Accueil English pages Articles written Shaykh al-Alawî - A kind word in response to those who reject sufism - CHAPTER FOUR: PERMISSIBILITY OF SPECIFIC PRACTICES OF THE SUFIS
Shaykh al-Alawî - A kind word in response to those who reject sufism - CHAPTER FOUR: PERMISSIBILITY OF SPECIFIC PRACTICES OF THE SUFIS
English - Articles written
Écrit par Ahmad al-Alawî   
Mercredi, 14 Septembre 1921 13:40
Index de l'article
Shaykh al-Alawî - A kind word in response to those who reject sufism
ABSTRACT
DECLARATION
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER TWO: THE DEFENSE OF THE SCHOLARS
CHAPTER THREE: PROOF OF SUFISM
CHAPTER FOUR: PERMISSIBILITY OF SPECIFIC PRACTICES OF THE SUFIS
CHAPTER FIVE: PROTECTING THE DOCTRINE
KEYWORDS
GLOSSARY OF ARABIC TERMS
NOTES
REFERENCES
Toutes les pages

 

CHAPTER FOUR: PERMISSIBILITY OF SPECIFIC PRACTICES OF THE SUFIS

The ruling on dancing

With regard to the dancing, in which you consider the one who makes it lawful to be a disbeliever, acting in accordance with evidence from Ibn Wahban when he says, ‘Whoever makes dancing lawful is considered a disbeliever especially with the playing of the tambourine (duff) and playing of the flute.’ Then you said in al-Miyār regarding the issue of a group of Shaykhs, ‘Whosoever mantains a Zawiyah or anything else for the fuqara of the time, then such a maintenance would be invalid because it is considered a sin.’ Such is your affair, no matter what hideous road or disgraceful situation you have found, you have only attributed it to the dhākirūn in an attempt to deceive the reader, until the reader’s mind cannot immediately understand the doctrine of Sufism except for your sheer mentioning of dancing, amusement and playing of instruments and so forth. May Allāh (Most High) reward you on behalf of Sufism for what you are worthy.

 

[65] I return to the ruling on dancing, even though it has no bearing on the (teachings) of Sufism. So all that which caused you to reach a prohibition which Allāh (Most High) has made lawful is either as a result of your lack of studying the principles (of religion) or your lack of piety. You never knew that the dancing which is considered unlawful is that which is confined to entertainment and pleasure, by way of dancing from side to side is characteristic of the foolish minded.

 

Prohibition of this and its like does not need proof, as inherent instinct has disapproved it by necessity because its motive is self centred frivolity and satanic desires. Behold! If you take this ruling and start to apply it on everyone you have seen or heard dancing or who has confessed to dancing, then the result of your judgement will be based on what your eyes have seen. Do you not see that, what is with you confirms that the one who makes dancing lawful is considered to be a disbeliever? So what would you say if it came to you that the Ethiopians (Habasha) entered the Prophet’s masjid on the day of Eid in their well known state of dancing and its like. He (blessings and peace be upon him) watched them whilst A'isha (May Allāh be pleased be with her) looked closely at them from behind him, until they were finished with their actions and he did not reproach them. By Allāh! What do you understand by all this when you say dancing is absolutely prohibited? Or do you see the Prophet condoning what is unlawful? Or do you not see a difference between the dancing of the foolish people and the dancing of Habasha? If this report did not reach you, or indeed if it did reach you and you were unable to discover in it a judgment of permissibility due to you lack of perception, then what do you say about the dancing of Sayyidina Jafar bin Abi Talib (May Allāh be pleased with him) if it is true in accordance to what is found in some narration, that when the Prophet said to him, ‘You resemble me in my appearance and in my qualities.’ As a result he stood up and began to dance in the presence of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him). The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) did not disapprove of it. Does this not convey to you that this is permissible in its ruling?

 

[66] Is it correct then to apply the dancing of Sayyidina Jafar to the dancing referred to in the Qasida of Ibn Wahban? Do you not know that specification imposes restrictions on that which is general? So, do you think that the Sufis say dancing is absolutely lawful, as you have said that it is absolutely unlawful? Indeed not! For they are certainly more open minded in their vision than yourself. They do not talk about Allāh’s religion without knowledge and nor do they obtain text without understanding it. It is the ignorant who thinks that the one who has gathered some evidence and shamelessly attaches to it a share is regarded as an expert.

 

Oh you! Do you not know that the one who makes the lawful unlawful is the same as the one who makes the unlawful lawful, as in the narration of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him). Allāh (Most High) has indeed exposed you for what you have gathered. Enough is it for you an abomination that you are unable to distinguish between the lawful and the unlawful. Do you think that knowledge is an expression of who carries it? Like ‘that of a donkey which carries a huge load of tomes’ [62:5]. Nay! Knowledge is only but an interpretation of light taking place in the senses, which enables him to see the comprehensive just as he is able to see the tangible with his eyes. Knowledge is a means of perception not an accumulation of papers. Allāh (Most High) says to His Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), ‘Thou knewest not (before) what was revelation, nor what was faith; but We guide such of Our servants as we will’ [42:52]. It is for this reason that it is incumbent upon the expert not to pass any judgement on dancing before knowing the reason in order not to make unlawful that which Allāh has made lawful. It is for this reason that Shaykh Mustafa bin Isma'il Habash said, ‘Even though the external ruling of the Wahabi is that dancing is unlawful without restriction’ but the reliable view is what Ibn Kamal Basha has mentioned. The following text is what Safwa has conveyed,

It is no sin to be in ecstasy if you are true

And there is no objection in swaying if you are sincere


What we have confirmed in this occurrence is not merely a victory with regard to dancing. Nay, it is a declaration with regard to the legal judgement and it is a victory for the Ummah of Muhammad[67] most of whom you have charged with disbelief. The majority believe in the permissibility of swaying, as for the disciples (of Sufism) they believe that it should be desired because of the Prophet's saying, ‘He who does not tremble at the mentioning of the Beloved is not generous’ (transmitted by the author of 'An-Nusrah'). In a similar narration the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) says, ‘Travel! For indeed the devoted ones who tremble at the mentioning of Allāh are ahead’ (This is mentioned in 'Jami as-Saghir'). Do you not know that the swaying of the Sufis in dhikr could be the trembling as mentioned in the narration, because swaying is very distinct in the movement of the dhakir. Due to this reason some of the Sufis see that trembling at the mentioning of Allāh is as a result of their intense love for Allāh . ‘But those of Faith are overflowing in their love for God.’ [2:165]. Every lover trembles naturally at the mentioning of his beloved. And I am certainly convinced that the proof, which we have mentioned, does not exist with you because you have never tasted the love, and should it spread through your limbs you would most certainly desire to hear the mentioning of Allāh even from a disbeliever. You will then say what the Sultan ul-Ashiqeen said,

Sweet for me is its mentioning in every form

Even if they mix it with blame and dispute.

 

Perhaps then you will know the meaning of fear, then you will see whether or not you have gained control over your soul. Are you not aware of the story in the Qur'an about those women who cut their hands when Yusuf (may Allāh ’s blessings be upon him) appeared before them, ‘they said, ‘god preserve us!no mortal is this!’ [12:31]. When this happens, the vision of the creation's beauty appears, so why can't we be brought closer to Him by something that will make us witness the beauty of the creator in the power of His Grandeur. I have most certainly seen that you are not afraid in misguiding the believer or making him to be a sinner or an innovator. Nay, you are not afraid to make him a disbeliever. All this is easier for you than the drinking of water, and you have not known the sanctity of the believer in the sight of Allāh and His Messenger. Do you not know [68] that when you call a believer a disbeliever, you have indeed made permissible his life, his wealth and his abiding in the Hellfire? Do you think that this will please Allāh (Most High) and His Messenger? Are you not aware that Khidr (May Allāh be pleased with him) considered the killing of a soul easier than charging a believer with unbelief. Allāh speaks about him in the Qur’ān when He says, ‘As for the youth, his parents were people of Faith, and We feared that he would grieve them, by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude (to God and man).’ [18:80]. Did you not know that the sanctity of the believer in the sight of Allāh is greater than the sanctity of the Ka'bah? Its destruction in the sight of Allāh is easier than passing judgement of unbelief upon the believer who testifies to the Unity of Allāh (La ilaha ill Allāh ) with sincerity repeating it with all his breath. By Allāh! I warn you to fear Him with regard to the people of La ilaha ill Allāh. Do not speak about them with your opinion, for they are people whom Allāh created for His remembrance and chose them in His foremost knowledge. So you should in the least treat them well for fear of Allāh and respect them for the sake of Allāh and your attachment to them will suffice you. May Allāh inspire you and guide you. This is the conclusion of the discussion of dancing.

 

The ruling on poetry

As for the Sama and the singing of poetry which is practised amongst most of the Sufis, to speak about it without knowledge is far worse than that which preceded it because the companions (may Allāh be pleased with them) used to recite poetry in the presence of the Prophet . The story of Ka'b bin Zubayr is sufficient for the one who is able to reflect on it. The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him)listened to his famous Qasida (Bibanat Suad) despite the fact that it contained words of romantic love and how the Prophet rewarded him with forgiveness and with his outer garment in addition to the acknowledgement of his reciting poetry in the presence of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him). In 'Al-Awarif' it is reported that a man came upon the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) and found with him some people reading the Qur'an and some reciting poetry, so he said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh Qur'an and poetry!’ And the Prophet replied, ‘Once from this and once from that.’

 

The writer of the Ihya was extensive in his response to those who say Sama is offensive, or those who say it is unlawful without restriction. He opposed them with textual proof [69], which does not bear (require) explanation. It is narrated by Alkami on the authority of Ibn Maja, who has related from the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) that when he returned to Madina after one of his battles, a slave woman came to him and said ‘O Messenger of Allāh, I have made a pledge that, if Allāh returns you safely we will play the tambourine (daff) and sing in your presence.’ The Prophet replied ‘If you have made a pledge then you should fulfil your pledge.’ In another saying of the Prophet, ‘Sing! O Banu Arfada, so that the Jews and Christians may know that your religion is accomodating.’

