Chapter No. 6 Sufism and Sublimity of Good Manners

A Sufi, an emblem of the life of the holy prophet (PBUH), reflects a glow of the life of the prophet in his life. He never frowns, and is forgiving. He entertains respect for every body whether child or adult, and is always at other's disposal; is determined to keep his word. He endeavors to keep himself aloof from every vice, practices every thing good and prompts others to do the same. He neither castigates nor curses anyone. He treats others nicely and the good becomes a token of his identity. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) says in this connection: 'Good manners are a great creation of God'.


Good Manners

Worthy is the manner which is an embodiment of divine qualities. There are certain qualities peculiar only to God which man cannot he equal, with Him for instance, the creator is One, while the created. Greatness is specific only to God. The excellence of a man rests in humility as against the greatness which is associated with God.

It is incumbent upon man to be good mannered for it is a means to his spiritual culmination. The more a man gets to the light of divine qualities, the more spiritual sublimity he attains. There have been many proponents of good manners in the world and all have pleaded practice of good manners. All religions have been founded on good manners. All the one hundred, twenty four thousand prophets who came to this world have reiterated that speaking the truth is tantamount to doing a noble deed, and it is evil to tell a lie. Justice is virtue and oppression is vice. Benevolence is good; while theft is a crime. Working for others is such a habit as endears one to God and infringement of rights is abominable to him.

Prophethood started with Hazrat Adam and culminated in the last prophet of God, Muhammad (PBUH). It has been recurrent in Gospels and other divinely revealed edicts that the best of the creation would come and would announce the culmination of deen (religion) according to divine revelation.

Jesus Christ was followed by Muhammad (PBUH) who is the last messenger of God. It is he upon whom this deen culminated and God blissfully completed His blessings.

The Holy Prophet said: 'I have been sent to complete good manners'. He also said: 'I have been sent so that good manners may be accomplished'.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had started doing this job even before prophethood was accorded to him.

Hazrat Abuzar sent his brother to Makka to study the teachings and life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). On return he reported: 'what I observed was that he was instructing people in good manners'.

When Nijashi enquired of the Muslims about Islam, Hazrat Jaffar Tayyar (RA) said: 'O lord, we were ignorant people; worshipped idols; ate what was forbidden; did evil deeds; molested the neighbours; oppressed even our brothers; the powerful enslaved the weak. In those conditions, a man was born amongst us.......he taught us to abjure worshipping stone, to speak the truth, to shun bloodshed, not to fritter away what belongs to the destitute, to treat the neighbours well and not to bring dishonour to weak women'.

In the same way Abu Sufyan, who had still not embraced Islam, acknowledged in the court of the emperor of the Rome while summing up the reformatory call of Muhammad (PBUH) that the prophet of God (PBUH) called upon the people to adopt chaste behaviour, speak the truth and do the rightful to near ones.

"God! said commending that, 'This messenger purges the ignorant people and teaches them wisdom."

Two important points in this verse are note worthy:

(1)     purgation and     (2) wisdom

(1)     Purgation connotes cleansing, making somebody tidy. The objective of holy Quran is to rid a person of all types of vices and impurities. In this connection, God Almighty says,

"Verily, the one who cleaned his self got successful, (but) the one who mired it into soil, got failed"

(Surah Al Shams: Verse 9-10)

"The one who purged himself and offered prayers became successful"

(Surah Ala :Verse 14- 15)

"He frowned and turned away Because the blind man came unto him. What could inform thee but that he might grow [in grace] Or take heed and so the reminder might avail him?"

(Surah Abas: Verse 1-4)

These verses also connote that the major objective of prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) was to rid people of vices, untidiness, and impurities and to elevate their moral position.

(2)     Wisdom has been bequeathed upon the prophet (PBUH) of God in the form of Noor (light) and manifested in this word wisdom in the form of commands and Sunnah (practice of the prophet).

Allah says,

"And We taught Luqman the word of wisdom, to be grateful to God"

(Surah Luqman: Verse 12)

The moral position is denoted by the term wisdom in the tradition (Shariah) of the prophet of God. Islam assigns the same importance to morals which it has accorded to Ibadat (Worship of God) and other commands. God says in this connection:

'O those who believe bow and prostrate before Him; and practise virtue so that you may become successful"

(Surah Hajj : Verse 77)


The Role of lbadat (Worshipping God)

Haqooq-ul-lbad (The rights of people) stand for interpersonal relations. Allah Almighty is Compassionate and Merciful. His mercy extends to all the virtuous. Every vice except shirk (Polytheism) is forgivable. However, violation and transgression against the rights of the people (haqooqullbad) is not forgivable unless remission extended by the victims.

