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Opinion and Thought (translated by me - mistakes are mine alone)
Maulana Muhammad Essa Mansuri
Chairman, World Islamic Forum, London

The Religious and Moral Evils of Personality Worship and Vanity Culture

A fundamental service provided by the scholars to the Muslim community is the supervision of the Muslim masses insofar as extremism of any type does not manifest itself in any aspect of the religion. This means that the perfect religious balance is preserved and the Islamic tradition does not deviate from the straight path. To this end, scholars have always had to be cautious. Umar bin 'l-Khattab’s chopping down of the tree where the Pact of Pleasure took place, and his statement to the Black Stone “You are a stone – you can do no good or harm”, are both manifestations of such religious caution.

Aurangzeb, regarding whom the world-renowned scholar and thinker, Sheikh Tantawi, has referred to as the Sixth Rightly Guided Caliph, and Iqbal [...], had extreme confidence in the credibility of Ahmad Sirhindi: some have even declared Aurangzeb to be the spiritual pupil of Khwajah Muhammad Masum Faruqi. In fact, he had such confidence in and connection with the grandchildren of Ahmad Sirhindi that, after the victory of Golkonda, he married off the two daughters of the ruler – one with his own son and the other with a grandson of Ahmad Sirhindi. Of the books that Aurangzeb held very dear to himself were ‘Maktubat-e Mujaddid’ and ‘Diwan Hafiz’, which were kept at the headside of his bed. However, Aurangzeb once wrote an order to the governor of Aurangabad to prohibit the public study of these two books by law, as some of their content is beyond the comprehension of the masses.

It is reported of Hazrat Gangohi in Arwah-e Thalathah: Story #297 – Khan Sahib Qiblah said that Gangohi was going from Saharanpur to Rampur on his return from Deoband (and most probably Hazrat Gangohi did not return to Deoband after that). He and Hakeem Diya' 'l-Deen were in the car in front. I and Maulana Masud Ahmad were in the car behind. Hazrat Gangohi lifted the back veil of his car and tried to talk to me, but because it was difficult to speak like this, I disembarked the car I was in and took hold of Hazrat Gangohi’s carpole to be with him. He said, “Miyan Ameer Shah Khan! From the beginning of times until now, the amount of harm the Sufis have done to the religion, no other sect has been able to do so. They have harmed the religion in prophetic tradition, theology, action and ideology”

He elaborated on this by saying, “The Prophet’s spiritual strength was such that the biggest of disbelievers were able to reach the level of excellence by merely pronouncing the testimony of faith. An example of this was their query of how to use the toilet and be naked in front of Allah. This is what they reached. They were in no need to exercises or struggling as the effects of these were already present in them via the spiritual influence of the Prophet, albeit at a lesser level. This spiritual power was present also in the Tabi`een but at a lesser level from that of the Companions. This became less in the following generation. To recompense for the loss in influence-based spirituality, the noble people created exercises and struggles.

These practices remained at the level of means that were not considered to be the aim per se, but as time went farther away from the best generations, they started becoming an aim per se and target of and within themselves. These were incremented as time went by, the result of which was that an unlimited amount of ideological, practical and theological innovations entered into the religion. The Muhaqqiq Sufis eradicated these evils, but the result of this was the innovations were only reduced in number, not eradicated completely.”

Hazrat Ganoghi specifically mentions Abd 'l-Qadir al-Jilani, Shihab 'l-Din Sahrwardi, Ahmad Sirhindi and Sayyid Ahmad as those who took part in the reform and said, “These people brought about many reforms, but this did not bring satisfactory benefit.” (Hikayat-e Awliya, aka Arwah-e Thalathah, pg. 297-299, story no. 297)

Remember that, for the past two hundred years since Shah Abd 'l-Aziz Dehlawi, there has not been a scholar like Hazrat Gangohi. Hazrat Gangohi is the Sheikh and guide of our whole circle, including the likes of Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi, Maulana Husayn Ahmad Madani, and Maulana Ilyas Kandehlawi. This statement of his was in his last days, as if it was the empirical testimony of his whole life. This statement of Hazrat Gangohi is indeed a profound one. Whoever possesses a full view of the history of Sufism can appreciate the deep insight of Hazrat Gangohi, because, in a few sentences, he has virtually summed up the whole history of Sufism.