 

In general I would say about poetry what the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said ‘These are words, what is good of it remains good, and what is bad of it remains bad.’ But that which relates to obscenity and abomination is unlawful. It is on this view that rests all the testimonies declaring it unlawful, and if the intention is one then both the speaker and listener become accomplices. Whatever has been composed for the purpose of desire or fear and the inclination towards the Divine Knowledge, as indicated in the saying of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), ‘The most truthful words uttered by the poet is 'Behold! Everything beside Allāh is futile,’ in which case it falls under the saying of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) that ‘There is most certainly a share of wisdom in poetry.’ It is obvious that listening to wisdom is recommended and we could almost say it is obligatory.

 

So if you have understood this, do not compare what the Sufis recall in their assemblies of singing poetry, as this poetry conforms to the highest of wisdom and contains the ultimate knowledge. It teaches the disciple how to search for the road towards his Lord with humility. (Do not compare it) with what the foolish people recall (in their poetry) praising the physique, the cheeks and the round breasts, enticing the listener to commit fornication and adultery. ‘God doth admonish you, that ye may never repeat such (conduct), if you are (true) Believers.’ [22:17]

 

Dhikr in acts of worship

I have once more drawn your attention to the discussion of dhikr in its origin, because it is the greatest principle in the religion. Yet, I see that you have been oblivious of this, since you have [70] condemned the places of gathering for this reason. By Allāh , I do ask you to inform me as to what is your opinion of dhikr, is it legislated or not? I am sure that you do acknowledge its legitimacy in accordance with the words of Allāh , ‘Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you.’ [2:152] and notwithstanding this (verse), there is so much more and to enumerate them would not be easy. I would like to add to your saying ‘legislated’, is that whatever has been legislated by the laws of Law (Islam) and whatever rituals have been established, is only for the purpose of upholding the remembrance of Allāh. The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said with regards to the circumambulation (tawaf) of the Ka'bah, the running between Safa and Marwa and the pelting of the devils, it has been brought about exclusively for the purpose of dhikrullah. And Allāh says concerning the Hajj, ‘Celebrate the praises of God during the Appointed Days.’ [2:203] and about the prayer He says, ‘And establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise.’ [20:14]. If you study the Qur'an, you will find other verses besides these mentioned.

 

In general, all acts of devotion are valued in accordance with the strength or weakness of Allāh's remembrance in it. And this is why when the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) was asked, ‘Which fighter in the path of Allāh will be greatest in reward?’ He answered, ‘Those who remember Allāh most,’ and then he mentioned the Prayer (Salah), Alms (Zakah), Pilgrimage (Hajj) and Charity towards the poor, and to all this, the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) answered ‘Those who remember Allāh the most.’ Then Abū Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) said to 'Umar (may Allāh be pleased with him). ‘The dhākirūn have gone with all the good,’ and the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) replied ‘yes’ (related on the authority of ImāmAhmad and transmitted by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawzia). So irrespective of how much its legislation has been confirmed and approved as already mentioned, has Allāh in any way restricted it in its legislation to be in secret or in public? So if you say that the religion strengthens the aspect of dhikr secretly, then I would say, in the same way does the religion consolidate the aspect of dhikr in public, so that man may remember Him in all states and conditions.

 

Amongst such practices is the [71] Takbir on the day of Eid, the Adhan, the Iqamah and the night prayers, which are read aloud. Amongst that which awakens this desire, is the narration which Abū Shuja brings out in his 'Musnad Al-Firdouz' narrated from Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), said, ‘Whoever says La ilaha ill Allāh raising his voice, Allāh will cause him to dwell in the abode of Majesty and He will grant him the vision of His Face.’ In a similar narration of Bayhaqi, it is narrated from Ibn Abi Aslam that Ibn Al-Wara said, ‘I went out with the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), and we passed by a man in the mosque who raised his voice in dhikr, I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allāh , it appears as if this man is a hypocrite.’ The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) replied, ‘No, it is wonderful.’ It is also recorded in 'Bustan ul-Qurra' that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) used to make dhikr aloud with his companions after the prayers.

 

On the whole, there is no lesser evidence to make dhikr in public than making it in secret, and making dhikr aloud in addition is a benefit to the one who listens. What suffices us in the benefit of making dhikr in public is that Jinn became Muslim as a result of it. Allāh says with regard to what He revealed in the story of this Jinn and the reason for his becoming Muslim, ‘They said, ‘We have really heard a wondrous Recital! It gives guidance to the Right, and we have believed therein.’ [72:1-2]. That which confirms its excellence and adds more to our knowledge in detail, is the saying of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), ‘To do things inwardly is better than doing it publicly and doing it publicly is best for the one who wishes to be followed.’ But I am afraid for the one who takes an aversion, when listening to dhikr being made loudly, that he may fall under those whom Allāh describes in the verse, ‘When God, the One and Only is mentioned, the hearts of those who believe not in the Hereafter are filled with disgust and horror;’ [39:45].

 

It is obvious that the aversion referred to in the verse cannot be imagined except in the case of dhikr that is aloud. [72] If it is confirmed that dhikr in public is among the virtuous deeds then there should be no objection in permitting gatherings for such a purpose, which conforms with the command of Allāh, ‘Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour:’ [5:3]. This is apart from what has been mentioned in relation to awaken the desire to attend the assembly of dhikr, in accordance to the Prophetic narration as already mentioned. What has been stated makes it obligatory upon you to acknowledge the permissibility of dhikr in public. Then nothing remains except for you to explain, how one comes together for dhikr, since you are now aware of the way in which the pious ancestors would gather in someone’s house to recite the Qur’ān, to send praises to the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) and praying for themselves and the Muslims. This does not stand as a proof for you. Nay, you disapproved of them vehemently.

 

The truth is that you could have at least made it a good innovation. However, you seemed very upset at the way the Sufis introduced it. You used, with all your might, the most repulsive words on them. You raised your confused cries against them. That did not suffice you, so you attempted to compel the leaders to banish them from the mosques and other places. So the matter remains with you to explain how and where the gathering of dhikr should be. We exhort you with all our might, to satisfy us. Yet in my opinion you will not be satisfied except when you no longer see dhikr for Allāh. ‘But God will complete (the revelation of) His Light, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it).’ [61:8].

 

Associating Sufism with forbidden actions

Now that you have exerted yourself in the compiling your treatise, you then decided to appease your heart with that which is beyond the matters of what Sufis practice. Then you mentioned all the forbidden actions, which you have transmitted from 'Sahib Al-Miyār'. You included amongst this, that is to say, the forbidden innovation, which are practiced in the streets and other places.

 

‘Women going about showing off their beauty, [73] their arrogant manner in which they walk, their using of perfume and their meeting at the graves, Zawiyas and cemeteries. And places of pleasure, where young boys and men pass by these women. That which is even more disgusting and reprehensible than this, is the opening of wine shops and prostitute houses openly in the streets. Then the relaxed situation of the drunkards when they mix with the people.’

 

To the point where author said, ‘and that happens a lot during the blessed month of Ramadan in Tunisia.’ It appears to me as if your mentioning of these forbidden actions are merely for the sake of narration, due to the fact that you have not supported the author of 'Al-Miyar'. You did not even mention a single narration, in preventing this violation of Divine sanctity. Also, you did nothing to draw the attention of the authorities to the actions of these foolish and shameless people, as you have drawn their attention towards the Sufis, urging them to oppose the Sufis and banish them from the mosques, etc.

 

You could at least have urged them to destroy the forbidden actions, which has spread like the open display of fornication and the drinking of wine, etc. You should have restricted your treatise to these aspects and exerted yourself as you exerted before then you would have received praise from Muslims in general, and the Tunisian nation specifically. Moreover, the hearts of your foes would have encompassed you, let alone the hearts of your allies. Instead you pursued that which is of no avail other than resulting in sheer hatred for the one harming Allāh through His saints which is in accordance to a holy narration, ‘Whoever harms any of my friends, I declare war on him.’

 

I see that you are not aware of what you say in that which you have compiled; you act haphazardly, you are like one, who gathers wood at random in the night, and the wood which he gathered has harmed him and there is no benefit for him in it. And among other things is your saying ‘and among which is considered innovation is the wearing of scanty clothes and they used to hate scanty clothes and they said scanty clothes is the dress of the inquisitors (sinners). He whose clothes are scanty, his religion is scanty and among it i.e. innovation is that one should wear clothes of fame for it has been reported in a Prophetic narrated, 'Whoever wears a garment of fame, Allāh will clothe him on the day of resurrection with a garment of abasement and humiliation and then He will set him on fire.'

 

So I ask you with Allāh as witness, what benefit do you intend to receive by quoting these words, and what benefit does it bring to Islam and the Muslims should they exchange luxury with asceticism as long as they do not commit any crime, it can only be a case of bad business and obstruction to industry. What relevancy is there between what the hearts conceal and roughness or fineness of the clothes until his fineness is a sign of the fineness of his religion? If this is the case, then the Bedouin is most successful and whatever the case may be with the non-Bedouin (urban-dweller) you will find the Bedouins clothes to be rougher. And should you go to the extent of compelling (forcing) the people of Tunisia to wear rough clothes one of them will most certainly say: ‘Say, who has forbidden the beautiful gifts of Allāh , which He has produced for His servants and the things clean and pure (which He has provided) for sustenance?’

