THE OTHER SIDE OF SALAFISM

a refutation of the slanderous booklet entitled "the Other Side of Sufism"

BY DR. HESHAM BAZARAA

AsSalamu Alaykum Wa RahmatUllahi Wa Barakatuh,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A few months ago Mohammed M Saleem, who said that he was raised in Saudi <mmsaleem@eisenhower.ecn.ou.edu>, placed on the web a book called, "The Other Side Of Sufism". This book which I'll call TOSOS for short has been widely distributed in Saudi backed Masajid, and presents the views of the anti-Sufi movement known as Wahhabism or as they call themselves, "Salafis". This group has been condemned by hundreds of scholars of Ahl al-Sunna[the true way of Islam] ever since its inception about a couple of hundred years ago. TOSOS is authored by, "AA Tabari" who is unidentified otherwise in the book. It is put out by the "Revival of Islamic Heritage Society", as they call themselves, to which no address or location is given.

TOSOS is an enormous shame for its author and its sponsors. The book shows no indication that the author read a single Arabic Sufi text. The 94 footnotes in the back are mostly, "Ibid", definitions, etc. but also contain about eleven English books on Sufism, mostly written or translated by orientalists. Based on these unreliable sources the author condemns a part of Islam that thousands of respected Scholars have praised. He is unable to cite the views of the scholars of Islam against Tasawwuf as the overwhelming majority supported it wholeheartedly as an integral part of Islam. Nonetheless he goes on to accuse Muslims who disagree with his anti-Sufi views and Sufis with Kufr as you will see Insha'Allah below.

TOSOS is currently on the web at: http://www.ecn.ou.edu/~mmsaleem/sufi1.htm It is also linked to the homepages of others as: Jamshed Nawaz <jnawaz@calvin.usc.edu> Younes Souny-Slitine <souny@cooper.edu> Ibrahim Shafi <ibrahim@wam.umd.edu>

I hope that those who have put it on the web will distance themselves from its vile language and ask Allah swt to forgive them for transmitting what is clearly unsubstantiated slander against His servants.

The following is a brief critique of TOSOS, which points out some of its repeated transgressions against Muslims.

The following narrative is numbered according to the chapters of TOSOS, with each chapter mentioning some pertinent points that either demonstrate the distorted methodology of the author, or his deceitful and inaccurate representations. [author's words will be in quotes]

  1. Introduction:

    The misrepresentation of Tasawwuf begins here. The author is stating that his book would prove useful for those who..

    " are duped into believing that salvation is attained only by way of ascetic mystical doctrines, and that the relationship between man and Allah is maintained through a few self-appointed priests." and that deviation led to.. "mixing Greek philosophies with Islamic beliefs" and "opened the door to esoterism, elitism and mysticism, which later developed into a religion of its own."

    Before presenting any evidence, the author is already slandering Tasawwuf. Sufism does not limit the way to salvation as the author suggests, and the Shaykh is a teacher and guide who has been authorized by his teacher, going back to the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. So this author, who is not know for his scholarship(?), says that Tasawwuf, a 1400 year-old Islamic tradition accepted by the overwhelming majority of Islamic scholars and practiced by many of them, is "a religion of its own". Here the author's extremist tendency is clearly exposed, as by his words he would consider the thousands and thousands of Sufi scholars as following a religion other than Islam!

    He goes on to accuse Sufis of Bid'a, of course disregarding the majority of scholar's view that Bid'a is of two varieties, good and evil, for example the increased number of Rak'as in Tarawih Prayers from eight to twenty is an example of the former[Those that consider all Bid'a as being evil, still allow for what others will call as Bid'a Hasana[good] but only differ in the terminology, because every Bid'a Hasana takes its root in the Sunna they would only differ in not using the phrase, "Bid'a Hasana"] . Then he goes on to say that Sufis have discarded Sunna and then ..

    "Discarding all or part of it is an act of KUFR (disbelief)", and "Turning away from the Book and the Sunnah is the practice of disbelievers and hypocrites",

    the ugly implications[i.e. the accusation of Kufr] towards thousands of Muslims in the authors words are clear, and again he failed to present any proof for his allegations..

  2. Author's Word:

    Here the Salafi/Wahhabi source of this book is revealed;

    "Ilat-Tasawwuf Ya Ibbadallah," by ash-Shaikh Abu Bakr al-Djaza'iri, and "al-Anwar ar-Rahmaniyyeh," a discourse by ash-Shaikh Abdur-Rahman al-Afriqi "and many other works..."

    Ten books written in English mainly by orientalists is not enough to condemn a part of Islam. His "many other works" are rather shameful when examined as we will see below. This book is devoid of any evidence against Tasawwuf from the respected scholars of the past, but the author would like you to believe that he himself is qualified to declare Tasawwuf out of Islam.

  3. What is Sufism:

    Continuing his disinformation crusade the author says,

    "If Sufis insist that they are Muslims, then what is the sense of identifyingthemselves with Sufism rather than with Islam."

    Again he unashamedly questions the Islam of Sufis and asks a question implying that Sufism is not Islam and that Sufis identify with it instead of Islam.

