Dedication and Part Two of Six Answers by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani
Answer to the First Question: “What is Tasawwuf?“
In response to the first question:
>> 1. What is Tassawuf? Please give a detailed definition and >> explanation of the meaning of this terminology and the word >> itself?
“To answer your first question, from our point of view, we see here that you are referring in your question “what is Tasawwuf” to your wanting a detailed explanation of the term and the word. This means you accept that it is only a term, which has been used to explain a state that was mentioned in the time of the Prophet (s).You then ask to define the word itself–implying that you understood that Tasawwuf is a term used to express a concept.”
We shall try to be very precise in defining this term, because after receiving so many accusations, from here and from there, we have decided to give a concise and short definition, though we would prefer to spend more time to build up a background for the readers. But due to the number of accusations that we are running away from answering these questions, we are making it very concise at this time.
It is obvious and well-known to everyone that in this century people have differences in understanding the subject of Tasawwuf. Some people believe it is against Islam and is not mentioned in Shari’ah, Qur’an or Sunnah. On the other hand, followers of Ibn Taymiyya’s school, followers of the four Imams schools’ and followers of many other Imams who came later, such as as-Subki , as-Suyuti, Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, and many many others, accepted it and knew that Tasawwuf has its roots deep in Qur’an and Sunnah and the Shar’iah. These great scholars accepted Tasawwuf because they knew the reality of the meaning of that term.
The term Tasawwuf was not known in the time of the Prophet (s). However, ["wa in kanat at-tasmiyyatu muhdathan,"] even though the name is new, the essence of it is part and parcel of the religion and cannot be separated out from it. The purpose of Tasawwuf is to purify the heart from all kinds of bad desires and inclinations and the dirtiness that accumulates upon it due to sins and wrongdoing, either externally or internally, and to remove these bad manners and sins and to clean the self and to adorn and decorate the heart with the good behavior and good manners that are demanded by the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Sunnah of the Prophet (s). Its purpose is to create the state of Ihsan, perfection of character, which was the state of the Prophet (s), and the state which each of his Companions (s) was striving to acheive.
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America