 

Say then sincerely with Allāh as your witness, how will you answer him, and what will be your tone of expression? Whilst Allāh Himself answers: ‘They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, purely for them on theDay of Judgement.’ [7:32] As for their having an aversion for fine clothes, or the probability that it was never really their custom, what has in actual fact reached us concerning them, is that they were the most eager (desirous) of people in confirming their hearts, more than your eagerness on your clothes. It has not come to our knowledge that the Prophet S.A.W. has imposed upon any tribe or people to wear fine or coarse clothes, on the contrary he said: ‘Verily Allāh does not look at your form (shape) nor your deeds, but instead He looks at your hearts.’ And this is performed with difficulty, while Allāh says: ‘He… has imposed no difficulties on you in religion’ [22:78]. As for your mentioning of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) saying: ‘Whoever wears a garment of fame, Allāh will clothe him on the day of resurrection with a garment of abasement and humiliation and then set him on fire.’

 

Do you perhaps regard ‘clothes of fame’ to be fine clothes as you have mentioned? Then I say to you that such is not the case, because A'isha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) has forbidden two types of cloth from wool and silk. And it is also narrated that he has forbidden two types of garments, extreme in its ugliness and extreme in its beauty. But on the whole, the best of matters is to take the middle path since it is Allāh who has forbidden the exceeding proper bound in religion when He says: ‘Oh people of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of God aught but the truth.’ [4:171] And then you went on to say, ‘Among the Bid'a is the taking of a particular food during the celebrations of the Prophet's (blessings and peace be upon him) birthday (Milad un-Nabi) and during some other Islamic feast days’.

 

So even we should say that it is a Bid'a, what harm will afflict us if we should make use of a particular food, though we have never considered it to be obligatory (wājib) and neither have been pressed with food prescribed as Sunnah by any authorisation of the Law, so that we would break the law if we substituted it with something else, and I suppose that the Law has never imposed upon us any particular food, except with slaughtering, without specifying how it should be cooked, so the matter remained entrusted with accordance to the custom and tradition depending on the places without any difficulty. So whoever wants to restrict himself with food, it is up to him and whoever wants to make additions may do so. And then you said, ‘The legitimate celebrations are `Id al-Fitr, `Id al-Adha and the day of `Ashurā, yet it is so, but then you added that any celebrations beside these are celebrations of innovation (bid'ah). It is beyond doubt that you are referring by this to the Maulud celebration of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) we do not know of which section did you make it. Does it belong to the section of forbidden bid'ah, which is usually your way of thinking?

 

I pray to Allāh that you should at least consider the Ihtifāl (celebration of Maulud) to be a recommended innovation which I do not think you will do. So I say in reply: The author of ‘al-Madkhal’ upon whom you depend a lot as a source of transmission generally did not disapprove of the Ihtifāl (day of celebrating Maulud), he only disapproved of the abominable acts which were innovated and which do not conform with the Shari'ah. He even proved the requirement for respecting that day due to the fact that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) respected that [76]day, he said,

‘The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) pointed out the function (position) of the month of Maulud when he said in reply to the one who asked him concerning the fast on a Monday, 'That is the day on which I was born', so to confer honour to this day implies the conferring of honour to this month in which he was born and it is therefore necessary that we give it the highest respect.’

 

And then you mentioned another forbidden innovation "the celebration of Thabilah, one of the villages in Suf". In reply I say, The like of such celebration is not considered to be lawful, and it is therefore the duty of the `Alim (scholar) to point this out and not to give it any concern at all so that the general people may follow this example, and this is the situation with the people of Sufism. You will find that they give concern only to the fixed celebrations except for Milād al-Nabawiy because of the special place its companion has in their hearts and because it is widely accepted by the Islamic world and from this they know that the celebration of Milād (Maulud) will gain the pleasure of Allāh and His Messenger and that it is not straying from the right path, because of the Prophet's (blessings and peace be upon him) saying ‘My community does not get together in rain’ (My community does not get together in order to go astray). They have indeed come together for the greatness of that day.

 

Then you quoted the author of (al-Mi`yār) who said,

‘Amongst the innovations is that the ignorant people and the insignificant ones dislike marriage and copulation during the month of Muharram. However, it is necessary that one should see the good omen in marriage and copulation in this month, adhering to what Allāh and His Messenger regarded as sacred and bringing to an end the practices of the ignorant.’

 

My reply is this quote does not bother us because it concerns the ignorant and insignificant people. It is sufficient for this group that they marry according to the Law. How can it be expected from them to strive for excellent morals and to abandon all vice?

 

Then you went on to say that amongst the innovations is to consider special invitation to weddings for the rich above the poor. [77] This quality is natural among human beings. It is not appropriate to consider it an innovation, because the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) has stipulated this in his saying: ‘The worst of food is that of a banquet, when the one who approaches it is deprived of it and the one who has been invited to it refuses it, and he who does not respond to an invitation has indeed disobeyed Allah and His Messenger.”

 

Then you said that amongst the innovations is that some people think nothing of harming animals and being harsh to them. Making them carry heavy loads which are not easy for them to bear, etc...’ In reply I say it is far-fetched that this statement be mentioned among the innovations, because animals are subject to mankind's mercy and his hard-heartedness. It may be that you would find a religious person with a hardened heart, burdening men, let alone animals. Perhaps you find someone other than him showing mercy towards the weak, and Allāh is merciful to those who show mercy, ‘…according to the pattern on which He has made mankind.’ [30:30]. Mercy can only be obtained from the possessors of mercy and knowledge from the learned in compliance to the saying of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), ‘Knowledge can only be obtained through learning and gentleness through practice.’

 

Thereafter you mentioned that among the innovations is (upholding) the seven days of the deceased when the Qur'ān is recited and the food which is prepared on the seventh day. (You) considered it is prohibited and not permissible to eat. It is necessary that we ask you to explain the reason why the food which is made on the seventh day is considered unlawful, even though you have not asked the author of (Al-Miyar) to explain the reason its prohibition. You consider the speech which judges the community as ignoble, as if it was revelation. Because you have considered the food as unlawful and prevented the poor from eating it, it will be inevitable that they will remind you of what Allāh says to His beloved Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), ‘Say : I find not in the message received by me by inspiration any meat forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be dead meat, or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine,- for it is an abomination- or what is impious, (meat) over which a name has been invoked, other than God’s' [6:145]. Then you said that an example of such forbidden food is food portions (prepared) on the completion [78] of the fortieth day, at the end of a complete year - which is the practice of the people of Tunisia and those who follow their reprehensible practices. Even if we should say that the people of Tunisia have followed your advice and they have all refrained from this virtue which you have called a reprehensible practice. You would prove nothing except for depriving the poor who will not find what would provide them with the food of the rich, some of whose food may never have been eaten (by them) if it were not for the event of death. Are you not aware that zakāh has been made lawful in order to take from the rich to give unto the poor? It is not the eyes that become blind. It could be that the reckless did something bad whilst desiring to do good. This is apart from what Mu`ādh ibn Jabal has narrated from the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) who said,

‘There is no error upon the one whom, whenever he wishes to spend a voluntary charity for the sake of Allāh, that he should spend it on his parents if they are Muslims.’

 

Then you continued transmitting from the author of ‘al-Miyār’ that another innovation is to make dhikr together with one voice in front of the funeral since the required thing to do during the carrying of the funeral is silence, contemplation, reflection and substituting it with something in conformity with the Law. Your mentioning of the silence and reflection that is required is the best and most preferred thing to do and one could simply imagine that such practice would come only from the elect. As for the general public, dhikr would be best for them since, had they left it off they could be pre-occupied with what is repulsive, like insignificant conversation for example. It is for this reason that the Sufis have enjoined upon the general public to occupy themselves with the dhikr of Lā ilāha illa Allāh at the funeral, following the saying of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him), ‘Repeat constantly the dhikr of Lā ilāha illa Allāh at the funeral.’ He did not restrict it to be read secretly or aloud. A similar saying of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) is: ‘Supply your deceased with the provision La ilāha illa Allāh.’ So, it is obvious on the basis of these two Prophetic narrations that the actions are not reprehensible. As for your saying that to substitute the practice of silence with something else is lawful, the goal of this statement is that it should be opposite of the first. You then continue saying, [79]

‘…another innovation is to recite the Qur’ān melodiously, which is a reprehensible act, therefore the banning of it is necessary and it is important that the Qur’ān must be kept free from it, Nay! Even in poetry, melody is disapproved of. So it is necessary to stay away from and listening to it, what then in the case of Allāh's verses and His Divine speech.’

 

I am compelled to tell you about you mentioning of this statement; your talking on the religion of Allāh without knowledge is most disgraceful. You are in such a hurry to grab any text without understanding and should we decide to agree that Allāh has tested you with a restriction pertaining to the scholars; it would be your duty not to make him the judge over the Law. You may only make him a judge over yourself, or over the one who asks you for the legal opinion of your madh-hab (legal school of thought). You may even say that it implies disapproval, in accordance to the view of some, not that it is being disapproved by Law. Such should be your view in all matters of disagreement. Has it not been confirmed by the Scholars of religion, that one of the conditions of disapproval is to have knowledge of the opposing views, So that he may not disapprove of a known issue, which is confirmed by someone else. You do know that the Law is much wider than for it to be contained only by the view held by one of the schools. I see what you are saying is as if you have encompassed the text of all transmissions and understanding. Your example is like someone who goes out into battlefield without weapons. Whenever a text occurs to you, it appears as if a thief has emerged from within you. Have you not considered your state, when you find in the Law of Allāh, the opposite to what you have confirmed in your disapproval of the Qur’ān being read with melodious tunes, etc? You have no option but to say, ‘These are nothing but tales of the ancients’ [6:25]. I mention to you some of what I have discovered, should you wish, you may either leave it or act upon it.

 

In his book Jalāludin al- Suyuti mentions some of the traditions of the Messenger of Allāh’s (blessings and peace be upon him) approval is reading the Qur’ān with a tune. Briefly this is an adequate sentence in this chapter. [80] Amongst it is what Anas bin Mālik narrated from the Messenger of Allāh, (blessings and peace be upon him) who said,

‘There is a decoration for everything and the decoration of the Qur’ān is a beautiful voice’. Another narration says, ‘There is a decoration for everything and the decoration of the Qur’ān is a voice that is beautiful.’ He (blessings and peace be upon him) also said: ‘Beautify the Qur’ān with your voices, for indeed a beautiful voice increases the Qur’ān in beauty.’ In another narration: ‘Decorate your voices with the Qur'an.’ and in another tradition: "Beautify your voices with the Qur’ān.’

