What is Right After All?
Was the Work of Islam only carried out by Sufis?
Mufti Muhammad Qasim Attari
The Islamic system is built upon a foundation of knowledge, and those who possess knowledge are revered as scholars. The indispensable outcome of this reality is the continued existence and development of the religion through the efforts of these scholars. However, one of the most dangerous weapons employed by the adversaries of Islam is the deliberate alienation of Muslims from their scholars. Their ultimate objective is to diminish the stature and significance of these scholars in the eyes of the public. Secular, liberal, and anti-Islamic movements spare no effort to deceive the masses by discrediting the scholars and their invaluable service to Islam. Their aim is to erode the trust and respect the public places in the scholars, thereby undermining the adherence to Islamic principles and disrupting the integrity of the religious system. A common saying of this group is: “Only the Sufis spread Islam; the clerics have not aided Islam at all.” It is correct to say the Sufis also spread Islam, and this is evident in the biographies of Sayyidunā Data Ganj Bakhsh and Sayyidunā Khawaja Ghareeb Nawaz رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْهِمَا. The dust on the feet of the noble Sufi saints is the kohl of our eyes. Our heads are lowered with humility in their courts and our love for them is a means of our salvation. However, denying the contribution of the scholars is completely wrong. Firstly, the scholars have worked hard in aiding Islam in many ways. Secondly, the Sufis themselves were scholars because an ignorant person can never be a true Sufi. However, if the scholars and Sufis are considered to be separate groups in certain considerations, then consider the details that are presented below.
History testifies to the central role of the ulema in spreading Islam, preserving its teachings, and defending its tenets. The importance and need for scholars will never diminish in any era. On one occasion during a gathering, someone said, “Only the Sufis spread Islam, not the scholars.” I responded with the intention of correcting him and explained that our love for the noble Sufi masters is immense. However, the basis of Islam is the Quran, hadith and fiqh. My question is how many books of tafsir did the Sufis write? How many commentaries did they write on the books of hadith? How many books of fiqh did they author? Islam can only be understood through the commentaries of the Quran and hadith, and through this we learn what is liked and disliked by Allah.
The man could not answer my questions despite the answers being very simple. The detailed and interpretative works of the Quran and hadith were not carried out by the Sufis, rather it was the scholars who strived in this field. Even if the Sufis wrote books on these topics, it would be a one percent contribution to the world of knowledge, whereas the input of the scholars amounts to the remaining ninety nine percent. The scholars worked in matters that were considered to be the foundation and centre of Islam, and the Sufis used it and beautified it. The Sufis played a greater role in worship, morality, and social reform.
People who despise Islam only object to scholars to lower their status. It is nothing more than that. Otherwise, after the finality of prophethood, various groups of the Ummah have fulfilled their responsibility of propagating the religion of Islam. Even the noble companions عَـلَيْهِمُ الرِّضْوَانْ, the greatest people of the Ummah who have served and aided Islam the most, have different excellences and roles. For example, the rightly guided caliphs, Sayyidunā MuꜤāwiyah, Sayyidunā MuꜤādh b. Jabal, Sayyidunā Abū Mūsā al-AshꜤarī and Sayyidunā Salmān al-Fārisī رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھُم were rulers of the entire Ummah or provinces in the Muslim lands, who served Islam through this role.
Then you have Sayyidunā Abū ꜤUbaidah b. al-Jarrāḥ, Sayyidunā SaꜤd b. Abī Waqqās, Sayyidunā ꜤAmr b. al-ꜤĀs, Sayyidunā Khālid b. al-Walīd and Sayyidunā Muhammad b. Maslamah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھُم who were commanders of armies who served Islam by elevating the word of Allah Almighty. Sayyidunā Abū Hurairah, Lady ꜤĀˈishah, Sayyidunā Abū SaꜤīd al-Khudrī, Sayyidunā ꜤAbdullāh b. ꜤUmar and Sayyidunā Anas b. Mālik رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھُم served Islam by conveying the Hadith of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم to the Ummah. Similarly, Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq, Sayyidunā ꜤUthmān b. ꜤAffān, Sayyidunā ꜤAbdul Raḥmān b. ꜤAwf, Sayyidunā Ṭalḥah, Sayyidunā Zubayr and Sayyidunā Abū Ṭalḥah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھُم assisted Islam through the means of their wealth. The names of Sayyidunā Abū ꜤUbaidah b. al Jarrāḥ, Sayyidunā Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī, Sayyidunā Abū al-Dardāˈ, Sayyidunā Tamīm al-Dārī and Sayyidunā ꜤAbdullāh b. ꜤAmr رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھُم are well known for showing the practical example of worship. The names of the rightly guided caliphs, Sayyidunā Ubayy b. KaꜤb, Sayyidunā ꜤAbdullāh b. ꜤAbbās, Sayyidunā ꜤAbdullāh b. MasꜤūd and Sayyidunā Zayd b. Thābit رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْھُم are prominent in relation to fulfilling the responsibility of understanding and teaching the Quran.
The purpose of mentioning these details is to demonstrate that every group of Muslims has contributed to the propagation of Islam. None of their accomplishments can be denied, rather they should be accepted and praised. The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم explained this clearly in a Hadith: “A group of my followers will remain predominant, such that they will be predominant when the Day of Judgement arrives.”
Imām al-Nawawī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه states regarding this Hadith:
It is possible that the dominant group comprises of different sections of the Ummah. This includes brave warriors, people with military insight, jurists, exegetes, scholars of hadith, and preachers who encourage towards good and discourage evil. It can also include the groups of the pious and ascetics.
Islam encompasses numerous significant objectives, as well as various ways to contribute to the service of Islam. These include translating and interpreting the Quran, providing commentary on the hadith, conducting research on Islamic beliefs, elaborating on the principles and practices of worship, offering guidance on everyday affairs, distinguishing between permissible (halal) and prohibited (haram) aspects of food, drink, and clothing, and effectively conveying all of these matters to others. It also includes explaining the truth about monotheism and prophethood to non-Muslims, refuting objections to Islamic rulings and beliefs, protecting an Islamic empire, protecting the wealth of Muslims and being an example to people by worshipping with beauty and perfection and exhibiting good manners and having a positive effect on people around you.
Except for the final three points mentioned in the list, who is doing the other work? Without a doubt, it is the exegetes, scholars of hadith, jurists, theologians, preachers, leaders, and soldiers of Islam. How many of these fields only consist of scholars? Exegetes, Hadith experts, jurists, scholastic theologians, muftis, authors, and preachers are all scholars. So, it is clear as day that most of the tasks of serving Islam are being handled by scholars. Therefore, do not fall prey to the evil whispers of the enemies of Islam and honour and respect the scholars.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم