Dheen General

Neo-Sufi Conservatism

Attacks on Tassawuff and traditional Islam from within!

Over the last few years and especially the post 9-11 era. There are increasing trends emerging within the ‘western, traditional Muslims’. By that I mean the people who see themselves as the torch bearers for traditional Islam in the west, as understood by our pious predecessors. That being, the people who practiced and taught the way of the awliyah and the saliheen. Tassauwff, or more commonly known as ‘Sufism’ in the west.
Shaykh Hamza, Imam Shuwaib Web, Imam Zahid Shakir, Sidi Usmana Conon are amongst some of the names, whom have become synonymous with western Islam. Seen by westerners as ‘Muslim celebrities for practicing Muslims’. With few mainstream media outlets even labeling them as ‘Muslim rock-stars’. They have gone to great lengths in bringing Islam to the western audience and populace at large. With institutions being opened throughout the length and breadth of America. As commendable and highly praiseworthy their actions are, unfortunately it is taking a turn for the worse. In the recent few days and months I have seen the language of address they choose to use, take a more liberal and laxed approach. These ‘luminaries’ seem to be taking an ‘open-arms’ approach. Where they are trying to thread many of the western ideals of ‘modernism’ into Islam.
The ideas long taught and cherished, for example taking a shaykh as a guide is being stretched and somewhat pushed to the sidelines.

In an attitude that, it is not necessary to have one. Shaykh Hamza in one of his soon-to-become, viral videos on YouTube propels the idea of ‘living free and self-accountability’ (the last few minutes of the answer). He says ‘as westerners we are traditionally found and proud of our ideals of liberalism and freedom’. (paraphrased).

– Hamza Yusuf’s Views on giving bayah to a shaykh

He then uses this notion to highlight how (in his opinion) he thinks we should not really give bayah (allegiance) to any REAL shaykh, a man of Allah. This is not the only time such attacks on traditional Islam has been made, from within the so-called ‘traditional-shuyukhs’. The ‘hippy-type’ attitudes which are fast being adopted by these influential Muslims, of ‘live and let be’, is being used to make Islam appeal to the non Muslim, middle class, western white-man. I have heard on a number of times the topic of gender segregation being brought up within their circles. With the concept of a physical barrier existing between the two sexes, being alienated. Usmana canon, who looks like a ‘r n b’ artist, more than a respected ‘traditional shaykh’ discusses with imam Shuwaib web, an Al Azhar University graduate. (Another shaykh who has taken a dramatic change in his dress code. To that of a ‘white-kid-off the-block‘, look. With huddies and jeans, and a ‘pencil drawn’ beard). Both discuss in a room filled with both sexes sitting together, the idea that a barrier between the genders never really existed within traditional Islam/Muslims.

– Usama & Web’s view on segregation

Another of the stain that ‘traditional Islam’ is being dragged through by these neo-Sufi, ‘hippy-happy, tree hugging shuykhs’ is the concept of pushing out the idea that dress in Islam does not define what is sunnah and what is not. A person can dress in western clothes, a t-shirt and jeans with an almost next-to-nothing beard will still be classed as following the sunnah way of dressing. Which will in turn still class you as following the sunnah. Ironically, of the ways and paths of the awliyah and the saliheen. Whom contrary to their cooked up beliefs, dress in the exact replica of the sunnah in thobs and turbans. A stack contrast of appearance to what is imagined by the neo-Sufi camp. These shuyukhs are propagating the message of ‘leave behind traditional ideas and accept a more modern approach to Islam’. In which you can have a next-to-nothing beard and still be seen as a ‘luminary’. A ‘bend-over-back’ type of Islam. Where every values and principles Islam stands by is either being manipulated or discredited as being archaic and ancient.
What is clearly being molded is a western version of Islam, as opposed to the actual Islam and sunnah practiced by the vast majority in the Muslim world. Where the values of seeking a spiritual guide and the need for traversing a spiritual path is seen as the most important thing for a Muslim. As opposed to it being pushed back here in the west. Simply because it is seen as an affront to a person’s ‘dignity and freedom’. For many centuries, traditional Islam has been under constant attacks from the right-wing extremists of the Muslim ummah, the ‘salafies’ or ‘the wahabiyyah’ as they are known by the non-Muslims. It now appears within the Sunni school of thought, attacks on traditional values and ethics are being made. The left-wing influential Muslims are beginning to take the sides of the right-wing extremists! This enemy from within our midst, is a far greater danger to the very fabric of ‘traditional Sunni Islam’. A cancerous disease which is infecting more parts of the body of Islam than anything else.

The neo-sufis’ are coining a new version of Sufism which is completely alien to that of our predecessors. In which both the sexes are allowed to mingle in, sit together, hold hands and sing along. Some characteristics which are very similar to the ‘new-age, end-of-time’ cults propping up all across America. An idea which says ‘remove the barriers, remove the modest dressing and introduce the skin-tight shirts and pants. Let the women and men sit together, loosen their hair from under that hijab. For we all are God’s children’.

– Hamza Yusuf’s Views on Hijab

For centuries it has been an established fact, that let alone the message of Islam, the sunnah and its ideals are not to be changed or even tampered with.

  • If you choose to accept Islam, you do so whole heatedly and completely. Which means if there are in some cases cultural differences to what Islam says and to what you have been accustomed to. Then you MUST give the ideals of Islam top most priority and leave behind your notions of ideal living and clothing. As Islam is not merely a religion but a complete way of life. Which governs your every move. You cannot choose to bend the rules in the book as it were, and introduce ideas which are separate to Islam. So, if the notion of sunnah is seen as dressing in thobs and turbans, with beards on faces and hijabs on the heads of women. Then this is what you must also accept. You cannot come along 14 centuries later and negate these principles. By saying ‘thobs, selwar kamis, hijabs and burkas are cultural dresses and not Islāmic. That, they are 7th century ancient fashions of clothing’. In trying to justify the western immoral styles of clothing, of semi nakedness and skin-tight jeans and shirts!
  • If the likes of Syyiduna Abdul Qadir Jilani, Syyiduna Junaid Bagdadi, Syyiduna Abdul Azeez Dabbagh (peace be upon them all) were around today, they would completely and whole heatedly despise of what is being done under their names. By people who claim to be following their ways and believing in their teachings and lifestyles. I have respect for these western born and bought up Muslims, however this ‘respect’ is fast reaching a point of no return. Where the little that exists, is already dwindling.

  • By ServantofAlMalik

    Islam is in the spotlight now more than ever before and this has caused people to question the faith itself and none more so than the new-age modernists muslims, largely from the convert western countries who are hell-bent on reforming Islam and its traditional values. This blog is a small space in the vastness of the internet where the fight to preserve, uphold and dignify the traditional inherent human values, are proactively argued against the onslaught of modernist propaganda and hate. Covering topics from current affairs to life-enriching inspirations, though to the traditional teachings of the pious and the awliyah of the past and the present. If you would like to contribute to this blog, or become an author of articles then why not contact me on

    27 replies on “Neo-Sufi Conservatism”

    It’s easy to point fingers at people, especially people of Ilm. Try to study the deen and get to the level of these Shuyuks, then maybe you can justify your critique. It’s not just about following this or that opinion or giving Bayah. Giving Bayah is not FARD! Bottom line is, we need to help the ummah by doing something, being active, like these Shaykhs and not just being an armchair critic. Getting people to connect to Allah is very important but a connection is not just determined through following Sufism. People could have a strong connection through other means not known to yourself or your school of thought.


    This is not pointing fingers, but mentioning what is clear for all to see. Pointing to the truth is not pointing fingers. It is showing people the way. I think the author makes a fair ground for argument.


    Exactly what I would say brother James. You got to Walk the Walk, talking is so easy because everyone is doing it. Our divided communities are because all we do is look at what others are doing and not worrying about our own selves. Also, this articles claims are false in many ways, you have to sit with these people to know the truth of what they are teaching.


    The attack on Hamza Yusuf is unfair, especially comparing him with Jonny Depp. What do you mean by ‘it is clear?’ These Shaykhs are not hiding anything. If you disagree with someones view, you should agree to disagree, not to insult them. Making fun of people is a SIN. Being someone who claims to be a Sufi, should know better.


