Miracles of Sufis?

sufi-witch-doctor I was thinking of not turning this blog into a broken record of constant banter about Sufism, instead I could try to seriously evaluate Sufism and some of its key concepts. One of the things which I could never get my head around is the idea of Sufis performing miracles (karamat), flying carpets, destroying armies, healing the sick, eating a chicken and then bringing it back to life by joining the bones and so on. I dismiss all of that due to lack of authenticity behind these reports as they are reported in form of folklore and tales rather than traditional Islamic method with verifiable Isnaad. These stories also contradict reality and before I am accused of heresy I would like to add that to believe in Sufis performing miracles is not part of Islamic belief (Imaan)… so rejecting these have no grave danger attached or at least not as much as believing in them.

However the question is, if they really did perform miracles what does that mean to us? It means nothing. There is some deep inner esoteric knowledge of the world which people of all religions and non-religious people are able to access allowing them to perform illusions and other paranormal acts against the universal law, which no doubt involves deception and trickery in some form or the other. I am not accusing our pious Sufis of the past of this, some of them are attributed sainthood (Wilaaya) and did great service to the Islamic cause but those who deviated from the path of Islam, neglected the Shariah and were responsible for introducing heretical practices and condemnable innovations.

As we see Sufism today promoting itself with full financial backings of various governments, we see generations being raised with a selective understanding of Islam. The great Awliya and Sufia who struggled to protect Islam as statesmen, theologians, politicians, economists, social scientists, jurists, historians and warriors are mentioned in these circles as mere Sufis with tales of their miracles and spiritual discourses glorified and turning blind eye to their great works of real significance to us.

Posted on November 5, 2009, in Islam, Sufism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. With reference to reported miracles – if you believe in the Super-natural (God), and reports of hadith in which the Sahabi were indicated to have heightened senses (predicting the future) and heightened strength for their age, then is it really a leap to believe that God, all powerful, can grant his servants anything God wishes?

  2. Heightened senses and heightened strength have also been attributed to figures in various belief systems, Gurus, Sadhus, Saints have all performed miracles. Whether they have been inspired with these special abilities or this knowledge has been acquired like all other types of knowledge is a different debate I’ll save for another day. The question really is, so what? What difference does it make to our lives if they could do miracles than and if sufi baba can blow miracles through a tv set now. Even if they did acquire some art or knowledge which allowed them to perform miracles, how would this even be reported had they been following the sufi teachings of modesty as oppose to showing off. The great sufi Ali Hujweri said in Kashf al-Mahjoub
    “since miracles may produce a sense of pride or self-conceit or at least a sense of satisfaction and elation in the Soufi and may lead credulous people to wrong beliefs about him, great Soufis have discouraged the working of miracles in public and made their concealment obligatory”

    We are to emulate the life of Prophet (saw), his companions, those who followed and the great men and women amongst them. What are we to learn from stories of miracles and high status of certain individuals whilst little is mentioned about their adherence to the belief and laws of Islam? Bastami is reported to have said, a pious man is not the one who walks on water but the one who follows the shariah.

  3. yes, I agree. Acknowledge and truly believe in the “performing miracles” is not part of Iman. I believe it all comes from Allah The Almighty. Believing too much of these things distracts us from the real problems of the ummah. Uptight our Iman as I believe Iman is the problem of the society.
    Thanks for visiting my humble blog. Jzk.

    • Muslims nowadays seem to be obsessed with many things unreal, if it isn’t how and what the dajjal would look like, it’s about miracles and if all that is exhausted its conspiracy theories.

      Jzk for dropping by and taking the time to comment, Insh’Allah please visit again.

  4. I agree that ideally these “miracles” (which I don’t refer to them as) are meaningless to us in that the time/age of miracles has passed, and our lasting miracle is the Prophet saws, Qur’an and hadith. I was merely stating that believing in these extra-ordinary activities is not a huge leap for those who already believe in the supernatural.

