Sufism (Islamic Mysticism) and the Quran
By: A. Muhammad

Before assessing Sufism and examining how it relates to the teachings of the Quran, it is necessary to consider the main principles upon which Sufism is based:

FIRST: Mystic interpretation of the Quran

In Sufism, studying the exegesis of the Quran or reflecting on the meanings of its verses is discouraged or even forbidden. Sufi's claim that every verse of the Quran has an external meaning and an internal meaning. According to Sufism, only the Sufi Sheikhs have the understanding of the internal mystic meaning. By ascribing a mysical meaning to any Quranic verse, Sufi's are able to uphold any concept they desire. On account of this, they have introduced concepts and words that are totally foreign to the teachings of Islam.
As a result, it is claimed that a normal believer on his own is not able to attain the mystic meaning unless he is under the spiritual guidance of a Sufi Sheikh. This concept violates the Quranic assurance that the Quran is clear (12:1), easy to understand (44:58) and harbours no ambiguity (39:28).

SECOND: Submission and allegiance to a sheikh

In Sufism, the Sheikh (or Wali) is given a similar standing as that of a Catholic Saint, or the Dalai Lama.
A complete bond of submission is formed between the head of the Sufi order (the ‘Sheikh’) and the Mureed (follower). This takes place during the Covenant ceremony. During this ceremony, which is common among all Sufi orders, the follower pledges complete and unconditional allegiance, obedience and loyalty to the Sheikh. Any questions are deemed as a betrayal of trust. The follower must submit to the will of the Sheikh and to obey him in all his orders and advice, without ever questioning him!
After that the Sheikh recites:
[48:10] Those who pledge allegiance to you are pledging allegiance to God.

The words in 48:10 are clearly taken out of context. These words do not speak about allegiance to any Sufi Sheikh, but in this verse God is addressing Prophet Muhammad regarding those who pledged their allegiance to him during one of the battles. The words that follow in verses 11 and 12 confirm this matter.
As for full life long allegiance and submission, the Quran preaches total allegiance and submission to none other than God. The idea of needing a sheikh to guide us and deliver us from harm is an invitation to idol worship. A true believer knows that he needs none other than God:
[39:36] Is God not sufficient for His servant? They frighten you with those other than Him. Whomever God sends astray, he will have no guide.

In addition, the Quran rejects the idea of middlemen between God and man. God invites us to c
all on Him directly:
[40:60] And your Lord said, "Implore Me and I will respond to you. Surely, those who are too arrogant to worship Me will enter Hell, forcibly."

THIRD: Powers given to the sheikh

Several powers granted to the Sufi sheikh infringe on God's rights. For example, once the follower gives a pledge of allegiance, whereby he pledges to obey the Sheikh, the Sheikh in turn promises to deliver the follower from every problem or calamity that may befall him. The Sheikh also offers his follower lucrative fringe benefits. Once a follower agrees, he is blessed by the sheikh and assigned a set of Dhikr (chants). In this manner the Sheikh’s hold over the follower becomes absolute.
Needless to say, this is total idol worship since no one can bless us and deliver us from calamity other than God.

FOURTH: Perception of God

According to the Sufi doctrine of Wahdat ul Wujood (The Unity of Existence), it is claimed that since God's Attributes were manifested in His creation, to worship His creation is similar to worshipping Him. So the person with complete understanding is he who sees every object of worship to be a manifestation of the truth contained therein, for which it is worshipped.
Therefore they call it a god, along with its particular name, whether it is a rock, or a tree, or an animal, or a person, or a star, or an angel.
These ideas, more akin to Greek and Eastern philosophies, go to show the degree of deviation of Sufism from the teachings of the Quran. In Sufism, God is not God Alone with whom no one else shares in His Dominion, but rather everything we see around us, and ultimately our own selves! This polytheistic doctrine defies the Quran on a number of levels:
1- If the creation around us is part of God, and considering that there was a time when the universe did not exist, this would necessarily mean that at a certain time in the past, a part of God did not exist! The Quran states that God is eternal, has always existed and will always exist. Nothing came before Him and nothing will come after Him:
[57:3] He is the First and the Last.

