Islam and Sufism

In our tradition, the religion on which the Muslim systems of Khanqahs/Zawiyah/Ribat [1] are established is called Sufism (Tasawwuf) [2]. This religion runs completely parallel to the religion that the Quran presents to mankind. We shall present our views on Tasawwuf in relation to Islam in the following paragraphs.


From the Quran, we come to know that Tauhid is nothing but to accept Allah as the only single deity, who possesses all the absolute superior qualities and is free of any and all flaws that our intellects accept and those that Allah himself has clarified through His prophets through the ages. The word “ilah” is used in the Arabic language for any such thing for whose origin any material cause could be waivered in any shape or form. From the Quran, we come to know that if any knowledge or trait is claimed for anything for whose origin any material cause could be waivered in any shape or form, it makes that thing an “ilah”. Thus, the Quran reserves any such claims only for Allah and demands that mankind accept this claim only for Allah. Any deviation from this is termed as “shirk” in the Quran.

The true religion of Allah is built on Tauhid. It is the body and soul of that religion and its origin and conclusion. It is to what all of Allah’s Prophets invited to. All the revealed books record and preach this fact. Abraham and Moses, John and Jesus, and the Arab Prophet – May Allah’s Mercy be upon them all- invited people towards it. All the revealed books have this fact enshrined in them. There is no other level or definition of Tauhid than what is mentioned in the above sources for which humans could work to achieve or find. The Quran discusses this from its beginning to its end. It says in Surah Hashr: (59:22-24)

ھُوَ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیْ لَآ اِلٰہَ اِلاَّ ھُوَ، عٰلِمُ الْغَیْبِ وَالشَّھَادَۃِ، ھُوَ الرَّحْمٰنُ الرَّحِیْمُ. ھُوَ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیْ لَآ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ھُوَ ، اَلْمَلِکُ الْقُدُّوْسُ السَّلٰمُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُھَیْمِنُ الْعَزِیْزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَکَبِّرُ، سُبْحٰنَ اللّٰہِ عَمَّا یُشْرِکُوْنَ. ھُوَ اللّٰہُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ، لَہُ الْاَسْمَآءُ الْحُسْنٰی ، یُسَبِّحُ لَہٗ مَا فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالْاَرْضِ، وَھُوَ الْعَزِیْزُ الْحَکِیْمُ.(۵۹:۲۲۔۲۴)    

22 [And always keep in mind that] it is God besides whom there is no other deity. He knows the unseen and the seen; He is the most compassionate, the ever merciful. 23. He is the very God besides whom there is no other deity. He is the sovereign Lord, the holy One, the embodiment of peace, the giver of peace, the guardian, the mighty, the very powerful, the most high; exalted is God above their idols!  24. He is God, the designer, the originator, the modeller. All good names are His. All that is in the heavens and the earth gives glory to Him. And He is the Mighty, the Wise One.

In Surah Ikhlas: (112:1-4)

قُلْ: ھُوَ اللّٰہُ اَحَدٌ، اَللّٰہُ الصَّمَدُ، لَمْ یَلِدْ وَلَمْ یُوْلَدْ، وَلَمْ یَکُنْ لَّہٗ کُفُوًا اَحَدٌ.(۱۱۲:۱۔۴)   

Declare [O Prophet!]: “In reality, God is One and Alone. God is everyone’s support. He is neither father nor son and there is none like Him. (1-4)

It says in Surah Taubah: (9:31)

اِتَّخَذُوْٓا اَحْبَارَھُمْ وَرُھْبَانَھُمْ اَرْبَابًا مِّنْ دُوْنِ اللّٰہِ وَالْمَسِیْحَ ابْنَ مَرْیَمَ، وَمَآ اُمِرُوْٓا اِلَّا لِیَعْبُدُوْٓا اِلٰھًا وَّاحِدًا، لَآ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ھُوَ، سُبْحٰنَہٗ عَمَّا یُشْرِکُوْنَ.(۹: ۳۱)

They have taken their rabbis and their monks-as well as the Christ, son of Mary-for their lords beside God, although they had been bidden to worship none but the One God, save whom there is no deity: the One who is utterly remote, in His limitless glory, from anything to which they may ascribe a share in His divinity!

In the religion of the people of Tasawwuf, this Tauhid is the first stage of Tauhid. They term it as the Tauhid of the common people. In their understanding of Tauhid this is nothing more than a prologue. According to their understating, the highest realization of Tauhid is when noting is accepted as being present (Maujood) other than Allah; other than which no other entity can be present (Maujood). All the elements of knowledge, either they be sensual or intellectual, are linked to and are only terms to describe the entity of Allah. According to them in reality nothing can exist outside the existence of Allah. They assert that our knowledge of things is nothing but terms used to describe the apparent view of the Truth, i.e. God. This apparent view is God, thought this apparentness cannot be termed as God. It’s (God’s) form is ceaseless. If one tries to prove material existence for it (God), it is considered as “Shirk fil Wajood” (Association in material existence). Their conviction is described in the phrase “La Maujood il Allah”:

جاروب ’ لا‘ بیار کہ ایں شرک فی الوجود باگرد فرش و سینہ بایواں برابرست

The author of “Manazil as Saaireen” [3] writes :

التوحید علی ثلاثۃ اوجہ، الوجہ الاوّل: توحید العامۃ وھو الذی یصح بالشواھد، والوجہ الثانی: توحید الخاصۃ وھو الذی یثبت بالحقائق، والوجہ الثالث: توحید قائم بالقدم وھو توحید خاصۃ الخاصۃ. فاما التوحید الاول فھو شھادۃ ان لا الہ الا اللّٰہ وحدہ لا شریک لہ، الاحد الصمد الذی لم یلد ولم یولد، ولم یکن لہ کفواً احد

“Tauhid has three stages: The first is the Tauhid of the common man. The validity of this Tauhid is based on logical proofs [4]. The next stage is that of the select people. The validity of this stage is based on certain truths [5]. The third stage exists only with that eternal being [6]. This tauhid is only for the selected of the select people. As far as the Tauhid of the common man is considered it is nothing but to bear witness that there is only no one worthy of worship except God Alone, only He is worthy of worship, with no partners and no one like Him. He is the one who sustains everyone, neither is He anyone’s father, nor is He anyone’s son, and there is no one like Him.”

