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?”


This consists of Four points.

F i r s t P o i n t : The Shari‘a is directly, without shadow or veil, the result of the Divine address, through the mystery of Divine Oneness in respect of absolute dominicality. The highest degrees of the Sufi path and of reality are like parts of the Shari‘a. Or they are always like the means, introduction, and servant. Their results are the incontrovertible matters of the Shari‘a. That is to say, the ways of the Sufi path and of reality are like means, servants, and steps for reaching the truths of the Shari‘a, till at the highest level they are transformed into the meaning of reality and essence of the Sufi way, which are at the heart of the Shari‘a. So then they become parts of the Greater Shari‘a. So it is not right to think of the Shari‘a as an outer shell, and reality as its inner part and result and aim, as some Sufis do. Yes, the Shari‘a unfolds according to the levels of men. It is wrong to suppose what the mass of people imagine is the external aspect of the Shari‘a to be its reality, and to give the name of ‘reality’ and ‘Sufi path’ to the degrees of the Shari‘a which are unfolded to the elite. The Shari‘a has degrees which look to all classes.

It is as a consequence of this that the further the Sufis and those who seek reality advance, their longing for the truths of the Shari‘a and captivation by them, and their following them, increase. Considering the smallest aspect of the Practices of the Prophet to be their greatest aim, they work to follow them and imitate them. For to whatever degree Revelation is higher than inspiration, the conduct of the Shari‘a, which is the fruit of Revelation, is that much higher and more important than the conduct of the Sufi path, the fruit of inspiration. Therefore, following the Practices of the Prophet is the most important basis of the Sufi path.

S e c o n d P o i n t : The Sufi path and way of reality should not exceed being means. If they become like the ultimate aim, then the incontrovertible teachings and actions of the Shari‘a and following the Practices of the Prophet become as though official, while the heart is turned beyond them. That is to say, such a person thinks of his circle for the remembrance of Allah rather than the obligatory prayers; he is drawn more to his recitations and supplications than to his religious obligations; he is more concerned with avoiding offending against the rules of behaviour of the Sufi path more than avoiding grievous sins. Whereas the recitations of the Sufi path cannot be the equivalent of the obligatory acts which are the incontestible matters of the Shari‘a; they cannot take their place. The rules of behaviour of the Sufi path and the invocations of Sufism should be a solace and means to true pleasure within those obligatory acts, not themselves be the source. That is, his tekke should be the means to the pleasure and correct performance of the five daily prayers in the mosque; one who hurriedly performs the prayers in the mosque as a formality and thinks he will find his true pleasure and perfection in the tekke, is drawing away from reality.

T h i r d P o i n t : It is sometimes asked: “Can there be any Sufi path outside the Practices of the Prophet and matters of the Shari‘a?”

T h e A n s w e r : There are, and there are not. There are, because some of the highest saints were executed by the sword of the Shari‘a. And there are not, because the authoritative scholars among the saints have agreed on this rule of Sa‘di-i Shirazi: “It is impossible, Sa‘di, to be victorious on the way of felicity, except by following the Chosen One.” That is, it is impossible for one outside the highway of Allah’s Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace), who does not follow him, to attain the true lights of reality. The true meaning of this matter is this:

Since Allah’s Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) was the Seal of the Prophets and was the addressee of Allah in the name of all mankind, mankind cannot advance outside his highway; it is essential to be under his banner. But since ecstatics and those immersed in Divine contemplation are not responsible for their opposition; and since in man are certain subtle faculties which cannot be bound by obligation, and when such faculties dominate, a person cannot be held responsible for opposing the obligations of the Shari‘a; and since in man there are certain subtle faculties which just as they cannot be bound by obligation, they are also not under the jurisdiction of the will, and also cannot be controlled by the mind, for they do not heed the heart or the mind; certainly, when those faculties dominate in a person, -but only at that time- he does not fall from the position of sainthood by opposing the Shari‘a, he is considered excused. On condition, however, that he displays no denial, insult, or contempt towards the truths of the Shari‘a and rules of belief. Even if he does not carry out the injunctions, he has to know that they are right. But if he is overcome by that state and assumes a position, I seek refuge with Allah, which infers denial and giving the lie to those incontestible truths, it is the sign that he has fallen from the path!

I n S h o r t : There are two groups of those who follow the Sufi path outside the bounds of the Shari‘a.

One group: As described above, these are either overwhelmed by their state, their immersion, their ecstasy or intoxication, or they are dominated by certain of their subtle faculties which do not heed the commands of religion or do not listen to the will, and so exceed the bounds of the Shari‘a. But this is not due to their disliking the rulings of the Shari‘a or not wanting to follow them; they are rather compelled to, involuntarily. There are people of sainthood among this group, among whom have been temporarily found important saints. Scholars from among the saints have stated even that some of these have been not only outside the bounds of the Shari‘a, but outside the bounds of Islam. But they are people of sainthood on this condition, that they have not denied any of the injunctions Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace) brought. They rather do not think of them, or cannot keep them in view, or are not aware of them. It is not acceptable for them not to accept them if they are aware of them.

As for the Second Group, these are carried away by the brilliant pleasures of the Sufi path and way of reality, and since they cannot attain to the pleasures of the truths of the Shari‘a, which are far more elevated, they suppose them to be dull formalities and are indifferent towards them. They gradually accept the idea that the Shari‘a is an external shell, and that the reality they have found is the basis and essential goal. They say: “I have found it; it is enough for me,” and act in a way contrary to the injunctions of the Shari‘a. Those from this group who are in their right minds are responsible; they stray from the path, indeed, become the playthings of Satan to an extent.

F o u r t h P o i n t : Some persons from the divisions of the people of misguidance and innovation are found acceptable by the Muslim community, while others, just like them with no apparent difference, are rejected. I always wondered at this. For example, although someone like Zamakhshari was one of the most bigoted members of the Mu‘tazila sect, the Sunni scholars did not declare him to be an unbeliever or misguided in the face of his severe objections; they rather searched for a way to save him. But then they considered that Mu‘tazila authorities like Abu ‘Ali Jubba’i, whose bigotry was far less strong than Zamakhshari’s, should be rejected and refuted. I was curious about this for a long time. Then through Divine favour I understood that Zamakhshari’s objections concerning the Sunnis arose from the love of truth of his way, which he considered to be right. That is to say, for example, the reason for declaring Allah to be free of all fault and deficiency is because in his view, animals create their own actions. Therefore, because of his love of declaring Allah free of all fault, he did not accept the principles of the Sunnis concerning the creation of actions. Whereas, rather than love of the truth, the other Mu‘tazila authorities were rejected because their inadequate intelligences could not aspire to the elevated principles of the Sunnis and they could not situate the Sunni’s extensive laws within their own narrow ideas, and therefore denied them. In just the same way that the Mu‘tazila opposed the Sunnis in theology, the opposition of some of those who follow the Sufi path outside the Practices of the Prophet is also of two kinds:

The First: Like Zamakhshari, out of love for their way or state, they remain somewhat indifferent towards the conduct of the Shari‘a, because they cannot attain the same degree of pleasure.

As for the Other Kind: God forbid! They look on the conduct of the Shari‘a as unimportant in relation to the principles of the Sufi path. For their narrow understanding cannot comprehend those broad pleasures, and their short stations cannot attain to that elevated conduct.

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