Conditions of being a Shaykh (Part 5)

2. The second condition is that he must have a’dālah (justness) and taqwā. It is fardh upon him to abstain from major sins and to not continuously commit minor ones.

Shah Abdul Aziz says:

Taqwa is a condition for the murshid because the purpose behind bayah is to purify the heart. Humans are naturally inclined to adopt the ways and habits of those with whom they spend time. In rectification of the heart words without actions will not do. Therefore, a murshid who is not characterized by good morals, the a’maal (actions) of khair (goodness) and who only talks and delivers speeches has not realized the whole purpose behind bayah.

3. The third condition is that he strives for the Akhirah and abstains from the allures of the material world. He is steadfast in practicing the muakkadah (strongly emphasized practices) and the adhkaar (means of Allah’s I remembrance) narrated in the authentic ahadith. His heart is connected with Allah I and he possesses the malika (gift) of perpetual awareness of Allah I.

4. The fourth condition is that he only orders what is permissible and prohibits what is forbidden. He is strong of opinion and not wishy-washy, trying to please everyone. He is also extremely intelligent and one who can be trusted.

5. The fifth condition is that he has stayed in the company of a kamil (complete) murshid and learned adab from him for a lengthy period of time. He gained nur of the heart and tranquility from him. The company of the auliya-allah is necessary because the Sunnah of Allah I is that one cannot acquire something unless he is in the company of those who already possess it. A person cannot gain knowledge unless he sits with the ulama, and likewise we can say the same of every skill that is learned; one cannot be a blacksmith until he learns from a blacksmith and a carpenter unless he is in the company of a carpenter.

6. It is not necessary that the shaikh is able to perform miraculous deeds or does not work (i.e., have a job). This is because miraculous acts are the result of exhaustive mujahadaat and spiritual exercises. They are not a sign of kamal (perfection) in the shaikh, and to leave one’s work or occupation is against the Shari’ah. One should not be deceived by the darwaish (dervishes) who are overwhelmed by their spiritual states and do not strive to make a living; their lifestyle cannot be taken as evidence of permissibility to withdraw from worldly life and making a living. Islam teaches us to be content with whatever we have, to be careful of how we earn our wealth, to avoid unlawful wealth, a job that earns haram, and to avoid doubtful wealth.

Shah Abdul Aziz says:

It is not necessary for a shaikh to lead a monastic life or devote himself to harsh and difficult conditions and devotions like perpetual fasting, spending the night in prayer, practicing celibacy, avoiding delectable foods, and running off into the jungle or mountains as many people of our time think is required to be a true sufi. This is because these acts fall under tashadud fil Deen (extremism in the Deen), and tashadud ala nafs (hardship on the Self) is not permissible. The Blessed Prophet r said, “Do not restrict yourself so rigidly that Allah I grabs you harshly.” He also said, “Monasticism has no place in Islam.”