United by Islam - interview with Shaykh Said Afandi al-Chirkawi
You know how it happens: you are walking on the street, sunk in thought, taking no notice of the things around you, and all of sudden, as if you would wake up for an instance, you catch a phrase - a single phrase of a stranger, a single sentence out of somebody’s dialog. And it turns out to be the words that you were predestined to hear; the answer to the question that has been bothering you.
The words of a teacher are not the words of a stranger. The question asked might be of no concern of yours but the answer unexpectedly is. In this answer you will find the solution of your problem.
The great Muslim scholar Ibn al-Arabi said: "People think that a sheikh must work miracles and demonstrate his enlightenment. In the mean while the only requirement a teacher must fulfill is to have the qualities which enable him to meet the needs of his student." An interview with the venerated Shaykh Said Afandi al-Chirkawi, master of the Shazili and the Naqshbandi tariqats (Sufi orders), might be interesting for a broad public.
- Revered Shaykh, there are many speculations regarding your knowledge of Arabic and your Islamic education. You used to say you are a person of modest knowledge, but your books speak of the contrary. So what is the real state of things?
- I mean what I say. Everything I write has its source in the books of great Muslim scholars. None of them calls himself a person of a great knowledge. My words cannot harm anybody. The value of a man is measured by his deeds and not by his words. Read the books and make up your own opinion.
The Prophet Musa (Moses) had no clue about the wisdom concealed in the bizarre things done the by the Prophet Khidr. He condemned Khidr's actions as they seemed not to correspond with the Sharia. In response, Khidr explained why he had damaged the boat they had been sitting in: "I wanted to [make a hole in the vessel]." Then the Almighty asked him: "Who are you to say "I wanted"? Khidr repented of these words of his.
Look how the Almighty dislikes the very word I. This is the first word that has been pronounced by Iblis after God ordered him to worship Adam. He refused saying: "I am better than Adam and of a higher rank than him." The Pharaoh turned to the magi when they believed in Musa's prophecy, and said: "I will hang you on a date tree." How can a righteous Muslim conscious of how God dislikes the selfish ego, claim that he possesses “real” knowledge? The Quran and the Hadith consequently condemn selfishness and self-exaltation. Is it then so surprising that I do not wish to talk about my scholarly achievements?
It is much better if people are allowed to make their own personal judgments about me.
In short, I do not know in what state I will stand before Allah on the Day of the Last Judgment. But in this world, whatever my sins and merits might be, I am protected and cherished by Allah. I am saying this to explain that I have loved gentle disposition and good temper since my childhood and chosen to keep these traits in my adulthood. Later (when I became familiar with the world of science) it turned out that modesty is not a very typical trait of the modern scholars despite of their knowledge of Sharia and tariqat. The Quran contains an ayah with the following meaning: "Allah the Almighty gives wisdom to His slave. A person, who is endowed with wisdom, is endowed with blessings." This wisdom is not recognized by those who are attracted by the worldly pleasures; they shall not benefit from the teaching of the Quran. What is wisdom? Wisdom is the light of the God-knowledge that He sheds upon His chosen servants. This divine light can neither be explained by reason nor by logic; verily, does the Lord bestow wisdom on His beloved slaves. In other words, wise is the slave of Allah who assesses his deeds with his reason and consequently makes the right decision.
Who are the wise people? The wise people are those who are not satisfied with superficial studies but penetrate into the depth and get to the core. They try to follow the way of the prophets. Starting from superficial knowledge they penetrate further into the depth until they reach the divine light and realize that this light cannot be given to anybody except to those on whom it is bestowed by God. There is an ayah in the Quran that says the following: "Nobody can comprehend the gist of the Quran nor see its light, nor believe in it nor understand it, otherwise than by God's will. Nobody else can help him."
In order to see the divine light and comprehend the meaning of the Quran it is necessary to follow the Prophet and observe his Sunna. But this is impossible for a person who rejects to utter a greeting for the Prophet and does not believe in the possibility of the spiritual presence of the Prophet, considering this to be polytheism. The truth is also that God may bestow knowledge on His chosen slaves who are uneducated.
- The media usually estimates the number of your murids between 6 and 600 thousands. How precise is this number and does it represent any threat for the state?
- One must have a good reason for making affirmations that I represent a threat for the state. If anybody is thinking the growing number of my murids is a threat by itself he is totally wrong.