  4. Development of Sufi Thought:

    Here the author expands on his accusation of Sufis citing non-Muslims( I am relying on general information for this but Allah(SWT) knows best who is a Muslim) as his main source of information. Here are some examples:

    *"Sufism is a blend of various thoughts and philosophies. By intermingling a few traces of Islamic teachings with it..." "Greek philosophy, and in particular the teachings of Neo-Platonists, have left an indelible mark on many aspects of Sufism. This came about as a result of the translation of Greek philosophical works into Arabic during the third Islamic century. Greek pantheism became an integral part of Sufi doctrine. (13)"

    [This is a quote of W. Montgomery Watt who[quoted from 1983] did not consider himself a Muslim in the usual sense. See how the author relies on non-Muslims to tell him who is a Muslim!!! Similarly other orientalists have claimed that Islam itself is a mixture of Judaism, Christianity and Arab pagan religion. Are we going to accept the words of these non-Muslims about Islam and Tasawwuf?, Never Insha'Allah.]

    *"Manicheanism is also one of the mainstreams of Sufism. N. Fatemi observed: "It is interesting how near to Manichean ideas the Sufis are, remembering that both Manicheanism and Sufism were nurtured in Persia."(14)"

    [Note that the author changed, "nearness" in ideas, which by itself does not prove or disprove anything, to "one of the mainstreams". This indicates the inability of the author to critically analyze even simple sentences, without letting Wahhabi bias distort his understanding. In any event let us look at the reliability of this reference. The quoted author here is Nasrollah Saifpour Fatemi, an author of about nine books on Iranian(Persian) diplomacy[!!], and two books on Sufism. One of those books was called, "Sufism : message of brotherhood, harmony, and hope", and the other, "Love, beauty, and harmony in Sufism". Why was a statement by a Persian non-scholar[in Islam] about two things he thought were nurtured in his 'beloved' Persia, being presented to us as scholarly evidence that "Manicheanism is also one of the mainstreams of Sufism", where does this proof stand in the face of the thousands of great Islamic Sufi(or Sufi supporting) scholars as Imam al-Suyyuti(R), Imam al-Subki(R), and even Imam Ibn Taymiyya(R. as shown previously-although he had differences with some other Sufi Shaykhs, as scholars have differences among each other) ]?

    [the following are the "AA Tabari"'s views:] "Vedanta, the chief Hindu philosophy...." "Sufi occultism,...is beyond doubt antithetical to Islam...." "Sufis, on the contrary, subscribe to the belief that matter, man and God form in effect one single entity and essence." "Ibn Arabi's doctrine of pantheism was a combination of Manichean, Gnostic, Neo-Platonic, Vedantic and Christian philosophies and speculations..." [then he adds...] "Of his main theme," R.W.J. Austin wrote, "the one that predominates over the rest and to which they are subordinate in the oneness of being (wihdat al-wujood)....."(15)

    [The above statements are the author's own lies, and thus the author had no proof to back them except the words of an orientalist translator, Mr. RWJ Austin. Austin's words are certainly no proof that a Muslim is a pantheist. Simply, most Sufis are of the 'Aquida[belief] of the Ahl al-Sunna as defined by the famous Imams al-Ash'ari(R) and al-Maturidi(R). Regarding Shaykh Ibn al-'Arabi(R) I received the following from Brother Dr. Abu Hammad:

    Nuh Keller quoting Ibn `Arabi in the <<Reliance of the Traveler>>:(p.1080) "We are a group whose works are unlawful to peruse, since the Sufis, one and all, use terms in technical senses by which they intend other than what is customarily meant by their usage among scholars, and those who interpret them according to their usual significance commit unbelief." (p. 1082) "Ibn Hajar al-Haythami in a legal opinion in which, after noting that it is permissible or even meritorious (mustahabb) to read the sheikh's works, but only for the qualified... writes: 'Imam Ibn al-`Arabi has explicitly stated: <<It is unlawful to read [the Sufis'] books unless one attains to their level of character and learns the meaning of their words in conformity with their technical usages...>>.'"

    The author then starts defining his OWN PHILOSOPHY, in order to prove the Sufis wrong he calls "Satanic communication" a type of "revelation":

    "According to the Qur'an, revelation is of two kinds....the second is Satanic communication, of which Allah says:"Shall I inform you on whom the Satans descends, on every habitual liar and sinner."(26.222,223)".

    Then typical of his technique in this book the author proceeds to condemn Shaykh Ibn al-'Arabi of what he has not proven that Ibn al-'Arabi(R) had done or claimed by saying:

    "anyone who claims to be a prophet or a recipient of Divine revelation is an imposter and an heretic..[etc.]"

    Notably Ibn al-'Arabi has said as quoted by Shaykh Nuh Keller:

    "Beware lest you ever say anything that does not conform to the pure Sacred Law. Know that the highest stage of the perfected one (rijal) is the Sacred Law of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). And know that the esoteric that contravenes the exoteric is a fraud" (al-Burhani: al-Hall al-sadid, 32)."

    Please compare these words to the lies attributed to Ibn al-'Arabi today by the Salafis/Wahhabis.

    Ignoring the warnings regarding the interpretations of Shaykh Ibn al-'Arabi's works the author continues to slander him and all Sufis, using as evidence translated works, orientalists, contemporary Wahhabi works and people as Sadhu Ram Sharda, in his book, "Sufi thought: its development in Panjab and its impact on Panjabi literature, from Baba Farid to 1850 AD". The latter is certainly no scholar on Islam; note how the author abbreviates the title of the book and the author's first and middle names to give them more significance than they deserve as evidence[ he wrote in his footnotes," S.R. Sharda, Sufi Thought"] hiding the Hindu name of the author and the locality the book was intended to analyze. I have seen that book before. It is an abridgment of a doctoral dissertation in the Department of Panjabi, U of Panjab. It was examining mainly Sufism in the Panjab, and its forward, written by the professor of Sadhu Ram, a man with another Hindu name, suggested to me that the author had a hidden agenda. Namely it said that the author examined the contribution of Islam and Sufism to the Sikh religion and found that Sikhism "owes nothing to Islam or Sufism", but owes some of its ideas to Hinduism. Some of the passages in the book portrayed Muslims unfavorably, and it is likely the author was out to show Islam and Sufism as having minimal or negative contributions to his country and its native religions. None of the references in the book were Arabic, rather they were English, Hindi, Panjabi and Sanskrit. So much for the references Mr. "A.A. Tabari" is citing to condemn Tasawwuf.

  5. The Origins of Sufism

    Continuing his slander again the author refers back to Sadhu Ram Sharda from which he has taken the title of this chapter verbatim:

    "Like many other Sufi doctrines, pantheism is adopted from man-made religions and philosophies, as confirmed by S. R. Sharda in his book, Sufi Thought [deleted] ....."

    The rest of this section is more personal slander presented dogmatically and again based on uncertain sources and clearly out of the understanding of the author.

  6. The Fundamentals of Sufism

    He writes:

    "Sufism is a schism developed during the fourth century ....... to undermine Islamic aqeedah (dogma) and Muslim unity. (38) "Sufism," states the renowned Shaikh Abu Bakr al-Djaza'iri, "is a shameful deception which begins with dhikr (chanting the name of Allah) and ends with disbelief........."(39)

    Both references 38 and 39 go back to the contemporary Wahhabi Shaykh al-Djaza'iri. It is well known that the Wahhabis have stood out from the rest of the Ummah and its scholars against Tasawwuf. The works of Shaykh Hisham Kabbani which are referenced from the Quran, Sunna and the works of the respected Islamic scholars of the last 1400 years leave no doubt that Tasawwuf is part of Islam, inseparable, and this being based on countless proofs, not a few distortions. They also present the views of many respected scholars revealing the deviation from truth of the Wahhabis.

    Please look at some of the authors 'cheap shots' at Islamic spirituality=Sufism:

    " Freemasonary is a likely advocate of Sufims today, ..." [=slanderous conjecture] "The following are the most important fundamentals of Sufism judged by the Qur'an and Sunnah...."

    [Notice how the author's judgment, perhaps backed by a few non Muslims, and some Wahhabis as previously quoted, was equated with "the Qur'an and Sunna".]

  7. Structure of Sufi Orders:

    Here the author presents a Wahhabi Shaykh's views of the Shaykh:Murid [i.e. teacher:disciple] relationship without any references to actual Sufis explanations and then proceeds to say that this (1)makes the ummah an easy prey for conquest by non-Muslims and (2)engenders enmity among the adherents of different orders. As usual his allegations have no proof. Regarding his first charge it is well known that Tasawwuf has helped preserve many Islamic peoples when they have been attacked by non-Muslims, as the Sufis of Bosnia, Chechnia, Afghanistan, the Far East, China, North Africa, etc., etc.. Tasawwuf also helped keep the Ottoman empire, run by an Islamic Caliph, strong and for hundreds of years they raised the banner of Islam throughout the world. As for the second charge, it is unproven, and certainly Sufis have encouraged Love among Muslims and not hatred.

  8. The Certified Shaikh:

    The author is denying that Allah(SWT) may teach some of his creations otherwise hidden knowledge and says it," is restricted to Allah alone; anyone else who claims such knowledge is contending with Allah and assuming His attributes."

    Yet Allah(SWT) has blessed many from this Ummah, from our Beloved Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, to simple righteous people otherwise hidden knowledges. One example is the knowledge of Sayyidina 'Umar(R) of the Muslim troop's movements and the dangers to them hundreds of miles away, at which he called their leader to go to the mountains and thus helped, with Allah's(SWT) permission to save the troops. Another example is Prophet Sulayman's vizier, who was described as having knowledge from the book and thus was able to bring the throne of Queen Sab'a in the twinkling of an eye to Prophet Sulayman[S] [see Quran 27:40]. These are well known and accepted examples of the miracles of the 'Awliya of this Ummah and previous times. Shaykh Hisham Kabbani's books contain numerous examples and scholar's statements proving that Allah(SWT) has taught some what others know not, of both common things and generally hidden things[see the ASFA homepage for more information].

    The author says, "The shaikhs, the leaders of chiefs of the Sufi orders, are regarded by their members as superhuman or divine, and paid more awe and reverence than was paid to the Prophet (s.a.w) by his companions." Probably the author was unaware of the great respect and reverence given to our Beloved Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, as has been in part presented in Shaykh Hisham Kabbani's books. The Salafis are those who warn people not to praise the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, "too much", and it is Allah's order to us to praise him and ask blessings for him. How can they understand respect to Shaykh's if they are against respect to our beloved Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ?