The doctrine of Wahdat ul Wujood, which states that everything around us is part of God, violates the Quranic description of God as being completely distinct from His creation. He neither resembles His creation, nor is He enclosed by it:
[42:11] He is the Initiator of the heavens and the earth. He created for you spouses from among yourselves as well as pairs of the livestock. In that way He multiplies you. There is nothing that is akin to Him. He is the Hearer, the Seer.

We know that everything in the universe is relative (Theory of relativity). Once again this confirms that nothing around is part of God since God is absolute:
[112:1] Say, "He is God, He is One.
[112:2] God, the Absolute.

FIFTH: Sufism, a sect of Islam

Sufism, is a sect just like all the other sects in Islam, and as a result it is in violation of the Quranic prohibition against all sects:

[6:159] As for those who have divided their religion and broke up into sects, you shall have nothing to do with them. Their case rests with God, then He will inform them of what they used to do.

[30:31-32] Be devoted to Him, revere Him, observe the Salat and do not be among the mushrikeen who divided their religion and became sects; each party rejoicing with what they have.

SIXTH: Why and how did Sufism form?

This is not a question related to the history of Sufism, but a question about what brought about the ideology of Sufism.
To seek the answer to such a question, it is necessary to go back to the very beginning when Satan vowed to lead all people astray. One of the tactics of Satan was to divert people away from the guidance of the Scripture of God. Satan was able to accomplish his goal by employing different ploys with different people, some of which are:

Satan was able to lead the majority of people to disbelieve in God (12:103), and thus reject the Scripture of God altogether.

With other people who believed in God, Satan was also able to distort and corrupt the Scripture of God and thus leave them with an unauthentic Scripture and in some cases, a totally lost Scripture (Injeel).

When it came to the Quran, Satan was not able to corrupt it since God promised to preserve the Quran (15:9). As a result, Satan devised one of two ploys:
a- Satan was able to employ his army of devils (human and jinn) to fabricate lies against every Prophet who delivered a Scripture from God. These would be collected and documented and in time they became a new source of religion besides the Book of God:

[6:112] And thus We have made enemies for every Prophet, human and jinn devils, inspiring to one another fancy sayings in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and what they fabricate.

In time, people follow these books, thinking they are guided, and desert the Book of God. The devil has tricked millions of Muslims into thinking that these books explain the Quran and that they fill in the details which the Quran left out. Satan adorned these false ideas in the minds of many even though God gave in the Quran several clear assurances that the Quran has all the details and that nothing has been left out (6:114, 6:38, 12:111, 16:89). As a result, people end up following a religion built upon many details that are not in the Quran and thus were never authorised by God. The religion they follow is thus one that has little to do with the Quran.

Another ploy of Satan was to corrupt the meaning of the Quranic words and make people think they are following the correct meaning. It is this last ploy which the Sufi ideology is based on.
The Sufi's have adopted what is called Ta'weel. This is a method of changing the apparent meaning of the verse to a claimed mystic meaning! This provided them with sufficient lee-way to support any concept they desired. They simply state that the Quranic verse has an inner meaning which only the Sufi Sheikh himself could know!
Needless to say, God gave clear assurances in the Quran that the book is made easy to understand and without any ambiguity.
So where did this mysticism leave the Sufi followers? Has it brought them closer to God, or granted them extra blessings not available to the believer who follows the Quran and nothing else?
The answer is no, it has actually done quite the opposite. All what Sufism has accomplished was to lead the Sufi followers into idol worship. This is because it made them place idols (their sheikhs) between themselves and God and in the process, they gave their idols powers that belong to God alone! This is nothing other than shirk (idol worship).