My adversaries who tried overthrowing the government (by attacking and occupying the House of the Government of Makhachkala or invading Dagestan) did not write a single article at that time. Now they came to the conclusion that I represent a threat for the public security. If you really love your motherland you can see for yourself who are the authors of the present day publications. They claim that I run training camps with hit men and possess weapons. If this is so let the responsible authorities find it and punish me. In addition, the followers of tariqat are not prone to strife and discord; on the contrary they resist the spread of enmity. If anybody doubts these words of mine, he may personally get acquainted with my teaching or ask my students. My students are all accessible: they live in cities and villages; nobody of them is on the run or hiding. I receive all people who come to visit me in my house. I do not have any secrets and I do not reject anybody coming to me. Let the journalists who write incredible things about me also come. We will sit and talk like men and they will find out what the truth is. If not - let them continue writing their lies. Their wild guesses have nothing in common with the truth about me, but I am innocent before God and people; those who spread lies shall be held in charge - let them not forget that! All the more so, one should know that no matter if they write anything or not, the predestination of Allah shall be fulfilled.
The controversies that appeared during the collapse of the USSR also existed while it was being established. There have always been disagreements between Muslim scholars as well, may Allah make them dwellers of the Paradise! But Sayfullah-Qadi and Hasan-Effendi were openly calling all peoples of Dagestan for peace. They were people of chastity who had never pursued a selfish desire. Their words and deeds were all for the sake of God.
Shaykh Sayfullah-Qadi was known as al-qutb al-mastur - a person whose spiritual level is incomprehensible for the common people. Nobody knows the spiritual state of the parents better than their children do, and thus I (as their spiritual son) can tell truth about them. People's gossip about their spiritual masters is just like the slander spread about me.
When Sayfullah-Qadi was staying in Verkhneye Kazanishche village, he spoke to the community: "My children, the Bolshevists are coming. Put up white flags all around in the village and do not resist them." The Muslims obeyed his words and it turned out to be the right decision. I am also a spiritual son of Sayfullah-Qadi and of Hasan-Effendi. That is why I will follow my spiritual fathers' footsteps rather than call people for confrontation. This is our way.
Regarding the number of my students I don't know the exact figure and neither do I need to know. Any state official strives to increase the number of his supporters and get some benefit. This practice originated in the ancient times and I am not accusing anybody of anything. I do not depend on the number of my followers and do not try to take advantage of them. I do not bribe, use tricks, promise any material advantage or threat anyone forcing him to be my student. All of them come to me by their own will striving to know Allah. My task is to meet the guest and to teach him to perform wird (a specific set of acts of worship to be recited or preformed). A spiritual master is not prone to search for students.
Masters who search for students are like greengrocers who search for customers. A jeweler on the contrary remains in his shop and waits for the customers to come to him.
Here is another example: if a shepherd thinks only how to earn money for every sheep in his herd, he will try to increase the number of sheep. A good shepherd conversely becomes concerned if the number increases, because it is more difficult to properly take care of a big herd. I am not a shepherd that works for money. That is why I am not trying to boost the number of my students. I do not seek honor and power; my only goal is the pleasure of Allah.
- Respected Sheikh, are you entitled by your by spiritual rank to decide whom of your visitors to receive and whom to send back?
- Sheikhs and medical doctors have a similar profession. At the end of their studies doctors swear not to make difference between a friend and a foe. That is why we are instructed by our elders not to reject help to anybody. My master used to tell me: "Do not call people [to join tariqah] and do not turn them down when they come." Doctors do not treat all people with the same medicine; they chose the medicine according to the diseases. Similarly, spiritual masters give assignments to their murids according to their state of mind. A person, who can accomplish an easy task, gets an easy task; a person, who can accomplish a difficult one, gets a more demanding one. Doctors cannot heal all patients: some must return home, others die in the hospital. A spiritual master cannot guide his student if the latter is not guided by God. Someone will become a good student, another one will only be called so without having benefited, a third one will join the Wahhabis. Not all patients are the same: one thoroughly follows all prescriptions, such patient becomes dear to the doctor; another one does not listen to the doctor's advice and does not take the prescribed medicine; the third one runs away from the hospital. Thereby, the recovery of a patient depends to a great extend on his own actions. Similarly, it depends on a student if he can draw benefit from tariqat studies.
The mission of doctors is to serve people. This is also the mission of spiritual masters. But it is not done for getting benefit such as money or servants. That is why the master does not go into raptures over his student but rather tests him. Notice also that in such case the master ends up with fewer students, since most of them fail the test.
