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Tarikat and Tasauf

According to the former Azhar Syeikh, Dr. Abdul Halim Mahmud, in the book
‘Kitab al-Munqiz’, the word ‘tariqaat’ first only appeared two centuries after the word
‘tasauf’. Both of these words were initially referred to different meanings but were later
on considered synonymous.
At first the word ‘tasauf’ was used to explain the efforts and actions taken in order
to cleanse the soul up to the highest level attainable. It is taken from the root word ‘sofa’
which means ‘virtuous and clean from any impurities’, whilst the word ‘tarikat’ explains
the path used (taken) by someone whom is cleansing his soul according to the teachings
of his teacher. A man cleansing his soul is known as a ‘salik’ whilst the teacher who
taught him is known as a ‘mursyid’. When the knowledge of ‘tasauf’ became widespread
and the usage of the term ‘tasauf’ increased, both of these terms i.e. ‘tasauf’ and ‘tarikat’
were often used for similar reasons.
The spread of Islam in new frontiers such as Africa, Asia Minor and India
compelled the need to devise such a methodology that would exist as a fresh challenge
towards the development of culture, folklore and geography, as these new Islam
communities were deeply engrossed with various anismatic beliefs nonsense. This
development occurred in parallel with the spread of hadhorah, fiqh and other Islamic
knowledge. Matters that tore the fabric of society such as mysticism were the focus point
of the se communities. Alongside efforts to ‘turash’ (??) translate the heritage left by
ancient civilisations that concluded that man is able to take control of a hidden inner
strength via certain methods. Therefore Islamic scholars i.e. ulama’s succeeded in
discovering new innovative ways distinctly unique from the ways that were inherited
from their ‘musyrikin’ ancestors. These were looked upon by them as a new technology
brought by Islam. Allah S.W.T explains on this matter through these words from the

(Al-Nahl, verse 12)

“ And He has subjected to you the night and the day, the sun and the moon; and the stars
are subjected by His command. Surely, in these are proofs for people who understand.”

(Al-Jathiyah, verse 13)

“ And has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth; it is all as
a favour and kindness from Him. Verily, in it are signs for a people who think deeply.”

Tarikat as a Wajibul Wakt (An Obligation Within a Certain Period of Time)

A number of books (kitab) and teachers who teach that participation in a ‘tarikat’
are obligatory. In actuality the said obligation is ‘faridhatul wakt’ (compulsory for a
limited or certain time period), i.e. it is not ‘fardhu ain’ upon all Moslem individuals
everywhere at all times but in fact was only used in days gone by to uphold the holy
teachings of Islam. Hence, it is erroneous for a Moslem to see Abul Hassan al-Syazali
(1196-1258) from a grandeur and sainthood point of view as those qualities are gifts
bestowed upon him by Allah, but instead one must scrutinize the success of his self-
devised method of da’wah that was able to produce brave and courageous Mujahideens
who fought against the crusades. Although many of the followers of Hizb al-Bahr, taught
by him, drowned and sunk at sea, nonetheless, they were Mujahideens that were willing
to affiliate themselves to Islam’s sea armada even when they did not even know how to
swim. This is due to the fact that they had faith, through the teachings that they practiced
from Hizb al-Bahr, that one who upholds Allah’s religion would gain ‘nusrah’ albeit they
had foreseen the pain and suffering that fallen Mujahideen comrades had went through.
Al-Imam Abu Azaem Mohammad Madhi bin as-Sayyid Abdullah al-Mahjub bin
as-Sayyid Salleh had also exposed himself to various threats when he fought against the
English colonialists in Sudan and Egypt. When he foresaw that one of the ways to
salvage the predicament facing the Islam ummah was to affiliate oneself with ‘tarikat’, he
took that step with the intention for the sake of Islam. Syeikh Abdul Qadeer al-Jeelani
(1077-1166)- founder of one of the largest ‘tarikat’, had devised methods too himself .In
fact, a number of ‘tarikat’ teachers had introduced various methodologies.

The distinctions between tariqat and tasawuf and arguments

The methodological distinctions are not unusual in the reinforcement of da’wah.

However, it is not a source of fanaticism like arguments in Christianity.
Such arguments occur only due to the basic distinctions between both methodologies
regarding places, times and situations. Unfortunately, at numerous places and times, these
two differences contribute to the disintegration of Muslim solidarity. Several factors are
known to be associated with this condition.

