Tassuwuf & its origins
Throughout Islamic history Muslims have used the Arabic word Taṣawwuf to identify the practice of Sufism. The great scholars of our illustrious tradition have defined Tasawwuf as the name for the inner or esoteric dimensions of Islam. Its ultimate objective is spiritual enlightenment through the purification of the heart, simultaneously adopting the inwardly perfected attributes of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. However these lofty stations can only be achieved when supported and complemented by the outward exoteric practices of the faith. All of which are derived from the blessed Sharia. The Sharia is extracted from the Glorious Quran, the sacred Prophetic traditions & the consensus of the classical scholars of Islam.
The Islamic science of Tasawwauf is a tried & tested methodology of attaining the sincerest form of love for Allah ﷻ & his most noble Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It utilises two core principles firstly; continuous remembrance (dhikr) & consciousness of Allah ﷻ; secondly abasement & opposition of the lower self, the ego or commonly referred to as the nafs.
Great luminaries have traversed this channel which has been refined & perfected over hundreds of years. There are numerous pathways (Tareekah’s) which one can undertake to develop the spiritual faculties; however the epicentre at which all these rivers meet is the same, that is the mercy to the universes, our Master Sayyidunah Muhammad ﷺ, who is the distributor of the divine bounties of Allah ﷻ.
The Great Scholars of Islam on Tassawuf & the Sufis
Imaam Nu’man Ibn Thabit, Abu Hanifa, founder of the Hanafi school of Jurisprudence, (80 a.h – 150 a.h.) “If it were not for two years, I would have perished.” He said, “For the two years I accompanied Sayyidina Ja’far as-Sadiq and I acquired the spiritual knowledge that made me a gnostic (Sufi) in the way.”
Imaam Anas Ibn Malik, founder of the Maliki school of Jurisprudence (93 a.h – 179 a.h) “Whoever studies Jurisprudence (Fiqh) and didn’t study Sufism (Tasawwuf) will be corrupted; and whoever studied Sufism and didn’t study Jurisprudence will become a heretic; and whoever combined both will ultimately reach the Truth.
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Idrees As-Shafi’I, founder of the Shafi school of Jurisprudence (150 a.h – 204 a.h) “I accompanied the Sufi people and I received from them three knowledge’s; how to speak; how to treat people with leniency and a soft heart, they also guided me in the ways of Tasawwuf (the inner realms).”
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Founder of the Hanbali school of Jurisprudence (164 a.h – 241 a.h.) “Oh my son, you have to sit with the People of Tasawwuf, because they are like a fountain of knowledge, they keep the Remembrance of Allah ﷻ in their hearts. They are the ascetics and they have the most spiritual power.”
Imam Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al Ghazzali, The Reviver of the 5th century (450 a.h – 505 a.h) “I knew verily that Sufis are the seekers in Allah’s ﷻ way, and their conduct is the best conduct, and their way is the best way, and their manners are the most sanctified. They have purified their hearts from other than Allah ﷻ. They have made them as pathways for rivers to run receiving knowledge of the Divine Presence.”
Imaam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, The Reviver of the 6th century (544 a.h – 606 AH) “The way of Sufis, in seeking Knowledge, is to disconnect themselves from this worldly life, and they keep themselves constantly busy with the remembrance of Allah ﷻ, in all their actions and behaviours.
Imaam Yahya Ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi, The Great luminary of the 7th century (631 a.h – 676 a.h) “The specification of the way of the Sufis is, to keep the presence of Allah ﷻ in your heart, in public and in private. To follow the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ & to be content with what Allah ﷻ has bestowed upon you.
Imaam Taj al-Din al-Subki, Expert of Hadith & Fiqh from the 8th century (727 a.h – 771 a.h) “May Allah ﷻ praise them (the Sufis) and greet them, and may Allah ﷻ cause us to be with them in Paradise. Too many things have been said about them; too many ignorant people have said things which are not related to them. The truth is that those people have already left this world but were busy with devout worship. They are the People of Allah ﷻ, whose supplications and prayers Allah ﷻ accepts, and by means of whom Allah ﷻ supports other human beings”
Imaam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, The Great Reviver of the 9th Century (849 a.h – 911 a.h) “Al-Tasawwuf in itself is the best and most honourable knowledge. It explains how to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ and to put aside innovation.