In response to an inquiry from a guest, Lokman Efendi explains the science of Tasawwuf/Tariqat in the beautiful Islamic tradition. He explains that tasawwuf is living the lifestyle of the Holy Prophet (S) which all of the Sahabe Kiram strove for.
In the beginning, Sufism was a reality without a name. and now it is a name without a reality. Tasawwuf, they call it. Tasawwuf. Not Sufism so much. It’s a western word, ‘Sufi’. They say, ‘Ohh Sufi, from sof, from ahli sufa, this that….’ But what is it?
Tarikat. They call it Tasawwuf and Tarikat. Tarikat means way. What is it that the Sufis they are doing?
They are living a life imitating the life of the Prophet. That’s all they did. Every sahabi was a Sufi. Every sahabi was living the sunnat of the the Prophet (asws) both outside and internal. Every sahabi was remembering Allah. Every sahabi was knowing the specialness of the Prophet (asws). Every sahabi is trying to internalize the gifts of Allah. Every sahabi was trying to control their ego. So all these things, as in Sufism, they were doing it. Because now, Sufism is also an internal knowledge, that the Prophet also gave permission to two of his Sahabis, two of his companions; Abu Bakr and Ali Hazretleri.
To Abu Bakr, he taught one way. To Hazreti Ali, he taught forty ways. But the superiority of Hazreti Abu Bakr over Ali is well known. So this is when Sufism becomes the backbone of Islam. Hazreti Abu Bakr is the backbone of the nation and Hazreti Ali, representing knowledge, is also the backbone. Without the backbone, the body flops, it can’t moves, it is paralyze. Now with the backbone, it can moves.
This is again, because all this is interconnected also. Once you have colonialism, once you lose contact with your history, and with your culture and everything, then you don’t know, you can’t piece things together. Once you’ve lost your language, then you have other people telling you, rewrite your history and telling you, ‘look this is your history,’ and you start believing in that.
So even if you go back to your own original history, you are going to be confused, which one is real, which one is true.
From the time of the Prophet (asws), then the Tabi’in, Hasan al-Basri, he was the earlier sufi. Rabiatul Adawiya, was the earlier sufi. It goes on. These are all well documented too. And there are millions of undocumented Sufis and they are all concentrating on the diseases of the soul, of the spirit, and how to come closer to Allah. Everything has its support from the Quran and from the Hadiths. They don’t deviate any more than that. Some things may expand, but it’s always traced back to the Quran and the Hadiths.
So, when Islam started spreading to all other nations, they are first carried out by Sufis. When Islam first came, first it was sahabis who went. Now they are discovering tombs of Sahabis all the way in China, in Malaysia, Indonesia. Even here, in the United States, they found certain graves of the companions of the Prophet (asws), that they are trying to keep, also, quiet about it. But these ones, 1400 years ago, they sail, and they put a claim, they put their flag there for the next generation to come to do something, next waves and the next waves and the next waves.
First wave, the Sufis, they came. In India, Indonesia, in China, they came and they understood the people, slowly they introduced the people to Islam by the light of the Prophet (asws). They made the people, their hearts, to become soft for them to love Islam. They weren’t really concern about all the particulars yet, because they just come new. Next generations will be, next generations…
It is not as we read in the History books where they write, Islam either it came incidentally to people; Traders who comes and they just spread Islam. That’s bad enough. But what’s even worst is the implication that the Muslims, they are just interested in dunya. They are just businessmen interested to make a quick buck and by the way, they spread Islam. As if, the spread of Islam is not something that is central in the Muslims’ mind, in the Muslim Rulers’ mind.
Prophet sent delegations at that time, specifically, to spread Islam. Why would they suddenly drop and just send some Arab businessmen to trade in spices and teaching people how to pray and suddenly they become muslims? It’s not arbitrary. That’s very arbitrary. But that’s not how they spread Islam. Everything is plan.
So, during the Prophet’s time, yes, all our practices that we have; from hadrah, standing up and praising, to jumping up and down and reciting zikr, to sitting, to be in quiet, to having a tasbih, maulid, making rabita, all these things can be traced directly to the companions of the Prophet (asws).
Now, especially during the time of the Ottoman, Sufism, allegiance to a Sheykh, accepting it, it’s common. It is not alternative or unorthodox or extra or optional. Everyone believes in Awliya Allah. Everyone had a Sheykh. The Sultans, they have Sheykh. The Pashas, they have Sheykh, the administrators, the street sweepers, the butchers, everyone belong to a Sheykh.
Everyone belong to a dergah. The entire empire would shut down every Thursday night, to make zikr. It’s unthinkable. Imagine the whole of Little Rock (Hoja is talking to the Jemaah in Little Rock Arkansas US), on Thursday night, shut down, everyone make zikr. What a tremendous rahmat is that. What if the whole of the state of Arkansas? Unthinkable isn’t it?
Now we had a complete empire shut down on Thursday night just to make. How beautiful is that. But right now we cannot even tell them that, because we have come so underground that major, almost all mesjids forbid zikr. And the idea is that zikr is Bid’ah. Little kid comes to me saying that he’s dressed up in school on Dress as your Hero Day, he dressed up wearing a turban and a Thaub. That little kid said, ‘I dress as my hero, a Sahabi.’ And the other arab kids said to him, ‘why are you wearing this?’ He said, ‘because I’m dressed as a Sahabi.’ And he said, ‘Oh, are you one of those people who make zikr?’
He said, ‘yes.’
‘Are you even allowed to do that? That’s haram!’
Little kid, they are already indoctrinated. How are you going to get rid of that? Because this notion of ‘haram’ puts them in a superior position. They think that they are safe and everyone else is damn. So it comes from a position of pride. It’s not knowledge, it’s pride. How are you going to get rid of pride? It’s a very difficult process now.
So, this is something that has always been circle to Islam.
Question from a Murid: At the time of Rasulullah (asws), and sahaba, and tabi’in, their level was so intense and high that this type of methodology was not required. Like for example, if somebody comes to you and you are training, you may have a certain way to train, but those people, within seconds when they went to Rasulullah (asws), they were trained by the very fact that that is entirely a different level. So, when people say, was this kind of Sufism there, they are not recognizing that this methodology was not needed at that time. Just the presence of Rasulullah (asws) and the fact that the person who came has accepted him as his master, this was enough for them to go through instantaneous training, whereas in today’s age and time, they Sheykh may have to device a method, he has to customize the training for his murid….
Lokman Hoja: I will add to that that not all the sahabis and the tabi’in they are of the same rank. Hz Abu, Hz Ali, instantaneous. Then there are others, I don’t like to divide the sahabis, but they come in different categories also. Hz Abu Sufyan is different, he didn’t accept Islam until the conquest of Mecca. So his status cannot be the same as Hz Ali. But he will also receive spiritual training. Then, there are those that accepted and later they also deny it, like Ibn Salama. He also deny it. And the same thing with the Tabi’in also. Some of them, it is very direct and it’s easy, but some of them, it takes years, and some of them it takes generations for it to kick in.
So, if you tell me precisely about the kind of methodology customize and each of them, I would better answer this, but I do know from what knowledge that I’ve learn from my Sheykh is that the methodology does not especially, let me speak from just my own experience, I’m not going to interpret from others experience; Our own gatherings, and that is modeled after the Prophet. And it is small, it is family oriented, and it is based on discipline. And it is not for everyone. Because not everyone will get, and such a discipline is important. But the idea is to make everyone to rise up to the level of Hz Abu Bakr. It’s impossible, but the Awliya Allah and the Prophet is not to make us to stay stuck or to go down lower, but it’s always to lift us up as high as they can.
So, their methodologies may be slightly different and it has to be, but the purpose is the same; it is to make the person to become Insan-e-kamil. The Perfect man. It’s impossible, but according to the intention now.
So, certain things, if you have the foundation, then from that foundation, you have the pillars that are there, then when it is anchored according to the permission that is given to you, you can go, even in the opposite direction, because the whole idea now is anchored, you need to go to the opposite direction now to draw this person out to become Insan e-Kamil. So that time, permission, it is given.
Because, the mindset, the physiology, the emotions and the intelligence of Seventh Century Arabia, is completely different from Seventeenth Century Arabia. Let alone Seventeenth Century India, or China, or the Balkans.
Now 21st century, it is completely different now. Islam is a living religion. It is not a dead religion.
It is a living religion. And it is the only religion that continues to live and to strives, precisely because we have this protectors of the religion, the Hafizis, the protector of the religion, that understand the nature of man, and the nature of the ego, and how to draw the spirit out from that ego. And that ego may differ at any moment, at any time, and at any place. So it has to be.
The Problem with Salafism and Wahhabism is just like the communist; they want to just start all over again, wipe everything out, start from year zero, like in Saigon, just finish everything. No civilization. Start all over anew. They want to recreate Seventh century Arabia. Muslims should all be Arab speakers, wear white thaub be fundamentalist in that way, in their own mind, I’m not talking evolution, but there is no adaptation, there is no life, there is no branching out, development of Islam. In their mind, it is that because this is what they learn in the books; we live in the desert, they do this…., and it didn’t even work for them.
Look now, hardly a hundred years have passed, they are not exactly living in tents, living completely sunnat lifestyle of the sahabis. They have not only the highest level of technology, they have so much gold that their toilet seats are made of gold. So even in their own ideology, they have betrayed themselves. Because it’s untenable, it’s unworkable. You can’t do that because it’s against the sunnat. It’s not how it is.
I remember talking to Abouzar Ali, he’s Egygption coming from Georgian background, his forefathers came from Georgia, he said, the Wahhabi especially they hate the people from the Hijaz at that time. Now they came from Najd, but the people who lives in the major cities in Hijaz Mecca for instance, at that time, the people in Mecca and Medina, they were the most sophisticated Muslims living in the world. They have the most manners, they have wealth but more than that they have knowledge….they are very sophisticated. They are not what we think today’s Arab are in the Hijaz, they are very straight, No. and they hated that kind of culture and they came and they destroyed all of that.
So it’s very different. The mindsets are very different. That’s as much as I know.
Hoja Lokman Efendi Hz, Khalifah of Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs) * OSMANLI DERGAHI- New York