Published on February 22nd, 2010 — 9:23pm

A.              Islamic Gnostic Knowledge


Islamic Gnostic Knowledge refers to the esoteric spiritual knowledge which leads a person to enlightenment and enables him to know Allah.[1] However, Gnostic Knowledge is not the sole exclusive possession of Islam.[2] Gnostic Knowledge had existed in pre Islamic period. There were already Gnostics prior to the advent of Islam.[3] When it was known that Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] had migrated to Madinah bringing with him the religion of Islam, about 400 hundred Gnostics from the hills and valleys met up with Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] in Madinah to embrace Islam at His hand.[4] Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] then placed them in his Mosque with his other Companions (who were homeless after migration) and they were referred to as “Ahli Sufah”.[5] Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] loved for them is well-known. He had said that food for two is fit for three and food for three is fit for four with the hope that his Companions would invite them to join them when his Companions are partaking food or milk.[6] At other time, he would say that food for one is fit for two; food for two is fit for four and food for four is fit for eight. [7] 

Islamic Gnostic Knowledge became the centrifugal element in the Islamic religion. It reinforces the first tenet of the Islamic Principles as well as the first tenet of the Islamic Faith in the belief of the existence of the one and only God, Allah.[8] Hence Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] told his Companions to teach the Jews who wanted to embrace Islam to know God first before telling them that the five time prayers a day is obligatory.[9] This being the case, majority of the Islamic Jurists stressed that the first thing in (Islamic) religion is to know Allah.[10] To this end, Imam Ghazali had said that it is obligatory for one to know who he worships before he worships that Entity.[11]

Whilst we accept that Gnostic Knowledge exists during pre Islamic period and then transcended into the Islamic period, a strange phenomenon arose in the late third and early fourth century after migration (of the Holy Prophet from Makkah to Madinah). For the first time in Islamic History a new innovation (Bidaah) called “The Tariqat” (The Way) evolved. [12] Before the advent of The Tariqat, the normal way of teaching Gnostic Knowledge was through direct lectures. This is done with the teacher sitting on a seat disseminating the Gnostic Knowledge to group of individuals surrounding him in a round circle.[13] With the advent of “The Tariqat”, the aforesaid direct lectures were changed with a new system. The system is as follow:

1.   The teacher is named Mursyid or Syeikh (to differentiate them with the teachers of Gnostic Knowledge of the older system who were not part of “The Tariqat”). [14]

2.   The Tariqat is named after their Founders. If the Founder’s name is Thaifur, his Tariqat is Thaifuriyah. If the Founder’s name is Nuri, his Tariqat is Nuriyah and so forth. Henceforth, there existed then the Tariqat Thaifuriyah or Tariqat Nuriyah and so forth.[15]

3.   The Tariqat had a chart showing the names of their Mursyid/Syeikh in an ascending manner. It started from the Mursyid/Syeikh who is at the bottom of the line and then ascended to his teacher, his teacher’s teacher and so on until it reached Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This chart is referred to as the “Silsilah”.[16] Syah Waliyullah doubted the authenticity of the Silsilah saying that there is no proof that it came down from the Sayidina Ali. [17] To this end, there is no record of the Holy Prophet or even his Companions ever mentioned or alluded to the practice of “Silsilah”.

4.   To prevent their students leaving the movement, they took covenant of loyalty from their students. The covenant of loyalty is called “Baiat[18]. This practice is taken so seriously that some of The Tariqat deemed the act of changing Mursyid/Syeikh as an act of “Apostacy” under Syariah (Islamic Law). This is one of the many reasons that Islamic Scholars accused The Tariqat of having their own Syariah independent of the existing Syariah (Islamic Law).[19]

5.   The students who are referred to as “Dervishes” are given Spiritual Training vide meditation. Beginning with oral meditation which involves repeating a certain phrase or word(s). This is at the lowest rung and for beginners. However, it is noted that many of the dervishes felt that they are over the moon at this lower rung. AT this rung, it involves repeating certain phrase or word(s) up to 100,000 times or more a day. If this is not completed it is brought forward to the next day where it is added to the next 100,000 repetition. Apart from the meditation, many of The Tariqat left the dervishes to his own devices without any lectures or guidance in relation to Gnostic Knowledge.  Since the meditation is so tedious and no guidance is given in relation to Gnostic Knowledge, Ahmad Sirhindi had said that many of the dervishes fell wayward and some even went astray.[20]

