THE AUDIBLE THIKR PRACTICES IN THE KHANQAS

The honourable Mufti Sahib in his attempt to justify the new bid’ah which has recently developed in the Musaajid in this country, meanders into the khanqah practices of our Akaabireen. There is no need for us to even discuss the Thikr programmes of the khaanqahs. The Mashaaikh themselves aver that such programmes are spiritual remedies. We have not contested the khaanqah programmes. Revert to the explanation of Hadhrat Mufti Shafi’ (rahmatullah alayh) which appears above, in Ma-aariful Qur’aan, in the tafseer he provides on Thikr-e-Khafi.

It should, however, be observed that what happens in the khaanqahs and the khaanqah Musjids is not Shar’i Daleel. The evidence of the Shariah comprises of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. The khaanqah practices do not constitute a basis for acts of innovation which are being accorded preference in violation of the Qur’aanic and Sunnah Nusoos. The Thikr programmes of the khaanqahs are private activities which were not promoted to the pedestal of Masnoon ibaadat by the Mashaaikh. Earlier, we have mentioned the explanation of Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafi (rahmatullah alayh) and the exposition of Tafseer Mazhari.

Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi

Hakimul Ummat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh), explaining the khaanqah Thikr, says: “But, jahr is not the actual objective (maqsood bith-thaat) nor is it by itself an act of thawaab. To subscribe to such a belief is bid’at. I believe that the Hadith: “Verily, you are not calling a deaf being nor an absent being…”, is in negation of this belief. Some say that it refers to jahr mufrit (excessive loudness) which causes distress to others, e.g. a sleep of someone is disturbed. This is the interpretation of Imaam Abu Hanifah’s prohibition (of Thikr jahr), otherwise jahr per se is permissible.

………….. It is thus apparent that jahr itself is not an ibaadat. If Thikr is believed to be the objective and jahr is adopted for some expediency such as warding off stray thoughts, gaining concentration, etc., then this will not be prohibited on condition there is no accompanying adverse factor.

Mufrit jahr is not permissible. There is tafseel (explanation) regarding moderate jahr. If the belief is that jahr itself is an act of thawaab, then this will not be permissible. It will be bid’at, except where it is established by the Shariah, e.g. Talbiyah during Hajj, Takbeeraat Tashreeq, etc. If the objective is Thikr, and moderate jahr is adopted for a beneficial purpose, then this will not be bid’at…… Similarly, dharb (swaying movements of the head) is not an act of thawaab. There are similar benefits (as have been explained) ………Thus, dharb is a medium (or a method) of obtaining the objective….

The Thikr-e-Jahr and the Dharb method (head movements, etc.) of the khaanqah are spiritual expediencies and remedies. Hakimul Ummat has therefore placed them in proper perspective. At times jahr becomes bid’at as Hadhrat Maulana Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) has explained.

While Thikr jahr does at times degenerate into bid’ah, Thikr-e-khafi is never described as bid’ah. It is the Asal (original), Afdhal and Masnoon method of Thikr commanded by the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. It is never described as bid’ah. Intelligence rebuffs the idea of the superiority of Thikr-e-jahr which has been labelled with a variety of unsavoury epithets, namely, haraam, bid’at, makrooh, jahr mufrit – and which can and does attract the evil attributes of riya, ujub and takabbur contaminating or destroying the ikhlaas of the thaakir. Never can it have superiority over the original Qur’aanic method of Thikr-e-Khafi. This claim by the honourable Mufti Sahib strains credulity. Never could the permissible method of jahr be superior even if it is devoid of evil and adverse factors. The Authorities of the Shariah have clarified that even if Thikr Jahr is free from adverse factors and accretions, then too Thikr-e-Khafi is Afdhal. Evidence for this has already been presented earlier. What is difficult to comprehend is the inability of a man of knowledge to understand the self-evident fact that the Asal (Primary rule) cannot be superseded by exceptions which are in conflict with the primary principle.

Further explaining the status of the khaanqah Thikr, Hakimul Ummat (rahmatullah alayh) says in his Malfoothaat: “Islaah (self-reformation) is achieved by remedying the ailments of the nafs. Athkaar are like medicine and pills which could be prepared by studying the books of medicine. However, the need of a qualified medical practitioner is imperative for diagnosing the illness and prescribing a remedy. Similarly, Thikr formulae and ashghaal (spiritual exercises) are recorded in books. However, there is the need for a spiritual guide to diagnose the spiritual ailments of the nafs and to prescribe remedies for reformation.”