The prophet (PBUH) said, 'The oppressor should get his act of oppression remitted by the oppressed in this world; otherwise, he would not be able to make up for his wrongful act except that the reward of good deeds would be given away to the oppressed in lieu of his oppression'


F o u r Pillars

Misinterpretation of pseudo religious intellectuals and half baked preachers has given rise to the misunderstanding that Islam is based merely on unity of God, fasting, prayers and zakat (deduction and distribution of religious tax). The impression one gets is that the edifice of Islam, based on five pillars, does not admit of good manners.

Rather, these five pillars realize and complement good manners. The holy Quran informs us that prayers (salat) help prevent evil deeds; fasting teaches us piety; zakat (religious tax) underscores human sympathy; regard for others and Hajj (pilgrimage to Macca) are a source of our moral edification.

Although different in names, their end is same: moral sublimity. If no religious and moral edification can be obtained out of these religious practices, it should be understood that the objectives of divine pleasure have not been realized.

These lbadat (religious practices) are akin to a tree which bears no fruit and to a Soulless structure.

Imam Ghazali says in his book'Ahya ul Aloom':

'And Allah enjoins upon us to establish prayers and not to be among the forgetful and not to offer prayers while intoxicated unless you understand what you are saying'

The question arises as to how those, who offer prayers, are not used to liquor, but when they offer prayers they do not understand what they are saying, and are totally unaware of meanings and substance. Their hearts and minds are not in the prayers and they are surrounded by doubts. Allah says in the revealed books: 'That I do not accept every person's prayers; I accept it from one who glorifies Me and who flaunts not His superiority over the people and Who feeds the hungry'

The prophet (PBUH) says: 'One, whose prayers prevent him not from indulging in vice, distances him from the Almighty'

The prophet says: 'Fast, and any one who does not abjure deception and lying is not needed by Allah."

These teachings reveal that one of the important objectives of religious practices is the reformation of manners. The Almighty Allah says:

"Verily, those believers are successful who demonstrate humility in their prayers and who do not heed nonsense and who pay Zakat"

(Surah Almominoon: Verse 1-4)

"And those who do not breach the trust reposed is them"

(Sura Almominoon: Verse 8)

When a Sufi (saint) ponders over these words, it become apparent that the prophet (PBUH) of God asked for good manners even at the point of the best opportunity of proximity to God and of acceptance of prayer. A Sufi understands that good manners hold an important place in Imaan (belief). A Hadith (saying of the prophet) tells: 'Among the Muslims, a perfect believer is one who has the best manners'. The messenger (PBUH) of God said: 'Through good manners one attains the status which is accrued by the whole day fasting and the whole night awaking'.


The Life of prophet (PBUH) and Sufi

In hermitages, the first lesson given to a novice is,

"A respectful wings favour of luck while disrespectful loses all" He who has good manners will enjoy eternal blessings and one who deviates will be cursed forever

The novices are taught every aspect of the life of Muhammad (PBUH) and they are encouraged to practise it. They are brought home the point that:-


(1)     If someone hurts you, forgive him though you are entitled to redress, but forgiving pleases God.

(2)     If you hurt one, seek forgiveness from him whether he is from high or low caste, weak or powerful.

(3)     D-o every effort in religious as well worldly affairs, but leave the outcome to God.

(4)     Establishment of salat (prayers) means to be connected with God e.g., to worship Him as if you see and feel Him.

(5)     Wherever you are, seek religious as well as worldly knowledge so that you may enhance your conscious competence.

(6)     What is best liked by God is serving the humanity. The seeker should serve humanity without any personal motive. When a seeker selflessly serves humanity, he is endeared to God, and grief and fear never overpower him.

(7)     The Holy Quran guides those who are pious, and pious are the people who believe in the unseen (ghaib) and belief is subject to observation.

(8)     Prophet of God Muhammad (PBUH) is His beloved and He loves him. Allah elevates the status of those who love His messenger. The prophet is His creation and messenger. It is the duty of every person to love him.

