August 3, 2012
The esteemed Shaykh Muhammad Mendes recently shared a quote that generated some amazing discussion regarding the Tariqa.
”Sufi tariqahs (schools of Islamic mysticism) provided a most valuable and unique service and may still continue to do so in certain situations. An intelligent, educated and self-disciplined seeker can discover original Islam and be transformed by it without belonging to a Sufi tariqah. That does not preclude the need for teachers, guides and spiritual coaching…
I think we are living at an age of ‘post-tariqah’ and the rediscovery of transformative worship and enlightenment through living Qur’an.”
– Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri
The discussion is very long, but I have selected some specific comments that struck me:
“There will never be a post Tariqa age Sidi and you know this. The Tariqah is the purest form of traditional Islam. “
“If anything Tariqah is more important in this time than any other, in traditional Islamic systems there were numerous institutions to support a man’s Islam, now most of those institutions have been destroyed. One of the most important surviving institution is the Tariqah which preserves the spiritual foundation of Islam which all the other institutions can draw strength and be rebuilt upon. There is plenty of evidence that the Turuq knew the coming of this age and prepared themselves for it, opening the opportunity for bay’ah to the masses to save their iman. Very few men can see themselves for who they truly are and many have such high opinions of themselves that they mistake themselves for those few. Placing your hands in the hands of those who know themselves and let you know who you are is essential for any real self-development in this age or any other.”
“I couldn’t disagree more strongly with statement!! Wow who ever this imam is has totally lost touch with the reality of this umma. We have never in our history needed them more. All these sects claiming Islam like these wahabbies and so on and so fourth. This statement is unbelievable! That would just open the flood gates to un authentic Islamic spirituality with no chain of transmitted of authority going back to the Rasuul (S). It’s just like the wahabbiys say we only need Quran and sunna. Purely to detach us from our scholars ulema and Shaykhs.”
“Shaykh Fadhlalla does not discount the place of the “Turuk”, nor does he deny the veracity and important role they have played, are playing and their role in the future. What he is addressing is the idea that intimacy with the creator and access to knowledge is available to people not necessarily being associated with any Tariqa, Those whom Allah has opened and gifted His knowledge, through possessing, sincerity, yearning, discipline and love. To think that access to Him is only through the Tariqa is placing limits on where there are none. Many throughout the world are begging at the door of Mercy every day and night, it would be arrogant and elitist to imagine for a moment that His access to His servants, require a validation from a Tariqa. Shaykh Fadhlalla is also sharing a vision of a time (and that time will come with the advent of the era of our Imam Mehdi) where the need for Tariqa will no longer be relevant.”
“Admittedly I am a bit perplexed by the quote. While I agree that “tariqah” is not always necessary – e.g. Nawawi, and the others Sidi Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes mentioned, and that one can achieve without a Shaykh in rare circumstances especially through Salawat upon the Nabi (saaws) as attested to by many of the Shuyukh, I do see – more than ever – a deep need amongst the laity of Muslims (including myself) for a Murshid. This Ummah is suffering from many diseases that only the insight and intuition of an ‘aarif can cure!”
“Truly, all the reactions and positions to this very interesting perspective by Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri (may Allah preserve him) are not ‘mutually exclusive’ if we broaden our vision (basira) enough. I think what should be noted here is the underlying ‘need’ for bringing the spiritual light and teachings found in turuq to a more popular level for Muslims and Islam in the West and in Modernity all over the world, is readily apparent. Certainly the turuq will continue to preserve their teachings, but their function to ‘reach out’ more I think will expand iA. As crude and exclusivist forms of Islamic formalism become rampant in which ‘religious anger’ masquerades as piety, I think the more profound and inclusivist manifestations of Islam need to manifest, in which Prophetic compassion (hilm) and wisdom win the day. And God Knows Best.”
“My understand of tariqah is that it’s never been obligatory on anyone but rather the safest and fastest way to reaching Allah providing the seeker is sincere. There have always been great men who have reached wiliyah without ‘taking a tariqah’. Many say this is the case with Imam Nawawi and Ibn Hajr al Haytami to name a few. We can look at the great wali of our time, Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj and see the purity he has been able to acquire without ‘tariqah’. I don’t think anyone who knows claims tariqa is the only way. I still say that its what most people will need. The vast majority of people aren’t naturally endowed with the discipline necessary to just live the Qur’an and Sunnah rigorously applying everything they learn like a Shaykh Murabit al-Hajj.
I speak as a person who for years tried the ‘self help approach’. I for years read translation of Ihya Ulum ud deen, Tariq al-Jannah, Umdat ul-Bayyan and others trying to apply what I read without the guidance of a man who knows the way. Men like this are the extremely rare exception. Then when you factor in the times we are living in. The moral decay taking place around us, I cannot see how anyone could possibly feel that this is some ‘post tariqah’ age.”
Finally, a comment by Shaykh Muhammad Mendes and a response from one of the brothers, and his final response on the matter.
When I read the last response I got shivers. A close friend of mine spoke with Shaykh Mendes briefly at the Seekers Retreat this past spring. He was delievering his Shaykh’s Salams to Shaykh Mendes, and Shaykh Mendes returned the Salams, and asked my friend to tell his Shaykh to make Dua’ for the people who are (presently) taking care of the Mahdi… And Allah Knows Best!
Mendes: “I think Shaykh Fadhlallla is making a very profound statement. He never said tariqah has no benefit, he never said the Shuyukh of Tariqah have no place…he happens to be one himself. But he is stating that there is an open path to God outside of the sufi tariqahs that is available to those seeking the Essence of God. Other shuyukh have written and taught about this extensively, among them Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, Bediuzzaman Sa’id Nursi, and Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba (God be pleased with them all).
I have heard and read from Sufi shuyukh that Imam Mahdi (peace be upon him) will come with and teach nothing but the Pure Way (Deen Khalis) like the divine revelation (wahy) received by the Prophet (peace and blessings on him and his folk), and in effect abrogate all of the historical and current schools (mathahib) of theology, jurisprudence, and spirituality just as Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings on him and his family) abrogated the religions before him with the Universal Way.
Wouldn’t that be called a “post-tariqah” age, Sidi? Whether or not that time has come is not my argument, only its possibility concerns me here.
Interestingly, Shaykh Muhiyiddin ibn Arabi and Shaykh Abdul-Wahhab ash-Sha’rani both assert that it is the rigid followers of the mathahib that will be among the greatest opponents of Imam Mahdi (peace be upon him).”
Brother Luqman: “Yes, however that is in the time when there won’t even be Madhahib as the Mahdi will be both the Mujtahid Mutlaq and the Caliph, Amir and Qadi, Mufti, etc as is explained by Ash-Shar’ani in his Kashful Ghummah. So yes in this time I do agree, however before this la Adree and Allah always knows best.”
Mendes: “For some people the Mahdi is already all of those things (smile)”