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The Shaykh-e-Kaamil (Qualified Spritual Shaykh)

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Spiritual Illnesses Require Spiritual Doctors
Just as we consult a physician for the diagnosis and cure of our physical illnesses, similarly we need to "consult" a Shaykh who is a fully trained "Doctor" for our spiritual illnesses. No one consults books to diagnose and treat themselves. We need expertise in every field. One calls a plumber when plumbing is required and we consult a painter/decorator when our homes needs decorating and for our wordly needs we will of course consult the best there is. Now since spiritual illnesses will affect out our Hereafter should we not show concern and consult the best?.

Spiritual doctors are know as Mashaikh (Plural of Shaykh). One such "Doctor", Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi explains:

Medical students are put through rigorous schedules under their teachers and, even after passing, are not allowed to prescribe until they complete their residency supervised by more experienced personnel. Only after successful completion of residency are they certified to treat patients. Hence these doctors passed through a predetermined system where they first had to learn medical knowledge under teachers, and then had to perform practically under the supervision of trained doctors already in practice before they were deemed ready to be able to treat people on their own.

The training of spiritual doctors follows the same course in which students start by learning religious knowledge of the Holy Qur'an and hadith from trained scholars. After this stage the student stays in the company of the mashaikh who train and test him further to determine his value and skills. The student is then endorsed after this long association with his elders just like the resident is endorsed after his long residency. Only now if his elder mashaikh deem him ready is he certified to teach dhikr and become a spiritual healer of people. (Tasawwuf.org)


Hence the need for a qualified Shaykh of Tasawwuf!

Every traveller travelling the unknown needs a guide who is familiar with the terrain and is aware of its pitfalls. There is safety in having a guide who knows the path well. Similarly on the path of Sulook the Saalik (seeker) is in need of guide who is aware of the pitfalls as he himself has traversed the path under the guidance of another qualified guide.


The company of the Shaykh is the means of attaining proximity to Allah Most High as this is the ultimate goal. If one wishes to acquire meat one will go to a meat seller (meat wala) and if one wishes to acquire fish one will go to a fish monger (fish wala). Similarly if one desires Allah ta’ala then one has to go to an Allah wala, the Ahlullaah (Friends of Allah)!

Allah subhaanahu Wata’ala) says:

يا ايها الذين امنوا اتقوا الله و كونوا مع الصادقين (التوبة



“Oh you who believe, Adopt the fear of Allah and be in the company of the truthful ones” (At Tawbah)

This points toward the importance of keeping the Suhbat (company) of the Saadiqeen, the Truthful Ones.

The above verse links the quality of Taqwa with that of the companionship of the truthful ones. This clearly advocates and demonstrates the importance of Suhbat (companionship of the pious). Allah (Ta’ala) has given us the prescription of Suhbat in order to develop Taqwa.

Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanwi (An expert in this field) Rahmatullah says:


“What! Has anyone attained perfection by only books? It is simple to understand that one cannot become a carpenter without sitting in the company of a carpenter; one cannot become a tailor without the companionship of a tailor; one cannot become a calligraphist without the company of a calligrapher. In short, one cannot attain perfection or become an expert without the companionship of an expert.”


The companionship of a pious man will induce piety just as the companionship of an evil man will induce evil in a person.


Question is how do we recognise a qualified Shaykh? What are the signs of such a person? InshaAllah we will compile information which will be of benefit.

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The Shaykh-e-Kaamil

"The Shaikh-e-Kaamil should be one who possesses the ability to entrench the Deen and the Shariah in the hearts of his Mureedeen. Without having adopted the Path of Sulook, it is not possible to be a Shaikh. By having traversed the stages of Sulook, he will have gained the experience of good and evil and have understood beneficial and harmful matters. Although a Majzoob has attained the Goal (Matloob), he is not qualified to be a Shaikh because he is unaware of the dangers and calamities of the Road. He is unable to guide and conduct the spiritual sojourn."


Selected passage from Irshaadul Mulook, translation of Imdadus Sulook by Qutbul Alam Gangohi (Rahimahullah), by Hazrat Moulana Aashiq-e-Ilaahi Meeruti (Rahimahullah). Source

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Necessary Requirements for a Shaykh-e-Kaamil:



  • Knowledge of the Qur`aan and Hadeeth. Merely being an Aalim is not sufficient. He should be adorned with the qualities of Kamaal (perfection or excellence).