    He goes on to quote an anthropologist, Michael Gilsenan, again resorting to non-'Islamic scholars' to reach his ugly conclusions. He states:

    "It is a fact that most order's shaikhs, who are usually self-appointed, have little or no religious knowledge."

    Where does he have this knowledge to say, "it is a fact"? Did he test the thousands of Sufi Shaykhs. And it is in any case the recommendation of Sufis, not to follow except a Shaykh who is learned in Shariah.

    He also said of a contemporary Syrian Sufi that he..:

    ".. named the chair[n] of the order's leaders back to the Prophet (s.a.w), among whom are many Sufi imposters and Batini zealots (deviant clandestine sectarians). The chain is claimed jointly by four Sufi orders: Qadiriyyeh, Shadthiliyyeh, Darqawiyyeh and Ulaiwiyyeh."

    This is typical of many of this books allegations;they are unreferenced, incomplete yet not devoid of huge slander against millions of Muslims. If the author was able to prove that the early Sufi's were Batini's and impostors, which of course is a lie, then he would not have had to resort to other ways of slander. Yet hypocritical to Islam, he makes allegations based on a few half-truths and many distortions.

  9. Al-'Ahd[Al-Bai'ah] (The Covenant of Allegiance) and
  10. 'Ahd or Bai'ah in Light of Qur'an and Sunnah

    The author begins the first chapter by re-iterating the Salafi misunderstanding that all innovations[Bid'a] in Islam are condemnable. This misperception of Fiqh has been addressed before repeatedly, and it has been shown that the words of the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, Sahabi's as Sayyidina Omar(R), and Imam's as Imam Shafi'i show that a Bid'a can be good and rewardable. [Of course such commendable innovations must be based on the Sunna and its principles and do not forbid Halal or allow Haram and are approved of by honorable Islamic scholars .] The author's tactic to illegitimize the Bai'ah is to equate it with the Bai'ah given to the Khalifa although the author himself acknowledges that there are different types of Bai'ah's. He then tries to prove a point on which there is no disagreement , that it is not allowed for one to abandon the Khalifa and start giving people the Bai'ah as there leader. Although he of course fails to show that Sufis do that, he neglects to mention that part of the Fitna of Wahhabism was that M. Abd-al Wahhab started to give people the Bai'ah and deny the legitimate Khilafa of Islam. The points he quotes are PERTINENT ON WAHHABISM not Tasawwuf! Here is one of his quoted examples:

    "The Prophet (s.a.w) said, "If two califs were given the covenant of allegiance, then kill the second of them."(50[=Muslim]) "

  11. The Ritual of Sufi Wird

    The author starts introducing Christian terms to define Islamic ideas:

    "But according to Sufism, the wird, or dthikr, is a practice of repeating the name of Allah, and a set of INVOCATIONS assigned to the murid by his shaikh or deputy as a LITURGY OF COMMUNION."[my emphasis to show the introduction of Christian terminology by the author]

    He continues:

    " They involve beseeching the dead, and seeking help from sources other than Allah."

    Asking for the support of the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, or Allah's Awliya, who are definitely not dead[!!] with the knowledge that all good comes only from Allah swt, but that he has given us means to reach it has been shown before to be a way accepted and encouraged by Islam. In fact no one can claim that asking other than Allah swt for help is unconditionally Shirk, because Allah(SWT) has put some of our needs with His servants, eg. Doctors, Lawyers, Mechanics, Policemen etc.. This point is often ignored by Salafis who are quick to accuse, "Shirk!". Regarding whether it is permissible to ask the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, for support [or 'Awliya] then remember that the people will ask him for his intercession on the Day of Judgment and Insha'Allah he will give it. Is it permissible to ask him then when we are in judgment before our Creator but not now? The following is an excerpt from a Naqshbandi-Haqqani posting on the permissibility of asking for support from the Prophet and the 'Awliya:

    "Al-Subki, al-Qastallani in al-Mawahib al-laduniyya, al- Samhudi in Tarikh al-Madina, and al-Haythami in al-Jawhar al- munazzam said that seeking help with the Prophet and other prophets and pious persons, is only a means of imploring God for the sake of their dignity and honor (bi jahihim). The one doing the asking seeks from the One asked that He assign him aid (ghawth) on behalf of the one higher than him. For the one being asked in reality is God. The Prophet is but the intermediary means (wasita) between the one asking for help and the One asked in reality. Hence, the help is strictly from Him in its creation (khalqan) and being (ijadan), while the help from the Prophet is strictly in respect to secondary causation (tasabbuban) and acquisition from God (kasban)."[End of Quote]

    The author invokes the Ayat describing Kuffar for Muslims who make Tawassul[seek intercession], not knowing how many Sahabis and scholars he has included in his unjust association:

    "And it has been revealed to you and to those before you: If you attribute partners to Allah, your deed shall surely be in vain and you shall certainly be among the loosers."(39.65)

    He says:

    " Making dthikr in a different manner, or communally, is an innovation leading to misguidance."

    He directly contradicts numerous Ayats and Hadith, which most Muslims know about making Dhikr as a group and its benefits.

