Tasawwuf – a Technical Term
Tasawwuf is a technical term which describes the state of Ihsan, as mentioned in the famous hadith of Jibril, and the process of Tazkiyyat an-Nafs, purification of the self which is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. That is acceptable in Islam, as long as it does not contain superstition (shaawwaza). We have said many times that we do not believe in nor follow superstition. We accept Tazkiyyat an-Nafs and the state of Ihsan, purification of the heart, as it is an *important* part of the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. We are following the definition of Tasawwuf that was clearly and extensively explained by Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Qayyim and Ibn Kathir and all other great scholars of the other four schools of Islamic Shari’ah.
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 Shaykh 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). And as we are all Muslims and we know that Ibn Taymiyya was one of the Shuyukh al-Islam, for one to deny Tasawwufis 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.
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America