Obstacles in the Path of Sulook

Extracted From the Teachings of Hakimul Ummah Thanwi (rahimahullah)

All sin and connections other than those with Allah Ta’ala are the robbers along the Path of Sulook (the path to Allah Ta`ala). However, there are several things from which the Saalik (one who is treading the path to Allah) has to abstain. This is vital. If the Saalik does not rigorously abstain from these aspects, his efforts and struggles will be utterly wasted. These fatal obstacles which emerge along the path of spiritual progress are:

1. Opposition to the Sunnah:

Alas! In the present age, customs and innovations are in great prevalence. Nowadays such innovative customs are being regarded as Tasawwuf.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said:

“Soon there will dawn an age over people when there will remain of Islam nothing but its name, and of the Qur’an there will remain nothing but its script.”

(Shaving and trimming of the beard less than a fist-length and dragging the trousers below the ankles have become a “sign of the times.” Whereas none of the Ambiya or Auliya were clean-shaven nor would they drag their garments below their ankles. It is very unfortunate that people consider themselves treading the path of tasawwuf while they openly oppose the sunnah in their actions and appearance.

The pioneer of tasawwuf, Shaikh ut Tariqah and Imamut-Ta’ifah Junaid ibn Muhammad al-Baghdadi said: All the paths to Allah are blocked except the path of adherence to the sunnah of the Messenger sallallahu alaihi wa sallam.)

2. Unintentionally becoming the mureed of an irreligious shaikh and in spite of the error in this bay’ah, clinging to him life-long. When the shaikh himself is not Waasil (one who has reached Allah Ta`ala), how will he cause the mureed to become Waasil?

3. Association with females and or handsome boys and casting lustful glances at them. It is narrated in Jawaahir-e-Ghaibi that a man once while making Tawaaf of Baitullaah was uttering.

“O Allah! I seek Your protection from Yourself.”

Someone enquired from him the meaning of this. He replied:

“Once I cast a lustful glance at a handsome boy when suddenly, a hand from the unseen (ghaib) appeared and slapped me causing the loss of my eye.”

Yusuf Bin Husain said:

“I have observed that the destruction of the Sufis is in association with young boys, in companionship with impious persons and inclining tenderly towards females.”

Lust for handsome boys (pedophile) is worse than lust for women. Nowadays such unnatural practices of lust with handsome boys are very prevalent. The act of sodomy is in the severest degree of prohibition, hence Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said:

“I greatly fear for my people the practice of the nation of Loot.”

In another Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said:

“The curses of the Angels of the heavens descend on seven types of sinners. The intensity of this la’nat (curse) is sufficient to destroy the mal’oon (the accursed).

(The first of the seven types) is one who practiced sodomy.”

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) repeated the above warning thrice.

In another Hadith it was said:

“Allah Ta’ala abhors looking at a man who commits sodomy.”

Some people although not committing acts of lust are involved in the sickness of gazing with lust. It should be understood that the eyes also commit zina (fornication). Few people exercise caution in this respect despite the fact that staring with lust is a stepping-stone to fornication. According to the principle of Fiqh, those things which lead to haram are likewise haram. So remember this, and understand it well.

4. Evils of the tongue. Talking too much, speaking highly of oneself as well as speaking disrespectfully of the Shari’ah or Allah Ta’ala are among the greatest of obstacles along this Path. Some jaahil (ignorant) shaikhs indulge in such evil use of the tongue.

5. To engage in mujaahadah of one’s own making in addition to the ta’leem (instruction) of the Shaikh. (This includes adopting any zikr which one comes across in a certain book, thinking it to be beneficial). Such unauthorized prescription by the mureed is detrimental. Within a short while, the mureed will become frustrated and discard even the little which he was instructed to do by the Shaikh. This calamity has befallen many mureeds. It was because of this pitfall that Rasulullah (saws) instructed us to adopt only that much of a’maal (righteous practices) which will not tire one out, producing frustration.

Rasulullah (saws) said in this regard that Allah Ta’ala will not “tire out” and be “frustrated” as long as you do not become tired out and frustrated.

6. Haste in expecting the fruits of mujaahadah. (This means a person impatiently desires to see the effects of spirituality; such as feelings of ecstasy and enjoyment in worship, seeing dreams of the Prophets and Auliya, etc.) This is also a great obstacle. The mureed sometimes in his haste and impatience feels that even after having made much mujaahadah for a while, he has not derived the fruits thereof.

The consequence of this attitude is that the mureed either loses confidence in his Shaikh or he neglects his mujaahadah. This is indeed a great calamity which can befall the mureed. It is imperative that the mureed realizes that nothing is achieved overnight. The same person at one stage was an infant. Only after considerable time did he attain maturity. At first he was ignorant and only after some time had passed did he become a learned man. Similar then is the case of spiritual progress along the spiritual journey.

In short, haste and expectation (for the effects of mujaahadah to become manifest) are by implication, demands which the mureed puts to his Shaikh.

Such demands are very harmful. This type of mureed does not remain contented with his Shaikh. He turns to everyone who comes his way for remedies. He is like a beggar along this Path and he in consequence loses the grace and favor of the Shaikh.

The mureed eventually loses in entirety what he had initially desired so impatiently. His frustration and worry multiply. Outwardly and inwardly he becomes engulfed by harm.

7. Introducing defect in one’s confidence and love for the Shaikh. Of greater calamity than even this, is to hurt the feelings of the Shaikh and to harm him. Such action and attitude bring about the total destruction of munaasabat (compatibility) between the Shaikh and the mureed.

-By: Maulana Tameem Ahmad Sahib (DB): Khalifah Mujaaz-e-Bay’ah of Hazrat Maulana Hakeem Akhtar Sahib (DB)

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5 Comments on “Obstacles in the Path of Sulook”

  1. Abu Yahya Says:

    “To engage in mujaahadah of one’s own making in addition to the ta’leem (instruction) of the Shaikh.” Is actually talking about those litanies and azkaar, other than those which are mentioned in the ahaadith. For almost everything which was prescribed by Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was moderate, easy and practical, and most of them do not exceed 100 times.

    WALLAHU A`LAM

  2. Faraz Abdul Moid Says:

    Jazakallahu Khair, the explanation was of much help.

  3. Nabeel Khan Says:

    Wa’laikum Assalaam,
    There is one thing to understand in regards to zikr. Some zikr is like over-the-counter medicine, and others are prescription medicine. Common zikr can be made by anyone in the method mentioned in the hadith. That does not include individuals who are not bay’ah to a shaikh. The difference is that the potency of over-the-counter drugs is not that effective and everyone feels they are doctors. When one is bay’ah to a shaikh, that false sense of treatment vanishes, because you know you are in the care of a person who know exactly what to give you. So in this case, if in the hadith it is mentioned that if a person reads Laa Ilaaha Illallah 100 times a day such and such will happen, and the person says, well, I’m going to read it 500 times, then that is detrimental even if they are not bay’ah. Obviously the mureed of a shaikh will consult with the shaikh before doing anything so the mureed will have no worries. I hope that clarifies things for you.
    Wassalaam,
    Nabeel

  4. Faraz Abdul Moid Says:

    Assalamu Alaikum Maulana Nabeel,

    Jazakallahu Khair for relating this advice.

    However, i was a bit confused with the following:
    “5. To engage in mujaahadah of one’s own making in addition to the ta’leem (instruction) of the Shaikh. (This includes adopting any zikr which one comes across in a certain book, thinking it to be beneficial). Such unauthorized prescription by the mureed is detrimental.”
    Does this include individuals who have not given bay’ah to a Shaykh?


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