The selection of the sheikh is the most important event in practicing tasawwuf.
Due to this importance some concepts needed further discussion;
1. Haste in selecting the sheikh, is a fundamental mistake in Tasawwuf.
2. The sheikh should be visited repeatedly both in private and public to assess the above mentioned characteristics.
3. Taking an oath of allegiance (ba’yaih/ahd) is not essential to confirm the selection of sheikh (at this point in time). After the selection informing him, asking his guidance and following the advice is quite enough. (InshaAllah, we will discuss the concept of ba’yaih/ahd later in detail.)
4. It is more beneficial that even if the sheikh fulfils all of the above mentioned criteria, there exists a natural mutual congeniality (bahemi munasbet) between the mureed and sheikh. This can be described as having a intuitive general acceptance of, and no significant doubts about, the sheikh’s personality, words and deeds.
5. The facts regarding accessibility, language/barrier, ethnic background and madhahib(fiqh) differences should be genuinely considered.
6. It best to avoid the sheikh who places extraordinary importance to customary rituals, like mawlid, hawl, dhikr halaqas in comparison to the obligatory (salah, abstaining from sins and avoiding hurting others, etc). Considering these rituals to be an essential component of Tasawwuf is wrong.
7. It is inappropriate to compare present shuyukh with Sayyedna Junaid or Sayyedna Shibli rehmatulllah alehey. There is hidden arrogance(kibr) in this. That is, I am of such a stature that only someone like Sayyedna Junaid rehmatulllah alehey can be my sheikh. There are shuyukh present at all times that can take care of individuals like us.
8. One should be very cautious of familial sheikhs (customary father-son inheritance of being a sheikh), customary sajjada nasheins (person in charge of mausoleums/khanqah ) and wandering marabouts/spiritually overwhelmed (majzoubs).
9. Importance of consultation with pious elders (istishara) and praying repeatedly for Allah swt’s guidance (istikhara) can not be over emphasized.
10. If by mistake, one gets attached to an unqualified sheikh, it is obligatory to abandon him. Allah swt’s pleasure is the goal; it can not be attained with this sort of sheikh. However, proper Islamic adab (etiquette) should be observed even in this case. A more cautious search should be restarted again.
Allah swt guide us all. Ameen!
Next: Some Contemporary Shuyukh