Are the Sufis a Deviant Sect?

Sufi is simply an active participle for a person who practices the science of tassawuf by study and application. Tassawuf, although new in terminology, is in fact from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. It is described in the Qur’an as tazkiyah, and is known in the Ahaadeeth as Ihsaan. Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah states that “Tassawuf is the state of Ihsaan and it is described in the Qur’an as Tazkiyah an-Nafs…”

In short Tassawuf is the science of purification of the heart, mind, body and the soul, by the development of taqwa to avoid what Allah has forbidden and take the path that Allah has enjoined, and to have adab and Akhlaaq knowing “Allah is seeing you” at every moment. So not only is tazkiyah purification from sins, but also perfection of character. Tassawuf is therefore simply a synonym

Wahhabis all to often try to paint Sufis as a deviant cult but yet are unaware that Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah has dedicated a whole volume [volume 11] from his Majmu’a al-Fatawaa to the science of tassawuf, in which he wrote the following: “The Sufi is in reality from amongst the people of truth. So he is one who specialises in the field of Zuhd and worship… “as-Sufi huwa fil-haqiqah naw’un min as-siddiqeen. Fahuwa as-siddiq alladhi ikhtassa bil-zuhadi wal-’ibadah…”

The Shaykh says further: “…Some of the people accept blindly the wrong practices that has been innovated with Tassawuf, causing others to reject it in totality. The right attitude, however, is to accept what is in agreement with the Qur’an, and the Sunnah, and to reject whatever has no foundation upon [the Qur’an and the Sunnah]…”

We cannot deny the reality that not every Muslim is guided correctly on the path of Islam due to the division of the 72 cults, however it would not be correct to claim that every Muslim is misguided. Sufis are from the Muslims, some are rightly guided some are misguided. This is a reality that the true Sufiyah accept. Imaam ‘Abdur Rahmaan al-Jawzi has made a point of the deviant Sufis in his text Talbees Iblees, however we cannot forget who his teacher was, the great Shaykh Abdul Qaadr al-Jilaani!

Shaykh Abdul Qaadir al-Jilaani said in his text Sirr al-Asrar, p. 65:

“There is a group of people called the Sufis. Four interpretations are given for this name. Some see, looking at their exterior, that they wear rough woollen garb. In Arabic the word for wool is suf, and they call them Sufis from this. Others, looking at their way of life free from the anxieties of this world, and at their ease and at peace, which in Arabic is safa, call them Sufis on that account. Yet others, seeing deeper, look at their hearts, which are purified of everything other than the Essence of Allah. Because of the purity of those hearts, in Arabic safi, they term them
Sufis. Others who know call them Sufis because they are close to Allah and will stand in the first row, in Arabic saff, before Allah on the day of the Last Judgement.”

The word tassawuf and its active participle [ism faa'3l] has been around as long as Imaam Maalik’s time, for Imaam Maalik has been reported to have said ” “Whoever practices tassawuf and does not practice his fiqh has corrupted his faith; likewise, whoever practices his fiqh and does not practice tassawuf has corrupted himself. Whosoever combines the two together, has proven to be true”

We see from this that Muslims upon the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah have long identified themselves with being upon the path of Sufis, throughout almost 1400 years as Imaam Maalik was from the first generation! The same cannot be said for the term “Salafi” which has only appeared in the 13th century AH/ 1900ce.

With this said, the claim that the Sufis are a deviant cult, simply falls to the ground

As-Salaamu ‘alaykum, Wahhabis do much disparaging talk about the four Sisalahs of Sufi Islam. Below is a little something I have recently written. Even though I specifically speak from being inside the Naqshbani Tareeqah, I would like the reader to keep in mind I mean all sisalahs in general.


The Naqshbandi Tareeqah owes it’s name to Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari [rahmatullah alayhi] who was born in the 7th century of Islam [after hijrah]. But yet out of the 13 spiritual masters [Khawajagaan] between Baha ud-deen and Abu Bakr as-Sideeq radiy Allahu anhu, the spiritual teachings and order was named Naqshbandi after him. There is nothing wrong with this labeling of the tareeqah, and since the teachings have been passed down from teacher to teacher, it is far from being an innovation of any sort.