 

You might want to say that the meaning of beautifying is to give the full value to the recitation, like slow recitation, etc. I confirm that whatever has been mentioned in this chapter is that it is very clear and unequivocal about reading the Qur'ān with a tune. If it is not clear to you, then here is what is even clearer when al- Suyuti transmitted from Abdullah ibn Mas'ud who said that the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) said, ‘He who does not recite the Qur'ān with a tune is not of us.’ In another saying, ‘Allāh has not given permission to anything like the permission He granted to a Prophet who could read the Qur'ān aloud with rhythm.’

Narrated from Abū Hurairah, ‘Allāh has not given permission to a thing like the permission he gave to the Prophets with a good voice, reading the Qur'ān aloud with rhythm.’

 

 

Al-Alqami said, ‘The meaning of this according to Imām Shafi`i and his followers and the majority of Scholars of religion is to beautify one's voice in the recitation of the Qur'ān.’ And that which is more explicit than this, is the saying of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him), ‘Recite the Qur'ān with the tunes of the Arabs’. Al-Alqami said, ‘the meaning of this is to beautify the recitation [of the Qur`ān]. The narration of Abū Musa al-Ash'ari who said that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) heard his recitation and said, ‘You were given one of the instruments of the family of Dawud’ and Abū Musa replied, ‘If I had known that you were listening then I would have embellished it.’ The commentator said, the words ‘I would have embellished it’ means, I would have made the recitation more beautiful. (This is taken from the book al-Jami` al-Saghir).

 

Now that you know this, do you still disapprove unexceptionally that the Qur'ān should be recited with a beautiful voice, after you have found the astonishing clarity of the texts, which were just mentioned? What is more surprising than this is your disapproval of a beautiful voice, wherever it might appear, whether in poetry or otherwise. However this only stems from your impolite nature and it also proves that there are certain animals that have a more refined nature than others. Is the camel not moved by a beautiful sound by which it is inspired? Do birds not draw near to it so that they may find rest in it? Did it not come to your attention that one of the distinct signs of Dawud was his beautiful voice with which he used to read the Psalms (ZAbū r)? Is the beautiful voice not one of the gifts, which Allāh has bestowed upon His servants? Do you not know that with regard to the verse in the Qur'ān, ‘He adds to Creation whatever He pleases:’ [35:1], what is meant by it is a beautiful voice? What supports this view that this verse appears in another style of reading (Qira'ah) in which the word (Khalq) is read as Halq. So if intonation cannot be used in the recitation of the Qur'an and if listening to it is disapproved by the Law of Allāh , then what is the point of its specification. It would then be necessary to consider a misfortune from Allāh and not a gift coming from Him to His servants, except that it is used in what displeases Allāh and His Messenger .

 

In brief: You have passed judgment by this statement of yours contrary to Allāh's judgement, for you have disapproval of a beautiful voice and you have been vehement in your disapproval. Even if we consider the Madh-hab does not hold recitation of Qur'ān with intonation is permissible. I reply: Its proof is not stronger than the one who holds that recitation of the Qur'an with intonation is permissible. I might even say it is Sunnah in accordance to what the aforementioned have pointed out, nay, it is obviously the strongest. In addition Allāh had never disapproved beautiful sound which you yourself have disapproved of severely. He has only disapproved the ugly voice of asses, instead you have preferred misfortune over good luck and you have taken a lesser thing in exchange for what is better. Then you said,

‘Among the innovations are the lighting up of candles and kindling of lamps on the eve of the Prophet’s birthday (blessings and peace be upon him).’

 

In reply: Celebrations have requirements which must most certainly display within an atmosphere of joy, for example beautification, decorations, happiness and the kindling of lamps on the night of Mawlud and in other celebrations of its kind. That which proves to you that celebrations are permissible is what Bukhari has reported from `Aishah (may Allāh be pleased with her) that Abū Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) once entered her house when there were two slave girls during the days of Muna who were playing the tambourine and singing, whilst the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), was covered in his cloak. Abū Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) rebuked them, whereupon the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) uncovered his noble face and said: ‘Leave them, Oh Abū Bakr, for it is the days of `Ìd (celebrations) and these are the days of Muna’. Similar to this is the narration about A'isha from another narration in which she said:

‘Abū Bakr entered my house when there were two maids with me from the neighbourhood of the Ansar who were singing in favour of the favourable auspices gained by the Ansar on the day of Buath. Abū Bakr asked: 'Is Shaytan playing instruments in the house of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him)?' He (blessings and peace be upon him) answered, 'Leave them! Oh Abu Bakr, because verily for every people there is a celebration and this is our celebration' (narrated from Bukhari).

 

You said with regard to the lighting up of candles:

‘They light it during the day in order to attend the procession of innovation.’

 

In reply I say: To light it up during the day is definitely improper and should therefore by rights be called innovation. It shows no benefit during the day, unlike its appearance at night. It has never been before that any of the pious ancestors practiced it.

 

As for the procession being an innovation, I wish that Allāh rewards the one who innovated it, in which case it will comply with the narration of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him), ‘Whoever introduces a good practice, he shall receive the reward thereof and the reward of the one who performs it’ What is in it is the attachment and love which the Muslims show towards their Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him).

 

Whichever way one considers the coming together of the Community is only a mercy and it is this that the Sunnah dictates. Based on this one finds the real innovated to be the one who strives to oppose (destroy) the gatherings. You also said,

‘Amongst the innovation is the use of a silver fumigator while the lesson of Prophetic narration is conducted, which is most certainly unlawful. To use it during a marriage contract is not permissible, so when that happens, it is not permissible to be present in such a gathering, so how does one dare to read the Prophetic narration in a gathering where there is something unlawful. Lo! We belong to Allāh and unto Him is our return.’

 

I really do not know what is particularly the point of your discussing the use of fumigation in silver during Hadith lessons and during a marriage contract, whereas the use of containers made from gold or silver is absolutely unlawful. You said: ‘How does one dare to read the narration of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him), in a gathering where there is something unlawful?’ This meaning: it is not permissible to read Hadith in it, but I say: Nay, it is necessary that in such a gathering be read the proof which forbids the use of one of these two metal containers in order for the user to be informed about these two metals, since it is your habit and your persistence to object and pursue arguments and to condemning at every option, the reference is then generally attributed to Sufis.

 

Validity of using a rosary

You wondered about, leaped and stood upright, deviated and then returned to your most important aim. Then you exerted your pen to it’s utmost in something that has no connection with the religion and made it a proof against the Sufis and, because of it, they are amongst those who are ostentatious. You said,

‘Another disliked innovation is the use of the rosary which is of Roman origin, carrying it in the hand and the neck in order to show people that its user is a devoted worshipper who makes a lot of dhikr, as if he is not aware that he only belongs to those who displays ostentation. Allāh has promised a severe punishment for this, because doing things to be seen by men is considered to be one of the major sins.’

 

[84] I say: What is implied by this sentence of yours is that you have passed judgment on everyone who takes a rosary in his hand or places it around his neck to be among the people of major sin. Unto whom a severe punishment is promised at the least. In addition to this your statement also implies that it is a Roman i.e. Christian practice because he has imitated the Romans by putting the rosary around his neck. We ask Allāh for protection. In my opinion I think that if the most extreme sin should be committed, then such a judgment would not be deserved. Limitless is Allāh in His Glory! Should not the Scholars of religion themselves be compassionate? How is it in your case that you could pass judgment on most of the Community of Muhammad as being lost and misguided? What tells you that the user of a rosary wants to be seen and praised by men, whilst Allāh alone has knowledge of the unseen and He alone knows the secrets contained in it. Even if we should say that the category of people who use rosaries are not devoid from those who want to be seen, in the same way can we say that the pious are also not devoid of the same thing.

 

Based on this what would be our approach of judgment on all individuals in general. Have you included the pronouns in totality? What is the intention of every individual who uses the rosary? It might perhaps be that he has a sincere intention for making use of it. Do you not know that the intention is called the spiritual elixir and it can turn people of distinction upside down very swiftly, for it might be that when you ask the possessor of a rosary as to why he uses it around his neck, he will say to you: ‘It keeps me away from mixing with the foolish minded and entering places of suspicion’. I made it a protection unto myself, because it appears by its expression as if it wants to say: Remain fearful of Allāh.

