Understanding Tasawwuf Part 3


The Model of Sahaba:

  • What is the prophetic model of Tazkiyah? How did the Prophet ﷺ do this?
  • He ﷺ has been tasked by Allah SWT to purify them.
  • ‘Them’ in the first instance obviously means the Sahaba’e kiraam RA.
  • The Hadith literature provides you with a picture of how the Prophet ﷺ did this Tazkiyah and how the Sahaba RA were students of Tazkiyah.
  • As much as the Prophet ﷺ is a model for us, the ideal type, the Sahaba RA are models in the sense that they have shown us how to follow that ideal type.

How to be an Ummati:

  • If I want to know how to be an ummati, I can’t look at the Prophet ﷺ because he was the Nabi; he wasn’t an ummati.
  • I have to look at the greatest ummati, the greatest mo’mineen, the greatest lover, the greatest lovers, students and followers of the Sunnah – that is the sahaba-e-kiraam.
  • In addition to trying to track how the Prophet ﷺ was a teacher of Tazkiyah, I also need to track closely how the Sahaba-e-kiraam were students of Tazkiyah.

Rabita and Ibtila:

  • The sahaba-e-kiraam used to turn to the Prophet ﷺ.
  • This is what we would call in Arabic, alternatively, rabita or ibtila.
  • Rabita means that they were in contact with the Prophet ﷺ. They would communicate with the Prophet ﷺ.
  • Ibtila means to inform. They would inform the Prophet ﷺ of their condition.

The Incident of Hanzala and Abu Bakr RA:

  • g. Sayyidina Hanzala RA was once walking in the streets of Madinah saying ‘nafaqa Hanzala – Hanzala has become a munafiq’. Sayyidina Abu Bakr RA asked him the reason thereof? Hanzala RA said that he feels hypocrisy in his heart.
  • Not nifaq fil amal, but rather nifaq fil qalb.
  • When in the company of the Prophet ﷺ, the yaqin and level of imaan and jazba in the heart is greater.
  • When not in his company, the level of imaan in the heart is lower.
  • So Abu Bakr RA said to go to the Prophet ﷺ (rabita – establish contact with the Prophet ﷺ). We should inform him of this condition in the heart (ibtila) …
  • The Prophet ﷺ told them that this is not nifaq.
  • Part of being human is that your company is going to affect you, the presence of that company will affect you and the absence of that company will be notable.


  • After the rabita and ibtila, the Prophet ﷺ, the teacher, gave some nasiha, counsel, advice or guidance and then back on the students side, the students then follow that guidance.
  • That is the Prophetic model of Tazkiyah.
  • You have a person who you turn to, who you do rabita (contact) with, that you do ibtila (inform – of conditions in the heart) with.
  • That person then gives you some advice/counsel and you do ittiba of that nasiha – you follow that guidance and counsel.

Not Knowing:

  • Obviously, one will only find the need to do rabita if one does not know.
  • g. there’s a young woman who is afflicted with backbiting, envy, anger or any other spiritual ailment.
  • Now there are two possibilities. Either we know how to do it or we don’t.
  • Even if some of us who may think we know how, we’re unable to do it.

Object is to Purify:

  • Obviously, before doing rabita and ibtila, one will be classified as a person who doesn’t know how to get out of a certain rut.
  • Otherwise, anybody who knows and is able to do so has no need to do rabita.
  • The object is to become pure.
  • The Quran has laid it out – your heart must be pure and purified. If it’s not pure, purify it.
  • If you can purify it on your own, using your own knowledge, your own ability – great. If you can’t then you are amongst the people who don’t know.


  • So what does the Quran say about that?
  • Allah says in the Quran: fas’alu ahlaz zikri in kuntum la ta’lamun – if you don’t know (don’t know how to remember Allah in your Salaah … don’t know how to feel Allah in your Dua … etc) …
  • Hence one falls into the Quranic category of those who don’t have ilm.
  • What should you do? Should you use you aqal (fata aqqalu)? No. Should you ponder (fata dabbaru)? No. Should you reflect (fata fakkaru)? No.
  • What does Allah SWT Himself say in the Quran? Fas alu – Ask.
  • Establish rabita, correspond with someone. Communicate with someone.
  • When you ask someone questions, you’ve immediately entered for at least a moment, if not more, into a teacher-student relationship.

Why Ask the People of Zikr:

  • Fasalu ahlaz zikri – ask the people of zikr. Why ask the people of Zikr?
  • Mufassireen have written that you are asking for amal and not ilm. So you need to ask a saahibe amal.
  • You are not asking for intellectual edification. You are not asking for scholarly knowledge. You are not asking for information. You are seeking to change yourself. You are seeking to purify your heart.
  • Therefore, it is not enough to go to someone who has the information about that. You need to go to someone who’s actually been able to do that. You need to go to someone who has the remembrance of Allah in his life.
  • This is a hukam given in the Quran to all believers for all times.

