Understanding Islam – Abul Al\’a Maududi


Fiqh deals with the apparent and the observable conduct the fulfilling of a duty in letter. What concerns itself with the spirit of conduct is known as Tasawwuf. For example, when we say our prayers Fiqh will judge us only by the fulfilment of the outward requirements such as ablution. Facing towards the Ka\’ba, the timing, and the number of Rak\’ats, while Tasawwuf will judge our prayers by our concentration devotion purification of our souls and the effect of prayers on our morals and manners. Thus, the true Islamic Tasawwuf is the means of our spirit of obedience and sincerity while Fiqh governs our carrying out commands to the last detail. An \’Ibadat devoid of spirit, though correct in procedure is like a man handsome in appearance but lacking in character and an \’Ibadat full of spirit but defective in execution is like a man noble in character but deformed in appearance.

The above example makes clear the relation between Fiqh and Tasawwuf. But it is to the misfortune of the Muslims that as they sank in knowledge and character with the passage of time, they also succumbed to the misguided philosophies of nations which were then dominant partook of them and patched Islam with their perverted dogmas.

They polluted the pure spring of Islamic Tasawwuf with absurdities that could not be justified by any stretch of imagination on the basis of the Qur\’an and the Hadith. Gradually a section of Muslims appeared who thought and proclaimed themselves immune to and above the requirements of the Shari\’ah. These people are totally ignorant of Islam for Islam cannot admit of Tasawwuf that loosens itself out of the Shari\’ah and takes liberties with it. No Sufi has the right to transgress the limits of the Shari\’ah or treat the primary obligations (Faraid) such as daily prayers fasting zakat and the hajj, Tasawwuf, in the true sense is but an intense love of Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) and such love requires a strict obedience to their commands as embodied in the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Prophet. Anyone who deviates from the divine commands makes a false claim of his love for Allah and His Apostle.

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