(9)     The very dear to Allah (Auliya) are friends of Allah through their link with to the prophet of God (PBUH).


When a man proves his friendship with the friend of Allah, he is showered with blessings.


Metaphysical Base

Mortal is the physical being with which a man moves drinks and haves his being. The true essence of every person is his spirit. This knowledge of spirit familiarises him with his true self: and this awareness is a means to divine knowledge.

Allah says:

"Righteousness does not consist in whether you face. towards the east or the west, the righteous person is one who believes in Allah and the Last day, in the angels and the books and the prophets; who for the love of Allah gives his wealth to his kinsfolk, the orphans, the needy, the wayfarers and the beggars, and for the redemption of captives; who attends to his prayers and pays the alms, who is true to his promises and steadfast in trial and adversity and in times of war. Such are the true believers; such are the God fearing."

(Surah Al Baqra:Verse 177)

What this verse implies is that just as the first consequence of right path and piety are belief, similarly, the second consequence is excellent qualities, benevolence, and being true to the word, patience and steadfastness.

"The true servants of the Merciful are those who walk humbly

on the earth, and when the ignorant address them they say: 'Peace!' who pass the night standing and on their knees in adoration of their lord; who say: 'Lord, ward off from us the punishment of Hell, for its punishment is everlasting ; an evil dwelling and resting- place'; who when they spend are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but keep the golden mean; who invoke no other god but Allah and do not kill the soul which God has forbidden except for a just cause; who do not commit adultery. For one who does this shall meet evil."

(Surah Al-Furqan: Verse 62-63)

"And the true servants are those who do not bear false witness and do not lose their dignity when listening to profane chatter; who do not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the revelation of their Lord when they are reminded of them; who say: 'Lord, give us joy in our wives and children and make us examples to those who fear You."

(Surah Al-Furqan: Verse 71-74)


Moral Traits of a true Muslim (Mo'min)

Allah Almighty describes the morals of the believers (i.e. observing men and women) through the word of the prophet of God(PBUH):

"Better and more enduring is that which Allah has for those who believe and put their trust in Him; who avoid gross sins and indecencies and, when angered, are willing to forgive; who obey their Lord, attend to their prayers, and conduct their affairs by mutual consent; who bestow in alms a part of that which We have given them and, when oppressed, seek to redress their wrongs. Let evil be rewarded with evil-like. But he that forgives and seeks reconcilement shall be rewarded by Allah. He does not love the wrongdoers. Those who avenge themselves when wronged incur no guilt. But heavy is the guilt of those who oppress their fellowmen and conduct themselves with wickedness and injustice. These shall be sternly punished. To endure with fortitude and to forgive is an act of great resolution."

(Surah Al Shura: Verse 36-43)

"Heaven has been prepared for those who are righteous, who spend in pleasure and in distress, and who suppress anger and forgive people; Allah loves those who do good deeds"

(Surah Al Imran: Verse 133-134)

""These will be given their reward twice over, because they are steadfast and repel evil with good, and spend of that wherewith We have provided them, And when they hear vanity they withdraw from it and say: Unto us our works and unto you your works. Peace be unto you! We desire not the ignorant."

(Surah Al Qasus: Verse 54 55)

"Who thought they hold it dear, give sustenance to the poor man, the orphan, and the captive"

(Surah Al Duhar: Verse 8)

The following sentence is contained in the prayers said by the Prophet of God (PBUH) :

"O my lord, guide me to the best of manners. There is no better guide to manners except You and no one but You who can prevent me from perversion."



Many a scholar has written a lot about spiritualism and pantheism. One school of thought is of the view that as saints often used to wear wooly dresses therefore people would call them sufis. Wool is called sauf in Arabic. They used to wear such a dress, for it had been the habit of many a prophet, saints and pious people. According to some people, as they have been associated with the Ashaab-e-suffa that is why they are called sufis; whereas according to yet another school of thought the word sufi is linked with suf a.... but all these explanations are not satisfactory.

In fact, the terminological meaning of Sufi'ism (tasawaf) is self­ cleansing. It is the name of a true spirit that is related to conscience and the light of conscience is always inherent. A sufi always thinks in the context of Allah. His talk moves around Allah. He lives with Allah and dies in the name of Allah. He recites His words and always praises Him and remains enmeshed in His love. He sacrifices everything in order to see and meet Allah.