In explaining the Tauhid that he terms as “Qayim bil Qadeem”, he says:

انہ اسقاط الحدث واثبات القدم

“This is a negation of the Incident and affirmation of being eternal” [7]

Imam Ghazzali also explains this very idea as thus:

والرابعۃ: ان لا یری فی الوجود الا واحدًا وھی مشاھدۃ الصدیقین و تسمیہ الصوفیۃ الفناء فی التوحید، لانہ من حیث لا یری الا واحدًا فلا یری نفسہ ایضاً واذا لم یر نفسہ لکونہ مستغرقاً بالتوحید، کان فانیاً عن نفسہ فی توحیدہ بمعنی انہ فنی عن رؤیۃ نفسہ والخلق

 “The ultimate stage of Tauhid is that the slave only beholds the true being (God) as existent. This is the vision of the truthful people [Siddiqeen] and this is what the Sufis term as “fana fi tauhid [submerging into Tauhid]. This is termed as so because in this stage the slave is unable to see anything but the true being, such that he is unable to even see himself. And thus due to this paradox he cannot see himself; he is said to have submerged into Tauhid. Thus, meaning that in this stage his self and his existence both seem to be of one existence.” (Ihya uloom ad deen -245/4)

In his books, especially “fusus al hakam” and “futuhat al makkiyah”, Ibn al Arabi explains and elaborates this very ideology. He asserts that an Arif (Knower) is he who does not differentiate between the being of the divine and the being of Knowledge. Instead he looks at It, by It, in It and by means of It and then declares It as the Truth (God).

He writes in Fusus al Hikam (Chapter : Fus al Hud) :

فمن رأی الحق منہ فیہ بعینہ فذلک العارف، ومن رأی الحق منہ فیہ بعین نفسہ فذلک غیر العارف، ومن لم یر الحق منہ ولا فیہ وانتظر ان یراہ بعین نفسہ فھو الجاھل المحجوب (فصوص الحکم ۱۱۳(

“Whoever sees the Truth (God) from His standpoint (minhu), in Him (fihi) and through Him (bi-aynihi), is a Knower (Arif). Whoever sees the Truth from His standpoint, in Him, but through his own eyes is not an Arif. And whoever does not see the Truth from His standpoint, nor in Him, expecting to see Him through his own eyes, is ignorant.”

He further explains:

فلم یبق الا الحق لم یبق کائن فما ثم موصول و ما ثم بائن

“Begin has only one reality, thus no being remains except the being of the Most Exalted. Nothing is part of it nor is anything separate from it, there is only one being that is both the visual and the being itself.”

He also explains in chapter Fus al Idrisiyah:

فالامر الخالق المخلوق، والامر المخلوق الخالق، کل ذلک من عین واحدۃ، لا بل ھو العین الواحدۃ، وھو العیون الکثیرۃ. (فصوص الحکم ۷۸(

“Even if it appears that the creation is separate from the Creator; the truth is that the Creator is non-other than the creation and the creation is non-other than the Creator. They all are from one reality. No, the truth is that He is the only Truth and it He who apparent in all these other realities.”

Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi [8] differs with Ibn Arabi on this concept but only about the essence of realities. Ibn Arabi considers reality as those names and attributes (of God) that become distinct forms in the different stages of reality. While Shaykh Ahmad asserts that comprehending any kind of form for any other being while grasping the knowledge of God is only an illusion. As far as their actual existence is concerned he agrees with Ibn Arabi. He writes:

ممکن را وجود ثابت کردن و خیر و کمال باو داشتن فی الحقیقت شریک کردن است او رادر ملک و ملک حق جل سلطانہ ۔  (مکتوبات ۲، مکتوب ۱ )

“To prove any kind of existence for any seeming reality and to attribute any kind of excellence or wonder to it would actually be associating it with Allah’s authority and domain.” (Maktubat Vol 2, maktub 1)

Thus, based on this difference of opinion Shaykh Ahmad presented his ideology of Wahat al Shuhood.

He explains that since the universe is provable to be existent in the realm of illusion, therefore the visions of it should only be denied or un-experienced. Meaning, that any traveler on the path to know Allah (Sufi) should reach a stage so as to envision only Allah as existent and see nothing but Him in all his visions. In this case the Tauhid he will experience is that of Shuhood. He explains in his “Maktubat”:

توحید شہودی یکے دیدن است ، یعنی مشہود سالک جزیکے نہ باشد۔ (مکتوبات ۱، مکتوب ۴۳)

“The Tauhid of Shuhood is that only the True Being (Allah) be envisioned, that is, the traveler (Sufi) can see nothing else but the Being (Allah)”. (Matubat Vol 1, Maktub 43)

This is just a difference in terminology. There is no reference in the Quran to such a concept in which considering reality or existence for anything else other than Allah is termed as Shirk, nor anything to support that nothing be existent or envisioned other than Allah; these are simply the visions and states which the Sufis claim to achieve.

Even Shah Ismail Shaheed explains that this difference is just a difference of terminology. He writes in “Aqabat”:

 اتفق اھل الکشف والوجدان وارباب الشھود والعرفان مویدین بالبراھین العقلیۃ والاشارات النقلیۃ علی ان القیوم للکثرات الکونیۃ واحد شخصی.(اشارہ ۱، عبقہ ۲۰)

“All those who have been blessed with openings and mysticism along with visions and awareness agree on the fact there is a single common source taking from in all creation. This fact of theirs is supported by logical inferences and also alluded to in the Quran and Hadith.” (Isharah 1,Abaqah 20)

He further writes:

ولیس بینھم وبین الشھودیۃ الظلیۃ اختلاف عند التحقیق، الا فی العبارات الناشیۃ من تغایر مقاماتھم واختلاف انحاء وصولھم الی اللاھوت.(اشارہ۱، عبقہ ۲۰)

“The difference among them (those who accept Wahdat al Wajood) and those of visions if observed properly is nothing other than this, that they having reached different stages and used different paths to reach the “Lahut” [9] have used different terminologies to explain this.”

Now, the author of “abaqat” himself explains his approach to the Tauhid as such:

التفطن بالوحدۃ القیومیۃ للکثرۃ الکونیۃ واستقلالھا بالتحقیق والمبدئیۃ للاٰثار واضمحلال الکثرۃ تحتھا وتبعیتھا فی الوجود یقیناً واطمئناناً علماً او عیناً او حقاً یسمی بتوحید ظاھر الوجود (اشارہ ۱، عبقہ ۱۴)

“If this fact is understood in its true essence, either at the level of ilm al yaqeen (certainty in knowledge) or at the level of “ayn al yaqeen” (certainty of vision) and even in the stage of “Haq al yaqeen” ( absolutely true certainty) that every creation has a single common source; then freedom is achieved by only those understand this; it is the source of all other effects; expanse has no relevance in front of it and creation is in submission to it, then this is called “tauhid zahir al wujud” (Tauhid of the apparent being).”

In the same chapter he continues:

فلا یزال العارف یسیر فی اللّٰہ حتی ینکشف الوحدۃ الجامعۃ لشتات الاسماء وھٰذا یسمی بتوحید باطن الوجود. (اشارہ۱،عبقہ ۳۶)

 “Thus for a Salik (Traveler) this “sir fi Allah” (Secret of Allah) is always available, such that he is able to gain that Oneness that is the amalgamation of all names of all creations. This is called “tauhid batin al wujood” (Tauhid of the hidden being).” (Isharah 1, abaqat 36)

Not only this, the Tauhid that the Quran gives to mankind, is very clear and is explained by the Sustainer of this Universe in all His revelations, which was introduced by His prophets, which is understood by all, which professed by each tongue, which was bare witnessed by all His Angles and His creations of the universe and people of knowledge, and about which there is nothing hidden or doubtful for those who hear and know. The Quran says :

شَھِدَ اللّٰہُ اَنَّہٗ لَآ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ھُوَ وَالْمَلآءِکَۃُ وَاُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَآءِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ، لَآ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ھُوَ الْعَزِیْزُ الْحَکِیْمُ. (آل عمران ۳:۱۸ (

Allah witnesses that there is no deity except Him, and [so do] the angels and those of knowledge – [that He is] maintaining [creation] in justice. There is no deity except Him, the Exalted in Might, the Wise. (Ale Imran 3:18)

All of Allah’s prophets were sent to preach and invite mankind to this very message. He is that very Lord that says that He does not burden any soul more than it is capable to bear, who charged them with this mission. Thus, He warns them to convey the message in its entirety otherwise they would have failed as His Messengers:

یٰٓاَیُّھَا الرَّسُوْلُ بَلِّغْ مَآ اُنْزِلَ اِلَیْکَ مِنْ رَّبِّکَ وَاِنْ لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَہٗ. (المائدہ ۵: ۶۷)

O Messenger, whatever has been revealed to you from your Lord, convey it to people fully, and if you do not do this (then be warned) that you have not conveyed His message (Al-Maidah 5:67)

In the religion of the people of Tasawwuf whenever the traveller reaches to explain the Tawhid discussed above, he seems to be lost for words and his tounge seems weak in conveying its meaning. In “Manazil” the author writes:

فان ذٰلک التوحید تزیدہ العبارۃ خفاء والصفۃ نفوراً والبسط صعوبۃ

“Thus, if we try to open up this tauhid it tries to hide further,  and if we try to gather it it runs away and if we try to explain its reality it becomes more complex” (47)

It says furthermore:

والاح منہ لائحاً الی اسرار طائفۃ من صفوتہ واخرسھم عن نعتہ واعجزھم عن بثہ. ( ۴۷)    

“This Tauhid of the Most High is only opened by Him onto some from a group of His selected slaves and this made them unable to express and made them unable preach this Tauhid.”

Imam Ghazali writes :

فاعلم ان ھذہ غایۃ علوم المکاشفات واسرار ھذا العلم لا یجوز ان تسطر فی کتاب، فقد قالالعارفون: افشاء سر الربوبیۃ کفر. (احیاء علوم الدین ۴/۲۴۶(

“Thu,s it should be known that the excessiveness in the sciences of Mukashfat (visions) is this very Tauhid and the secrets of this cannot be penned down in any book, this is because the Arifs say that to open up the secrets of His Lordship is pertaining to Kufr”

This is the same Tauhid that Shri Shankar Acharya, Shri Ramanuja Acharya, Aristotle, Plotinus and Spinoza have elaborated. Leibniz, Hegel, Schopenhauer and F. H. Bradley have also been its promoters. Among them Shri Shankar Acharya and Potinus are from the “Wujood” school of thought while Shri Ramanuja Acharya is from the “Shuhood” school of thought. Shri Krishna has taught this very concept of Tauhid in the Gita. Upanishad, Brahamasutra, Gita and Fusus al Hikam, have the same status in this religion that Torah, Zubur, Bible and Quran have in the religion of the prophets. In this is context, we can easily conclude that as opposed to Islam; Tasswuf is that universal deviation that has attracted the best of the best minds of the world.