  12. Khalwah (Seclusion)

    In this segment the author reports that in the Tijaniyya order:

    "The shaikh is believed to keep each murid's company constantly, spiritually as well as physically, regardless of number of him murids or their geographical locations. Thus, the Sufi chieftains gradually drag naive Muslims into the impious belief that their shaikhs are omnipresent."

    Please examine the author's technique to see if it is a presentation of the truth or a false propaganda against Muslims. He wants us to conclude that Sufi shaykhs "drag naive Muslims into the impious belief that [they] are omnipresent." He starts talking about the Tijanniya order, but ends with condemnations in general terms. He gives no references for this paragraph, and ends with an accusation of omnipresence which his OWN words three lines above do not even substantiate.

    Next he decides to open a different subject. He says:

    "Allah says: meaning, "There is no private talk of three, but He is their fourth; nor of five, but He is their sixth; nor of less than that nor of more, but He is with them wheresoever they may be."(58.7) Although it should be accepted in its literal meaning, yet the above verse should not be misconstrued to substantiate the sacreligious and pantheistic belief that Allah the Exalted essentially exists everywhere. Rather, the verse means that Allah, glory be to Him, encompasses everything with His knowledge. "

    The author says that this verse should be interpreted literally, then goes on to interpret it in the proper way, which is not literal. Then he implies that some, whom the reader is supposed to assume are the Sufis [as he had called their way pantheistic before] interpret this verse literally and calls that pantheism. This claim is false, as the great Sufis have clarified that they do not believe in pantheism, nor do they put limits on Allah swt. In fact the above verse in its improper literal meaning, would limit Allah swt by location and thus has been interpreted in a non-literal way by Ahl al-Sunna [the Sufis and others]. Interestingly the supporters of this author, the Wahhabis are the ones who have limited Allah swt to a place in their interpretation of the verses of Istiwa' and have expanded on that by translating it into "sitting in person", may Allah(SWT) protect us from this and other heresies.

    He also says:

    "The Prophet did not neglect to mention and make clear to his followers any ways or means that lead to success in the Hereafter, nor did he neglect to warn them against any ways or means that lead to misery in the Hereafter. And since the practice of khalwah is not included in the ways and means of success, it must be included in the ways and means of misery. "

    Again demonstrating logical flaws in his reasoning, the author is first stating that the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, was explicit in mentioning any possible way that leads to success or to misery, then he goes on to say that Khalwa was not mentioned in the first group so it must belong to the second group. If his first statement was correct then the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, must have clearly warned against Khalwa, which he of course did not do. In fact it is well known that he himself would spend time in seclusion worshipping Allah swt. If he had done this explicitly as he did, and failed to condemn it explicitly, then that is enough evidence that it is permissible.

    The author frequently makes unreferenced statements in this book as if they are well known facts, here's an example:

    "There is also another condition of khalwah: the murid must keep silent throughout the forty days of his khalwah even if he goes out for some reason. Suffice it to know that keeping silent for a whole day is forbidden by the words of the Prophet (s.a.w), "There shall be no keeping silence for a whole day until night."62 Al-Munawee, in his commentary on this hadeeth, says that keeping silent for a whole day is forbidden because it is an imitation of a Christian custom."

    Just a few paragraphs back the author describing Khalwah stated: "In complete seclusion, the Sufi continously repeats the name of God as a highest form of dthikr." Therefore he himself first denied that the one in khalwah is silent, then stated that he is silent and condemned him. Is this a credible account, or one that is out to condemn Tasawwuf regardless of the facts? The author also tried to prohibit Khalwah by mentioning the Hadith that it is better to mix and be patient with people than to not do so. He is trying to falsely portray a temporary action[khalwah] as a permanent one. He seems to go to any end to try and condemn Tasawwuf. He did not quote a single direct statement from a scholar to support his views regarding Khalwah.

  13. Al-Kashf (Unveiling)

    Shaykh Hisham Kabbani wrote in his book _Repudiation of "Salafi" Innovations_ Vol. II (ASFA):

    Kashf or unveiling consists, according to al-Sharif al-Jurjani's definition in his Kitab al-ta`rifat, in "apprehending beyond the veil of ordinary phenomena, whether by vision or experience, the meanings and realities that pertain to the unseen.

    The author of TOSOS states:

    "It is the ultimate end which the murid looks forward. He tolerates khalwah and succumbs to the will of his shaikh precisely to become one of the people of kashf, who are priviledged with Divine manifestation."

    This is another of the countless misrepresentations of Tasawwuf in this book. It portrays the Sufi as a power seeker willing to put up with the toils of worship only to reach some special level. Rather the Sufi seeks Allah's(SWT) pleasure and takes pleasure in worshipping Him. As in the famous Naqshbandi saying, "Allah is my intention and His pleasure is my request" [Allahu Maqsudi wa Ridahu Matlubi].

    Now the author states:

    "There are two points against the Sufi interpretation of kashf and tajalli. First, conceiving metaphysics by kashf is impossible, yet Sufis claim otherwise, contending against the truth. The fact is that whatever exists can be conceived of only within the realm of reason. Once man loses reason, he loses the ability to conceive of anything of its reality, and turns to hallucination and utter nonsense."

    The author is helpless to try to disprove that Kashf exists, as Imam Ibn Taymiyya[R. whom "Tabari" quotes in a general statement at the begining of the book] himself has said in his book al-Furqan bayna awliya' al-shaytan wa awliya' al-rahman(p.52.):

    "It is established that the awliya' possess spiritual communications (mukhatabat) and unveilings (mukashafat)."

