“For the most part, every question is simply a door, a door to understanding why Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa) created creation and human beings; why He created this creation the way that He created it, with all its complexity and simplicity, chaos and order, separation and union, struggle and ease.” –Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid
The second talk of the TASAWWUF NOW!: FIVE SUNDAYS SERIES (2011-2012) addresses the question, “WHY?”. Following are selected segments of the “Why?” talk to give the reader a sense of both the broad range of thinking and the specific focus on this significant question for the seeker of Truth:
Shaykh Rashid continues:
For some, the question of “why?” is with us our whole life. It can be a frustration or solution. It can be a question born of arrogance or of humility. It can be a doorway to deep spiritual understanding or a justification for self-direction. For many of us who are spiritual seekers, “why?” is the question that drove us to this path, and the question we could only find an answer to on this path.
We are guided to challenge ourselves and seek the subtleties behind questions such as, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”
As Sufis… …we can begin to understand that through hardships Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa) tests our dedication, our love and our perseverance. He removes our ills, and He reminds us to look beyond the transient rewards of this life toward the next. But to gain an even clearer understanding, we must also look behind the question “why?” and begin with another question: the question of values, the questions of life’s direction. “What?” points to what and why: ishaarat—a series of points that lead us out of darkness to light. We must ask, “Why do we have this question in the first place? Why do have an inclination for morality and ethic? Where does our concern about injustice come from? Where does our compassion originate?” Is it not because Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa) created us with the capability to care and with the ability to change and create change? There is an old joke that goes: “Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world when He could do something about it; but I’m afraid He might ask me the same question.”
Addressing such a large question, a framework is established and illustrated for understanding the answer to, “Why Sufism?”
What Sufism offers is a framework for understanding, a path for learning, a reason for submitting, and a way to see beyond the tests, trials, pleasures and distractions of the moment into the greater pattern, the System of the Universe, the Unity that is Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa). Sufism is the door to all that is universal, all that is eternal, unifying, affirming of ONE truth, inclusive not exclusive, transcendental and loving in Islam. It emerges and flourishes amidst challenges. It holds high the banner of Rasuulu-Llaah (salla-Llaahu calayhi wa sallam) as a unifying force/light/being for all people, and at the same time disdains any coercion, any elitism, any separatism. Sufism is a means to a personal experience of the presence of Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa). Sufism is a continuation of the tradition of the Prophet (salla-Llaahu calayhi wa sallam).
Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa) created the system that is the Universes. He created the world. He created Hazrat Adam and Hazrati Hawa, out of whom came humanity. He created the groups of individuals and the prophets for their communities, like Prophet Musa (calayhi-s-salaam) and Prophet Isa (calayhi-s-salaam). Then He created, specifically for us sitting here in this room, the Prophet Muhammad (salla-Llaahu calayhi wa sallam) through His agents. There is a living chain of instruction and experience, of memory and of practice that begins with the Prophet (salla-Llaahu calayhi wa sallam) that was transmitted to the lives and words of the Sahaabah, and from them to the tabaceen, from the tabaceen to the tabac– tabaceen, and from them to the shuyukh. This living lineage has far more power, meaning, and originality than words in books and laws.
And why one needs to give ba’iat:
In giving baycat, the aspirant becomes part of a community of faithful mureeds and mureedas. He or she affirms a commitment to service and adab (spiritual courtesy), based on ethical purity, justice, love, service and personal sacrifice fi sabiil Allah (for the sake of Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa)) and of one’s fellow human beings. In each interaction within the community, the mureed or mureeda considers himself or herself to be below others. He or she seeks nearness to Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa) through khidmah (service) to His creatures and His creation.