    I am not a Sufi. I have never claimed to be, nor even given a slightest indication towards it. The sufiyah are a high level people who are in the constant presence of Allah. Always doing his Dhikr through every action of theirs.


    Tassawuf is about Juhud. Without it there is no life in tassawuf. The problem with most of us today that we are averse to Juhud. The scholars benefit spiritually by living a life of austerity and should encourage their students. On the other hand these scholars are trying to reach out to others but this should not be confused with tradition and tassawuf. People are living in filth and attampt to take them out of culture of gratification often requires one to adopt unconventional method.


    As Muslims we have been taught not to stray from the principles of dawah and tableegh layed down. We should only use appropriate means of drawing people to Allah. With that being said, the companions were living in a far greater state of filth and immorality. People used to do tawaf around the kabah naked! This did not mean the companions had to adopt immoral and “unconventional methods” to draw people to Allah. They stuck by their guns so to speak, which were of morality and dignity. With which they still managed to draw the vast majority of people to Allah and his prophet (saw). Remember, we are not experiencing anything new. Human history has a tendency to repeat itself. Whatever evil is prevalent in society today has already occurred once already in the face of the earth. It is only being repeated again. For example, homosexuality, adultery, intoxication to name but a few. The action for us in this is to see how the pious of the previous generations dealt with these reoccurring problems.

    Secondly Mr James, I am not attacking anyone or their sincerity. It is not my job to judge people. All I am doing is drawing people to the attention of how subtly the boundaries of shariyah are being undermined in the name of modernism. That, even the ones who claim to be following the awliyah and the saliheen are treading on dangerous grounds at the moment.


    The Sahabah May Allah be Pleased with them, never left the sunnah, to attract the people towards Allah, The Awliyah Allah’s, the Friends of Allah, never left the Sunnah to Attract the people to Allah Azzawajal, Why is it that some of these lovers of these so called shuyukh, fail to recognise these criterias of being a Man of Allah…To the Nearest Meaning, The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” so to say, we have students of Knowledge, people of Knowledge, scholars of Knowledge who imitate the Kuffar in their way of Dressing… Just like kids have their Idols, they dress like their role models… e.g. if david beckham has a new hairstyle, so to say, all the beckham lovers will follow…likewise, our role model is the Habeeb, he is the Model of All time, sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam… so, when we put to claim our love for him… what part of our dress code, or our hair cut, or our use of language, are imitating them?? …People will tell you, it doesnt matter whats on the Outside, aslong as theres good on the inside… well if a banana, or an onion, or an apple, isnt ripe or has gone off… you will only be able to tell by whats on the outside, plus, your in a foreign country, how else will people be able to tell whether your muslim or not, without speaking to them, if your dress code is of a western trend… your calling people to Allah, which is good and well, but you have abandoned his Habeeb in the Process, so you have done more harm than good, you should save yourself, before you try to save others. And Allah knows best.


    Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,

    What are your qualifications that allow you to bash these people of knowledge? What are you asking the readers to deduce from putting Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s photo with Johnny Depp’s(tell me this not anything other than slandering a Shaykh)?

    People of knowledge are attacked from all sides, and this is one of the cheap attempts. You would do well to ask a knowledgeable person or anybody who is from the traditional schools to read your article and approve it.


    I am not attacking anyone. I have made this clear time and again. I highly respect these people for the work they are doing. I am only pointing towards the drastic changes I have begun, (like many others) to see in them. The approaches they have recently adopted and the change in language of their address. Just like many people know, apart from the prophets no one is infallible. We as the laymen have the right to point to what is evil or what is clearly leading towards evil. This is how the teachings of Islam have always stayed in check from doubious people preaching nonsense. When Syyiduna Abu Bakr (ra) was given the khilafah. The first thing he said in his acceptance speech in front of people was, ‘o people follow me as long as I follow Allah and the prophet (saw)’. This clear shows that the companions themselves realised the weakness of humans, espically leaders of communities. If such great people of the ummah made people act as the safeguard against leaders becoming conceited, then how can you say we should stay silent to whatever these highly popular shuykhs say or do. Simply because they are from the western, white, elitist community.


