Tasawwuf - A Branch Of Faith

A prestigious branch of faith, through which it is carried to perfection, is Ihsaan, as the Holy Prophet’sPeace & Blessings be upon himtradition describes it, and ‘Tazkia’ as the Holy Qur’aan states, and Tasawwuf as it is known in common utterance. In plain words it means the creation of real living consciousness of Allah. A consciousness so strong and vivid as if one had actually seen Him, sweeping aside every trace of doubt and uncertainty. When this consciousness becomes complete, it creates a bond of loyalty with Allah, that fills the heart with His remembrance, His love and His intense awareness of His Might. It becomes the essence, the ruling spirit of one’s existence, of all of one’s thoughts, actions, in prayer, morality, social behaviour, monetary dealings and so forth. All that one does is then inspired, governed and regulated by this all-embracing faith and overpowering realisation. One’s external life is completely pervaded by this internal feeling.

Ihsaan, Tazkia or Tasawwuf, thus represents the very pinnacle of faith. It is the supreme standard of one’s spiritual state. One is perfect in his faith or not according to the measures with which he is blessed with this wealth.

The famous tradition of the Holy Prophet Peace & Blessings be upon himconsisting of the dialogue between him and the angel Jibraeel alaihis salaam is a pointer in this direction. The manner in which the term Ihsaan occurs in it after Imaan and Islam testifies to the truth of the assertion that Ihsaan works the ultimate stage in the evolution of faith.

Briefly the tradition says that one day the Holy ProphetPeace & Blessings be upon himwas sitting with some of the companions when Jibraeel alaihis salaam came in, disguised as a traveller from a far off place. He took his seat close to the Holy Prophet Peace & Blessings be upon himand began to ask him some questions. The first was, "What is Imaan (faith)?" And the second, "What is Islam?" The Holy Prophet Peace & Blessings be upon himgave suitable replies to his questions. Then he asked, "What is Ihsaan?" The Holy Prophet Peace & Blessings be upon himanswered, "Ihsaan means to worship Allah as if one is actually seeing Him or being seen by Him." In other words, the stage of Ihsaan is reached when the awareness of Allah becomes the greatest reality of one’s life and one’s every act is performed under a constant sense of His presence, but although man cannot see Allah, Allah does see him.

This condition is known amongst the Sufis (Muslim Mystics) as Huzoori (presence) and Nisbat (affinity) and when anyone is described by them as Sahib-e-Nisbat, it denotes that he has achieved it in a considerable way.

When this state of spirituality is achieved, a person becomes permanently attuned towards Allah, and becomes immune to all kinds of doubts and misgivings concerning His Being.

As a natural outcome of this all pervading effulgence of faith. In this all-embracing sense of divine presence, all other ties and attachments are merged and they lose their identity in one great allegiance to the Almighty. All internal and external acts such as love, friendship, enmity, social dealings and business transactions are carried out for His sake alone.

A tradition of the Holy Prophet Peace & Blessings be upon himon the subject of Ihsaan mentions, "A person whose state may be that, when he loves, he loves for the sake of Allah, when he hates he hates for the sake of Allah, when he withholds his hand from giving, he withholds it for the sake of Allah, he has attained perfection in his faith."

It was for this very reason that the blessed Companions radiyallahu anhum sacrificed all that they had, life, family, wealth and everything else. Why? What had they seen? It was because of this very simple fact that they had acquired absolute faith in Allah through the auspicious company of the Holy Prophet Peace & Blessings be upon him. How did men (saints) like, Hazrat Hasan Basri, Junaid Baghdadi, Abdul Qadir Jilani, Khawaja Bahauddin Naqshbandi, and saints of the last 3 centuries such as Mujaddid Alfi Sani, Khawaja Baqi Billah, Shah Waliullah Dehlavi and countless other devoted men of Allah, who were adorned with this virtue of Ihsaan, climb to such greatness, and achieve such spiritual heights.

Anyone possessing the briefest acquaintance with this luminous link in the chain of sufistic achievements will agree that what they have attained has come to them through no other passage.

Therefore how can we possibly doubt the soundness and efficiency of a system that has produced such splendid men of faith, who may be justly described as the spiritual blossom and glory of Islam.

It is evident that anyone who flourishes himself as a ‘peer’ (spiritual guide) is surely not worthy and capable of being taken as a guide and a mentor.

However, some sections of the ummah have been guilty of error and folly in varying measures and both of a conceptual and practical nature - in the field of Tasawwuf, one may find many innovations in faith itself. The world knows and accepts that there are both fake and genuine amongst religious teachers and spiritual masters, as amongst political leaders, physicians and so forth, but to distinguish the true from the false can be done without much difficulty. The experts who are blessed in this field with a wide understanding of Shari’ah, such as Shah Waliullah Dehalvi and Hazrat Fakhr-Uddin of recent times, who laid down, in the light of Qur’aan and Hadith and their own experience and knowledge, how to recognise men with an awakened heart and an evolving soul.

The elementary test is that, besides being Allah-fearing and having strict observance of Shari’ah, their state should be such that in their company people may be reminded of Allah and the love for the material world may weaken and the love of Allah and the solitude for the eternal life in the Hereafter may be embedded in the heart when associating with them. These qualities should also be clearly manifest in their predecessors and disciples.

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