    Instead he tries to confuse the issues by :

    1. He sets the stage by saying he will show two points not against Kashf, but against the Sufi interpretation of Khasf[and tajalli]. Then he says that "conceiving metaphysics" with Kashf is impossible, but neither does he show that this is an accepted "Sufi interpretation" nor does he show that it is an impossibility, instead stating, "the fact is...", without giving any proof.
    2. Introducing a conflict between Kashf and reason where none exists. The author states: "The fact is that whatever exists can be conceived of only within the realm of reason." To conceive here means, "to form a mental image" while kashf means "an unveiling" and is not an active act on the part of the recipient. Therefore we are not talking about forming images in ones mind using reasoning ability, rather being shown[or hearing etc.] something that others do not perceive. This has nothing to do with reasoning.

    Then the author continues... "Secondly, any claim that the Divine essence can appear, whether in existence or beyond it, ... ... ... [etc. etc. etc.]"

    Again he is trying to disprove something which no one has denied in the first place, i.e. no one has claimed that "the Divine essence can appear". Rather his line of arguing suggests that he has a gross misperception of what Tasawwuf is or is trying to force foreign ideas of his own imagination onto Tasawwuf.

    He continues by slandering a controversial figure in Tasawwuf, Abu Mansoor al-Hallaj presenting him without mentioning that he was opposed by some Sufis while vindicated by some scholars. The author chooses to join those opposing him and to slander all of Tasawwuf as well. Then he slanders Abdul-Karim al-Jili, quoting for him one quote from Nasrollah Fatemi[not a 'scholar of Islam']:

    "He further asserted in his book that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is the perfect man and the perfect god. From these blasphemous theories, el-Jili went on to declare himself to be a god also, and exclaimed, "To me belongs sovereignty in both worlds."

    Can this author stand in an Islamic trial and claim that Shaykh Abdul-Karim al-Jili[R] claimed to be 'a god' and that our Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, is "the perfect god", based on some translation written by a man not known for his expertise in this field?; absolutely not, neither can he find an authentic Sufi who will say that, as it is an unjust lie against Sufis. He finishes this chapter by implying an accusation of Kufr on the above mentioned author, inspite of the useless evidence he presents:

    "This assertion is blatant enough to condemn anyone who utters it of clear kufr, or disbelief."

    Then he confirms his implication[again inspite of a lack of solid references] :

    "Whenever such zindiqs, or heretics are mentioned, Sufis live up to their beliefs by invoking Allah's mercy on them, unaware of the fact that tolerance of kufr is itself an act of kufr, and that whoever invokes Allah's mercy on an unbeliever commits a grave sin."

    This sentence is in fact accusing thousands of Ahl al-Sunna["Sufis"] of Kufr[i.e. the beliefs he said show clear kufr earlier but failed to prove that anyone has supported these words].

  14. Al-Fanaa' (Annihilation)

    Simply the annihilation of one's desires and whims, instead following only what pleases Allah(SWT).

    In this chapter "AA Tabari" says:

    "Like most Sufi tenets, fanaa' is mentioned neither in the Qur'an nor in the Sunnah. It is rather a Sufi gimmick and a satanic deception, originally schemed by mystics among the Jews, Zoroastrians and Christians to adulterate the great religion of Islam.(70)" [note ref.70 is Sh. al-Djaza'iri, the contemporary Salafi]

    The meanings reflected in "annihilation" are replete in the Quran, the Sunna and the explanations of the scholars. An example is in the Quran 79:40,41[trans.]

    "And he who fears his Lord's station and prevented his self from lusts then the Garden is [their]recompense".

    The word itself is used in relation to the everlastingness of Allah swt versus the transience of all else in the Quran, 55:26,27[trans.]

    "All upon it is annihilated and there remains the Countenance of your Lord of Majesty and Graciousness."

    "AA Tabari" writes:

    "To give a better idea of the Sufi concept of Allah, Qunawi, one of Ibn Arabi's disciples, writes:

    [deleted]...But the end of love is unity. In the last analysis, God and the perfect man are one, for Being is one."(69)"

    Reference 69 is "Fakhruddin Iraqi, Divine Flashes, p.24" however when I found this book in the library, I found the above quote on page 26, and it was NOT by Sh. Qunawi, it was by the orientalist translators of the book, WILLIAM C. Chittick and PETER Lamborn Wilson in their introduction(!!!), following a quote attributed to Sh. Qunawi. Again we see "AA Tabari" relies on information which is translated by orientalists, MISQUOTES it and bases on this a declaration that Sufis are heretics.

  15. Manifest and Hidden Knowledge

    "AA Tabari" writes:

    "Three fundamentals of Sufism which are innovations not sanctioned by the Qur'an or the Sunnah:

    The division of knowledge into exoteric, or manifest, a[e]soteric, or hidden; "[end of quote]

    Allah swt has said in the Quran 17:85[trans.]:

    "And they ask you about the Spirit, say the Spirit is from my Lord and you were given from Knowledge but little."

