Sufism and Sacred Law

This is another article in the chapter Sufism from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.

w9.5 (‘Abd al-Wahhab Sha’rani:) The path of the Sufis is built of the Koran and sunna, and is based upon living according to the morals of the prophets and purified ones. It may not be blamed unless it violates an explicit statement from the Koran, sunna, or scholarly consensus (def: b7), exclusively. If it does not contravene one of these, the very most that one may say of it is that it is an understanding a Muslim man has been given, so let whoever wishes act upon it, and whoever does not refrain, this being as true of works as of understanding. So no pretext remains for condemning it except one’s own low opinion of others (dis: r2.14), or interpreting what they do as ostentation, which is unlawful. Whoever carefully examines the branches of knowledge of the Folk of Allah Most High will find that none of them are beyond the pale of the Sacred Law. How should they lie beyond the pale of the Sacred Law when it is the law that connects the Sufis to Allah at every moment? Rather, the reason for the doubts of someone unfamiliar with the way of the Sufis that it is of the very essence of the Sacred Law is the fact that such a person has not thoroughly mastered the knowledge of the law. This is why Junayd (Allah Most High have mercy on him) said, “This knowledge of ours is built of the Koran and sunna,” in reply to those of his time or any other who imagine that it is beyond the pale of the Koran and sunna.

The Folk unanimously concur that none is fit to teach in the path of Allah Mighty and Majestic save someone with comprehensive mastery of the Sacred Law, who knows its explicit and implicit rulings, which of them are of general applicability and which are particular, which supersede others and which are superseded. He must also have a thorough grounding in Arabic, be familiar with its figurative modes and similes, and so forth. So every true Sufi is a scholar is Sacred Law, though the reverse is not necessarily true.

To summarize, no one denies the states of the Sufis except someone ignorant of the way they are. Qushayri says, “No era of the Islamic period has had a true sheikh of this group, save that the Imams of the scholars of that time deferred to him, showed humility towards him, and visited him for the benefit of his spiritual grace (baraka). If the Folk had no superiority or election, the matter would have been the other way around” (alTabaqat al-kubra al-musamma bi Lawaqih alanwar fi tabaqat al-akhyar (y124), 1.4).

Hadith: Obligation of Jihad 15

The Hadith series is based on Bill Warner’s book The Political Traditions of Mohammed – The Hadith for Unbelievers. It is a compilation of all the Hadith (Traditions) related to non-Muslims. The Political Traditions of Mohammed contains both sets of Islamic ethics – one for the Muslim and one for the unbelievers.

Chapter 2 Jihad

All the Kafirs who fight against jihad are doomed to burn in Hell for defend­ing their culture and civilization.

B4,52,72 Mohammed told us that Allah revealed to him that “any holy warrior killed will go to Paradise.” Umar asked the prophet, “Is it true that Muslims killed in battle will go to Paradise and Kafirs who are killed in battle will go to Hell?” Mohammed said, “Yes.”


Famous Muslims Who Were Sufis

 This is another article in the chapter Sufism from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.

w9.4 (n:) As for the meaning of proving true, its sheikhs say that Sufism is not a fixity on a particular type of worship, but rather the attachment of the heart to Allah Most High, mere honesty therein demanding that whenever something is preferred by the standards of the Sacred Law for someone in one’s circumstances, one does it. This is why we find that Sufis have served Islam in a wide variety of capacities. Many of the scholars cited throughout the present volume, for example, also had the higher education of Sufism, among them Imam Muhammad Amin Ibn ‘Abidin, Sheikh aHslam Zakariyya Ansari, Muhammad Abul Mawahib, Sheikh Ibrahim Bajuri, Muhammad Sa’id Burhani, ‘Abd al-Wakil Durubi, Imam Ghazali, Muhammad Hamid, Imam Abu Hanifa, Sheikh Muhammad Hashimi, Imam Ibn Hajar Haytami, Ibn ‘Ajiba, Ibn ‘Ata’ lilah, Imam ‘Izz ibn· ‘Abd ai-Salam, the author of our basic text Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Muhammad ‘Abdullah Jurdani, Muhammad Amin Kurdi, Imam Malik, ‘Abd alRa’uf Munawi, Zayn ai-Din Mallibari, Yusuf Nabahani, ‘Abd al-Ghani Nabulsi, Khalil Nahlawi, Imam Nawawi, ‘Abd al-Wahhab Sha’rani, Imam Taqi al-Din Subki, Jalal ai-Din Suyuti, Hakim Tirmidhi, and others.

