Tasawwuf/Sufism-Part-1: What is Tasawwuf, Kashf (inspirations), Karaamat (miracles), Spiritual States, Mesmerism, Celestial lights, Sufi Zikr Practices

[By Haakim Al Ummat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (rahimahullah)]


Tasawwuf in reality is nothing but the ROOH of Islam. Islam consists of two fundamental parts, viz the external laws pertaining to Ibadat and. the internal state of beauty, concern, sincerity and perfection on which (he external laws are to be based. Thus Tasawwuf is an integral part of the Shariat of Islam. Any “tasawwuf” beyond the confines of the Shariat is not the Tasawwuf of the Qur’an and Hadith, but is a practice of fraud and deception. The Tasawwuf of ALL the great and illustrious Auliyaa operate within strict control of the Sunnat of our Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

A tasawwuf which is at variance with the Tasawwuf of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is not Tasawwuf, but is some satanic concept designed to obtain the pleasure of shaitaan. The main purpose of Tasawwuf is to eliminate the bestial qualities in man and to supplant them with the noble and virtuous qualities of angels. In this direction, Tasawwuf employs the advices, exhortations, restrictions, prohibitions and remedies prescribed by the Qur’aan, Hadith and the authoritative and authentic Auliyaa of Islam.


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. Errant Sufis as well as the superficial Ulama (Ulama-e-Khushk) entertain this notion.

Both groups have misunderstood the Qur’an and Ahadith. The Ulama-e-Khushk claim that Tasawwuf is baseless since they believe that the Qur’an and Ahadith are devoid of it while the errant and transgressing (ghali) Sufis assert that in the Qur’an and Hadith are only the exoteric (zahiri) laws. Tasawwuf they say, is the knowledge of the batin (esotericism). According to them, Nauzubillah, 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, in conformity with their opinion, one group has shunned Tasawwuf and the other group has shunned the Qur’an and Hadith.


Tasawwuf is a misunderstood concept, its true meaning and significance in the daily life of a Muslim are lost, Commercial “sufis” (men who exhibit themselves as saints) arc trading Tasawwuf as some mysterious cult of “Mysticism” apart from the Shari’at and Sunnat of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). They have reduced Tasawwuf to potions, talisman, incantation empty rituals, and they have cloaked it with belief and theories of kufr and shirk. They have interwoven Tasawwuf with bid’ah and practices of corruption. All this have become necessary in the interest of their pecuniary benefits. A mystical cult appeals and preys on the mind of ignorant and unwary masses who seek an escape for their Shar’i duties and Ibadat in the fantasy of “mystical” concepts fraudulently conjectured by the fraudulent “sufis”.

Such fraudulent “sufis” are swift in escaping the weaknesses and the spiritual lethargy of the masses and are adept in providing “easy” solutions of escape for a fee. Muslims who treasure their Iman and their Islam have to beware of such robbers of the Deen who are easily recognised by the high fees which they levy for spiritual initiation (ba’yt) into their mystical paths, for their annual renewal fees, for the tabarruk charges and for their many other fees subtley, but compulsorily levied in the supposed interests of their disciples.


If the Path is pursued correctly, the simplicity of Tasawwuf will be understood. The machinations of the mercenaries have made Tasawwuf into a mysterious and difficult cult. (Mercenaries here refer to impostors and incompetent khalifas / sheikhs / peers who lack proper understanding of the methods and goals of Tasawwuf. They have worldly and nafsaani motives, hence they mislead those who seek moral reformation — Mujlisul Ulama) The aim of Tasawwuf is the attainment of perfection of the Shariat. The experts have named this branch Tareeq – The Path – for easy comprehension. The name of the branch of Islam which relates to the reformation of A’maal-e- Zaahirah (External/physical acts) is called Shariat, while the branch which deals with
A’maal-e-Baatinah (moral acts) is called Tareeqat. However, as a result of the confusion created by these ignoramuses, these two branches have been made to appear as opposites, repelling one another.

When customs become overwhelming, haqaaiq (realities)
are then overshadowed. The true objective is lost. The objective of Tasawwuf is not auraad and ashghaal. Whilst these acts are aids for achieving the objective, they are not the objective. The actual objective of Tasawwuf is the islaah (reformation) of a’maal-e-baatinah (moral character). As long as reformation has not been achieved, the full benefit of auraad and
ashghaal will not be acquired. In fact, sometimes the effect is vanity and pride. Therefore, reformation of moral character takes precedence over auraad and
ashghaal .

The Tareeq (i.e. Tasawwuf) is not at variance with the
Ahkaam (of the Shariah). It is not apart from it. Hence the Aalim of the Tareeq is the Aalim of Ahkaam as well. In fact, Tasawwuf is for developing perfection in Salaat, Saum, Hajj, Zakaat etc. The Mashaaikh design Thikr and Shaghl for the attainment of perfection in Ibaadah. Alhamdulillah! I have substantiated the masaa-il of Tasawwuf on the basis of the Qur`aan and Hadith. These very acts (of the Qur`aan and Hadith) are the Tareeq while the Maqsood (objective) is Allah Ta`ala’s Pleasure. Besides this there is nothing else. The special methods of Ta`leem in vogue by the Mashaaikh are all tadaabeer
(methods and exercises of attaining the goal). They are not the Maqsood (goal). Yes, they facilitate attainment of the goal – in short, the Qur`aan and Hadith are replete with Tasawwuf. However, intelligence is necessary for understanding.


The Maqsood (goal) of Sulook is the attainment of the Pleasure of Allah. For this purpose there are two requisites: (a) The Knowledge of the Path (b) Giving practical expression to this knowledge. The Tareeq (Path) is nothing other than resolute adherence to the Ahkaam-e-Zaahirah and Ahkaam-e-Baatinah. This Path has two acts which facilitate the Saalik (Traveller of this Path): Constant Thikr and the Companionship of the Pious as much as possible.

If such Suhbat (companionship) is not attainable, then reading the works of the Auliya will be its substitute. Two things are obstacles in the Tareeq: Sins and involvement in futility. One act is beneficial for all of this. That is to keep the Shaikh informed of one’s conditions. Thereafter remains the natural ability of the
Saalik. Depending on his own ability, he will progress. This is the Tareeq in a nutshell. (Ahkaam-e-Zaahirah refer to physical and practical deeds of the Shari’ah, e.g. Salaat, Saum, the rules pertaining to dealings, etc. Ahkaam-e-Baatinah refer to Morality – character – the purity of the heart and the like.)


(The Path of moral reformation and spiritual progress leading to Allah’s Proximity is called Sulook or Tasawwuf or Tareeq). The objective of Sulook is Divine Pleasure. There are two fundamentals for this acquisition: Knowledge and Practise (i.e. giving practical expression to knowledge). Thus the Tareeq is only one, namely, adherence to the exoteric an esoteric laws of the Shariah
(Ahkaam-e-Zaahir and Baatin).

Two acts aid the traveller in this Path: Perpetual Thikr and the company of the Pious. If one is unable to be in the physical company of the Pious, then the substitute for this is to study the life episodes of the Auliya. Two acts are obstacles in the
Tareeq: Sin and futility. Then there is one act which is beneficial for the acquisition of all these factors. That is, constantly informing one’s sheikh of one’s conditions. Progress will then be proportionate to one’s natural ability. This in a nutshell, is the meaning of Sulook.


When Tasawwuf becomes corrupted it is transformed into either insanity or hereticism (zindaqah) . When a delicate object becomes corrupt, its decomposition is intense.


The Soul of Tareeqat is abdiyat (slavery). The attribute of abdiyat strengthens roohaniyat (spiritual fibre). Its effect is the emaciation of the nafs, which leads to self-annihilation (fana) These are the peculiarities and effects of abdiyat . Abdiyat is achieved by action (i.e. giving practical expression to the teachings of the Shari’at and Sunnat). These accomplishments are not the products of emotional states.

Nowadays there are many people of hawa (desire) who hanker after emotional effects and acquisitions.
(Hakimul Ummat refers to such ‘guides’ who lack understanding of the moral path (Tareeqat). Islaah of the nafs (moral reformation) is an unknown path for them. They sit in circles engaging in thikr programmes. When they are emotionally effected by the melodious tunes of their collective chorus singing acts, they are duped into believing that they are accomplished spiritualists who have attained lofty roohaani status. Yet when someone annoys them, they let off a litany of expletives.

(Describing such hallucinating ‘thaakireen’, Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi says that they are “Bul Hawaas”, i.e. the Father of Desire”— Mujlisul Ulama)


There exists so much unawareness of the Path of moral reformation that, besides the masses, even to the elite (mashaaikh and ulama), this Path appears strange. They have memorized a few acts, and consider these to be necessary attributes (lawaazim) of wilaayat (sainthood). In fact, they have made the Maqsood (the Goal) the ghair maqsood (something not to be pursued). What is ghair maqsood is regarded as the Maqsood. Truly, they have no affinity with this Path, and they lack understanding of it.