    • Good point, I don’t know why I can’t seem to find the link between miracles and our belief, although witnessing something extra ordinary would naturally cause me to utter SubhanAllah.

  5. السلام عليكم

    The term commonly used for ‘miracles’ associated with shaikhs is karaamaat (كرامات) and a karaama actually means a grace from Allah, as explained by Shaikh Nuh Keller in (if my memory serves me correctly) his Virginia Suhba tapes. Someone asked if his shaikh had had any karaamaat, and he said, oh yes, many, but he took the term to mean such graces rather than these miracles. The fact that hearts were purified through his teaching was what was considered the true grace, and while there were a few preternatural events, this is never regarded as the true measure of a shaikh.

    Shaikh Nuh sounded rather contemptuous when he realised that the questioner was asking about miracles, actually, as if those miracles are rather meaningless. The common examples are walking on water and flying, and he said that flies fly, and insects walk on water. Sufis are actually rather afraid of these events, as there is a likelihood of istidraaj or miracles intended to lead someone astray.

    • Wa alaykum assalam

      Jzk for your valueable comment, I hadn’t thought of karamaat to mean something so different and the example of Shaykh Nuh really put things in context for me. I sincerely do hope this view is carried widely in the sufi circles.

      May Allah al-Aziz save us all from Istidraaj and keep us on the straight path.

  6. Hello Everyone,

    I remember early on in my searching I heard that if one is interested in seeking out miracles or trying to attract students by miraculous or supernatural act then they are not sufis. The greatest miracle imho happens on an inner level beyond the mind it is [again imho]the making of the soul pregnant with God till it can stand nothing else but Him.

    I quote the following from The Path by Dr Javad Nurbakhsh.

    “True sufis are not concerned at all with miracles and spiritual powers. They make no claim of being the source of miracles or possesssing powers beyond those that human beings normally possess. Since the sufi negates everything but God, he or she considers such claims to be manifestations of being, or affirmation of a separate exist apart from God.”

  7. assalaamu alaykum,

    I have experienced miracles, but that is something I have seen and felt myself and I believe in them but as already pointed out, to prove something we need authentication.

    To often people take these stories, almost always unauthenticated and use it is daleel in contradiction to authentic daleel from the Quran and Sunnah.

    The point is the jinn can easily do acts that make something seem like a miracle, for example carrying a man through the air, to give the appearance of him flying or causing someone some harm them removing that harm when taken to a fake sheikh or hindu healer.

    As it is in the interests of shaitan to misuide people away from the Quran and sunnah, it is in his interest to increase the level of reverence towards people of devient beliefs as this would lead them to committing acts of shirk towards that person.

    In the story of the prophet Nuh from the Quran we know they fell into shirk by shaitan coming to them and misguiding them further from the truth each generation and I believe this is unforunately what has happened with many sufis.

    The original teachers are usually innocent of the teachings attributed to them in most cases but through exageration and twisting of the truth, shirk creeps into the teachings and many sufis today has beliefs simular if not indentical to hindus.

    assalaamu alaykum,
    Daw’ud

    • wa alaykum assalam

      Although many sufis have deviated from the path of Islam but there are many groups of people who hold on to Islam as followed by the early generation of sober Sufis. The problem is sufism has been influenced by foriegn philosophies and little effort has been made of recent to preserve or protect the original form from the so called universal spirituality methods which have crept in.

  8. AA- Salman,

    Not sure if I completely agree with your post. Yes, there have been (and continue to be) many charlatans who misguide the masses with so-called miracles. But when it comes to the legitimate karamaat partaken in by legitimate Awliyah, it in fact strengthens my faith in Allah (swt). In this day and age of the intellect, we have placed ‘belief’ on the backburner. “If I can’t rationalize it, then it must not be possible” – this obviously has lead to the popular trend of atheism.

    But when stories of miracles reach us, it fortifies our belief that Allah (swt) is the Creator of this world and its laws – and He has the ability to bend (or break) these same laws.