There have been a fair share of non-religious and completely illegal chains in Sufism, the ones like Madaari, Rawshani, Hulooli, Hallaji, Qalandari, Malamati, etc. Even in the correct Sufi chains, even a little carelessness and extremism by its later people have brought up numerous evils and ruin. We do not need to go far to realise this. In the Indian Subcontinent, all the great people of Allah from Hazrat Khwajah Mueen 'l-Din Ajmeri were the people of truth in their respective eras, and they spent their whole lives in following the Shariah and connecting the creation with their Creator. However, as of today, the graves and shrines of all are hotbeds of polytheism and innovation. So whenever evil and corruption came into Sufism, it has via the means of exaggeration in personalities. A few generations most of these noble people, their admirers held them with such exaggeration that they turned them into a means of earning the world, to the extent that they now consider there is no need to toil for a legal income. In fact, they have started to consume sheer Haram on the name of Khwajah.

Nobody has written more against innovation, irreligious cultural practices and myths, and Shiism than Ahmad Sirhindi. Despite this, three generations on, many noblemen within his progeny claimed to be the “Qayyum”, i.e. the heavens and earth are standing on their heads. Just pick up a book like Rawdat 'l-Qayyumiyyah. Pages upon pages have been dedicated to outlining and defining what the Qayyum is, and that all divine attributes are to be found in the Qayyum. So what is the position of this Qayyum? Its explanation has been provided by Ihsan Mujaddidi, who is the Khalifah of the Fourth Qayyum as per the Mujaddidi Chain, in his book Rawdat 'l-Qayyumiyyah:

“Qayyum is that person under whose control are the names, attributes, conditions, affairs and causes, and all past and future existing beings, human, land animals, birds, plants, stones, sea, land, the Throne, the Footstool, the Tablet, the Pen, planets, meteors, sun, moon, sky, galaxies are all encompassed in his shadow. The movement and stationing of the celestial bodies and galaxies, the motion of the waves in the sea, the swaying of the leaves of the trees, the drops of rainfall, the ripening of the fruits, the opening of the beaks of the birds, the rising of the day and night, the spinning sky’s pace of movement, all occur with his order. There is not one drop of rain that falls without his knowledge, nor does the earth move and stop without his pleasure.” (1/94)

And read on! This is nothing other than the mischief of exaggeration in trust. All these evils came about as a result of extremism in reverence and the hauteur mentality. This is why the preservation of the layman’s mindset is a fundamental responsibility of the scholars.

Once Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandehlawi said, “Whosoever learns of Allah via His apparent power (which the Quran mentions time and again) in the form of bringing the dead to life, keeping ships afloat in the sea, erecting the sky without pillars etc., his faith will be as strong as the mountains. However, whosoever will be in love with self-importance ([i.e.] Kashf and Karamat – personal manifestations and the wondrous acts of noble people), they shall all become the followers of the Antichrist, because the Antichrist will bring forth to them this type of narcissism and unnatural events, to such an extent that when he will arrive at Madinah, one earthquake will throw out 70,000 people of this particular type of lovers of the Messenger to the arms of the Antichrist, and they shall all become his followers.”

This is why it is the responsibility of the scholars to make effort to turn the laymen towards the real actions [of religion], instead of the types of entertainment [as outlined above]. The other fields of religion, such as education, Tabligh have also suffered a degree of corruption, but their harm has been far less than the harm caused by Sufism. This is because corruption in Sufism directly results to polytheism and innovations. However many innovations there have been, they have all come about as a result of good intention and praiseworthy aspirations, e.g. the gathering of a Sheikh’s deputies and connections upon the date of his death to revive his legacy and learn his teachings, or to read out Surat 'l-Kahf aloud to Arabic-illiterate new Muslims on Friday so that they may too get a share of the reward, or the practices of sending reward [to the deceased], etc.

