Group Loud Zikr – Bid’ah or Not?
(Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai)
FATWASQ. Is congregational loud Thikr permissible in the Musjid? The reason I ask is because I am an ex-‘Barelwi’ who has “converted” to Deobandi teachings but now I see Deobandi Musjids doing the same things that Barelwi Musjids are doing. Last night I went to a lecture programme in Durban. I was shocked to see the first half of the program being taken up by congregational loud recitation of 40 Durood and Thikr. Now I am confused.
A. Whilst you are an ‘ex-Barelwi’, the crowd who had participated in the innovated (bid’ah) ritual in the Musjid is ex-Deobandi. Those who participate in such innovations are inclining towards Barelwi’ism. The time will dawn soon when these so-called ‘Deobandi’ bid’atis and the Barelwi Bid’atis will be one single soul in two bodies. They have no resemblance with Deoband or the Ulama of Deoband. They have lost the Path – the Path of the Sunnah – which the Ulama of Deoband had always defended and guarded. A bid’ah remains bid’ah and impermissible whether practised by Barelwis or Deobandis. By having converted to Deobandi teachings, you have adopted the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) which was the mission of the Ulama of Deoband. Whilst you have entered the Path of the Sunnah, the Bid’atis whom you have seen in the Musjid have entered into the Path of Bid’ah.
Q. What is the lslamic position of Hulqa Thikr carried out on Thursdays in Mosques, especially here in Mauritius. Thikr is made loudly with people jumping in ecstasy occasionally?
A. Hadhrat Ibn Mas`ood (radhiyallahu anhu) the venerable Companion of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) ordered the expulsion from the Musjid of such base innovators. This is a practice of Riyaa (ostentation) and a custom of evil innovation originated by men who had drifted far, far from the Path of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Indulgence in such un-Islamic practices is a grave sin.
Q. Is it not true that the Sahaabah Kiraam used to make loud thikr, especially Tasbih Faatimi, after the Fardh Salaat? This used to be an indication to a latecomer that Salaat was over. So, if they did so, why does the Majlis term loud thikr to be bid’ah?
A. If it is not bid’ah , and it is Sunnah as your ‘ijtihaad’ on the basis of your quoted hadith implies, then why does the entire Ummah, all over the world, not follow this Sunnah for which you have cited your daleel? Why did Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood (rahmatullah alayh) whom you have cited (in your letter) not practice this Sunnat of the Sahaabah Kiraam? Why did not a single one among all our Akaabireen ever recite Tasbeeh Faatimi loudly after Fardh Salaat to indicate to the numerous latecomers nowadays that the Salaat is over? And, why don’t you yourself recite Tasbih Faatimi loudly after the Fardh Salaat?
And, why do even the Barelwis, the masters and experts of loud thikr, not recite Tasbih Faatimi loudly after Fardh Salaat? Brother, your ‘ijtihaad’ is corrupt and baseless. No one in this age has the right and no one after the age of the Aimmah Mujtahideen had the right to dig into the Hadith books for a Hadith to bolster his fanciful idea of ibaadat. The acts of ibaadat have been prescribed, determined and explained fourteen centuries ago. Any new interpretation is baatil and mardood (false and rejected). Those who want to have their loud thikr and Khatm-e-Khwaajgaan should go into their private cloisters and execute their practices of personal preferences. They should not display their private acts of worship as Sunnah nor should they seek to substantiate their non-Sunnat acts by citing Ahaadith which have absolutely no relationship with these practices of loud thikr. Those who have made public shows of their thikr are falling into the same cesspool of deviation and innovation in which the Bareilwis are churning. May Allah Ta’ala save us all from bid’ah and may He bestow Aql-e-Saleem to us all to enable us to differentiate between Ibaadat and Bid’ah.
Q. Are loud thikr and naa’t programmes permissible in a Musjid?
A. The loud thikr and naath (singing songs) programmes are haraam in a Musjid. The Musjid is not a venue for merrymaking, singing and gratifying the nafs with acts which are presented as ‘ibaadat’ but which have neither origin nor sanction in the Sunnah.
Q. Two opposing schools of thought use the Musjid for their particular acts of worship. The one group stands in congregation and recites Durood in chorus. The other group who brands them bid’atis congregate in the Musjid and recite Durood whilst seated, but also in chorus. Thikr and Tilaawat is are done in this manner. Both ways seem beneficial in this day and age of lost spirituality. Please comment on the practices of these two groups.
A. Both groups are bid’atis. Their practices are in conflict with the Sunnah. There is no substantiation in the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) or of his Sahaabah for these innovations. Regardless of any perceived benefits in these superficially adorned acts of ‘worship’, they are devoid of goodness even in this age of lost spirituality. Goodness is in only observance of the Sunnah. The rituals which individuals introduce are not acts of ibaadat. Personal forms and prescriptions of Thikr should be practised in private at home or under the guidance of a Shaikh in his khaanqah, not in a public Musjid where people of a variety of persuasions attend. Such practices become hardcore bid’ah sayyiah (evil innovation) as time passes on.
Q. In our Musjid a few brothers sit after Fajr to read a Hadith and then recite Surah Yaaseen collectively. Is this permissible?
A. It is Sunnat to recite Surah Yaaseen after Fajr Salaat. If by collectively you mean that they recite in unison or in chorus, then such recitation is bid’ah and not permissible. If they recite individually, then it is permissible, in fact meritorious.
Q. In our Musjid during Lailatul Bara’ah (15th Sha’baan) we recite 3 Surah Yaaseen collectively after Maghrib, and when we come to the aayat “Salaamun Qoulam…” and also the last aayat of Surah Yaaseen, we repeat these thrice. Is this a valid practice?
A. The entire practice is bid’ah. To recite Surah Yaaseen in this manner is bid’ah. It is not permissible to participate in this bid’ah custom.
Q. Nowadays the Imaams and Khateebs in some Musjids have made the singing of na’ts and nazams a custom. Is this permissible?
A. The Musaajid are holy places of ibaadat. The Musaajid have not been established for such frivolity and futility. Singing nazams has now developed into an evil practice. It has transgressed the bounds of permissibility. In fact, the gatherings of some sheikhs of ‘tasawwuf’ preponderate with songs in praise of the sheikh who, instead of attending to the moral reformation of his mureeds, sits enraptured by the songs which they sing in his praise.
Q. According to my limited contact with, and limited understanding of the Ulema and Akabir of Deoband, loud zikr programs in the masjid were common practice amongst them and their khulafa who are still around today. You seem to be of the opinion that loud zikr is bidat. How can this be reconciled with the actions of our senior ulema who we know were very careful regarding Shariah? Shall we just put it down to difference of opinion?
A. Your difficulty in comprehending our statements on this issue stems from your limited contact, limited understanding, and to a greater extent, to the confusion which the new crop of young ‘khalifas’ has created with their emphasis on public displays of halqah thikr public Musaajid frequented by innumerable musallis of a variety of persuasions—who do not happen to be mureeds of our Akaabireen or even followers of the Tareeqah of the Ulama-e-Deoband.
The silsilah of the Ulama Deoband visiting South Africa initiated with the visit of Hakimul Islam Hadhrat Maulana Qari Muhammad Tayyib (rahmatullah alayh). After him followed an array of senior Ulama of Deoband who visited South Africa and guided the Muslim community with nothing but bayaans of Islaah (Moral Reformation). Some decades after the commencement of this noble silsilah, arrived Hadhrat Maulana Zakariyya (rahmatullah alayh). To the best of our knowledge, he was the first senior to have initiated the loud thikr program in the Stanger Musjid. Inspite of us being juniors and while we bow down to his seniority, piety and taqwa, we are of the opinion that Hadhrat Shaikh’s introduction of public thikr programs in the Musjid in South Africa was a grave error fraught with grave consequences for the future. His practice was in conflict with the attitude and tareeqah of all the seniors who had preceded him to South Africa.
Hadhrat Shaikh’s personal preference of public thikr bil jahr in the Musaajid is not a practice of the Sunnah. It is not a requirement of the Shariah. Such practices are well and acceptable for his mureedeen to be executed in privacy, in a khaanqah or in a place where the masses will not be cast into confusion. We are not criticizing Thikr Bil Jahr. We are criticizing an act which is not a Sunnat and which has become an introductory step for the origination of a hard core bid’ah similar to what the Qabar Pujaaris are perpetrating.
Both your contact with the Akaabir Ulama and your understanding of the workings of the Shariah’s principles are limited. These limitations have been further corrupted by the confusion created by a new crop of khalifahs treading a path which diverges from true Tasawwuf which is not halqah thikr nor thikr bil jahr or thikr bis-sirr. It is nothing but the path of Islaah-e-Nafs or to subdue the bestiality in man and to adorn himself with the attributes of moral excellence.
While your contact is limited, Alhamdulillah, our contact is not of the same degree of limitation. We are fully apprized of Hakimul Ummaat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi’s tareeqah which was passed on to us by our Shaikh and Ustaadh, Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Masihullah Khan (rahmatullah alayh) who was perhaps the most senior of Hakimul Ummat’s Khulafa. Never did he impart to us the lesson of halqaah thikr and thikr bil jahr for adoption in the public venues of the Musaajid nor was this the way of Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) as you have alleged in your letter.
The ta’leem and tareeqah of Hadhrat Thaanvi and Hadhrat Masihullah (rahmatullah alayh) are fully in consonance with the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The emphasis in our tareeqah is on the Sunnah, not on any private khaanqah practice which has the potential of developing into bid’ah as had been the case with the khaanqah practices of the Qabar Pujaaris, which had initiated as Mubah (permissible) practices, but which have ultimately ruined the adherents of these customs.
We shall desist from commenting on the newfangled methods introduced by the South African khalifahs of other silsilahs. We shall here restrict ourselves to the khalifahs who are supposedly associated to the silsilah of Hadhrat Masihullah (rahmatullah alayh). Let it be known that of the khulafa of Hadhrat Masihullah, we are not aware of a single one who has fallen prey to the deviation of public acts of halqah thikr in the Musaajid. Those who are indulging in this bid’aah are linked to Hajee Faruq Sahib (rahmatullah alayh). While Hadhrat Faruq (rahmatullah alayh) was linked to Hadhrat Masihullah (rahmatullah alayh), he was in almost complete isolation, living in Pakistan with an extremely negligible contact with Hadhrat Masihullah. We shall not advance on this comment. It suffice to say that those who have become Haji Faruq’s khalifahs in South Africa are all juniors in zaahiri ilm and as far as the baatin is concerned, there is salvation for us in maintaining silence.
Most of these youngsters who became khalifahs overnight, some with a minimum of islaah, others without any islaah, rushed to establish a link with Haji Faruq Sahib, motivated purely by the inordinate craving of hubb-e-jah (the love for fame). Their relationship was struck up with the desire to be promoted to the pedestal of a khalifah. Hence, you will find them sending out canvassers to rope in people to become their mureeds. They perpetrate deviations and nonsense in the name of Tasawwuf. They are alienated from the Way of Islaah. They are barren – totally barren — in the Baatin, hence they utilize their public halqah thikr sessions as a crutch to promote the idea of them being Sufis. They are nothing but mutasawwifeen. They have caused immense damage to the Cause of the Sunnah and to the Tareeqah of Hadhrat Thaanvi which we have inherited via the agency of Hadhrat Masihullah.
They have given their halqah thikr and khtame-khwajgaan practice a status higher than Sunnat acts of Ibaadat. Those who do not participate in these personal, private practices, are regarded as being anti-thikr. But they lack in entirety in the comprehension of the meaning of Thikrullaah. They have failed to understand that in terms of the eternal Principles of the Shariah constraints are placed on even Mustahab and Sunnat practices of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) if such practices have become the Shi-aar (salient features) of the Ahl-e-Bid’ah, or if such Mustahab practices become introductory steps for a bid’ah. What then should we say about private practices which are not ibaadat practices of the Sunnah?
So, brother, do get the message straight. Our criticism is not directed at any valid Thikr Bil Jahr practice. We belong to the Chsistiyya Sisilah of Tasawwuf. In this Silsilah, Thikr Bil Jahr is necessary for the khaanqah and private life. We follow our Akaabireen and participate in such Thikr bil Jahr which makes every shaitaan tremble and compels him to take flight when this Thikr dins into his ears. But such loud thikr is not Masnoon ibaadat. It is to be done in the privacy of the home. There are no longer khaanqahs left in the world — only mirages. But the Saalik can follow his athkaar and ma’moolaat in the privacy of his home. He may not sit in the public to attract curious attentions with the shaking of his head and the rocking of his body—acts which confuse the uninitiated — acts which detracts from the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
In conclusion, brother, do understand that these halqah thikr bil jahr sessions discharged in public Musaajid of a hundred persuasions are smokescreens to conceal the gross inability of the khalifahs to give ta’leem in the sphere of Islaahe-Nafs. Truly, the Qabar Pujaaris have a valid charge against us: “When we do halwah thikr, then it is bid’ah. But when you, Deobandis do it, then it is not bid’ah.” The time is not far that the whole happy lot will become birds of a feather within the fold of the Qabar Pujaaris. May Allah Ta’ala protect our Imaan and keep us steadfast on the Haqq and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) whose chief exponent and practical demonstrators in the past 100 years were the Aakaabireen of Deoband, whom the Qabar Pujaaris have branded kaafir.
Q. Some Maulanas aligned with the Deobandi School of Thought cite a number of Ahadith which extol ‘halqah thikr’. They also mention statements of senior Deobandi Ulama to substantiate the validity of ‘halqah thikr’. But, I see that The Majlis opposes this form of thikr.
A. The shallow-minded molvis of this age are in fact citing these Ahadith and the statements of the senior Deobandi Ulama in refutation of the self-same Akaabir Deobandi Ulama who had devoted their lives to fighting and eliminating bid’ah practices and bid’ah forms of halqah thikr. These Akaabireen were fully apprised of the relevant Ahaadith which the small fries are citing today. Yet they condemned the ‘halqah thikr’ practices of the Bareillis and other bid’ati groups. Since the present crop of junior molvis is not grounded in ilm and taqwa nor have they understood what is being prohibited and what is permitted, they react just as the Ahl-e-Bareilli bid’atis.
When our senior Ulama such as Hadhrat Thanvi, Hadhrat Gangohi, Hadhrat Khalil Ahmad and many others criticized the halqah thikr and other bid’ah practices of the Qabar Pujaari sect, the Bareillis presented the very same Ahaadith and the very same arguments which the new crop of shallow-minded Deobandi molvis are today citing in refutation.
These incompetent molvis will cite, for example, Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi’s statements to refute his own criticism of bid’ah. They will cite Ahadith to negate the stand and fatwa of all our Akaabireen. They do so solely to cover up their new bid’ah practices. In the insane craving to project themselves as shaikhs of tasawwuf, they find that their only method of attracting followers is to impress people in public places with an outward show of mysticism. Thus, they organise head-shaking and swaying gatherings in Musaajid to fool and befuddle unwary and ignorant people. With the nafs bloated with riya, ujub and other morally corrupt attributes, they garrulously perpetrate their public halqah sessions of riya in gargantuan endeavours to increase their personal ‘halqahs’ (circles of followers).
They even field canvassers to rope in stupid people to be initiated into the ‘halqah’ tariqah. May Allah Ta’ala save the Ummah from these deceits which abound today in religious garb.
Q. We have noted that in many Musaajid throughout South Africa, many Ulama have initiated thikr programs in the Musjid. Is this permissible, since we had always thought this to be a practice of the Ahl-e-Bid`ah?
A. No it is NOT permissible to have thikr programs in the Musjid, regardless of who initiates it. As you have rightly pointed out, this is and always was the habit and trade-mark of the Qabar Pujaaris (grave worshippers). In fact one booklet entitled “Rays of Truth”, which is a book written by the Ahl-e-Bid`ah, states on page 12, “Amongst other things note the following:….Sunnis make Zikrullah in the Masaajid in an audible voice.” . We are muqallids of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullahi alayh), and it is the ruling of Imaam Saheb that loud thikr (in the Musjid) is a Bid`ah. This is also the ruling of the other three Imaams of Fiqh.
Q. Loud thikr made congregationally in Musjids is on the increase. Some years ago such practices did not exist in the Musjids. However, of recent it is seen that two practices are on the rise in the Musjids: Loud congregational thikr conducted by a sheikh with his mureeds, and using the Musjid for singing nazams (qaseedas). Please comment.
A. Both these practices have entered the confines of bid’ah. It is not permissible to introduce such customs in the Musaajid. The purpose of a Musjid is not to conduct customary sessions of such forms of thikr which are not Sunnat acts of ibaadat, nor is the Musjid a place for singing. A sheikh should do his loud thikr in his khanqah or in a private home of a mureed or his own house, not in a public Musjid where musallis of a variety of persuasions attend to perform Salaat. These forms of thikr are not acts of Sunnat ibaadat. The Shariah does not propagate these forms and customs which the Auliyaa have introduced for good purpose. But in the present day, sheikhs who have little understanding of Tasawwuf have made these forms of thikr the actual goal of Tasawwuf. Their Tasawwuf is confined to these congregational forms of loud thikr and to singing nazams whereas the only purpose of Tasawwuf is Islaah of the Nafs (moral purification). It is not permissible to engage in these practices in the Musaajid.
Q. Some say that the loud thikr is an attraction for people. The thikr attracts them to the Musjid, hence it is a beneficial practice.
A. Those who make this nonsensical claim are even unaware of the purpose of thikr. The purpose of thikr is not to attract people. The purpose is nothing other than the Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala, concentration of the mind on Allah Ta’ala and weakening of the ties with the dunya. The corrupt idea of attracting people is the product of riya (show) which adequately displays the corrupt motives of those who have made these forms of thikr an ‘ibaadat’ practice and a custom in the Musaajid. They use their thikr custom for aggrandizement —to attract people —to convey that they are ‘buzrugs’ wandering somewhere above the Arsh when they shake their heads violently in the Musaajid with their thikr to impress people. This is one of their gimmicks to enlist mureeds. They even have their close mureeds to canvass for disciples.
They have truly degenerated to an extremely low ebb of moral depravation and spiritual corruption. They utilize the Deen for nafsaani goals. In America, due to dwindling attendances, some churches are offering coke and hamburgers for Holy Communion instead of the normal wine which has been served in churches since time immemorial. Just as coke and hamburgers are being used to attract people to the churches, the ignorant ‘sufis’ of the dunya who have no understanding of Tasawwuf are using their loud thikr to attract people. In places like North Africa and Syria they actually use the Musjid for dancing. They befool people to believe that such dances transport them into the realms off the Divine Throne and into spiritual annihilation. Their conduct is most despicable because the intention is not really to attract people to the Musjid. The evil motive is to expand their own circle of mureeds for aggrandizement and other nafsaani designs. If they are sincere, they should make their loud thikr in their khanqahs or homes, and no one will object. The thikr practices of the Mashaaikh are essentially private practices. They are not Sunnat acts of ibaadat. If the loud thikr practice is kept within the limits of the Shariah, it will be permissible.
The limits are transgressed if the loud thikr practice is conducted in a public Musjid for all and sundry. Bid’ah is indeed an evil crime.