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Legal Status of Following a Tariqah

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Fatwaa.com

Respected Mufti Sahib,

1) What is the definition of “Tasawwuf” according to the fuqahaa in the classical books of fiqh?
2) What is the legal status of “Tasawwuf”? (i.e. mubaah, mustahabb, waajib, etc..)
3) What is the legal status of doing bay’ah to a Murshid-Shaykh and following a tareeqah? (i.e. mubaah, mustahabb, waajib, etc..)
4) Were the four imams رضي الله تعالى عنهم أجمعين member of tareeqahs? If yes, which ones?

Jazaak Allaahu khayran.
و السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

Answer

Wa’alaykum as Salām wa raḥmatullāhi wa barakātuhu,

1) Since fiqh and taṣawwuf are two opposite fields (the former dealing with the outer actions whilst thee latter deals with inner qualities), it is obvious one will not find a definition for taṣawwuf in Fiqh books. It is like asking for a scientific definitions from mathematic books.

2) The essence of taṣawwuf is tazkiyyah (spiritual rectification or at-taḥalli bil fadhāil wat takhalli ‘anir radhāil (beautifying yourself with good character and eradicating evil habits). This is compulsory.

3) The ruling will differ according to an individual. For some, the mere recitation of the Qurān and study of Aḥādīth will be sufficient for their tazkiyyah whilst others will need a spiritual doctor called a Shaykh. There is no doubt that in today’s time it is compulsory for the vast majority of people to hand themselves over to a Shaykh(See the footnote of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddā on Risālāh al-mustarshidīn, 72,73)

4) Our illustrious teacher, Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Fadl ar-Raḥmān ‘Azmi (d.b) mentions that for many years he made research trying to find if the four Imāms and six authors of the Ṣiḥāḥ sittah took bay’ah to any Shaykh. However, after much study and research he was unable to find anything. He then explains that the reason for this is that they would hand themselves over fully to their teachers and follow their teachings. Imām Abū Ḥanīfa (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him), for example, stayed with one teacher, Ḥammād (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) for seventeen years. Thus, it was their teachers who aided in their tazkiyyah.


سمعت محمد بن أحمد بن يحيى الصوفي يقول: سمعت عبد الله بن علي التميمي يقول: سئل أبو محمد الجريري عن التصوف، فقال: الدخول في كل خلق مني والخروج من كل خلق
دنيّ. (الرسالة القشيرية
(126/1)

33 – أخبرنا محمد بن الحسن الأهوازي ، قال : سمعت أبا حاتم الطبري يقول : سئل الجنيد رحمه الله عن التصوف ؟ فقال : استعمال كل خلق سني ، وترك كل خلق دني . (المنتخب من كتاب الزهد والرقائق للخطيب
(77/1)
في هذا المعنى :
ليس التصوف لبس الصوف ترقعه ولا بكاؤك إن غنى المغنونا
ولا صياح ولا رقص ولا طرب ولا ارتعاش كأن قد صرت مجنونا
بل التصوف أن تصفو بلا كدر وتتبع الحق والقرآن والدينا و
أن ترى خاشعا لله مكتئبا على ذنوبك طول الدهر محزونا (المدخل لابن الحاج
(23/4)

And Allaah Ta’aala knows best
Wassalaam,
Ismail Moosa (Mufti)
Iftaa Department,
Euro-Sunni & Islamic Research and Welfare Academy

This answer was collected from Fatwaa.com which is an excellent Q&A site managed by Mufti Ismail Moosa from South Africa. .

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