Conditions of being a Shaykh (Part 4) : More Strict Conditions by Shah Wali Allah

In Al-Qaul Al-Jameel, Shah Waliullah Dehlavi narrated harsher conditions for being a shaikh. The summary of this is mentioned in Al-Shifaa ul-A’leel. Below is mention of some of those conditions for one who takes bayah (i.e., a murshid).

1 .Knowledge of the Quran and hadith, and this does not mean a comprehensive knowledge of the Quran, but sufficient enough that he has understood the Quran through one of the tafasir like Tafsir Madaarik or Jalalain or some other voluminous or summarized tafsir and that he has studied the said tafsir from a learned scholar. He should also be knowledgeable in the field of ahadith that he has studied Kitab Masaabih or Mashaariq and knows the opinions of the scholars on the different ahadith.

The translator (of Al-Qaul Al-Jameel) says that the condition ‘knows the opinions of the scholars’ is to know that any opinion aside from the opinions of the four Imams is a deviation and against the consensus of the Ummah. Shah Abdul Aziz says that one who is informed of the position of scholars (on issues) fulfills the condition of having sufficient knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah.

After this, Shah Waliullah Dehlvi reminds us that the condition for the murshid to be an alim is that the purpose of bayah itself is to guide the murid towards goodness and prohibit him from wrongful things, to break his bad habits and to imbue in him good ones. Then the most important is to get the murid to retain these good habits and practice them in all the different aspects mentioned above. Thus, how can a shaikh who is not an alim and does not possess the knowledge of good and bad, right and wrong, be able to guide a murid to the right path?

The translator says:

Subhanallah! Look at how the situation has changed in our times. The fuqara of today are obsessed with the notion that ilm is unnecessary in tasawwuf and, in fact, think it is a hurdle in this path. They say that Shari’ah is one thing and tariqat is another. How can they say such a thing when all one finds in the books of the past sufiah like Qut-ul-Quloob, A’waarif, Ihya-ul-Uloom, Kimiyah-il-Sa’adat, Futuh-ul-Ghaib, and Ghaniat-ul-Talebeen (by Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani), is that Shari’ah is a condition for tasawwuf and tariqat. Even ignorance cringes at such examples of grave ignorance. They don’t have any idea what is written in the books of the sufiah whose names they chant night and day, more than they recite the Quran.

Maulana Nawab Qutbuddin (the translator of Al-Qaul Al-Jameel) writes in a footnote:

It says, in the book Tariqat Muhammadi that the forefather of the family of sufiah, Shaikh Junaid Baghdadi says,

“Whoever has not memorized the Quran and written ahadith cannot be followed in tasawwuf because this path and knowledge of ours is mutually intertwined with the Quran and Sunnah.”

Another one of his sayings is, “Any tariqat which opposes the Shari’ah is kufr.”

Siri Saqti said, “Tasawwuf is the name of three qualities:

1. The nur of ma’rifat (gnosis) does not extinguish the nur of taqwa.

2. One does not speak the secrets of the bāṭin, if they violate the explicit meanings of the Quran.

3. The karamaat of a person does not transgress the mahaarim (prohibitions) of Allah

Many other sayings of the famous auliya-allah are mentioned in Jaami ul Jaami ul Tafaasir.

Shah Waliullah continues:

Then the murshid must be one who has remained in the company of the mutaqqi ulama, learned adab from them, and diligently studied halal and haram. He trembles in fear when he hears the orders and prohibitions from the Quran and Sunnah, and transforms his sayings, actions, and his whole life in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah. If a murshid is not a scholar it is expected of him to possess that much knowledge as is necessary to ensure he leads his life according to the Quran and Sunnah.

End of the 1st condition