Sufis and sects

A muslimah asked this question in the comments, regarding sufism and sects, and I did answer in the post she asked it on…but it was very long, and turns out to be deserving of its own post…so here it is, question and answer:

if i ask u all something please would u answer? Who exactly is a sufi? And which is right, Tawheed or jamat-e-islam, these are 2 sects, and in my country, Sri Lanka, there are so many conflicts between these two groups. I am torn between what group will lead me to heaven…any help?

Darling, I am so sorry I have not been attending to my blog recently…there has been a lot on my mind, and that is the only good excuse I have. InshaAllah, you are still reading this, and if you are then here is my answer finally: First of all, I don’t know anything about those 2 sects that you mentioned. Tawheed as a concept (not as a party or sect) would be the best way to go to heaven…but ultimately we all go to heaven simply by the mercy of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala. I read somewhere about Sheikh Junaid Baghdadi saying to somebody in a dream something to the following effect: Out of all the works I did in the world, it was the two rakaat of nafl salaat before Fajr that saved me from hell. So you can imagine how little we do, and how much more mercy we will  require? I would urge you to look towards the pious and practicing believers in your family, in your community, and read up on the various “types” of Islam that abound. If you are looking for your path in Islam, I would guide you towards something that places first, middle and last faith in the power of Allah alone, something that constantly reminds you of the beauty of the message and deeds of the Prophet Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, and on the magnificent legacy of his Companions RadiAllahu Anhum. I am Muslim of the Sunni persuasion, and this is what speaks to me of the full and complete beauty of Islam, alhamdulillah.

Who is a sufi? There are many kinds of sufis around. Some participate in activities that are not saheeh…for example, visiting the graves of saints. The goal of sufism (and I am not saying that is the *only* saheeh goal) is to bring the believer closer to Allah by increased amounts of dhikr, by greater acts of nafl salaat, and by instilling in oneself a greater sense of humility and awareness of Allah’s presence. You could look to http://www.tasawwuf.org/basics/what_tasawwuf.htm for more detailed and well-thought out information. I am not in any way linked to that site, and in fact I have not taken any sheikh as my guide, and am not qualified to determine who is a saheeh guide and who isn’t. I wish you nothing but the best of luck in your search for greater and greater levels of imaan!

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