(Thus we find in this day practices such as halqah thikr in the Musjids, khatme- khwaajgaan, khatm of Yaaseen, singing songs in praise of the shaikh, etc. are regarded as the lawaazim of Tasawwuf—Mujlisul Ulama)


It was mentioned that the Auliyaa of former times had undergone great struggles. Hadhrat commented: “Yes. The Mashaaikh of former times paid great attention to the reformation of character. They underwent intense hardships and struggles for this. Some worked for years in bathrooms (i.e. preparing hot water) some spent years in the wilderness, etc. At that time they did not pay so much attention to thikr and shaghl (i.e. prescribed forms of thikr and spiritual exercises). They had much courage and resolve and could bear the severest struggles. They regarded the Baarah Tasbeeh (the 12 tasbeehs) as being very advanced while nowadays this is the elementary instruction (for mureeds). The people of these times no longer have the same strength and resolve as the people of former times. In view of this weakness, the Mujtahideen of Tasawwuf have introduced concessions and made the task (of Islaah) easier.”


There are two stages in the Journey (Sulook): Ser Ilallaah (the journey towards Allah), and Ser Fillaah (the journey in Allah). Ser Ilallaah is the process of moral reformation and firmness in Thikrullaah. Customary
Sulook ends when these objectives are accomplished. Thereafter commences Ser Fillaah. This stage is a continuous process of spiritual elevation as the mysteries of the 29 Divine Attributes unravel and the relationship between the Rabb and the Abd (slave) becomes revealed. There is no limit in this stage of the Journey. The Qur’aanic aayat: “Verily, I am going towards my Rabb, and He will certainly guide me”, refers to these two Journies. The first portion of the aayat alludes to Ser Ilallaah, and the second portion, namely, “He will guide me”, refers to Ser Fillaah.


It is futile, in fact detrimental to lecture about the subtleties of Tasawwuf to the masses.


Someone said to Junaid Baghdaadi (rahmatullah alayh): “There are some persons who claim that neither is Salaat nor Saum necessary for them because they have already attained their goal.” Hadhrat Junaid commented: “In attainment of the goal, they are true. But their goal is
Saqar (i.e. Jahannam). If I have to live a thousand years, I will not refrain from any of my duties without valid Shar’i reason.” (The group of persons refer to the so-called sufis among the Ahl-e-Bid’ah.)


The author of Al-Yawaaqeet defined a Sufi as an Aalim ba Amal (i.e. an Aalim who acts in accordance with the Deeni knowledge he has acquired.) What a wonderful definition!


(“The Sufi has no Math-hab”– This statement has been the subject of much misunderstanding. The opponents of the Four Math-habs are fond of citing this statement in substantiation of their view. Explaining the meaning of this statement, Hadhrat Thaanvi – rahmatullah alayh- said): “The meaning of this statement is that the Sufi practises on the Ihtiyaat (the precautionary measure) which he discerns in the Four Math-habs. In contrast, those who abandon Taqleed of the Mathhabs, adopt the
rukhsat (concession) which he finds in the Mathhabs. Taking into account the differences is valid as long as it does not clash with any prohibition of one’s Math-hab.
For example, a Hanafi should abstain from touching his wife since this act invalidates wudhu according to the Shaafi Math-hab. The best course is to steer away from differences and act in terms of Ihtiyaat. If there are members of the different Math-habs performing Salaat behind an Imaam, then it is incumbent for him to take into account such differences.


The condition of the Auliya is indeed wonderful. One Buzrug mistakenly placed his left leg first in the Musjid. He was immediately overcome with great fear. When someone asked him for the reason for so much fear, he said: ‘I fear that the Noor-e-Baatin (spiritual effulgence) which has been bestowed to me might be snatched away in consequence of me having acted in conflict with the Sunnah.’

In our age such a wide avenue of permissibility has opened up that besides such issues, people are not concerned with even Fardh and Haraam acts.


If you desire to become the beloved of Allah, then muster up courage and follow the Shari’ah with firmness in both the zaahir and the baatin (i.e. in the observance of the outward deeds as well as in the moral precepts), and perpetually remember the Name of Allah (i.e.engage always in Thikr). Also occasionally stay in the company ofthe Ahlullaah (Men of Allah). In their absence (i.e. when physicalassociation is not possible), then study the kitaabs they prescribe.


The Sufis (or the pious servants of Allah) are always criticized. But they adopt patience and silence. Do you know why they remain silent and adopt sabr?? By means of
sabr they acquire the aid of Allah Ta’ala. According to the Hadith, when a man vindicates himself, then Allah Ta’ala leaves him to defend himself. When a man adopts patience then Allah Ta’ala Himself extracts vengeance on his behalf.

Describing Allah’s revenge taken on behalf of His patient servants, the Hadith explains that Allah Ta’ala becomes as angry as a raging lioness which protects her cubs. Sometimes He inflicts His punishment right here on earth on those who harm His servants, and sometimes He delays the punishment for the Aakhirah.


The summary of Shah Walyullah’s Wasaaya is: Do not unnecessarily keep company with the wealthy. Abstain from the company of ignorant Sufis, spiritually barren Ulama, and those who are engrossed in the rational sciences (logic, philosophy). Be in the company of an Aalim who is a Sufi who has renounced the world, who loves Thikrullah and the Sunnah, who does not give preference to one Math-hab over the other.

Follow your own Math-hab (without believing that this Math-hab is better than the other Math-hab). Similarly, do not give preference to one Sufi Path over another Sufi Path. (While it is incumbent to adhere to one’s Math-hab, it is improper to denigrate any of the Four Math-habs. All Four Math-habs are the Truth and collectively constitute the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah.)



The emanation of karaamaat (miracles) from the Auliya is a confirmed Truth by the consensus of the Ummah. However, the masses have accorded an exaggerated status to miracles while they overlook the actual excellences of the Auliya.

According to the Auliya, the status of karaamaat is less than even the Thikr-e-Lisaani (verbal thikr) which is unaccompanied by concentration of the heart.

Thikrullah, irrespective of it being without concentration, is rewarded by Allah Ta’ala. Proximity of Allah Ta’ala is acquired by means of such rewards. On the contrary, karaamat is merely the demonstration of a feat. Neither is there thawaab for it nor is Divine Proximity achieved thereby.

The display of karaamat is without the volitional power and action of the Buzrug. Sometimes the Buzrug is even unaware of the manifestation of a karaamat from him.


The revelation of episodes of the spiritual/celestial realm which are hidden from the gaze is called kashf. This occurs when a person’s heart is emancipated from material and worldly relationships. For the incidence of kashf acceptance by Allah Ta’ala is not a requisite. In fact, being even a Muslim is not a condition for kashf. Kashf occurs to even a faasiq, kaafir and a mad man. It has no relationship with karaamat. Karaamat is the bestowal of divine honour to a person. But these persons (i.e. faasiq, kaafir, mad man) are not the recipients of this divine bestowal. However, sometimes Allah Ta’ala bestows kashf to a Buzrug by way of karaamat as it generally happens to Auliya. The sign that the kashf is from Allah Ta’ala, is increase in humility and the realisation of one’s helplessness. A kashf unaccompanied by this attitude is not karaamat. It is Istidraaj (shaitaani manipulation).


Revelation of unseen things or of future events is neither a Deeni excellence nor a sign of divine proximity. Being a Muslim or being in possession of sanity is not even a pre-requisition of such phenomena. Kashf (revelation or inspiration of unseen or future events) is possible for even non-Muslims. Even insane persons are capable of receiving correct kashf. According to the well known book of Tibb-e-Unaani, Sharah Asbaab, in the chapter dealing with mental diseases, correct kashf occurs even to insane people. There are also numerous and well known incidents of correct kashf of the kuffaar and fussaaq…
Kashf (revelation) of the unseen is the consequence of a physical and spiritual capacity which even kuffaar, fussaaq and insane people also possess. This capacity produces kashf and generally such revelations are correct. This is unrelated to piety and proximity to Allah Ta’ala. Nowadays people are enamoured by marvellous demonstrations. They quickly develop faith in a man of kashf. Many among these persons (of kashf) are astray and mislead others. The only criterion of Haqq and Baatil — of the accepted and accursed — Truth and Falsehood— is obedience to the Shariah and Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). A man who does not conform to this standard is neither a wali nor a leader in the Shariah, irrespective of the abundance of his inspirational experiences.


Kashf (inspirational revelation) and Karaamaat (miracles) are not accomplishments of excellence. If there was excellence in such supernatural demonstrations, these would not be granted to Dajjaal. Whenever he will desire, he will cause rain to fall. Shaitaan permeates the very veins of human beings. Despite such acts, he remains accursed. Some Auliya would weep when karamaat would become manifest on their hands. They would fear the development of vanity and pride as a consequence of the supernatural acts…In our age the Shari’at is viewed with contempt. People have no regard for the Shari’at. They abuse and revile the people of the Shari’at. I take oath by Allah! Divine proximity without the Shari’at can never be achieved. If the ‘aarif’ of this age becomes the recipient of inspiration, he deems himself to have acquired Divine Proximity.

Just as Kashf and Waaridaat can be a mercy, it can also be a trial. It is lamentable and most unfortunate that people search for divine proximity in ways other than obedience to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), when Allah Ta’ala says: “We have not sent you except as a mercy unto the worlds.”


* Mukaashafah (inspirational revelations) is among the Ahwaal (spiritual states and conditions), hence it is not an objective to pursue. If Kashf does not occur to a man his entire life, his status of Qurb (divine proximity) is not reduced by one iota. Mukaashafah is not an excellence. Kashf occurs to even the kuffaar. In fact, after death everyone will automatically acquire the capacity of Mukaashafah. Here on earth we should pursue and acquire what we shall not be able to pursue after death, such as Salaat and Thikr.

Furthermore, sometimes mukaashafah is harmful. For example, if kashf occurs to a man who lacks Deeni Knowledge, the pleasure of it will induce him to believe that Salaat and Saum are insignificant acts. This danger is more marked if he begins to see some visions of celestial light. He will then gain the impression of himself being on a Mi’raaj journey.

The Auliya say: “The veils of noor are worse than the veils of zulmat (darkness).” (Veils of light are extremely deceptive. The novice in the Path is unable to distinguish between satanic light, Angelic Light and Divine Illumination). If there was any merit in the pursuit of kashf, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would have instructed us in this sphere.

* Since I now consider the knowledge derived from kashf unworthy of notice, I forbid people from discussing this with me, either orally or by way of writing. Although there was a time when I was engrossed in this knowledge, [so much so that] I would remain absorbed in this night and day, I now consider it (the knowledge derived from kashf) to be an impediment in reaching the goal.


While karaamaat are signs of Qurb (Divine Proximity) they are not the ways of attaining Qurb. According to the Akaabir (senior Auliyaa) the stage of karaamaat is lower than thikr with the tongue. Thus, saying once Subhaanallah, is superior to a karaamat because the former is a medium of Qurb, while karaamat is not. In fact, it is an effect of Qurb.


If there is anything in which comfort and rest can be found, it is Thikrullah. One should be involved in it, adopt concealment and annihilate oneself (one’s ego – nafs). In this is pleasure. Without this there is no peace. “Verily, in the Thikr of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Qur’an: 195) A manifest difference between Karamat and istidraj is that the person demonstrating Karamat is a man of Iman, Ibadat and Taqwa. On the other hand, a person displaying istidraj is involved in evil deeds. (Istidraj – supernatural deeds displayed by Kuffar and fussaq.- Translator)


It is not necessary that a Saahib-e-Tasarruf is also a man of the Shari’ah. Dajjaal will be a great displayer of supernatural feats. Iblees too is a great saahib-e-tasarruf. He penetrates into the body of man. (Saahib-e-Tasarruf is a person who is able to demonstrate supernatural feats).


Abreez is a kitaab on the life and conditions of an Egyptian buzrug, Hadhrat Abdul Aziz Dabbaagh (rahmatullah alayh). He was a complete illiterate. Inspite of this, he explained the Qur’aan and Hadith with great authenticity. He was able to distinguish between the Qur’aan/Hadith and the statements of people. Explaining this ability he said at the time of narrating Qur’aan and Hadith, a special kind of noor emanated from the mouth of the narrator. The noor which emanates at the time of reciting the Qur’aan differed from the noor of Hadith narration. This special noor did not accompany the speech of others. Another ability of this buzrug was his ability to discern the types of relationships people had with one another. He could discern if the relationship was lawful or unlawful. He explained that he would perceive a rope of noor binding the persons of a lawful relationship, and a rope of darkness extended if it was an unlawful relationship. ( Rasulullah—sallallahu alayhi wasallam—said: “Beware of the firaasat of the mu’min, for he looks with the noor of Allah.” This ‘firaasat’ is the special power and ability of discernment and perception which Allah bestows to his Auliya in various degrees. — Translator )


During the 1857 Jihad campaign in India against the British invaders, Hadhrat Haaji Imdaadullah (rahmatullah alayh) who was wanted by the British government went into hiding. He remained in concealment in a room near to the stables of a wealthy person. A spy notified the British authorities of Haaji Sahib’s place of hiding. Soon some English officers came to the mansion of the wealthy person. They said that they had heard of his excellent horses and desired to view them. They were taken to the stables. Whilst looking at the horses they came to the room wherein Haaji Sahib was in hiding. The owner of the house was in a state of panic. When the door was thrown open, they saw a musalla spread open and a jug of water. No one was present. The officer asked: ‘Whose musalla and jug are these?’ The owner said: “I perform Namaaz in this room.” The officer: “Namaaz is performed in the Musjid not the stable.” The owner: “I perform Nafl Salaat in concealment.”

The officers feeling embarrassed, apologized for the inconvenience caused and departed. After they left, the owner of the mansion went into the little room. When he entered, he saw Hadhrat Haaji Imdaadullah (rahmatullah alayh) sitting on the musalla engrossed in Thikr. Surprised and bewildered he asked Haaji Sahib: “Hadhrat, where were you?” Haaji Sahib said: “I was right here.” Indeed Allah Ta’ala had protected Haaji Sahib. The officers were unable to see him.


Someone asked: “Is the Shaikh present at the time of the death of his mureed.” Hadhrat said: “There are two ways for this presence. Sometimes the Shaikh is present in reality. This is by way of karaamat . Such incidences are rare. Sometimes Allah Ta’ala despatches a spiritual substance in the form of the shaikh because of the mureed’s affinity with that form which draws his attention towards Allah Ta’ala.


In the hadith related on the authority of Umar Ibn al-Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) concerning the arrival of the Angel Jibril (alayhis salaam) and his questions about the fundamentals of Islam, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Of a certainty, he is Jibril descended in the form of Dihyah al-Kalbi.” [Sunan an-Nasai: 4994]

The appearance of an essence in another (or in another’s) form, despite the abiding of its own prior state and attributes, is termed simulation or tamaththul, while the form itself is called the simulated form. In dreams and in spiritual visions most things appear in simulated form. Occassionally, however, a miracle occurs and simulation takes place in the ordinary waking world. The hadith above, in which Jibril appears in human form, having assumed the appearance of Dihyah al-Kalbi, is ample proof of this phenomenon. It should be remembered here that Jibril was not actually transformed into a man.

The occurrence of simulation is also verified in the following verse of the Qur’an: “Then we sent unto her our spirit, and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man.” [19:17] This, in no way, attests to the validity of the erroneous doctrine of the transmigration of souls. In simulation the state of the essence remains exactly as it was, whereas in transmigration this is not the case.


There is no excellence in the act of transfiguration by which a man assumes different physical forms. Some Buzrugs (Auliya) who had achieved the ability of subjugating the elements were able to assume different physical forms. In view of the Rooh (soul) being a spiritual substance, these Auliya permeate the various physical forms with it (the Soul). Thus the single soul assumes several different physical forms.


Kashf (inspirational revelation) and Karaamaat (miracles) are not accomplishments of excellence. If there was excellence in such supernatural demonstrations, these would not be granted to Dajjaal. Whenever he will desire, he will cause rain to fall. Shaitaan permeates the very veins of human beings. Despite such acts, he remains accursed. Some Auliya would weep when karamaat would become manifest on their hands. They would fear the development of vanity and pride as a consequence of the supernatural acts.


In our age the Shar’iat is viewed with contempt. People have no regard for the Shari’at. They abuse and revile the people of the Shar’iat. I take oath by Allah! Divine proximity without the Shariat can never be achieved. If the ‘aarif’ of this age becomes the recipient of inspiration, he deems himself to have acquired Divine Proximity. Just as Kashf and Waaridaat can be a mercy, it can also be a trial. It is lamentable and most unfortunate that people search for divine proximity in ways other than obedience to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), when Allah Ta’ala says: “We have not sent you except as a mercy unto the worlds.”

Mukaashafah (inspirational revelations) is among the
Ahwaal (spiritual states and conditions), hence it is not an objective to pursue. If Kashf does not occur to a man his entire life, his status of Qurb (divine proximity) is not reduced by one iota. Mukaashafah is not an excellence.

Kashf occurs to even the kuffaar. In fact, after death everyone will automatically acquire the capacity of Mukaashafah. Here on earth we should pursue and acquire what we shall not be able to pursue after death, such as Salaat and Thikr.
Furthermore, sometimes mukaashafah is harmful. For example, if kashf occurs to a man who lacks Deeni Knowledge, the pleasure of it will induce him to believe that Salaat and Saum are insignificant acts. This danger is more marked if he begins to see some visions of celestial light. He will then gain the impression of himself being on a Mi’raaj journey. The Auliya say: “The veils of noor are worse than the veils of zulmat (darkness).” (Veils of light are extremely deceptive. The novice in the Path is unable to distinguish between satanic light, Angelic Light and Divine Illumination). If there was any merit in the pursuit of kashf, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would have instructed us in this sphere.

Kashf (inspiration) is generally considered to be a great achievement of perfection whereas it has no effect in the attainment of Qurb (Divine Proximity). Wallaah! Even if a person experiences kashf a thousand times, he will perceive not an iota of spiritual elevation as a result of such inspirations. However, after reciting Subhaanallaah
a few times, he will be able to perceive a degree of Qurb
with Allah Ta’ala.