Commenting on the objective of khaanqah Thikr and shaghl, Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) says: “In their letters, even men who have a high degree of sincerity mention their constancy in Thikr (i.e. the prescribed forms of Thikr). They request for dua. It seems that to them islaah of the nafs is insignificant. They regard Thikr (khaanqah-type Thikr) and shaghl to be the actual aim (maqsood) to be pursued. On the contrary, Islaah is the true objective. Thikr facilitates the achievement of Islaah of the Nafs. – Malfoothaat

Criticizing the degeneration of the khaanqahs of this era, Hakimul Ummat states: “Our Haji Sahib (rahmatullah alayh) said: ‘A principle of the Mashaaikh of former times was the impartation of ta’leem to persons in accordance with their ability. For some, they devised domestic work, and on others they imposed some different type of activity. (It is not always these specific forms of Thikr). Now it has become the norm to instruct everyone with the Thikr of Ism-e-Zaat (Allaahu) 24,000 times, whether the poor soul survives or perishes. In fact, they do not even confine themselves to this form of Thikr. They dole out whatever comes to mind.”

“Even with regard to Dalaail-e-Khairaat, I draw the attention of my friends to the considerable time required to recite a lengthy manzil (chapter). Instead of this, the same amount of time should be spent rather reciting the Durood Shareef which the entire Ummah recites in Salaat. Furthermore, this Durood was prescribed by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).” – Malfoothaat

The aforementioned exposition by Hadhrat Hakimul Ummah, possibly the greatest Mujtahid in the sphere of Tasawwuf of recent eras, presents the true meaning of Tasawwuf or Masnoon Tasawwuf, in which there are no excesses.

Those who have accorded the practice of Khatm-e-Khwaajgaan and similar other ashghaal a status of almost Wujoob should take note of this sagacious advice of Hakimul Ummat.

Khaanqah auraad and ashghaal

About the poor state of the khaanqahs of this age, Hakimul Ummat says: “Sometimes when one suffers from spiritual ailments, e.g. ujub, takabbur, riya, etc., then abundance of athkaar and auraad (the type of non-Masnoon Thikr practices of the khaanqahs) worsens the diseases. The need is for mujaahadah (struggling against the nafs) so that one does not become the victim of show and pride after having rendered a good deed. Islaah (reformation) has priority over athkaar and auraad.

The Mutaqaddimeen Sufiya paid particular heed to moral reformation. However, nowadays people are not concerned with this essential requisite. Despite staying in the company of Mashaaikh and devoting time to Thikr and shaghl, moral reformation is not achieved. The spiritual diseases remain uncured. The mureed on seeing some dreams considers himself to be a wali. It should be well understood that the habit of sinning cannot coexist with wilaayat (sainthood).

In every halqah (group) when customs become overwhelming, haqaaiq (truths and realties) are overshadowed. The Maqsood of Sulook (Tasawwuf) is not auraad and ashghaal. Although these acts facilitate the obtainal of the Maqsad, the objective is self-reformation. As long as moral reformation has not been achieved, the full efficacy of auraad and ashghaal will not be attained. In fact, sometimes, on account of ujub and kibr, these (khaanqah) auraad and ashghaal constitute dangers.” – Malfoothaat

This is the state of the khaanqahs in our era. They have degenerated into venues of ostentation and lifeless rituals unrelated to the Sunnah. The attitude and practice of the participants in these Thikr rituals convey the distinct impression that they believe that their Thikr and shaghl practices are the epitome and ultimate goal of Tasawwuf. The sheikhs of this era themselves sorely lack in the understanding of Tasawwuf and its Maqaasid. Stating candidly the condition of the sheikhs and khalifas of the age, Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) said:

Alas! Nowadays people (i.e. the mashaaikh) are unaware of the Maqsood. Khilaafat (appointing a khalifah) no longer has a standard. What service (i.e. of guiding mureeds) can they render? In fact, they (these unqualified dumb khalifahs) come within the scope of the Hadith: “They are astray and they lead others astray.” On account of their fossilized minds, they lack discernment.”

Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) commenting on the corruption of present-day ‘tasawwuf’ said: When Tasawwuf becomes corrupt, it is transformed into either insanity or hereticism (zindaqah). When a delicate object decomposes, its stench is intense.”

Tilaawat

Elaborating the aim of khaanqah Thikr, Hakimul Ummat said:

“The Mashaaikh generally instruct their mureeds to engage more in (certain forms of) Thikr than in tilaawat of the Qur’aan Majeed although tilaawat is superior. The reason for this is that in the initial stage the emphasis is on cultivating concentration. This is the special effect of Thikr.

The prescription of Thikr is in fact the preliminary step of tilaawat. When the ability of concentration has been acquired, the mureed will be able to recite the Qur’aan Majeed with perfection. The ultimate aim of Thikr is tilaawat of the Qur’aan Shareef. Once the necessary concentration has been developed, the mureed will engage more in tilaawat. What the unqualified spiritual guides do and teach, is beyond the scope of this discussion.” – Malfoothaat

“The Mashaaikh of former times paid great attention to reformation of moral character. They underwent intense struggles and hardships to achieve this goal. Some worked for years in bathrooms; some spent years in the wilderness. During those times they did not pay much attention to (khaanqah-type) Thikr and shaghl. Their courage and resolve were great. They could bear the severest hardship. The Baarah Tasbeeh Thikr (the 12 prescribed tasbeehs – non-Sunnah) was considered to be very advanced while nowadays this is the elementary instruction issued to mureeds.”

Thikr Jahr in the Khaanqah

Commenting on Thikr Jahr, Hakimul Ummat said: “In Thikr Jahr, the Fuqaha have explained that such Thikr is permissible as long as a musalli or a sleeping person is not disturbed. On the basis of this principle, I do not permit Thikr Jahr (in the Khaanqah) from 12 pm until after Zuhr Athaan. Similarly, during the night time from after Isha until Tahajjud, there is no permission for Thikr Jahr. During the time that it is allowed, there is no permission for Thikr-e-mufrit (excessive loudness). When mureeds are sleeping, I do not permit even silent Thikr with a hum. They have to make Thikr in their hearts in complete silence.” – Malfoothaat

It will be appropriate and very salubrious at this juncture of discussing the Mufti Sahib’s khaanqah Thikr ‘proof’, to apprize him of the view and fatwa of the Chief of all the Khaanqahs of our Akaabir Chishti Mashaaikh. The following question was posed to Qutubul Aalam Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh):

Question: “In Ramadhaan Shareef, in the Musjid during Taraaweeh Namaaz after performing four raka’ts, if all the musallis collectively recite Tasbeeh and make Dua, and with the niyyat of proclaiming the glory, grandeur and glitter of Islam, they recite the Kalimah ‘Laa ilaha illallaah’ with jahr (loudly), will this be permissible or not?”

Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi responded:

“To make Thikr in this manner after the jalsah (sitting) during the Taraaweeh has not been narrated from the Sahaabah and Taabieen. Therefore, this ha’it (specific form) is bid’at. It is mentioned in Al-Waaqiaat: ‘Reciting Surah Faatihah after the Fardh Salaat on occasions of events of upheaval (such as calamity, fear and disaster, etc.) is Makrooh (Tahrimi) because it is Bid’at in view of the fact that it has not been narrated from the Sahaabah and Taabieen.’

It is also stated in Bahrur Raa-iq that it has been narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) that he heard a group of people had gathered in the Musjid and were reciting Lailaha illal laah and Durood on Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) audibly (jahran). Then he went to them and said: “During the age of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) we did not practise in this manner. I do not consider you except as mubtadieen (innovators).’ He continued saying so until he expelled them.”

On the basis of these two evidences, even though Thikr is mutlaqan jaa-iz, but to change a special form which had prevailed during Quroon-e-Thalaathah (the three noble eras of Islam) is bid’at. Hence, despite Kalimah Tayyibah being permissible jahran on its occasions of permissibility, but during the sitting of Taraaweeh this practice is not proven, hence to do so is bid’at. In addition the masses will think that this practice is Sunnat. A mubah (permissible practice) which the masses believe to be Sunnat is bid’at.

It is mentioned in Alamgheeriyah (Fataawa Hindiyyah): ‘The practice which is done after Salaat is Makrooh because the juhhaal (ignoramuses) will believe it to be Sunnat or even Waajib. Every Mubah (permissible practice) which leads to this is Makrooh. So is it reported in Az-Zaahidi.’

Thus, it is bid’at to make Thikr in this manner despite Thikr per se of Kalimah Tayyibah with jahr being permissible. However, at this occasion this hai’t is not proven from Quroon-e-Thalaathah. On the contrary, this is an occasion of Ikhfa’, hence it is bid’at. Furthermore, in this practice there is the danger of corrupting the Aqeedah (belief) of the masses. And Allah knows best.” – End of Hadhrat Gangohi’s dissertation. (Tazkiratur Rasheed)

The Qur’aan Majeed says: “And, none takes lesson except the People of Intelligence.” From the aforementioned faqeehaanah (juridical and wise) exposition of Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh), every unbiased, intelligent seeker of the Haqq will observe the following salient aspects which clinches the whole dispute in which the venerable Mufti Sahib has become mired:

(a) Despite Hadhrat Gangohi being a Khaanqah Shaikh, who engaged in khafeef (very light) Thikr bil Jahr , he unequivocally branded the specific form of collective loud Thikr as being bid’at.

(b) The collective loud Thikr is bid’at because this practice did not exist in the initial three noble eras of Islam.

(c) The validity of the Abstention argument is confirmed by Hadhrat Gangohi, namely, this practice did not exist in the Sunnah, hence it is bid’ah.

(d) The authenticity of the narration of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) is vindicated. Hadhrat Gangohi did not argue away the act of Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) with any of the defective interpretations which the votaries of bid’ah attribute to the said narration. On the contrary, he cited it from an authentic Kitaab of Fiqh, Bahrur Raa-iq, as evidence in refutation of bid’ah. Despite being a Chishti Shaikh practising Thikr bil Jahr in his Khaanqah, he upheld the Hadith of Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu), and did not lamely argue it away in order to justify and vindicate the practices of the khaanqah. He was a Man of Ilm and Taqwa. Hadhrat Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) along with being an Aashiq and an Aarif Billaah, was a Faqeeh whose primary function was to guard the Shariah and the beliefs of the masses.

We trust that the venerable Mufti Sahib being an upholder of khaanqah practices, now sees the way clear for accepting the authenticity of the Hadith of Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) and the validity and wisdom of Hadhrat Mas’ood’s act of expelling from the Musjid those who had engaged in collective loud Thikr. Hadhrat Gangohi’s presentation of the Hadith of Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) is a glowing affirmation of the authenticity of the narration. The authenticity is further enhanced by its appearance in an authoritative Kitaab of Fiqh.

(e) When the masses see Ulama and Sulaha engaging in Thikr practices, they will naturally infer that such acts are Sunnat, and when they see the iltizaam with which these practices are observed by the Ulama, then they naturally and justifiably begin to believe that these acts of ‘ibaadat’ are Waajib.

(f) The principle of existence and non-existence of an ibaadat practice during Khairul Quroon is an important and a necessary determinant and criterion for all practices of Thikr which are executed in the full view of the masses.

(g) Khaanqah practices should not be cited as a basis for justifying acts of Thikr which have no basis in the Sunnah.

(h) There is a stark difference in Thikr bil jahr conducted in the privacy of the khaanqah and in Thikr bil jahr collectively executed in public Musaajid frequented by the masses. While the former does not corrupt the beliefs of the masses nor develop into bid’ah in which the masses become entrapped, the latter undoubtedly corrupts the Aqeedah of the masses and develops into bid’ah.

(i) It is imperative that collective loud Thikr practices which were not in vogue during the era of the Noble Ages, not be advertised in public Musaajid. Any khaanqah practice should be confined to the four walls of the khaanqah or to private homes of the mureedeen who engage in such practices.

Athkaar for the masses?

“The Mashaaikh in former times would not prescribe athkaar and ashghaal to the masses. Nowadays, there prevails astonishing disorder in the ranks of the Sufis. They prescribe Thikr and shaghl to just anyone. The consequences of this are evil. These people become involved in many errors. Then it becomes difficult to extricate them from such errors.” [Malfoothaat]

This advice should prove salutary for the venerable Mufti Sahib and the ‘shaikhs’ of Khatm-e-Khwaajgaan.

Khafeef Jahr

In another Malfooth, Hadhrat Thaanvi says: “Listen carefully! The expediency of Thikr bil Jahr among the Chishtiyyah is for the Thaakir’s voice to reach his own ears in order to ward off stray thoughts. This aim is acquired from khafeef jahr (slightly audible). Excessive loudness is a futile act which is reprehensible.”

Jahr is an expediency – a temporary measure in the Khaanqah Thikr programme. The participants in these loud collective public Thikr programmes have no understanding of khafeef jahr. Why should they bother to gain this understanding when the intention is ujub and riya? They know not what they are doing. Unable to distinguish between right and wrong, right and left, truth and falsehood, they perform to the gallery and then believe that they have attained lofty spiritual heights with their swaying and shouting.

Ignorant shaikhs

On the ignorance of today’s sheikhs, Hakimul Ummat said: “The degree of ignorance regarding the reality of the Tareeq has degenerated to the level that even those who are known as mashaaikh are unaware and lack knowledge of the Path.”

The statements and comments of Hakimul Ummat and of other Mashaaikh on the topic of khaanqah Thikr are too numerous to mention here. The samples of such comments presented here should suffice to remove the haze from the state of confusion which the venerable Mufti Sahib has spun around the khaanqah Thikr programmes which have been promoted to the pedestal of Shar’i daleel.

It is futile for the Mufti Sahib to present the personal Thikr practices of the Akaabir Sufiya and Ulama in support of the loud collective Thikr programmes which are nowadays being conducted in the Musaajid. These cosmopolitan Musaajid frequented by Muslims of a variety of persuasion are not the venues for the remedies which have been devised by the Sufiya. The problem today is that those who prescribe these non-Sunnah forms of athkaar and those who participate in these programs are equally in the dark. They gather firewood in the dark, not knowing on what they are setting their hands.

Not even the Mashaaikh of the Khaanqahs present their Thikr and shaghl practices in substantiation of the bid’ah collective Thikr programmes which the small-timers innovate in the name of Tasawwuf. If these small-time sheikhs and khalifahs correctly employ their Aql, they will not fail to discern the khuraafaat and bid’ah which they have fabricated in the name of Tasawwuf.

The honourable Mufti Sahib’s dissertation pertaining to the khaanqah Thikr programmes is a redundant exercise. We acknowledge the permissibility, worth and value of the khaanqah athkaar and ashghaal. We are related to that system. We are related to the Chishtiyya Akaabireen. We subscribe to this gracious system. But what the deviant ‘sufis’ have innovated in the Musaajid today in this country, has no relationship with the khaanqah practices. The loud collective Thikr performances enacted for public consumption in the Musaajid are in fact Bid’ah Sayyiah as was confirmed by Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu). Despite the Mufti Sahib’s misguided attempt to debunk and dismiss the Fatwa and action of this Jaleelul Qadr Sahaabi whom Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) eulogized, it (Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood’s Fatwa) fits the current loud collective Thikr programmes perfectly. Insha’Allah, this sacred Fatwa will be discussed in greater detail in the ensuing pages.

Not a Daleel

Now since we have no ishkaalaat (queries and doubts) regarding the audible Thikr of the khaanqahs, there is no need to respond to the khaanqah practices which the Mufti Sahib has enumerated. However, those Muslims who are not associated with the khaanqahs, especially with the Chishtiyya Order, ridicule the honourable Mufti for his misguided presentation of khaanqah practices as proof for the loud collective Thikr programmes. In the armoury of Shari Dalaa-il, the ‘daleel’ of khaanqah practice is nonsensical and laughable.

The honourable Mufti Sahib is a member of the Ahl-e-Ilm. It should be simple for him to understand that issues of permissibility and impermissibility, issues requiring fatwa of the Shariah, need to be examined in the light of the Dalaa-il of the Shariah, not on the basis of khaanqah remedies which are unrelated to the Sunnah and which the Akaabireen themselves unanimously explain are not acts of ibaadat per se. In fact, they themselves say that the assignment of incumbency or a higher status than permissibility to these practices is Bid’ah.

The Mufti Sahib is required to adhere to the proper Dalaa-il methodology of the Shariah to substantiate his claim. We need not explain these Dalaa-il to him. He is an honourable Mufti and a Shaikhul Hadith who is supposed to be aware. But, it is lamentable and painful for us to observe that the venerable Mufti Sahib has presented his booklet in the style and aura which are associated with the publications of the Ahl-e-Bid’ah, notably the bid’atis of Bareilwi, when they criticize the Ulama of Deoband.

Campaigning and Canvassing

The corruption is intense among the sheikhs and their khalifahs in our day. Loud collective Thikr programmes are promoted. The sheikh goes on tours campaigning for collective Thikr performances in the Musaajid, and canvassing for mureeds. Indeed they are astray and mislead others as the Hadith says. Commenting on the despicable campaigning of the ‘sufis’ of this age, Hakimul Ummat said:

“In this age there exists the disease of canvassing for mureeds. A mureed strives to rope in others to become the disciples of his sheikh.”

THE FOUR SILSILAHS

The venerable Mufti Saheb contends: “If we were to practice on the Hadith of Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (Radiyallahu anhu), then every action practiced by the four Silsilahs in the Masaajid will fall under the category of innovation, but no one holds this view.”

This conclusion is indeed preposterous and most unbefitting a Man of Knowledge. Firstly, the Mufti Sahib is aware that Dalaa-il are acquired from the Four Sources of the Shariah. The ‘four silsilahs’ do not form part of the Four Sources of Shar’i Law. The practices, prescriptions and remedies of the Four Silsilahs are not proof in the Shariah. The prescriptions of the Four Silsilahs are private issues confined to the khaanqah (the spiritual hospital). The Mashaaikh themselves state with clarity that their prescriptions are remedies, not acts of Masnoon ibaadat.

It is truly lamentable to read that the venerable Mufti Sahib has stooped to this ebb in his quest for Shar’i dalaail. It is totally unexpected. Secondly, the Musaajid where some Mashaaikh practised their athkaar and ashghaal, were not public cosmopolitan Musaajid. The Musaajid were small Musjids which were under the veritable control of the Shaikh. It would be no exaggeration to claim that these Musjids were part of the Khaanqahs or fully under the influence of the Khaanqah.

Thirdly, if a choice has to be made, then the action of Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) will prevail and cancel out the actions of the Four Silsilahs. The actions and verdicts of the Sahaabah are basis in the Shariah. The actions of the Four Silsilahs do not enjoy this status. The Mufti Sahib has placed the cart before the horse. In the attempt to validate the non-Masnoon practices of the Four Silsilahs, it is highly improper and not permissible to debunk the categoric rulings of the Sahaabah, especially a Sahaabi of the status of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu).

Fourthly, the Mufti Sahib in his zeal to vindicate the collective loud Thikr performances, has erred in attributing unanimity of the Four Silsilahs regarding their Thikr programmes. The Naqshbandi Silsilah does not tolerate loud Thikr, leave alone loud collective Thikr.

Fifthly, the illustrious Mashaaikh of the Four Silsilahs do not dismiss the action of Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) in the despicable manner the Mufti Sahib has. They all uphold the validity of Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood’s expulsion of the Bid’atis. Our senior Mashaaikh of the Chishti Silsilah, who were Ulama-e-Rabbaani, Aarifeen and Muhaqqiq Sufiya, present the Hadith of Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) in refutation of the acts of bid’ah perpetrated in particular by the Bareilwi bid’atis. None of our Mashaaikh of the Silsilahs have argued away, faulted or dislodged the action and narration of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu). But, lamentably, the venerable Mufti Sahib who holds no pedestal in relation to the Akaabir Mashaaikh of the Four Silsilah, deemed it appropriate to despicably assail the Hadith of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu).

Sixthly, if the venerable Mufti Sahib is unable to formulate a reconciliation between the action of Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) and the actions of the Four Silsilah, then his training and knowledge as a Mufti should have constrained him to set aside the prescriptions of the Four Silsilah and bow in submission to the command of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu). The actions, practices and fataawa of the Sahaabah, especially the Fuqaha among the Sahaabah, may not be subordinated to the peculiar non-Sunnah practices of the Four Silsilah. This is self-evident, and requires no dilatory exposition.

THIKR-E-MUFRID AND DHARB

The Mufti Sahib has also presented argument in favour of Thikr-e-Mufrid and the practice of Dharb. There is no need for us to discuss this topic as we do believe in the permissibility of these remedial measures of a temporary nature introduced by the Mashaaikh for certain benefits.

However, these practices are not Masnoon acts of ibaadat, and have to be confined to privacy. They are not to be performed for the public gallery in the Musaajid where there is a real danger of them developing into bid’ah.

THE KHAANQAH THIKR PROGRAMMES

The Mufti Sahib has also endeavoured and laboured to forge a basis of permissibility for his public Thikr performances by offering the Khaanqah practices of some of our Akaabireen. Among the several Khaanqahs he has mentioned, the reference to Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) is noteworthy and requires some explanation. Describing the ‘loud Thikr’ in Hadhrat Thaanvi’s Khaanqah, the Mufti Sahib says: “During the time of Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thaanwi (Rahmatullah alaih), it was a practice that after Fajr Salaah the people remained in the Masjid till after sunrise. Some were occupied in reading their Wazeefah’s, others recited the Glorious Qur’an and others made loud zikr. After sunrise Madrasah would commence.

It was a personal practice of Hazrat Thaanwi (Rahmatullah alaih) to make loud zikr after Tahajjud Salaah. He was also joined by Hazrat Khwaajah Sahib and other great personalities. Never did Hazrat Thaanwi (Rahmatullah alaih) prevent this.”

Let us accept that this was the custom in Hadhrat Thaanwi’s khaanqah after Fajr Salaat. Engagement in audible Thikr was a khaanqah practice adopted to train the mureedeen. It was not a Masnoon act of ibaadat. It was not executed in the Jaami’ Musjid of the town. It was not practised in the other town Musaajid which was frequented by all and sundry. It was a private practice confined to the khaanqah.

Furthermore, the practices of the khaanqah cannot override the rulings of the Shariah. What happened in the khaanqah does not confer afdhaliyyat (superiority and greater merit) to Thikr bil Jahr. The Khaanqah practices cannot demote the primary Thikr-e-Khafi to a secondary status. Thikr-e-Khafi has been accorded afdhaliyyat by the Qur’aan, Sunnah and the explicit rulings of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen. It is the official stance of the Hanafi Math-hab.

The khaanqah practices on the other hand, are essentially private practices introduced as a temporary measure for the acquisition of certain spiritual benefits. These benefits do not alter the ruling of the Shariah as propounded by the Math-hab we follow.

It will be salutary for the venerable Mufti Sahib, to digest what Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) had instructed regarding the public Thikr performances in the Musaajid. One of the khulafa of Hadhrat Thaanwi (rahmatullah alayh), wrote to him:

“This year some associates (mureedeen) complained of separation. Some of them were of the opinion that when I am not present with them, then the thaakireen and shaaghileen (those who engage in Thikr and shaghl) should assemble once a week in one place, for example on Friday night, and engage in Thikr, fikr and shaghl so that ghaflat is eliminated. I considered this to be good, hence since two or three weeks I intentionally gathered them. I narrate some naseehat to them, while the greater part of the night is spent in Thikr and shaghl. Even though a circle was not formed, the effects of thauq, shauq and muhabbat (pleasure, eagerness and love) were experienced in this congregational form. I have therefore emphasised and instructed that this Thikr and shaghl programme be always observed weekly, and the whole night be spent in a Musjid. Although I have not discerned any bid’ah in this, nevertheless, since no instruction was given for such an observance, there is some agitation in my heart. Will this not perhaps develop into an evil practice?”

* Hakimul Ummat Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali (rahmatullah alayh), succinctly forbidding this collective Thikr programme, instructed his khalifah:

“Most certainly there is this danger (of bid’ah) for the future. Whatever Thikr and shaghl you wish to make alone, do so. This is quite possible. The arrangement for Ijtima’ (collectivity, gathering) should be terminated.” (Tarbiyatus Saalik)

Whoever attempts to cite Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) in support of public collective loud Thikr performances, is guilty of perpetrating deception and renders a grave injustice to Hakimul Ummah who was meticulous and ever diligent in closing the avenue of bid’ah. Earlier in this treatise, we have presented the unambiguous views of Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) on the bid’ah practice of collective loud Thikr performances.

The private Thikr practices which were enacted in the privacy of the khaanqah should not be cited as a basis for legitimizing the bid’ah public Thikr performances in the Musaajid. The aforementioned directive which Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) issued to his khalifah amply illustrates Hakimul Ummat’s attitude and view regarding the public Thikr performances.

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