Sawq’l-Umma (Part One)

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The Sunna: the Light of the People of the Inward

3qul huwaProbably the most problematic issue facing the Muslims today, is the issue of the Path of Tasawwuf. It has become the most maligned issue of the religion and its modern and western adherents have failed in representing it in its true light. Needless, to say, from the very beginning, the science of tasawwuf was misrepresented, if we were to believe what the Imam of the Sufis, Shaykh Abu’l-Qaasim al-Junayd al-Baghdadi said:

“Sufism used to be a reality without a name, now it has become a name without a reality.”

That was then about one thousand two hundred years ago; however today the weeds of charlatanism and the intrigues of opportunist who now use the language and the attire of the people of the spiritual path to gain worldly position and rank have obscured the spiritual path of Ihsaan almost completely. They have become as Shehu Uthman’s son, Muhammad Bello described them in his Infaq al-Maysuur:

“Likewise, he (the Shehu) refuted another faction which had become prevalent in these lands who made false claims and pretended to have unveiling of hidden knowledge, even though they had not even withdrawn themselves out of the grip of satan and their own corrupt passions. Many of these false claimants knew nothing of what was incumbent upon them from the individual obligations (furuud ‘l-`ayaan). Out of their ignorance, they happened upon some of the books of the science of spiritual purification (tassawwuf). They then shriveled their huge nafs into the attire of dignity and asceticism as a means of conjuring the rubble of this world’s life. Out of jealousy and stupidity they would fight those who resembled them from among the true and false people of tasawwuf. Some of them knew nothing of the path of tasawwuf but only pretended to that in order to prevail upon this world and to pilfer its vanities.”

When you add to this the reconstructed phenomenon of the dominant disbelieving governments who have targeted what they define as ‘spiritual Islam’ (sufism) as the ‘trojan horse’ needed to democratize, Hellenize and modernize the Muslim world, it sheds more light on the meaning of the sufic axiom, that the devil’s sole aim is to corrupt and turn the heart of the individual. One cannot help but admire, the fact that the think tanks and intelligence agencies of the dominant cultures have realized that if the proponents of the Path of Tasawwuf can be ‘turned’ to mobilize the Muslim masses towards a more western leaning, ‘progressive’, ‘democratic’ and ‘marketable’ Islam, then the entire edifice of the religion itself will be altered in much the same way that early Judaism and Christianity were altered in order to advance the needs of the state.

Many of the people today who make claim to the inward spiritual Path, have forgotten the foundation of the Path and the pillars upon which friendship with Allah (wilaayat) is built. The Shehu said in his Usuul al-Wilaayat:

“Realize my brother that the foundations of friendship with Allah and its prerequisites are built upon adherence to the Book and the Sunna.” Abu’l-Qaasim al-Junayd, may Allah be pleased with him said: “All the spiritual paths (turuq) are closed except following the footprints of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.”

Abu’l-Hamza al-Baghdadi may Allah be pleased with him said:

“There is no guide to the path to Allah ta`ala except in following the Beloved Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Whoever makes his soul adhere to the courtesies of the Sunna Allah will illuminate his heart with the light of direct experiential knowledge of Allah. For there is no spiritual station more noble than following the Beloved Messenger, may Allah less him and grant him peace in his commands, deeds, words and character.”

As-Shaybaan may Allah be pleased with him was asked about the reality of tasawwuf and he said:

“It is imitation of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.”

This is proof that it is by means of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, that the servant is able to reach the highest stations of nearness to Allah ta’ala. Shaykh Muhammad al-Arabi ad-Darqawi, may Allah protect his secret, said:

“If you want to be purified of doubts and illusions, then always be strengthened by the Sunna of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.” 

Again he said:

“There is no doubt that your safety, my safety, and the safety of everyone lies in following the people of the Sunna of Muhammad. They are the jama’at about which the tradition of the Prophet, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, has come down; “The hand of Allah is with the jama’at”, since there is no doubt that they follow the agreement of Allah.  If there are few people in it, still they are many.  The jama’at can consist of one man if his foot is firm in the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, outwardly and inwardly. A jama’at of many people is not a jama’at if it is not based upon the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.”

These words of one of the masters of North Africa were written in the 19th century as if he was describing his contemporary and the author of this book, Shehu Uthman Dan Fuduye`., who became a pillar of the Sunna of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace in his time.  He spent his entire life giving life to the Sunna and erasing blameworthy innovation. He built his character upon never returning evil for evil in accordance with the noble character of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.  It was upon this rock that the Shehu took his stand which no virtuous person nor envious foe could remove him from. The Shehu outlined this primal spiritual Path in his Fulfulde` poem where he said:

Sunna giduyamu kanku kuuru yaymi   *          Kanku bitayma kanku beeridi yaymi

It means:

“It is the Sunna that I truly love. It is the orbit of my preoccupation. It is the theme of all my preaching and it has become my spiritual litany.”