Do those who criticize the four sisalas a ever stop to think why their favourate hadeeth collection is called Saheeh al-Bukhari instead of Saheeh al-Hadeeth?

The Sahaabah radiy Allahu anhum never quoted any hadeeth from a collection called Saheeh al-Bukhaari, nor Saheeh Muslim for that matter. These collections were unknown to them. Yet the hadeeth found within were certainly passed down from the Sahaabah radiy Allahu anhum.

The same is true when it comes to the the fiqh of tassawuf, which has only been coined with the names of the four sisalahs.

It is all too easy to confuse people regarding these matters. So much so, that the hadeeth prophecy that in the end times the Sunnah will be classified as bid’ah and the bid’ah will be classified as Sunnah has now come true. How can we distinguish sunnah from bid’ah when cultists are playing deceptive games with labels, yet fail to realize that the spirit behind these labels are in fact from the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah and his Sahaabah?

Let us look at a modern example unreleated to the deen. Let us use Asda supermarket as an example. Asda is a new company that merged with Wall-mart in 1999. Asda was unknown in the Prophet’s time, the Sahaabah certinaly did not shop for Asda special price products or ever witness the extravagance of what we know in our times as a supermarket,

Can we call Asda an innovation? What is Asda but a label? What about the products that are sold inside? Did not the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam have honey? vinegar? and other products found within this “great innovation”? I am pretty sure milk has been around since the creation of a cow, has it not? In all sincerity, we cannot claim the products are innovation, no matter what label they come under. You can deceive people by the label, but not by the product. New label, same product, should register in any sound mind as not an innovation.

The unfortunate reality is that the charge of innovation is all to common amongst those who wish to foster bad opinion and evil about their brothers, This causes self righteous people to form puritan cults and make false claims and accusations against the people of truth, But let us peel back these false claims and accusations and place them under the microscope to see if they can stand the test of sincere research and examination.

If we did this with everything that our opposition claims to be innovation, indeed we would uncover the many trickery tactics and flawed logic of none other than Shaytaan, and indeed he is truly weak. With sincere research, the true facts surface and the false claims of the cultists fail dismally, and as always the truth prevails.

The simple truth regarding the Naqshbandi Sufi order is that it is in fact from the Sunnah and part of Islam. Just as the names of the four known surviving madh-habs of Fiqh, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali, the sisalas [i.e. the Sufi Tareeqahs] also take their names after the Ulemaa that were most famous for reviving the science of tasawwuf. This does not mean that the science was unknown to Rasul Allah sal Allahu alayhi wasallam and the Sahaabah, all because the names Naqshbandi, Qadri, Chisti, etc were unheard of in their time.

The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam taught the doctrine onto his companions in which was then passed down from teacher to student in a traditional manner. Each of the sislahs has a chain leading back to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam, and these chains are unique to the true claimants of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah. “

Furthermore, we fail to see any revivers [mujadiddeen] that came after the naming of the Naqshbandi ever call the Naqshbandiyyah out by name to be either innovation or deviance. Nothing is said in Ibn Hajara al-Asqalani’s works, Ibn Katheer’s works, Imaam as-Suyuti’s works, Imaam adh-Dhahabi’s works, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s works. Had the Naqshbandis been in oppistion to the doctrines and the truth of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, then surely we should have at least found some warning about them in the books of the mentioned Imaams!

Not even Taqi ud-Deen Ibn Taymiyyah has spoken about the Naqshbandis as being a deviated cult, not once, and the Naqshbandi movement [as Wahhabis would have us believe] is said to have originated in his era. Yet “Shaykh ul-Islam” failed to warn against this “deviated cult”? Had Ibn Taymiyyah warned against the Naqshbandiyyah, would have Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab an-Najdi studied under Muhammad Hayyat as-Shindi who was not only a Hanafi by fiqh, but a Naqshbandi Sufi! Why do we not even find in Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s works any mention of the Naqshbandis as being a deviated cult? The only reason why is because it is simply not there.

These accusations against the four Sufi sislahs are new, and any new thesis without any authority being sent down by Allah is simply innovation. We have no choice but to conclude that it is the modern Wahhabi rhetoric that is the true innovation. Such people who carry these ideas only deal in slander and evil opinions about their Muslim brothers, and if they are not careful, their tongues, their false accusations and slanderous remarks will be the cause of them entering the Jahhanam. May Allah save us all from this. Ameen

18 thoughts on “Are the Sufis a Deviant Sect?