    Such knowledge is hidden knowledge without question. Allah will teach of it to whom He pleases as He pleases. As He said in the Quran 2:282: " Have Taqwa[piety/fear/carefulness/awareness] from Allah and Allah will teach you, and Allah is knowing of all things." And He said in the Quran 2:151: " As we sent in you a Messenger from yourselves, [who] recites upon you Our signs and purifies you and teaches the Book and the Wisdom and teaches you that which you would not have known. So mention[root:dhikr] Me, I will mention you and give thanks to Me and do not Disbelieve[root:kufr]."

    "AA Tabari" continues:

    "The division of Islam into shari'ah(religious sciences) and the sciences of truth; "

    Shari'a means the law of Islam, no one is dividing Islam, science and law are not the same. Ironically those who accuse Tasawwuf of dividing Islam and knowledge when asked about Tawhid[the Islamic doctrine of One God], will say it is divided into three types, following an innovative explanation by a scholar who lived seven centuries after Islam came.

    "AA Tabari" :

    "and the addition to Islam of the Sufi order as the path leading to the truth."

    The path of Ihsan[beneficence] was explained by the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, " to worship Allah as if you see him, for if you see Him not, He sees you." This is Tasawwuf.

    Next "AA Tabari" tries to distort the message of Tasawwuf by quoting what he attributes, via his Salafi Shaykh Djazairi to the Imam respected by nearly all Muslim scholars, al-Imam al-Junayd[R.d297].

    He quotes from Sh. Djazairi for Imam al-Junayd:

    "I prefer that the beginner (murid) does not occupy his mind with these three things: earning his living, seeking the Prophetic traditions or learning how to read and write, so that his worries may be confined."(74)[74=Djazairi]

    Then "AA Tabari" says:

    "Thus the murid becomes content with esoteric knowledge in lieu of exoteric, and with knowledge of the hidden "truth" in lieu of Shari'ah, and therefore lives in both ignorance and apostacy, without piety or iman. "

    Therefore he falsely attributes to Imam al-Junayd that he lead people to ignorance and apostasy and opposed learning Sharia. This one quote from Imam Junayd as quoted by Imam Dhahabi[R] in "Siyar 'Alam al-Nubala' " disproves "Tabari"'s ugly allegations:

    "Ali Bin Haroon and another said:We heard Al-Junayd more than once say:" Our knowledge is regulated by the Book[Quran] and the Sunna. Whoso does not memorize the Book and write the Hadith and master Fiqh he is NOT TO BE FOLLOWED.""

  16. Al-Aqtaab[the poles]

    This chapter completely lacks references and thus reflects the author's own distorted views of tasawwuf. Here is one of its ugly false accusations:

    "They also claim that his person reaches the state of "qutbhood" by acquiring the perfection of knowledge, observation and mushahadah,(75) [75=a definition;'viewing...'] which includes witnessing the Divine essence. "

    Let "AA Tabari" bring forth his proof that Sufis claim to witness "the Divine essence". We have seen how his knowledge is at best second hand, e.g. he read that Sh Djazairi read that Shaykh Ahmad Tijani in a book attributed to him wrote, and we have seen how he does not even understand properly what is clearly in front of him, e.g. quotes a translator's comment as a Sufis words, so how can he then comment upon a subject in which his only sources are from those who hate it and are ignorant of its ways?!

  17. Al-Awliyaa'[the 'saints']

    Instead of discussing the Awliya in this chapter, "Tabari" gives two short quotes attributed to Shaykh Ahmad al-Tijani[R], as he derived them from Sh. Djazairi's book. This typifies "Tabari"'s style, to fully condemn, blame, accuse of heresy, kufr, bid'a etc. respected muslims, based on second or third hand evidence and hear-say.

    18. In Defiance of the Qur'an and Sunnah

    "Tabari" tries hard to force a contradiction between Islam and Tasawwuf. Here are the three examples he gives in this chapter:

    [1] "The Sufis claim: "The ways unto God are as numerous as the number of creatures in the world."(77) [77=Fatemi][note: no direct quotes]"

    Simply it means that the path to Allah swt is different for each person, because we are all in some way different. It does not mean that these paths are outside of Islam or of the "straight path" which we ask Allah to guide us upon every prayer. For example one may need to control his anger, while another may need to be more generous, etc.. On the other hand it may mean that as we are all returning to Allah swt[see Quran 21:93(-trans."all to us are returning") each will follow a different path back to his Lord[i.e. each will experience different things on the 'way' back].

    ["Tabari"...] [2]: "The sufis say: "When you unite with the Beloved (God), then there is neither command nor prohibition in matters of religion." (80)"

    Reference 80 says, "Attar, op. cit.", but there are no other Attar references! Shaykh Fariduddin Attar[R] was a persian Sufi and he wrote poetry in Persian. "Tabari" takes this unreferenced, out of context, unchecked translation and tries to force upon Tasawwuf a doctrine of rejecting Sharia and not fearing Allah swt. He then quotes six references from the Quran and Sunna to prove what no one had denied in the first place. It is typical in this book in order to make its references seem to include much Quran and Hadith and to make the author appear that he is defending Islam, "Tabari" will misrepresent a Sufi viewpoint and then give a prolonged discussion on what he falsely attributed to Tasawwuf. Here also the above translation does not reflect Sufi thinking. Here is another quote from Imam Dhahabi's book "Siyar 'Alam al-Nubala'" about the famous Sufi Imam al-Rifa'i and what he said which represents the Sufi ideals:

    #907:Al-Rifa'iyy:The Imam, the exemplar, the Arif, the Zahid, Shaykh Al-Arifeen....And from him(he said): "The shortest ways[on the path] are breaking[the ego], meekness[to Allah],and neediness[to Allah], you grandify the command of Allah, and have compassion on the creation of Allah, and you take guidance from the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam."