Among the Sufis who aided Islam with sword as well as pen, according to B.G. Martin’s Muslim Brotherhoods in Nineteenth Century Africa (y86), are such men as the Naqshbandi sheikh Shamil Daghestani, who fought a prolonged war against the Russians in the Caucasus in the nineteenth century; Sayyid Muhammad’ Abdullah ai-Somali, a sheikh of the Salihiyya order who led Muslims against the British and Italians in Somalia from 1899 to 1920; the Qadiri sheikh ‘Uthman ibn Fodi, who led jihad in Northern Nigeria from 1804 to 1808 to establish Islamic rule; the Qadiri sheikh ‘Abd ai-Qadir al-Jaza’iri, who led the Algerians against the French from 1832 to 1847; the Darqawi faqir ai-Hajj Muhammad al-Ahrash, who fought the French in Egypt in 1799; the Tijani sheikh aI-Hajj ‘Umar Tal, who led Islamic jihad in Guinea, Senegal, and Mali from 1852 to 1864; and the Qadiri sheikh Ma’ al-‘ A ynayn al-Qalq ami, who helped marshal Muslim resistance to the French in northern Mauritania and southern Morocco from 1905 to 1909.

Among the Sufis whose missionary work Islamized entire regions are such men as the founder of the Sanusiyya order, Muhammad’ Ali Sanusi, whose efforts and jihad from 1807 to 1859 consolidated Islam as the religion of peoples from the Libyan Desert to sub-Saharan Africa; the Shadhili sheikh Muhammad Ma’ruf and Qadiri sheikh Uways al-Barawi, whose efforts spread Islam westward and inland from the East African Coast; and the hundreds of anonymous Naqshbandi sheikhs who taught and preserved Islam among the peoples of what is now the southern Soviet Union and who still serve the religion there despite official pressure.

It is plain from the example of these and similar men that the attachment of the heart to Allah, which is the main emphasis of Sufism, does not hinder spiritual works of any kind, but may rather provide a real basis for them. And Allah alone gives success.


Many people in the West have an idea that Sufism is a separate sect of Islam, somewhat spiritual and peaceful. This is how Sufism is described, by an Islamic scholar in the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller:


w9.1 (Muhammad Amin Kurdi:) Sufism is a knowledge through which one knows the states of the human soul, praiseworthy or blameworthy, how to purify it from the blameworthy and ennoble it by acquiring the praiseworthy, and to journey and proceed to Allah Most High, fleeing unto Him. Its fruits are the heart’s development, knowledge of God through direct experience and ecstasy, salvation in the next world, triumph through gaining Allah’s pleasure, the attainment of eternal happiness, and illuminating and purifying the heart so that noble matters disclose themselves, extraordinary states are revealed, and one perceives what the insight of others is blind to (Tanwir al-qulub fi mu’amala ‘Allam al-Ghuyub (y74),406).

w9.2 (Nawawi:) The way of Sufism is based on five principles: having godfearingness privately and publicly, living according to the sunna in word and deed, indifference to whether others accept or reject one, satisfaction with Allah Most High in dearth and plenty, and returning to Allah in happiness or affliction. The principles of treating the illnesses of the soul are also five: lightening the stomach by diminishing one’s food and drink, taking refuge in Allah Most High from the unforeseen when it befalls, shunning situations involving what one fears to fall victim to, continually asking for Allah’s forgiveness and His blessings upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) night and day with full presence of mind,. And keeping the company of him who guides one to Allah (al-Maqasid/i bayan ma yajibu ma’rifatuhu min aI-din (yl06), 83-84, 87).

w9.3 (Ahmad Zarruq:) Aspects of Sufism, defined, delineated, and explained, amount to nearly two thousand, all of them reducible to sincerity in turning to Allah Most High, something of which they are only facets, and Allah knows best. The necessary condition of sincerity of approach is that it be what the Truth Most High accepts, and by the means He accepts. Now, something lacking its necessary condition cannot exist, “And He does not accept unbelief for His servants” (Koran 39:7), so one must realize true faith (iman), “and if you show gratitude, He will accept it of you” (Koran 39:7), which entails applying Islam. So there is no Sufism except through comprehension of Sacred Law, for the outward rules of Allah Most High are not known save through it, and there is no comprehension of Sacred Law without Sufism, for works are nothing without sincerity of approach, as expressed by the words of Imam Malik (Allah have mercy on him):

“He who practices Sufism without learning Sacred Law corrupts his faith, while he who learns Sacred Law without practicing Sufism corrupts himself. Only he who combines the two proves true.” (Jqaz al-himam fi sharh al-Hikam (y54), 5-6)

Justice: Delegating Authority To Those Under The Caliph

This is the last article in the chapter Justice from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


025.7 (Mawardi:) The authority delegated to a minister of state may be of two kinds, full or limitary.

(1) Full ministerial authority is when the caliph appoints as minister an individual who is entrusted with independently managing matters through his own judgement and implementing them according to his own personal reasoning (ijtihad).