[1] Names used to describe establishments/buildings used for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood or tariqa.

[2] الْتَّصَوُّف : Arabic term for Sufism

[3] “منازل السائرین” by Shaykh al Islam Ali ibn Abi Bakr al-Harawi a fundamental book in the sciences of tasawwuf.

[4] Meaning those arguments which are based on logic, instinct and revelations from God.

[5] Meaning those realties that are based on visions and revelations that the author has mentioned in his book منازل السائرین

[6] Since on this stage since no existence can be proven for man, thus the tauhid of Him that he tries to explain is actually the tauhid of him. Thus tauhid can only exist within the being of the Most High. According to the author tiring to prove existence of any other than Allah is equivalent to apostasy. He says :

توحیدہ ایاہ توحیدہ

ونعت من ینعتہ لاحد

His Tauhid is actually His own Tauhid

If anyone speaks of it, it is apostasy

[7] Meaning to accept that existent is only Allah 

[8] “عبقات” of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi proponent of Wahdat al Shuhood

[9] ’لاہوت‘ is a common term used to for Allah among the Sufis. In “عبقات” it explained as :

’قد جرت عادتھم بان یسموا ذات الفاطر باللاھوت‘ ۔ (اشارہ ۱ ، عبقہ ۱۷)


According to the Quran Prophethood has ceased to exist after the Prophethood of Muhammad the Arab (sws). The meaning of this is that now there is no possibility whatsoever of any Wahi, Ilham or Visions of the unseen nor can anyone claim innocence or security with regards to religion based on these sources. The Last Messenger (sws) himself has explained this connotation about the end Prophethood :

لم یبق من النبوۃ الا المبشرات. قالوا: وما المبشرات؟ قال: الرؤیا الصالحۃ.(بخاری ، رقم ۶۹۹۰)

The only thing left from Prophethood is (المبشرات) Mubashirat. The people enquired what is this المبشرات? The prophet (sws) replied: “good dreams”.

However, in the religion of the people of Tasawwuf all these sources can still be accessed. According to them Wahi is still received, Angels still descend to meet them, the realms of the unseen is still possible and the seniors of rank among them can receive guidance from Allah just as Gabriel receives it or just as some prophets used to receive it. Imam Ghazzali writes:

من اول الطریقۃ تبتدئ المشاھدات والمکاشفات حتٰی انھم فی یقظتھم یشاھدون الملٰئکۃ وارواح الانبیاء ویسمعون منھم اصواتاً ویقتبسون منہم فوائد.(المنقذ من الضلال۵۰)

The travellers on this path are granted the blessing of Mukshfat (Openings) and Mushahdat (Visions) at very beginning, such that they are able to see the spirits of the prophets and Angles in a state of complete awareness, they able to listen to their voices and gain benefits from them.

The revelations that the elders among the Sufis claim to receive are held as free from falsehood just like the Quran. According to author of “Abaqat”, the person that gets stationed first in the levels of وہبیہ  [1] is, as he writes:

فھو وجیہ معصوم صاحب ذوق حکیم، ثم ان مما یقتضی تربیۃ اللّٰہ ایاہ ان یلقی علیہ علوماً نافعۃ فی قیامہ بمنصبہ فھذا الالقاء یسمّٰی تفھیمًا. وان مما یقتضی تیقظ روحہ وعصمتہ الا یختلط بعلومہ شیء مغایر لما تلقاہ من الغیب. ولذٰلک کانت الحکمۃ کلھا حقًا لا یاتیہ الباطل من بین یدیہ ولا من خلفہ. ولما کان التفھیم من اعلیٰ اقسامھا فلا بعد ان یسمی بالوحی الباطن . (اشارہ ۴، عبقہ ۱۱)

And thus, this person is innately honourable, innocent, perspicacious and wise. Then Allah reveals upon them that knowledge and that counsel which are necessary and beneficial for them to carry out the duty that they are place upon. This revelation is also called تفہیم (tafheem).  It is by trait of their innocence and their enlightened state of being that whatever this person receives from the unseen has no iota of feed from other than the actual source. It is this reason why all wisdom that emanates from this person is the truth to which no falsehood can creep in from either way. Since, this  تفہیم (tafheem) is the highest form of wisdom, therefore it is no big matter if we called this   تفہیم (tafheem) a “secret revelation”.

It is their claim that that on the outward if these personalities obey the Prophet (sws), it is only because they are commanded from the Unseen (i.e. by Allah) to do so. Their claim is that these personalities are not bound to seek knowledge or news from or of the unseen from any prophet or any angel.

فالحکیم لوجاھتہ وعصمتہ وکونہ باسطًا لحظیرۃ القدس، شانہ شان الملأ الاعلیٰ، یتلقی العلوم من حیث یتلقون، لا یقلد احدًا فی علومہ، اللّٰھم الا ان یسمّٰی موافقتہ لصاحب الشرع تقلیدًا لکونہ مامورًا من الغیب بموافقتہ وتائیدہ . (اشارہ۴، عبقہ ۱۱)

“And thus the case with this personality is such that owing to his honour and innocence and owing to the fact the light of the sacred world should spread by him, he works just as the angels do. He receives news from where the angels do and is not bound to follow anyone in this. But yes, to help and assist the Law Giving Prophet (sws), as it is ordained from the Unseen, if some would like to call it following that Prophet (sws) then they may do so.”

