Religion can be a very lucrative occupation. We have countless modern examples of how the commercialisation of religion fills the pockets of people. One of the writers in America, Upton Sinclair, called one of his books on the subject, The Profits of Religion. And so today many people in the religious worlds have become very rich, because of what they accrue from religion.
Here in South Africa the same thing is happening. If one examines, very carefully, what is going on in the Hajj and meat scandals, then one will see the extent to which religious activities are being used to increase people’s bank accounts. I am telling you all of these because since the inception of this Tariqah I have tried very hard to protect our structures from the commercialisation of Islam. Because such commercialisation is generally pushed by different kinds of businesses, it is not always easy to stop the penetration of commercialisation into the Islamic body.
A few years ago a group of people came to South Africa and wanted me to get the murids together for training in muraqabah. It would have cost each murid about $400 which is a tidy sum of money in our currency. I refused. A time ago a so called shaykh from the United States of America came here and ran a workshop, I think both here and in Port Elizabeth. He made quite a lot of money. What has happened to all his teachings in this workshop? They have all disappeared, because it was not for Allah Almighty, it was for money. People thought that this workshop was going to be a short-cut to whatever. It was to nothing. At the same time he was also a “jinn expert” and tried to get more than R4000 out of one of our murids in Port Elizabeth to purify his family from the jinn. I stopped that. At present there is another attempt to get more than R3000 out of each murid for teachings on I do not know what. The vast majority of the people in this country do not even earn this per month.
I want each one of you to understand that I am totally opposed to people coming here, mentioning the name of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim and Shaykh Hisham Kabbani to gain entrance into our structures in order to get their hands into the pockets of the murids. I do not like this. I have, over the years tried to protect the murids from these kinds of things. But it appears as if I am not succeeding.
What are we busy with? We say we are in the field of Tasawwuf; striving very hard with our hands in the hands of our shaykh for spiritual attainment and to obtain certain spiritual graces from our Lord. To do this we are in a structure called a Tariqah. Within this structure we put our teachings into practise but our eyes are on the Hereafter. I am not prepared to accept that a lot of theory on Tasawwuf can take one even a step forward in one’s spiritual growth. I have learnt this through personal experience. Let me first quote a verse from the Qur’an to you before I continue. In this verse in Surah Yasin Allah Almighty says:
إِتَّبِعُوْا مَنْ لاَّ يَسْئَلُكُمْ أَجْرًا وَ هُمْ مُّهْتَدُوْنَ
Follow those who do not ask you for payments, for they are guided (xxxvi: 21).
What this verse is in fact saying is, do not get involved with people who charge you for their services, and in our case, these services are the teachings of Islam. Allah (ﷻ) says that these people are not guided, and it does not matter the “magic” they perform.
Every now and then we are distracted from the path by all kinds of individuals who try to take advantage of our connection with Mawlana Shaykh Nazim and instead of concentrating on our ibadat on our prayer mats, we get involved in activities which are of little spiritual benefit to us. Those who have achieved in this Tariqah here, and those who are about to achieve, know very little about the “fancy things” that some people talk about. I have tried very hard to protect you from the fancy things, because I want each one of you to let your major concentration be on your Lord and not on the flowers in the garden. It is how your hearts function and what your hearts receive from Allah Almighty that will eventually determine your upward spiritual movement. I want each one of you to take the personal responsibility of protecting yourselves from money-hunters in spirituality. What I find even more disturbing is the fact that people go over my head to reach certain murids to do work for them.
I hope that all of you understand what I am trying to tell you. Stop falling for all types of things and then I have to take the chestnuts out of the fire. I know that you are impatient about your spiritual development, but we all are. And no money–raking-in activities are going to catapult you into a high spiritual station. In fact, it might just be the opposite.
I feel that whenever murids run after such individuals, then it is almost as if I am not good enough for them, and that Mawlana should not have put me in this position.