We live in an age where true scholars are accused of heresy. False scholars, in contrast, are revered and extolled as if there were no other scholars who ever uphold and defend the truth.
Often times Sufi scholars are accused of promoting deviant teachings, such as the notion of al-ittihad wa al-hulul, that is pantheism and anthropomorphism, that their works are filled with fabricated hadith, and that they are worshipping the graves of the saints. We do not deny that there are some deviant Sufis who believe in this nonsense, but to equate them with the true Sufis is sheer ignorance and injustice. This is the image of Sufism that is being portrayed to the youth, a distorted image of Sufism, and to many people, the true image is still obscure.
This state of bewilderment, of not knowing the false vis-a-vis the true authorities in religion is a manifestation of the loss of adab. Professor Dr Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas maintained, in his writings many decades ago, that the loss of adab is the root cause of Muslim dilemma in modern time.
It can be reduced ultimately to the question of the heart when the heart is filled with anger, hatred, pride, arrogance, envy, and greed, there will be no peace in this world nor true development and progress.
Muslims in particular need to return to an Islamic educational philosophy inspired by the teachings of the Holy Prophet salla’Llāh ‘alayhi wasallam. An education that emphasizes the inculcation of adab (right conduct), and al-Akhlaq al-Karimah (noble character), for the purpose of producing a good man (insan salih), beneficial to all mankind.
This is the spirit of Tasawwuf or Sufism. Tasawwuf was never meant to be a cult. It should be a solution to the most pressing problems of mankind, be it in the realm of politics, economics, as well as societal problems.
Imam Abdullah al-Haddad rahimahullāh lived in turbulent time, at the end of 17th and early 18th century most of Muslim lands were under colonial rules, torn asunder by civil and sectarian wars. Radicalism and extremism were never regarded as the solution to this calamity. Instead, the Sufis emphasized on the return to God Almighty, the true Savior, that is by obeying His commands and following closely the footsteps of His Holy Prophet salla’Llāh ‘alayhi wasallam.
Imam al-Haddad is one of the Sufi sages who put emphasis on the purification of the hearts, in order to eliminate the diseases of the hearts, which prevented Muslims from becoming good men and women, kept them from being united, succumbing to their nafs and desires, refusing to listen to the guidance of great and true scholars of Islam. These Sufi scholars followed the prophetic teaching of selflessness, asceticism, zuhd, and remembrance of God in everything they do. They are, as Imam al-Ghazali said arbab al-ahwal, the men of actions, la arbab al-aqwal, not the men of words. They are truly the heirs of the prophetic knowledge and wisdom. When we follow this path of wisdom, we will be able to experience happiness regardless of the situation.
The works of Imam Abdullah al-Haddad are testimony to the fact that those haba’ib who came as missionaries to the Malay archipelago were strong adherents of the creed of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah. They are the staunch followers of the Sunnah of the prophet. They follow closely and never transgress the Shari’ah of Islam.
From his works also we can see the fact that he was very much influenced by the writings of Imam al-Ghazali, such as Bidāyat al-Hidāyah and Iḥyāʼ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn . In addition to the works of Imam al-Ghazali he read and taught the work of Abu Hafs Umar al-Suhrawardi entitled Awarif al-Ma’arif, who is known as a great Sufi who upholds the Sunnah of the Prophet salla’Llāh ‘alayhi wasallam.
Muslims in this part of the world are fortunate and privileged to have the Sufis who brought and taught Islam in this region, it is for this reason that we noticed the difference in the manner how Islam was translated into practice as compared to other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East where the influence of the Pseudo-Salafis is rampant.
Contrary to the baseless accusations put forward by some Pseudo-Salafis, our studies show that these descendants of the Holy Prophet salla’Llāh ‘alayhi wasallam, the haba’ib, especially the Ba ‘Alawi, from the very beginning until today are the staunch followers of the Ash’ari creed and of the Shafi’i mazhab and have never been a part of the Shi’a or any deviant sect.
I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the presenters and honourable guests in this seminar, Professor Zainiy Uthman, Professor Tatiana, Assoc. Prof. Dr Wan Suhaimi, and Dr Hisham Hellyer who came all the way from Egypt to share his thoughts with us, the coorganizer, HAK, represented by Syed Abdul Rahman al-Haddad, and to all who lend support and contributed in the smooth running of this seminar. May Allah SWT bless this effort and grant us his mercy and guidance especially to benefit from the works of our own great scholars and sages.
اللهم إنَّا نسألك الجنة وما يقربنا اليها من قول و عمل ونية واعتقاد وأحشرنا مع الذين أنعمت عليهم من الأنبياء والأولياء والصديقين والشهداء والصالحين وحسن أولئك رفيقا.