Is Tasawwuf Shirk?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

The practise of Tawasuf is encouraged by many scholars, and there is a handful of scholars who’ve said it’s borderline shirk. I’ve been researching this area for a while including speaking to those in authority to satisfy my heart it is definitely permissible. When an opposing view declares it’s shirk/close to shirk it really puts me off.

So, my question is if I hold the belief/practise that I simply *don’t know* whether it is permissible or not and decide not to practise on the side of caution – will that make me sinful?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Almighty Allah refers to the three missions of Rasulullah in the Quran. See the following verse.

هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ

“It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and rectifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom – although they were before in clear error “

Surah Jumuah ayah 2

Tazkiyah literally means to purify. Contextually it refers to purifying oneself from all forms of evil which includes Kufr and the base desires of a person, pride, jealousy, greed, anger etc.

Tazkiyah is fardh like the other two missions of Rasulullah, dawah and education.

The missions of Rasulullah are specified. However the procedures of the mission are not specified. One may adopt effective ways  to  practice and propagate these missions on condition the procedures are within the limitations of Shariah. For example , education is the mission of Rasulullah. It is fardh for us to learn about wudhu salah and other fundamental teachings of Deen. Nowadays we have various book written and published with new teaching skills and techniques to teach Quran and other subjects. All these new techniques support the general mission of education in Shariah.

Shariah does not prohibit such aids and they are not regarded as compulsory. They are tried and tested and known to be effective. If a book on Deeniyaat, or Islamic history is taught in madrassah and proven effective, that is not regarded as bidat or prohibited. In fact, it is encouraged. Likewise tazkiyah is farz. The various forms of tazkiyah to attain internal purification are tried and tested by our pious ancestors. That is similar to the prescription given by  a medical practitioner when a person is ill. It is the mission of the doctor to cure his patient. He will analyse his patient and prescribe appropriate medication after diagnosis. He applies his own skills and prescribes medication. He would prescribe what is  tried and tested. The cure of the patient is attributed to Allah as a Shafi (the ultimate curer) through the effective means of the doctor.   

A person treading the path of tazkiyah under a proper spiritual guide is like a patient. The spiritual guide may prescribe for him some tilawat of the Quran, zikr etc. according to his personal condition to cure from his spiritual sickness and elevate his spirituality. All these are means to achieve the ultimate, cleansing and purifying ones inner self and gaining the closeness of Allah which is farz and exactly what was the mission of Rasulullah Salallāhu alayhi  wasallam.

Tasawwuf is another name for tazkiyah. Ihsaan is also another name for tazkiyah, like tasawuf. The core of Ihsaan/tasawwuf/ tazkiyah is the following hadith. Jibraeel alayhi salaam asked Rasulullah salallāhu alayhi wasallam,

مَا الإِحْسَانُ

what is Ihsaan?

قَالَ ‏”‏ أَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ كَأَنَّكَ تَرَاهُ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ تَرَاهُ فَإِنَّهُ يَرَاكَ ‏”‏ ‏

” He said it is to worship Allah  Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala as if you can see Him, for although you cannot see Him, He can see you.”

Sunan an-Nasa’i 4990

It is therefore incorrect for you not to do tazkiyah on the basis of wrong information. It is possible some people commit wrong acts in the name of  Tasawwuf. You should identify a proper guide that adheres to Shariah for spiritual guidance and Tazkiyah. You may refer to Dar Al Mahmood website.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Syed Haneef Ahmed

Student Darul Iftaa

New York, U.S.A

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

This answer was collected from, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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