  1. Asalaamu alaikum wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatu. My dear Brother I am curious about something. By Allah, I do not mean any offence or harm. I am searching for the truth. I notice on the homepage and in other places, you speak about Ibn Tayymia having corrupt positions on things,
    and exposing the truth about Ibn Tayymia, and he is the originator of splitting tawheed into categories and this being wrong. But, throughout other articles, I see ibn tayymia being quoted an awful lot throughout your website on many topics in a positive light, taking knowledge from him. So, if you are against him, why are you taking knowledge from him. Also, I noticed that you mention the aspect of tassawuf, and how it is a new terminology but it’s meaning and science is backed up by evidence from the Quran and Sunnah. Well, I must say, isn’t this the same situation with the catergories of Tawheed? Yes, they were not taught using this terminology, i.e. Ruboobiya, Uluhiyya, asma wa sifaat, Hakamiyyah, etc., But, are not all these categories and the meanings that they imply completely backed up by evidence from Quran and Sunnah? So, just like there is no harm in using new terminology such as Tassawuf to understand Ihsan and Tazkiyya, shouldn’t this also be the case with using these terminologies to better understand Tawheed in detail? Again I am not trying to offend anyone or fight. I love you for the sake of Allah ta’ala and I am searching for the haqq as well. My email is . Jazakam Allahu khair. Asalaamu Alaikum.

    • Salamun alaykum wa rahmatullah

      Perhaps you have misunderstood. The places where I have spoken of him in a “postive light” – as you understand it – is only documentation of his repentance and being buried as a believer, and the point he was buried in the Sufi graveyard and considered a Shaykh ul-Islam by a great handfull of scholars that we consider to be mujaddids. This is not in “praise” of Ibn Taymiyyah, but rather a honest documentation of facts.

      I am against Ibn Taymiyyah due to his sins, his mistakes and numerous things that he should have never said, yet, there are great works he has authored ans only an total ignoramuses would deny the great benefit of these works.

      Secondly he is quoted due to his positions that fly in the face of the Wahhabi cult, the positions that actually agree with Sunni Islam. due to his said repentance, I say “Rahimahullah” meaning may Allah have mercy upon him. This does not mean I praise him at all. Yet I am only doing justice by mentioning what the scholars have mentioned.

      Many have said good about Ibn Taymiyyah, but yet have refuted him in the next breath. One example can be found in his own students works Imaam Adh-Dhababi who calls him shaykh ul-Islam, but then writes a letter to him condemning him for innovations.

      You need to understand that I am not for nor either against Ibn Taymiyyah personally. Just as equally you will not find me cursing him on this blog what so ever. Yet I quote another mujaddid who blames him and somehow come under your scrutiny. I think it should be your style of scrutiny and cross examination you should be really questioning.

      Somebody could see it very easily as clutching at straws in attempt to undermine anything here I have presented.

      Regards to you statement about Tawheed, what about Tawheed ul-Khalqiyyah? What about Tawheed ul-Ahadiyyah? What about Tawheed ul-Tanziyyah? What about Tawheed ul-Siffatiyyah? Tawheed ul-Qadeeriyyah? Tawheed ur-Razaqiyyah?

      These “types of tawheed” can equally be proven from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, but is this HOW the Prophet sal allahu alayhi wasallam taught tawheed, or did Allah forget to perfect this deen?

      You need to watch the Wahhabi argument of Tawheed for it leads to accusing innocent Muslims of violating tawheed, and then calling for the shedding of their blood and the repossession of the their property and even women! There is only one cult that had this ideology in the whole of history and the Sahaabi Abu Umaamah said about them that they were Muslims who had become kuffar after having believed! These people were the Khawaarij.

      Tawheed is already a new terminology! it is NOT found within the Qur’an nor the sunnah. Allah never mentioned the word tawheed, nor did the Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wasallam mention it in any hadeeth. Yet the term has been derived by early scholars. Derived from the name Waahid and Ahad, and also derived from the verb used in the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wasallam when he commended Mu’adh Ibn Jabal to teach the people of Yemen about the oneness of Allah. Which was simply to teach them la ilaha illa Allah Muhammad ur-Rasulullah and not a whole bunch of books that claim that tawheed has been lost for centuries, and Muslims have declined and resulted to calling upon graves etc.