Thereby, the spiritual teacher is like a punch horse that is given to people to serve them for free. Somebody can take it to bring logs, and somebody else - to bring hay, the third one takes it to ride it to the mill, the forth will put heavy load on it, the fifth will ride on his back. The horse can be left with no food and water. What should the pour animal do when it is left by his owner?
A spiritual master can also be compared with an undertaker who is ordered to get the dead to the cemetery on his back for no fee. Who would like to have a job like this? Would this undertaker ask for more dead? Don't think, dear brothers, that a "spiritual master" is only busy with solemn admonition. In fact, he is held in charge for a lot of things. May God have mercy on me, on all murids and on all righteous people!
- Respected Sheikh, some people complain that your disciples commit reprehensible actions. People end up accusing you since you are their teacher. That is, they find that you must control their behavior. Can you oblige them to behave well?
- Sharia obliges every person not to trespass the limits of the permitted. If a Muslim is not a murid, it does not mean that he is allowed to violate the Sharia. Tariqat purifies and decorates Sharia. That is why a murid should be the role model for the others. But murids cannot be holy, they are not angels. However great these righteous people might be, they happen to commit sins; it is no surprise that murids sin.
Imagine there are two sick people: one of them went to the doctor and got his prescription; the other one didn't go to the doctor and could not recover from a grave disease. The second person is like one who has no spiritual master and does not follow tariqat. A murid at least makes an effort to protect himself from sin, and even though he can still commit a sin, he repents at once and is purified by his repentance. This trait of character is highly commended by Sharia and Allah will have mercy on such a person. This is a big joy for a believer, for the sins of the people of the past could not be washed off by their repentance.
If the responsibility for mistakes and misconduct is transferred to the spiritual teacher, this can be regarded as lack of faith in the Quran and the Hadith. The Prophet could not guide his uncle Abu Lahab. Many ayahs of the Quran say: "Oh Prophet! You cannot guide those whom you want to except for those whom I want to guide. You are not in charge for them, for you have been sent to call people to worship One God."
The Prophet said: "If I could guide people I would have guided all people to embrace Islam, and if Shaytan could lead all people astray he would not have left a single Muslim." If the master is accused for every unsuccessful murid it means then the doctor should be held in charge for any patient that cannot recover. Is this fair? Shaykh Hasan-Effendi said: "A sin of a murid is like manure for a garden. God's servant finds pleasure in himself when he is free of sins."
Take for instance a big family with many children. The father brings up all of his children equally. But what should he do if some of them misbehave? If the father wouldn't have taught his children the right behavior he would have been guilty. But in fact he did teach his children. However bad his child might behave, even if he commits a crime or becomes a murderer of an innocent person the father cannot reject his child. This is the mercy of the father on his children. A spiritual master and his disciples are like a father and his sons. But do not think that a master is a person who gathers around himself murderers and thieves. If a student is involved in some bad activities he automatically estranges from his teacher until he reconciles with his accuser. Spiritual masters are pure at heart and they do not go for the smallest compromise when it comes to injustice.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Bukhari said: "The gate of my tariqat is open even for a person, who commits adultery inside the Kaaba.” There are other sins separating servant from his Lord like not observing the prayer and the fasting. It happens that a person fasts but does not pray or vice versa. On Mount Lebanon there is a plant that bears fruit that cannot be detected with a naked eye. Anybody who wounds the heart of another person even if the size of the wound is as small as the fruit of this plant shall not deserve my tariqat". Look how much value all human issues have for God! Thereby, as long as a man does not forgive his offender, the latter shall not be forgiven by Allah. Sheikhs go the way of Allah and follow His Prophet. For this reason, my brothers, accusations of spiritual masters because of their "ill-bred" murids have no foundation by law and reason.
- Lately people were often speaking about a certain avarization of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Dagestan in both political and religious senses. How much is it possible in Islam to put emphasis on a single nationality?
- Islam is against dividing people into nationalities; on the contrary, Islam is calling for union. How may I classify people according to their nationalities in this setting? A true believer cannot divide people into nationalities, as it is rejected by Allah and His Prophet. If he does it, his Islamic faith is deficient. The companion of the Prophet Salman was Persian. The Prophet said about him: "Salman is one of our people, he is from my Umma." The Prophet had many great companions both among Ansar and Muhajirin, but the right to pass on the Naqshbandi tariqat has been transferred from Abu Bakr to Salman as he deserved it.