Ask, Correspond:

  • This is the first step of the Prophetic model of tazkiyah shown in the Quran. We must ask, we must correspond if we don’t know.
  • Just like how Sayyidina Abu Bakr & Hanzala RA did not know if it was nifaq or not.
  • Or, they thought it was nifaq and did not know how to rid themselves of that nifaq.
  • Either way they went to the Prophet ﷺ. Doing amal on this verse.


  • There is another aspect of the prophetic model of tazkiyah in addition to the rabita, asking or informing. Second aspect is simply to keep the company.
  • How did the Prophet ﷺ transmit the teachings of tazkiyah?
  • It was not only through oral teaching. A little of it was through oral teaching but a larger part was through suhbah.
  • That is why the companions of the Prophet ﷺ are called Sahaba, which comes from the word suhbah. That you must simply keep the company.


  • How did the transfer happen? Let’s take a positive attribute – tawakkul, because part of purification also means to adorn ourselves with the positive attributes.
  • The Prophet ﷺ did not teach the Sahaba RA tawakkul verbally. This was done through company.
  • g. the night before badr, Sayyidina Rasululah ﷺ was praying and he kept praying and praying because he knew that the odds were against the Sahaba RA.
  • What did Sayyidina Abu Bakr RA learn when he saw the Prophet ﷺ praying for so long? He learnt tawakkul. He learnt what you have to do when faced with adversity and it was that lesson which he carried with him when he became khalifatur rasool.

The Sadiqeen:

  • So is there any evidence or basis for this prophetic model of Tazkiyah in the Quran?
  • Allah SWT says – ya ayyuhal lazeena amanu (O you who have Imaan – a universal verse). Ittaqullaha (fear Allah SWT as He deserves to be feared. Wa kunu ma’as sadiqeen (and join your being with the sadiqeen) – this is suhbah.
  • All of us know the verse kun fayakun. When Allah SWT wants to create something, He uses His command, KUN, be, FAYAKUN, and it becomes.
  • So KUNU refers to our very being. Allah SWT is saying again using the imperative form – keep the suhbah.

Amal on Kunu Ma’as Sadiqeen:

  • How are we going to do amal on this verse? I’ll be presenting only one way to do amal on this verse.
  • We have no claim that there IS only one way to do amal.

Principle of Arabic Grammar:

  • There is a principle of Arabic grammar – when you have two plural forms, you divide the singulars onto one another.
  • g. Allah SWT says in an ayat of wudhu – faghsilu wujuhakum …
  • Faghsilu is also the plural form. Wujuh is also plural. Meaning ‘all of you should wash your faces’. Now that doesn’t mean all should go into a room and wash faces collectively.
  • It means that each and every one of you should wash one face.
  • That’s the grammatical principle of Arabic. When you have two plurals, it snaps the elements of each plural onto one another singularly.
  • It means every single one of you should wash one face. i.e. your own in this case.

Kunu and Sadiqeen:

  • Kunu ma’as sadiqeen. Kunu is plural. Sadiqeen is also plural.
  • Literally it means that all of you mo’mineen should be in the company of all of the sadiqeen.
  • Arabic grammar says that every one of the mo’mineen should be in the company of one of the sadiqeen.

Who are the Sadiqeen?

  • Who are the sadiqeen? Sadiqeen comes from sidq and obviously the greatest siddiq was Siddiqe Akbar Sayyidina Abu Bakr RA.
  • Siddiq or Sadiq or a person of Sidq means that person who is true to Allah SWT and the Prophet ﷺ by following the commandments and the wishes of Allah SWT and His Messenger ﷺ.
  • It should be someone who is truer than us.
  • Especially in this day and age, it can be viewed as a relative term.
  • That for me who are the sadiqeen? Those that I feel are truer than me.
  • Ittaqullah wa kunu ma’as sadiqeen. It means that kunu ma’as sadiqeen is the way to get taqwa.
  • Ittaqullah, command/adopt taqwa. Easy way to do it, Allah SWT says kunu ma’as sadiqeen.


  • So far we have been taking the Quran-e-kareem and the prophetic model side by side. We have come to feature, rabita and ibtila. To be in the contact. To establish contact. To communicate. To enquire. To ask. To inform.
  • Secondly, we mentioned suhbah which means company. To spend time. To sit in the company of. To listen to. To read. To hear audio. Etc.
  • Thirdly, the Prophet ﷺ gave some nasihah.