Appointing such an individual is not legally invalid, for Allah Most High says, quoting His prophet Moses (Allah bless him and give him peace), family,

Aaron my brother; fortify me through him and have him share my task” (Koran 20:29-32),

and if valid respecting the task of prophethood, it is valid a fortiori regarding the function of the caliphate. Another reason is that the direction of the Islamic Community (Umma), which is the caliph’s duty, cannot be fully conducted alone without delegating responsibility; for him to appoint a minister to participate therein is sounder than attempting to manage everything himself, a minister to help keep him from following mere personal caprice, that he may thus be further from error and safer from mistakes.

The conditions necessary for such a minister are the same as those for a caliph. Excepting lineage alone (dis: 025.3(e)), for the minister must implement his views and execute his judgements, and must accordingly be capable of expert legal reasoning (ijtihad). He must also possess an additional qualification to those required for the caliphate, namely, by being specially qualified to perform the function he is appointed to.

(2) Limitary ministerial authority is a lesser responsibility and has fewer conditions, since the role of personal judgement therein is confined to the views of the caliph and their implementation, this minister being, as it were, an intermediary between the caliph, his subjects, and their appointed rulers; delivering orders, performing directives, implementing judgements, informing of official appointments, mustering armies, and informing the caliph in turn of important events, that the minister may deal with them as the caliph orders. He is an assistant in carrying out matters and is not appointed to command them or have authority over them. Such a ministry does not require an appointment but only the caliph’s permission.

025.8 When the caliph appoints a ruler over a region or city, the ruler’s authority may be of two kinds, general or specific. The general may in turn be of two types, authority in view of merit, which is invested voluntarily; and authority in view of seizure of power, invested out of necessity.

025.9 Authority in view of merit is that which is freely invested by the caliph through his own choice, and entails delegating a given limitary function and the use of judgement within a range of familiar alternatives. This investiture consists of the caliph appointing an individual to independently govern a city or region with authority over all its inhabitants and discretion in familiar affairs for all matters of government, including seven functions:

(1) raising and deploying armies on the frontiers and fixing their salaries, if the caliph has not already done so;

(2) reviewing laws and appointing judges and magistrates;

(3) collecting the annual rate (khiraj) from those allowed to remain on land taken by Islamic conquests, gathering zakat from those obliged to pay, appointing workers to handle it, and distributing it to eligible recipients;

(4) protecting the religion and the sacrosanct, preserving the religion from alteration and substitution;

(5) enforcing the prescribed legal measures connected with the rights of Allah and men;

(6) leading Muslims at group and Friday prayers, whether personally or by representative;

(7) facilitating travel to the hajj for both pilgrims from the region itself and those passing through from elsewhere, that they may proceed to the pilgrimage with all necessary help;

(8) and if the area has a border adjacent to enemy lands, an eighth duty arises, namely to undertake jihad against enemies, dividing the spoils of battle among combatants, and setting aside a fifth (def: 010.3) for deserving recipients.

025.10 Authority in view of seizure of power,

invested out of necessity, is when a leader forcibly takes power in an area over which the caliph subsequently confirms his authority and invests him with its management and rule. Such a leader attains political authority and management by takeover, while the caliph, by giving him authorization, is enabled to enforce the rules of the religion so that the matter may be brought from invalidity to validity and from unlawfulness to legitimacy. And if this process is beyond what is normally recognized as true investiture of authority with its conditions and rules, it yet preserves the ordinances of the Sacred Law and rules of the religion that may not be left vitiated and compromised (al-Ahkam al-sultaniyya wa al-wi/ayat aldiniyya (y87) , 25-39).

Justice: The Invalidity Of A Plurality Of Caliphs

This is another article in the chapter Justice from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


025.6 (K: It is not permissible for two or more individuals to be invested with the caliphate (H: at one time), even when they are in different regions, or remote from one another, because of the disunity of purpose and political dissolution it entails. If two are simultaneously invested as caliph, neither’s caliphate is valid. If invested serially, the caliphate of the first of them is legally valid and the second is disciplined (def: 017) for ommitting an unlawful act, together with those who swear fealty to him, if they are aware of the first’s investiture as caliph) (Mughni al-muhtaj ila ma’rifa ma’ani alfaz al-Minhaj (y73), 4.132, and Hawashi al-Shaykh ‘Abd aI-Hamid aI-Sharwani wa al-Shaykh Ahmad ibn Qasim al-‘Abbadi ‘ala Tuhfa al-muhtaj bisharh al-Minhaj (y2), 9.77-78).

Justice: The Obligatory Character Of Obedience To The Caliph

This is another article in the chapter Justice from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


025.5 (K: It is obligatory to obey the commands and interdictions of the caliph (N: or his representative (def: 025.7-10)) in everything that is lawful (A: meaning it is obligatory to obey him in everything that is not unlawful, offensive, or merely in his own personal interests), even if he is unjust, because of the hadith,

“Hear and obey, even if the ruler placed over you is an Ethiopian slave with amputated extremities,”

and because the purpose of his authority is Islamic unity, which could not be realized if obeying him were not obligatory. It is also obligatory for him to give sincere counsel to those under him to the extent that it is possible.)