Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal on Tasawwuf

Before imam Ahmad (رحمه الله تعالى) kept the company of the Sufis, he used to advise his son, Abdullah (رحمه الله تعالى): “Dear son! Upon you are hadith, and beware of sitting with those who call themselves Sufis, for perhaps one of them will be ignorant of the rulings of his religion.” After he [Ahmad] kept the company of Abu Hamza al-Baghdadi as-Sufi, he came to know the spiritual states (أحوال) of the folk, and thereafter told his son: “dear son! Upon you are the gatherings (majalis) of these folk, for they have excelled over us in knowledge, vigilance (muraqabah), fear [of Allah] (khashyah), asceticism (zuhd), and high aspirations (himmah).” (1)

The ‘Allama Muhammad al-Safarini al-Hanbali (رحمه الله تعالى) quoted from Ibrahim al-Qalanisi (رحمه الله تعالى) that imam Ahmad said regarding the Sufis: “I know of no people more virtuous (afdal) than them.” Someone retorted: “But they engage in audition (يستمعون) and display ecstasy (يتواجدون).” He replied: “leave them to take delight in Allah for an hour.” (2)

Sources: (1) Tanwir al-Qulub: Shaykh Amin al-Kurdi p. 405
(2) Ghidha’ al-Albab 1/120


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