 

How do you compare this with the one who openly declares sin, if not anything but a righteous intention? Similarly if you should ask the person who holds it in his hand, he would perhaps say to you: I use it in order that it may remind me of Allāh whenever I become unmindful of remembering Him. Because it is reported in a Prophetic narration extracted from the 'Musnad al-Firdouz' of al-Daylami that `Ali narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) said, ‘What an excellent reminder the rosary is!’[85]

 

Jalaludin As-Suyooti has also mentioned this in his book called 'AI-Mina Fittikhas Subha' (The benefit of using the rosary). So, by Allāh as your witness! What would be your response? Can it be anything other than a sincere intention and the proof of texts that is evident? In my opinion I find that the severe punishment, which you have promised its user, is totally undeserving. Yes, and then there are some people who have no knowledge of the real intention in using the rosary, they only keep it in their hands for the sake of agreement and this also in my opinion makes the punishment which you have determined for the user of a rosary undeserving. Similarly to this is the one who carries it in order to imitate the pious men with the intention of being attached to them and this is also a sincere intention. Then there are few individuals whom you have mentioned as falling under the description of hypocrites in that ‘They only want to be seen by men but little do they hold Allāh in remembrance. Thus I say that it is the likeness of this verse that has compelled the Sufis to become completely immersed in the dhikr by making it in public and they make a lot of dhikr in order that they go from the domain of littleness into the vastness of plenitude so that they are completely detached from the description of ‘little dhikr’ to which the hypocrites are ascribed. The extent of the limitation of a lot of dhikr would have been unknown had it not been for the saying of the holy the Messenger of Allāh blessings and peace be upon him’make the dhikr of Allāh until the hypocrites will say, You only want to be seen’. He also said ‘Invoke Allāh with a lot of dhikr until they will say that you are crazy’. These two Prophetic narrations have been quoted in al-Jami As-Saghir. So when they have reached this limit being spoken of as people who only want to be seen by men according to you and that they are mad according to what other individuals might say, then only will the souls be contented and happy knowing that they have gone from the domain of littleness to be described by the quality of ‘muchness’, in reality they are the true dhākirūn . By Allāh as your witness did you make such a lot of dhikrullāh until it could be said about you the same as what is said about them? Or are you still continuing to endure the doctrine of littleness? May Allāh inspire us and yourself to make a lot of dhikr for Him and to have a good opinion of His Awliya. [86]

 

I say, all that which you have mentioned concerning Riya, the Sufis are more cautious about what you have warned them off and they are more fearful of that which you have caused them to fear. Had it not been that Allāh acquainted them with the doing of good in order to be followed? Are you not aware of the saying of the Messenger of Allāh, blessings and peace be upon him ‘Secrecy is better than openness and publicity is better for the one who wish to be followed.’ (This is mentioned in the al-Jami of Suyooti).

 

Then after you have disapproved the use of the rosary with total condemnation making it an unlawful innovation you contradicted yourself with that which supports its permissibility or lawfulness. You mentioned that the Messenger of Allāh, blessings and peace be upon him, came to one of his wives and saw a light shining in the arch. He asked, ‘What light is this shining in the arch?’ She answered, ‘It is my rosary which I use for the purpose of dhikr and afterwards I leave it over there.’ The Prophet said, ‘Why do you not have that light on your fingers?’ From this we gather that the rosary has an origin in the Law and it has a light, which glows from it. If anyone attires himself with that light in order to put it around his neck can we blame him? Then you said,

‘This would mean that the rosary is a light just as it appears to be mentioned in the interpretation of some Prophetic narration. While it is a light that is hidden in an arch which is not visible to man and not the rosary which is made from pearls strung on a rope as some foolish people believe.’

 

I reply, ‘What foolishness could be worse than yours, you acknowledging the origin yet denying what branches from it? So what is the difference between the date pits and the pearls, which you have mentioned, and other pure things? It has been confirmed that some of them used to count their dhikr with stones instead of date pits. Perhaps you deny it just because it is put together on a rope.

 

It is narrated that Abu Huraira had a knotted rope with a [87] thousand knots and he would not go to sleep until he had completely performed his dhikr with it. Is there not a close resemblance in this to the well-known and well-arranged rosary? Do you not see that if Abū Huraira had a well-known litany and that he would not sleep until he has taken it out according to what is mentioned? Do you think he will leave his rosary behind when he goes out on a journey for example? Do you think on seeing Abū Hurayrah carrying the rope in his hand or placing it around his neck, that the Prophet would deny him from it after he had already approved for him to make dhikr with it? I do not think so, but Allāh knows best.

 

Is it not that the first stage of the ring was the lawfulness to stamp with it and thereafter putting it on the finger became a Sunnah? So why can't the rosary be of this kind? Or perhaps the neck be a substitute for the finger? In my opinion this does not give a good impression of you because this matter is based on the following transmission where the writer of 'Al-Madarik' mentions, ‘One of the companions said, 'I met Sahnun while he had a rosary around his neck with which he was making dhikr' [i.e. an item used for the counting of] dhikr. It is clear that this report has reached you, so why did you not accept it?

 

Is there not a general conviction that the requirement to accept a narration is that there be [at least] one single reliable [chain of] transmission. There is only a radical view held by the Rafidites [who is a rejected sect amongst the Shi`ites] that the prerequisite for accepting a narration of the Prophet is that there be a continuous transmission.

 

You have rejected this narration because of your dislike of it, but if this is not sifficient proof, then perhaps in your case Jalal al-Din Suyuti could take the place of someone whose narration would suffice you, since he has written a treatise called 'Al-Minha Fittihadi Subha' (The benefits of using a rosary). In it he says, ‘al-Dalami narrates in the 'Musnad al-Firdouz' a traceable Prophetic narration related from `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), 'What an excellent reminder the rosary is!'‘ And then he said, ‘Abū Hurayrah had a rope of a thousand knots and he would not go to sleep until he performed his dhikr. The same was in the case of Abū Darda, and such was the dhikr of some of the companions and similar to this is what ImāmSanusi mentions in his treatise named’ (Nusrah al-Faqir [88] Firradd `ala Abi al-Hasan al-Saghir).

 

As for the leaders of Sufism, in my opinion I think that you do not rely on them with regard to this matter, otherwise the use of the rosary and so forth is of the moral practice of the people of Sufism. People displayed it already in the time of Junayd (may Allāh be pleased with him). Ahmad bin Ghilkan mentions in 'Widayah al-A'yan' that he saw Junayd with a rosary in his hand. When he was asked about it he answered, ‘It is the means with which I have reached my Lord and I will not part with it.’ And in my opinion I suppose that you do acknowledge the status of ImāmSharani with regards to the religion. He has mentioned in his 'TibaqatuSughra', that Sidi Ahmad alKa'ka-i, who was counted in the sight of the Shaykh among those whose blessings could be desired, had said, ‘He had a rosary with a thousand seeds of which seven seeds were stolen. He then saw the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) in a dream, and the Prophet said to him, 'O Ahmad, so-and-so stole the seven seeds from your rosary and you will have such and such an amount less the day when you send blessings upon me.' So he went to this person and on relating his dream to him the person answered, 'The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), has spoken the truth'. He then took it out from his head and he put it back onto the rosary and said, 'I have never seen a rosary with such brightness, as if it was shining from the light because of all the litanies.' Thus the one who depends on proof, a little suffices him, and I have not requested from you to wear a rosary around your neck, Nay, neither have I asked you to touch it with your hand. I only wish that after all the transmissions I have given you, you should at least say it is accepted and that you not be hasty. Then you mentioned a Prophetic narration in order that you may, in your opinion, seek support with it. But I do not know is it for you or against you? You said, ‘It is narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) came upon a woman who had date pits and pebbles with which she used to make her dhikr. The Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) said, 'I will inform you of a way which is easier and better than this. [89] Glory be to Allāh inasmuch as the number of what Allāh created in the Heavens, Glory be to Allāh inasmuch as the number of what Allāhcreated in the earth, Glory be to Allāh inasmuch as the number of what is between these, Glory be to Allāh inasmuch as Allāh remains countless the Creator, and inasmuch, Allāh is the Greatest and similarly all praise is due to Allāh.’ In the light of that I reply, What you have just mentioned destroys what you have confirmed. Do you not oppose the evidence of making tasbih with the fingers? Where are you from this proof, which calls for the omission of counting altogether? You have relieved us from counting with the fingers - otherwise, may Allāh bless you on our behalf, but you still did not confirm anything in your statement until you said, ‘It is reported that the Messenger of Allāh blessings and peace be upon him used to make his tasbih with his right hand, and therefore to make tasbih with date pits and that which is of the same kind has an origin in the Law, and it is contrary to the first, but the foremost and best way is to make tasbih with the fingers’. So I say, Now you have come with the shining truth which is quite evident, since you have confirmed that making tasbih with date pits and its like has its origin in the Law, so in this case there is no dispute.

 

I also hold your view that the foremost and best is dhikr with the fingers. But the one who has litanies, find it difficult to make it with precision on his fingers like the litany of Abū Huraira for example. Or the one who intends to carry out the saying of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) in a Prophetic narration, ‘Verily he who invokes (says) La ilaha ill Allāh seventy thousand times, Allāh will make forbidden to him the Fire’. So if this is correct by Allāh as your witness, then treat us justly because the question is, is it easy to enumerate such a litany with your hands? Therefore, in this case it is necessary that you use a rosary on which you could count a thousand, in order that by the grace of Allāh you might save yourself from the fire. So I say, What you have confirmed in the statement, is an appropriate saying befitting every righteous person, but you barely waited for a little while until you gave up your intention and declared your drink, you said,[90]

 

‘Making dhikr with the beaded rosary is a forbidden innovation, because of the obstacles it presents like carrying it for show and not making dhikr with it, and because it is the practice of the monks, and it is for this reason that it is triangular resembling the shape of a cross, because if the two equal sides are made long then it will appear very evidently. I do not think that any of the rightly guided scholars of religion would say it is permissible to use it in accordance to what we have just mentioned. Until now the monks are still using it, and some of the Sufi uses it in order to show the traces of worship in himself until people will venerate him, as already mentioned. In this way he attains to the aim, which is to get money by means of deceit and being an imposter…’ to the end of what you have mentioned.

 

I reply, As for its being an innovation, we have already mentioned to you the Prophetic narration concerning it, which suffices for those with insight and you have yourself acknowledged that it has its origin in the Law. Therefore even if we should call it an innovation it has never reached the extent of your extreme description of prohibition because the pious scholars may Allāh be pleased with them say, ‘forbidden innovation is that which opposes a transmitted Sunnah or contradicts (Ijma’) consensus,’ and the rosary does not fall under any of this. As for your information of its prohibition, in which it is used for show and not dhikr, this depends on its possessor and his intention with it. There is no occurrence of text in this event and should we pass judgement on its users to say there is no dhikr, this would be mere conjecture, ‘Fancy can be of no avail against Truth’ [10:36] and also because of the Messenger of Allāh’s (blessings and peace be upon him) saying, ‘Do not confirm anything if you have doubt.’ So that which deals with the use of the rosary around the neck and holding it in the hand has already been mentioned.

 

As for your statement ‘It is a practice of the monks.’[91] It is more well known to the Alim that the rosary is a practice of the Sufis and even if we say it is a practice of the monks. Never did the Law compel us to leave off all the qualities of the monks except for renouncing the girdle. The community of Muhammad have denounced it, freeing themselves completely from shirk, and all praise is due to Allāh. Are there not perhaps qualities found with the monks, which are not found with people like yourself? Allāh says in praise of them. ‘Amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. And when they listen to the revelation received by the Apostle, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognise the truth’ [5:85-86]. On this evidence, can we be compelled to denounce the description, which Allāh ascribes to them? Even if we say, it was something used by the monks, it is without doubt that the intentions are different. As for its being in the shape of a cross, I can only say that you are unique in this aspect. By rights should it be counted as an introduction for your specialisation, because we have never heard of this from anyone with insight for most of the community of Muhammad will he seen as people who carry crosses around their necks, may Allāh preserve us. But this is Allāh's way of unveiling and exposing the one responsible for such an opinion. Yet, how amazing! What relevance is there between the pattern of a rosary and the shape of a cross? (But the eye of resentment brings out a resemblance). Then it would be necessary for people to abstain from his food and drink, if it appears to resemble the shape of a cross, or any visible object resembling the cross, yet the shape of yourself as a human being is closer in resemblance to the cross than the rosary, because you said concerning the rosary, ‘If the two equal sides are made long then it (the cross) will appear very evidently’. However, your shape is more apparent than that of the rosary, for if you stand upright and stretch out your two hands you would have no need to look for the cross in the rosary since you are able to see it in yourself. In such a case it becomes necessary for you to destroy your existence, or otherwise avert your eyes from seeing yourself, so that it does not appear to resemble the cross.

 

I say, even if Allāh has tested you with (juristic) reasoning by analogy regarding the question of the rosary, why did you compare it with the cross or with what the monks do? [92] You did not compare it with the necklace, which the Arabs used to hang around their necks. Nor the garlands that marked out the sacrificed animal, whenever they intended to set out for pilgrimage towards the Sacred House in order that the one who follows this application becomes immune from attack or interference. The necklace consists of a rope braided with rush. Allāh has praised them for that, and He mentioned their garlands in comparison to thankfulness notwithstanding it were a practice initiated by the pagans and Islam has acknowledged it. Allāh says, ‘God made the Ka'bah, The Sacred House, an asylum of security for men, as also the Sacred Months, the animals for offerings, and the garlands that mark them’ [5:100]. Ibn Atiyyah in his commentary says about this verse, ‘The necklace is what people used to wear around their necks as a protection for themselves whenever they intended to perform the pilgrimage and Allāh praised them for it in return for their grateful obligation.’ Qatāda says, ‘In the pre-Islamic times, when the person would leave his home with the intention of making the pilgrimage, he would hang a necklace made of rush around his neck so that he became immune from attack or interference.’ And Sa`id Ibn Jubayr says, ‘Allāh created these matters like the wearing of a necklace and so on for people who lived during the pagan era and had no desire for paradise, nor the fear for the Hellfire.’ Do we not find in this that the rosary is more similar to the necklace than the cross? But you are not someone who would search for an excuse. Your only intention is to mislead, ‘And God will not mislead a people after He hath Guided them, [9:115]. And then you said,

‘I do not think any of the rightly guided Scholars of religion approved the use of the rosary as we have mentioned.’

 

My response to that is that this thought of yours which you entertained concerning your Lord, has brought you to destruction, and (now) have you become of those utterly lost!’ [41:23]. Have we not already mentioned to you what was transmitted from the famous Scholars of religion concerning its practice and how they approved of it as well as those who wrote about it, like Junayd, Sahnun, Sha`rāni, Sanusi, Suyuti and among many others whose number is innumerable [93] not to speak of the leaders of Sufism? Does this aforementioned group not suffice as being a proof for its permissibility, unless you want to say that they are not of the rightly guided scholars or religion, but Allāh forbid that you should have a bad opinion of our worthy ancestors.

 

This group of people about whom you said, ‘Some Sufis use it in order to show the traces of worship in himself until he is venerated by people as already mentioned. In this way he attains to the aim which is to get money by means of deceit and being an impostor.’ In reply I say, In all probability that you did not spare any level of bad opinion about the followers of Muhammad in this belief, which has exceeded all bounds of evil. May Allāh preserve us from it and from those who believe in it, because whoever believes in Muslims pretending to do good deeds in order to access peoples’ money, as you have mentioned it is then not unlikely that the person will advance gradually with this vile measure towards the rightly-guided Khalifahs if not, we could almost say the Prophets and the Messengers (may Allāh be pleased with them all). But all this irrational talk about worldly things is what you have found within yourself, and you compared others with it. You saw nothing but your own description, since the believer is the mirror to his brother.

 

By Allāh as our witness, we have most certainly recognised men who preferred the little wealth above a lot of wealth, and they sacrifice more than what they receive. Truly they are those about whom the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) said, ‘And through them does Allāh send you rain and through them does He give sustenance’. Then you said, ‘And there are some of them who have taken a big rosary, the bead is measured according to the greatness of the person, when he dies it is placed on the tomb of his grave so that his inheritors could seek after the peoples money which is better for them than a lofty estate and an orchard (sawani) of olives and dates. When a visitor of great status come to them they receive him with veneration and exaltation and they would open the decorated dome for him, and after completing his prayer they present him with food, which is an expression of a [94] flat loaf of bread, the measure of the palm or piece of it. It is the practice of monks, as stated in 'Tuhfat ul-Arib Firrad Ala Ahli Salib' or they could be given water to drink for the Barakah and this is all with an intention to deceive the people so that they must give them money for their visit. If they are of the poor, then this track is not opened unto him’ to the end of what you have mentioned of judgement and of your abominable concepts and your poor style of writing. In reply I say, Allāh will most certainly hold you responsible for disgracing His friends (Awliya) because they are free from the idolatry which you have accused them of, whether these Awliya are dead or alive.

 

Has the following saying of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him), never come to your ears, ‘Mention the good qualities of your deceased ones and refrain from mentioning their misdeeds,’ while in another saying, ‘Withhold your tongues from the Muslims and if anyone among them should pass away, speak good about him.’ He also said, ‘The Muslim is he whose hand and tongue is safeguarded from the other Muslims.’ What an imposed affliction is this upon yourself, pursuing the faults of the Muslims among those who are dead and alive? Do you not know that the Law has defined the meaning of slander, which is prohibited unanimously as follows, ‘Slander is to mention about your brother that which he detests.’ Abū Huraira (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrates, ‘That which you hate to speak personally of in front of your brother is considered as slander.’ It is said ‘Slander is to mention about your brother that which is found in him, but if you mention something about him which is not found in him, then you have defamed him (fabricated lies against him).’ To what section does this belong? May Allāh have mercy on you. Is this slander or defamation?

 

The truth is that they belong to both since you have slandered some of them and defamed others. ‘God doth admonish you, that ye may never repeat such (conduct) if you are (true) believers’ [24:17].

 

After you have scorned the conditions of the Muslims, ridiculing the sons of the believers and after you have mentioned most of the faults of your nation's sons, the non-Muslims will be very contented with it, and by Allāh, should they hear it from you, you would most certainly have received a beautiful praise from them. You then concluded the chapter stating, [95]

‘The best of affairs in religion is that which conforms to Sunnah and the worst of affairs are the created innovations.’

 

In reply I say, Whatever you have mentioned in this chapter by disgracing the Muslims, exposing the faults of those attached to Allāh, under what section does this fall? The section of Sunnah? The Sunnah of the Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) of Allāh? Or the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khalifs? So by the grace of Allāh, inform me, who among the companions and those who followed them allowed that Muslims should be openly disgraced? You have even gone to the extent of pursuing to publicise the shamefulness of the people of Allāh. So I ask you to tell me by Allāh as your witness, which innovation in this chapter is it that has opposed the Sunnah and the consensus of the Islamic scholars. Is it the holding of a rosary in one's hand and its signals as you have mentioned? Yet it is necessary for the intelligent man to say, Some evils are lesser than others, so what is it about the sons of Sufism that hurts you, is it that they pray, fast and read the Qur'ān and observe the characteristics of Islam, or is it the gifts which they accept, which you intend to consider as unlawful. Since the ruling of the Law is contrary to this. It says, ‘The most permissible of lawfulness is the gift offered without request.’ Do you not know that the sacredness of the pious people passes on to their sons and the sons of their sons as long as they follow in their traces as Muslims. Especially if they are descendants of the Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) of Allāh, and of his kinship, in compliance to what the Divine text contains in imposing love towards them as a duty.

 

Allāh says,’Say, no reward do I ask you for this, except the love of those near of kin.’ (42,23). Have you not heard that Musa and Khidr (may Allāh be pleased with them) freely rendered their service to two orphans whose father was pious? Which virtue is more noble than the one towards the sons of the pious? No, by Allāh! Your saying does not decrease them nor the saying of those who are of your kind. But my desire for the sons of the pious is that they should inherit godliness from their fathers. ‘And those who believe and whose families follow them in Faith,- to them shall We join their families’ [52:21].[96]

 

Then you included another chapter which you called the second chapter, ’And one of the errors is to imitate the unbelievers and the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) has confirmed this in his saying, 'You will certainly follow the ways of those who were before you (i.e. Jews and Christians) span by span and cubit by cubit. So much so that even if they entered the hole of a mastigure you would follow them, and if anyone of them should have sexual relations with his wife in public, then you would want to do the same to the end of what you pursued in this matter.’

