Sufism Is An Obligation on Muslims

February 3, 2008 § 18 Comments

According to the Radd al-Mukhtar, a compilation of fatawa by Imam al-Azam, Abu Hanifa (ra), it is obligatory on Muslims to acquire some knowledge of tasawwuf, saying:

“It is fard-i ‘ain for every Muslim, man or woman, to learn kalam, fiqh and tasawwuf as much as necessary out of these eight branches, and it is a guilt, a sin, not to learn them.” (Al-Hadiqa, p. 323)

The eight branches mentioned in the above passage is referring to the Traditional Religious Sciences of Al-‘Ulum an-Naqliyya. These are the sciences acquired through association with the ‘ulama’ of the Ahl as-Sunnat. The ‘ulama of Islam derived these sciences from the four main sources: the Qur’an al-kerim, the Hadith ash-Sharif, ijma’ al-Umma (consensus of Muslims) and qiyas al-fuqaha (legal rulings of Islamic Scholars).


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§ 18 Responses to Sufism Is An Obligation on Muslims

  • Daniel says:


    I first learned of it in a book by Tahar Ben Jaloun, Cette aveuglante absence de lumière, “This blinding absence of light”, about a group of political prisoners who were involved in an assassination plot in Morocco. The assassination failed, they were arrested and thrown in an underground prison. They live like animals down there with no light, just enough sustenance to keep them alive, wallowing in wretchedness while the guards seem to get pleasure from their misery. The main character, however, is able to avoid hatred or contempt of the guards and thus holds onto his sanity through it all. I heard that this principle of absolute refusal of all resentment at what is outside of one’s control, concentrating all one’s energy on a task at hand while at the same time not worrying about success or failure, to be based on Sufism. I think this is a powerful idea that could ease a lot of the world’s troubles.

    Where can I find out more about Sufism?

    Thank you,

  • MysticSaint says:

    mashallah. thanks for bringing the truth out.

  • Saifuddin says:


    as-salaamu ‘alaikum. Daniel, welcome and thank you for stopping by. Please feel free to come again as much as you like and comment. Daniel you wrote,

    “Where can I find out more about Sufism?”

    The best thing to do when seeking the answer to a question is find the source. In this case, the case of sufism, the source is the inheritor of the tradition, the shaykh. The shaykh is the best place to find more about Sufism. Speak to me offline ( and we can discuss this further, inshaAllah.

    Mystic Saint, alhamdulillah! If it is the Truth it is coming from my shaykh… alhamdulillah, he is one of the Haqqani… the Defenders of Truth, I am merely trying to imitate him.


  • Sufyan Yunus says:


    Assalamu alaikum,

    JazakAllah khayran for writing this. Concise, but so powerful, with so much truth. Tasawwuf is truly an important branch of the Shari’ah.


    Sufyan Yunus

  • Saifuddin says:


    wa ‘alaikum as-salaamu Sufyan Yunus. Alhamdulillah, the majority of Ahl Sunnat scholars and a consensus of Muslims also agree that “teasing”, “mocking”, “disagreeing” with the four Imams or their Islamic Knowledge causes disbelief. So anyone who speaks ill of one of the four Imams would be turning toward kufr.

    The Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) said,

    “Three things increase the taste of belief: loving Allah Almighty and His Prophet more than everything else; loving a Muslim for the sake of Allah Almighty though he doesn’t love you; and not loving enemies of Allah Almighty.”

    So we should be loving more those believers whom perform more worship than a believer who performs less worship. And if a person claims to love someone but does not follow his ways or imitate him, his claim for love would not be a valid claim.


  • Bubbles says:

    Assalamu’alaikum, I’m just curious as to how a fatwa that was made by an Imam can be binding on all Muslims?

  • Saifuddin says:


    wa ‘alaikum as-salaam Bubbles. In short, Imam Abu Hanifa’s (ra) fatawa comprise the instruction on the Hanafi School of Jurisprudence.

    However, if you are not aware of who Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) is, and the relevancy here, I will explain further. The “Imam” we are referencing is Imam al-Azam Abu Hanifa an-Nu’aman(ra), known to Sunnis as “The Greatest Imam”. He is one of the Tabi’in, the generation after the Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and received his knowledge directly from the Sahabi Anas ibn Malik and transmitted the hadiths from him and other Sahaba (may Allah be Pleased with them).

    Abu Hanifa (ra) is the founder of the Hanafi Madhhab, one of the four Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence. If you are a Sunni then you will belong to one of the four different madhhabs. Those who follow one of these madhhabs acknowledge that the followers of the other three also belong to Ahl as-Sunnat, and they love one another. A person who does not follow any of these madhhabs does not belong to Ahl as-Sunnat. Imam Rabbani (ks) speaks of this saying,

    “He who does not belong to Ahl as-Sunnat is either a disbeliever or a man of bidat.”


  • Merazul says:

    As’salamu ‘alaikum,

    The Ulema can differ within a certain Madhab. For example, most Hanafi Scholars are of the opinion that folding the trousers whilst offering Salah is Makrooh-e-Tahreemi, but I have also heard a few who say that it is only Makrooh-e-Tanzeem (can’t remember the exact spelling). A modern day example would be the watch. Imam Ahmed Raza Khan Breilly (Rahmathullahi Alay), who was a great Hanafi Scholar of the Sub-continent, was of the opinion that it is not permissible to wear a watch with metal strapping, but there are many Scholars who believe that it is permissible.

