Shah Wasiullah Allahabadi writes in the preface of ‘Tarbiyet us Salik‘ of Hakim al Umma Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Allah have mercy on them) ,
‘The task of being a Shaykh is a lofty responsibility.
This is, because calling people towards Allah is the Prophetic job and the Shaykh is delegated to do it. Therefore, there can not be any doubt in its immense significance.
It is for this reason the quote of pious predecessors is famous,
الشيخ فى قومه كاالنبى فى أمته
A Shaykh in a community is like a Prophet in his Ummah.
Respected (poet) Hafiz Shirazi (Allah have mercy on him) pointed towards this in,
(Not anyone with a glowing face knows how to flirt
Not anyone who makes a mirror act like Alexander
There are thousands of points thinner than a hair in this way
Not anyone who shaves his head can be a qalander)
ٖFrom the essentials of performing this task are two things that differentiate between a righteous and charlatan Shaykh.
First is his expertise in recognizing the aptitude and specific characteristics of the seeker’s temperament.
Secondly, his technique of instruction and training (the seekers accordingly) is at its most perfect level.
The greatness of the (Sufi) Masters is determined by their exceptional level of instruction and training. And this is the cause of their popularity in the (religious) elite.
In an era the Shaykh who is superior to all the contemporary Shuyukh in this field is known as ‘Qutub ul Irshad‘. Like Leader of the group Junaid al Baghdadi and Shaykh Ghuas e azam (Abdul Qadit al Jilani, may Allah sanctify their secret) etc. etc..
To be contd.
Tarbiyet us Salik, volume 1, page 2