…some sufiya got this kashf (unveiling) that all of the followers within their tarīq (path of Tazkiyah) will be forgiven. When this information reached the (jāhil [ignorant]) inheritors in these tarīq , they started to misguide the masses with it. This kashf does not mean that the murīds (seekers) of that tarīq would neither have to pray nor keep any fasts. After all even Rasulullah (salallāhu alayhi wasallam) has also been promised that his Ummah will be forgiven, so should we now start to think that there is no need for Salāh and Fast for this whole Ummah?

One Sahābi radiallāhu anhu had once requested Rasulullah (salallāhu alayhi wasallam) that he wishes to gain closeness to Rasulullah salallāhu alayhi wasallam in Jannah. So Rasulullah salallāhu alayhi wasallam said to him, ﻭﻟﻜﻦ ﺍﻋﻨﻰ ﻋﻠﻰ ﻧﻔﺴﻚ ﺑﻜﺜﺮﺓ ﺍﻟﺴﺠﻮﺩ Help yourself through excessive prostrations..*

Thus Rasulullah (salallāhu alayhi wasallam) gave the solution for this request. Anyone who wishes to be close to him (salallāhu alayhi wassallam) should rely on establishing plenty of Salāh. This hadīth clearly indicates that the benefit in these different turuq (pl. for tarīq ) is dependant on the condition that one who will tread the path of that Pīr (i.e practice on all the struggles and exercises of the tarīq ).


A Mufti Saheb said: “It has been narrated that Hadhrat Junaid (rahmatullah alayh) and Hadhrat Sirri Saqati (rahmatullah alayh) and other Auliya conversed with Allah Ta’ala.” Hadhrat replied: “It means ilhaam. They supplicated for something and Allah Ta’ala inspired the answer into their hearts. This communion could be described as Mukaalamah ma-Allah (conversation with Allah Ta’ala).”
Sometimes this ilhaam is inspiration in an ambiguous form from which is gained an understanding, and sometimes it comes with specific words inspired into the heart. Sometimes it comes with a sound (i.e. a voice speaking).

This voice is a creation of Allah Ta’ala. Figuratively this voice could be said to be the Voice of Allah Ta’ala like the voice that Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) heard in the tree in the valley of Tuwaa. That Voice was not Allah Ta’ala. It was a creation of Allah Ta’ala. Shaikh Fareed who was among the senior Sufiyaa, said that this Voice is described as the Voice of Allah Ta’ala because between the Voice and Allah Ta’ala there was no independent actor / medium. However, just as our voices are the creation of Allah Ta’ala, so too was that Voice the creation of Allah Ta’ala. Since the medium of man (the activator) exists for this voice, it is not described as Allah’s Voice.


Shaikh Ahmed, the brother of Imaam Ghazaali (rahmatullah alayh) would not follow him in Salaat. Once Imaam Ghazaali complained about this to his mother. The saintly lady reprimanded her son. He then complied with his mother’s instruction. When it was time for Salaat, he joined Imaam Ghazali. During those days Imaam Ghazaali was writing a kitaab. On that particular day he was writing Kitabul Haidh (the chapter on menses). During the salaat, some mas’alah (rule) pertaining to haidh entered his mind. Imaam Ghazaali’s condition of mind became revealed (makshoof) to his brother (He was a Saahib-e-Kashf ). Shaikh Ahmed disassociated himself from the Salaat led by his brother. He went to his mother and asked: “If the garments are soiled with the blood of haidh, will Salaat be valid?” His mother replied: “No, the Salaat will not be valid.” Shaikh Ahmed said: “When Salaat is not valid with clothes soiled in the blood of haidh, how can it be valid when the heart is contaminated with the blood of haidh?”
The saintly and intelligent mother said: “Haidh is a
Najaasat-e-Zaahiri (an external / physical impurity). When Salaat is not valid on account of this impurity, how can it be valid with Najaasat-e-Baatini (internal / spiritual / pertaining to the heart), i.e. sin? (Sin causes spiritual contamination of the heart). His (i.e. Imaam Ghazaali’s) mind was on the blood of haidh while you were involved in the sin of tajassus (searching for or prying into the faults) of others. You criticize someone else’s Salaat while being oblivious of your own Salaat which is worse than his”.


Issues of kashf are not in any level of proof in the Shari’ah. The only upside of it is that if it does not conflict with the Shari’ah, then the person upon whom the
kashf manifested itself, and his followers, may practise upon it. They may not be bigoted in its observance. Its non-observance may result in worldly harm and not harm in the hereafter.


The Shar’iah has its ways and methods of proving something. If anything is not substantiated and proven in terms of the Shari’ah’s method, it will not be confirmed and proven. Ilhaam, kashf, amaliyaat, (ta’weez, etc.) and dreams are not among the Shari’ah’s ways for proving and confirming something. It is therefore haraam and a grave sin to brand a person a criminal, a thief, etc. on the basis of any of these methods which the Shari’ah does not include among its Turq-e-Ithbaat (Ways of proving and confirming).

To accuse a person of a crime on the basis of information acquired from occult practices, a jinn, astrologer, mesmerism, etc., is such a severe sin which is tantamount to kufr. The Shari’ah does not accept any of these methods as absolute proof.


Dreams, visions and trances are not ways of Hujjat
(proof and certitude) in the Shari’ah. Masaa-il cannot be formulated on the basis of dreams. Whatever is confirmed in the Shari’ah may not be abrogated by directives in a dream or vision. All Shar’i masaa-il remain intact. However, it is permissible on the basis of a dream to emphasize the angle which is precautionary in the Shari’ah. (Example, according to the Shari’ah it is best to abstain from anything which is doubtful. If such abstention is indicated in a dream, then abstaining will be emphasized without changing the classification of doubtful (mushtabah). The doubtful will not be labelled haraam on the basis of a dream, vision, ilhaam, etc.)


Acting in contravention of Wahi is sinful and a punishable offence. Acting in conflict with Ilhaam is not sinful. In the Hereafter there is no punishment for violating Ilhaam. However, generally, if a man of Ilhaam acts in conflict with his Ilhaam, he is punished in this world. He is afflicted with some calamity.


In our era people regard such knowledge which is acquired by Kashf and Ilhaam to have greater importance. It is for this reason that they are more observant of such duas which were acquired by way of Ilhaam. They generally ignore what has been acquired by way of Wahi. Shaikh Akbar (rahmatullah alayh) has categorically said that sometimes there is a trial in knowledge acquired via the agency of Kashf and Ilhaam, while at sometimes there is rahmat in it. In contrast, knowledge which has been acquired by way of Wahi is always pure rahmat because our Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was Rahmat lilaalameen (A mercy to the worlds) . The rank of Kashf and Ilhaam is not equal to that of Wahi. People do not understand the value of the Pure Shari’at. How lamentable!


There are different ways of recognizing the variety of thoughts which gush into the mind. Some thoughts are
Ilhaam-e-Ilaahi (inspiration from Allah); some thoughts are Malaki (inspired by an Angel); some thoughts are
shaitaani (satanic), and some are nafsaani (promptings of man’s nafs). If after one evil thought has been eliminated, another evil thought takes its place, and then after eliminating the second one, a third evil thought enters the mind, then such thoughts are from shaitaan.

The objective of shaitaan is to disturb and deceive, hence he does not restrict himself to only one evil thought. Sometimes a good thought may also be from shaitaan. One good thought is substituted with another good thought. To recognize this, one should reflect and try to fathom which of the two good thoughts has greater merit. If the latest good thought is of lesser merit than the first one, then understand it to be a shaitaani thought. Shaitaan compromises by diverting a person from a greater virtue to a lesser virtue.

If the same evil thought assaults the mind repeatedly, then it is a nafsaani prompting. The nafs derives pleasure in that evil, hence it makes repeated demands for gratification. If a thought of pure virtue develops without overwhelming force, then it is Malaki . If the good thought overwhelms the heart and produces restlessness in the urge to give practical expression to it, then it is Ilhaami.


It is related on the authority of Jabir (radhiyallah anhu) as part of a lengthy narration concerning the Farewell Hajj, that Allah’s Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, “If I had known then what I know now, I would not have brought these animals with me for sacrifice” (Bukhari, Muslim)

It is the belief of many over-zealous Sufis that the Kashf or spiritual visions of the Sufi masters is something which the masters can turn on or off at will. Some even believe that their masters know everything that happens, as it happens. The absurdity of these beliefs should be apparent to anyone who has read the hadith related here by Jabir (radhiyallahu anhu), as the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) clearly admitted to his not having known what was in store for him. Those who hold to such erroneous beliefs should see to their rectification.


“Al-Musayyab ibn Hazan (radhiyallahu anhu) stated that it was in regard to Abu Talib that the verse was revealed: ‘Verily, you guide not whom you love; but it is Allah who guides whomsoever He wills.’ (Bukhari, Muslim, Nasa’i) Many people mistakenly suppose that the masters are capable of disposing of their affairs in whatever way they wish. Some of these people go as far as supplicating the masters, both living and dead, in the same way that they supplicate the Almighty. This hadith and the verse it mentions clearly refute such a notion.


The power of the mind is an accepted fact. I have heard the following episode from Maulana Muhammad Yaqub (rahmatullah alayhi): “A man imagined that a lion attacked him and struck its paw against his back. So strong was his imagination that a lion’s claw marks were discernible on his back. Even blood would flow from the wound of his imagination.” This is the reality of mesmerism. It is the assertion of the power of the mind. The claims of the appearance of arwah (soul) are all baseless. These things are all in the manifestations of the mind.


Some dervishes (the reference here is to fake spiritual guides who perpetrate deception) have acquired the expertise of manipulating the powers of imagination of others. When a person becomes a mureed, this type of dervish, employing mesmerism and the like, displays the sun to the disciple. He informs the mureed that this is the Noor of Allah. Then he displays the moon and says that it is the noor of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). It is nothing but the effect of manipulating the imaginary capacity, but the mureed develops conviction. By means of concentration, these anwaar are perceived by the mureed. Thus he is perpetually entangled in this deception and ruins himself.

A greater calamity than this is the display of numerous anwaar. Each noor is given a specific name. It will be said to the mureed that this is the rooh of Hadhrat Saabir (rahmatullah alayh); this is the rooh of Shaikh Mueenuddin Chishti (rahmatullah alayh), etc. In reality the entire display is a shaitaani affair. Only the imagination is employed. It is nothing besides this. The mureed then remains in the deception of having seen the souls of the Auliya.


Someone asked about kashf-e-quboor . (This is an experience in which the conditions of the dead are seen. It is a doubtful experience). Hadhrat said: “It is the effect of the power of the mind. This power could be used wherever one wishes. It is a futile exercise. There is no benefit in it, but people consider it a wonderful accomplishment while it is absolutely nothing. Sometimes the revelation is correct”.


It is possible for a living person to project his rooh (soul) into the body of a dead person. This feat is achieved by spiritual exercise. It is also possible for a soul to enter the body of a living person. This is a common practice of the shaitaani Kafir jinn. Human beings can also accomplish this feat as a supernatural demonstration.


(Tawajjuh in this context means to focus intently on the soul of another person thereby influencing his attitudes.)
There are two types of Tawajjuh. One is the way of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam). Their tareeqah consists of naseehat, dua and affection for creation. Reformation in this way is gradual, but enduring. The second kind is the cultivation of spiritual ability, then to focus on the heart of the mureed. While the effect of this type of tawajjuh is immediate, it is not enduring. The effect quickly disappears.


There are two levels of tawajjuh (spiritual attention). One is involuntary spiritual attention, where the heart of the guide yearns to see his pupil develop qualities of the spirit, such as taqwa (abstention from sin) and love of the Truth. To this end, the spiritual guide supplicates to Allah on behalf of the pupil. There is no harm in this type of tawajjuh.

The other tawajjuh is what most people are already familiar with. This is where the shaykh clears his heart of all distractions and focuses intently on the pupil. While this type of tawajjuh is permissible in the Shari’at, it is disliked by the accomplished ones. In this type of tawajjuh, the force that causes an effect in the pupil is similar to the force of electricity. This force lies dormant in each individual, and even the earth is known to possess large quantities of this force. I have heard that wireless communication takes place using a similar force. The evil eye (Nazar as some people call it) is also a result of the effects of this force. Mesmerism and tawajjuh are both very similar, except that mesmerism is not necessarily used for good, whereas tawajjuh is used for good.

The power of tawajjuh is gained by practice. It is used by the spiritual guide to transfer his nisbat to his pupil. Some mashaikh make extensive use of this tawajjuh, however, the effects are seldom permanent. The seeker experiences the result of tawajjuh and deems it sufficient, and stops working on the nisbat.

There are certain reservations against this type of tawajjuh. Firstly, it is not from the sunnah. Secondly, most who are transformed by tawajjuh stop working on their islah (reformation). There is no denying that tawajjuh has an effect on the seeker. However, for the spiritual guide to perform tawajjuh, he must divert his heart’s attention away from Allah in order to effect the tawajjuh. Now, one may say that during everyday conversation, the attention of one’s heart is shifted away from Allah. To this, I say that tawajjuh is worse than this because there is a concerted effort made to shift the attention of the heart away from Allah. To move one’s focus away from Allah (azza wa jal) intentionally is against ghairah.

In conclusion, the masnoon method of reformation is through naseeha (good counsel) and du’a (supplication). Complete tawajjuh is the right of Allah (azza wa jal) alone.


The Maqsood of Tareeqat (the Path of Moral Reformation) has no relationship with spiritual experiences and states. Remember that these kayfiyaat (spiritual conditions), tasarrufaat (supernatural or spiritual machinations), kashf (inspiration), etc., are in fact nafsaani states. Any person (even those bereft of piety) can achieve such states by way of solitude. The kayfiyaat which play a role in the attainment of Qurb-e-Ilaahi (Divine Proximity) are different from these nafsaani states. These kayfiyaat are the conditions which settle on the Saalik as effects of the manifestation of the Divine Attributes. If the Saalik is travelling along the righteous path, the nafsaani states does lightens the Tareeq. But the belief that these states are the goal is evidence for one’s ignorance. Such a person is unaware of the Path.


I am extremely disillusioned about anwaar (plural of noor) which people see. Some people’s disposition is well-suited for such experiences. Considerable detachment and isolation of the heart are necessary for seeing such phenomena. Those who have little aql (intelligence) are more prone to such experiences. (The anwaar to which Hadhrat refers here are apart from the anwaar of Imaan, of Ilm and fahm (intelligence). The noor of Imaan and of Ilm are the products of obedience, ibaadat and taqwa. Without such noor, man cannot be a true Insaan (human being) nor can he have correct and perfect intelligence. The cultivation of noor of Imaan is a necessary order of Islam.

[The anwaar (rays of light) for which Hadhrat expresses his disillusionment are phenomena which are physical experiences. They are not the products of taqwa and ibaadat. Such anwaar could also be Malakooti (i.e. belonging to the realm of the Angels), but people rarely experience these. Generally, people who do see such phenomena experience the effect of the nafs, of shaitaan or of some other source. Abundance of thikr, shagl and total solitude also produce such effects which are experienced by both Muslims and kuffaar—the pious and the sinful.—Translator]

I always say that although Kayfiyāt (feelings) and spiritual conditions are pleasurable but they are not the aim (of Tasawwuf), they are nonetheless a catalyst (towards the goal). In order to attain the goal, such pleasures are not necessarily required. Just like no one gets Wajd (condition of being immersed in ones state) in the prescriptions of Hakīm Ajmal Khan Sāheb, it (prescription) is however very helpful. Similarly when the objective is something straightforward then it does not involve much Kayfiyāt etc. Such Kayfiyāt and Wajd, in spite of being desired, are a means of pleasure for the Nafs (inner self) and not ones spirituality, while the actual aim gives pleasure to ones spirituality.

I wrote a letter to a certain Maulana Saheb that in this path af’āl (actions) are intended and not Infi’āl (self occurrences e.g. spiritual machinations). In these two terms I have summed up the whole spirit of Tasawwuf and explained it. But Maulana Saheb did not pay heed.

I am astonished that a person of knowledge could not understand this. It is the same thing which I say all the time. Everyone wants that the work gets done and one does not have to move a finger; some buzurg (saintly person) will simply inspire into my heart (and I will reach the stations of love). One should first inquire as to what these buzurg went through to acquire these stations. How can you acquire them by simply sitting at home and doing nothing? You will have to fix someone’s shoes, rub your nose somewhere and after all that IF you get something, consider even that a lot. In this path you will only get something by annihilating yourself.

The benefit of the suhbat of a buzrug is sometimes the acquisition of such knowledge from him, which spurs one on to do deeds of virtue. The experiencing of spiritual states and conditions is not a necessary product of
suhbat . In fact, ahwaal and kaifiyaat (spiritual states) are experienced more by people of little intelligence. The reason for this is that haalaat require dormancy of the mind. A person of slight intelligence enjoys such dormancy more. On the contrary, the mind of an intelligent person is always preoccupied with a variety of thoughts. However, sometimes a powerful haal overwhelms him too. But these are exceptional cases.

Exceeding the limits in beliefs (aqaid) and worship (a’amal) is innovation (bida’t). Similarly exaggeration in spiritual states (ahwal) is also an innovation.

Dreams and states of ecstasy are not proofs in the Shari’ah. It neither confirms the unconfirmed, nor renders the preferred unpreferred nor vice versa. Every ruling remains in its place and unchanged by virtue of these (dreams and ecstasy). However, only that may be considered which conforms to the Shari’ah and precaution should be observed. It is not permissible to base Masaa`il on dreams.

People now consider spiritual states of ecstasy (kayfiyat) to be the goal of Sulook (Tasawwuf). Even animals at times experience certain conditions of ecstasy when influenced by music and singing. Once an expert, in a challenge, defied his opponent, saying: “You will be able to measure my expertise and excellence when you behold the wild beasts of the jungle, subservient under the sway of my influence. Let us go to the jungle and sing our songs. At that time I will put a rope around the neck of every animal. It is left then to you to remove the ropes from their necks.”

They went into the forest and the expert commenced his bewitching singing. So enthralling was his singing that wild animals came out from all directions and submissively stood in is presence. He took hold of the animals one by one and put a rope around each one’s neck. He then ceased his singing; the animals scattered and disappeared into the forest. He now challenged his rival to start his singing, gather the animals and remove the ropes. However, he was rendered helpless. Emotional states are common to both man and beast. Such states in man, therefore, do not represent any achievement or excellence.

The goal of Tasawwuf/Sufism is the Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala. This divine Pleasure is attainable by obedience to the Shari’ah. However, nowadays some people have understood the goal to be absorption in some state of ecstasy while others think that the goal is self-oblivion. In fact, these states and conditions are of no significance. The Taalib (Searcher of Divine Pleasure) should not be concerned with the pursuit of such temporary states and conditions.

Hadhrat Shah Abul Ma-ali (rahmatullah alayhi) said: “Once we were sitting in the company of our Shaikh and we all were sobbing. A man who was there remarked that all of us were deprived of Divine proximity, hence our sobbing.” In reply to this comment Shah Abul Ma-ali (rahmatullah alayhi) wrote a treatise in which he explained that crying has seven causes, hence, crying is not proof of deprivation. Sometimes, the cause of crying is very experience of attainment of Divine Proximity.
Once during the Hadith lessons of Hadhrat Maulana Ya’qoob (rahmatullah alayhi), an anecdote of Hadhrat Ubayy Ibn Ka’b (radhiyallahu anhu) was narrated. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) informed him: “Allah Ta’la ordered me to recite Lam-Yakin to you.” Ka’b (radhiallahu anhu) asked: “O Rasulullah! Did Allah Ta’ala mentioned me by name?” Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “Yes, Allah Ta’ala mentioned you by name.” Hadhrat Ka’b (radhiallahu anhu) broke down sobbing. This crying was the effect of Muhabbat (Love). These states pertain to thauqiyat (natural disposition). Those devoid of such natural conditions lack the ability to understand these states.

After Maut (Death), the reality of things will automatically be revealed even to the kuffaar. Thus, Allah Ta’ala states: “And from Allah it will become apparent to them what they had not expected.” The pursuit of things which will automatically be revealed is highly erroneous. Now is the time to pursue acts which one will not be able to accomplish after death. Such acts are Imaan and A’maal-e- Saalihah. People usually abandon the essentials and pursue what is not essential. May Allah have mercy.

To cultivate perception of the spiritual realities, the way is Muraaqabah (meditation). Meditate on the annihilation and deficiency of the world and on your own death; on the everlasting nature of the Aakhirah, on reward and punishment, and on the bounties and kindness of Allah Ta’ala. Be in the company of the pious and engage in Thikr.

Ahwaal and Muwaajid (spiritual states and states of ecstasy) occur to even the Ahl-e-Baatil (people of falsehood). They too display supernatural acts. These are not signs of the truth. The only distinguishing criterion is the Shari’ah. If the man of haal, wajd and supernatural display is obedient to the Shari’ah, then only is he a kaamil (perfect follower of the truth). If he is not a strict follower of the Shari’ah, he has no worth whatsoever—he is nothing.

(Spiritual conditions such as ecstasy, exhilaration, trances, etc. are termed Kaifiyaat.) Tajalli Zaati (a Divine Manifestation which is inexplicable) is among the Final States (Muntaha-e-Ahwaal) of the spiritual journey. It is not among the Maqaasid (Objectives) and the Maqaamaat (Stages along the spiritual journey) . The actual Maqsood (Goal/Objective) is Ridha-e-Haqq or Divine Pleasure –the Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala. The slave’s Thikr should be for the acquisition of Ridha’. He should not hanker after kaifiyaat. Allah Ta’ala declares in the Qur’aan Majeed: “Remember Me, and I shall remember you.” Thus, the fruit of Thikr is this Maqsood, that He should remember us with His Rahmat and Ridha. Hankering after states and stages is in conflict with the aim of the quest. The one who hankers after haalaat (states and stages) is not a searcher of Allah.

Spiritual perfection is proportionate to Tashabbuh (emulation/resemblance) WITH Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The greater the emulation of the Sunnah, the greater the degree of perfection. Absorption (in some spiritual state) is not a criterion of perfection.

(Haalaat literally means conditions/states, and Maqaamaat means stages/stations/places. In Tasawwuf these terms have particular meanings which Hadhrat Thanvi explains in this Malfooth.)

Imperfect spiritual states – spiritual conditions in which one has not yet gained fortitude and steadfastness – are called Haalaat. When these states become grounded and firm then in Tasawwuf they are called Maqaamaat.

However, people (i.e. crank and quack ‘sufis’ – the people of bid’ah) have fabricated baseless meanings for these terms. The meaning is simply this that Haalaat
(spiritual states) are called Maqaamaat when they become grounded.

The Saalikeen (Mureeds pursuing the path of moral reformation and spiritual progress) experience two kinds of conditions: Roohaani and Nafsaani. The Roohaani
conditions are such attributes which remain with the soul even after death and separation from the physical body, e.g. tawakkul, sabr, shukr, ikhlaas, sidq, etc. These attributes do not weaken in consequence of the weakness of the physical body. They remain inherent with the soul after separation from the body.

The Nafsaani attributes such as emotion, anger, vengeance, etc., are eliminated after the separation of the soul from the body, and they become weak with the weakening of the physical body. Generally, the Nafsaani Haalaat occur to people of little intelligence. These conditions occur with rarity in people of perfect intelligence. The reason for this is that these haalaat require mental tranquility (i.e. mental inactivity). An intelligent person’s mind is generally not in the state of tranquility. Precisely for this reason did these haalaat not occur to the noblest personalities of the Ummah, viz., the Sahaabah. They were men of the highest level of intellectual perfection.

Furthermore, these Nafsaani Haalaat develop generally during the age of youth. They occur rarely during old age. However, even in the Nafsaani Haalaat there are some such spiritually subtle conditions which occur to even men of perfect intelligence, e.g. crying in profusion which occurred much to the Shaabah.

Hadhrat Maulana Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) had a mureed who was maghloobul haal (a person who is overwhelmed by emotional states which are beyond his volitional control). This mureed would laugh very loudly. When some people questioned about his loud laughter (loud laughter is prohibited in the hadith), Hadhrat Gangohi said: “He is maghloobul haal.” Such states do occur to the Saalikeen. Then, they asked Hadhrat Gangohi: “Did you also experience such states at any time?” Hadhrat Gangohi responded: “Was I some moron to experience such a state?”

This response of Hadhrat Gangohi confirms that generally
Nafsaani Haalaat occur to persons of little intelligence, and do not as a rule occur to people of intelligence and wisdom. Regarding these Nafsaani conditions Hadhrat Junaid Baghdaadi (rahmatullah alayh) said: “These are such imaginations by means of which the infants of Tareeqat (Tasawwuf) are nutured.” These emotional states aid the weaklings. However, the Auliya had no care whatsoever for such conditions.

Some Ahle-Zahir – those learned men who are bereft of thauq (a natural disposition with spiritual perception) have conceded the probability of Muhabbat-e-Aqil (intellectual love) with Allah Ta’ala while rejecting Muhbbat-e-Tabi (emotional love). They contend the improbability of emotional love with Allah Ta’ala because he is not visible to the corporeal eye. Vehemently refuting their contention, Hadhrat Imam Ghazali (rahmatullah alayhi) said that their denial is like the denial of an eunuch who is unaware of the pleasure of sexual intercourse. People have sacrificed their lives for the sake of love. Even animals have. If this is not emotional love (Muhabbat-e-Tabi), then what else is it? Such emotion cannot be stirred in the state of Muhabbat-e-Aqli.

I read in Awaariful Aarif of the changes which one Buzrug underwent during old age. He would sometimes scream and sometimes cry. The authorities of Tasawwuf explain that such changing states are due to weakness of the heart which makes it difficult to control the changing spiritual conditions which the Thaakir experiences.

One philosopher wrote a letter informing me that after he had become a complete atheist he reverted back to Islam by studying the Mathnavi (of Mulana Rumi [rahmatullah alayhi]). I prescribe the Diwan of Hafiz and Mathnavi for those devoid of passion. The statements of these sages kindle yearning in the heart. The Molvi Saheb (i.e. the philosopher) had no faith in the Sufiya. I, therefore, advised him to sit in the dars (class) of Mathnavi. After a while a state of ecstasy settled over him. He became a great admirer of Maulana Rumi (rahmatullah alayhi).

Wazaaif, Azkaar, Ashghaal – The Prescriptions of the Sufiya

If the Wazaaif (special thikr formulae) are not in conflict with the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and recited for the acquisition of barkat, then this is permissible. (This permissibility pivots on observation of the limits of the Shari’ah. If the limits are transgressed, the Wazaaif will degenerate into bid’ah. Transgression of the limits occurs by: (1) Believing that these Wazaaif are Sunnat, and, (2) By transforming these essentially private acts into congregational ‘ibaadat’ acts in the Musaajid. This leads to the impression that these Wazaaif are the Maqsad in the same way as the Masnoon acts of Ibaadat.— Mujlisul Ulama)

(Athkaar: Plural of Thikr. In the context of this discussion it refers to prescribed forms of non-Sunnah thikr. Ashghaal: Plural of Shaghl. Here it refers to forms of spiritual exercises such as breathing, contemplation, etc.) The Mashaaikh in former times would not teach the masses athkaar and ashghaal. Nowadays, there prevails astonishing disorder in the ranks of the Sufis. They prescribe thikr and shaghl to just anyone. The consequences of this are evil. These people become involved in a variety of errors. Some times educated persons are also involved in such errors. It then becomes difficult for them to be extricated from such errors.

