Tasawwuf: ‘Ilm with ‘Amal

1.) According to us, the reality of Tasawwuf is only knowledge accompanied by practice. Acceptable ‘amal is that which is part of the teachings of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam), and is within the ikhtiyaar (ability) of the Saalik. Apart from this, everything else is extra. If they are granted and the Shaikh validates this, then this is an additional bounty and is worthy of gratitude. If they are not granted, or are granted and then taken away, then to try to regain them and to worry after them, or to feel restless due their removal, all of these are inappropriate in the Tareeq and is extremely harmful for one’s baatin regardless of what the nature of these extra bounties might have been. (Tarbiyat-us-Salik)

2.) To inform the Shaikh of all conditions and situations is a must. To act based on one’s opinion, a dream, or a thought, is impermissible in the Tareeq. After informing the Shaikh, the Shaikh will advise a course of action which is a part of enjoining good, or prohibiting evil. Everything else is not within the realm of the Shaikh’s responsibility. Therefore the seeker should not demand this nor should the seeker be waiting for something of this sort from the Shaikh. Similarly, any ailment, disease, ill effect, mental disturbance, or some internal or external calamity, permanent or temporary, to patch these up is also not part of the responsibilities of the Shaikh. (Ashraf-us-Sawaanih)

3.) To busy the salik with Azkaar and Ashgaal before developing within him the importance of Islah-ul-a’maal has often proved to be harmful because the salik then starts to consider himself to be a pious person. Even more so if coincidentally if he attains focus and concentration due to Azkaar and Ashgaal and undergoes various forms of kaifiyaat, then he thinks that his name has been registered into the list of the Auliya, when in reality, kaifiyaat have nothing to do with sainthood. Such type of “spiritual feelings” can be experienced by fussaaq, fujjaar, and even kuffaar, if they undergo special spiritual exercises. So when this person considers these kaifiyaat to be sainthood, then he does not bother with the Islah of his nafs and the Islah of his a’maal, and he does not feel the need for Islah period. He never pays attention to this and so he remains in his ignorance forever, and is deprived from his actual goal which was to reach Allah. The method of reaching Allah as can be ascertained by textual evidence is through Islah alone. (Ashraf-us-Sawaanih)

Hazrat Thanwi (RA) would say regarding his particular method of tarbiyat that according to the Chishti Mashaa’ikh of the past (the Salaf), the real tarbiyat in Sulook was this that after the completion of one’s Islah of the zaahir and baatin, then only would they start the salik on some zikr and shaghl. The latter-day Mashaa’ikh (Muta’khireen) realized that people’s will-power and life-span both were falling short, so they made some changes in the method of tarbiyat. They would make Islah of the a’maal and also give the salik some zikr to do together. What I have done after examining the situation, is that I have chosen a method in between the method of the Salaf and the Muta’khireen. That means that initially for a short time I only focus on Islah-ul-a’maal. When I see that the importance of Islah has settled within the salik and I see some improvement, then I prescribe some zikr. Now the salik is making sure his Islah is being made along with his required zikr. Point being that the Salaf would make the Islah first, and when it was completed, which may have taken a long time, then only did they prescribe zikr, and the Muta’khireen would prescribe both at the same initially. All I did was focus on Islah first for a short while then I started them on zikr a little bit later. This seemed to me to be the moderate path taking into consideration the times we live in and nature of the lives people live. (Ashraf-us-Sawaanih)

 

-Taken from Basaa’ir Hakeem-ul-Ummat pg. 56-57

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