The general consensus amongst the salafist groups around the world is, tassawuff is wrong and should be avoided at all costs. As most people will agree, this is a flamboyant claim which is no more of a fantastical attempt at seeking public attention to their causes and nothing else. Tassawuff is not wrong. More to the truth, it is in fact the wheels of Islam which allows it to move towards progression.
However, I have to agree to something, there are grey areas of tassawuff. Which are visions and dreams. That more often than not, cloud a person’s judgement. Slowly over time, it begins to impede on a person’s clear mind. Where he was once clear on matters of haram and halal. The right and wrong, things begin to get muddled and confusion starts to seep into the mind. For example, a haram action may be seen as being permissible in a vision. Or, an open sinner, seen as being the saint of our time. Visions and dreams do have their place within tassawuff. They are praiseworthy in some respects. In that it can be good news from Allah, for the Salique (the wayfarer). To help and motivate him in his struggles against the evil self.
Nonetheless, as I said before, it carries with it more harm than benefit. Just as there are benefits of gambling, it is however subdued and nullified compared to the harms of gambling. -Since, the harm outweighs the good.
In a recent conversation with a person I was amazed to see how this truth was manifested. For instance, it happened to be, that a very controversial figure. Well known for his outburst of controversial remarks and clear breaches of shariyah. Was seen in a vision in which he appeared to be congratulated by other living saints for his ‘good’ works. After hearing this vision, the person (not naming who) phoned me up to say how the vision is a testament to his religiosity. To say that, he is indeed a saint of our times. As i had written about him being otherwise.
This is a perfect example of how visions & dreams, can slowly begin to cloud a person’s understanding of Islam. His understanding of the right & wrongs, the halal & haram. Turning it into a confused ball of fog and delusion in his mind. Where the barriers of the legalities and illegalities of deen are smudged.
Islam is clear, the haram and the halal are clear, the truth and falsehood are also clear. If anyone, no matter who he or she is, destroys the legalities of an action in islam, or makes an unsanctioned act, into a halal act. He is no longer to be held in reverence and in awe. It is the right of every Muslim to stand up and speak out against the wrong actions being carried out by this person, in the same of advancing Islam. No matter in how many visions and dreams he appears, or is seen to be a high-ranking saint. That does not decide he is correct or that his actions are now sanctioned by Islam. History is a testament to the fact how people are always infatuated and mesmerized with the supernatural. What brought home this message stronger and vivid than ever before, was this conversation. – How, despite knowing the clear breaches of this controversial figure. The strange and alarmingly shocking acts done by him in the name of Sufism. A single vision in which he was ‘apparently’ seen as being ‘godly’, had the force and power to change the mind of the person who phoned me. ‘This proves he is ‘the saint’ of our times’. Lol
This is exactly how satan and his army lead people astray. Gulam Ahmad Qadiyani is one example. He played the ‘vision’ card to convince people to his cause. He used visions to create himself into a religious figure, drawing people’s attention to his ‘supernatural’ ability to see visions and be seen as a ‘Saintly’ person. It made people become confused and muddled. Gave them a murky, dirty and an unclear image of what was right and wrong. What they had previously known to be halal and haram was destroyed in their minds. And, a new set of standards was super imposed in place of the old. Some might see him as an extreme example to use in this case. However, there are a great number of Muslims who also fell victim to the grey areas of tassawuff.
Muhammad Mahdi, a Sunni, Sufi and a man of Islāmic law had also played the ‘vision’ card to win over people to his cause. He claimed he was the promised Mahdi who was prophesied by the prophet (saw). Yet again using the visions to win his arguments over his opponents. Telling his disciples he sees the master of creation telling him this. It is also known many of his students used to see visions in which he was classified as being the promised ‘Mahdi’. Further giving weight to his arguments.
All in all, visions do have their place in tassawuff. There is no denying this fact. Positive divinely inspired visions are a great source of support and help to a wayfarer. A path which requires at times extreme sacrifices and struggles, needs to be divinely supported now and then to push the Salique in order continue on this path. But, remember visions and dreams are only that. – ‘Visions and dreams’. They are not real, or the reality. Nor, do they represent or show reality. – The real physical world. Which means anything that appears to be the truth in a vision. May in fact be false in the real world. The real world is based on established sources of divine laws, namely the Islāmic law. Don’t give too much weight to visions. Nor, decide the piety and evilness of anyone based on how many visions or dreams he appears in. If this is needed to be done for any reason. Then we have the shariyah to use as a criterion to judge a person. Whether his actions are halal or otherwise is only and exclusively decided based on shariyah. Visions in no way shape or form have this authority for anyone!
In a vision, an open sinner and a known oppressor can be seen as the most pious and saintly person alive. This does not equate him to be seen as such in the real world. As we go by what he does in the physical world and not the spiritual world. It may in fact be satan who presents a vision to a person in which, a known rapist or a murderer is seen being praised by other living saints for his piety. – Should we now begin to elevate him in our eyes and give him respect? And, shy away or refuse to hear his crimes just because he was seen as a pious person in a vision? Certainly Not!!
In no circumstances does the vision or a dream take precedence over the real world, and what a person does in the real world. Otherwise, if we remove the standard of shariyah, – the divine law. Islam will wither away in a few days and no sign of it will be left. Every day a new person will claim ‘I have seen such a person as a saintly being, a pious man, in my vision. So leave him alone, he has done nothing wrong’. – Where will justice and fairness go then? This is what I mean, when I say, there are grey areas of tassawuff. Which need to be taken with a pinch of salt. The pious predecessors warned us against the dangers of tassawuff. This is what they meant.
A question then requires to be answered.
‘How do we know who is correct and who is not. Who is genuine and who is a fraudster’?
The answer to that is, based on a person’s teachings & his actions. Even if a person is never seen in a vision or a dream as being pious. But, his teachings & actions are in line with the shariyah and the sunnah. He is the prime example of a real Sufi. Visions and dreams don’t decide anything, certainly not deciding who is a real Sufi and who is not! So, if a known controversial figure is seen contrary to what is known about him, in a vision. It does not mean anything.