Sharia teaches us to search for a worthy person in each matter disregarding his nationality. The first person entrusted to call adhan by the Prophet Muhammad was Bilal, a former slave of Ethiopian origin. And nevertheless in all times there have been enough people to spread discord and incite conflicts. The disputes between different nationalities were present since the creation of the world and they will continue not because Sharia (allegedly) teaches so, but because people have become more ignorant. This is a shame for Muslims! For instance, what should be said with regards to the segregation of ethnicities in Dagestan? Are there not enough Avars living side by side with Dargin, Kumyk, Lezgin and Lak people? Aren't there enough intermarriages?
When I ponder over this issue I do not find anything depending on a nationality. Among my murids whom I love like my own children there are people of Dargin, Kumyk, Lak, Lezgin, Chechen and other ethnicities. In fact, all nationalities are present and we are all united by Islam. Everyone is searching for his environment and pursuing his interests, nobody is asking about nationality.
Everybody who visited my home can confirm that I do not judge people by their nationalities. You may ask anybody. Thanks to Allah, I am not that kind of person.
- Media often mention there are many sheikhs in Dagestan. At the same time one gets an impression that there is a kind of enmity between these sheikhs as well as between their students. Do you personally experience hostile feelings towards any of them?
- There are people who hurry to inform me when a new sheikh appeared. I do not know what goal they pursue by doing so. Do they want to know my opinion or do they experience joy because a new sheikh appeared? I don't know. I always tell them: let such people exist in every village. In fact, their emergence will make my burden lighter.
I constantly teach my students not to engage in disputes with the murids of other sheikhs and with other people in general; in their turn, they are supposed to teach their murids the same principle. I never feel jealous of other sheikhs neither do I have time for this nor necessity. If people would only know that one cannot achieve anything through jealousy and arguments, especially nowadays..! Everybody has the right to find a master that suits him, but the master will be responsible for all that he teaches murids; that is why it is better for murids to keep silent and to practice what they are taught.
- Respected Sheikh, there are rumors in the air that some of your murids are members of the government of Dagestan and prominent statesmen like Kh. Shikhsaidov and M. Aliev. Thus you can claim to be the key figure in the spiritual life of Dagestan and to have control over the political situation in the republic, can’t you?
- A murid is a person who receives a wird, a task related to tariqat. When somebody comes to me for the first time, I ask him: "My friend, what is the goal of your visit? Do you wish to get a wird or you just came for a visit?" (Some people come for different reasons.) If he says that he wants to receive a wird, I teach him and he becomes a murid. If he says that he came for a visit I give him praying beads; sometimes I add a joke "When you get old enough I will also give you a wird." Then I hear what they tell me about the goal of their visit. Mostly they come to be advised about some medicine, to ask me to write words for an amulet or to make dua for a sick person. I make dua, but I am not an expert in medicine and amulets, for this reason I send them to those who can help with that.
Sometimes I get visits of persons or even groups who want to see a sheikh and learn what tariqat is. I also present them with praying beads (if I have any) and say: "Do not hurry to take initiation into tariqah. Take time for your decision. It is better not to take a wird at all than not to observe it. Do not take a wird just because you want to be like the others. If you came to the conclusion that you need it by yourself and you can tell right from wrong, then you can take a wird." Then if a person says: "Yes, I want to take a wird," I teach him. It may occur that a certain person visits me for several times before he decides to be initiated into tariqah. The Sheikhs of tariqah compare a person who came to them and did not take a wird with a person who went to Mecca and did not perform Hajj. Thus it is better to make a decision before hand and to come afterwards.
When you speak of state officials, I have been visited by others as well but they haven't taken a wird and cannot be considered to be my pupils. Their visits may have different purposes. As for instance, lately the village Chirkey celebrated the 1000th anniversary including the opening ceremony for a new mosque and an Islamic school. A meeting held in the school was attended by representatives of the government, local administration and journalists. At the same time, these people were coming to visit me. Is there anything bad in it? Does this visit undermine their authority or should I feel ashamed that they visited me? With their visit they want to show that they cherish the national spirit of Dagestan, our traditions and their respect for people. What else can be the purpose of this visit? Frankly speaking when I am visited by people of such high rank I feel awkward but still I am thankful to them for their visit. I can say for sure that they start thinking better of me after they meet me in person because the information that they hear about me contradicts the reality.
