I have always wondered about the nature of Tasawwuf in Islam, especially after Mawlana Fazlur Rahman Ansari remarked in one of his talks that over 90% of the Sufi Orders in the world are on the wrong path. I have always wondered what this is. In most countries today, the teachings of Tasawwuf, which have to do with the sciences of the Hereafter and the attainment of spiritual stations, have been reduced to making a congregational dhikr on a Thursday and one or two urses during the year. This is even the case in South Africa. I have to tell you very humbly that this is not the case with the Naqshbandis. What makes us so different from other Sufi Orders and the target of the enemies of Tasawwuf? You see, whichever way you wish to look at it, the Naqshbandi Order is the closest one to carrying out the Prophetic Practices. This is one of the remarks that Shaykh Kabbani made to me a few years ago, that we are the closest to the Sunnah. Let us very humbly look at ourselves. We perform both congregational and private dhikrs and spread the performance of such dhikrs wherever we can in the country. We work amongst the poorest of people; feeding them, clothing them and taking the remembrance of Allah Almighty to them. As a consequence, so many of them have entered Islam under our Lord’s guidance. We build mosques and jamaat khanas in the most poverty stricken areas to help in the changing of the religious landscapes of those areas through the many activities that take place in those structures. Murids are encouraged to seek knowledge and to work hard for personal spiritual achievements. This is more or less what we do.
One of the saddest things that has happened in this country, has been the steady peeling off of Muslims from the Muslim community. We have come across in our work in the country areas especially, a large number of previous Muslims who have left Islam, either for Christianity or for no religion. Large numbers of Muslims also, and this applies to both rural and urban areas, are involved in the drug trade and the taking of drugs and in a variety of forms of alcohol abuse, wife abuse, and related crimes. Our jails are filled with Muslims. This is not a guess. I know of someone who goes to Pollsmoor on a regular basis to conduct Jumu’ah. In fact, to be quite honest with you, this community is in major social and moral decline. All of us who participate in one or other relief activity in these areas, are just touching the fringes of social conditions. We are just trying to help wherever we can.
What worries one is the religious responsibility that each one of us has with regard to the poor, all of them. Many times I think of the verses:
فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّيْنَ الَّذِيْنَ هُمْ عِنَ صَلاَتِهِمْ سَاهُوْنَ الَّذِيْنَ هُمْ يُرَاءُوْنَ وَ يَمْنَعُوْنَ الْمَاعُوْنَ
So woe to the worshippers who are neglectful of their prayers, those who want to be seen, but refuse to supply neighbourly needs (cvii: 4-7).
Allah Almighty is speaking to those of us who pray to Him, and He tells us to beware, because of our negligence of others around us. I especially blame the Sufi Orders. We are supposed to be the most conscious with regard to our Creator and our Islam. We spend so much time on adhkar and whatever else the case might be, and some of us can even deliver orations on one or other aspect of theoretical Sufism. But, where it matters, the Sufi Orders are not to be found, except, of course, the Naqshbandis and perhaps one or two other Orders.
What is the nature of the Islam of the Sufi Orders whose primary concern is a Thursday evening congregational dhikr, and one or two urses during the year, and nothing else? Is it not true if I say that those of us whose hearts are beating with the remembrance of their Lord should be in the forefront of those whose work it is to assist their Lord’s creatures. It this not true?
Can you imagine the impact we would have on the religious landscape of this country if we could hold hands and march forward in Allah’s (ﷻ) Cause, and for His sake, to deal with the multifarious forces of our opponents? Just nothing would be able to stop us. I leave this with you. Think about it and think what you can do.
When I appeal to you as Naqshbandi murids of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim, not only is the appeal very special, but it goes to individuals whose hearts are supposed to be very special. I say the appeal is very special, because it has to do with tiring work in the Cause of Islam, and I say that you are supposed to be special by your Lord, because of the extent to which you do your Lord’s work without a moan or a groan. It appears as if these statements are not totally true but I take it that they are partly true. This experience that makes these statements partially true, comes out of the discussions I have with the groups when they return from their work in the countryside. The way their eyes shine tells me the whole story. I know some of you think that I should not mention some of these things, but I think they should be mentioned so that others know about them and also want to get involved in this work. For myself, and I have to say this, one of the greatest honours that my Lord has given me is that I am partly involved in the work that so many of you do in the Cause of Allah (ﷻ).
We must all be so careful. Take the tasks that come your way. Remember the spiritual consequences of your participation in those tasks. Tell me, can we gauge the Divine Pleasure when we get into our cars and go out to work in Allah’s (ﷻ) Cause? Can we gauge this? Can we gauge the massive spiritual benefit that comes out if we contribute even in a very small way to somebody reciting the Shahadah? We must think out of the box. We must let our minds penetrate our actions and try to come to understanding the meanings of those actions in the broad arrangements of things in the cosmos. I should not tell you this also but you should know the value of what you do when you get into your car and work in Allah’s (ﷻ) Path. Can you understand now why I sometimes get impatient with you? I am impatient because you are depriving yourselves of your Lord’s Pleasure. I do not even want to mention what this pleasure means in terms of hasanat and in terms of what is stored in the Heavenly Treasure Houses. We must all try very hard, that when it comes to our Lord’s Work, we should not hesitate, and even if it means that we bring terrible inconveniences upon ourselves. I want each one of us, and I am very serious about this, to obtain the highest heavenly stations under the guidance of our shaykh, as we say. Every day, or almost every day, I hear of janazahs. One of these days it is going to be I or you, but can you imagine the spiritual joy and exuberance that each one of us would experience because of our work in Allah’s (ﷻ) Cause? The other evening Mawlana spoke about the honour granted to a Saudi Prince because of his intention to return to the family of our Prophet (ﷺ) what rightfully belongs to them. He only had the intention and he was honoured. What about those who have the intention and they also carry out the intention? How will they not be honoured? We ask our Lord for humility in what we write and do and express our gratitude for what we are able to write, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]