Hazrat Hakeem-ul-Ummah Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (RA) states in the introduction of Haqeeqat-ut-Tareeqat explaining Tasawwuf:
“After rectification of beliefs and external acts it is fardh (compulsory) upon every Muslim to rectify his esoteric acts. Numerous verses of the Qur’an and innumerable ahaadeeth explicitly indicate the fardhiyat (necessity) of this.
However, most people of superficial understanding are negligent of this reality because of their subservience to lowly desires. There is no one that is unaware that the Qur’an and the Hadith are explicit regarding the significance of zuhd, qana’at, tawadhu’, ikhlas, sabr, shukr, hubbe ilahi, ridha bil qadha, tawakkul, tasleem, etc., while at the same time they emphasize the acquisition of these noble attributes.
Similarly, everyone is aware that the Qur’an and Hadith condemn the opposites of these noble qualities, viz., hubbe dunya, hirs, takabbur, riyaa, shahwat, ghadab, hasad, etc., and has warned against them. What doubt is there in the fact that the noble qualities have been commanded and the evil traits have been prohibited? This is the actual meaning of reforming the esoteric acts. This is the primary purpose of Tasawwuf. Thus, it being fardh is undoubtedly an established fact.”
In Tareeq-ul-Qalandar, he says:
“All the authentic principles of Tasawwuf are to be found in the Qur’an and Hadith. The notion that Tasawwuf is not in the Qur’an is erroneous. Ignorant sufis as well as the superficial Ulama (Ulama-e-Khushk) entertain this notion. Both groups have misunderstood the Qur’an and Hadith.
The superficial, “dry” scholars claim that Tasawwuf is baseless since they believe that the Qur’an and Hadith are devoid of it, while the pseudo and transgressing (ghaali) sufis assert that in the Qur’an and Hadith are only the external (Zahiri) laws. Tasawwuf, they claim, is the knowledge of the inner spirit (baatin). According to them – Na`udhu billah – there is no need for the Qur’an and the Hadith.
In short, both groups consider the Qur’an and Hadith to be devoid of Tasawwuf. Thus, by following such logic, one group has shunned Tasawwuf and the other group has shunned the Shari’ah.”
But the correct path is the moderate path between the above-mentioned extremes. May Allah Ta`ala guide us all to the correct understanding.