Dear countrymen, anybody who craves for a change in the authorities or for holding the presidential office in Dagestan must have relations with at least some politicians and statesmen, as well as with other countries, banks and funds. Do I have such relations? I could never boast of anything of the kind! I am not that kind of person. State authorities must have a clear idea about my life. And if not - they are welcome to ask questions. Is it not surprising that I receive most accusations from a certain imam because I did not teach Ali Kamalov, the chief editor of "Istina" newspaper, tariqat?! First of all, it is a lie. Second, I see no reason why I cannot teach Ali tariqat since I teach it everybody. I suppose what is meant by this accusation is the doubt if people like Ali can be given a wird at all or not? This opinion is neither compatible with Quran nor with the Sunna according to which no one can be deprived of the chance to repent. On the contrary, the Quran and the Sunna are calling for repentance. Like a person with many ailments should hurry to a doctor, a person with numerous sins should hurry to a spiritual maser. This has been said long time ago. People need tariqat because they commit many sins (this is also true for myself).
Ali used to visit me in the earlier years and ask me questions. I met him in my house, like I meet other people. I haven't given him a wird since he never asked for, but I would have happily given it to him if he did. In order to reject his request I would need to know what kind of person he will be in the future.
The mulla who accuses me of this seems not even to be familiar with surah `Abasa. Once, Shaykh Hasan-Effendi was visited by an official in fancy clothes, armed to the teeth and riding a well-bred horse. Hasan-Effendi welcomed him very nicely and then went out to see him off. One of his students asked the Sheikh: "Why is this person who is not even a student, shown so much respect?" After the guest had left, Hasan-Effendi said: "My son! Is it difficult for me to show respect to this person whom Allah granted a beautiful horse, expensive clothes, weapons and an important office?" The same concerns Ali. He is a person whom Allah granted reason, knowledge, good job, provision and clothing. How can I refuse to see him?
During the construction of the hydroelectrical station in Chirkey I met a Dargin man named Muharram. He was a very pious person who neither missed a single prayer nor fasting, and that is how we became friends. At that time I was a murid and had a master; on his part, Muharram was not in tariqat. Years passed, and we never talked about tariqat. After the construction works were over, Muharram left, and in a short time I was passed on the mastership. Our friendship has been lasting for many years. Muharram used to come to me, sit around with the other murids and listen to me while I was teaching. He had never said he wanted to take a wird and I never asked him if he wanted one. Nevertheless I liked him much more than any middling murid. Finally, Muharram said on one day: "I feel awkward about this, but I ought to have taken a wird from the very beginning, and if only possible, teach me tariqat now." I replied: "Look, Muharram, we have been friends for many years but I have never told you to join tariqah. And this was not because I did not want to give you a wird, this was because I was waiting until you chose this way by yourself. If I had a permission to invite people to tariqat, you would have become the first one." Then Muharram asked for a wird and this was one of the happiest days of my life: my friend also became my spiritual brother. We are instructed so by our teachers. Nobody can join tariqat unless he chooses it by himself. Whoever my visitors are, the door of my home is open for them.
- Wide-spread is the opinion that locally the imams of mosques have more power than the state authorities, and that these imams are appointed by you personally or the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Dagestan chooses imams considering the candidates who are loyal to you. Could you tell if it is truth?
- There can be many complaints, but there is only one truth, and injustice shall be defeated one day. Sharia makes it compulsory for everybody, and especially for spiritual authorities, to abide by the principles of justice and fairness. When appointing an imam the Spiritual Board must first of all consider the candidate's knowledge and faith. If one of these two is missing there he may guide his community the wrong way. Secondly, an imam should be eloquent, calm, of good temper, and able to find an approach to the members of his community. If it stated that the candidate fulfills the above-mentioned requirements the Spiritual Board does not consider further if he is a murid or not; neither do I. To accuse the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Dagestan only because it considers those candidates who recognize its authority is baseless: I have never seen an employer hiring people who do not recognize his authority.
- There is a common assumption that the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Dagestan is under your influence. How are you related to their work?
- I do not belong to that kind of people who have their say in the Spiritual Board, I do not even have time for it, but I always support their work. I am not in opposition to any mufti.
- Dear Sheikh, there are hearsays that you and the Spiritual Board get considerable material support from the Arab states. What would you say to this?
