The Conduct of the Murid with His Shaikh
There are two categories of conduct of the murid with his
shaikh: internal conduct and external conduct.
Internal Conduct of the Murid
- The seeker must submit to the will of the shaikh and to
obey him in all his orders and advice, because the shaikh
has more experience and more knowledge in haqiqat, in
tariqat and in shari'ah. As the sick person gives himself
to his doctor to be cured, so too does the murid, sick in
his conduct and behavior, submit to the shaikh's
experience in order to be healed.
- The seeker must not object to the way the shaikh instructs and controls
the murids. Each shaikh has his own way, which he has been permitted by his
own shaikh to use. Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haythami said, "Whoever opens the
door of criticism against shaikhs and their behavior with their murids and
their actions will be punished and will be isolated from receiving spiritual
knowledge. Whoever says to his shaikh, 'Why?' will never succeed." [al-Fatawa
al-Hadithiyya, p. 55]
- The seeker must know that the shaikh might make some
mistakes, but that these will not prevent him from
lifting the murid up to the Divine Presence. So the murid
must excuse the shaikh, as the shaikh is not the Prophet
(s). Only the Prophet (s) was free of error. Although it
is rare, just as the doctor might make a mistake in
treating a patient, so too might the shaikh make a
mistake in treating his murid's spiritual illness, and
that must be excused.
- The seeker must respect and honor the shaikh in his
presence and his absence, if only because the shaikh can
see with the eye of the heart. It is said that whoever is
not happy with the orders of the shaikh, and does not
keep good conduct and adab with him, will never keep good
conduct with the Qur'an and with the Sunnah of the
Prophet (s). Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani said,
"Whoever criticised a saint, Allah will cause his
heart to wither."
- The murid must be sincere and loyal to the company of his
- He must love his shaikh with an extraordinary love. He
must know that his shaikh is going to take him to the
Presence of Allah, Almighty and Exalted, and to the
Presence of the Prophet (s).
- He must not look to any other than his shaikh, though he
must keep respect for all other shaikhs.
External Conduct of the Murid
- He must agree with the opinion of his shaikh completely,
as the patient agrees with the physician.
- He must behave well in the association of the shaikh, by
avoiding yawning, laughing, raising the voice, talking
without authorization, extending the feet, and always
sitting in a respectful manner.
- He must serve his shaikh and make himself as useful as
- He must not mention from the speeches of his shaikh what listeners cannot
understand. This might harm the shaikh in a way that the murid is unaware
of. Sayyidina `Ali said, in a hadith narrated in Bukhari, "Speak
to people at a level they can understand, because you don't want them to deny
Allah and His Prophet (s)."
- He must attend the association of the shaikh. Even if
living far away, he must make an effort to come as often
Ibn Hajar al-Haythami said, "Many people, when they
see their guide is firm on the matter of obligations and the
Sunnah of the Prophet (s), accuse him of being strict. They say
that he is praying too much or keeping the Sunnah too firmly.
These people don't realize that they are falling to their own
destruction. Beware of believing your ego's complaints about the
firmness of the shaikh's adherence to the shari'ah."
[al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyya, p. 55.]
Abu Hafsa an-Nisaburi is quoted in Shaikh as-Sulami's
book Tabaqat as-sufiyya, p. 119, as saying:
"Sufism is composed of adab [good conduct]. For every
state and station there is an appropriate adab. For every time
there is a proper conduct. Whoever keeps the adab will reach the
Station of Manhood, and whoever discards adab is very far from
acceptance into Allah's Divine Presence."
The Conduct of the Murid with his Brothers
- He must keep respect for them in their presence and in
their absence, not backbiting anyone.
- He should advise them when they need it with the
intention of strengthening them. His advice to them must
be in private and it must be with leniency and free of
arrogance. The one advised must accept the advice, must
be thankful, and must practice the advice.
- He must think only good about his brothers and not search
out their bad manners.
- He must accept their apology if they apologize.
- He must make peace between them.
- He must support them when they are attacked.
- He must not ask to lead them, but to be brothers with
- He must show humbleness with them as much as possible.
The Prophet (s) said, "The master of a people is the
one who serves them."
The good conduct of the murids really has no end. He must
always be striving and making progress with his shaikh, with his
brothers, with his community, and with his Nation, because Allah
is seeing him, the Prophet (s) is seeing him, the shaikh is
seeing him, and the Masters who went before are seeing him. With
constant improvement, day by day, he will reach with the shaikh's
guidance and support, the State of Perfection.