From the oral meditation it will then go to the heart. Although the dervishes believe that the heart is repeating the phrase or word(s) but in reality the repetition is actually done mentally but synchronises with the beat of the heart. At this stage if there is no upgrading, the act of repeating the phrase or word(s) will build intensity in the heart which will render those dervishes temperamental.[21]

From the heart, the meditation became a “secret” (Sirr). This is nothing more than a repetition of the phrase or word(s) mentally. [22] The dervishes are to continue doing this until he felt the urge to keep quiet (stop repeating the phrase or word[s]). They will then sit in silent and wait for the door of enlightenment to be open to them. [23]

6.   For Syaikh Moulay Al Arabi Ad Darqawi, he waited for a month and few days before Divine inspiration, “I am the First and I am The Last, I am The Manifest and I am The Hidden,” (Al Hadid (57):3) came and after the Esoteric meaning of the phrase dawned on him, he was enlightened. [24] What a pity, if some one (as in the Old Way) had explained to Syaikh Moulay Al Arabi Ad Darqawi the esoteric spiritual meaning of the verses (Al Hadid (57):3), he need not had to wait for one month and a few days for the inspiration to come down.


And it irked Imam Ghazali that, for many Dervishes the Divine inspiration did not materialise at all during the waiting period. Such being the case, many Dervishes wasted their lives waiting for it. Some even indulged in fantasies and made believed World. [25] 


7.   After the enlightenment, the Dervishes is given a scroll signifying his graduation, a Silsilah with his name added as a Mursyid; a write-up in relation to meditation (Khirqatul Wirid); a token of his Mursyid ‘s garment (Khirqatul Tabaruk) and a testament of his Mursyid for him before he is release in a ceremony known as “Talqin”. [26]

With the advent of The Tariqat, there is a new approach (in addition to the old way) of disseminating Islamic Gnostic Knowledge. Ahmad Sirhindi named the old approach as “The Way of the Prophet” and the new approach as “The way of the Saints.” [27] The Gnostics of the old way refuted and rejected The Tariqat. [28] It is stranged that to know Allah, one must take the covenant of loyalty and go through several stages of meditation. To add insult to injury, another innovation was created to “knock the nail into the coffin” and that is, a person must go through 4 stages in order to know Allah, Namely : i) Syariah, ii) Tariqat, iii) Hakikat and iv) Makrifat. This clearly contradicted Prophet Muhammad’s [pbuh] advice to His Companions to teach the Jews (who wanted to embrace Islam) to know God first before telling them the 5 times daily prayers are obligatory. It also contradicted the advice of the Islamic scholars of old (khalaf) and the contemporary (Salaf) that the first thing in religion is to know Allah. If to know Allah is so difficult, in no time Islam as a religion has to close shop.

To aggravate the tense situation, further innovations were created in The Tariqat. The belief that man can be God (Baqabillah) through meditation was an innovation.[29] Their argument was that just like iron once it is heated-up so intensely, there is no difference between the hot iron and the fire.[30] Once they have become God, their status surpassed even Prophet Muhammad [pbuh].[31] In addition, the Syariah is inapplicable to them since they are now God.[32] Thus all the tenets under the Islamic Principles and Islamic Faith are inapplicable to them. So they do not need to perform the daily prayers, fasting, paying the tithes, going for pilgrimage and need not conform to any of the Syariah rulings on things which are permissible (Halal) or prohibited (Haram). To this end, some even concluded their lawful mother is permissible to them. [33]

To date many had claimed to become God but ironically, with all the problems facing Islamic Ummah, either domestic or international, none come forward to solve them. Perhaps they should now come forward and bring peace as well as solve the ecological problems the world is facing now. For sure, none will come forward and as such one could see how ridiculous and hollow their bare assertion that they are God. The funny thing is, they have following!

As if the innovation in the penultimate paragraph is insufficient, they who claimed that they had became God, made verbal promulgation (Syatahat) boldly and publicly such as, “I am The truth!”, [34] “I am Allah!” [35] “I am The Exalted, how Glorious am I!” [36] “I am The Almighty over each and every creation!”. [37] Due to their bold public announcement of their Godly status, Mansur Al Hallaj, Hamzah Fansuri and Syeik Siti Jenah were executed under Islamic Law. [38]

[1] Imam Ghazali, Ihya Ulumiddin Bk. 1, 94-97 (1981).

[2] Abu Al Wafa Al Ghamini Al Taftazani, Perkembangan Tasawwuf Islam, 2 (1996).

[3] MM Shariff, Sejarah Islam Dari Segi Falsafah, 314 (1994).