 

Then you mentioned in general some innovations, specifically imposing caution against it. What you have mentioned is the clear truth, its rays cannot be hidden from the blind man let alone the man who can see. But it appears to me that what you have mentioned is merely as a preparation, in order to afterwards by your own ability, link it to the graves of the pious, and those who visit them, which is soon to become evident. Since, if it was your intention to fight innovations in general, then you would have debated every innovation separately, but I see the pivot of your skill revolves only around what is mentioned. If you wanted to make people wary against imitating the unbelievers, you would have entered into a chapter specifically imposing caution against its actual diseases, and following foreign habits and its ability to spread amongst our sons and daughters, so that we may preserve our Islamic practices and Arab morals. Instead, you have in most cases brought forward that which is of no use, except for causing conflict in accordance to what is evident.

 

Do you not see that after you have transmitted Sidi Ali Al-Ajhuri's statement, which speaks about the veneration, of the graves until the common people would have almost worshipped it, you said, ’If it had been in our present time, then he (Al-Ajhuri) would have said they are worshipping the graves, and not 'almost', for their actions and sayings clearly point towards this.’ By Allāh! How amazing, when did the community of Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) renounce their faith in order to worship graves? Why have you not paused at the saying of Al-Ajhuri and left a choice to yourself and the muslims? And since you have conveyed this peculiarity unto them, God forbid! It would have been more eloquent for you to have referred to it indirectly rather than stating it bluntly. How courageous of you! By Allāh![97]

 

No believer would be so bold to revile anyone with apostasy, let alone confirming it, passing this verdict upon the choicest of the Community's servants. There is no one among the adherents of the Sunnah (Ahl al-Sunnah) except that they would venerate the pious people of the Community and find it a blessing to visit their graves and have recourse by their side regarding important matters. They have no other intention except that they should mediate on their behalf unto Allāh Most High. When you were explicit in what has just been mentioned, I was afraid that the expression would not be consistent, meaning it would not be understood. In view of the fact that the people of this time are apostates worshipping the graves, you came with what guarantees with conformity, you said ‘It is recorded in an authentic narration from A'isha (may Allāh be pleased with her) that Ummu Habiba and Ummu Salama, remembered a church with images in it, which they saw in Abyssinia. They mentioned it to the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him), and the he said 'Verily among those people, when a pious man dies, they would build a mosque over his grave and create in it those images. On the day of Resurrection they will be the most evil of creation in the sight of Allāh.' and the people of this age have followed them in this, they are the evil ones among creation.’ In reply I say may Allāh, on behalf of the Muslims, reward you with what you are worthy of [in the Eyes] of Allāh. The Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) would not be contented to hear someone speaking about his Community as the most evil among the creation and the creatures. Does it not suffice you to make their practices repulsive and diminishing their beliefs, until you have placed them in the lowest level of the Hell-fire comparing them with the idol-worshippers?

 

The aim of the Law is to speak about them as the most evil of creation (because the Law would in the utmost degree refer to them (idol-worshippers) as the most evil of creation). But you speak about the sons of your own faith saying they are the most evil of the creation and creatures. Even if we say that the generality of the community resembles that which has been mentioned, does the one who resemble have the same strength as the one resembled to? So when the Law has passed the judgment on the 'resembled' (i.e. idolaters) that they are the most evil of creation, is it then not imperative (necessary) for the resembler, to be the most evil of creation, just like (the resembled) let alone being the most evil of creation and the creatures.

 

Do you not know that what the Prophet mentioned was as a form of caution unto his community? ‘With this doth God warn off His servants’ [39:16] [98] since the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) was very confident about his community's certainty, did not waiver in any way. Why should he, when he himself testified to this certainty, according to what Ibn 'Umar has narrated about the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) saying, ‘No community has been given a more excellent certainty than that which was given to my Community’. It is also narrated from him that the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) said, ‘there is not a community except that some of them will go to hell and some will go to heaven, except for my Community, they are all in paradise’, transmitted from ('al-Jāmi` al-Saghir).

 

So where is your testimony for the Community, from that of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) and what evidence of certainty is there which you have furnished for the Community? Do you think that it is different in the case of exaltation towards the pious men considering the fact that it is Allāh Himself who exalts them. Yes, then there are those individuals who have exceeded the normal bounds of exaltation, but whatever the case may be they have never gone as far, in exalting the pious, compared to what you have described them with. Have you no other road to take in your reminder and your admonition than this callous road which you have chosen and which is of no use other than revealing your ill-natured faith? Have you not come across the saying of Allāh in the Qur'ān ‘Invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and good admonition’ [16:125]? To which section does this treatise of yours belong? Is it to the section of wisdom or of beautiful admonition?

 

Even if we say you have followed the Wahabi teachings, which advocates absolutely the prohibition of visiting the tombs of the pious, you still require a style more graceful than this in order to plant this belief in the hearts of those firmly believing and trying to destroy what is in their hearts. The Community is less likely to repeatedly drink from that faith which is in the same cup. Then you said, ‘Let us return then to the discussion of visiting. As for the woman, it is not permissible for her to visit the graves, as agreed by general consensus and known in the books of Fiqh. The Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) said, 'Allāh has cursed the female visitors of the graves and those who have taken it for mosques'.

 

As for the man [99]whose belief is strengthened with faith and knowing with certainty that the Giver and the Depriver is Allāh and that benefit and harm comes from none but Him Most High, that there is no lawful restriction in the place like women, for example, and the exposition of silk, its flag, silver vessels and statues, the visit of them becomes permissible for him. Otherwise if the matter is not so it becomes unlawful. In any case, staying away is best as a precaution because of the weakness of faith in this age. So when the person wants to ask Allāh anything, he asks in any place or at any time, so the matter is about intention and in the manifestation of the slavehood.’ That which you have mentioned in this sentence pertaining to the laws of visiting, you were right in one way and in another way you erred excessively. After a while I will inform you about the error, but first as for that which is right in this sentence is when you said ‘visiting is permissible if there is no lawful restriction’.

 

Then you said,

‘Let us return then to the discussion of visiting. As for the woman, it is not permissible for her to visit the graves, as agreed by general consensus and known in the books of Fiqh. The Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) said, 'Allāh has cursed the female visitors of the graves and those who have taken it for mosques'. And as for the man [99]whose belief is strengthened with faith and knowing with certainty that the Giver and the Depriver is Allāh and that benefit and harm comes from none but Him Most High, that there is no lawful restriction in the place like women, for example, and the exposition of silk, its flag, silver vessels and statues, then the visit of them becomes permissible for him. Otherwise if the matter is not so, it becomes unlawful. In any case, remoteness is best as a precaution because of the weakness of faith in this age. So when the person wants to ask Allāh anything, he asks in any place or at any time, so the matter is about intention and in the manifestation of the slavehood’.

 

That which you have mentioned in this sentence pertaining to the laws of visiting, you were right in one way and in another way you erred excessively. After a while I will inform you about the error, but first as for that which is right in this sentence is when you said ‘visiting is permissible if there is no lawful restriction’.

 

As for the error, it is explained from the prohibitions which you have mentioned. You mentioned that one of the prohibitions are decoration of silk, flags and silver vessels, as if you are saying whenever these matters are found at a tomb, it is unlawful to visit it. So, if the obligation of this statement is binding then you are saying that the visiting of the Sacred House of Allāh and of the grave of the Prophet Muhammad (blessing and peace be upon him) is prohibited, as in these two Holy Sanctuaries are found the silk and silver which the eye has never seen and the ear has never heard. Are you not aware that the covering of the Ka’bah is made from pure silk? and in the two holy sanctuaries there are golden and silver vessels of which the value is inconceivable. If what has been mentioned, is part of the lawful restrictions, then you have just eliminated the Hajj from the followers of Muhammad. Indeed the usage of silk has been made unlawful according to what is mentioned, but looking at it has never been prevented by the Law, as in the case of it being a decoration on the wall or the covering of the Ka'bah.

 

If the prevention is related to something like this, it goes back to the person who makes use of it, not [100] the one who looks at it. This is what I have known from the Law, before Allāh pointed out to me your perceptions.

 

After you have established that visiting the tomb is permissible, in accordance to the conditions which you confirmed, you said

‘But in any case, remoteness is best as a precaution because of the weakness of faith in this age. So when the person wants to ask Allāh anything, he asks in any place, at any time, since the matter is about intention and the manifestation of slave hood’.

 

The exception here is inappropriate, because if the conditions which you have established are found, then visiting the graves is recommended, according to the existence of the command which is testified in the Prophetic narrations. But if the conditions are lacking then prohibition is obligatory as you have mentioned. Until now I still say, distance is best as a precaution for the possible mixing of women with men, or if the person believes firmly that he is able to secure himself from this, and they are but few, distance is more appropriate. For this reason it is necessary upon the leaders that should they permit women to visit the graves, they should restrict it to a specific day and their reward is with Allāh. You then produced one of the most important principles of the religion responsible for bringing together any disagreement between two contenders. This principle only escaped you when you had to associate it with all the criticism which you have established against the Sufis when you said, ‘the matter is about intention’.

 

Based on this acknowledgement, it is necessary upon you not to distort any aim, considering that the intention of the person is sincere and purely for the sake of Allāh. In accordance with the authentic narration of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him), ‘Actions are but by intention, and every man shall have but that which he intends.’ Thus, he whose migration is for Allāh and His Messenger ......’ It is also reported in the narration of Abu Huraira (may Allāh be pleased with him), ‘People will be resurrected according to their intention’ and with this principle it becomes very clear to us, what the objective of a question in all matters of interpretative judgement [101] and controversial issues is. There is not a believer except that he tries his utmost in that which can bring him closer to Allāh Most High. The matter is about intention, as you have mentioned. Then you mentioned this in a number of Prophetic narrations, containing the pure tawhidof Allāh, like the saying of the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) ‘And when you ask, ask Allāh and when you seek help, seek help from Allāh.’

 

It is this Prophetic narration and others similar to it upon which the axis of Sufism turns. I have not seen anyone more protective over the pure tawhid than the Sufis. Their writings are the most just proof and the one who has not become immersed in their sciences will never be completely free from a faith that is tarnished. It is for this reason that the Imām of this order (Abū al-Hasan Al-Shadhili) said, ‘The one who is not immersed in this knowledge dies on the brink of major sin’.

