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The difference between an ustad (lecturer) and a peer (spiritual mentor)

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Q: What is the difference between an ustad and a peer?

A:  The word ustad is general. It can refer to a wrestling instructor or it can refer to one who conducts a game of cards. One who teaches any science is regarded as an ustad. A peer is one who directs one to the path leading to Allah Ta`ala. It is imperative that he is also linked to Allah Ta`ala. It is not a pre-requisite for a teacher to be linked to Allah Ta`ala.

 

Q: Can a person be called a peer if he is linked to Allah Ta`ala but he is not a khalifah of any buzurg?

A: One of the meanings of peer is an old person. In Sharah Jami` the author of Kaafiyah has been referred to as shaikh whereas he had not reached that age. He was referred to as shaikh because of his vast knowledge.

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