They claim that when this personality is present on earth, truth is all that that emanates from him in speech or action. The Quran and Hadith too are proven truth by his truth. Shah Ismael writes

و ان الحق یدور معہ حیث دار وذلک لعصمتہ والتحاقہ بالملأ الاعلیٰ، فلیس الحق الا ما سطع من صدرہ، فالحق تابع لہ لا متبوع.(اشارہ۴، عبقہ ۱۱)

“Truth revolves around this person at every station they are. The reason being, that this person is innocent and in contact with the most high (heavenly) gatherings. Thus, truth shall only be that all which flows from his chest. Then it is that truth is bound to him; he is not bound to truth.”

It is probably about a similar Shaykh that the author of “Awarif ul Maarif” mentions:

فالشیخ للمریدین امین الالھام کما ان جبریل امین الوحی، فکما لا یخون جبریل فی الوحی، لا یخون الشیخ فی الالھام ، و کما ان رسول اللّٰہ صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم لا ینطق عن الھوی فالشیخ مقتد برسول اللّٰہ صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم ظاھراً وباطناً لا یتکلم بھوی النفس ( ۴۰۴( 

“Thus this personality is a keeper of revelations for his followers just as Gabriel is the keeper of revelations. Then just as Gabriel makes to interference in the revelation itself, the Shaykh too makes no interference in the revelation. Further, just as the Prophet (sws) doesn’t speak on his own accord, the Shaykh too follows the Prophet (sws) outwardly and intrinsically; he too does not speak on his own accord.”

In this light, the Sufis also claim that the eminent among them have been granted the visit of the heavens just as it was granted to the Prophet (sws) and just like him (sws) they are granted the honour of talking to Allah. The author of “Quoot al Qulub” mentions what Bayazeed Bustami quotes about himself:

ادخلنی فی الفلک الاسفل فدورنی فی الملکوت السُّفلی فارانی الارضین وما تحتھا الی الثٰری، ثم ادخلنی فی الفلک العلوی فطوف بیفی السٰمٰوت وارانی ما فیھا من الجنان الی العرش ثم اوقفنی بین یدیہ فقال لی: سلنی ای شیء رایت حتی اھبہ لک. (۲/۷۰)

“First I was entered into to the lower heaven, and was shown the all the lower realms. This way I was shown all the earths and underworlds. Then I was entered into the upper heavens, I was shown all the gardens of heaven with all that it contained up till the glorified Throne. Then He made me stand before Him and I was addressed to: “Ask whatever you like from all that you have seen, I shall grant you”.

The members of the people of Taswwuf claim that the Last Prophet (sws) as the Al Insaan Al Kamil (the complete human) manifests himself in the form of their eminent ones. Abdal Kareem Al Jili writes :

ان الانسان الکامل ھو القطب الذی تدور علیہ افلاک الوجود من اولہ الٰی اٰخرہ وھو واحد منذکان الوجود الی ابد الاٰبدین، ثم لہ تنوع فی ملابس و یظھر فی کنائس فیسمی بہ باعتبار لباس، ولا یسمی بہ باعتبار لباس اٰخر، فاسمہ الاصلی الذی ھو لہ محمد وکنیتہ ابو القاسم ووصفہ عبداللّٰہ ولقبہ شمس الدین، ثم لہ باعتبار ملابس اخری اسامی ولہ فی کل زمان اسم ما یلیق بلباسہ فی ذلک الزمان. فقد اجتمعت بہ صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم وھو فی صورۃ شیخی شرف الدین اسمٰعیل الجبرتی وکنت اعلم انہ النبی صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم وکنت اعلم انہ الشیخ. (ورقہ ۴۶ اب ۲۹؂(

“The Insaan al Kamil is that pivot on which all the heavens of existence, from the beginning to the end, revolve and when the Being came into existence, from that time to the end of times it is one. Then it takes different forms and then it appears in the worship places of the Jews and the Christians. Thus, based on these forms a name is given to it while in other form, it is not given that name. Its real name is Muhmmad. Its teknonym Abul Qasim, its feature Abdullah and its title is Shams ad Deen (Sun of the Religion), then based on different forms it has different names and in every age whatever form it takes, it named accordingly. I have seen it in the form of my Sheikh Sharf Ad Deen Ishmael Al Jabruti such that I know that he is the Prophet sws and that he is my Sheikh too.”

They claim at length that the Seal of the Prophethood only means that the authority of giving Shaira has been sealed. Prophethood with it status and all its accompaniments are as it is intact and can be achieved to this day. As is it mentioned in the “Futuhat”:

فان النبوۃ التی انقطعت بوجود رسول اللّٰہ صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم انما ھی نبوۃ التشریع لا مقامھا، فلا شرع یکون ناسخاً لشرعہ صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم ولا یزید فی حکمہ شرعًا اٰخر. وھٰذا معنی قولہ صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم : ان الرسالۃ والنبوۃ قد انقطعت فلا رسول بعدیولا نبی: ای لا نبی بعدی یکون علی شرع مخالفاً لشرعی، بل اذا کان یکون تحت حکم شریعتی.(۳/۶(

“Thus the Prophethood that has ended with the Last Prophet (sws) was merely that related to Sharia. The station of Prophethood is still present. Thus, it is merely so that no new Sharia shall come to anull that of the Last Prophet (sws) nor shall add to his (sws) given law. The statement of the Prophet (sws) that Prophethood and Mesengership has ended with me (sws) and thus no new Prophet or Messenger shall come after em (sws) is actually a statement of that meaning. He (sws) meant that there shall be no Prophet after me(sws) that shall proclaim a Sharia different to mine (sws). Whoever he shall be shall be a follower of my sharia.”

Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi states :

باید دانست کہ منصب نبوت ختم بر خاتم الرسل شدہ است علیہ و علی آلہ الصلوٰت و التسلیمات، اما از کمالات آں منصب بطریق تبعیت متابعان اور انصیب کامل است۔ (مکتوبات ۱، مکتوب ۲۶۰(

“It should be known that the station of Prophethood has ended with the Last of Prophets (sws), but the accompaniments of this station can be completely achieved by his followers as his followers.”

The after putting their claim on sanctuary of Prophethood the Sufis chant “یزداں بہ کمند آور اے ہمت مردانہ” (O passion of man, put a tether on God) and enter into the realm of Unbeing. At that to explain the level of their knowledge and capacity, Qushayri writes:

کان یری جملۃ الکون یضئ بنور کان لہ حتی لم یخف من الکون علیہ شی ء. وکان یری جمیع الکون من السماء والارض رویۃ عیان ولکن بقلبہ.(ترتیب السلوک ۶۷)

“The travellers of this path see the complete Being with their own light, such that nothing of it is hidden from them. They view all that is between this earth and the heavens with their eyes but with the eyes of the heart.”

It is mentioned in the AL Insaan Al Kamil:

 فکل واحد من الافراد والاقطاب لہ التصرف فی جمیع المملکۃ الوجودیۃ ویعلم کل واحد منھم ما اختلج فی اللیل والنھار فضلاً عن لغات الطیور. وقد قال الشبلی رحمہ اللّٰہ تعالیٰ: لو دبت نملۃ سوداء علی صخرۃ صماء فی لیلۃ ظلماء ولم اسمعھا لقلت: انی مخدوع او ممکور بی. (ورقہ ۱۳۶ ب)

“Among these people and ranks all have a stake in this kingdom of Being. What is to be said of the speech of birds; even the slightest tingle in the heavens and the earth is known to them. Shibli said: If a back ant, on a dark night would crawl on a dark rock in this world and I could not hear its footstep, then I would surely say that I have been cheated or I have been in perplexity.”

To this effect Ibn Arabi writes:

وھم من العلم بحیث اذا رای احدھم اثروطأۃ شخص فیالارض علم انھا وطأۃ سعید او شقی.(فتوحات مکیہ۳/۱۳)

“The status of their knowledge is thus, that if they were to even but see the footprint of any person they can conclude if they are from the people of Hell or form the people of Heaven.”  

Ibn Arabi further writes:

…حتی یھتف بک، وانت لا تراہ ویمشی علی الماء وفی الھواء و یصیر کالھیولیٰ قابلاً للتشکیل والصورکالعالم الروحانی، مثل جبریل علیہ السلام الذی کان ینزل تارۃ علی صورۃ دحیۃ و قد تجلی لہ صلی اللّٰہ علیہ وسلم وقد سد الاٰفاق ولہ ست ماءۃ جناح.(مواقع النجوم ۶۵)

 “… to this extent that you listen  its sound, but you don’t see it, and that it walks on water and dives in the air, and just like a heart has the ability to take any shape and change any face, Just as we know of the knowledge of the spiritual that for example Gabriel peace be upon him presented himself before the prophet (sws) as an illustrious commander of troops and  at times in a form that he filled the whole horizon with his presence and  the prophet (sws) saw he had 600 wings.”

They also claim such that they become partners to God in way that they can view the Pen of Destiny move on the Eternal Tablet at every moment, they can know every thought of the heart, they control the day and night of this world and become the helpers of God in the running of this universe. Ibn Arabi writes:

من الصوفیۃ من لا یزال عاکفاً علی اللوح.(مواقع النجوم ۲۲)

“Among the Sufis are those that, have their eyes fixated upon the eternal tabled at all times.”

Ibn Arabi states :

العارف ھو الذی ینطق عن سرک وانت ساکت.(مواقع النجوم ۲۶)

“An Arif (Knower) is that who tells you about your secrets, before even listening to your word”

Of about the “Pegs” (Awtaad) from among the “gentlemen of the unseen” (Mardan e Gahyib), Ibn Arabi says :

لواحد منھم یحفظ اللّٰہ بہ المشرق وولایتہ فیہ، والاٰخر المغرب، والاٰخر الجنوب والاٰخر الشمال، والتقسیم من الکعبۃ، وھٰولاء قد یعبر عنھم بالجبال لقولہ تعالیٰ: اَلَمْ نَجْعَلِ الْاَرْضَ مِھٰدًا وَّالْجِبَالَ اَوْتَادًا. فانہ بالجبال سکن مید الارض، کذلک حکم ھٰولاء فی العالم حکم الجبال فی الارض. (فتوحات مکیہ۳/۱۲)

“With the help of one from among them Allah protects the East of universe and he has control over this region. While the other three are stationed on the west, south and north. The division of these directions is made from the Kabah. These are the very personalities about which the lord says

اَلَمْ نَجْعَلِ الْاَرْضَ مِھٰدًا وَّالْجِبَالَ اَوْتَادًا” (Have We not made the earth a resting place?, And the mountains as stakes?) [Quran 78:7-8] based on which they are sometimes called the “Jibal” (mountains). This is because they are like mountains that hold the earth from any movement.  These persons are also the same. They like the mountains of the earth hold the universe in place.”

Shah Waliuallh Dehalvi writes:

رأیتنی فی المنام قائم الزمان، اعنی بذلک ان اللّٰہ اذا اراد شیءًا من نظام الخیر جعلنی کالجارحۃ لاتمام مرادہ.(فیوض الحرمین ، مشاہدہ ۴۴)

“I saw in a dream that I was bestowed upon the position of “Qayim al Zaman” (Holder of the Age). I mean by this that whenever Allah in His benevolent system decides to do carryout on something then, to complete His task He shall make me His operator.”

It is this stage, upon reaching which the Sufi says:

’ معاشر الانبیاء اوتیتم اللقب، واوتینا ما لم تؤتوا‘،۳۵ا

“O community of Prophets, you have been only been given the name of Prophet, of what we have been granted you have been deprived.”

