Need For a Sheikh


In reply to a question with regards to what is the need for a sheikh, Hazrath (rahmatullah alaihi) said:

“There are two aspects of the human — his zaahir (outer-self) and baatin (inner-self). The islaah (reformation) of the zaahir as well as the baatin is necessary. There are many laws of the Shariah which pertain to the zaahir while many aspects pertain to the baatin. Salaah, Zakaah, Haj, etc. pertain to the zaahir. Likewise, to adopt humility and regard oneself as inferior to others, not to become jealous over the bounties that Allah Ta’ala has granted others, etc. pertain to the baatin. Just as it is compulsory to fulfil the laws pertaining to the zaahir, similarly it is incumbent to fulfil the laws that relate to the baatin. As for the aspects which pertain to the zaahir, every Muslim knows them and easily understands them. For example, every Muslim knows that he must perform his five daily salaah, fast in the month of Ramadaan, etc. However, as for those aspects that pertain to the baatin, neither are they visible nor can every person understand them. Furthermore, often one is in need of an Aalim so that one may enquire from him the laws pertaining to the zaahir aspects. In this regard if one constantly refers to a specific Aalim for all one’s queries, it is much better. ...

Likewise, in order to reform one’s inner-self and to fully comply with and to practice upon all the laws that pertain to the baatin, it is necessary that one chooses a guide who is well-versed with these aspects. Thus one constantly refers to him and seeks his guidance. According to one’s temperament, etc. he will prescribe remedies for the problems one experiences in those aspects.

In the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) would refer all their matters (pertaining to the zaahir and baatin) directly to him. The same procedure continued in the time of the Khulafa-e-Raashideen (the four righteous khalifas), the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) would refer all their matters to them. After the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) the attention of the people began shifting more towards the worldly aspects. Hence in the time of the Taabieen and Tab’ut-Taabieen (those who came after the Taabieen) many great sheikhs existed who codified all the aspects pertaining to the baatin. Many other books were thereafter compiled of the same nature such as Ihya Ulumud Din, Risala Tasawwuf, etc. (Khulasa-e-Tasawwuf, pg.60)

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