- Neither me nor the Spiritual Board ever received a single cent from the Arab countries and never asked for any help. Even if we would have asked, we would have received nothing: these donations would all be stolen by corrupted officials who issue false documents to cover their theft. This money can be accepted neither by me nor by the Spiritual Board. Thanks God, our Spiritual Board is not engaged in such activities. If I am not mistaken, the state authorities are well informed about this. When we finally got the possibility to perform Hajj, I could with God's help perform Hajj yearly as I have performed the small pilgrimage (Umrah) several times. For the first three years I went by plane, then - by land transport. But despite all this I neither have friends nor acquaintances in any country I passed on my way.
- When entering your home the visitors are recommended to read some short recommendations. The recommendations contain the following lines: "Do not ask the Master questions about elections, diseases etc. Speak with him only about tariqat." Nevertheless, many are concerned with the elections. For this reason, could you tell what is your contribution to the election of deputies?
- I am very tired of elections, of candidates and their representatives. Now I am also accused of that they visited me. May be this is a tribute to the modern fashion. It has become a tradition for candidates, deputies and governors to give money to voting public and also to attract campaigners. They are also paid and promised prestigious employment in case of the candidate's victory. I am not asking them for money and I don't require them to hire me in case they win. Perhaps that is why they benefit from visiting me? There are no people that don't try to get some benefit for themselves but I don't blame them for coming to me. Perhaps, it is my fault that I let these candidates come to me instead of kicking them out. You see, deputies, I am blamed for not throwing you out of my house. Well, we'll need to do something about it.
- Do you see in the spread of Islam any threat for the existing political system?
- The spread of Islam does not represent any threat for the government. On the contrary, educated, wise and benevolent people say the only way to guide people is the Islamic education. And in fact we can witness that. The reason for the development of Islam is that people started better understanding it. The better they understand Islam, the stronger faith abides in their hearts, and the stronger faith abides in their hearts, the more pious they become. Verily, he who fears God does not go for doing bad things, and only a vicious person can be a threat for the state.
We can say that today writing against Islam equals wishing evil to the people. There is an opinion that people should remain ignorant, they should be left on their own so they go astray; Islam should not be spread, nobody must take care of anything: let people freely steal, murder, take drugs and commit adultery. But is this not the real threat for the state?
In fact the spread of Islam shows that the more people know about Islam the more they like it although they are given the freedom to keep their religion. Additionally, the other religions can exist as well and everybody has the right to chose. Nowadays the general discontent is growing, people are waging wars, chaos and discord, the weak are suppressed, and there are catastrophes and disasters. But the Almighty is the Lord above everything. May He bestow His bliss on all of us!
Those who are afraid of Islam cannot find peace, wherever they search. The spread of Islam is reported in many countries. A proverb says: "A coward dies every day." My friends! Do not die every day! Everything is subject to development through competition. Let the party that people can benefit most from win! Amin!
- M. Rajabov, who wanted to become the leader of the Party of the Muslims of Russia, used to cite your words: "There are two parties: the "party of Allah" and the "party of Shaytan". Muslims abiding by Sharia are members of the party of Allah." Are these your words indeed? If yes, what did you mean exactly?
- In the Soviet era, there was only one party - the Communist. It was also the party of Satan because it rejected the religion and God. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the number of parties and movements has immensely increased. Each one had its name. I guess they all pursued their own goals. There was a party named the Islamic Party. However, whatever the name might be, the real party of Allah and the opposition to the party of Shaytan is the party of true Muslims.
In order to become the true party of Allah it should consist of people who deeply believe in the Almighty, recognize His attributes, believe in angels, Holy Scriptures, prophets, the Day of the Last Judgment and the predestination (good and bad). The party of Allah existed throughout the Communist era. Who are the men and the women, old and young, walking on the path of truth and chastity, if not the party of Allah? They were few in number but they existed during the Communist regime as well.
To call up the party of Allah, it is not necessary to register members and to give them membership IDs. The Prophet has not been registering new converts in a list and passing around membership cards. He was solely calling them to believe in one God, following His orders, for the sake of exaltation of the religion and not for his own sake.
The party of Rajabov has been formed without my knowledge and without my participation. When he came to me to tell me that he created a new party, I told him: "You should have come to ask me is it permissible to create such party, and not to tell me that you have already done that." After this, I have never met him again. I will never support any political party related to Islam. Those who love Islam, may help the Spiritual Board, and if not - let them at least not get in its way.