[4] Zainal Ariffin Abbas, Ilmu Tasauf, 51(1991); Mohd Sulaiman Hj Yasin, Mengenal Ilmu Tasawuf (Pengantar),
   30 (1997).

[5] Akram Diya Al-Umari, Madinan Society at the time of the Prophet Vol.1, 86 (1991).

[6]  Translation of Sunan At Tirmidzi, Book 3, 368 (1994).

[7] Translation of Sunan At Tirmidzi, Book 3, 369 (1994).

[8] Terjemahan Sahih  Muslim Bk. 1, 4 -5 (1994).

[9] Terjemahan Sahih Muslim Bk.1, 28 (1994).

[10] Al Quraisy An Naisaibury, Risatul Qusyairiah, 8 (1997); Syeikh Abdul Qadir Al Jilani, Sirrur   
    Asrar, 17 (1997).

[11] Imam Ghazali, Minhajul Abidin, 24 (1997).

[12] Abu Al Wafa Al Ghanimi Al Taftazani, Perkembangan Tasawwuf Islam, 19 (1996).

[13] Abu Al Wafa Al Ghanimi, Perkembangan Tasawwuf Islam, 19 (1996).

[14] Aboebakar Atjeh,  Pengantar Sejarah Sufi dan Tasauf, 49 (1977).

[15] Hamka, Perkembangan Tasauf Dari Abad Ke Abad, 110 (1976)

[16] Aboebakar Atjeh,  Pengantar Sejarah Sufi dan Tasauf, 49 (1977).

[17] G N Jalbani, Teachings of Shah Waluyullah of Delhi, Op cit, 84.

[18] Aboebakar Atjeh,  Pengantar Sejarah Sufi dan Tasauf, 49 (1977).

[19] Id, 321.

[20] Muhammad Abd Haq Ansari,  Op Cit, 90.

[21] Writer had seen this effect in his family who are in The Tariqat.

[22] Aboebakar Atjeh, Op cit, 50.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Abd Qadir Al Sufi, The Way of Muhammad, 169-179 (1997).

[25] Imam Ghazali, Keajaiban Hati, 47 (1979).

[26] Aboebakar Atjeh, Op cit, 50.

[27] Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari, Sufism and Shariah, 211 (1986).

[28] M.M. Shariff, SejarahIislam Dari Segi Falsafah, 317 (1994).

[29] Abu Al Wafa Al Ghanimi Al Taftazani, op cit, 129.

[30] Mohd Sulaiman Hj Yasin, Mengenal Ilmu Tasawuf 2, 150 (1992); Mohd Sulaiman Hj Yasin, Mengenal Ilmu
   Tasawuf 2, 141 (1992).

[31] Zakaria Stapa, Tokoh Sufi dan Penyelewangan Akidah, 69 (1998).

[32] M.M. Shariff, op cit, 318.

[33]Abu Hasan Ali Nadwi, Penyelamat Kerohanian Islam, 213 (1993).

[34] Zakaria Stapa, Tokoh Sufi dan Penyelewangan Akidah, 99 (1998).

[35] MB Rahimsyah AR, Wali Songo Perjuangan dalam Dakwah Islam, 235 (2000).

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Hj Aboebakar Atjeh, Pengantar Sejarah Sufi dan Tasauf, 282,283 (1977); MB Rahimsyah AR,
      Wali Songo Perjuangan dalam Dakwah Islam, 230 (2000).

| Category: gnosticism | 8 comments | Leave a comment

Back to top

You can leave a comment via:

Loading Facebook Comments ...

You can leave a comment through facebook (above) or the form below:

8 comments to “SUMMARY – 1”

  1. Ustaz A L Hussien

    We teach Tasawuf which leads to Marifah whereas many Tariqats bestow to their dervishes meditation (Zikr) without accompanying it with lectures on Tasawuf. Hence many I met became bewildered after years of meditation yet did not obtain Makrifah. Many too I met are get entangeled with the concept of “Wahdatul Wujud” and “Nur Muhammad” without realising that these concepts are rejected by Syariah. Worst still, many thought that the meditation (Zikr) is Tasawuf.

  2. Ustaz A L Hussien

    You cannot train a surgeon or lawyer by practice only without accompanying it with the necessary knowledge.

  3. RINGKASAN 1 | YAMAS-Indonesia

    […] [1] Imam Ghazali, Ihya Ulumiddin Bk. 1, 94-97 (1981). […]

Back to top