An American Spiritual Tradition

March 16, 2009 § 11 Comments

Marc Manley wrote an interesting blog post a few weeks back, where he asked the question,

“[N]ow that Islam has arrived on America’s shores, what will its spiritual tradition look like?”

For me, there is a very easy answer: The Osmanli Naks-i’bendi Sufi Association. There is not much more to it. Really, for me its that simple. The reasons why are spelled out plainly on the front page of the main website saying,

“We are followers of the most distinguished Naks-I’bendi Hakkani Tarikat (sufi order), which traces its traditions directly back to the life-style and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Sufism (‘Tasawwuf’, in Arabic) is one of the Islamic sciences. Under the guidance of a Sheykh of the Tarikat, sufism is the way of purifying oneself from bad manners and characteristics in preparation for passing clean to the afterlife. Sufism is the spirituality in Islam. The chain of transmission (of the teachings) is documented through the 40 GrandSheykhs of the Tarikat back to Abu Bakr Siddik, the first companion to whom the Prophet passed the sufi knowledge of the heart.”

The spiritual tradition of the Osmanli Naks-i’bendi-Hakkani Tarikat is directly connected to the spiritual tradition of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him), his Companions (may Allah’s Mercy be with them) and those that succeeded them (may Allah keep their Secret).

Therefore, our lifestyle – though living in America – should look like that of our shaykh, who is following his shaykh and so on reaching all the way to the Best of Mankind, the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him). There is not much more to it. It really is that simple.  And if you didn’t know, now you do. But a better question is: Now that you know, what are you willing to do about it?

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§ 11 Responses to An American Spiritual Tradition

  • Marc Manley says:

    I think the path of joining/following a tariqah is up to the individual proclivity of each Muslim. I myself, while respectful of the turuq, part ways with some of the practices that they hold and participate in. I think, as I had articulated in the post, that there are many ways to a fulfilling spiritual path; parhaps the turuq are one path and yet there lay others. As I am sure you shaykh would say, not everyone is fit for the turuq lifestyle. Therefore, we have to assume that since there were no turuq at the time of the Prophet [s], nor did he call for the formation of them upon his demise [s], that it is not the only way to obtaining salvation. Continuing, we also do we see the formation of what we understand as turuq today at the feet of the Sahaba [rah], again, reiterating that the path to a spiritually nourished lifestyle may lay down many avenues.

    I say this all not to refute your words and to deny what has, in sha’Allah, been fruitful for you, but rather to remind ourselves in the conversation the scope of “personal successes and recipes”.

    Tawfiq,

  • Marc Manley says:

    Continuing, we also do we see the formation of what we understand as turuq today at the feet of the Sahaba [rah],

    Sorry, should read: Continuing, we also do not we see the formation of what we understand as turuq today at the feet of the Sahaba [rah],

  • Marc Manley says:

    Continuing, we also do not we see the formation of what we understand as turuq today…

    Good God I can’t type!! For the last time: Continuing, we also do not see the formation of what we understand as turuq today…

  • Yursil says:

    BismillahirRahmanirRahim

    myself, while respectful of the turuq, part ways with some of the practices that they hold and participate in.

    Such as?

    I think, as I had articulated in the post, that there are many ways to a fulfilling spiritual path; parhaps the turuq are one path and yet there lay others. As I am sure you shaykh would say, not everyone is fit for the turuq lifestyle. Therefore, we have to assume that since there were no turuq at the time of the Prophet [s], nor did he call for the formation of them upon his demise [s], that it is not the only way to obtaining salvation. Continuing, we also do we see the formation of what we understand as turuq today at the feet of the Sahaba [rah], again, reiterating that the path to a spiritually nourished lifestyle may lay down many avenues.

    There are many ways to convince oneself that one is on a ‘spiritual path’. Spiritism and other New age philosophies are probably the ones that have attracted the most energy in the past century. They remain unproven and disconnected methodologies from the Prophetic Sunnah.

    As far as whether the Prophet (S) has no Tarikat, this is incorrect. One might as well say the Prophet (S) had no Madhab. It’s an argument that has, as we know, collapsed along with the Salafi ‘dawah’.

    Shariat is Law and Tarikat or Minhaj is a way, as specifically expressed in the Quranic ayat which distinguishes them as distinct and individual concepts,

    BismillahirRahmanirRahim

    And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which hath come unto thee. For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced-out way. [Quran 5:48]

    Sahabis are involved in every traditional chain of the Tarikats, the Naqshbandi’s going back to the ‘second of the two’, Hazrat Abu Bakr as Siddiq (Ra). The chain also leads to Salman al-Farsi (Ra) another Sahabi, and many tarikats have paths going through Ali (R). Since every generation of transmission is known the Silsila’s run, like that of any Hadith isnad (except without the possibility of unknowns), through Sahabi, Taba’een and Taba Taba’een and subsequent generations.

    Believing that the Sahabi were somehow not involved in the practice and development of Tarikats as they exist today is a radical accusation of deceit upon the traditional Sufi orders, which claim exactly that and reach as far across the globe as the Shahadat alone did.

    Ultimate salvation is not contingent on your level of spirituality nor on initiation in a Way, we know that the community will be provided intercession on behalf of the Prophet (S).

    At the same time, pride, anger, greed and jealously cannot exist in Paradise. What is necessary is purification of the ego, whether that occurs now or in the grave or thereafter. Each is successively more difficult and by necessity affects the range of our spiritual progress. Being unable to accept a guide due to some misunderstanding of technicalities or lack of willingness to entertain a discussion about the topic is a good indication of a problem with the former.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    Hey Marc. Listen man, I respect your or anyone’s right to choose which lifestyle they wish to follow. I am merely using this blog to share my views and life – which have become of interest to some over the course of 4 years. And I think that I understand why.

    You wrote,

    “I think the path of joining/following a tariqah is up to the individual proclivity of each Muslim.”

    But this was hard to swallow because the present day is much like the jahiliyya times likely worse. The Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) has told us about what would happen in the ahir zaman (end times) and this is it. Is that questionable for you?

    Holy Prophet has also given instruction for what we should do during these times, which is different than what was called for at other periods.

    Now perhaps there are many ways to fulfill a spiritual path, but for Muslims there is a time-honored way a spiritual tradition which by Western definition is considered a science. Not much more needs to be said after that, only a question(s) we must ask ourselves.

    My shaykh is saying that In tariqa; Islam; religion; life everyone must take what is for them. And there is a general knowledge that everyone must take. There is also the second category of knowledge as our Shaykh has described (may Peace and Blessings be upon him).

    The holy Prophet was instructed to reveal the second category of knowledge to seekers of truth in accordance with their own thirst. To me you seem to be a seeker or else you would not posit these ideas. And you are right in saying,

    “[N]ot everyone is fit for the turuq lifestyle.”

    Just as in the the holy Prophet’s time (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) not everyone is a suitable recipient for inner knowledge. I’ll tell you first hand, its VERY tough on the ego. If your spiritual path of choice is not tough on your ego its more pleasing to Shaytan – for lack of a more stylized way to say it.

    We have to put in a little bit of effort man. I’m saying this from my own experience as an African American who converted to Islam in his teens. And today, tariqa with REAL shaykhs are the only places you will find the opportunity to receive something lasting and real that you can apply to your life and make a lifestyle.

    For some reason, I can relate to you which is why I’m making the effort. As you may have noticed, I don’t really want to be involved in this blogging thing. I’d rather use the time to be working on my music. But there is a need here, for myself and others, a need to be connected to those Holy Ones. So I have to put down my ego and do something about it. You feel me?

    -Saifuddin

  • Marc Manley says:

    @ all, Wa ‘alaykum Salaam.

    @Yurslil

    Spiritism and other New age philosophies are probably the ones that have attracted the most energy in the past century.

    I don’t see where anything that I’ve ever said or written would lump me into the categories of “Spiritism” or “New Age Philosophy”.

    Yes, the Prophet [s] had no madhhab or minhaj – I believe you’re missing my point here. I don’t object to the turuq. I am only saying it’s not the only way – it’s not for all. And the only reason why I’m pointing that out is because Saifudin used my article as a source point to start his post. I only wished to clarify a few points regarding his citation:

    1. I endorse no specific tariqah. Those who choose to do so, are free to do so.

    2. There are many documented cases of the cult-like mentalities that can spring up out of the turuq. I am not saying that all turuq are cults, but that given the amount of feedback we’ve seen over the years of folks who have joined, there are certainly some practices that can be called into question or scrutiny. to briefly name a few, I know of people that have had certain shuyukh break up marriages as well as engage in “secret” marriages – activities that have long and serious repercussions for those involved.