  • He should be devoid of the love of wealth. He should be one who had acquired Tariqat from such Mashaa`ikh-e-Rabbaniyeen whose Silsilah (Chain linking one Shaikh with another) reaches Rasoolullah Sallallaahu alaehi wa-sallam without any intervening break.


  • He should have achieved accomplishment in Riyaadhat (spiritual exercises) and Mujahadah (striving against the nafs) according to the instructions of his Shaikh, thus having achieved reduction in association with people, in conversation, eating and sleeping while having attained progress in Sadaqah, silence, Salaat and Saum.


  • The noble qualities : e.g. Sabr (patience), Shukr (gratitude), Tawakkul (Trust), Yaqeen (resolute faith), Sakhawat (generosity), Qana`at (contentment), Amanat (Trustworthiness), Sidq (Truth), Tawaadhu (humility), Sukoon (peace), Ikhlaas (Sincerity), Hayaa (modesty), dignity, thinking before acting, contentment with Aakhirah, renunciation of love of wealth and fame, etc. must have become his nature and character.


  • He has to be one who has inculcated in him, the Torch of Nubuwwat and in the light of this Torch, he has obliterated all the evil qualities such as Takabbur (pride), Ujub (vanity), Bukhl (stinginess), Hasad (Jealousy), Keenah (Malice), Hirs (greed), vain and distant hopes and despicable acts not befitting the dignity of Imaan.


  • It is not a requirement for a Shaikh to be qualified in all branches of knowledge. However, he should possess sufficient knowledge pertaining to the Faraa`idh, Sunan and Nawaafil as well as the knowledge of the prohibitions and permissible things.

    It is incumbent that the Shaikh be well versed with the ways of treatment for the spiritual maladies and the methods of Mujahada and Riyadhat for the Saalikeen of Tariqat so that he may treat and instruct every person according to his ability.

    It is necessary for a Shaikh to be a man of wisdom which enables him to recognize the different temperaments of the mureeds and diagnose their spiritual maladies and conditions. The Shaikh should possess the knowledge, expertise and deep spiritual insight (Ma-arif) of those matters which are necessary for the mureeds following the path of Tariqat.


  • It is imperative for the Shaikh to be kind, benevolent, patient and forebearing. He should not be harsh and of sour temperament. His talk should not be bitter nor sarcastic. He should not wander around aimlessly going on futile visits and sight-seeing. He should not desire an abundance of mureeds. He should not hanker after the world nor be in the pursuit of adornment and fame.
  • The affection which the Shaikh should have for his Mureedeen should be similar to the affection which Rasoolullah Sallallaahu alaehi wa-sallam had for his Sahabah. Allah SWT says,

    "Verily, there had come to you a Rasool from among you. He becomes distressed with things which distress you and he is eager for (goodness and bounties) to settle over you. Towards the believers, he is most kind and benevolent."


  • When the Shaikh is one with these attributes and he is adorned with the character of Nabi Sallallaahu alaehi wa-sallam, then undoubtedly, he will be the Heir of Rasoolullah Sallallaahu alaehi wa-sallam in respect of the spiritual reformation of the Mureeds.
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"A Shaikh is one who has full knowledge and experience of spiritual ailments (amradh-e-batinah), attributes of vice and virtue (akhlaq-e-razeelah and akhlaq-e-hameedah), their characteristics (khawas) and their effects (ta’theerat).

He should further be able to distinguish between their similarities and he must have perfect ability in devising plans and prescriptions for the acquisition of the attributes of virtue and the elimination of the attributes of vice.

He has to be aware of the progress and retrogress of these attributes. He must be well versed in the hazards of the nafs and shaitaan, the intuitive senses and feelings pertaining to the angels and the Divine Being. He must be able to distinguish these various intuitive and extra-sensory feelings and perceptions.

It is therefore imperative that the Shaikh of tareeqat be one who is qualified in this knowledge, be a mujtahid in this field and possesses natural ability and inherent propensity. if he has acquired the Tareeq by a mere self-study of books on Tasawwuf or by listening from others, he will destroy the mureed whom he is attending, because he will not be in position to correctly diagnose the various states of the mureed."


Selected Passage from Shariat and Tasawwuf by Hadhrat Maulana Maseehullah Khan (Rahmahullah)

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Shaikh Ibn Arabi (rahmatullah alayh) briefly summarises the signs of a Shaykh-e-Kaamil (the perfect and qualified Shaykh) to be three:

1. Deen resembling the Deen of the Ambiya.

2. Prescribing like the physicians.

3. Management and control like that of kings.

The exposition of the above summary is as follows:

1. He should possess the necessary knowledge of the Deen which he must have acquired by either academic pursuit of such knowledge or from companionship with the Ulama-e-Muhaqqiqeen .

2. He must be a deputy (Khalifah) of a Shaikh-e-Kamil attached to an authentic Silsilah.

3. He should be uprighteous and pious.

4. He derived spiritual benefit by remaining for an adequate period of time in the company of the Shaikh. Such “companionship” is either by means of correspondence or by physical presence in the association of the Shaikh.

5. The people of knowledge (i.e. the Ulama) hold him in high esteem, and refer to him.

6. The effect of his companionship (suhbat) is increase in the desire for Akhirat and Divine love as well as detestation for the love of the world.

7. The majority of his mureeds are followers of the Shariat, their conditions conforming with the demands of the Shariat.

8. He is devoid of greed and desire (for worldly gain and benefit).

9. He engages in Thikr and devotional practices.

10. He does not leave his mureeds unfettered, but reprimaands them when the need arises. He treats everyone according to their respective abilities.

The one in whom these attributes exist is worthy of being a Shaikh and he should be considered a wonderful alchemy. His companionship and service to him are in fact priceless treasures. Once these attributes or perfection are found in a Shaikh.

One should not be concerned about karamat (miracles) and kushf (inspiration).
It is not necessary that these states exist in the Shaikh-e-Kamil nor is it necessary that he be one who does nor himself earn his livelihood.

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Maulana Jalaluddeen Rumi (Rahmatullah ‘alaih) had said:


“Develop contact with a righteous one

So that through his company and Du`aa you may succeed,

But search for a guide who is awake in all situations

So that you too may become awake.

And if you should remain in the company of the vanquished,

You too will become vanquished.”

There are many who make the claim of being mashaa`ik but are themselves caught up in the snares of nafs and shaytaan. They have not even recognized their own nafs, have no experience in the field of Islaah and Tazkia, and instead of guiding, they misguide. They then become a trial for the people.

The true Mashaa`ik don’t promote and advertise themselves, nor do they canvass for mureedeen. They don’t chase after name and fame. They don’t hanker after Dunya. They wish to remain concealed, but Allah Ta’ala sometimes chooses for them to be known.

Thus, when choosing a Shaykh, consider the Shaykh who is learned, practical on his knowledge, pious, trained and experienced in the field of Islaah and Tazkia, and acknowledged by the Ulama-e-Haq as one who is truly Sahib-e-Nisbat and Waliullah. It is through attaching oneself to such a Shaykh that the Saalik will acquire value.

Taken from : The One Cent Coin
by Shaykh Yunus Patel (Raheemahullaah)


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Imam Ghazali's Observation

"Imam Ghazali (Rahimahullah) observes that the lofty status of the Shaikh is not on account of worldly affluence. His status is the product of intelligence, understanding and expertise in the ways of Najaat. It is for this reason that many men who became Mashaa-ik, were not of noble lineage, but were poor members of such working classes which people despised. Many such men of lowly social rank attained the ranks of honourable Mashaa-ik. Regardless of appearance, race or social rank, a Shaikh should be a man who follows the Road of Haqq and be aware of the pitfalls and dangers of the spiritual path, so that he may keep his Mureedeen informed of its benefits and harms.

The standard of Tariqat is the Qur-aan, Sunnah and Ijma (Consensus) of the Ummah. A path which conforms to this Standard is accepted. If it does not, it will be rejected and shunned.

The Suhbat of such a Shaikh (Shaik-e-Kaamil) is of immense value. It is a wonderful bounty. In the worlds of Rasoolullah Sallallaahu alaehi wa-sallam, the companionship of a pious companion is like a perfume vendor. Even if he does not give any perfume, nevertheless, one will derive the benefit of his fragrance by virtue of associating with him. In contrast, the similitude of an irreligious companion is like that of a blacksmith. Even if the fire of his furnace does not reach one’s body or clothes, the smoke will most assuredly cause discomfort.

It is incumbent on one who intends to become a Mureed to search thoroughly for a Kaamil (qualified) Shaikh. He should scrutinize the person whom he intends to appoint as his Shaik so that he may ascertain whether the person is the right man for acceptance as a Shaikh."


Guidance for the people seeking a Shaykh of Tariqat

Selected passages from Irshaadul Mulook, translation of Imdadus Sulook by Qutbul Alam Gangohi (Rahimahullah), by Hazrat Moulana Aashiq-e-Ilaahi Meeruti (Rahimahullah).

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