Could you define ‘sheikh” and “murid” according to tasawwuf and can a Sheikh claim that on the day of judgement he will request Allah to forgive his murid?

Details of the Question
Dear Sir, Please Can you give me information from Quran and Hadees about "sheikh" and "murid" and is it permissible to have a "sheikh" or can a Sheikh claim that on the day of judgement he will request Allah to forgive his murid?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Sheikh” is a guide and ‘arif’ (the mature human being who has attained true knowledge of God’s affection) person and a “murid” is a person who is a student of a sheikh. Sheikh, in other words ‘Murshid’ (master) is a guide who helps people to abandon public things and arrive at the ‘haqq’ (divine and absolute truth). Sheikh is an instructor in ‘dargah’ (the place where murids gather) just like a teacher at school. While the teacher is predominantly interested in mind, the murshid is engrossed in spirit. The face of the murshid is blessed, and his words are godly.

It will be quite accurate if we evaluate a murshid in that respect:

The master and spiritual guide should not be considered to be the source and origin, but known to be the place of reflection and manifestation. For example, heat and light reach you by means of a mirror. If you forget the sun, and considering the mirror to be the source, are grateful to it instead of being grateful to the sun, it would be crazy. The mirror should be preserved because it is the place of manifestation. Thus, the guide's spirit and heart is a mirror; it is the place for reflecting effulgence emanating from Almighty God. He is the means of its being reflected to his followers. He should not be ascribed a higher station with regard to the effulgence than that of being the means.

It will be fairly beneficial if we elaborate the meaning of being means to his followers. Regarding the importance of being a means to his followers, it is ordered, “O you who believe! Keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, and seek the means to come closer to Him, and strive in His way, so that you may prosper (in both worlds)” (Al-Maidah Surah, 5:35) in the Noble Qur’an. Conveyers are things or human beings that help us to get close to God. For instance, fulfilling divine precepts, abandoning sins etc are some kinds of conveyers. Likewise, salavat [the words that Muslims utter when they hear the name of Prophet Muhammad ((MAY ALLAH BLESS HIM AND GRANT HIM PEACE)> is the means of getting close to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the means of getting close to God.

A physician is provider of a remedy, yet, God, the Merciful, bestows the remedy. Similarly, a murshid is the means of obtaining divine enlightenment and hidayat (the way to Islam). A murid should endeavor to promote to the stage of a murshid and follow the path of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Then, he can attain the absolute truth (the true knowledge of God).

People should benefit from the knowledge of those who are well-informed about science, and they should be aware of those who have ‘irfan’ (gnosis; the attainedment of direct spiritual knowledge). The peace and relief felt in the presence of a kamil(perfect, mature) murshid is a bestowment of divine enlightenment. Their “nefes”(breath) is something that comes from the world of aalimul-gayb(the unfelt, unseen etc things). Prosperity, enlightenment, and freshness emerge with the influence of the murshid’s nefes.

Dependence on a master and loyalty to a murshid are good and worthy. Nonetheless, this loyalty should not be perceived as a person can get rid of being punished by God due to his sins, with the help of his murshid. In the Noble Qur’an, this faulty notion is explained in that way:

God presents the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot as an example for those who disbelieve. They were married to two of Our righteous servants yet betrayed them (by rejecting the Messages they brought from God and collaborating with the unbelievers). But they (their husbands) availed them nothing against God and it was said to them: "Enter the Fire with all those who enter it!" (At-Tahrim Surah, 66:10)

Noah called out to his Lord, saying: "O my Lord, my son was of my family (as a believer), and Your promise is surely true (for my believing family members), and You are the Most Just of judges." (Hud Surah, 11:45)
(God) said: "O Noah! he (being an unbeliever) is not of your family. He is one of unrighteous conduct (which embodied his unbelief). So do not ask of Me what you have no knowledge of. I admonish you so that you do not behave as one among the ignorant." (Hud Surah, 11:46)

God tells Prophet Noah “O Noah! He (Prophet Noah’s son) is not of your family.” about Prophet Noah’s son. This being forgiven is certainly not something related to one’s family but to his beliefs. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) even says to His daughter, Hazrath Fatima, that she should rescue herself from hell’s fire through her good deeds, “O Fatima, rescue thyself from the Fire, for I have no power (to protect you) from God in anything except this that I would sustain relationship with you.” This sample is quite important to put across the triviality of family in terms of being forgiven by God.

A murid says to Bayazid-i Bistami, “If you could merely give a piece of your fur, I will keep, and carry it as a gift or domination on myself.” Bayazid-i Bistami responses, “O my son! It will be useless if you do not behave yourself. Besides, it will be of no use even if you skin me and wear it.”

The given samples do not mean rejecting intercession. Of course, we will ask prophets, mature and perfect murshids etc. for their intercession; nevertheless, it is necessary to attain a certain level of good deeds and ‘ikhlas’ (sincerity or purity of intention) in order to deserve this salvation through their intercession.

1. İz, Tasawwuf, p. 100
2. Eraydın, Tasavvuf ve tarikat, p. 114
3. Eraydın, Tasavvuf ve tarikat, p. 116-1191
4. Nursî, Flashes, p. 129-130
5. Alûsi, Ruhu’l- Meâni, Vl, 124-125
6. Nursî, Flashes, p. 97
7. Eraydın, Tasavvuf ve tarikat, p. 114-115
8. Eraydın Tasavvuf ve tarikat, p. , 384
9. Mawlana, IV, 1008
10. Sahih Muslim, The book of Faith, Book 001, Number 0399
11. Tahiru’l-Mevlevi, VII, 692

Şadi Eren (Doç.Dr.)

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