Sayyidina Abdul Haleem Mahmood

Location: Qariatul Salam (The City of Peace) – Bilbays

He (may God be pleased with him) was born in the year 1910 CE and his father was Azhari so he sent his son to Azhar where he received a diploma of scholarship and later his doctorate degree from the University of Sorbonne in France in the year 1940 ACE.

The Imam Abdul Haleem Mahmood has many different works in Sufism. With his great concern and knowledge of it he dedicated himself to preaching about it. He had many knowledgeable disciples who edited and referenced many books from the Islamic heritage on this subject. Some examples are “al-Tasawuf a’nd ibn Sina” (Sufism of Avicenna), “al-Tasawuf al-Islami” (Islamic Sufism), “al-Harith al-Muhasiby”, “Abu Madyan al-Ghawth”, “al-Shibly”, “Ahmed al-Badawy”, “Qadiat al-Tasawuf” (The Cause of Sufism).

Imam Abdul Haleem’s vision of Sufism is that, in retrospect it has followed a very different path than other classical methods to reach true knowledge of God. It is neither a sensory approach nor a rational approach. Is it is also not an extension of book knowledge but instead it is the path of insight or inner sight. This is in fact the Prophetic way, which did not rely on the senses, cognition, experimentation, logic, analysis or analogical reasoning to reach gnosis. Instead it relied on direct revelation from Allah.

So the way of the Sufi, he argued, “is that of insight.” He continues by saying:

“Sufic gnosis is one that involves inspiration. The proof of its authenticity and correctness are many. For example, the clear indications of piety that mark its followers, the soundness of their actions that do not contradict the sacred law, the purity of their innate disposition that does not contradict the sound intellect. The path to insight is that of self-purification which is a difficult path to complete except for a few who decide to take the path. [The aspirant decides to begin the path but it is only with God’s help that he finishes.]

From here we see why those who fear it due to their ignorance of it have attacked Sufism since in a way it is only for a people who have been chosen by God to complete the path. Once an aspirant completes the path God endows him with superhuman senses, sharp intelligence, and a spiritual disposition toward everything. Their purity mimics that of the angels and their nature might as well be created from pure light. Sufis were also always a force to be reckoned with by leaders and these Sufis were often warriors. Sufism’s highest example is the Emissary of God himself (peace be upon him) [who was a warrior and a worshipper.]

Sufis are people of knowledge and the grand Shaykh Mohiudeen ibn Araby was the epitome of this lofty knowledge as was Imam al-Ghazali, Junayd and al-Muhsiby. Sufis are also men of professions and work as many of them have had nicknames such as “the papermaker”, “the weaver”, “the glassmaker”,”the straw weaver”, “the reciter” etc. Abu Hasan al-Shadhili had his farms, horses and his trading business. The way of the Sufi is one of direct witnessing. This witnessing which is the goal of every Sufi is essentially the total expression of what we utter so often “La ilaha ill Allah.” The Sufi can only experience direct witnessing by traversing and ascending states and stations.”

The life of the Imam Abdul Haleem Mahmood was that of a Sufi, a preacher, instructor and the Shaykh of al-Azhar. During his lifetime the number of Azhari learning institutions and Azhar University departments doubled. He passed (may God be pleased with him) in the year 1978 CE.