The Other Side Of Sufism
The Ritual of Sufi Wird The wird is another central principle of the Sufi orders, which literally means a set portion of the Qur'an, or any other specific act of worship, which the worshipper commits himself to recite or perform, either at a particular time or occasion or on a regular basis. But according to Sufism, the wird, or dthikr, is a practice of repeating the name of Allah, and a set of invocations assigned to the murid by his shaikh or deputy as a liturgy of communion. They involve beseeching the dead, and seeking help from sources other than Allah. The Sufi dthikr is of two forms, the dthikr al-khafiy or hidden dthikr with the repetition being in the mind or muttered in a low voice; and the dthikr al-jaliy, the open recitation, in which the Sufi murid recites aloud. Sufis distinguis three types of dthikr: the dthikr of the common people (al-awaam), which involves uttering repeatedly the Kalimah, meaning, "There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah;" the dthikr of the upper class, which involves uttering repeatedly the single name of God, "Allah," or the word "haiy" (the living); and the dthikr of the elite, which involves uttering repeatedly the divine pronoun "hu" (He). The last two types of dthikr have never been uniue to Islam. Sufi dthikr, however, is not limited to the above three types: In many cases it includes litanies and hymns, or as the Sufis prefer to call them, "twassulaat" (supplications or petitions), to the Prophet and his family. Supplicating beings other than Allah entails associating partners with Him, a practice which is not only condemned by Allah and His Messenger but it renders a worshipper's good deeds null and void. Allah says: meaning,
"And it has been revealed to you and to those before you: If you attribute partners to Allah, your deed shall surely be in vain and you shall certainly be among the loosers."(39.65)The type of dthikr practiced communally by Sufis is not merely recited; it is rather performed in their hadhrah.(55) Sufi dthikr ranges from quietism to ecstatic and hysterical behaviour. In many orders, the ritual has a section called samaa' in which singing, dancing and playing musical instruments, such as the flute and the drum, are highly important. The dthikr which the Prophet enjoined should be recited individually, and only according to the manner prescribed by him. Making dthikr in a different manner, or communally, is an innovation leading to misguidance. This is particularly true when such a ritual is accompanied by prohibited practices such as music, against which there is a direct reference in the Qur'an: meaning,
"And of men is he who take idle talk to lead men astray from the path of Allah."(31.6)The prominent companions of the Prophet confirmed that the "idle talk" referred to in the above verse means singing and music.(56) The Prophet verified this fact in the hadeeth which says,
"There will be some people who will consider legal fornication, and the wearing of silk, the consumption of intoxicant drinks and the use of musical instruments." (57)It is a must for all Muslims to adhere to the two Divine sources of Islam, the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the Prophet's companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, developed great understanding of these two fundamental sources as required and necessitated by the profession of the faith: ("There is no God worthy of being worshipped but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.") They were very critical of the slightest sign of deviation among Muslims. Whenever they noticed one, they vehemently objected to it and tried their best to rectify the situation or eliminate it. Abdullah b. Mas'ood, may Allah be pleased with him, who was governor of al-Koofeh, Iraq, at a time, happened to enter the mosque one day, and saw some people sitting in circles. In the middle of each circle was a heap of pebbles, and in every circle was a man instructing the people: "Say, Sub-han-Allah (Allah is far removed from every imperfection) a hundred times. Say, Al-hamd-du-lillah (praise be to Allah) a hundred times. Say, Allahu-Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) a hundred times." Whereupon Abdullah b. Mas'ood said to them,
"O people, you are either following a religion which is better than that of the Messenger of Allah , or you are entering through a door of deviation without consideration." They responded, "Abu Abdur-Rahman! (his nickname), by Allah, we intend to do a good thing." He exclaimed, "How often one intends to do good but never attains his purpose."(58)The above quotation clearly shows that sincerity and good intentions alone are not sufficient to render acts of worship acceptable to Allah. The acts must first conform to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger . Originating new methods or concepts of such acts only incurs Allah's anger. The religion of Islam has already been completed by Allah. It needs no one to tamper with it for the purpose of mundane gain. Thus it follows by necessity that any religious opinion or practice must be judged by and referred to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger to decide its validity.
Footnotes: 55. Ibn Katheer 56. Bukhari, Abu Dawood & at-Tirmidthi 57. Ash-Shatibi, Al-I'tisam, Vol.i 133 57. cf. Article V Khalwah 58. Ibid.