TASAWWUF, also termed Sufi’ism, is not a mystical cult of rituals. Tasawwuf has no rituals. The Shariah has its rituals such as Salaat, Saum, Hajj, Qur’baani, etc., but Tasawwuf is an integral component of the Shariah, and it has no rituals.
The various forms of athkaar and spiritual practices prescribed by the Auliya, are not part of Tasawwuf. These are all spiritual remedies for spiritual ailments which the Mashaaikh diagnose in their mureedeen.
Tasawwuf deals only with moral character. Its objective is moral reformation and spiritual progress for the sake of Divine Proximity which is the only objective of the Mu’min for his presence on earth.
There is Ijma’ (Consensus) of all the Mashaaikh of Tasawwuf of all Sufi Math-habs that any brand of tasawwuf which is bereft of the Shariah and Sunnah or in conflict thereof, is in reality satanism.
Describing Tasawwuf, Hadhrat Abdullah Khafeef (Rahmatullah alayh) – a renowned Wali of bygone ages said:
“Tasawwuf is to accept whatever is recorded in the Tablet of Taqdeer; to ask from only the Great and Glorious King (Allah Azza Wa Jal), and to traverse wildernesses and mountains.”
The Tablet of Taqdeer: Whilst employing the ways and means permitted by the Shariah for the acquisition of needs, the Mu’min has to be satisfied with the end result of his lawful efforts. Whether he succeeds or fails in his lawful pursuit of the dunya, his focus must at all times be on Allah Ta’ala. If he fails, he is not expected to become despondent and frustrated.
He is not permitted to complain. He has to understand that the ultimate result is Allah’s ordainment.
Asking from only Allah Azza Wa Jal: This precept does not negate employment of the lawful means and ways created by Allah Ta’ala for acquiring lawful objectives. But, it demands implicit faith (yaqeen) that needs are fulfilled by only Allah Ta’ala, not by the means and agencies via which the needs are fulfilled. Thus, when someone denies the assistance sought, one will not feel the slightest annoyance. One will understand by the refusal that Allah Ta’ala has not inspired the person to render the assistance sought. If this is one’s is asking only from Allah Ta’ala. On the contrary, annoyance is proof of great Imaani deficiency. It will mean that one lacks belief in the Providence of Allah Ta’ala, and in the fact that it is only He Who ordains.
Traversing wildernesses and mountains: For the select Auliya of former ages, this had literal application. They would physically renounce the world and journey on foot through deserts, wildernesses and over mountains in their quest for Divine Proximity. Their journeys were not sight-seeing tours and holidaying. On the contrary, they underwent great trials and hardships. The rigours of travelling on foot through wild wildernesses and deserts without provisions could be borne by only those who were lost in Divine Love. Among the Ambiya (Alayhimus salaam), Nabi Isaa (Alayhis salaam) was famous for such sojourns.
As far as the masses are concerned, the Waajib degree of ‘journeying through the wilderness’ is to migrate from sin and transgression; to adopt solitude and seclusion daily for a short while to contemplate on Maut, the Qabr and the Aakhirah; to drastically reduce contact with people, mingling with them only for one’s needs; to speak less, and to cultivate Taqwa. And this is possible only by complete submission to the Shariah and adoption of the Sunnah in all aspects of daily life.