One of the best things about wearing the ihram (two unsown garments) during hajj, is that everyone looks the same. There is no differentiation between people. No one can tell which group people belong. As people who belong to certain groups dress in a certain manner. Those without hats are normally wahabis or Sunni’s at work! Certain Sufi groups will wear certain clothes, hats, colour of hat, and so forth.
Sheikh Abu Hassan Al-Shadhali (may Allah be pleased with him) used to prefer wearing fine clothes and was seen by a Sufi who wore coarse clothing. He said that Allah is not worshipped in clothes such as this. Abu Hassan replied that your clothes show people you need them and my clothes do not.
Early Sufis/darawish used to wear wool or coarse fabrics. This was one of their recognised signs. So Abu Hassan destroyed that because people where more obsessed with outward dress than inward purification. This is what we see now in many adherents to the paths of spirituality.
Stanford prison project
This project was designed to observe the effects of imprisonment on prisoners and guards. A fake prison was made in which students were hired to be guards and prisoners.
Eventually, abuse occurred when the prisoners refused to obey the guards. The guards being the perpetrators of the abuse, which was not condoned, by the other guards. Even the prisoners began to believe that there were real prisoners. So what is the point here? The guards and prisoners behavior changed because they were in a certain situation. Clothes were the main differentiation between each other.
This is akin to what we see with the Sufis of today. They are obsessed with outward dress to the extent that that is more important than anything else. They challenge each other when they do not dress exactly like their Pir/Sheikh. Alternatively, one is not a Sufi when they are dressed in pants! Therefore, unless I have my particular Jubba made in a certain way, my hat in a certain color or trim then I am failed Sufi.
In the world, how someone dresses tell us a lot. Most communication is non verbal and its all done outside the expressions that we understand. Suits make an impression that a person has made an effort and when coming to an interview. Scruffy clothes do not give the desired impression.
This is perhaps the way that murids understand their roles. Dress like it and one becomes like them. Its not that easy and its not that straightforward.
Once fakir a was invited to a gathering of a Sheikh. He came in dressed in a long shirt but not like those present. He was out of ‘uniform’ and this was a big problem. One of those who organising the event took a dislike to the fakirs dress and went to speak to him. As he passed a large vase, it fell and broke. It was an expensive large vase belonging to the Sheikh. This was a lesson for him not to look down on a poor fakir who had attended the gathering but not in the correct ‘dress’.
Murids who look down on each other because of dress sense have lost the whole purpose of tasawwaf, which is changing the inward and not about the outward. If you want to look down at any nafs then let it be your own. Remember you are only allowed to admonish your brother in matters of Halal and Haram and not minor matters. Even then it must be gentle in these matters what about minor matters of etiquette?
The Murids in Imam Al-Darqawi’s (may Allah show him mercy) time used to beg for money to break their nafs. They used to wear the dress of the poor and give the money away in charity to those in actual need. One such murid came forward ready to wear the garb of the poor to earn a living and not break his nafs. This murid needed retraining because begging was not about attaining money it was about breaking the internal state of the nafs. So are you fooled by the outward again?
Tasawwaf is dead with the people
With the exception of the Awliyah, tasawwaf is a dead knowledge. How can I say that? Well, I have seen it and experienced it. The sincere people are few in an area and there are not many of left. You see many people of most spiritual paths with more ills that those without!
I find it bizarre and unsettling that so many people have lost their way. It seems like this is the default state of every major path. The situation might be different with you but the main problem with any spiritual path is the Murids. I find it strange that Murids are not like the Sheikh even though they are close to him! Maybe not close enough to change their character.
Sidi Abu Al-Abbas Al-Mursi (may Allah be pleased with him) came to Sidi Abu Hassan Al-Shadhali (may Allah be pleased with him) saying he was going to wear harsh clothing and fast etc. Then Sidi Hassan said, “Come to know (Allah), then be how you wish.” (Hikam Al-Shadhaliyyah number 5). You do not complete tasawwaf by completing your dress sense. Its much more difficult than that! One of the other names of the science of Tasawwaf is tazkiyah meaning purfication. No one seems bothered about removing bad character from themselves but is very concerned about dressing like their Pir.
Look inward and purify that by taking the sins you see in people as your own. Why is the heart important? See below and click here to view previous post on the heart
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, “Allah does not look to your forms nor your wealth but He looks to your hearts and your deeds.” (Muslim 6221)
Another narration of this hadith mentions intentions in place of deeds. These are ‘secrets’ between one and Allah (the Exalted) even the angels who record good deeds do not have access to them.
You can change your heart but you cannot change mine. So be concerned about changing what you have access to instead of trying to change what you cannot! Merely looking at the outward does not give you the full picture of who that person is. His faith in Allah and the Messenger (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) are the most important thing, and you have no way to know that. How often is it that I see a person dressed outwardly like a sheep but the wolf can still be seen underneath. Be concerned about changing what is between you and Allah (the Exalted) first before getting your dress sense right!