[1] According to him this the third station from the stations of the preceding ones. The ancients called this station as “Siddiqiyat”. According to the terminology of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi this the “Highest Wiliayat (Sainthood)”. Shah Waliullah terms this as “Qurb e Wujood” (Closeness to the Being) and “Wisdom”. Beyond this station is the station of “Tahdees” (Speech). The possessor of this station and a prophet, according to them are two types of the same station, the difference between them the same like the difference between John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah or Muhammad the Arab (sws). ( اشارہ ۴، عبقہ ۱۱۔۱۲)


The religion that is revealed in the Quran; its essence is that Allah wants His creation to Worship Him. The Quran says:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْاِنْسَ اِلَّا لِیَعْبُدُوْنِ.(الذّٰریٰت ۵۱: ۵۶)

And We have created Jinn and Mankind only so that they worship Me.

The Quran is clear in this that Allah has sent His Messengers to call people to this fact. It is mentioned in Suarh Nahal:

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِیْ کُلِّ اُمَّۃٍ رَّسُوْلاً اَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللّٰہَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوْتَ. (۱۶: ۳۶)

And we sent to every nation a Messenger with this call that worship Allah and turn away from the Taghut.

Based on this the relation created between the Lord and man is that of Master and slave. All the works and struggles man undertakes in this world should be done such that he fulfils the rights of his Creator and in doing so he receives the His pleasure in this world and the hereafter. In contrast, since for the Sufis, man is only a conception of Being of God Himself, and since man has come from the Lahoot to this conception, thus the aim with them is to work and struggle to gain awareness of this and work to return back to that Being. Thus, the relation established in their religion with the Lord is that of a Lover and the Beloved. They term their “real Being” as their Beloved and in the separation from it they are anxious, they implore and whimper and then with help of a Guide first they come to know the true nature of Being and reach up to the station of Oneness and meet their Beloved. The author of “Manazil” explains this station of “جمع” as “غایۃ مقامات السالکین” (Purpose of the traveler) and elaborates it as :

الجمع : ما اسقط التفرقۃ وقطع الإشارۃ وشخص عن الماء والطین بعد صحۃ التمکین والبراء ۃ من التلوین والخلاص من شھود الثنویۃ والتنافی من احساس الاعتلال والتنافی من شھود شھودھا.(منازل السائرین ۴۶)

“Union/oneness is the station, which wipes out the difference in its essence between the Creator and the created and removes any indications thereof and exalt its self from the elements of water and soil such that it wipes itself in every manner of being and be proven so forever, and becomes free of any perplexity arsing in being wiped out and conformity and that it is free  from any visions of duality and that sense of need and being needed is lost, to such an extent that the being cognizant of the cognizance of overcoming these is completely gone.”

At the binging of his Mathanvi e Manvi Rumi pens these very concepts in his eternal verses

بشنواز نے چوں حکایت می کند               وز جدائی ہا شکایت می کند

کزنیستاں تا مرا ببریدہ اند                      درنفیرم مرد و زن نالیدہ اند

 سینہ خواہم شرحہ شرحہ از فراق            تا بگویم شرح درد اشتیاق

ہر کسے کو دور ماند از اصل خویش                   باز جوید روزگار وصل خویش

Death and Reckoning to those are infused by these states are only events of achieving return and meeting. Thus, the remembrance of these events are called ’عرس‘ , meaning marriage. All poetry inspired by Sufism relates this kind of عشق (Love) , in which the common people enjoy the notions of drinking wine of grapes while the “knower” enjoys the wine of cognition, as Hafez Shirazi puts it :

ما در پیالہ عکس رخ یار دیدہ ایم

اے بے خبر ز لذت شرب مدام ما


The Quran tells us that religion we have received from the last prophet (sws) is complete in very manner and has no possibility of any addition or change. Further, the Quran explains that with this completion of religion the favours have also been completed along with it, thus all the guidance of commoners and the special ones are present in their entirety there, exterior to which no guidance can be found. The Quran says :

اَلْیَوْمَ اَکْمَلَْتُ لَکُمْ دِیْنَکُمْ وَاَتْمَمْتُ عَلَیْکُمْ نِعْمَتِیْ وَرَضِیْتُ لَکُمُ الْاِسْلَامَ دِیْنًا.(المائدہ ۵: ۳)

Today we have completed your religion for you and finished our favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.

Based on this the Last Prophet (sws) said in his speech :

 فان خیر الحدیث کتاب اللّٰہ وخیر الھدی ھدی محمد وشر الامور محدثاتھا وکل بدعۃ ضلالۃ.(مسلم ، رقم ۲۰۰۵)

The best book is Allah’s Book and the best guidance is Muhammad’s guidance and the worst of talks are that inserted new into this religion and very such new talk is misguidance.

In the religion of the Sufis, these guidance pertain to the commoners to whom these guidance serve to protect them from each other’s aggression and from the punishment of the Day of Reckoning. As far as the matter of the Special ones and the Elite among the Special ones is concerned, these guidance do not affect their seeking the stations of annihilation and union and complete submission and nor should they be sought as such. Shah Waliullah writes in his book “Altaf al Quds” :

وعلت غائیہ آں اخلاص ازتظالم در دنیا و مبتلاشدن بعذاب قبر و روز حشر است ، نہ وصول بفنا و بقاے ہر لطیفہ و حصول مرتبۂ بقاے مطلق و تمکین تام ۔ ہر کلامے ازاں خلاصۂ بشر علیہ افضل الصلوٰت والتسلیمات کہ بتورسد محمل آں فی الحقیقت ہماں قدر است ۔ مقاصد و مصالح او امرو نواہی آں حضرت نشناختہ است کسے کہ بر مراتب دیگر حمل می کند ۔ (۱۴)

“And the purpose of this (sharia) is that people remain secure from the aggressions of each other and (after death) in the grave and on the day of reckoning are safe from their punishments. It is not the requisite for every kind soul to reach Union and Annihilation and to achieve ultimate Union and ultimate submission. Whatever, this is the enigma of any speech of the خلاصۂ بشر (The complete précis of human being) (sws) reaches to you. That person has not been able to grasp the reality of those directives which the prophet (sws) issued, if they seek any other purpose in them other than this.”