  • Bubbles says:

    Thank you for responding to my comment. I was a bit surprised because I consider myself a Muslim with no particular leanings to any school of thought. You could say I’m all embracing, so long as there are no apparent contradictions.

    Ma Salam.

  • omyma says:

    Perhaps my comment will be unwelcome, but the words of any Imam should never supercede the Qur’an, which warns us not to follow “al-subul” or “paths” in plural, or we will be lost. Sufism is not only not an obligation in Islam, it is a deviation from Islam. Historically, it is a branch of Shi’a philosophy. There is this tendency to glorify the human over the Almighty, or to seek “wahat al-wujuh” or “unification of face” with God, that is, seeking to somehow become Allah. There are many statements from Sufis that suggest power over that which is the domain of Allah alone. True reverence and submission requires taking the honest position of creature worshipping his Almighty, All-Merciful Creator who is without equal, similar or peer.

    Thank you for thinking, seeking.
    Alsalamu alaykum.

  • Saifuddin says:


    wa ‘alaikum as-salaam. Welcome omyma, clearly you are not understanding many things of this tradition and the beautiful Sunnat of our beloved master Sayyidina Maulana Muhammad (may Peace and Bessings be upon him). So I will ask you this one question and you should answer because it does have serious consequences.

    Is Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) wrong?

    In these days we are finding that any and everyone has the freedom to speak. And because of our disconnection with our tradition we, Muslims, are not seeking permission to speak. As a result we Muslims are often misspeaking.

    tawba astaghfirullah ya rabbi. May You allow us to be of the sincere one’s. May You guide the sincere one’s to siratul mustaqim. And may the sincere one’s hold tightly onto that Rope. amin.

    Allah hafiz


  • khudija says:

    AOA, saif ur idea is really good about seeking knowledge. but i cant agree with u that a person who is not ahl-e-sunnat is not muslim. it is a dangerous form of sectarianism which is harming us so severly. we are muslim followers of one Allah and one Prophet and we should promot only unity

  • Saifuddin says:


    wa ‘alaikum as-salaam khudija.

    “but i cant agree with u that a person who is not ahl-e-sunnat is not muslim.”

    I’m not saying, so you are disagreeing with the author of the text I’m citing, which happens to be Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) and Imam Rabbani (ks).


  • Yursil says:


    There is a lot of subtlety being missed in reading this passage.

    One should dwell on this part: “as much as necessary”.

    And even further, we should apply that to what we are discussing here now that the topic is become “who is a Muslim…”

    The Imam was not speaking of that divisive topic, rather the quote seems to speaking to the sinfulness of trying to escape from necessary knowledge.

    And this is a state which sometimes too much discussion and not enough wisdom tends to promote, so I’ll keep quiet now!


  • Saifuddin says:


    wa ‘alaikum as-salaam Yursil, you wrote:

    “One should dwell on this part: “as much as necessary”.”

    MashaAllah, thank you for that wise instruction.


  • omyma says:

    if “as much as necessary” leads to an understanding that this passage only encourages – albeit very strongly – believers to learn all aspects of their religion, then so be it.

    but if it means that one must delve into various sects and become a part of a sufi path and follow a particular leader or “father”, for example, then this is definitely not what Allah asked us to do

  • Bubbles says:

    Omyma, I understood it as an exhortation from the Iman to his followers alone, because then if taken to apply to all Muslims then it is contrary to what the Rasul (pbuh) and what Allah asks.

    Even in the famous hadith ‘to seek Knowledge all the way to China’ it didn’t say it was a sin not to seek a particular knowledge.

  • Saifuddin says:


    as-salaamu ‘alaikum Bubbles. Indeed, this is what I thought I implied by citing Abu Hanifa (ra) and Hanafi scholar, Shaykh Ahmad al-Farooqi Sirhindi (ks) also known as Imam Rabbani when you wrote,

    “I understood it as an exhortation from the Iman to his followers…”

    Bubbles and omyma if I was unclear about the nature of my position concerning the text, please accept my humblest regrets. And now that we have established some common ground, it seems to me what we should be looking into is whether or not other madhahib are saying the same as Abu Hanifa (ra)? For example, on this issue in particular, concerning the eight branches of Tradition Islamic Sciences, Al-’Ulum an-Naqliyya, what are Imam Malik (ra); Imam Shafi’i (ra) and Imam Hanbal (ra) saying of tasawwuf and the conditions (ahkam) for study (fard, wajib, mustahabb, etc.)?

    Bubbles you are correct, what Abu Hanifa (ra) said of tasawwuf may not necessarily be “taken to apply by all Muslims”. However, the conditions (ahkam) placed on the study of tasawwuf with respect to the madhahib is relevant to all Sunni Muslims and worth investigating. Because whether one is Sufi or Salafi (Salafis follow a madhhab), the four madhahib are still relevant and the preferred method for “correct guidance” according to the majority of Islamic Scholars. That is unless you are rejecting the madhahib and taking on the course of those against the traditional schools of Islamic thought, al-La Madhhabiyya.


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