Friday, October 01, 2010

COMMENT: Commercial Sufism in Australia

I'm not the most observant Muslim on the planet. But I hold enormous respect for those who are observant Muslims. I honour men and women of knowledge who devote years of their lives to studying Arabic, Ottoman and other languages commonly used to transmit classical Islamic sciences. And I especially honour those who can stick to a Sufi path, something I have failed to do.

Sufism isn't just something you learn from books purcahsed at the Theosophical Bookshop. It is about experience. And it is something you cannot learn without a teacher.

Sufism is also the highest form of Islamic orthodoxy. You cannot have sufism without sharia. You cannot be a true sufi unless you follow the outer requirements of Islamic worship.

Advanced sufi texts are not something you can pick up and read. You need a teacher. It is spiritually dangerous to try and develop your spirituality by reading an ENglish translation of the work of someone like Imam Ghazali or Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani, regardless of how good the translation is.

So when I heard that Afroz Ali has decided to start teaching sections from Imam Ghazali's Ihya and charging $50 for the course, it really reminded me of some of the commercial sufis who charge money from unwary and well-meaning non-Muslims. It also reminded me of the commercial "pirs" in India who charge money for a wazifa and who even carry business cards advertising their rates.

The idea of charging money to teach people sciences of the heart is tragic. And so I need to ask questions, some of which many readers hear are probably sick of reading:

1. Will Afroz Ali be teaching the relevant sections of Ihya Uloom ad-Din ("Revival of the Religious Sciences) in Arabic? Or will he be using an English or Urdu translation?

2. Has Afroz Ali studied Ihya under a shaykh of tasawwuf? If so, who is this shaykh, what tariqa does he belong to and for how long has Afroz Ali studied under him?

3. Did this Shaykh give Afroz the relevant authorisation to teach such an advanced text as Ihya?

4. Is Afroz himself part of a tariqa (Sufi order)?

Apart from commercial charlatans, I have never heard of people charging money to teach tasawwuf.



Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf

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5 comments:

Handsome Hish said...

Irf... $50 bucks is nothing. If he has some knowledge to pass on, let him do it. He is a teacher not a sheikh, but teachers are allowed to teach. Every imam in Australia does the same thing. Mercy Mission courses are $100 or so for 2 days. of course people are going to charge for courses if that's their business, and they have a right to, and Islam recognises this. if you can't afford it (cos sales aren't good) and want to go, I'll chip in some change for you.

Suleiman said...

Is the criticism of br. Afroz valid? Maybe, maybe not. However, I have had similar experiences and I can't blame people even if they are a little bit paranoid about things. After all, tassawuf is, as the kids say, SRS BSNS.

Irfan said...

"Every imam in Australia does the same thing."

What? Every imam in Australia charges money to teach tasawwuf? Does Shaykh Hilaly charge money to teach tasawwuf? Do the Turkish imams charge money to teach the works of Imam Ghazali or Imam Kotku or some other imam? Man, I haven't even heard of Hisham Kabbani charging people to attend his sessions.

My late Shaykh never charged a cent off me. Or anyone else for that matter. Still, he was qualified and he wasn't afraid to prove it.

Anonymous said...

1. Will Afroz Ali be teaching the relevant sections of Ihya Uloom ad-Din ("Revival of the Religious Sciences) in Arabic? Or will he be using an English or Urdu translation?

aaaaaaaahhhahahahahahahahahahahahahah

When did Afroz Ali learn Urdu? He can't even explain the meaning of "Afroz" in Urdu.

You expect way too much from the guy.


2. Has Afroz Ali studied Ihya under a shaykh of tasawwuf? If so, who is this shaykh, what tariqa does he belong to and for how long has Afroz Ali studied under him?

3. Did this Shaykh give Afroz the relevant authorisation to teach such an advanced text as Ihya?

4. Is Afroz himself part of a tariqa (Sufi order)?

Apart from commercial charlatans, I have never heard of people charging money to teach tasawwuf.

To be fair to him, he is not claiming to "teach" the book or tasawwuf. He's just going to be "commenting" on it.

He says on the website:
this Study Circle is a commentary of the book on the Marvels of the Heart.

You know what a "commentary" is, right?

I think he's graduated from "Sidi" to politician.

You need to start treating him like one. He just might be your MP one day.

If you think "Imam" is bad, try saying "The Hon. Imam Afroz Ali MP".

He might even get you sacked!

Anonymous said...

This is so true. I am sick to death of hearing of these self proclaimed 'experts' fool the masses and dupe them into paying ridiculous amounts of fees so that they can run a course on how to say hello to your wife according to the moon sighting.

So over their hogwash.

People like him need to be exposed for who they are which is nothing short of phony, scammers.