The Great Internet Debate

Now if some our brothers and sisters in Islam are not aware of that matter, it doesn’t mean that matter doesn’t exist. The word Tasawwuf by itself is simply a term, which can be interchanged by any other appropriate term. It is used to explain the concepts of Tazkiyyat an-Nufus and Ihsan. To say one is Sufi is like one saying “I graduated from Azhar, I am Azhari.” It is simply applying a title or an adjective. It doesn’t mean one isn’t Muslim. The word “Azhari” isn’t found in Qur’an or Hadith. However, it is a term which is used to identify a concept quickly.

If one doesn’t like the *term* Tasawwuf he shouldn’t use it. He can use some other term, of which there are many, which we will present here and in the forthcoming reply to Shaikh Adly’s questions, which we are working hurriedly to complete before we begin travelling on Friday. However, just because one doesn’t like the term Tasawwuf, perhaps because of some negative connotations that have been attributed by modernists and Orientalists, that doesn’t mean great scholars didn’t define the term and explain it, as a science in Islam and an essential part of the Din. Ibn Taymiyya did so in 1400 pages of Volume 10 (‘Ilm as-Sulook) and Volume 11 (at-Tasawwuf) of his lifework, “The Gathered Fatawas of Ibn Taymiyya” (“Majmu’a Fatawi Ibn Taymiyya”), which we have summarized elsewhere. And as we are all Muslims and we know that Ibn Taymiyya was one of the Shuyukh al-Islam, for one to deny Tasawwuf is like denying and disavowing what Ibn Taymiyya and other great scholars said on this matter. Since we respect Ibn Taymiyya’s teachings, and most of the readers respect them as well, then it is necessary to know his opinion on this subject, which he explained in detail. However, to translate his vast work on this subject, encompassing 1400 pages, is a huge task and will take a great deal of time. Insha-Allah, at our leisure, we are going to explain and bring out the meaning, concepts and terminology of this subject, to the best of our ability.

As I am not an English speaker, I am an Arab, it takes time to translate, explain and give definitions. So you must excuse us, because we don’t want to write hurriedly and give a haphazard answer in our spare time. Rather we wish to define Tasawwuf precisely according to Qur’an and Holy Hadith in order to answer Shaikh Adly’s questions. We intend to answer in depth insha-Allah, to give the meaning of the term Tasawwuf, which doesn’t differ from the meaning of Tazkiyyat an-Nufus or Ihsan. Ihsan is the state of the heart which brings tears to the eyes when reading the Qur’an or Hadith, causes one to feel regret for time wasted in pursuit of the worldly life, and causes one to yearn for the presence of God and for the blessings of the Afterlife.

Some writers need two or three years to write a book. I don’t think any reasonable person expects us to give a definition of this huge subject in a short space when it deserves a whole book. Nonetheless, we will continue to translate slowly, the quotations of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim on Sufism, ‘Ilm as-Sulook, Ittihad, Fana’, Praising the Prophet (s), the matter of Intercession and numerous subjects which were mentioned in the books of Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Qayyim and Ibn Kathir. Some brothers and sisters are not aware of these important subjects, because these books are in Arabic and are difficult to obtain.

As of now, we didn’t translate from any scholars other than Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Kathir and Ibn Qayyim. We haven’t yet begun to translate how other scholars of Islam explained these terms. Because this life will end, yet the teachings of Islam will never end. Allah said, “Qul law kaana al-bahru midaadan li-kalimaati rabbi,lanafid al-bahru qabl an tafadu kalimaatu rabbi wa law ji’na bi-mithilhi maddada.” “Say: if the Ocean were ink [wherewihth to write out] the words of my Lord, sooner would the Ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord were to end, even if We added another Ocean like it as aid.” (Kahf, 109)

Allah’s Knowledge as mentioned in Surat al-Kahf, is like an ocean which never ends and that is why the exegesists (mufassarin) such as Ibn Kathir and Sayyid Qutb have written many volumes of explanations of the Holy Qur’an. What these scholars wrote is from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, though the average person reading it might not be able to determine that fact.

The Sciences Contained in the Qur’an and Hadith

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