Saturday, March 17, 2018
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The importance of a spiritual guide

By: Inter Islam

Source: Inter Islam

In this day and age, many people raise a lot of objection against Tasawwuf (the Islamic science of Spirituality). This is due to lack of understanding of Deen, ignorance or indifference. Hundreds of books have been commissioned on this very comprehensive issue by some of the greatest men of this Umma. We all should bear in mind that to reform the character and the inner-self in compliance with the commands of Allah is imperative upon every Muslim individual as the performance of our five daily prayers.

If we take this into contemplation, we realize that if the inner-soul is not refined, then all our worship rather than attaining rewards, it would turn into a scourge. Because this is the foundation of every man’s spiritual life. Just as it will be impossible to build a construction, if its foundation is weak.

When I speak about morals and character, it is different as to what is commonly understood by the public. Morals is not just confined to be polite with people and speak pleasantly, to show others that this person is gifted with high morals and to raise him sky high. But rather a moral, as understood by Islam is far more comprehensive than this. Morals mainly deal with the attribution of the inner-self, the heart and the soul.

Before we proceed further, let us first examine what is man? then it will be easy to understand this aspect in detail. Man is a combination of the body and the soul, not the body alone. Take a look at a dead body, despite of it being composed of a heart, lungs, arms, legs etc. but it is ceased to be man and becomes a lifeless corpse like dust and stone. While he is still living, he is very energetic and active. He shows affection to people, to his society, to his family and he is able to look after his possessions. But, when he faces his last breath what happens? He becomes motionless, without beneficial for people; those people who had loved him are the same people who are very anxious to bury him. Nobody is willing to retain his body.

What an extreme change it becomes after the soul has left the body. This goes to show how important the soul is, the body has ceased to be a man and becomes a waste matter.

A body passes through many stages. There’s a time when it is healthy, and a time when it is sick. It becomes essential upon everyone to treat it with medicines when it is sick, and for this, he has to resort to a professional physician. Likewise, the soul also passes through different stages, sometimes it passes through good stages i.e the soul is strong and sometimes passes through bad times. The diseases, through which the heart suffers from, are ones such as jealousy, pride, selfishness etc.

Good habits like leniency, gratitude, modesty, etc beautify the soul. Just as good attributes like good health, glowing attractive face, handsomeness, beautify the body. Allah and his Messenger (ﷺ) has ordained us to discharge many duties. Some of these relate to physical or spiritual, physical like the rituals of salaah, hajj and fasting; and spiritual like rectification of the heart, this is compulsory upon everyone just as our five daily prayers.

The rectification of the heart is very important, but it is sad to say that many people in this area neglect this. Know that if the heart is in a good condition, then the whole body will be in a good condition, but if it is corrupted then the whole body will be corrupted. This is a Hadith.

Allah Almighty has provided solutions by allowing certain people to become spiritual guides. These spiritual guides (Pious Sufis) are spiritual doctors who can diagnose the diseases and prescribe remedies for these diseases.

Islam is disseminated through a branch named Tasawwuf. Many people think Tasawwuf has nothing to do with Islam, this mentality is wrong. All Tasawaf deals with is the rectification of the heart. These are another class of doctors who are the only ones that can detect the internal spiritual diseases (despite the modern day, technology has advanced, but cannot diagnose the spiritual diseases). These are the pious Sufis through whom Allah has prescribed remedies. If the innerself is not rectified then our daily worship or any other worship, which relates to the body, will be of little use. Rather than it being accepted, it could be thrown into our faces. A simple example is ‘Ikhlass’ (sincerity). When we do any form of worship, we have to make a firm intention that we do this to gain the pleasure of Allah. If we intend to please other people, then it is a great sin. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“Whoever prays for ostentation, then he has committed shirk”

So, for our prayers to be accepted, we have to cultivate sincerity in to our hearts.

The way to do this is first pledge his allegiance to a sheikh (spiritual guide who upholds the Sunna of the Prophet – peace be upon him). He places his hand under the hand of his Sheikh, swears fidelity and becomes his disciple – following the way of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the Sahaba (Allah be pleased with them all). The sheikh then prescribes for him daily recitals from the Quran, and Sunna, often as special compilations arranged by upright scholars. The sheikh also by instruction, advice, and admonition, in accordance with the Shariaassists the disciple along his journey towards taqwa (God-consciousness) in a way that would be difficult for the disciple alone.

By the disciple’s being loyal and obedient he or she comes to acquire higher degrees of character and to uproot the diseases of the heart. In the end, after much struggle and discipline, until with Allah’s help the disciple becomes of the beloved of Allah.

This method is in reality nothing more than the Sunnah of Allah Most High with His prophets (peace be upon them all) and their followers and all who maintain their way till the end of time!

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