      I understand your concerns, but I would appreciate it if you took these words into deep consideration, because the takfeer and killing of Muslims in the name of an innovated version of tawheed is no small thing.

      Wa alaykum as-salam .

  2. Proof for sufism

    Imam Abu Hanifa:”If it were not for two years, I would have perished.” He said, “for two years I accompanied Sayyidina Ja’far as-Sadiq and I acquired the spiritual knowledge that made me a gnostic in the Way.” [Ad-Durr al-Mukhtar, vol 1. p. 43]

    Imam Malik: “whoever studies Jurisprudence (tafaqaha) and didn’t study Sufism [tasawwafa] will be corrupted; and whoever studied Sufism and didn’t study Jurisprudence will become a heretic; and whoever combined both will be reach the Truth.” [the scholar’Ali al-Adawi , vol. 2, p 195.)

    Imam Shafi’i:”I accompanied the Sufi people and I received from them three knowledges: … how to speak; .. how to treat people with leniency and a soft heart… and they… guided me in the ways of Sufism.” [Kashf al-Khafa, 'Ajluni, vol. 1, p 341.]

    Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal: “O my son, you have to sit with the People of Sufism, because they are like a fountain of knowledge and they keep the Remembrance of Allah in their hearts. they are the ascetics and they have the most spiritual power.” [Tanwir al-Qulub p. 405]

  3. Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (1115 – 1201 AH.)

    “My father Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab and I do not deny or criticize the science of Sufism, but on the contrary we support it, because it purifies the external and the internal of the hidden sins, which are related to the heart and to the outward form. Even though the individual might externally be on the right way, internally he might be on the wrong way. Sufism is necessary to correct it.”

    [ad-Dia'at mukathaffa did ash-shaykh ibn Abdul Wahhab, p. 85]

  4. I agree with all of your points. A layman must be very cautious when talking about or reading about any of Ibn Taymiyyah’s work. You referenced Dr. Tahir al Qadri in your comment. I would advice to very chary of this individual. He has stated many questionable material over the past 5-10 years. When asked to clarify his statements or even asked to a debate, he has ran away from all of these inquiries. Most notably when asked to debate while in South Africa, he jumped over a fence to get away from his adversaries.

    Nevertheless great work on this website!

  5. Asalamalykum,

    I was always under the impression that Ibn Taymiyyah was a deviant. He claimed many horrible things about Allah.Such as Allah having limits, a body, only within 6 directions, etc. Can you clarify these statements? Or are we talking about two different people.

    • wa alaykum as-salam

      It is true that Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah deviated away from the truth and the ijmaa of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah in more than 17 issues. He was arrested and imprisoned on a number of occasions for his blasphemies, especially the ones you speak of. Yet, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaani documents his repentance before a council of Ash’ari judges that defeated him in a debate, until he repented and said “Ana Ash’ari”.

      Ibn Taymiyyah was arrested for crimes in which if found guilty he would have been executed as a kaafir, but due to his repentance, the judges deemed him as a believer, but gave him a custodial sentence in which Ibn Taymiyyah died within. He was buried in the Sufi graveyard in Damascus and prayed over by the very judges who imprisoned him which shows that he was buried a believer. His reckoning is with Allah.

      The Hanbalis have refuted Ibn Taymiyyah’s works in a very subtle manner. Ibn Muflih, for example, has taken the Imaam’s Majmu’a al-Fatawaa and expunged all the deviant points only to re-release it as a work called Kitaab ul-Furu. Out of the many deviant things that Ibn Taymiyyah said, this only makes up about 5-10 percent of his works. He has done praiseworthy books that Sufis of this agr are only beginning to know about. His commentary on Shakh Abdul Qaadir al-Jilaani’s Futuh al-Ghayb is simply amazing, his book speaking about the Maliki madh-hab is beautiful and enlightening. I am presently reading his book “The Friends of Allah and the Friends of Shaytaan” – Dr Tahir al-Qadri utilized this book to do a lecture about the Awliyah of Allah.