The question remains, how can one reach the intricacies of this union and annihilation and ulimate submission?  Shah Waliullah in his very same book explains the disciplines for these were explained initially by Shaykh Junaid Baghdadi, and these are taken from the Quran and Sunnah, but directly from the Prophet (sws) just like a watermelon receives its care and all the necessary elements for its growth from the Sun. In this neither the watermelon is aware that it is under the influence of the Sun nor the Sun is that it is providing for the growth of a watermelon somewhere on earth. Shah Waliullah writes :

بہ ہمیں اسلوب نفوس کلیہ کہ مبدۂ فیض ایشاں را براے مصلحت کلیہ بزمین فرود آوردہ است ، نفوس ناقصہ را مکمل می سازند۔ وایں جاہیچ پیغامی و کلامی درمیاں نمی باشد۔ آرے اذکیا نفوس بوجہی از وجوہ ایں منت رامی شناسند و آں معنی حاصل برآں می شود کہ از کلمات و اقوال آں برزخ برسبیل اعتبار و اشارہ استنباط آں اسرار کنند۔ (۱۴)

“This is the path by which the source of guidance has brought down the complete souls on this earth to provide complete solution, to complete the incomplete people there is no kind of barriers of speech in-between them. Yes, the intelligent spirits recognize any such blessings and as result for them they are able to grasp the speech and marvels of that “barzakh” (the prophet) (sws) and based on signs they are able to benefit from them.”

That was the style used by the author of the Altaf Al Quds. The Sufis of this age try to explain issue by citing that that supreme station of religion is “Ihsan”. To achieve this station no guidance is found in the Quran and Sunnah. During the era of the Last Prophet one could achieve this by mere companionship to the Prophet (sws). After the Prophet (sws), since it become difficult to achieve these stations, the people of Tasswuf devised methods to achieve it and compiled it as a complete methodology.

They claim that is what they term as ’طریقت (Path). Maulana Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi writes :

’جناب رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم کی قوت روحانی کی یہ حالت تھی کہ بڑے سے بڑے کافر کو ’لا الٰہ الا اللّٰہ‘ کہتے ہی مرتبۂ ’’احسان‘‘ حاصل ہو جاتا تھا جس کی ایک نظیر یہ ہے کہ صحابہ نے عرض کیا کہ ہم پاخانہ پیشاب کیسے کریں اور حق تعالیٰ کے سامنے ننگے کیوں کر ہوں؟ یہ انتہا ہے ۔ اور اُن کو مجاہدات اور ریاضات کی ضرورت نہ ہوتی تھی اور یہ قوت بہ فیض نبوی صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم صحابہ میں تھی ، مگر جناب رسول صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم سے کم تھی ، اور تابعین میں تھی ، مگر صحابہ سے کم تھی ، لیکن تبع تابعین میں یہ قوت بہت ہی کم ہو گئی ، اور اِس کی تلافی کے لیے بزرگوں نے مجاہدات اور ریاضات ایجاد کیے ۔ ‘‘ ۴۲؂ (ارواح ثلاثہ ۲۹۷)

“The rank of the prophet’s (sws) spiritual state was such that the even the leading disbelievers when they would utter the words ’لا الٰہ الا اللّٰہ‘ they would reach the state of ‘Ihsan’, for which a clear example is this that the lofty companions would say how could we excrete and urinate and become naked in front of God? This is the exemplar. They did not require any kind of practice or effort to achieve this, this was the era of the atmosphere of the prophet (sws), but (their state) war certainly less than the prophet’s (sws). It was in the followers of the companion too, but less than them and also in the followers of the followers but became very less, thus to rejuvenate it the elders put in place some efforts and practices.”

Therefore, based on these views they have a complete system of exercises and meditations that is absolutely cut off from the Sharia of Allah and it is not from the Quran and Sunnah. The fact is that the Sufis have initiated “Paths” completely different to the objectives laid down in the Quran and Sunnah. They further openly claim that one can only achieve the knowledge of the “path” by establishing tutelage with our “Teachers” alone and no other way can help in achieving this.

Thereafter, if seen through the lens of the Sufis the Prophet (sws) and his companions seem to only reach a certain stage in achieving the honourable traits like patience, gratitude, charity, acceptance, modesty, fear of Allah and submission and others. It becomes apparent that they could not even reach the stages of what the special elite of the Sufis achieve. The major works of the Sufis for example Abu Talib Makki’s ’’قوت القلوب‘‘, Abu Ismael Harwi’s ’’منازل السائرین” and Imam Ghazzali’s  ’’احیاء علوم الدین” , deal with these very issues. One can explore these books and clearly their destination is far beyond the destination that Allah has set for his servants.

These are just some basic points. This commentary of ours is not meant to be detailed. Nonetheless with these very few points it becomes clear that Tasawwuf is completely a different religion that is being present as a true form and sprit of the Religion of Allah and is being presented to be spread as so.

اللّٰھم ارنا الحق حقاً وارزقنا اتباعہ، وارنا الباطل باطلاً وارزقنا اجتنابہ۔

– Translated from Javed Ahmad Ghamidi’s Burhān by Ammar Bakhsh