After Shah Waliyyullah, our elders’ most primary occupation was education, Tabligh, Tazkiyah and self-rectification and authorship etc. But within this, Zikr and Fikr were also including for increasing the connection with Allah, to remain attentive towards Him and to preserve sincerity and excellence. The night and day of these elders was the knowledge of religion, especially the disciplines of Hadith and Fiqh. They had a deep insight in the history and lives of the Companions. This is the reason why whenever an illegal, cultural or alien practice entered the path of Sufism, it could not survive. However, in the era of real knowledge declining, because scrutiny was not preserved, cultural practices, that were not harmful on the face of it, crept into the fold and took their place, the eradication of which became ever so difficult.

I once told Maulana Yusuf Motala in a meeting, “A spiritual teacher is a spiritual teacher. The difference between Deobandi and Barelwi is becoming ever so thin. We too, unknowingly, have started to tread on this path. Now, there is so much extremism and over-confidence in one’s chosen personalities that those whom we expect to take the matter of religion with precaution, scrutiny and balance, and are expected to turn the laymen away from superficial appearances to real actions, have themselves become prey to what the laymen are doing. Just think for a moment – if this path becomes the standard, then every person will try to become “Kheralu Bapu”, whose claim was that the blow of his breath goes a mile to cure any ailment or affliction, and whenever he entered a village, the water in the cisterns of the mosques used to become empty.”

In my 66 years, I have had the fortune of meeting many great people and pious people in and outside of India. I have seen them in close proximity, and I have stayed in the company of most for many days, like Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandehlawi, Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandehlawi, Maulana In`amul Hasan Kandehlawi, Shah Wasiyyullah Ilahabadi, Maulana Maseehullah Khan, Maulana Manzur Nomani, Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Maulana Siddiq Bandawi, Maulana Abdul Haleem Jaunpuri (may Allah have mercy upon all of them) and others. In the travels of these elders, we were not used to seeing the fussy uproars or, in the words of some friends, “the acceptance and the centring of focus”, that we see these days upon the arrival of some spiritual leaders. I remember the travels of these great people in Gujarat. Maulana Muhammad Manzur Nomani travelled across the schools in Gujarat – only teachers and students used to be present. I listened to Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi’s multiple lectures in [...] Surat – there were hardly 400/500 people there. It was the same on the travels of Maulana Siddiq Bandawi, Qari Muhammad Tayyib, Mufti Mahmud Hasan Gangohi (may Allah have mercy on them) and others. In the global congregations of Tabligh during the travels of Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandehlawi, people used to number hundreds of thousands, but when he visited cities or villages, there were only hundreds, or at the most a few thousand in number.

I am reminded of a valuable piece of advice by Maulana Manzur Nomani which he gave me. He said, “Maulana, there are two ways. One is that of Ibn Taymiyyah; the other is that of Sheikh Abdul Haqq Dehlawi. In one, there is the preservation of the layman; in the other, there is the benefit for the upper tier. You decide for yourself what is more dear – the preservation of laymen or the benefit for the upper tier of people.”

In this era, an imbalance that is has been pushed forth increasingly by us Deobandis for quite a while now is that we are presenting Islam in reference to our elders, when in fact whenever Islam has been presented, it has been so with reference to the Quran, Sunnah, the Prophet and the Companions, not Shah Wasiyyullah Ilahabadi, Maulana Maseehullah Khan, Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandehlawi, or other elders, like what we see in South Africa that they put up on the Internet the whole load of practices, personal manifestations, wondrous acts and stories of their very own religious elders. Indeed, the practices and methods of our elders are great and beneficial, but the Ummah as a whole is not legally obliged by them at all. If an elder uses his personal experiences and Ijtihad to make three or six aspects of the religion the basis for his overall religious practise and emphasises on these, then no doubt this is his right. However, when it comes to the laymen, they should be still be presented Islam in reference to the Quran, Sunnah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Companions, not the personal captions of the elders. The issue of Sufism is extremely sensitive. Its whole history suggests that wherever Sufism has started, its result – a few generations down – is the same as that which we see around the graves of the great pious servants of Allah: when there is no solid knowledge, religion gradually becomes the name of over-confidence and exaggeration in the elders, innovation, and customary practices.