He had mastered noble character to the point where Allah ta’ala became pleased with him and gave him what He willed from worldly government in accordance with the Sunna of the Prophet.  And although Allah made him one of His laughing lions governing the earth according to the rules of Allah, the Shehu never altered his personal austerity and deep humility. Shehu Uthman took care of all of his personal and family needs from the sweat and labor of his own hands, although he ruled the richest and finest cities in Africa for sixty thousand square miles.

This is one of the meanings, and Allah knows best, of the saying of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace as narrated by al-Isfahaani on the authority of Anas:

“The mercy of Allah is with my khalifs”.

It was said:

“Who are your khalifs?”

He said:

“Those who give life to my Sunna and teach them to the people.  Whoever gives life to my Sunna, has given life to me. Whoever gives life to me, will be with me in Paradise.”

Thus, the Sunna is a Living Spring from which the friends of Allah take their drink. It is a sentient reality that dies and revives and gives life to the one that revive it. The Living Sunna of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace is the real teaching Shaykh or guide. It is for this reason that the Shehu said about the reality of sending blessings upon the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:

“Sending blessings upon the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is the most beneficial of the forms of remembrances regarding the strengthening of the soul because it is like cool water which revives the soul after its lethargy. Some of the scholars say: ‘The prayer and blessing upon the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace connects the servant to his Lord and takes the place of the teaching shaykh when he fails to find one. All this is due to the baraka of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace regarding three things: [1] attaining real miracles; [2] nearness to Allah ta`ala; and [3] arrival at Him.”

This constitutes a persistent interaction with the person of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace which is far more real and lucid than that claimed by the Hellenized Christian today who having forsaken the Sunna of Sidna Isa, then claimed an immediate relationship with him through their deification of him. In their error of worshipping him, they lost him. Similarly with many of the sufis of this age from the Umma of Muhammad, who have lost and forsaken the Living Sunna, while claiming exclusive right over the ‘real’ spirituality of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Look how the very people who make claim to the inward have been veiled from the very means to attaining what they claim. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace is the means to Allah ta`ala. He is the teaching Shaykh, and adherence to his Living Sunna is the Path (at-tareeqa) to Allah. Allah ta`ala says:

Allah will not destroy them as long as you (Muhammad) are among them.”

This means, and Allah knows best, that as long as the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace was among humanity, then they were protected, and nothing will protect humanity after his demise except through the revival of his Living Sunna.
There are many Quranic verses that were revealed in order to invigorate the people of the inward towards adherence to the Living Sunna. Allah ta’ala says,

Say: If you love Allah, then follow me.  Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.”  And He ta’ala says, “But no! By your Lord!  They will never truly believe until they make you (Muhammad) the judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of that which you decide, and they submit with full submission”. And He ta’ala says, “You have an excellent example in the Messenger of Allah, for he who hopes for Allah and the Last Day”. He ta`ala says: “There has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves, who grieves over your discomforts, full of concern for you, compassionate and merciful to those who believe” He ta`ala says: “Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah.” He ta`ala says: “We have not sent you except as a mercy to all the worlds.”

It is therefore the revival and adherence to the Living Sunna of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace which constitutes the foundation of the spiritual Path to Allah. The Sunna should be the criterion for spiritual discernment and the grid for every spiritual endeavor the aspirant wishes to undertake. In this way the critics of the Path of tasawwuf will have no opening through which they can criticize its adherence, because the SUFI of this primal path will be an embodiment of the Living Sunna. Shaykh Ahmad Zaruuq rightly suggested that the sufi falls under the criticism of the jurists, but the people of jurisprudence do not fall under the critic of the sufi, because the outward overrides the inward and not the reverse. If the spiritual aspirant holds to this, he and she will, no doubt be given spiritual openings and will attain their goals in this life and in the Hereafter. This was one of the objectives which the Shehu hoped for in composing the Sawq’l-Umma Ila Ittiba` as-Sunna.

Download the Commentary by Shaykh Muhammad Shareef

Tawq’l-Lum`a wa Itmaam’n-Ni`ma Fee Sharh `Ala Sawq’l-Umma Ila Ittiba` as-Sunna: (The Desire for Illumination and Completion of Blessings through a Commentary upon the Mobilization of the Umma towards Following the Sunna)

 

Questions or comments for Shaykh Muhammad