    But let me not avert the point here:

    There are many ways to convince oneself that one is on a ’spiritual path’.

    It is your language that I object to. I find it both arrogant and monopolizing. Its very nature is suggestive that I in this specific case, have become deluded [i.e., convinced myself] of my spiritual nature and thus are “off the path”. I ask you then to give me some proof that I have convinced myself of anything? Where do you have the wherewithal to draw any such conclusions?

    For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced-out way. [Quran 5:48]

    Again, you assume your point is a case-closed consideration. There are many ways to interpret this ayah and not all interpretations lead to the conclusion that the turuq are the keeper of the keys of ma’rifah or whatever else you wish to call it.

    Sahabis are involved in every traditional chain of the Tarikats, the Naqshbandi’s going back to the ’second of the two’, Hazrat Abu Bakr as Siddiq (Ra).

    Show me some proof where Abu Bakr [rah] took hairs of the Prophet [s] and held it over peoples’ heads and had them sit in circles and chant and sing? Now if you’ll stop for a moment, you’ll see I did not necessarily criticize your rituals per se, but that you wish to ascribe them onto the Sahaba [rah], and ultimately, the Prophet [s].

    Believing that the Sahabi were somehow not involved in the practice and development of Tarikats as they exist today is a radical accusation of deceit upon the traditional Sufi orders

    Now I believe you are getting besides yourself. I made no such accusations against the turuq for being devious. I simply stated I don’t agree with all the ritual methods that they partake in.

    At the same time, pride, anger, greed and jealously cannot exist in Paradise. What is necessary is purification of the ego, whether that occurs now or in the grave or thereafter.

    And here perhaps we can flush out on the points I object to [and please read object! not accuse of deceit]: I give you this to also ponder:

    I give you this from the Proof of Islam, Imam al-Ghazali [ra]:

    God’s Messenger is reported to have said: “I am only a man and like other men, I become angry.”

    It is well documented that the Prophet [s] became upset in the presence of people when he heard something that he did not like. His face has been described as getting flushed and red. And yet, we can see in his noble example, he never lost his control. Indeed, Allah informs us in His Book:

    “And those that suppress their rage and are forgiving towards people…” [Q: 3:134]

    Anger, in this life, is a necessary component of the human being. Without it, we may not have the directive or the energy to oppose that which is evil. Likewise, desire, cannot nor should not be banished but rather put in its place in the hierarchy of the soul – without it humanity would perish.

    But this is not a khutbah. Let me finally address Saifuddin:

    I respect your or anyone’s right to choose which lifestyle they wish to follow. I am merely using this blog to share my views and life

    Absolutely. And I am in no way trying to censure you. Rather, you used a piece that I wrote to start your discussion topic [of which you are more than welcome to do so!] and thus, I simply wanted to make clear my stance. As I have stated numerous times, I stand not in opposition to you, personally, nor brother Yursil, nor the Naqshabandi, nor the turuq as a whole! I simply wanted to make it clear what I was talking about in my post and that as I see it [i.e., in my opinion which I too wish to share], the turuq can have a way of closing down the scope of available spiritual paths versus allowing it to remain a broader gate which, in sha’Allah, we will all enter through.

    Jazakumallahu khayran,

  • Yursil says:

    BismillahirRahmanirRahim
    Salamu’alaykum Marc,

    Yes, the Prophet [s] had no madhhab or minhaj – I believe you’re missing my point here. I don’t object to the turuq. I am only saying it’s not the only way – it’s not for all. And the only reason why I’m pointing that out is because Saifudin used my article as a source point to start his post. I only wished to clarify a few points regarding his citation:

    While proclaiming (consistently) that you are not objecting to Tariqats with one hand, you quite easily with another hand attempt to paint them as susceptible to negative ‘cultish’ practices and mentalities, and suggest that they are disconnected from the Prophet’s (S) way and Sahabi’s (R) way.

    I find this to be a problematic position, because you are in fact objecting.