      There have been many mujaddid Imaams that have praised Ibn Taymiyyah as being a Shaykh ul-Islam in knowledge, meaning that he was a master of the 18 sciences even though he went “Anakin skywalker”. up until his death [the darth vader death being a suitable parable]

      Imaam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaani, Ibn Katheer, Ibn Rajab al-Hanabli, Imaam adh-Dhahabi, Imaam as-Suyuti who are all Shaykhs of Islam called him Shaykh ul-Islam. Ibn Taymiyyah is therefore a character we need to be cautious of.

      Do not take from him unless you know a saheeh scholar has ventured into that area and permitted it for you, and my general advice to all is to be very cautious and do not go overboard when speaking about him. We should only say what we need to say about him and leave it at that.

      Thank you dearly for your noble question

  6. Pingback: Just a recap of all the articles so far offered at | The Wahhabi Threat

  7. Like the names of the four known surviving madh-habs of Fiqh, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali, the sisalas [i.e. the Sufi Tareeqahs] also take their names after the Ulemaa that were most famous for reviving the science of tasawwuf.

    This does not mean that the science was unknown to Rasul Allah sal Allahu alayhi wasallam and the Sahaabah, all because the names Naqshbandi, Qadri, Chisti, etc were unheard of in their time.

    The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam taught the doctrine onto his companions in which was then passed down from teacher to student in a traditional manner. Each of the sislas has a chain leading back to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam, and these chains are unique to the true claimants of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah.

  8. وذكر ابن تيمية في كتابه الفرقان بين أولياء الرحمن وأولياء الشيطان [أن عبدالواحد ابن زيد من أولياء الرحمن ] !! .

    تعريف الصوفي عند ابن تيمية في ( مجموع الفـتاوى ) (11/16) :
    [هو ـ أي الصوفي ـ في الحقيقة نوع من الصديقين فهو الصديق الذي اختص بالزهد والعبادة على الوجه الذي اجتهدوا فيه فكان الصديق من أهل هذه الطريق كما يقال : صديقو العلماء وصديقو الأمراء فهو أخص من الصديق المطلق ودون الصديق الكامل الصديقية من الصحابة والتابعين وتابعيهم فإذا قيل عن أولئك الزهاد والعباد من البصريين أنهم صديقون فهو كما يقال عن أئمة الفقهاء من أهل الكوفة أنهم صديقون أيضاً كل بحسب الطريق الذي سلكه من طاعة الله ورسوله بحسب اجتهاده وقد يكونون من أجلّ الصديقين بحسب زمانهم فهم من أكمل صديقي زمانهم والصديق من العصر الأول أكمل منه والصديقون درجات وأنواع ولهذا يوجد لكل منهم صنف من الأحوال والعبادات حققه وأحكمه وغلب عليه وإن كان غيره في غير ذلك الصنف أكمل منه وأفضل منه ]

    قال ابن تيبمية في مجموع الفتاوى (جزء 12 – صفحة 36 )

  9. As-Salaamu Alaykum.

    An interesting scribd doc about Hanbali Sufis:

    By the way, akhi, are you yourself a Sufi?

    • Wa alaykum as-Salam

      I do not ascribe myself with the title, but yes I am bayah to a Sufi Shaykh and connect with a Sufi Tareeqah.

      Certainly an interesting document, thank you for kindly sharing

  10. As-Salaamu Alaykum.

    I found this interesting thread on The OP is a scholar. He made a list of prominent ulema that the Wahhabis claim to follow and pointed out that they were sufis or were closely affiliated with sufis/tasawwuf.

  11. As-Salaamu Alaykum.

    But Shaykh Abdul-Qadir Jilani was a Sufi himself, right? Hence the name Qadiriyya for one of the worlds most widespread Sufi tariqas?

    • Wa alaykum as-Salaam, Yes Akhi, he certainly taught the doctrine!

      Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah – may Allah forgive his wrongdoings – wrote a commentary to his work on the science, the book is entitled Futuh al-Ghayb and has been translated by my late friend Ruslaan moore aka Mukhtar Holland, whom i shared a few words with before his passing away. May Allah bless the Shaykh for translating the text

You are welcome to comment and ask a valid questions, however there are a few guidelines and conditions to your comments being approved. Messages like "your a heretic, you do not know what you are talking about, you have no knowledge, you are an enemy of Islam, stupid Sufi" are usually rejected. Consider your words carefully..

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