The necessity of having a spiritual master
The necessity of having a spiritual master
1. Everyone knows that when being ill, one needs a doctor. All men (except for Prophets) are prone to have deceases of heart, such as envy, arrogance, showing off, love for the worldly, pride etc. To get rid and cure such sicknesses it is necessary to have a spiritual master - Shaikh.
2. We observe the difference between fruits of a tree grown in the wild, and those, grown in a well-groomed garden. The man, going on the way of self-perfection guideless, is similar to the fruit-tree, growing wild.
3. Every scholar-alim or master becomes what he is only with the support and assistance of another. Allah has created us needing one another. Since birth child needs parental help, and then, in kindergarten, school, and institute - everywhere man needs a tutor and teacher. How can one do without another’s help on the way of spiritual perfection?!
4. A man wishing to go somewhere far, where the way is long and lies through forest, with many junctions, leading him astray, full of snakes and predators, should have a guide for safety and reaching his destination. The journey to Allah is the most difficult, as from adulthood man is being constantly tested and put on trial. Shari`ah is also a road, drawn for all people on earth. There are many dangers and temptations on this road, pushing people away from the true path of Allah. The biggest enemy is: the nafs, or ego. Other enemies include the Satan, named in the Quran and Hadith “not for a moment retreating enemy”; those people leading others astray; and the seductive beauty of the frail world. These enemies try to mislead us throughout the whole course of our lives. A man of sense would never say that guide on this road is unnecessary.
Arguments from the Quran and Hadith
Arguments, supporting the necessity of a spiritual master, are plenty in the Quran, Hadith, and works of imams. For example, the Quran says [meaning]: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and be with those who are truthful [in word and deed]” – Surah al-Tawbah; 119. Allah Almighty also says [meaning]: “…follow the way of those who have turned to me, believed in One God... ” Surah Luqman; 15; “… keep yourself patiently with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Countenance…” Surah al-Kahf; 28.
Likewise there are many Hadith, encouraging friendship with pious people. For instance: “the man is on the religion of his friend” (Abu Davud, al-Tirmizi). Abu Ya’la through authentic chain narrates: “Oh Envoy of Allah, whom should we stay with?” The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) responds: “With those, at the sight of whom, you remember Allah”. All the four imams write in their books that every one is obliged to have a Shaikh: men, women, scholars, illiterate, slaves and the free. Furthermore, there are many more reasons proving the necessity to have a spiritual master. (Haqaiq ‘an al-Tasawwuf”, p. 41-75).
Moreover, from the beginning of Islam till the present days men was in need of scholars, alims, who explained the fundamentals of religion. Similarly, people need spiritual guides, who bring them up in the spirit of Ihsan, as everyone needs a mediator. Allah Almighty sent Jibril to Muhammad (peace be upon him) with revelation (wahyu), Companions needed the Prophet, the followers of Companions [tabi`in] needed the Companions. In fact, Allah could have sent the Quran directly without mediator, could have explained the Quran and Shari`ah to the Companions with no mediation of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and could have delivered the Message to the tabi`in with no help of the Companions. How is it possible to deny the necessity of mediation set by Allah Himself?!
The Quran and Hadith could be compared to a drugstore full of medicine. What might happen if a sick man, having entered this drugstore, chooses a medicine relying solely on his own understanding? Just like a doctor prescribes treatment according to the state of a patient, similarly a Muslim too needs a doctor who would treat him in accordance with Quran and Hadith.
Those, who have spiritual master, love their Shaikh, and this love by chain reaches the Prophet (peace be upon him). Hadith mentions that on the Doomsday a man will stand beside the ones he loved. Likewise, everyday murid carries out the tasks of his Shaikh [zikr, salawat, istighfar]. There is another hadith which says that the small acts which are carried out regularly are more favorable to Allah, rather than big actions carried out occasionally.
Those who have Shaikh, remember Allah, send salawat to the Prophet (peace be upon him), and repent more than others. There are many ayats and authentic ahadith about advantages of these acts, compiling those benefits would result in a thick book. Follower of a spiritual master often remembers pious and righteous men, for which he receives blessings of Allah. So says Sufyan bin Uyainat.
From the book “Fundamentals of religion and biography of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).”