1) A teaching that prohibit members from one particular tariqat to join tariqat due to
fear of touching soul distraction. Such teaching is inappropriate as Said bin
Mussayyab, a tabien learned from 70 companions of prophet saw and Al-Imam
Jalaluddin erudite from 6000 teachers
2) Ascribe other tariqat are not as good as theirs only because of extraordinary
capability of their syeikh (leader)
3) Holding on the principle that advantages of any particular thing is based on sign
or khawateer which is gained from dream solely though there are comprehensible
descriptions from Al-Quran and Hadith
4) Ascribe a person without tariqat never do zikr and have low prestige from Allah
5) Some of the tariqat groups are not fully understand the real meaning of Islam eg
not understand Islam in current jihad, assume that there is no politic in Islam and
solely meditation is better than living in the society or family
6) Some tariqat teach how to believe in their syeikh capability to open kasyaf,
futuhaat,wareed, karomah and others. Truly it is only happened after magical
assisting that is unlawful regarding to syara’ till they forget all things occur from
the decision of Allah.
The arrangement of zikr

Examples of ulama’ arrangement are


These routine are determines by several methods such as dreams, riadhah, experiences
and so on till the kaifat and fawaeed are convinced.

Foreign influences

Some people believe that tariqat is originated from wihdatul wujud and hulul eg an
opinion that states Ibn Arabi (Mahyuddeen Abu Bakar Mohammad bin Ali-1165-1240) is
the exponent of wihdatul wujud and hulul is objected by Islam in the historical
development of aqidah.
Consequently, it has been changed to fulfill the Islamic teaching. Nevertheless, it is still
seen as a holy teaching with dirty soul or dirty breath
Although, tajdid ie Islamic revolution has been occurred immemorially; critical
misapprehension still continue in miscellaneous Islamic world.
The soul of Islamic Syariat with the spirit of wihdatul wujud and hulul had been
corrected by Islamic ulama’ (intellectual) with a new kowlegde known as knowledge of
Despite this term eventually leads to confusion, it has played a role in tajdid

Khanqah and Arwaqaah arise greatly during the governance of Abbasiyyah

especially before the Salibiyyah battle. According to Dr. Hassan Al Basha in al madkhal
fi al ‘imarah wal funun saying that the main khanqaah such as Bebras Aljasyanker was
built in 706 H (1306 M and completed a year after).While the Ar-Buthah construction
looks alike rabatd in rabatd munsateer 180H9796M, the sausah rabatd which was built by
Ziydullah bin Ibrahim bin al-Achlab 602 H(821 M); al a’gwat rabatd in Madinah 706 H
(1306 M).
During that particular time, lots of building had been organised as the ‘tasauf’ or
‘tariqah’ institution such as ‘khanqaah’ and ‘rabaat’. (Many of these institutions are
situated at coastal area of Mediterranean Sea.


Rapid growth of ‘tasauf’ institutions expose them to human frailty (either caused
by teachers or students or by the Muslims community itself).
The summit of those developments results in the emergence of Islamic reformers.
They are labelled as people who refused to accept the concept of ‘tasauf’. Most of them
are teachers who are teaching ‘tafsir’ (translation of the Qur’an) and Hadith for instance
Ibn Taimiyyah and his students Ibn Qayyim al-Jauzi, and Ibn Kathir, Mohammad bin
Abdul wahhab, Mihammad Abduh and others. Deviations like accusation of total ‘tasauf’
rejection lead to crucial disintegration of Muslims community.
Accusation amongst each other as being infidel become widespread phenomenon
because no earnest conferring was held although Allah SWT already says in the Holy

(An-Nisa’ : 59)
“ O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad s.a.w.) and those
of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst
yourselves, refer it to Allah and Messenger (s.a.w.) if you believe in Allah and more
suitable for final determination.”
(Al-Anfal ; 152)

Today, in Turkey, India and other countries where majority of their Muslims community
are practising Tariqat also failed to unite. They separate into several parties and have
arguments with each other.

In our ever-changing world, the challenges that we face vary from day-to-day; yesterday
problems are not the same as today. However, the Muslim Ummah should never forget to
do their daily du’ah (prayers) and zikr (remembrance to Allah) and the strength of the
former and latter should not be underestimated, as it is something that is certain from

Allah has stated in the Quran:

Surah Al-A’la 15

“ And remembers (glorifies) the Name of his Lord (worships none but Allah), and prays
(five compulsory prayers and Nawafil – additional prayers).”

Surah Al-Baqarah 152

“Therefore remember Me (by praying, glorifying, etc). I will remember you and be
grateful to Me (for My countless Favours on you) and never be ungrateful to Me.”

Surah Ali Imran 135

“ And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse etc) or
wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; - and
none can forgive sins but Allah – And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done,
while they know.”

However, the Muslim Ummah should never cease to unveil the secrets i.e. knowledge of
the Holy Quran in conjunction with the new challenges that they are facing. The current
technology does not use the primitive bodily powers, but instead, are using the dynamic
powers of water and air together with the increasing scientific knowledge. It is a great
pity if we keep on ‘trashing’ our past-acquired knowledge and also if we keep on being
too proud of our past achievements without realizing new confrontations that we are
going to face in the future.

Allah states again in His Quran:

Surah Al-Hajj 63

“ See you not that Allah sends down water (rain) from the sky, and then the earth
becomes green? Verily, Allah is the Most Kind and Courteous, Well-Acquainted with all

Surah Ali-Imran 188

“ Think not that those who rejoice in what they have done (or brought about), and love to
be praised for what they have done, - think not you that they are rescued from the
torment, and for them is a painful torment.”

Verily, the Ulama’s (Islamic scholars) in the past has successfully carried out their duty as
Allah’s caliph i.e. to spread His words on this earth and to demolish all the worldly
imitations by Satan. Let us not follow the steps of the People of the Book who are being
proud of their ancestors who have been prophets and apostles.

Allah states:

Al-Baqarah 134

“ That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they
earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.”

Al-Baqarah 141

“ That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they
earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.”

The works of the Ulama’s as we see today talks a lot about the new challenges that
should be thought-of by the Muslims. Therefore, it is our responsibility to ensure the
continuation of their struggle and cause. The Muslims should take issues such as the New
World Order, World Globalization and the PBB seriously so that they can recognize their
circle of concern and sphere of influence.

Ulama’s in Islamic movements should analyse the pros and cons plus the past failures of
the ‘Tarikat’ groups so that they can find new ways and effective method to face the
Kuffar’s (the disbelievers). This is applicable to the problems that is being faced by the
Muslims in Sudan, India etc especially in the areas involving politics, social, culture etc.

Even though the followers of the ‘Tarikat’ groups of Assanussiyah are proud of their past
accomplishment in their preaching to the people of Tripoli at one time, they should really
ponder and try to learn something from the story of Sidi Umar Al Mukhtar-Syeikh Tariaq
As-Asanusiyyah …at the height of his glory.

When he was about to leave Mohammad Assad in his last moment of struggle, he had a
feeling of regret because of not accepting the Ottoman Sultanates invitation (the Islamic
Empire – the symbol of the Muslim strength). His presence would have prevented the
Caliph’s decision to participate in the World War I and forbid him to join the German and
Italian army, thus save the Islamic Empire. But this is of no avail. Allah has willed the
damage that has been done. He did not see the honesty and purity of the Caliph’s
intention. He had only wanted to see a stronger empire, an empire free from corruption
and fraud. Let us pray that Allah SWT will forgive his sins because his intentions were
pure even though he failed to carry them out. That is the sad account of one of the
greatest warrior in Islam before Mohammad Assad left him in his embraces and hand
shakings. While embracing him, Mohammad Assad could feel the heat coming from the
tears pouring from the warrior’s own-self. It seems that the hatred of the enemies of Islam
toward Islam and the Muslims is much greater than the hatred of a Muslim who has done
something wrong or has whatever form of weakness toward his brother who is trying to
help him.

Verily, Allah is All-Knowing when He explains in the Quran:

Al-Baqarah 120

“ Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad s.a.w.) till
you follow their religion. Say: “ Verily, the Guidance of Allah (i.e. Islamic Monotheism)
that is the (only) Guidance. And if you (O Muhammad s.a.w.) were to follow their (Jews
and Christians) desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e. the Quran), then
you would have against Allah neither any ‘Wali’ (protector or guardian) nor any helper.”

Al-Nisa 89
So it i“ They wish that you reject faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all
become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them,
till they emigrate in the way of Allah (to Muhammad s.a.w.). But if they turn back (from
Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither
Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.”

s really unfair and ungrateful of us if we fail to remember the struggles of our ancestors
and the works of the Ulama’s of the past. Again it is a great loss if we do not learn
anything from all of this.

Allah SWT states:

Al-Hasyr 2

“ He it is Who drove out the disbelievers among the people of the scripture (i.e. the Jews
of the tribe of Bani An Nadir) from their home at the first gathering. You did not think
that they would get out. And they thought that their fortresses would defend them from
Allah! But Allah’s (Torment) reached them from a place whereof they expected it not,
and He cast terror into their hearts, so that they destroyed their own dwellings with their
own hands and the hands of the believers. Then take admonition, O you with eyes (to

(Yusuf : 111)
“ Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding. It (the Quran) is not
a forged statement but a confirmation of that Allah’s existing Books (the Taurat (Torah),
the Injeel (Gospel) and other scripture of Allah) and a detailed explanation of everything
and a guide and a Mercy for the people who believe.”

-End of translation-