Criticism of the True Ones and the Envy of Islam
Everyday I ask my Lord to protect us from deviating from the Path of Truth, to keep us from tumbling into a deep abyss. We must constantly ask for such protection as we are living in a time which the Holy Prophet Muhammed (sal) has described:
“…when good people will be thought of as bad people, and bad people as good: honest people as liars and liars as honest people; deceivers as trustworthy people and trustworthy people as deceivers.”
These are the conditions prevalent in our time; every moral value is turned upside-down so that people can no longer distinguish between good and evil. We are asking our Lord Almighty to steady us on the Path of Truth and to help us adhere to it even if many people attack us and insist that we are misguided. And because we have been informed by the Holy Prophet Muhammed (sal) that true people will come under such heavy criticism in the last times we are heartened by such criticism and take it as verification of our being on a true way.
Whoever is asking about us must be told that we are following a Sufi Way, the Most Distinguished Naqshbandi Tariqah. This information alone is enough to touch off a torrent of heavy criticism from many people, especially Muslims. Upon hearing the word “Tariqah” they will automatically object and deny the validity of the Sufi Way. They will rant and rave on about how misguided we are, without even having inquired about us personally or about our practices. The bad assumptions about anything called “Sufi” will lead them to slander people they know nothing about. Should they not be ashamed to judge people they have never met on the basis of bigoted opinions? Of course they should be ashamed, but they are not: that is a sure sign that we are on the right way, in accordance with that saying of our Holy Prophet Muhammed (sal). The animosity that most Muslims show towards the followers of the Sufi Path is indeed a sign of the last times. Up until fifty years ago the Sufi Orders, and especially the Naqshbandiyya, were universally accepted by the scholars and Imams of most Muslim countries. No one of any rank or importance would show such antagonism towards Sufis: indeed, the Sufis were held in great esteem by religious scholars, many of whom submitted themselves to Sufi Sheikhs as their humble followers. Truth and purity were recognized as such, for those were times when some perspective still remained with people. But nowadays we can observe so many “religious scholars” sprouting up like mushrooms – without roots – who object to the Sufi Way. Yes, in our time the Holy Prophet Muhammed’s (sal) prophecy is being fulfilled, and the viewpoints of a formerly isolated and condemned sects are being universally propagated through the power of unearned money. Quickly the beliefs that Sunni Muslims have held for fourteen hundred years, which recognized the necessity of the inner work of the Sufis, have been replaced by a dry externalist doctrine. So many of today’s Muslims are embracing the beliefs and outlook of that externalist sect. Usually the ones who espouse those doctrines most ardently are people from a certain socio-economic class in the Muslim World. They are the rich, high-life people the highly “educated”, well-to-do, who have attained a luxurious standard of living. Why do such people deny Tariqas? As much as such people may try to reason out their opposition to the Sufi Way, the real reason for their opposition to Tariqas is that Tariqas stress the importance of preparation for eternal life, ranking it where it belongs – in first place; all concerns of this life are held secondary to that.
The opponents of Sufism try to justify their extreme love of this world and its pleasures by twisting Islamic teaching and ignoring the thousands of Qur’anic Verses and Prophetic Traditions which warn them: “The worldly life is but a game for you to play among yourselves, seeing who can accumulate more riches and offspring, taking pleasure in it like the farmer who sees his crops flourishing, then suffering disappointment when it all turns yellow and dries up”, and: “The love of the world is the origin of every sin”, and: “The world is a cadaver and those who seek to devour it are dogs.” It enrages those people when they hear that we are practicing “Dhikr Allah”, Remembrance of Allah, and repeating His Holy Name: “Allah, Allah, Allah…” They accuse us of making harmful innovations in the religion, when, in reality, there are over one-thousand Qur’anic Verses alone, not to mention Prophetic Traditions, in which our Lord Almighty orders us to “Remember Him”, “Glorify Him”, “Praise Him” and “Call upon Him”. He has ordered this that we may approach His Divine Presence, as every repetition of our Lord’s Name increases the love of Him in our hearts.
But the people who object to Tariqahs are in love with this life only, and demand that it be praised at least as much as Allah is praised. In reality they worship this world’s pleasures as a partner to Allah, and no such association is ever acceptable to Him Almighty, as He has said: “We have not created two hearts in the breast of men.” But in our Way we are taught to recognize that our love for this world is preventing us from attaining the true reality of worship, is keeping us from true monotheism, and therefore we are trying to downgrade worldliness from its present supreme position and are seeking to enthrone the love of God in our hearts. We love our Lord, and we are asking Him to love us. Therefore, we try to occupy our whole hearts with the love of our Lord and are going to do our best to encourage others to occupy their hearts with that Divine Love as well. This we seek to accomplish through Dhikr, the remembrance of our Lord, despite the insistent efforts of Satan and his armies to dissuade us from following this way by making us drunk with this life’s pleasures. There is further proof that we are on a right way, apart from the criticism by Muslims of other Muslims who follow Tariqahs. Nowadays more and more non Muslims are leveling criticism at Islam, and unbelievers are more and more vocally criticizing religion in general. Even to believe in God in our time means exposing oneself to ridicule; unbelief has become the dominant fashion, and, in large portions of the world, state policy. Islam in particular is a target for such people: even people who call themselves Christians and Jews and profess belief in God are attacking Islam. Usually they center their attacks on “Islam’s stringent moral code”, although the original and authentic moral codes of their religions were once very similar to ours. But in our time the moral authority once exercised by those religions over their adherents has been eroded to such an extent that nothing remains of most people’s Christianity or Judaism except, perhaps, to say: “I am Christian” or “I am Jewish.” Therefore, some adherents of those religions envy Islam for having preserved such pervasive influence over all aspects of people’s lives in the Islamic World. They envy Islam for its success in bringing spiritual dimensions into the everyday life and actions of the Muslim. The result of this envy is that they loudly criticize Islam for “not allowing enough personal freedom” and “being too severe.” They would, of course, like to see Muslims leave their religion altogether, but short of attaining that ultimate goal they would be satisfied to see Islam relegated to being a marginal force in the lives of Muslims just as Christianity has become in the lives of Christians; yes, they would have us suffer that same miserable fate. The main reason for which all of these groups (materialistic Muslims, “reformed Christians and Jews”, as well as the outright unbelievers) criticize our Way is that we are seeking to purify ourselves by controlling our ego’s whims; that we are brave enough to stand up against the lower self and its desires. We recognize that the only way to approach God is to strengthen our souls sufficiently that they may gain control over our egos. By this the egos of those people feel threatened, as “the truth hurts.”