    Should we aspire for these miracles? No.
    Should those special individuals who have access to them, share them with the world? As you stated, its not wise and not the way of the true Sufis.

    But when such events occur in your company (or even if you simply read/hear of them), the mere uttering of the word Subhan’Allah in response proves my point.

  9. BismillahirRahmanirRahim
    Salamu’alaykum,

    The fact of the matter is that real Shaykhs, yes, have command of the supernatural at their disposal.. as the Hadith which speaks about them says, Allah works through their eyes, their hands, and their speech..

    This is really a ‘matter of fact’ understanding… deniers of karamat are locked up in a web of the materialistic view of reality. Worse yet, they are usually locked up in a 19th century view of the physical world from even the perspective of physicists.

    When it comes to the adab surrounding karamat… One may apply an understanding of ‘strength’.. One who has become ‘strong’ through tradition, discipline, and training, is usually well aware of the fact that it is not acceptable to show strength and power for peoples whims, as entertainment, or to ‘prove something’… The reasons for the use of strength are when it is called for.

    That is up to the Shaykhs discretion.

    At the same time… I feel no hesitation in sharing that which I have experienced in the company of my Shaykh (unless I’ve been told otherwise), since that is my experience, it is real and meaningful to me.

    For example: http://bit.ly/8SshdE

    -Yursil

  10. Naeem :

    AA- Salman,

    Not sure if I completely agree with your post. Yes, there have been (and continue to be) many charlatans who misguide the masses with so-called miracles. But when it comes to the legitimate karamaat partaken in by legitimate Awliyah, it in fact strengthens my faith in Allah (swt). In this day and age of the intellect, we have placed ‘belief’ on the backburner. “If I can’t rationalize it, then it must not be possible” – this obviously has lead to the popular trend of atheism.

    But when stories of miracles reach us, it fortifies our belief that Allah (swt) is the Creator of this world and its laws – and He has the ability to bend (or break) these same laws.

    Should we aspire for these miracles? No.
    Should those special individuals who have access to them, share them with the world? As you stated, its not wise and not the way of the true Sufis.

    But when such events occur in your company (or even if you simply read/hear of them), the mere uttering of the word Subhan’Allah in response proves my point.

    Thanks for your comment, I understand what you are saying and I agree that we are becoming rationalisation junkies rejecting anything which doesn’t sit right with our preconceived thinking or the corrupted nafs. But there has to be a balance, things without intellectual proof must be accepted based on textual proof from the Islamic sources.

    Perhaps it wasn’t entirely appropriate to question things in the way I did because my rejection of miracles shows arrogance on my part in accepting something so deeply rooted in Islamic traditions. But let me explain, Miracles in their correct context are Mu’jizat rather than Karamaat, which are divine occurrences, inspired or revealed to Prophets, Messengers and those who need to convince others of their truthfulness in order to convey the message they are entrusted with. Khidr, Musa, Isa, Ibraheem, Hajr (may Allah be pleased with them all) were inspired and our Prophet (saw) came with the greatest miracle of all, the Qur’an al-Kareem as the ultimate truth, guidance, food for thought and nourishment for the Nafs. So we are constantly reminded to reflect, recite, memorise and implement it in our lives for success in this life and the hereafter.

    Mujizat are reported in the Quran and there is lots to learn and take heed from, whereas Karamaat are relative and dependent on how they are perceived and reported by individuals. Some people are easily vowed than others. But even so, what is the relevance of such a belief in karamat? Should our source of strengthening belief not be the conclusive sources alone?

  11. Indeed, the Sufis endowed with the treasures of Muhammad (saw), can perform miracles as we mere mortals understand them to be. However, they are bound by the rules of the veil and any unveiling has to be done in such a mannerism as to be not so obvious, but in phases. Much as day phases into evening and then phases to the dark of night. Outright miracles are not allowed unless in emergency situations such as saving a mureed from an impending accident. I am from Ajmer and have experienced miracles on more than a regular basis from our highly revered Saint here. All in all, it strengthens my faith.

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