Conditions of being a Shaykh (Part 2)

The conditions of the Shaykh-hood, are four: Correct knowledge (‘ilmun saḥīḥ), unadulterated spiritual experience (dhawqun ṣarīḥ), high aspiration (himmatun ‘āliyyah) and a pleasing state (ḥālatun mardhiyyah) as mentioned by Zarrūq r.a.

Ash-Sharīshi said in his ra-iyyah,

“The Shaykh has signs which if absent, then he is merely travelling in the darkness of whims,

If he has no knowledge of the outward nor inward, cast him in the depths of the sea.”

As for outward knowledge, it is only required for the Shaykh to have whatever is enough for himself and what the disciple needs for his journey to his Lord which is the amount that cannot be dispensed with from the rulings of ṭahārah, ṣalāh etc. it is not a requirement for him to be deeply knowledgeable of the Shari’ah. Shaykh Abu Yazīd r.a. said, “I kept company of Abu ‘Ali Al-Musnadi and I would inform him of the matters which help him perform his obligations while he would teach me tauhid and the realities purely.”

It is known that Shaykh Ibn ‘Abbad (Ar-Rundi) was not granted the opening except at the hands of an ‘ummiy man. The tarbiya of many Awliya’ who are ‘ummiy with regards to the outward knowledge has indeed been proven true. As for the inward knowledge, what is sought from it is complete mastery because, the very intended meaning of the term “Shaykh” is the possessor of this (inward) knowledge. The student only seeks the Shaykh, to make him travel and teach him the knowledge of the path and the reality. So the Shaykh must have a complete knowledge of Allah, His Attributes, Names through spiritual experience and unveiling, (likewise) the knowledge of the dangers of path, trickery of the nafs, shaitan, paths of spiritual ecstasies, actualization of the stations as it has been established in his field. The world is not devoid of them as otherwise claimed. Allah knows best.

from Al-Baḥr Al-Madīd, Ibn ‘Ajība