Monday, August 9, 2010

The Four Imams on Tasawwuf

The Four Imams on Tasawwuf

1. Imam Abu Hanifa

It was reported by Ibn Abidin in ad-Durr al-Mukhtar that Imam Abu Hanifa said: "If it were not for two years, I would have perished. For two years I accompanied Sayyidina Ja'far as-Sadiq and I acquired the spiritual knowledge that made me a gnostic in the Way" (Ad-Durr al-Mukhtar, vol. 1, p. 43). This was further explained by Ibn Abidin:

"Abu Ali Daqqaq [shaykh of Imam Qushayri] received his path from Abu al-Qasim al-Nasirabadi, who received it from ash-Shibli, who received it from as-Sirr as-Saqati who received it from al Ma'ruf al Karkhi, who received it from Dawud at Ta'i, who received the knowledge, both the external and the internal, from the Imam Abi Hanifa” (ibid.).

2. Imam Malik ibn Anas

"Whoever practices Tasawwuf without learning Shari'a corrupts his faith, while whoever learns Shari'a without practicing Tasawwuf corrupts himself. Only he who combines the two proves true."

It is related by the muhaddith Ahmad Zarruq (d. 899)[Qawa`id al-tasawwuf, Cairo, 1310], the hafiz Ali al-Qari al-Harawi (d. 1014)[Sharh `ayn al-`ilm wa-zayn al-hilm, Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqafa al-Diniyya, 1989, vol. 1, p. 33], the muhaddiths Ali ibn Ahmad al `Adawi (d. 1190)[Hashiyat al `Adawi `ala sharh Abi al Hasan li risalat Ibn Abi Zayd al musammat kifayat al talib al rabbani li risalat Ibn Abi Zayd al Qayrawani fi madhhab Maalik, Beirut: Dar Ihya' al Kutub al `Arabiyah, n.d., vol. 2, p. 195], and Ibn `Ajiba (d. 1224)[Iqaz al himam fi sharh al hikam, Cairo: Halabi, 1392/1972, pp. 5-6.].

3. Imam as-Shafi'i

"Be both a faqih and a Sufi [sufiyyan]: do not be only one of them. Verily, by Allah's truth, I am advising you sincerely" (Imam as-Shafi'i, Diwan, pp. 47, 66).

"Three things in this world have been made lovely to me: avoiding affectation, treating people kindly, and following the way of tasawwuf" (Muhaddith al-'Ajluni, Kashf al-khafa wa muzil al-albas, vol. 1, p. 341, no. 1089).

“I accompanied the Sufis and received from them but three lessons: their statement that time is a sword: if you do not cut it, it cuts you; their statement that if you do not keep your ego busy with truth it will keep you busy with falsehood; their statement that deprivation is immunity” (ibid.; Imam Ibn Qayyim, Madarij al-Salikin, vol. 3, p. 128; and Imam as-Suyuti, Ta'yid al-haqiqa al-`aliyya, p. 15).

The Sufis are often accused of bid'a, but Imam as-Shafi'i refuted these individuals: "Anything which has a support (mustanad) from the shari'a is not bid'a, even if the early Muslims did not do it" (Quoted in Shaykh Ahmad al-Ghumari, Tashnif al-Adhan, Cairo: Maktaba al-Khanji, n.d., p. 133).

4. Imam Ahmad

It was related from Ibrahim ibn Abdullah al-Qalanasi that Imam Ahmad said about the Sufis: "I don't know people better than them" (Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Saffarini al-Hanbali, Ghidha' al-Albab li-Sharh Manzumat al-Adab, Cairo: Matba'at al-Najah, 1324/1906, vol. 1, p. 120).

Advising his son Abdullah, Imam Ahmad said: "O my son, you have to sit with the People of Tasawwuf, because they are like a fountain of knowledge and they keep the Remembrance of Allah in their hearts. They are the ascetics and they have the most spiritual power" (Shaykh Amin al-Kurdi, Tanwir al-Qulub, p. 405).