Sufi Shaykhs and Disciples

An excerpt from Pure Gold: the Words of Shaykh Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh,
edited by John O’Kane and Bernd Radtke.

“On the office of the spiritual master (shaykh) and being a disciple (irada).”

The purpose of training is to purify the body (al-dhat) and cleanse it of its vanities so it becomes capable of carrying the secret. This can only be done by removing darkness from the body, severing from its orientation attachments of falsehood and then severing from it falsehood itself. The true shaykh cleanses a novice’s body of its vanities and removes the darkness contained in it, rendering it capable of bearing the secret. The shaykh increases a novice’s love of the Prophet.

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The shaykh accorded leadership is someone who knows the Prophet’s states—God’s blessings and peace be upon him—and whose body has been given the Prophet’s light to drink so that he’s come to follow the Prophet’s steps—God’s blessings and peace be upon him! God the Sublime has provided him with perfect faith and purity of divine knowledge (‘irfan). So this is the one accorded leadership. You must love him, and associating with him will bring profit.

Originally published as Chapter 5 of Pure Gold from the Words of Sayyidi ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dabbagh (Al-Dhabab al-Ibriz min Kalam Sayyidi ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dabbagh), Vol. 1 of Basic Texts of Islamic Mysticism, Volume 1 of Basic Texts of Islamic Mysticism. Leiden, Brill, 2007, pp. 611–679. Republished here with thanks.