 

Then you mentioned the main reason why the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) prohibited the visiting of graves during the early period of Islam saying,

‘Some of the scholars of religion say that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) prohibited the visiting of graves during the early period of Islam, because the pagan Arabs used to exalt the graves and possibly worshipped them. Therefore he (blessings and peace be upon him) safeguarded the faith of the believers through prohibition and when the situation was stabilized, he (blessing and peace be upon him) made visiting permissible.’

 

This is a probability and to me there has appeared another probability, that the Messenger of Allāh (blessings and peace be upon him) prohibited the visiting of graves during the early period of Islam, because none of the idolaters’ graves were worth visiting. When the graves became over crowded with Muslims and their martyrs, he (blessings and peace be upon him) then made it permissible in order for them to find their blessings and stand at their tombs, seeing it as a reflection and a reminder and Allāh knows best.

 

Then you started with the establishment of a new rule when you said,

‘And since ignorance has become prevalent, nothing is left of knowledge except for the name and the faith has become weak because of the belief that the (deceased) Shaykh who is visited is able to cause harm and bring benefit. So the visiting of these graves in general is prohibited, because the cause [102] goes with the effect in the case of existence and non-existence. What adds to that is the meeting of males and females and many a times this becomes the intended purpose.’

 

This is a declaration coming from you, making it permissible to change the law from 'recommended' to 'prohibited' and the like. This is a means which creates the fear that the religion of Allāh should become a target in the hands of those who want to manipulate it. They change the law when an uncertainty arises, either by a negative or positive cause. By Allāh as your witness, have those Sufis whose deeds you have quoted, ever expressed the permissibility of a lawful to become unlawful or an unlawful to become lawful? Yes they say so, but a matter that is less significant than that is when they make the assemblies of dhikr permissible and the loud reading of La ilaha illa Allāh and what is of its kind. You have classified them amongst the group of misleading innovations. The truth is that what you have established with regard to this case is more deserving of being called innovation.

 

As for your justification with regard to the prohibition of visiting, because of the fact that the general people believe the (deceased) Shaykh who is visited is able to give and deprive and so on. You have already mentioned this in the beginning regarding that which is forbidden. I certainly do not think that the like of such beliefs could be found among the general public individually. The muslims in general only believe in the existence of intermediaries between them and Allāh, Most High. They refer to them in the important matters because they have not yet reached the station where mediation is omitted, like in the case of your station which you have reached as you claim. It is for this reason that they do not seek intercession except with that which can bring them closer to Allāh.

 

Mixing of the sexes

As for your saying ‘… and what adds to this is the mixing of males and females …’ your duty is to make this the only reason for the prohibition of visiting the graves, but not an absolute prohibition other than the restriction of the meeting. This is certainly the most harmful thing that needs attention, because the meeting of males and females is obviously harmful. The mixing of women particularly cannot be condoned, let alone generally. Then you sought the evidence that visiting is non-beneficial,[103] in the quotation of Ibn `Arabi al-Hātimi where he says, ‘The dead cannot benefit you because benefit arises from deeds and his deeds are severed’. So it is evident from this that your prohibition from visiting is not due to the lack of fulfillment of conditions but, it is only your belief that the dead cannot benefit at all. Otherwise you would not have quoted the saying of Ibn `Arabi.

 

I do not say he is wrong, but what I do say is the wrong understanding of what is meant by Ibn Arabi's saying, that no benefit can be derived from the dead as with regards to that which concerns the education of the disciple and his traveling in the path of Allāh. Therefore it is made conditional that the murshid, whom he accompanies, should be a Knower of the Path, and the stipulation of life is a condition for the companionship. This benefit is not attainable except from the one who is alive. But as for the benefit which is an expression of mediation and intercession towards Allāh Most High through the elect of His creation, seeking blessings through their obedience, is an acknowledgement of the Law. Nay, the Law has permitted us to seek blessings, in order to obtain access to Allāh Most High through that which has absolutely no life like the Black Stone and the Sacred House for example, and that of its kind. Let alone that it should prohibit us from seeking intercession and blessings through the pure souls and the illuminated bodies. I caution you indeed that you should interpret the saying of Ibn Arabi to be, ‘absolutely non-beneficial in the case of seeking intercession and blessings through every dead being’, since it would include the generality of those whom Allāh has favoured among His Prophets, the Sincere (Lovers) the martyrs and the righteous.

 

Do you not see that Allāh has revealed unto the one who was at the summit of the most distinguished among them ‘Truly thou wilt die (One day) and truly they (too) will die (one day)’ (39:30). Thus do you see me finding you generalising a statement without considering that to which your statement is legally binding. But this statement of yours is inadequate to the minds of the Ahl al-Sunnah because the successors (Khalaf) of the Ahl al-Sunnah will never seize to take the example from their worthy ancestors (As-Salaf) and seeking blessings through their honour except when there will be no one left on the face of the earth who will say Allāh! Allāh![104] according to the Prophetic narration. In any case you continued going to great lengths in defaming the Sufis, proving that there is no benefit in their meetings during their lifetime, cautioning from being in their company and proving ill benefit in their meeting during their lifetime. You feared that it might be suspected that visiting them after death, they might bring benefit, so you quoted the saying of Ibn Arabi, ‘Verily the dead cannot benefit you’. It has however become clear, from what you have gathered, that there is no benefit in them during their lifetime or when they are dead, and this is the judgment which you have passed, but Allāh will judge what is beyond that.

 

Then you mentioned one of the unlawful innovations ‘the shaving of the beard or clipping it to the skin and leaving the moustache’. So I say, as for your mentioning of shaving the beard, it ought to be called an innovation because it clashes with a transmitted Sunnah, which is 'the hanging of the beard and the trimming of the moustache' in the Prophet's command in more than one Prophetic narration. If the doer of such an act understands, he will know of his own accord that he has committed a innovation because he has no text at hand which he could rely on. I sincerely wish that our scholars of fiqh should pay attention to matters like these, because if such an act is generally abominable, then it is more abominable exclusively.

 

I then see that you have been uninterested in mentioning that snuff, which is popularly used in our times, is an innovation. In my opinion nothing has prevented you from determining the text on this issue, unless you have considered it as approved, or that you have found for it a support in the Sunnah, God forbid! Or else you would have condemned the user with the strongest condemnation, meaning it in every painful statement and it might hopefully be that way, if by Allāh's will life becomes prolonged. After it would be confirmed that it is a blameworthy innovation, because I see that you take great care in guarding the Sunnah - acting in accordance with the saying of the Messenger of Allāh blessings and peace be upon him[105]’You must follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khalifs and cling stubbornly to it.’ I do not know what it is with regards to that which your tongue has uttered in ripping apart the honour of the Sufis and seeking to discover their faults. Is it the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh blessings and peace be upon him or of the rightly guided Khalifs? Allāh forbid!

 

Allāh says, scaring away the believers from mentioning their brothers with evil, ‘Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead Brother? Nay, ye would abhor it… ’ [49:12]. But you allowed yourself to be seduced, or should we say that your devil inspired you to commit this vice, claiming that you are alerting people and warning them against being deceived by the Sufis, because Allāh has revealed unto you their secrets. So you found them to be opposite to what they outwardly display. Even if we should consider this belief to be confirmed in the heart of the one who accepts your belief. Having a bad opinion of those attached to Allāh, or pretending to be righteous whoever he might be, until all its characteristics has been fulfilled in this despicable state among the latter followers. Then it would not be unlikely that such a believer incline towards the ancestors.

 

What is certain is that if this was in the time of the Prophets and the Messengers, his view on them would never increase his view on the pious people of his time. It is not unlikely that he would be among those who said about the Messenger of their time ‘they are nothing but liars’ and so forth. I thank Allāh for your sake that the era of the Messengers has passed, otherwise you would be amongst the losers. After you insinuated, spoke frankly, alluded to and then expounded, the goal in all this is only to prohibit people from being Sufis and associating with them during their lifetime, or visiting them when they are dead. After you have exerted yourself vehemently, you then mentioned a section cautioning in it people who might want to imitate them. You said,

‘The third chapter - Imitating the pious people, is amongst the misleading actions]’ Up until now I do not understand the meaning of this construction,[106]except that I do know that it is a very unusual style since you first mentioned a chapter on ‘Imitation of disbelievers are amongst the misleading actions’, and now you mention ‘Imitation of the pious which is amongst the misleading actions’.

 

By God, this is amazing! What are all these misguidance which have encompassed the Muslims? That which we know is the good with which the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) came ‘He who imitates people is considered to be of them’, even though he has never reached their degree and it is for this reason that the poet said,

‘ So imitate the pious even if you are not like them.

Verily, the imitation of the distinguished ones, is salvation’.

 

I wish I knew what the practice of the instructed Sunnah is, if not to be an expression of imitating pious ancestors in their words, actions and states. That which might have prevented you from the true meaning of the wording is your poor expression. It might have wanted to say, appearing to be pious with a wicked intention is amongst the misleading acts. Good arrangement of expression failed you, just as having a good opinion escaped you. Otherwise the concept of imitating the pious as being amongst the misleading actions, has never been said by anyone besides you. As for your transmission of the saying of the author of ‘al-Madkhal’, in accordance to what will follow, is in non-conformity to your translation of the chapter and neither does it correspond to your belief of the doctrine of Sufism. You have distorted it from its very source while the writer of ‘al-Madkhal’ is opposed to that. He has acknowledged it with full acknowledgement and his rejection relates only to what is ascribed to that and it might in fact be the contrary in the same matter.

 

Has he not documented a chapter prior to the chapter which you have transmitted from him, in which he says ‘Know that the path of the People is pure’ and from this can be gathered that he has honoured the doctrine of Sufism with great honour. He has only rejected the people of his time who did not fulfill the conditions required by their contemporaries and it is not unlikely that there will be intruders and innovators in every age.

 



 
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