[These are the rough notes of a Cii talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) on Jan 21, 2016]
Predicament of the Ummah in Current Times
In earlier times, there were also fitnas that were horrendous – so many rivers flowed red with the blood of mu’mineen; but there were also a lot of people left who could preserve deen because they deeply understood and practised deen. As long as there are people like that, deen cannot be wiped away.
Deen is present in very few people right now – they are the people of deep taqwa, sunnah, haya and dhikr. There are very few people like this left in the world. That is why Nabi sws said an ‘alim will die and there will not be another person who can replace him, so then what will happen? Ilm, da’wah and tasawwuf will fall to people of lesser calibre, until the quality keeps becoming less, and ultimately, the deen will fade away in this world.
What we learn from this is that the perpetuity of deen is based on people – like we say in Surah Fatiha:
صِرَٲطَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ
The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace [1:7]
The path of those who You have favoured. There are much less people today on this path, so it is less marked as there are less people travelling on it. This will keep continuing until Imam Mahdi comes. That time is near – but we do not know what it means by “near”. When Nabi sws told us the signs, he did not define what near meant for us in terms of time span or duration.
It is not for us to guess the number of years. Near can mean 60 years, or it can mean 500 years. The point for us is that we need to reflect upon the signs, and the signs are near – it means we are living in times of fitna. There are no people who can take the place of the ahl e deen who are passing away.
So many people who are outwardly practising and preaching deen, even they have so many problems in their lives. In times like this, we need to return to the basic teachings of deen, and we should not diverge. We should not think who is bay’ah to who – the person should not be obsessed with that. We should not think who is the greatest, the oldest Shaykh alive etc.
Mistakes that the Students of Tasawwuf Make
Some people have made tasawwuf into a cult, and everybody has to submit to that personality. The Shaykh is your guide, coach and helper; he is not the cult leader – this is wrong. That is what the Shaykh should be taken for. In a lot of different parts of the world, the Shuyukh are being treated by their students as a cult leader.
If someone behaves in a cultish manner, it means there is a flaw in them. They cannot practise the real teachings, so instead of practising that, they create this environment around the teacher. The purpose of the teacher was to teach. For example, someone goes to a university, and instead of receiving an education, they become the greatest fan of their economics professor. They are going against the reason they enrolled into the university.
Some people have this over exaggerated view of the Shaykh – you just need to practise the teachings. There is no way to express this strong enough. The more we travel on this path, it is amazing to see the phenomenon that students are not interested in teachings, just the teacher. Sometimes this happens so gradually that the Shaykh is not even able to detect it – they become obsessed with the teacher.
From within the ‘ulamā and mashaikh who are all from the ahl e sunnah wal-jamā’ah; within this group, there should be no differences and diversions. It is very important that the students of tazkiyah should focus on learning the teachings, but not become overly obsessed with the teacher.
Some people become so fanatical (fan came from fanatical); that these people become deprived of doing any good deeds. For example, if they go for umrah, you will notice they do not do any extra good deeds; they will want to spend all the time with the Shaykh. No doubt, Maulana Rumi (rah) did say a moment in the company of the awliya is better than a hundred years of worship and Shaykh Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi added that it is more beneficial than hundreds of years of worship.
The people who are fanatical, they have very little dhikr too. A few minutes over a couple of days, and sometimes no dhikr at all. They are constantly in flux. Students should become loyal and true students – they should focus on the teachings and practise the teachings. We should always follow shari’ah – no one is beyond the shari’ah!
The Need for Students to Follow Core Teachings of Tazkiyah
It always begins with tawbah. Wilayah does not mean you reach a rank where you do not do dhikr anymore. Allah swt only takes khidmah from that person who is a sincere follower of the shari’ah. If anyone does against shari’ah, you should not remain silent. Maulana Ilyas said The ‘ulamā in the madaris and khanqas should not remain silent anymore once they reflect on how much people are far away from shari’ah. They need to become more vocal. There are some flawed beliefs right now.
People have misunderstood being a student of Shaykh. It does not mean you invite them to your shops and houses so you get barakah. It does not mean you cook and serve them food – what about the learning part? What about the teaching part? This is a mistake in people – it needs to be corrected. If you enrol at a university just to drive the teacher around, the professor will think what is the matter with you?
Students need to be more focused on the teachings. They need to focus on the tazkiyah aspect. The identity of the Shaykh is simply; he guides you on the path. If you do not want to be guided, then there is no need for the Shaykh. That is the purpose of this path. If you are not on the path and you do not want to be guided, you have nothing to do with the guide. You must become people of more ibadah then naturally, the world will fall into place.
For some people, tazkiyah means to change an aspect of your life, but instead they focus on khidmah and being around the Shaykh. We need to make our own istighfar, more ibadah. This path is about sunnah, haya, taqwa and dhikr.
May Allah swt protect and guide each and every one of us.
وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