The Essence of the Path of Tasawwuf

shariahHazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) once mentioned:

A Sufi from Ilaahabad, who would often listen to samaa‘ (nazams and naats), once enquired from me regarding its status. I replied, “I will not engage you in an academic discussion. Rather, I will simply ask you a question which you can answer through your own personal observation. Tell me, what is the essence of the path of Tasawwuf?” The person replied, “The essence of the path of Tasawwuf is Mujaahadah (i.e. opposing the desires of the nafs).” I then said to him, “The second question I now wish to ask you is whether or not your nafs feels inclined to listening to samaa‘ (nazams and naats).” The man replied, “Yes, my nafs does feel inclined.” I thereafter concluded asking, “So tell me, are you the people making mujaahadah or are we? Are we the true Sufis or are you people the true Sufis? Despite our hearts desiring to listen to samaa‘, we do not do so, whereas, despite your hearts desiring to listen to samaa’, you do so.” The man then submitted saying, “Only today have I really understood this mas’alah.” Saying this, he began to make tawbah and repented to Allah Ta’ala in front of me.

Hazrat Moulana Thaanwi (rahimahullah) further mentioned in relation to samaa‘: One of my friends had begun performing Tahajjud Salaah, reciting the Qur’aan and performing other virtuous deeds. However, he soon thereafter went to a certain place in the capacity of a government official. The place he went to would often hold programs of samaa‘ (nazams and naats), and on account of his prominent position, he would also be invited to attend. He would accept the invitation and attend the program. He himself thereafter said, “I noticed this to be the effect of samaa‘, that I would previously be motivated to perform Salaah, recite the Qur’aan and engage in ibaadaat. However, after I began listening to samaa‘, the motivation and enjoyment towards these virtuous deeds no longer remained. I thus understood samaa‘ to be harmful to my Deen.” (Malfoozaat Hakeemul Ummat 14/159)


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