Hz Qudratullah Shahab (ra)

The following is a reply that Shahab sahib gave regarding his view of Sufism.

“I’m not really a Sufi but I have always loved reading religious books and most of the books that I read were by Shaykhs who are much venerated by people. For example the very first book that I read was the Awarif al-Maarif of Shaykh Shahabuddin Suhrawardy (ra). It was a difficult book which I only understood partially. Then the Kashf al-Mahjub of Data sahib (ra), then the Maktubat of Hz Mujaddid Alf Sani (ra). These were the type of books I loved to read but the book that attracted me most was the Imdaad al-Mushtaaq compiled by Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (ra) about the life of his shaykh Hz Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki (ra)…….. I was really drawn to it but it was about the events in the shaykh’s life and did not contain the practical side such as the stages of the Way and how to traverse them etc.

But one thing became very clear for me and that was that the real highway is the Shariah, and the various tariqa’s of tasawwuf are small lanes and narrow paths that join this highway at some point or another. If that is not the case then such a tasawwuf is false because these lanes and paths were only created to lead into that highway. In the early generations ( at the time of the Holy Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings) there was no need for such encouragement or to advise people: do this, don’t do that, or your character should be like so and so. The Prophet’s (upon him be peace and blessings) presence acted like a magnet; even after a century in the era of the Tabieen this magnetic pull was still strong and was sufficient to keep people on the straight path of the shariah.

However as time passed it was felt that to keep people on the straight path other measures were necessary like the kindergarten schools for those children who are afraid to attend mainstream schools or who do not succeed there. Thus, tasawwuf is like the kindergarten: there they have sweets, here dhikr. The great shaykhs have said that if you feel pleasure in your dhikr or (extra) worship, give it up! These things are not for pleasure. So they kept the kindergarten to a minimum but some people became absorbed in it and got stuck. For if you go in this direction your pleasure is increased, your confidence is increased, your knowledge is increased; that is a different kind of knowledge. Also through these awrad/wazaif one gains spiritual powers and the person experiencing all this fails to reach the highway of shariah and continues to walk this path untill he becomes happy with it. Then he is neither good for this nor for that. Then he becomes a great Sufi. He may have hundreds of thousands of followers but they fail to reach the real goal”.

(taken from the article by Zulfiqar Tabish in Zikr-e-Shahab)