Does one need a living shaykh?


As salaamu alaikum, does one need a living shaykh to advanace along the path or can one be able to study the teaching(books,audios,videos) and study with the students of a deceased shaykh and still be able to merge with Allah(swt). Shukran


wa `alaykum salam,

As for whether one needs a living shaykh see:

The Need for a Living Guide

If one is separated from his shaikh by death or other circumstances, it becomes necessary to find a living guide, who can complete the work of the first master. The path itself is not the Goal, but the means to reach the Goal. Holding onto the attachment to a master who is no longer present, usually represents an unrealistic expectation and a false hope. It may also be a manifestation of pride. Although they had already pledged themselves to the Prophet (s), the Companions had to take initiation with Sayyidina Abu Bakr (r) after the passing of the Prophet (s), and as they renewed their pledge to the successive khalifs, Sayyidina `Umar, Sayyidina `Uthman and Sayyidina `Ali, so too does a sincere seeker need to put his hand into the hand of a living shaykh, and renew his initiation, in order to complete his journey to the Divine Presence.

Then, to address the last portion of the question “…and still be able to merge with Allah,”  know that Allah swt is the Lord and the Creator, and as such creation does not merge with Him nor become part of Him or “dissolve” in Him.

Explaining this, Imam Hujwiri inKashf al-Mahjub wrote:

It is related that he [Muhammad al-Wasi`] said: “I never saw anything without seeing God therein.” This is an advanced stage (muraqabah) of Contemplation. When a man is overcome with love for the Agent, he attains to such a degree that in looking at His act he does not see the act but the Agent only and entirely, just as when one looks at a picture and sees only the painter. The true meaning of these words is the same as in the saying of Abraham, the Friend of God (Khalil) and the Apostle, who said to the sun and moon and stars: {This is my Lord} (6: 76-8), for he was then overcome with longing (shawq), so that the qualities of his beloved appeared to him in everything that he saw. The friends of God perceive that the universe is subject to His might and captive to His dominion, and that the existence of all created things is as nothing in comparison with the power of the Agent thereof. When they look thereon with longing, they do not see what is subject and passive and created, but only the Omnipotent, the Agent, the Creator. I shall treat of this in the chapter on Contemplation.

Some persons have fallen into error, and have alleged that the words of Muhammad ibn Wasi`, “I saw God therein,” involve a place of division and descent (makan-i tajziya ul-hulul), which is sheer infidelity, because place is homogeneous with that, which is contained in it, and if anyone supposes that place is created the contained object must also be created; or if the latter be eternal the former also must be eternal: hence this assertion entails two evil consequences, both of which are infidelity, viz., either that created things are eternal (qadim) or that the Creator is non-eternal (muhdath). Accordingly, when Muhammad ibn Wasi` said that he saw God in things, he meant, as I have explained above, that he saw in those things the signs and evidences and proofs of God.

Taher Siddiqui

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