    This leaves us with the possibility that you have biases that you are struggling sincerely to overcome. However the end result is that these biases are shining through quite clear.

    I have trouble understanding what a cult is and I often understand the way the Prophet (S) was with the Sahabi to be very similar to what people today describe as cults. This makes me wonder if they would have accepted the Prophet (S) if they were existing in his lifetime. Would they have been quick to judge practices and complain of the Muslims ‘charismatic leader’? Furthermore, what makes them believe that they will accept Imam Mahdi (AS) or Isa (AS) who will most likely embody characteristics which todays modern people attribute only to cults? Charismatic leadership, group determination and collective identity, religious zeal?

    Issues with marriage and divorce are not so easily judged by outsiders, especially those who are not intimately involved in the facts. Abuses against individual rights are handled by the law, whether it be Shariat or American Law, they both attempt to accomplish the same. I leave less to rumors and wait for verdicts or at least facts before making anyone sort of personal judgment regarding the company I choose to keep my family with. This so-far has kept me far from accusing millions of Muslims who have lived and passed, of being part of an inherently abusive system of worship and spirituality. Which is exactly what has what has occurred here.

    Regarding your up-at-arms comments about my thoughts on your conclusions. My comment about the numerous spiritual paths was directly responding to your comment, where you stated:

    1) “I think, as I had articulated in the post, that there are many ways to a fulfilling spiritual path; parhaps the turuq are one path and yet there lay others.”

    To which I responded:

    2) There are many ways to convince oneself that one is on a ’spiritual path’.

    To which you responded:

    3) “I ask you then to give me some proof that I have convinced myself of anything? Where do you have the wherewithal to draw any such conclusions?”

    The third is taking my comment on your discussion of plurality of paths, and making it personal. I didn’t make it personal, I did address however that there are indeed a plurality of paths, that the ones most popular in the last century are called such-and-such, and they continue to remain disconnected from the Prophetic tradition.

    So, what I stated is that there exist numerous of paths to choose from, just like you stated. However, I added that there are not many paths which remain connected to the Prophet’s (S) way. This was the distinction I painted.

    Regarding the Ayat:

    Again, you assume your point is a case-closed consideration.

    Declaring the possibility of alternative explanations does not negate this traditional explanation. And its quite clear this has been one majority understanding of this ayat for centuries.

    Yes, it is indeed a case-closed consideration for those who are proclaiming the Prophet (S) did not have a way, or did not establish the sunnah of following a way other than ‘shariah’. And this was was an idea that you were suggesting in a case-closed manner when you stated:

    “there were no turuq at the time of the Prophet ”

    On the contrary, the ayat shows that a way is given which is a distinct entity from the law given. And further, it is well known each of the Sahabi’s were a guiding light in matter of the way, while only a few were regarding the law. This is confirmed by hadith as well.

    Show me some proof where Abu Bakr [rah] took hairs of the Prophet [s] and held it over peoples’ heads and had them sit in circles and chant and sing? Now if you’ll stop for a moment, you’ll see I did not necessarily criticize your rituals per se, but that you wish to ascribe them onto the Sahaba [rah], and ultimately, the Prophet [s].

    I think you know very little of actual sufi practices nor their understanding of them, yet you feel free to criticize them openly in a public forum. I would ask that you reconsider this approach.

    Proofs of Sahabi’s performing Tabbaruk through the Prophet’s (S) hair and body parts are numerous. Proofs of loud zikr are also numerous. Any casual reading of even primary hadith texts demonstrates this.

    Sahih Bukhari
    Volume 7, Book 72, Number 785:

    Narrated Uthman bin ‘Abdullah bin Mauhab:

    I went to Um Salama and she brought out for us some of the dyed hair of the Prophet . ibn Mauhab also said that Um Salama had shown him the red hair

    What were they doing with the hairs of the Prophet (S)? Staring? Other hadiths in Sahih Bukhari demonstrate exactly what you mention, including but not limited to dipping them in water to subsequently drink from. What do you make of that, exactly?

    As far as ‘chanting’: You can look here for hadith about Loud Zikr:
    link

    I feel the evidence is slightly overwhelming.

    But really all this is a distraction.

    This sort of discussion is ignoring the academic *FACT* that every single Sufi Tarikat traces its knowledge, practice and spiritual authority directly to a Sahabi and the Prophet (S). These are published chains which are as readable as any hadith isnad.

