Is It necessary to Adhere to a Shaykh from whom to Take a Tareeqah (a path)?
‘From the Principles of the Dawatus-Salafeeyah’
Muhaddith, Shaykh, Allamaa’
Muhammad Nasir uddeen al-Albaani
Abbas Abu Yahya
When a Muslim is guided to the path of goodness, some say that it is necessary for him to adhere to a Shaykh from whom he can take a Tareeqah (a path) because Allaah Ta’ala said:
<< the Most Merciful, so ask about Him one well informed. >> [Furqan: 59]
Allaah is truthful:
<< So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. >> [Nahl: 43]
The Shaykh Answered:
And Allaah –Subhanahu wa Ta’ala – also says: << So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. >> [Nahl: 43]
The Prophet –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– said in the story of the man who went on a battle along with some of the Companions of the Prophet –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam. This man became afflicted with wounds, and in the morning he became defiled and thus it was obligatory upon him to have a Ghusl (ritual washing). He asked those around him if they could find a concession for him so that he would not have to make a Ghusl. They said to him you must make a Ghusl, he did so and died due to those wounds that were upon his body, when that news reached the Messenger of Allaah –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam–, the Messenger –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– said:
‘They killed him, may Allaah fight them, if only they had asked when they did not know indeed that is the cure for any question.’
There is no doubt that these two previously mentioned Ayaat and this hadeeth places the Islaamic world in regards to knowledge and ignorance into two categories.
The first category are few in number and they are the people of knowledge and the other category are more in number and they are those who do not know, as you have heard in the previous Ayaah << So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. >> [Nahl: 43] Allaah placed an obligation upon every one of these two types. He made it obligatory upon those who do not know to ask the People of knowledge and He made it obligatory upon the People of Knowledge to answer the questioner as is authentically reported from the Prophet –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam–:
‘Whoever is asked about knowledge and he conceals that knowledge then he will be reined with a rein/bridle made of fire on the Day of Judgement.’ [Collected by Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi & authenticated by Albaani in Saheeh Targheeb wa Tarheeb]
It is necessary for the one who is not an ‘Aalim (scholar) that he should be a student of knowledge or at the very least he should ask the people of knowledge as is mentioned in the Athar from Mu’adh –Radi Allaahu anhu– that he said:
‘Be a scholar, or one who learns knowledge, or one who listens to knowledge, and do not be the fourth and be destroyed.’
The last one is the one who does not listen to knowledge nor asks about it, so at that time he lives like an ignorant person not knowing how to worship Allaah –Tabaraka wa Ta’ala.
Asking the people of knowledge is an issue where there is a difference of opinion, as for adhering to a Shaykh, a Shaykh of a Tariqah (following a certain Soofi path), then here you have come to know that the path which reaches to Allaah –Subhanahu wa Ta’ala – is the straight path which the noble Prophet –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– left us upon.
The scholars are those who direct/show/indicate this path, so they are the ones to whom it is obligatory to ask, and it is not permissible to adhere to a Shaykh and single him out to follow, and to learn from him and not to learn from the other scholars, because here occurs a great mistake which is that just like as it is obligatory upon us to single out Allaah –Subhanahu wa Ta’ala – Alone for worship, it is also obligatory upon us to single out the Prophet –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– in following him and it is not allowed to stick and follow just one from amongst the scholars, no matter how this scholar from amongst them was from the excellent and standing, since this status is not for anyone, except the Messenger of Allaah –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– and this is from the meaning of the statement of the one who witnesses that: ‘Ashhadu alla ilaha ‘illa Allaah wahdahu la shareeka lahu wa anna Muhammadan Abduhu wa Rasooluhu (I testify that there is none worthy of worship in truth except Allaah Alone and He has no partners and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger’) so he is the one who has to be followed from amongst the people.
If a Muslim adheres to one Shaykh or one teacher who teaches him, and he does not benefit from the other Mushayikh and other scholars from knowledge then this is violation of following the Messenger –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam–because it is necessary to take all the scholars as indicators/directors who show us what our Messenger –sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam– was upon, and one single scholar no matter how much knowledge he has been given, and the matter regarding him and the right of every scholar, Allaah –Subhanahu wa Ta’ala – said: <<And mankind has not been given of knowledge except a little. >> [Al-Isra: 85] so this is an old superstition of the Soofeeyah that it is obligatory that every Muslim has to adhere to a Shaykh.
We say: that it is obligatory upon every Muslim that he should be either a scholar or a learner or a listener or otherwise he will be destroyed.
As for adhering to a Shaykh and singling him out alone then this is from the actions of the Shaytaan.
We ask Allaah –Subhanahu wa Ta’ala – to give us all the capability to follow the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah and what the Salaf as-Salih were upon and keep us away from following other paths, upon which at the head of every path is a Shaytaan calling the people to it.
<< And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way>> [An’am: 153]
And all Praise belongs to Allaah.
[Taken from a tape: ‘From the Principles of the Dawatus-Salafeeyah’ 1/8/1410 A.H. Jeddah]