalih, the Companions and those who followed their footsteps.

    1 Al Fataawa 11/7

    2 Encyclopaedia Britannica

    3 Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

    4 Encyclopaedia Britannica

    5 The Fundamentals of Tawheed, Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips

    6 S. R. Sharda, Sufi Thought

    7 The Naqshbandi Way, pp 12,16

    8 Ibn Arabi, al-Fusoos, p.191

    9 Hadhihi Hiyas-Soofiyah, p.38

    10 The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, p.77

    11 The Triadic Heart of Shiva, pp 183-4

    12 Angela of Foligno: Complete Works, pp 181-2

    13 Encyclopaedia Britannica

    14 ibid.

    15 Naqshibandi Way

    16 Memoirs of the Saints, translated by Dr. Bankley Behari

    17 ibid.

    18 Encyclopaedia Britannica

    19 An unpublished poem from Ibn Arabi's 'Diwan', translated by Dr Austin

    20 Stephen Hirtenstein's paper Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi: The Treasure of Compassion

    21 Sufis of Andalusia, transl. by R. W. J. Austin, p.23

    22 Encyclopaedia Britannica

    23 Memoirs of the Saints, p.108

    24 ibid.

    25 Naqshibandi Way

    26 Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmoo' al Fatawaah

    27 Encyclopaedia Britannica

    28 They recently came to perform in Australia, charging $30 per head. Only the elite went to watch this 90 minute theatrical display.

    29 The Islamic World, New Jersey 1991

    By shahid iqbal 23/04/2011 04:45:14
  2. Dear sirs,
    Assalamu Alaikum. This is not a fair or academic analysis by mr Hoodabhoy.He thinks so-called Wahabism is replacing kinder Islam.This point has several faults.One is the main stream of the Muslims in Pakistan are neither so-called Wahabis or Soofis.Wahabism is a misnomer , at the most you can say part of the people is highly conservative and they require better education.Followers of Soofismay be five percent or less though Soofis are respected by most people.
    The writer has essentially blamed Islamic education, hijab and some Islamic laws.This is his conjecture.In fact the turbulence in Pakistan is because of foreign powers interference , failure of politicians, un-necessary army interference etc.
    This is a short response, no detail response is really necessary as it is highly partisan and one-sided.
    Shah Abdul Hannan

    By Shah Abdul Hannan
  3. What are the forces and who are the people behind so called selfstyled New Age Islam and their 'agenda'?

    Where were all those when such things were happening and why they did not open their mouths then?

    Why only a few as follows have been mentioned and not the rest? What is wrong with

    Allah, Hijab and Jihad? What are the alternatives?


    ‘Alif’ is for Allah

    ‘Bay’ is for bundooq (gun)

    ‘Hay’ is for hijab

    ‘Jeem’ is for jihad

    ‘Tay’ is for takrao (collision)

    ‘Zal’ is for zunoob (sin)

     Did not America and her Allies including Britain and European Union tolerate Wahabbism as long as it served their purpose and supported Jihad in Afghanistan against Russia?

    There was a Review on Hoodbhoy's Book worth reading:             

    Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005 01:37:44 -0400 (EDT)

    From: "Pervez Hoodbhoy"

    To: Mukto-Mona

    Subject: Islam and Science -- A View From The Other Side Of The Divide


    Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. 02/04/2006

     A review of: Pervez Hoodbhoy, Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and Battle for Rationality

    By: Dr. Ahmad Shafaat

    In this book, Dr. Hoodbhoy, a nuclear physicist, eloquently and usefully draws attention to the plight of science and technology in the Muslim world and to the need to do something about it. The book also makes some other helpful insights here and there about why, after centuries of brilliant achievements, science suffered such a fate in the Muslim world. But the book also suffers from some very serious flaws in its view of Islam and analysis of Islamic history.


    IN CONCLUSION, Hoodbhoy’s perspective on “Islam and Science” comes from a lost faith and from a somewhat immature rationality. For this reason he cannot see what some other thinkers such as Allamah Iqbal could see: Secular humanism or any other similar set of ideas is not the “only way”. Islamic civilization, after its present ruin, will once again vibrate with life as an authentically Islamic civilization, not only overcoming some of its deep problems but also guiding humanity to a vastly better alternative to the existing world order.

    By Abdul Wahid Osman Belal
  4. A people whose ancestors ruled over vast areas of the civilized world for over 1000 years are now under pressure of West and a rented army ignoring its people's wishes and hopes and destroying and killing its own people. Quran says "don't take yahud and nassarra as your helping friends, they are your and mine enemies". Ignoring Allah's command has brought us only shame and humiliations in the world. Now they are bent on destroying Pakistan, so let us all join hands and liberate Pakistan first from:


    Destroying Pakistan to Make It Safe 

    Paris May 18, 2009

    The US keeps kicking hornet’s nests around the globe and wondering why it continues getting stung.

