The concept of Ibaadah in Islam is very simple and easy but the Sufis have made it complicated and difficult upon themselves, due to ignorance, exaggeration and innovations. Many innovated worship mentioned in the books of the Deobandis are beyond the ability of their followers. Whether the Sufi Shaikhs ever accomplished what has been claimed about them is a debatable issue in itself!
The Sufis have subjected themselves to trials, and self-imposed hardships, whereas, Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) have strictly forbidden any action that harms the body, especially the mind. This is the wisdom behind many prohibitions in Islam like the prohibition of intoxicants and pork. Allah, the Most Merciful, says, “… and do not cause destruction to yourself at your own hands.”
Allah Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) taught that every part of the body has a right and the believer should respect the right of his body on him. Narrated Abdullah bin Amr (radhi allahu anhu), “Once Allah’s Messenger said to me: “I am told that you pray all night and fast during the day.” I said: “(Yes) I do so.” He said: “If you do so, your eyesight will become weak. No doubt that your body has a right over you, and your family has a right on you, so fast (for some days) and do not fast (for some days), pray (for some time) and then sleep.”
Even when the obligatory acts of worship could cause harm or hardship, Allah, the Most Merciful, has prescribed easiness, like Tayammum if water is harmful for the body, allowance of postponing the obligatory fasting while traveling, etc.
The Sufi’s monasticism is a dangerous imitation of the previous nations, who were granted guidance from Allah, but chose to invent their own ways to please Allah and were unable to keep up with their self-imposed hardships. Allah says, “… and We sent Eesa the son of Maryam, and gave him the Injeel. And We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him, compassion and mercy. But the monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them, but (they sought it) only to please Allah…”
Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Do not be severe upon yourselves or Allah will be severe upon you. Certain folk were severe upon themselves and Allah was severe upon them. Their survivors are to be found in cells and monasteries.” (Then he recited the verse): “Monasticism they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe it for them.”
Sufis have made the goal of worship, the seeking of experiences and hallucinations. In the process, they have not only abandoned many actions from the Sunnah, but have harmed themselves in this life and the Hereafter.
The Dhikr that is in accordance to the Sunnah brings about tranquility and joy and repels depression and anxiety. It strengthens the heart and body. “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find tranquility.” But the Dhikr of the Sufis harms them mentally and physically, causes extreme anxiety and leads them to insanity.
Islam teaches moderation in all aspects of the religion. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) once said: “If I command you with something then do as much of it as you can, and whatever I forbid you then leave it (altogether).”
Aa’ishah narrates, ‘a woman from the tribe of Bani Asad was sitting with me, and Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) came to my house and said: “Who is this?” I said, “She is so and so. She does not sleep at night because she is engaged in prayer.” The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said disapprovingly: “Do (good) deeds which is within your capacity as Allah never gets tired of giving rewards till you get tired of doing good deeds.”
Anas bin Malik (radhi allahu anhu) narrates: “Once the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) entered the Mosque and saw a rope hanging in between its two pillars, he said: “What is this rope?” The people said: “This rope is for Zaynab, when she feels tired, she holds it (to keep standing for the prayer).” The Prophet said: “Don’t use it. Remove the rope. You should pray as long as you feel active, and when you are tired sit down.”
Finally, what better way can there be to end this chapter other than with the last verse of Soorah al-Baqarah. “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have Mercy on us. You are our Maula (Patron, Supporter and Protector, etc.) and give us victory over the disbelievers.”