Ignorant sufis proclaim the futility of Salat and Saum while claiming waza-if and athkar (prescribed forms of Thikr) to be the actual pursuits. But, Thikr and shaghl (devotional practices) without Salat, Saum, Zakat, and Hajj, are devoid of benefit. Thikr and Shaghl strengthen Salat and Saum. These arkan (fundamentals) are like the blooming bud while Thikr and shaghl are like water. Now if some ignoramus digs up the plant and continues watering the ground, what ruling will be issued for him?

The purpose of the ashghaal (spiritual exercises) of the Sufiya is only to generate concentration and peace of mind to banish wasaawis from the heart. The particular exercises of these ashghaal are not based in the Sunnah. However, the principle underlying these ashghaal is substantiated by the Sunnah. The sutrah which a musalli places in front of him serves the purpose of achieving peace of mind and concentration. If these ashghaal are believed to be commanded acts of ibaadat, then it will be bid’ah.


Nowadays wazaaif and auraad are equated to buzrugi (sainthood). It is believed that a great achievement has been accomplished by fulfilling the wazaaif and auraad prescribed by the shaikh. (Wazaaif is the plural of wazeefah and auraad is the plural of wird. These are forms of thikr which the shaikh prescribes for mureeds. In this age, the objective of Tasawwuf is ignorantly believed to be wazaaif and auraad.)

The sheikhs (spiritual guides) of this age have corrupted the mureeds. Even the Mashaaikh abstain from instructing the mureeds in the sphere of islaah of the nafs. They only teach wazaaif and auraad. They ask about kaifiyaat (spiritual experiences). Did you see anything? Has any yearning developed in the heart or not? All these are in fact states of the nafs. While in some instances these kaifiyaat are praiseworthy, they are not the objective. All these kaifiyaat are transitory impressions which are not commanded by the Shari’ah. Even some kuffaar experience such states. Yogis attain these states by way of their spiritual exercises.

One person has sent a letter that he is indebted and needs an effective wazīfa. I replied that there is no better wazīfa in effect than Dua’. People have stopped asking Allāh. The connection between the slave and Allāh has weakened a lot. The perception of people in this matter is very corrupt, and one thing which is even more harmful than this is when the wazīfa does not work, they start to doubt the ability of the verses of Allāh. This further corrupts ones belief.

All this is because of the ignorant Āmilīn (expert in issuing wazīfa). All they learn is to give a wazīfa for every little thing. They do not even see if the person is capable or not. Over and above that, while they issue these wazāif they use such a confident tone that the questioner becomes sure that the problem will be solved through this measure, and there is no doubt in it.

Now if what was destined is contrary to what they hoped for, then the belief of such an individual comes in great danger. His belief in the verse of Allāh weakens. The result of such a weakened belief ought to be that the dua’ doesn’t get accepted.

Look, the matter is very simple. If we give $2.00 to someone per month and then we find out that he doubts our ability to give him that money, then such bad thoughts (regarding us) will cause us not to give him any money at all. But Allāh is so merciful that He hears all the hue and cry and yet continues to give the sustenance. Surely, Allāh is most merciful.

A man requested to be instructed with some formula of Thikr which will serve the purpose of reforming him. Hadhrat Thanvi said: “Islah (self-reformation) is achieved by remedying the aliments of the nafs. Athkar (plural of Thikr) are like medicines and pills which can be prepared by studying medical books. However, there remains the indispensable need for a doctor to diagnose the illness and prescribe the remedy.

Similarly, thikr formulae and spiritual exercise (ashghal) are recorded in books. However, there remains the need for a Shaikh (Spiritual Guide and Mentor) to diagnose the aliment of the nafs and to prescribe remedies for its reformation.” Waza-if (forms of Thikr) are not too difficult upon the nafs. Within a short while the Thikr is completed, whereas the ailments of ujub (vanity) and riya (show), for example, are not cured by only waza-if. Waza-if only create barkat and act as aides.

In their letters to me even men of considerable sincerity write informing of their constancy in Thikr and Shaghl. They request dua to be made for them. It seems as if Islah of the nafs (self selfreformation) is insignificant to them. They regard exercise of Thikr and Shaghl to be the actual aim of acquisition. On the contrary, Islah is the actual purpose. Thikr facilitated in the achievement of self-reformation.

Nowadays people are terrified by islah (self-reformation). They prefer only Thikr and Shaghl (spiritual exercises). A man who became my mureed wrote saying that he suffered from the disease of zina (fornication). I prescribed the remedy of zina. He wrote back advising me not to be harsh with him. Since then he has terminated correspondence.

A man in love with a woman to Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi): “I am in love with a widow. I have tried much to keep my gaze off her, but to no avail.” In reply, Hadhrat (rahmatullah alayhi) wrote: “Come with this letter to me.” Thus, he came on the 12th Rajab and presented the letter. Hadhrat (rahmatullah alayhi) said: “Assuming this woman’s husband was present, would you have gazed at her (in his presence)?”
He said: “No! I would have restrained my gaze.” Hadhrat: “Alas! You do not honour and fear Allah Ta’ala as much as fear her husband. It is indeed disgraceful. The reason for your attitude is the fear of immediate reaction of the husband. What! Is the punishment of Jahannum less than a thrashing which the husband would give? Is the hardship of courageously restraining the gaze more than the hardship of Jahannum?
You may have come here thinking I would prescribe some wazifah. But, ailments are not cured with wazifah. Ignorant peers (who have appointed themselves as spiritual guides) have destroyed people. For everything they prescribe wazifah. Wazifah is like a stimulant which gives energy without curing the illness. In fact, if a stimulant is taken during illness then in some cases the sickness worsens. A sickness is cured after taking bitter medicine.”

A sick man wrote to me: “I am sick and because of my illness I am unable to practise the Waza-if (forms of prescribed Thikr). I, therefore, feel very despondent.” I replied: “Sometimes such (spiritual) benefits are achieved by virtue of sickness, which are not attainable from Waza-if”

Commenting on the need for absolute purity of niyyat, i.e. Ikhlas, Hadhrat said: “A mureed living with his shaikh for a very long while was always engaged in thikr and shaghl. However, despite the abundance of thikr and shaghl, the shaikh did not discern any improvement in the mureed’s spiritual condition. Once he inquired: ‘What is the motive for this thikr and shaghl?’ The mureed said: ‘So that I could be of benefit to others.’ The shaikh said: ‘Indeed, this intention is shirk. Repent.’ The mureed repented and shortly thereafter special fadhl of Allah Ta’ala began to imbue the heart of the mureed.

Sometimes when one suffers from spiritual ailments, e.g.
ujub (vanity), takabbur (pride), riyaa (show), etc. then abundance of athkaar and auraad worsens the diseases. There is the need for mujahadah (striving against the nafs) so that one does not become the victim of ujub and
takabbur after having rendered a virtuous deed. Thus,
islaah (reformation of moral maladies) enjoys priority over athkaar and auraad . (Athkaar -plural of thikr.
Auraad plural of wird . These refer to special forms of
thikr which are not masnoon acts of ibaadat).

The Mutaqaddimeen Sufiya (the Auliyaa of former times) paid particular heed to moral reformation. However, nowadays people are not concerned with this essential requirement. Even while staying in the company of Mashaaikh and passing time in thikr and shaghl, moral reformation is not achieved. The spiritual diseases which in reality are major sins remain uncured. The mureed on seeing some dreams considers himself to be a wali. But the habit of sinning cannot coexist with wilaayat (sainthood).

In every group when customs become overwhelming, truths (haqaaiq) are overshadowed. The actual aim of Sulook / Tasawwuf is not auraad and ashghaal. Although auraad and ashghaal facilitate in the acquisition of the
Maqsad (aim and object), the aim is reformation of the baatin (the spiritual self). As long as moral reformation has not been achieved, the efficacy of auraad and ashghaal will not be fully realised. In fact, sometimes on account of ujub and kibr, these (auraad and ashghaal) constitute dangers.

(This is the precise situation prevailing today in ‘tasawwuf’ circles. Public programmes of halqah thikr, khatm-e-khwaajgaan sessions, assemblies of shaikhs and khalifahs have no relationship with the Maqsad of the Tareeq. Show, ostentation, riba, takabbur and israaf are the hallmarks of these gatherings which have degenerated into bid’ah. In the words of Hakimul Ummat: “Haqaaiq have become overshadowed by customs.”—Mujlisul Ulama)

I prefer that the time required to recite one manzil (stage/chapter) of Dalaailul Khairaat should rather be devoted to reciting the formulae of Durood and Salaam narrated in the Ahaadith.

