An ‘aalim once wrote a letter to Hazrat Shaikh Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) in which he asked the following question:
I was recently pondering over the thought that if Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had to be present in the world at this time, which work of deen would he turn his attention to? Would he engage in the work of dawat and tableegh or would he be involved in the work of teaching and imparting the knowledge of deen as is done by ‘Ulama in the madrasahs? Would Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) author kitaabs and compile deeni literature for the masses to benefit from or would he establish khanqahs and encourage people to join in its effort? After pondering over this, I felt convinced that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) would undoubtedly isolate himself from all other works of deen and turn his attention to dawat and tableegh whereby he would repair the damaged structure of deen and reform the condition of the Muslims. He would not merely turn his attention to this work. Rather, he would sacrifice his blessed life in fulfilling this goal. The reason for this is that every person who has the true value for Islam knows the great amount of sacrifice that was given for the establishment of the structures of this deen. When Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) would experience so much of anxiety and pain over the state of the disbelievers in his mubaarak era, then one can well imagine the pain and concern he would feel over the degeneration of the Muslims had he been present today. Had he witnessed the decline in the Ummah today, the extent of his anguish and pain would certainly be inconceivable. At this moment in time, there is a great need to sacrifice everything for the sake of preserving the deen of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Without sacrificing our lives, it will be practically impossible for us to revive the deen of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). When the books of deeds of his sinful Ummah are presented to him, what pain must be overcoming his blessed heart! When this thought occurs to me, you can imagine the pain I experience and you can imagine what goes through my own heart. O Allah! Accept this sinful servant to be sacrificed in your path!
Hazrat Shaikh (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) wrote the following reply:
There is no need to waste your time entertaining such unnecessary thoughts about which effort will be given preference over others, etc. Be it the work of dawat and tableegh, the work of imparting deeni knowledge or the work of the khanqah, they all aim towards fulfilling the mission of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). The mission of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) entailed all these deeni khidmaat. You think for yourself that if those committed to imparting deeni knowledge in the madrasahs had to abandon their responsibilities and duties, will the knowledge of deen ever be preserved? When the knowledge of deen will not be preserved, how do you expect people to correctly practice upon deen? Allah Ta‘ala himself draws our attention towards the importance of imparting the knowledge of deen and preserving it in the following aayat of the Quraan Majeed:
وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُوا كَافَّةً فَلَوْلَا نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَائِفَةٌ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ ﴿التوبة: ١٢٢﴾
Nor should all the Believers set out (at once in the path of Allah Ta‘ala in jihaad): if a group (of Believers) from every community remained behind in order that they devote themselves to thoroughly studying the knowledge of deen and admonishing the people when they return to them, that thus they may (learn to) guard themselves (against wrong).
When Allah Ta‘ala Himself showed the importance of imparting deeni knowledge and preserving it, then we should never take this department of deen lightly and consider it insignificant. Just as this is an essential, important work of deen, similar is the case of the khanqah and all other works of deen. Show appreciation to Allah Ta‘ala for allowing you to at least be involved in one work of deen by ensuring that you devote yourself to that work and take it seriously. To trivialize other works of deen and consider them insignificant is actually from the ploys of Shaitaan. Hence ensure that you totally avoid this and safeguard yourself from it. Ponder over the work of the khanqah and its basis being established from the mubaarak life of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Did Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) not sit in i’tikaaf for many days? Is the life he lived in i’tikaaf not the basis of the khanqah? The blessed personality of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was so comprehensive and complete, that on account of the divine assistance and help which he received from Allah Ta‘ala, he was able to attend to all the works of deen at the same time and fulfil them with perfection. In today’s times, if certain people, on account of their limited capacity, devote themselves to certain works of deen and are unable to involve themselves in other efforts of deen, we should not raise objections against them, and their involvement in certain works of Deen will not mean that there is any shortcoming in them. Do not put your mind in these types of baseless thoughts as they generally lead one to pride. (Tarbiyatus Saalikeen pg. 417)