Most of the Muslim conquerors of the Indian Subcontinent were new Muslims and were unaware of the Islamic way of life. This was especially the case in the Mughal reign, which proved to be a very unfortunate period for Islam. In the long 300 years between Humayun to the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Shiism was forced over Muslim society. Via governmental positions, academic disciplines, the educational system and most of all the Sufi monasteries of the pro-Taqiyyah Shiite Sufi Sheikhs (many of Khwajah Ajmeri’s disciples were Shiites), and as a result of the intellectual exploitation of the Muslim laymen, the Quranic regulations and guidance, and the importance of the Hadith and Sunnah, had diminished so much from the hearts of public and the elite within the Muslim community that it had become almost non-existent, and was by the chainless stories, events and verbal contentions of the pious and elders. Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi writes:

“Such a time has also befallen upon the Muslims that they so careless of this history they had completely forgotten it. Our lecturers, religious advisors and authors had turned all their effort to recording the stories of the later pious people, ascetics and Sheikhs. The laymen were so infatuated with this that the gatherings of religious advice, the circles of religious education, and the all the writings and books of this era were full of their stories, and the industry of knowledge was fully dedicated to the stories and wondrous acts of the Sufis.” (Muqaddimah-e Hayat 'l-Sahabah Urdu, 1/20)

Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi paints the following picture of the era and environment in which Shah Waliyyullah was born:

“The Mughal ruler was at its peak. Innovations and custom was highly penetrated within the Muslims. False saints and so-called Sheikhs were sitting in their elders’ monasteries on their thrones with lanterns by their elders’ graves. In every corner of the schools, there were uproars of logic. The literalistic devotion to the institutions of Fiqh and Fatwa was the aim of every Mufti. Independent research and academic precision was the biggest crime against the Madhhab. Never mind the public – even the elite were unaware of the meanings, of the Quran, the laws of the Hadith, and the understanding of the religion.” (Maqalat-e Sulaymani, pg. 44)

Whatever talk of Quran and Sunnah we see today, and whatever effort we see in inviting people away from non-Arabic Sufism to prophetic spiritual purification and perfection, is all the blessings of Shah Waliyyullah and his family. His father, Shah Abd 'l-Raheem, and his uncle, Sheikh Muhammad Rida, were both Sufis. In modern discourse and in the book Rawdat 'l-Qawmiyyah, they have been included within the list of Sufi Mashayikh, not the scholars of the religion. Given this, Shah Waliyyullah’s love for Sufism comes as no surprise. He was aware of the importance and necessity of Sufism, yet he was also acutely conscious of non-Arabic thought and the poison of Shiism’s irreligious ideas. Hence, he made great effort to reform the Sufism – which was the corrupted version of Islamic spiritual purification and perfection – in its era of decline. Later on, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi wrote detailed books on Sufism and advanced the work of Shah Waliyyullah’s positions by translating his ideas into lucid language. This is precisely what the work of scholars in every era will remain to be.

In his will, the third point Shah Waliyyullah made was the following:

“Sufi allegiance (Bay`ah) must not be done with those Mashayikh of this era who are engaged in various innovations. It is prohibited to give allegiance to such people. One should not give any credence at all to the over-confidence and exaggeration [in the elders] of the lay public, nor should one believe in anything of their [beliefs] regarding stories of wondrous acts, because most of the lay public’s exaggeration is merely customary, and custom in reality has no credibility.” (Rowd-e Kawsar, pg. 580)

In his book, Saviours of Islamic Spirit (Tareekh-e Dawat-o Azeemat), Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi lists seven points as a summary of Shah Waliyyullah’s movement, amongst which the first two points are the most crucial: one is the rectification of theology and the propagation of the Quran, and the other is the spreading and propagation of the Hadith and Sunnah. Through the blessings of Shah Waliyyullah and his family, the branches of the Quran, Sunnah, Seerah, Tazkiyah, Ihsan, Dawah and Jihad were revived. In one travel to the Pilgrimage, hundreds of thousands repented and thousand accepted Islam at the hands of Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed. Shah Ismail Shaheed so ferociously attacked the centres and fortresses of Shiism (which had engulfed the whole Subcontinent to the extent that most elders of the religion [...] were polluted with the ideas of Shiism and still are) that he forced them onto the defensive. The fruits of the Waliyyullahi movement and ideology ripened so much – growing from the classrooms of Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi’s grandson, Shah Muhammad Ishaq, and student, Maulana Rasheedud Deen Dehlawi, reaching Maulana Mamluk Ali, then his son Maulana Yaqub Nanotwi, his students Mufti Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi and Maulana Qasim Nanotwi etc. - that it became a firmly-rooted tree. It is an undeniable fact that the true heirs and protagonists of the Waliyyullahi Tradition were the scholars of Deoband. From Shah Waliyuullah to the era of Sheikhul Hind Maulana Mahmood Hasan, the work was carried with a global and pan-Ummah approach, and, practically speaking, their concern was for the whole Muslim world. Thereafter, the concern and effort became restricted to the Subcontinent, after which it was fragmented with the creation of three separate countries. As of now, the situation is such that here in London, the concern of the Mashayikh and scholars from the three countries in the Subcontinent is restricted to their own tribe, people or sub-region.

Whenever the culture of vanity has dominated spirituality in Sufism, it has become extremely harmful. Just as the revolutionary movement of Ahmad Sirhindi was lost in the mirage of Qayyumism thanks to the mentality created by the culture of vanity, the movement established by Shah Waliyyullah (comprising of the Quranic and Sunnah education and propagation) too is being lost due to the negligence of the scholars, as well as the vanity culture (exaggeration in personality reverence). These days, the scholars have abandoned refuting the polytheism and innovation, which is why the people of innovation have again found strength. The biggest test of this era is the vanity culture, i.e. the pride of being close [to a Sheikh]. It is because of this culture of vanity that we are increasingly starting to look like the people of innovation. In a large, famous city in England, two Sufi teachers have split out the city for themselves. The announcements for one do not happen in the mosque of the other. Recently, when Maulana Talha came, programs were scheduled at both places. When he reached at one of the two places, the he stopped over for rest, probably due to tiredness. The other Sufi teacher, along with hundreds of worshippers, was in waiting for half the night in their own mosque. Then rumours emerged that so and so [from the other mosque] did not let him come. Whenever these two Sufi teachers go home from Salah, numerous people walk behind him to see him off. The people said that if a Sufi pupil is delayed in his Salah, he breaks his Salah [to see off his teacher] because they consider seeing off the teacher to be necessary. The very first step of Sufism is to break one’s desire and pride. The state of dozens of Qutb 'l-Aqtaab is such that if am esteemed personality from the Islamic world or from the Indian Subcontinent comes to visit [England], they wait in their houses and consider going out personally to meet him as self-degradation. I warned Maulana Abdullah Patel two years ago to be wary of this vanity culture; “otherwise,” I said, “I might say something in my own style. Don’t complain then of any harshness or sternness. I personally believe the vanity culture is this era’s greatest test.”

When I came to London as an Imam at the London Tablighi Markaz in 1975, I saw a chart detailing Maulana Zakariyya Kandehlawi’s practices in Ramadan at the Mosque and Islamic Centre hanging in the Markaz. During these days, an accidental death of a Pakistani brother’s young son occurred. I went with a few Tablighi brothers to this brother’s house for condolences. There were many people there, and the Khateeb of a mosque, who was of the Barelwi orientation, was speaking. Perhaps that chart was also sent to his mosque. When he saw us, he said, “If we do loud Dhikr after Salah, it is an innovation [according to the Deobandis], but when Sheikhul Hadith does loud Dhikr after every Asr, it is Sunnah. When we do Khatme Khwajagan, it is an innovation, but when Khatme Khwajagan takes place with Sheikh after every Zuhr, it is Sunnah. If we go to the graves of the pious, then it is an innovation, but when their Sheikh goes to the grave of Maulana Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi to mediate for two hours, it is Sunnah. When we do anything it is an innovation, but when the Deobandis do the same it is Sunnah.”

After a few days, a good number of elders came from India and Pakistan [to London]. Mufti Zainul Aabideen was also there. I mentioned to the elders this discussion, and virtually everyone said, “Well, this Khateeb did not really say anything wrong.”

Likewise, when it was the second trip of Maulana Zakariyya to the UK, his deputies published a booklet on glad tidings, which was apparently entitled “Loves.” The Salafis wrote a scathing review of it in their monthly, “Sirat-e Mustaqeem”, in a number of parts [because it apparently mentioned] that when Maulana Zakariyya comes to Africa, Reunion and England, the Prophet, Caliphs, other great Companions come arrive to welcome the Sheikh to make preparations for him and serve him. [The Salafis said that] these Deobandis have made the Prophet and the Companions the servants of Maulana Zakariyya, etc. etc. When I confronted Maulana Yusuf Motala for [the publication of] such remarks, his response was only one: “It was a mistake.”

In the past, the pious religious elders used to remain secluded in silence in their spiritual retreats. They used to locate professionals of all fields and encouraged them to continue in their respective areas of talent and offered them assistance and leadership in this regard. In various fields, they used to take social work from them, like [...] the Tablighis, the Jam`iyyat, the Majlis-e Ahrar, Khatm-e Nubuwwat, the Mujahideen fighting for liberation, workers in the political and public field, and different people from working and writing backgrounds. Deoband, Mazahirul Uloom Saharanpur and Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow used to offer leadership to all large and small schools and religious colleges. In similar fashion, these people kept the Muslim faith as one and orderly. They never really travelled extensively, and if they did, it was generally to those places that were removed from the religion or were impoverished. Now we have a situation where the deputies of one Sheikh, and then every dozen deputies of these deputies, are subjecting the Ummah to splits and sub-splits. Today, the world of Kufr has become so globalised that, under the shadow of the United Nations, it is destroying every single Muslim country, people, power and institution. On the other hand, those claiming spirituality and connection with Allah are engaged in a mutual scramble for each other’s spiritual students. Our goal has become the materialistic world and worldly importance. The travels of these godly people are usually towards Gujarat and to the wealthy Gujarati Diaspora, and the candy of Sufi Ijazah is, by in large, distributed within these people (to the extent that one Maulana possesses not only one, but multiple Sufi Ijazahs). He 200 million or so Muslims of the Subcontinent are usually left out. Last year, some friends in Dubai told me that so and so Hazrat came with six or so of his sons and grandsons. After they left, they saw that many gifts were left at the host’s house, because [...] they were only able to take back the most expensive gifts. Here in London, for personal necessities, every spiritual deputy has his own rich people, and these godly people usually stay over at some millionaire’s place. Hardly ever do they stay over at a poor pupil’s place. True spirituality has always thrived in indigence and poverty, whereas vanity always becomes the game of money.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) declared the love of the world to be the root of all evil and sin, and women and wealth to be the test and tribulation of the Ummah. Fourteen hundred years of history is witness to the fact that corruption in the people of religion has come from the direction of wealth. The fundamental reason for the decline and destruction of any group of people is the corruption of its ruling elite and scholars. If either of these two manages to discharge its obligation properly, the corruption would be halved. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has already prophesised that the Ummah and its scholars will follow in the footsteps of the Children of Israel. Just look at the stories in the Quran regarding the scholars of the Children of Israel – are we not advancing in their footsteps? These days, most Maulanas partially quote the verse of fraudulently amassing and gathering wealth by starting off from “... And those who gather gold and silver...”, when in fact the verse is fundamentally a threat directed at the scholars’ consumption of Haram.

Nowadays, the lower class cannot even get to meet the pious, let alone get a handshake. A Pakistani friend of mine, who has a high state job in the UK, said, “When I go to meet so and so Sheikh, pious person and elder in Pakistan, they all would treat me with great respect and kindness.” I said, “And why wouldn’t they do so? You’ve gone from England, and you have a very high job. Now try going again another time, but this time go in villager’s clothing, inform all of them that you have children, and that you are in debt and are really stressed, and that you have just come for their supplications. See then how they would honour you on the dinner mat.”

These days, if you present some big gift to the Sufi Sheikhs, the top administrators of Islamic schools, or the heads of Tabligh, they would make you sit on their dinner mat on their right hand side with great respect and honour. In fact, they would feed you with their very own blessed hand. If by mischance you are socially poor, then you ought to consider just seeing them from afar enough for luck and a ticket to Paradise. Whenever Maulana Habeeb Rayhan Nadwi (Sheikhul Hadith, Tajul Masajid) used to come here, he used to spend a night at my place, and we used to casually talk about things. Approximately 15 years ago, he said, “There are no more bigger Haram consumers these days than some Maulanas and Sufi Sheikhs.” Because of this [statement of his], I had a quarrel with Maulana. May Allah forgive me, I said he is extremely silly and said that [he is of the Mawdudi enemy (he was also influenced by Maulana Mawdudi’s works), etc. etc. I had the misfortune of 15 years of such experiences ever since that I can only say: may Allah protect all of us. [They are] building houses worth 3 million pounds; they use black taxis to go from one city to another (which are so expensive that people living here wouldn’t even dream of). Their pockets are popping full of airline open tickets. House decor is not only decently pleasurable, but voluptuously extravagant. In other words, as the number of Sufi deputies, splendid colleges and scholars exceed, guidance proportionately decreases.

Now a new innovation has started within us Deobandis, that the godly people make the graduates of their own Islamic schools give Sufi Bay`ah to themselves. In other words, only we get to eat the eggs of our own chicken – why should anyone else get any benefit from them? This is why their students get cut off from all the scholars and religious people of the Ummah and are connected up with only their Sufi Sheikh, so much so that they would not even go near any outside scholar or noble person who does not consider their personal Sufi Sheikh to be the Qutb 'l-Aqtab. This is contrary to the perennial practice of those who possessed correct spirituality, in which they referred students to the appropriate godly people who were suitable for these students, like in the case of Hazrat Raipuri who sent his closest servant, Maulana Abdul Manna Dihlawi, to Maulana Zakariyya Kandehlawi [for Bayah]. Likewise, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi sent Maulana Abdul Maajid Daryabadi, who specifically came to become his spiritual pupil, to Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani. However, in this era of Tablighi show-offs in positions of authority in the work, they are starting to stress that “Brother, people in our effort should really only give Bayah to Hafiz Patel, and only then will you get the complete benefit of the Tablighi effort.” All these are the fantasies of vanity, which are far removed from true spirituality. If this vanity is to proceed as it is, then there is a fear that the progress instigated by Shah Waliyyullah’s movement in calling towards monotheism, Sunnah, Quran, Hadith and true spirituality will be reversed, taking the situation back to ignorance of the pre-Shah Waliyyullah era. In this era, the Deobandis too are in the business of fraudulently amassing wealth by profiteering from the name of its elders and earlier pious great. In fact, this has become the easiest method to gather wealth. However, my intuition tells me that this vanity and pseudo-spirituality will not succeed and will be humiliated. The 250-year-old sacrifices and efforts of our elders shall not go in vain. Only the talk of Quran, Sunnah and the history of the Prophet and the Companions will catch on, not the vanity that has mixed in with it the later-developed non-Arabian ideologies and practices, if Allah most high wills. This is why there is a necessity that we Deobandis get out of the destructive mirage of this vanity culture and personality worship and return to our original elders. And that is not difficult at all for Allah.