Contents > Chapter 11: Blind Following of Sufi Shaikhs > The Necessity of having a Shaikh in Sufism


The Necessity of having a Shaikh in Sufism

Sufis place great emphasis on the practice of appointing someone as a Shaikh or a ‘spiritual guide’, as mentioned in Irshaadul-Mulook, “Verily, the Shaikh in his Jamaat is like a Nabi (Prophet) in his Ummah (nation)”[1]


Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi says, “It is necessary for every person to appoint someone (capable and qualified) to act as his Shaikh. This is compulsory.”[2]

“Whoever has no Pir (Shaikh), Shaytaan is his Shaikh.”[3]


They have innovated a number of principles and rules as to who is qualified to be a Shaikh. The disciple, also known as the ‘Mureed’, is expected to take an oath of allegiance (Bai’ah) at the hands of the Shaikh and is expected to blindly follow him.


Not Having a Shaikh leads one Astray

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) addressed the people in the Farewell Hajj and said “O people, I have left amongst you that which if you cling onto you will never go astray: The Book of Allah and my Sunnah.”[4]


Ashraf Ali Thanvi said, “Two things are very beneficial. If a person adopts them, he will not go astray. One: He should annihilate his personal opinion (i.e. he should submit to his Shaikh’s instructions and abandon his personal ideas). Two: He should not hanker after results. He should act according to the instructions of his Shaikh.[5]


The Misguidance of the Qadiani Dajjal attributed to not having a Shaikh: It has been mentioned in the biography of Rasheed Ahmad Gungohi that,

“...In the days when Mirza Gulaam Ahmad Qadiani was writing his book, ‘Baraheen’, the newspapers highly publicized his excellence. In those days, Gulaam Ahmad had a great liking for Hazrat (Rasheed Ahmad Gungohi) and used to ask the people who returned after visiting him “Is Moulana alright?” and he used to inquire, “How far is Delhi from Gungoha? How is the way?” So, it seemed that he also wished to visit Hazrat. In those days, Imam Rabbani (Rasheed Ahmad Gungohi) said, ‘the work that this person (Mirza Gulaam Ahmad) is doing is good, but he needs a Pir (spiritual guide) or it is feared that he goes astray.”[6] (click to view the scanned image of this quote)


[1] Irshaadul-Mulook (Eng. Trans.) p.46.

[2] Aadaabul Muaasharat (Etiquette of Social Life) by Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Eng. Trans.) Aadab of the Shaikh, p.89-90.

[3] Irshaadul-Mulook (Eng. Trans.) p.172.

[4] Reported by al-Haakim (1/93), al-Baihqee (10/114) and Ibn Hazm in al-Ahkaam (6/108).

[5] Malfoozat (Statements and Anecdotes of Ashraf Ali Thanvi) p.41.

[6] Tazkirat ar-Rasheed (a biography of Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi by Aashiq Ilaahi Merathi) vol.2, p.228. Irshaadul-Mulook bu Aashiq Elahi Meerathi (Eng. Trans.) pp. 49.