Is ahl as-Sunnah based on Irfan (tasawwuf/inspiration)?
I have no doubt that the Islamic understanding and practice of Ahl as-Sunnah is the sound/true understanding of Islam. However, it is important what you mean by this term.
If you listen to the state and the institutions that the British use against the ummah, that represent Wahhabism and that try to spread it, only they are “Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah”.
They do not regard even Maturidis and Ash’aris as Ahl as-Sunnah. No matter what they say, this is the fact: When Ahl as-Sunnah is said, what has been understood since the madhhabs of creed emerged (for centuries) is Maturidies and Ash’aris, not Salafis.
All of the Muslims except for about two hundred million of them maintain the creed of Ahl as-Sunnah today. The main reason why Wahhabism and the other madhhabs have not been able to spread despite their great efforts is that Ahl as-Sunnah is more suitable for the nature, mind and nass (the words and spirit of revelation) than other madhhabs. Therefore, I think the mischief and chaos of creed that threatens the Islamic world is irreligiousness and secularism (especially loose and incomplete religiousness) rather than the madhhabs of bid’ah.
As for the issue whether Ahl as-Sunnah is based on irfan (tasawwuf) or bayan (nass):
There is no need to have much knowledge about it; if you look at a catechism, you will see the following:
The real sources of religious knowledge and decrees is the Book, the Sunnah, Ijma (Consensus) and Qiyas (Analogy). Those sources are open to anybody; those who cannot learn directly from them “can ask those who know and learn from them”. The knowledgeof Shari’ah (sound/true Islam) is attained through the method introduced by fiqh and kalam methodology, not through inspiration.
When irfan is used in a sense other than bayan and ilm, what is meant by it is inspiration and the accumulation based on it. It is written in catechisms (ilm al-hal books) that “religious evidences bind all believers” and that inspiration is not a source of knowledge and decree; Ahl as-Sunnah agrees unanimously on it.
To regard Sunnah and Ahl as-Sunnah as equal to tasawwuf (sufism) and to say “the ummah protected and maintained its existence, creed and values thanks to tasawwuf” is a problematic statement.
I do not object to tasawwuf and irfan that serve Shari’ah and I regard those who object to be wrong. However, if you say Islam is based on irfan, not on bayan (adillah ash-shar’iyya) and you mean tasawwuf by irfan, you will exclude millions of believers who did not enter tasawwuf from sound Islam, the group of Ahl as-Sunnah and Sunnah.
I invite those who always invite others to foresight and sagacity to be alert and sensible about the following items:
1. If those who say there is no Islam without tasawwuf are aware of what they say, they must give this view up immediately; otherwise, they will alienate themselves at least from the Islam of Ahl as-Sunnah.
2.Those who say there is no tasawwuf in Islam, tsawwuf is bid’ah and tasawwuf came from the religions, thoughts and cultures outside Islam must give up this view; they may have thoughts and education methods similar to tasawwuf but Islamic tasawwuf belongs to Islam; it is Islam’s fruit; however, tasawwuf is not a condition for becoming a Muslim and belonging to Ahl as-Sunnah.
3. Today, tariqahs represent Islam; those who feel obliged to enter tasawwuf in order to attain the attributes of ikhlas (sincerity) and ihsan (goodness) have to be careful about the following items:
a) The sheikh of the tariqah must be a person who studied Islamic sciences, who acts in accordance with his ilm, who has high ethics and who received permission from an authorized person in tasawwuf.
b) The sheikh of the tariqah must not get any material things from people for his service of guidance. He must make his living from legitimate means.
c) A sheikh of the tariqah might also make mistakes and commit sins; therefore, his words, his deeds and whatever is said and done on behalf of tasawwuf must be evaluated based on the unerring and objective criteria of tasawwuf.
d) Those who enter a tariqah need to be better Muslims in terms of belief, worshipping, deeds, ethics, etc. than their previous states; it must be definite that people benefit from tariqah in this sense.
TASAWWUF MEANS ATTAINING PERFECTION THROUGH THE QURAN AND THE SUNNAH!
Fiqh and kalam have madhhabs; similarly, tasawwuf has different branches and tariqahs. There are bid’ahs, superstitions, and faiths that are contrary to Ahl as-Sunnah creed. What protects Islam from their harms is fiqh and kalam. These ilms deal with the creed and practices of Ahl as-Sunnah; these two ilms have protected the branches of tasawwuf that were loyal to them.