    This whole thing is being taken out of proportion by SOME people. It is only reminder as i see it. The scholars are not immune from making mistakes and errors. We can see that all the time happening.
    yeah i agree the hamza pic is to far. But i wont be surprised if people already look at him in the same manner. As a celeb.


    Anybody in UK and Pakistan interested in real Sufism, please email me. I can forward you to some people. If you do not get anything, I personally will take the blame in Duniya and Aakhirah. JZK


    And a pencil drawn beard? You must be kidding..I think you need to check this guy’s Al Azhar degree.


    Khan, you have misunderstood and as a result missed my points completely. Re-read the post for your clarification.


    Without commenting on the rest of the post, I believe Shaykh Hamza is a believer in Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq’s (D. 899 hijri) ideas about the “shaykh kamil” and about total obedience to the shaykh in his era–surely you wouldn’t label those ideas as “modernist” or “hippy”?


    the person who wrote the article on Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, He is more connected to SAYYIDINA AHMAD ZARRUQ than Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. because Sayyidina Ahmad Zarruq is his one of the spiritual shaykh in the chain


    This is the silliest comment I’ve read and I can’t believe that somebody who has been blessed by the teaching of Sayyidina Ahmed Zarruq can make such rouge comments on a scholar, and placing such pictures is an obscene attack and wrong on so many levels., you are saying you are not attacking anyone but such gross use of language and pictures say something else! Your actions don’t match your words.


    “If the likes of Syyiduna Abdul Qadir Jilani, Syyiduna Junaid Bagdadi, Syyiduna Abdul Azeez Dabbagh (peace be upon them all) were around today, they would completely and whole heatedly despise of what is being done under their names. By people who claim to be following their ways and believing in their teachings and lifestyles.”

    You seem to own them, and know what they would do. The statement comes off with a very strong smell of arrogance.I am asking you again, what are your qualifications that you give you the right to say such things against scholars?


    I am nothing and I am no one. I do not claim to have any knowledge nor any ‘background’ on knowledge. However, I have been fortunate enough to have attained a few droplets of the Islamic knowledge from some of the greatest ulema of our times. Sat at the feet of the awliyah and drank from their water of life which allowed me to see the reality of this world. Secondly, you say “…as if i own the awliyah”. And then go on the accuse me of being silly and making childish remarks. Know that to make such statements is silly in on it self. – No one owns the awliyah. What we do own is the knowledge we learn from the likes of these illustrious beings. We should not be afraid from correcting or more accurately ‘expressing’ our opinions on matters. you see this shariyah and sunnah is safe guarded a number of ways. There are divine safeguards aswell as sunnah inspired safeguards which have been put in place to protect the authencitiy of the shariyah, from it being tampered with. For example, when Syyiduna Abu Bakr (ra) was given the Khilafah he said in his first sermon ‘o people follow Me as long as I follow the Quran and sunnah’. (paraphrased) this is an example of how the companions taught people to always check back the teachings/actions of ‘leaders’ with the authentic sources. Now I am not saying we become salafies, what I mean is we have been given the gift to ‘express’. Which allows us to use it when we should see fit.


    I’d like to ask this again: Shaykh Hamza seems to cite Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq in the view that total allegiance to a shaykh and the ‘shaykh kamil’ is not to be found in his era (i.e. Shaykh Zarruq’s era). Is that inaccurate?


    Yes shaykh Ahmad Zarruq did say these statements. Hamza Yusuf quotes him at the beginning of his book. However, one must understand that shaykh Ahmad Zarruq was then criticised after making the statement by his contemporaries. He was such a high ranking a scholar /friend of Allah that when he was looking for a ‘shaykh kamil’ to take him further in his journey to Allah, he could not find one. His statement does not apply as a general/blanket statement for everyone to take and follow.


    Jazak Allahu khayra for the response.

    (I would like to reiterate what some other people have said in removing that image comparing him to Johnny Depp. The light of iman is sufficient to make any Muslim far above a disbeliever, let alone an ‘alim of the din.)


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