    In fact, what is occurring here is that you are asking for evidence from one collection of isnad’s in a book from usually obscure figures for validating a living isnad of well-known and described saints which has survived to this day: The silsila.

    As is well known amongst the scholars, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq(R) narrated astonishingly few hadith to the general public. Amazingly this somehow leads people to believe he had no wisdom to impart from the Prophet (S), being that he was one of the people mentioned in Quran.

    This is a sad mistake especially when Abu Hurayra (R) himself narrates in Sahih Bukhari:

    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 121:
    Narrated Abu Huraira:
    I have memorized two kinds of knowledge from Allah’s Apostle. I have propagated one of them to you and if I propagated the second, then my throat would be cut (i.e. killed).”

    Did he share this knowledge with anyone in his family or his closest friends or qualified individuals? Of course he did. Knowledge which came from the Prophet(S) had a purpose, and its purpose was not to die out over the centuries.

    Not all knowledge makes it into the newspapers and not all knowledge needed to be archived in a certain particular textual format.

    If you want to discuss specifics, I suggest we do so over email or phone to understand each other better.

    Now I believe you are getting besides yourself. I made no such accusations against the turuq for being devious. I simply stated I don’t agree with all the ritual methods that they partake in.

    Well, then, maybe I dont understand what you are doing by questioning the silsila of every tarikat as being somehow different than what they claim and separated from the Sahabi (RA) and the Prophet (S)?

    What else are you considering these claims of 40+ Tarikats (only a few of which I have sampled below)?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naqshbandi#Naqshbandi_chain_of_transmission
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qadri
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadhili#The_Spiritual_Chain

    Regarding your discussion of anger:

    The Prophet (S) became angry the way you describe, but this was a state of Jalaal for the cause of Allah against evil.

    It was not the anger the Prophet (S) described himself when he said:

    ==
    A man came to the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, and said, “Messenger of Allah, teach me some words which I can live by. Do not make them too much for me, lest I forget.” The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said, “Do not be angry.” [Abu Daud]
    ==

    Narrated Mu’adh ibn Jabal:

    The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: if anyone suppresses anger when he is in a position to give vent to it, Allah, the Exalted, will call him on the Day of Resurrection over the heads of all creatures, and ask him to choose any of the bright and large eyed maidens he wishes. Book 41, Number 4759 Sahih Bukhari

    ==

    And as I stated, the very well known hadith about the qualities which will not be accepted into Paradise.

    Anger is not the correct term for what you are discussing as a necessary part of eliminating evil, anger is its negative result. Rather, what must be maintained with control is the nafs itself, which is indeed necessary to provide the energy for doing all sorts of activities. This is an animal that needs to be tamed, not shot.

    For 1400 years a tradition has studied anger and what it means, I would suggest you look into what that is.

  • Ashay says:

    Wa ‘alaykum Salaam

    I find your blog interesting and a good rescource. I am a new convert of 2 weeks, it was a friends passing that really opened my eyes. Blogs like this are helpful as myself I have to practice in secrecy, for now. So I thank you.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    Selam Alaykum! Ashay, congratulations on entering Islam, mashAllah to you! I understand having to practice in secrecy as I too felt – early on – that practicing in secrecy was best. I do understand.

    I am asking that He will provide the means for you to live an Islamic lifestyle publicly and receive even greater reward for your efforts, amin.

    Please continue to visit this blog and you may also write me offline if you like.

    -Saifuddin

  • Marc Manley says:

    @all,
    Wa ‘alaykum salaam.

    Sorry for the slow/delayed response. Perhaps, in order to try to make this conversation more benefitial, I entertain we continue this specific one offline. It would seem that what I spoke came across as insulting and I assure you I meant no intentional insult.

    Let me know and I will gladly to and better illustrate what it was I was attempting to get at.

    @Ashay,
    wa ‘alaykum salaam and may Allah increase and grow you in your Islam, strengthen your iman and guide you to the Straight Path daa’iman.

    Amin.

  • Yursil says:

    BismillahirRahmanirRahim
    Alaykumsalaam Marc,

    It’s great to hear that, I’ll contact you via facebook for contact details!

    -Yursil

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