What is bid’ah in spiritual prescriptions and remedies? If these are bid’ah, then why are the prescriptions of the physicians of the physical body not bid’ah? What differentiates between the two? When we do not consider these prescriptions as being the goal, then why should they be labelled bid’ah? I shall explain the motive for this differentiation. While the nafs adopts one, viz. the medical prescriptions, it brands the other, viz. the spiritual prescriptions, bid’ah. The motive for this is that while physical ailments are accepted to be sickness, the spiritual diseases of the nafs are not regarded as sickness, hence the medical prescriptions are accepted and the spiritual prescriptions are described as bid’ah. The prescriptions of the spiritual physician are called bid’ah for gaining an excuse to avoid treating the spiritual ailments. These errors are the consequence of the ignorance of the ignorant, mercenary so-called spiritual guides who have disgraced Tareeqat.

The methods and prescriptions which the Sufiya have devised for the Saalikeen (mureeds) are not Ahkaam of the Shari’ah. Therefore, there is no need to search for Qur’aanic and Hadith evidence to substantiate such practices. These methods are merely remedies for the reformation of the nafs. These prescriptions differ for people according to the diagnosis.

For example kibr (pride) is haraam, and its elimination is compulsory. This is among the Ahkaam which is explicitly stated in the Qur’aan and Sunnah. For the elimination of kibr, the Mashaaikh have devised different methods. Since these methods are only remedies, there is no need to substantiate them in terms of the Qur’aan and Hadith.

For establishing the Ahkaam of the Shari’ah, it is necessary to present evidence from the Qur’aan, Sunnah and the practice of the Sahaabah and Taabieen. Any act which is not substantiated by the Qur’aan, Sunnah and the Ta-aamul of the Sahaabah and Taabieen will be bid’ah. However, the methods to eliminate man’s natural impediments for practising the Shari’ah are remedies and treatments for which there is no need to present Qur’aan and Sunnah evidence. It is similar to physical ailments for which a physician prescribes different remedies. It will be ludicrous for someone to ask the physician to produce Qur’aan and Sunnah substantiation for the medicines and remedies he employs to treat different sicknesses.

However, it should be remembered, that if the methods are elevated to the status of ibaadat, then it will be bid’ah. To treat and reform the nafs is substantiated, but to rebuke others who do not submit to these methods is bid’ah.

Listen carefully! The expediency of Thikr Bil Jahr (loud zikr) among the Chishtiyyah is for the Thaakir’s voice to reach his own ears in order to ward off stray thoughts. This aim is acquired from khafeef jahr (slightly audible). Excessive loudness in thikr is a futile act which is reprehensible. According to the Fuqaha the condition for the permissibility of Thikr Jahr is that musallis should not be disturbed. Khafeef Jahr exercises a better impact on the heart. Excessive loudness leaves no impression on the heart.

According to the general purport of the Ahaadith, Thikr bil Jahr is prohibited. This is also the view of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh).Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) was a Faqeeh and the greatest among our Buzrugs. According to him it is bid’ah to consider Thikr bil Jahr to be better and more meritorious. However, for gaining concentration it is permissible.

The truth of the matter is that this kind of exagerrated audible zikr is neither worship nor bid’ah, as long as one does not hold the belief that it is actually an act of worship. Rather, the practice of doing overly loud zikr is a spiritual remedy that is known to produce special effects on the heart, like sensitivity and increased concentration. Then, on this basis, the practice may be said to be permitted. However, wherever there is permission for something, it will always be conditional on the absence of nullifying factors….

The implied prohibition in the hadith here should be interpreted as applying to the belief that the volume in zikr is an integral part of the act of worship. Nor does this prohibition in the hadith negate in any way the benefit of this practice as a remedy for spiritual ailments, as this aspect of loud zikr is not specifically mentioned. There remains the question of why, when this remedial aspect of loud zikr is so desirable and useful, no mention of it is made in other hadiths? In fine, the answer is that the Sahabah were not in need of this particular remedy, as they had advanced beyond the particular spiritual sphere in which this remedy is effective. Only later on did the need for this sort of remedy arise.

But, jahr (loudness) is not the actual objective (maqsood bith-thaat) nor is it by itself an act of thawaab. To subscribe to such a belief is bid’at. I believe that the Hadith: “Verily, you are not calling a deaf being nor an absent being…”, is in negation of this belief…It is thus apparent that jahr itself is not an ibaadat. If Thikr is believed to be the objective and jahr is adopted for some expediency such as warding off stray thoughts, gaining concentration, etc., then this will not be prohibited on condition there is no accompanying adverse factor…

If the belief is that jahr itself is an act of thawaab, then this will not be permissible. It will be bid’at, except where it is established by the Shari’ah, e.g. Talbiyah during Hajj,Takbeeraat Tashreeq, etc…Similarly, dharb (swaying movements of the head) is not an act of thawaab. There are similar benefits (as have been explained)…Thus, dharb is a medium (or a method) of obtaining the objective…

The closest thing to my heart on this topic is the example of when someone recites the Qur’an. When someone reads the Qur’an for recitation, he is obligated to recite the way it has been transmitted to us [through the pious predecessors]. Reciting in any other way is an innovation.

Though, sometimes the purpose of reading Qur’an is not to recite but to memorize. The example of this is how one word or ayah is repeated several times. One is not obligated to know the method of the pious predecessors in memorizing the Qur’an. We are not required to find out how the pious predecessors used to memorize the Qur’an and make sure we follow the transmitted method. Likewise, in the dhikr, sometimes the dhikr itself is the objective. If this is the case, then one must take care to follow the transmitted method. However, if the purpose is not worship but to achieve a certain state [ihsaan], then it is not conditional to follow a methodology of the pious predecessors [even if there is one].

Now, the prescribed repetitions of illa Allah and Allah are not objectives. The purpose of these prescribed repetitions is to create and establish a certain feeling; and that is that nothing besides Allah exists, and to slowly increase one’s concentration on Allah alone. Therefore, in the beginning [before we begin the dhikr] we perceive the existence of everything around us but as we impress the dhikr of ‘there is no god but Allah [la ilaha illa Allah]’ we negate the existence of everything around us and instill this negation into our heart. As we progress in this negation, we inculcate the certainty of His essence in our mind by repeating the dhikr of illa Allah. But certainty of the essence of Allah is itself relative to the essence of Allah so we reach higher for the essence of Allah itself by firmly embedding Him in the heart through the dhikr of ‘Allahu Allah’.

When one devotes himself to the dhikr of ‘Allahu Allah’, the love of everything besides Allah leaves the heart and this person becomes absorbed in Allah only. When this feeling permeates the heart, the dhikr of ‘Allahu Allah’ intensifies and helps him realize his goal quickly; and this is the reason for which the dhikr of Allah is prescribed. By the grace of Allah, this article removes all objections on this topic and proves that the accusation about the dhikr of Allah being an innovation stems from a lack of understanding on this issue.

Now only one question remains and that is that will one gain reward for this type of dhikr? In reply, we ask: Will the person who repeats the words of the Qur’an to memorize it, gain reward for memorization? The answer to the first is the same for the second. According to the rules, the combined answer to both these questions is that though one may not gain reward for repeating recitation [of an ayah] and dhikr, preparation for a perfect recitation and dhikr [in which one attains full benefit spiritually] is surely rewarding.

*A man who had spent a considerable time in an asylum, on being released, came to visit Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi). Hadhrat Thanvi (rahmatullah alayhi) commented: “Whatever I prescribe for someone regarding his tarbiyat (spiritual training), is done with great consideration and affection. Whoever acted in conflict with the prescription had soon to suffer and harmful consequences. (Pointing to the man, he said:) Now he is sitting here after having experienced such consequences. I had warned him to refrain from specialized forms of Thikr and Shaghl (spiritual exercises), but he persisted. Finally he became insane.”

*Entry into this Path (of Tasawwuf) without the supervision of a Shaikh-e- Kaamil is not devoid of danger. The traveller in this Path sometimes experiences such states and episodes which can ruin his entire effort and journey if not dealt with expertly. There is therefore a need for the hand of an expert over the head of the traveller to pilot him out from these pitfalls.

*Our Hadhrat Haji Saheb (rahmatullah alayhi) said: “A principle of the buzroogs of former times was impart ta’leem (spiritual instruction) to every person according to his capability. To some, they indicated some domestic work; on some they imposed some other service. In this manner would they acquire spiritual and moral perfection. Now it has become the norm to instruct everyone with the Thikr of Ism-e-Zat (Allahu) 24,000 times: whether the poor soul survives or perishes. In fact, they don’t even confine themselves to the instruction of this 24,000.
Whatever comes to mind, they dole out.” Hadhrat had made these comments on account of a book compiled by a certain person on Durood. Many terms in a book did not fully comply with the Shari’ah. Commenting further, Hadhrat said: “Even with regard to Dalail-e-khairat I draw the attention of my friends to the considerable time required to recite a lengthy manzil (chapter) thereof. In lieu of this, the same amount of time should be spent rather reciting that Durood Shareef which the entire Ummah recites during Salat. Further this Durood (which is recited in Salat) has been narrated from Rasulullah (rahmatullah alayhi wasallam).”

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