- Respected Sheikh, is it truth that the young men from your village flee from military service and the children don't go to the secular school? Do you have anything to do with that?
- I never support the idea of young people running away from the military service. What can I do, I am not the one who deals with the military service. As for the school, I have always said that children must go to school. All my children have graduated from school. A couple of years ago, when the children complained that it was too cold in the classroom, I bought a carpet and send it to their classroom.
- Dear Sheikh, many people consider your interviews and meetings with journalists to be intentional politics.
- A person who visits us is considered to be our guest. Receiving and serving guests is a recognized tradition.
According to Islam it is a noble deed to serve a guest. This is a common rule. I would wish to know these people who feel bad because I let all visitors be my guests. I would throw such people out. If I wouldn't give interviews they would have accused me of that. Nevertheless if I could meet my opponents personally we could come to agreement. And again - I have found journalists who turned out to be dishonest and vicious people distorting what their interviewee says.
From now on, I will not answer their questions but I will not refuse to receive them as guests.
The Sheikhs of tariqat do not crave for power and state offices; they are of a different kind of people. The mentorship is not given to them because they have asked for it. On the contrary, those who wish to become the master shall never get the right to be it. The links of the teachers' chain (silsila) reaching to the Prophet are also present in our tariqat. Anybody can get acquainted with their biography and find out if any of them was a head of state.
Sheikhs are not prone to being rulers and heads of state. Their task is to guide murids with the only purpose - to fulfill the mission given by their master. They don't have any other purpose.
Once, a guest came to the Prophet Dawud (David). Dawud, who knew about his lack of faith, threw him out. At that moment God revealed to him that He supported an infidel slave for sixty years, but he, Dawud, could not even receive a guest for one night.
Then Dawud called his guest back and brought him to his house. This is not a fairy-tale but a moral for those who are awaken.
- Some scientists in Russia used to divide Sufism into two categories: the "bookish" (more civilized) and the popular (for less educated people). They refer to the Sufism of Dagestan as to the popular version of Sufism. Could you please explain what is the “bookish” and the popular Sufism?
- Such statements are ridiculous. Maybe the scientists mean by that true and false tariqats. If we would practice tariqat described in a book then it is the true one; if no - it is a false tariqat. We have today in Dagestan both "wrong" and "true" tariqats. There are tariqats taught by masters and tariqats without masters.
The person who wants to make up the right opinion about tariqat must have a master, follow his assignments and be able to get something positive for himself out of it. If he does not fulfill these requirements, he is like a person who writes a book or tells others about what has been written by professors of medicine, in spite of the fact that he himself never studied under the guidance of a professor and never felt the effect of the medicine.
It is impossible to describe tariqat with words. For example, if anybody starts telling about a fruit he has never eaten, he cannot know its real taste (if it is sweet or sour). Every fruit has its special taste. Of course to write a book about tariqat is a sign of love for Sufis. Abu Yazeed al-Bistami said that the love for Sufis makes the man reach the first level of the beloved of Allah (awliya').
A Muslim who has experienced the joy of being in Islam shall never reject Sufism.
- Why is Sufism paid so little attention and often seen as something negative?
- Not everybody sees tariqat negatively, but still there are a lot of people who go up against Sufism. This is not a new phenomenon, in the earlier times tariqat always had rivals and opponents.
The majority having no clue about the truth follow enviers, hypocrites and liars. As a matter of principle, things cannot happen another way, as I said, it is an old dispute.
The dispute emerges between the substances (dharra) of human souls even before the souls descend to this world. Through our appearance in this world this dispute has been obtained its material form. When the Almighty sent His light on these substances, some could perceive it while the others couldn’t. This has resulted in an argument: those, who had seen the light, testified there as a light, and those hadn't seen it, asserted there was none. "And if there has been Light, - they were saying, - we would have seen it." The substances that have seen the Light have joined tariqat in this world, and those who haven't seen the Light, reject tariqat and rebel against it.
Speaking of Sufis it is not proper to think they are of some special kind of people. They are simply righteous people with good intentions and their only purpose in life is to please our Creator. That is why one should not wonder if somebody is against tariqat.
Only people of the above-mentioned kind can be against the existence of tariqat. I know that the righteous believers love me as much as they love themselves, and I love them as much as I love my family.
Questions prepared by: Patimat Gamzatova
First published in: newspaper "Molodezh Dagestana" ("Молодёжь Дагестана")
No. 26-28, July 2004.