    The latest example:  Pakistan’s once beautiful Swat Valley has been turned into a battlefield.  Last week, Pakistan finally bowed to Washington’s angry demands to unleash its military against rebellious Pashtun tribesmen of Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) – who are collectively mislabeled `Taliban’ in the west.  They are not the Afghan Taliban, but it’s convenient fore the western media and Pentagon to slap that label on them.
    The Obama administration had threatened to stop $1.2 billion annual cash payments to bankrupt Pakistan’s political and military leadership, and block $5.5 billion future aid, unless Islamabad sent its soldiers into Pakistan’s turbulent NWFP along the Afghan frontier and crushed attempts to re-establish Islamic Law and autonomy. Many people in the region want Islamic law because in utterly corrupt Pakistan it represents the only honest and swift judicial system.  The only other `law’ available has to be bought.
    Pakistan’s army and air force claimed to have killed 1,000 `terrorists’ (read: mostly civilians) and almost emptied the valley of its inhabitants. UN sources now say the operation has created close to 2 million refugees.
    Pakistan’s armed forces, who are being paid by the US to fight Pashtun tribes, have scored a brilliant victory against their own people.   Too bad Pakistan’s military does not manage to do as well in wars against India. Blasting civilians at home, however, is much safer and more profitable.
    Unable to pacify Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes (again, lumped together as `Taliban’), a deeply frustrated Washington has begun tearing Pakistan apart in an effort to end Pashtun resistance in both nations.  CIA drone aircraft have so far killed over 700 Pakistani Pashtun. Only 6% were militants, according to Pakistan’s media,   the rest civilians.
    Pashtun, also improperly called Pathan, are the world’s largest tribal people.  Fifteen million live in Afghanistan, forming half its population.  Twenty-six million live right across the border in Pakistan.
    Up to three million Afghan Pashtun are refugees in Pakistan.
    True to their strategy of divide and rule, Britain’s imperialists split the Pashtun by an artificial border, the Durand Line (which became today’s Afghan-Pak border). Pashtun reject this artificial border.
    Many Pashtun tribes agreed to join Pakistan in 1947 provided much of their homeland remain autonomous and free of government troops. Pashtun Swat, where Islamic Sharia law was in force, only joined Pakistan in 1969 after assurances of autonomy and religious freedom.
    As Pakistan’s Pashtun increasingly aided Pashtun resistance in Afghanistan, US `Predator’ drones began attacking them. Washington forced Islamabad to violate its own constitution by sending troops into Pashtun lands.   The result was the current explosion of Pashtun anger.
    I have been to war with Pashtun and have seen their legendary courage, strong sense of honor, and determination. They are also hugely quarrelsome, feuding, prickly, and notorious for seeking revenge.  .
    One learns never threaten a Pashtun or give him ultimatums. These mountain warriors defied the US by refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden because he was a hero of the anti-Soviet war and their guest. Doing would have violated their ancient code of `Pashtunwali’ that still guides them.
    Now, Washington’s ham-handed policies and last week’s Swat atrocity  threaten to ignite Pakistan’s second worst nightmare after invasion by India: that its 26 million Pashtun will secede and join Afghanistan’s Pashtun to form an independent  Pashtun state, Pashtunistan.
    This would rend Pakistan asunder, probably provoke its restive Baluchi tribes to secede, and might tempt mighty India to intervene military, risking nuclear war with beleaguered Pakistan.
    The Pashtun of Northwest Frontier have no intention or capability of moving into Pakistan’s other provinces, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan.  They just want to be left alone.  Alarms of a `Taliban takeover of Pakistan’ are driven by ignorance or propaganda.
    Lowland Pakistanis have repeatedly rejected militant Islamic parties. Many have little love for Pashtun, whom they regard as mountain rustics best avoided. Pakistan’s Islamist parties have traditionally won less than 10% of the national vote.
    Nor are Pakistan’s well-guarded nuclear weapons a danger – at least not yet.  Alarms about Pakistan’s nukes come from neoconservative fabricators worried about Israel.
    The real danger is in the US acting like an enraged mastodon, trampling Pakistan under foot, and forcing Islamabad’s military to make war on its own people.  Pakistan could end up like US-occupied Iraq, split into three parts and helpless.
    If this continues, at some point nationalistic Pakistani soldiers may rebel against the corrupt generals and politicians on Washington’s payroll.
    Equally ominous, a poor people’s uprising spreading across Pakistan – also mislabeled `Taliban’ - threatens a radical national rebellion similar to India’s spreading Maoist Naxalite rebellion.
    As in Iraq, ignorance and military arrogance continue to drive US Afghan policy. Obama’s people have no understanding what they are getting into in `Afpak’ than did the Bush administration.  They will learn the hard way.
    copyright Eric S. Margolis 2009

    By Murad Ali shaikh
  5. By K.C.Sharma