Is tasawwuf a bid'ah?
Taken with thanks from http://www.askimam.org/fatwa/fatwa.php?askid=33b4f88467185eb3a50ce3d85a08b6d9
The thought that tasawwuf is bi’dah could be due to several reasons.
It is possible that some people conduct certain practices against shari’ah in the name of tasawwuf that are obviously wrong.
If your father believes that tasawwuf is bidah due to this reason, then he is correct.
The reality of tasawwuf is Tazkiyya (purification) of one’s naf’s.
We are created from sand, water.fire and air. Each one of these elements reflects a certain character in a person.
Anger is the reflection of fire in a person. Humbleness is the reflection of the sand in person. Water reflex’s itself through a person’s intelligence. Arrogance is the outcome of the air in person.
In tazkiyya, the focus is to bring a balance in all natural instincts. The purpose is not to eliminate the natural instincts.
Anger and pride are natural. Arrogance and humbleness are also natural instincts. In tazkiyya, the focus is on controlling the natural instincts and avoiding every instinct form exceeding moderation.
Excessive anger is bad. To be humble is praiseworthy. However at times it is inappropriate. All other evils of the nafs flow from these evils.
Tazkiyya of the nafs is one of the missions of Rasulullah (s.a.w).
هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ (سورة الجمعة 2)
“It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom - although they were before in clear error.”
When a person does not concentrate in rectifying his soul, he feels uneasy within himself. His family life is in chaos. He has marital problems. His children are disobedient to him. His social life is a burden for him. To a large extent, if one honestly examines himself, he will conclude that he is the problem.
He did not contain his nafs. His problems are the consequences of his nafs. Had he controlled his nafs, the position would be different.
Everyone knows when he is following his nafs. Allah has given everyone an ultra sense to determine that. If one examines his challenges in life honestly, he will conclude that he brought his problems upon himself.
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (سورة الروم 41)
Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].
If one is able to purify his nafs himself well and good. If one cannot do so, he should seek the assistance from a spiritual doctor.
If one is physically sick, he consults a doctor. Similarly; a spiritually ill person should also consult a spiritual doctor to cure his spiritual sickness. If one denies this, his condition will worsen.
A spiritual guide who has undergone spiritual training under a sheikh kamil will apply his skills and expertise in curing one form his spiritual diseases.
A spiritual guide adheres to shariah and the Sunnah and all aspects of shariah.When one sits in his company or hear his talks or listens to his zikr, he feels spiritual enlightenment in his heart. The above is a brief explanation on the philosophy of tasawwuf.
For more details, you could download the talks on tazkiya and also listen to the zikr programmes on: