According to the Qur’an, a true Muslim should refer to men of letter to get himself well-acquainted with the sound image of Islam.
First of all, we’d like to state that not everything that goes under the name of Sufism is considered Islamic, just as not everything that goes under the name of Fiqh (jurisprudence) can be considered as authentic or proper Fiqh.
In order to judge something as Islamic, it must be judged and weighed by the well-established criteria and standards of Shari`ah as enshrined in the Book and the Sunnah.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “The above statement of al-Hujwiri is essentially sound since it is confirmed by evidence of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. It is based on a sound spiritual principle, namely that man in so far as he is saved, is saved not so much by his own efforts but by Allah’s grace. For humans to think that they are able to achieve perfection without the saving grace of Allah is ultimate spiritual death. Allah says what means, “Verily, indeed man acts insolently, for he thinks himself self-sufficient.” (Al-`Alaq: 6-7).
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No one can ever be saved by his own works alone.” They asked, “Including yourself?” He said, “Certainly, including myself unless Allah showers me with His mercy.”
The fact that humans can never be one hundred percent perfect is also confirmed by the Prophet’s statement, “O mankind! Repent and ask forgiveness of Allah (consistently without fail); I repent and ask forgiveness of Allah a hundred times a day!” He also said, “Sometimes, my heart gets murky, and so I ask forgiveness of Allah a hundred times a day!”
It is in the same spirit that we are told that Imam Ahmad was heard saying while on his death bed, “Not yet!” When he was asked what he meant, he said, “Iblis (Satan) came to me and told me, ‘Ahmad! You have saved yourself from me!’ I told him, ‘Not yet!’” In other words, so long as a person is still breathing, he can never be complacent about the snares of the Devil!
While stressing the human need to flee to Allah from his own limitations and weaknesses, however, we must never fall prey to the creed of pessimism and cynicism preached by certain religious cults. Islam teaches us that humans have the capacity to improve themselves if they utilize the Allah-given resources and cherish faith in Allah and His assistance. We believe in our capacity to overcome all obstacles not by ourselves but by Allah’s grace, will and assistance. Allah says, “And in Allah you all must place your trust—if only you are true to your faith!” (Al-Ma’idah: 23)