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The Legitimacy of Asceticism in Islam

Sultan al-Awliya

Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani

27 July 2011 Lefke, Cyprus

(Translated from Arabic)

A hadith of the Prophet (s) states, intizhaar al-faraji `ibaadatun, “To wait for an opening is worship.” According to Arabic grammar, the additional letter 'nun' (in '`ibaadatun') is for glorification.

Allah (swt) said:

وَأَلَّوِ اسْتَقَامُوا عَلَى الطَّرِيقَةِ لَأَسْقَيْنَاهُم مَّاء غَدَقًا

wa law istiqaamoo `ala at-tareeqati la-asqaynaahum maa’an ghadaqa.

If they had (only) remained on the (right) Way, We would certainly have bestowed on them rain in abundance. (Surat al-Jinn, 72:16)

Those who object to Sufi paths do not understand nor have the ability to comprehend. They say “tariqah” (path/way) is not mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. What does this verse mean? Shari`ah is for the majority of people, but tariqah is for those with high spiritual aspiration. Does this verse mean if not for tariqah, we wouldn’t have maa’an ghadaqa, water to drink?

In His Mighty Words, Allah (swt) said, “wa law istiqaamoo `ala at-tareeqati.” Here the word “tariqah” appears with the definite article alif-lam, “the,”1 which in Arabic specifies four things: gender, time (past, present, future), unique identifier and status. Therefore, “`ala at-tareeqati” means “the type of tariqah (all of them).” So we may interpret it to mean, “If one puts all his efforts, We will surely bestow on them water in abundance.”

What is “water in abundance;” who can comment on this verse from among your scholars? Does it mean, “Drink water to be on the Right Way.” Is it requested to drink water? No one understands it except the Prophet (s)! Also, is “maa’an ghadaqa” only mentioned for the water? Allah (swt) mentioned and requested from His servants to be upright on the Way, tariqah, as He doesn't like character that shifts from piety to crookedness!

1 A definite article indicates that its noun is a particular one (or ones) identifiable to the listener. It may be something that the speaker has already mentioned, or it may be something uniquely specified. The definite article in English for both singular and plural nouns is “the.”


ثُمَّ قَفَّيْنَا عَلَى آثَارِهِم بِرُسُلِنَا وَقَفَّيْنَا بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنجِيلَ وَجَعَلْنَا فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ رَأْفَةً وَرَحْمَةً وَرَهْبَانِيَّةً ابْتَدَعُوهَا مَا كَتَبْنَاهَا عَلَيْهِمْ إِلَّا ابْتِغَاء رِضْوَانِ اللَّهِ فَمَا رَعَوْهَا حَقَّ رِعَايَتِهَا فَآتَيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ

Thumma qaffaynaa `alaa aathaarihim birusulinaa waqaffaynaa bi`eesaa ibni maryama wa aataynaahu al-injeela wa ja`alna fee quloobi allatheena ittaba`oohu rafatan warahmatan warahbaaniyyatan ibtada`oohaa maa katabnaahaa `alayhim illaa ibtighaa ridwaani Allaahi famaa ra`awhaa haqqa ri`aayatiha faataynaa allatheena aamanoo minhum ajrahum wakatheerun minhum faasiqoon.

Then, in their wake, We followed them up with (others of) Our apostles. We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary and bestowed on him the Gospel, and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him compassion and mercy. But the Monasticism which they invented for themselves We did not prescribe for them; (We commanded) only the seeking for the good pleasure of Allah, but they did not foster that as they should have. Yet We bestowed on those among them who believed their (due) reward, but many of them are rebellious transgressors. (al-Hadid, 57:27)

For the sake of Truth we mention from Holy Qur’an, “Had they remained on the Right Way,” (72:16) “(Although) We did not prescribe it for them…they did not observe it as they should have.” (57:27) If they had observed it seeking only Allah’s pleasure, He would have accepted it. (...) They started (the practice of Monasticism) but did not give its due right; had they done so there would have been no problem.

Allah (swt) mentioned them in the Holy Qur'an; is it without a benefit? It is to teach us! “You undertook 'paths' but did not give them their due right; some of you (who practiced Monasticism) did not put all your efforts truthfully.”

The Prophet (s) said, "There is no Monasticism in Islam." For the greater majority there is no Monasticism, but if one person chooses to be monastic (secluded in worship), it is a divinely position. We cannot forbid the person if all his life he is in seclusion, in isolation, making spiritual practices, devoting himself in worship. We do not object to this, because such a servant wants to be for Allah only and to leave the whole world. Allah Almighty will not tell His servant, “Don't leave dunya;” rather He says, "Leave dunya and come!"

You must understand that Monasticism is accepted by Allah; otherwise He would not mention in the Holy Qur'an, “If servants put all their efforts to serve the Lord,” it is the best, highest, most blessed and most honorable undertaking, rather than to be busy with the world.

O Doctors! Whoever refutes this has no mind! Prescribe monasticism to yourselves, if you are from among the real men (rijaalAllah, who kept their covenants to Allah Almighty)! But no, (you ignorant scholars only empasize) to be satisfied with what is halaal and to avoid what is haraam. You have no minds! True men are the ones who leave all desires: what is forbidden as well as what is permitted! We observe a specific seclusion--from the beginning of Dhul -Q`adah until 10 Dhul-Hijjah--to cut the greediness of the ego that results from desires of what is permitted, but you scholars exhort everyone, “Enjoy (in abundance) whatver is permitted!” You have no minds!

The highest rank is for whoever is able to leave what is absolutely forbidden and escape to what is permitted! Of all that is permissable for desires, they may take the minimum possible within limits, only to give the ego power for worship. This in itself is an ocean (among knowledge)!

(The Sahaabah [r] said, “We used to leave nine-tenths of what is permitted for fear of falling into what is forbidden.")

That is another matter; this is a teaching for the majority of people and we are speaking on what is above that. They don't fear falling into what is prohibited, because they leave all desires, including what is permitted, to seek the sweetness of munajaat (intimacy) with The Lord of the Worlds. Who eats often goes to the toilet forty times, but who renounces (eating and drinking often) may go to the toilet once or twice, so their time is devoted to work, to be in the presence of The Lord Almighty. However, most people enjoy eating, drinking and feeding their passions to the extent permitted but, although they are within limits, they are really devoted to feeding the appetite of their ego.

Monasticism was not prescribed in Islam because people would never observe that way of life. Therefore, in this verse about the story of the Children of Israel with their prophet (57:27), they referred to those in the Christian nation who built monasteries for priest and nuns. They locked themselves inside (away from dunya) because they sought what came to Sayyidatuna Maryam (r), angels from Heavens. They aspired to be like her and they begged God to send a servant from Heavens to carry in their wombs, who could be like the son of Maryam (a)! You never heard something like this? I don't know anything, but these are heavenly inspirations.

Astaghfirullahi 'l-`Aliyyu 'l-`Azheem! Allah Allah, Allah Allah. This is an ocean! Yaa Rabbee! Tawbah ya Rabbee, tawbah yaa Rabbee! Now came the meaning of this expression. How come Allah Almighty mentioned this in the Holy Qur'an if it has no benefit? (...) It means, “We did not oblige Monasticism on (People of the Book); they invented it as a goal for both men and women, priests and nuns.” What did they want? They sought only to please Allah. This points to why they chose Monasticism: they sought to reach The Divine!

You can fill books from the secrets of the honorable verses! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Tawbah yaa Rabbee, tawbah yaa Rabbee! Tawbah, astaghfirullah!


O Muslims! Where are you? If you realized such meanings, each of you would seek Monasticism. Priest and nuns leave everything for the sake of acquiring divine acceptance. It is not forbidden, but it was not prescribed for them. Tawbah yaa Rabbee, tawbah yaa Rabbee!


Who is authorized may speak to open the door, inshaa-Allah.