The Inheritors of the Prophet ﷺ:

  • That is the responsibility of every teacher of any ilm of any kind, whether it is ilm of the heart or ilm of the Quran or ilm of Hadith or Ilm of Fiqh.
  • They’re duty-bound by Allah SWT to share.
  • The ilm and knowledge is really just an amanat. We’re carriers and bearers of that trust.
  • That’s why the Prophet ﷺ said in a Hadith, a very well-known Hadith – Al ulema u warathat ul ambiya, that the Ulema of the deen are the inheritors of the Prophets ﷺ.

Inheritors of All Except One:

  • The Ulema inherit every role of the Prophet ﷺ except one which is Prophethood.
  • Specifically, that means they will not be receiving any wahi or revelation and therefore they will not be reciting any verses of revelation.
  • They are not inheritors of the first of the four functions but they are inheritors of the other three.
  • The Ulema are going to do Tazkiyah. The Ulema are going to teach the kitab. The Ulema are going to teach hikmah.

Wa Zakkir:

  • Allah SWT says in the Quran, wa zakkir fa innaz zikrawa zakkir fa innaz zikra tanfa ul mo’mineen …
  • Give nasiha, give admonishment, give reminder for verily such a reminder and nasiha is of benefit to the mo’mineen.


  • The last thing we mentioned in the Prophetic model of Tazkiyah was that the person who received that nasiha from their teacher, followed it.
  • Ittiba – that they followed it.
  • Now, obviously the Sahaba-e-kiram following the Prophet ﷺ, understood! We all follow our Nabi.

Ittiba E Ghayr Rasool:

  • What I have to do is to show you the concept of following a ghair Nabi.
  • Ittiba e ghair rasool, because the person we going to ask is going to be ghair e rasool.
  • The person we are going to tell … that I can’t remember Allah SWT in my Salah (we don’t have access to the Prophet ﷺ to tell him all that) … the person we are going to tell … that I think bad things in my Salah … that I have envy for my fellow Muslim sister. Etc.
  • So whoever amongst the Sadiqeen, the Quran commands us (to be with the) Sadiqeen … Kunu ma’as sadiqeen.
  • Where am I going to get that from?

Following a Non-Nabi:

  • Number one, let’s go back to history. After Sahaba-e-kiram, and their name was Sahaba because they kept the company of Rasulullah ﷺ, what is the next generation called by every single person in the world? Tabieen.
  • They were Tabieen of who? Of the Sahaba! Obviously they were people who did Ittiba e Sunnah, but they were called Tabieen because they did ittiba of the Sahaba.
  • Ittiba of a ghair nabi. In what though? The Sahaba were teaching them Quran and Sunnah. The Sahaba were bringing them towards the Deen.
  • So the Tabieen is the name of that generation of people who said that in order to make or align ourselves on this Deen, we are going to do Ittiba of the Sahaba. We are going to do Ittiba of a ghair Nabi. We going to follow a ghair Nabi.
  • Then the next generation is called Tabae Tabieen, the people who do Ittiba of the Tabieen. The followers of the followers of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ.

A Command for All Believers:

  • Now go back to the Quran. In the Quran, Allah SWT says, wat tabi sabeel al mo’mineen … Do Ittiba, a command for all believers.
  • This verse, wat tabi … you must do Ittiba of the path of the believers.
  • We are the tabae, tabae, tabae … akhri tabae tabieen. The followers of the followers of the followers etc …
  • If you want to talk about Ittiba of one person, that is also in the Quran.
  • Allah SWT says in the Quran, wat tabi man anaba ilay … that you should follow that person (man – this is singular), that person who has inabat towards Allah.
  • Inaba means that person who is deeply inclined towards Allah SWT to the exclusion of everything else.


  • The Prophetic model of Tazkiyah and the Quranic model of Tazkiyah center around the following.
  • 1 … Suhbah – putting ourself in the company of the Sadiqeen, those who are true to Allah SWT and the Prophet ﷺ than we are.
  • 2 … Rabita – etsblishing contact and communication with them and discussion with them and asking them about whatever obstacles we feel have come between us and Allah SWT; whatever spiritual impurities have arisen in our spiritual heart.
  • 3… Nasiha and hidayah – to listen to and receive nasiha and hidaya from them because they are the waratha tu ambiya.
  • 4… Ittiba – we must follow that advice. We must follow the answer that they give. Obviously when Allah SWT says, fas salu ahlaz zikri … ask the people of zikr, it is understood that whatever answer they give you, you have to follow it because Allah SWT told you to ask them. Why will Allah SWT tell you to ask them if you are not meant to follow, if you are not meant to listen to what they tell you in reply to your question?
  • So this is the Quran and Sunnah model of Tazkiyah.

Transcribed version of a 2009 Workshop on Understanding Tasawwuf by Shaykh Mufti Kamaluddin Ahmed Naqshbandi (DB). Full 27-part audio can be found at the following link: Understanding Tasawwuf.

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