    ["Tabari"...] [3]: "Jalal-uddin al-Rumi (d. 1273), an infamous Sufi philosopher, in his book Masnawi, confirms his belief in the theory of evolution. The following lines are recognized as the central theme of Rumi's work:

    "I died as mineral and became a plant, I died as a plant and rose to an animal, I died as an animal and I was a man."(82)"

    Reference 82 is, "Ibid" the reference above it is, "Ibn Majeh", the Hadith book, likely the intended reference here was 84 or: " R.A. Nicholson, Mystic of Islam, Bill, London, 1914, p.164" Again "Tabari" relies on translated Persian poems to draw dangerous conclusions. Is he truly expecting us to believe that the above poem is not a figurative rendition but a scientific theory presented 700 years ago in a Sufi poem!! "Tabari" goes on arguing against evolution, as if it is a Sufi doctrine. That's like condemning a Sufi who lived hundreds of years ago for drawing the architectural blue-prints for an atomic bomb or a fighter jet aircraft!

  18. Notes on the Tijaniyyah Order

    "AA Tabari" writes:

    "Like the other Sufi orders, al-Tijaniyyah is a condemned bid'ah, since neither it nor the others existed at the time of the Prophet nor during the era of the two succeding generations. "

    Using his logic one could also condemn the four Madhabs since they did not exist at the time of the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, and took several centuries to reach 'maturity'. Rather it is "Tabari"'s logic that must be condemned.

    "Tabari" references are not for Shaykh Ahmad al-Tijani's books, rather for anti-Sufi books with quotes second hand, yet he goes on to use accusation after accusation, as if he has full knowledge of all these things that he is talking about, but his words betray him.

    Here are some quotes of "AA Tabari", the writer of this slanderous and deceitful book, with enormous accusations to Shaykh Ahmad al-Tijani[R], a Shaykh who lived hundreds of years ago and was respected and honored by many Muslim scholars:

    [...=deleted material for brevity] " utter flippancy and apostacy. "... "This is apostacy and impiety, and anyone who does not deny it becomes an apostate himself. "... " is a clear kafir, or infidel,..."..... " out of the fold of Islam; ... " appoints himself as a prophet,...." " claims lordship."

    The above is from three small pages of the book. Here are some details on one of the few quotes attributed to Shaykh Ahmad. This is in reference to the Salawat[blessings] on the Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, which are definitely attributed to this Sufi order. "AA Tabari" says that whoever believes that this Salawat is "from the quran" is not a Muslim!! Here are its translated words;

    "O Allah, Send Blessings[Salawat] on our Master Muhammad, the Opener to what has closed, and the Seal of what has passed, the victor of the truth with the truth, and the guide to your straight way, and for his family and his companions, in due measure to him and his great honor."

    The Prophet, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, opened the door to Islam after Kufr[disbelief] had spread, and he opened the door to Allah's mercy, and he opened the door to Allah's guidance, and he opened the door to those who wished to come closer to their Lord, etc.; He also sealed the Prophethood, being the last Prophet, and gave victory to truth using the truth given to him by Allah swt, May Allah bless him indeed. These are simple meanings, as I understand them, found in the Quran, which AA "Tabari" has decided to accuse all who believe in them of Kufr!!

  19. In Conclusion

    Here the author praises his guides the Salafis, and puts down all other Muslim groups : "... I wish to commend the continous efforts of the Salafi groups.." ".. throughout the world to expose Sufism, and to criticize the deplorable silence of other Islamic parties and groups. The reason for this silence is that none of these other parties, large or small, has a dogmatic base with which it can be identified."

    [The author implies that only the Salafis have a true set of beliefs]

    He says:

    "... But with the help first of God Almighty Allah, then of the Salafi da'wah, Sufism will continue to suffer one blow after another..."

    With Allah's permission we have seen the lies, distortions and slander wrongly put up by this person who hides his first name, and is raised to fame by the Salafi/Wahhabi supporters. Allah's way remains open for all to come to His service through love and respect. If we try to struggle for this honorable path, the path of Ihsan taught by our beloved Messenger, Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, then we may be successful Insha'Allah. If we oppose, and make ourselves slanderers of Allah's respected servants, then we can only blame ourselves for a bad outcome.

    Why is it that with billions of Saudi dollars to support them, all the Salafis/Wahhabis could do to oppose Tasawwuf was to get an unknown author to fill a book of lies and distortions and accusations of Muslims of Shirk, with no pertinent scholarly references? This is because they are not able to get more than a few mostly inauthentic historic statements against Tasawwuf while the Muslim scholars words in support of Tasawwuf are overwhelming. The words of nearly forty of them including the four great Imams of Fiqh are available on the ASFA homepage for all to see.

May Allah swt guide us and forgive us.

WasSalamu Alaykum Wa RahmatUllahi Wa Barakatuh,

Hesham Bazaraa