Ninth Matter: “Can there be a way of sainthood apart from Ahl as-Sunnah?”
[An important, confidential matter, and a mystery concerning sainthood.]
The largest group in the World of Islam, the people of truth and moderation, called Ahl al-Sunna wa’l-Jama‘at or Sunnis, have preserved the truths of the Qur’an and belief by following to the letter the noble Practices of the Prophet within the bounds of moderation. The great majority of the saints have arisen within this sphere. Others of the saints have appeared outside some of the principles of the Sunnis, and on a path opposed to their rules. Thus, those who have considered this group of saints have divided into two groups:
One group have denied their sainthood because they are opposed to the principles of the Sunnis. They have even gone as far as declaring some of them to be unbelievers.
The other group are those that follow them. Since they accept their sainthood, they say that “The truth is not restricted to the way of the Sunnis.” They have formed a group of the innovators and have even gone as far as misguidance. They do not know that: Every person who is rightly guided cannot be a guide. Their shaykhs are to be excused from their mistakes, because they were ecstatics, but their followers cannot be excused.
As for the middle group, they do not deny the sainthood of the saints, but do not accept their ways and paths. They say: “Their words which are opposed to the principles [of religion] were either metaphorical utterances of which the meaning is not known, or they [the saints] were in error, being overcome by their mental state.”
Unfortunately, the first group, and especially externalist scholars, have denied saints of great importance with the intention of protecting the Sunni way, and have even been compelled to accuse them of misguidance. And their supporters, which form the second group, have left the right path because of their excessive good will towards shaykhs of that sort, and have fallen into innovation, and even misguidance.
There was a situation connected with this which occupied my mind for a very long time: at a crucial time I execrated a group of the people of misguidance. Then an awesome collective strength arose in the face of my malediction; it both returned my prayer, and prevented me from repeating it.
Then I saw that facilitated by a collective strength in its wrongful activities, that group of the people of misguidance was driving forward the people, whom it had taken behind it. Since it had become combined with a desire arising not only from compulsion but from the power of sainthood, some of the believers were being carried away by that desire, looking on the group favourably and not considering it to be very bad.
When I perceived these two secrets, I took fright. “Glory be to Allah!” I said, “Can there be sainthood other than that of the true way? Especially a terrible current of misguidance, can the people of truth come forward and support it?” Then one blessed Day of ‘Arafa, following a praiseworthy Islamic practice, I recited Sura al-Ikhlas hundreds of times, and through its blessings the matter which was written under the name of “Answer to an important question” and, through Divine mercy, the following truth also were imparted to my impotent heart. The truth is this:
Similar to the famous and meaningful ‘story of Jibali Baba,’ which was related in the time of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, some of the saints are in a state of ecstasy while appearing to be rational and reasonable. Others appear to be sober and in command of their reasoning faculties, and sometimes they enter a state outside this. One class of this sort are confused and cannot distinguish between things. They apply a matter they see while in a state of intoxication to the state of sobriety. They are in error and do not know that they are so. Some ecstatics are preserved by Allah and do not enter misguidance on their spiritual journeying. While others are not preserved, and may be found in the sects of innovation and misguidance. It has even been thought possible for them to be among the unbelievers.
Thus, because they are temporarily or permanently in a state of ecstasy, they are like “blessed lunatics.” And because they are like blessed and free lunatics, they are not responsible. And because they are not responsibible, they are not punishable. With their ecstatic sainthood persisting, they emerge as supporters of the people of misguidance and innovation; they cause their ways to become popular to a degree, and inauspiciously give rise to some of the believers and people of truth entering them.
- Seventh Allusion: It states that the Sufi way and truth should serve and follow the Shari'a and answers the question “Can there be saints outside the bounds of the Sunna and Shari'a?”
- What is Bid a (Innovation) and what is it not?
- Fourth Point: An explanation that will eliminate the conflict between Shiite and Ahl as-Sunnah.
- Third Allusion: Sainthood is a proof of prophethood, and the Sufi way is a proof of the Shari'a.
- Do Guidance (Hidayah) and Misguidance (Dalalah) Exist Only in Fundamentals of Belief?
- The Fifth Letter explains that sainthood is divided into three as small, great and medium sainthood.
- Gleams: Flowers from the Seeds of Reality. A short ‘Mathnawi’ and collection on the subject of belief for the Risale-i Nur students.
- Third Satanic Stratagem: Greed and ambition.
- How many kinds of madhhabs related to creed are there?
- Third Gleam: A comparison between the works of scholars who take lessons from the Qur’an and the Qur’an itself.