Part IV: Sufi institutions and programs
Yusuf Estes, a prominent Muslim da'ey who’s also a convert, recently exposed Zaytuna Institute as a Sufi school after receiving many complaints about it. This is a segment of what Yusuf Estes wrote about Zaytuna:
"Let me now come to the main point. While investigating charges leveled at Hamza Yusuf, I personally stood in his Zaytuna Institute in California and watched as Muhammad Yaqubi from Syria was conducting a class in Sufi Thikr. For hours his students sat there on the floor rocking back and forth saying only: "Allah. Allah. Allah." Over and over again. One of the complaints from a student was that a Shaikh at Zaytuna Institute was forcing them to do hundreds of different thikrs everyday. So much so, that they were not able to complete their daily chores, but if they tried to stop a shayton would start beating them. I advised them to stop immediately and get away from anything dealing with the shayton. Keep in mind this is not Hamza, but rather someone working in his "institute.""
This is the biography of the instructor that Yusuf Estes saw at Zaytuna Institute:
Throughout the years of his study, Muhammad went through spiritual training in the Sufi path under his father, who was a great Waliy and Murshid known for his righteousness and asceticism. Muhammad studied the major works of Tasawwuf under him, accompanied him, and was his servant, the bearer of his shoes, which he considers the key to the opening he received. The company of his father exposed him to a wealth of light, wisdom, and knowledge, an experience that was far beyond what one may attain from books or from occasional meetings with teachers. 
I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember any of the great scholars receiving an opening to knowledge through shoes! Was that opening a hole in the shoes?!
The institute also offers courses based on Nuh Ha Mim Keller’s translation of the classic Umdat al-Salik ("Reliance of the Traveler"). The original text of The Reliance of the Traveler by the Shaafi'ee faqeeh Ibn Naqeeb Al-Misri (in Arabic) is supported with authentic evidence, overall sound judgments, and provides a great deal of benefit. However, Nuh Ha Mim Keller plays with the translation using weapons of deception to distort the sound parts of the fiqh matters and mixes them with the poison of corrupt concepts of belief and mysticism in order to propagate his own deviant agenda. This is the biggest danger that the Muslims face, they start off with good intentions seeking to acquire Islamic knowledge, and are then deceived with the words of the innovators who falsely claim that "Our way is based on the Quran and Sunnah," not knowing that they are actually being misled from the straight path.
One method that Nuh Ha Mim Keller uses to propagate his corrupt philosophy is through lies and fabrications. He falsely claims that Imams Maalik and Abu Haneefah (May Allah's Mercy be upon them) "had the higher education of Sufism" (See Keller's Reliance, sec. w9.3, p.863). Keller quotes a Sufi master who fabricated the following and claimed that Imam Maalik said it, "He who practices Sufism without learning Sacred Law corrupts his faith, while he who learns Sacred Law without practicing Sufism corrupts himself. Only he who combines the two proves true" (Reliance w9.3, p.862). Keller tries to falsely attribute this corruption to the scholars of the Sunnah so that the people without knowledge would be misled into believing that Sufism is part of Islam or that the great scholars of the Sunnah supported it. However, the truth is revealed about the attitude of the early scholars of the Sunnah in this authentic narration by 'Abdullah Bin Yoosuf At-Tanneesee (a trustworthy Muhaddith with great knowledge of Imam Maalik's Muwatta) who spoke about a man from the city of Nasiyeebeen who came to Imam Maalik and told him about "some people who are called As-Sufiyyah" in the city who "when they finish eating, they start reciting poetry and dancing." Imam Maalik exclaimed: "Are they insane?" The man responded: "No." Imam Maalik exclaimed: "Are they boys?" The man replied: "No. They are old and intelligent men." Imam Maalik said: "We didn't hear that anyone from the people of Islam did like this [what the Sufis did]." [Reported by Al-Qaadi 'Iyaad in Tarteb Al-Madaarik wa Taqreeb Al-Masaalik and many others]. This without a shadow of doubt reveals the attitude of the scholars of the Sunnah, including the Four Imams, in regards to all the innovators and their deviant sects.
Imam Maalik (May Allah's Mercy be upon him) said: "He who innovated something in Islam regarding it as something good has claimed that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has betrayed the Message which he was entrusted to deliver. Whatever was not Deen at the time of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) cannot be considered to be a part of the Deen today." [Reported by Ash-Shaatibee in Al-I'tisaam].
Keller also quotes Muhyideen Ibn Arabi in “Reliance of the Traveler”:
r20.3 The Sheikh al-Akbar (A: Muhyiddin ibn al-`Arabi), Allah Most High sanctify his inmost being, writes in his letter about the spiritual station of annihilation in gnostic vision: “When a book falls into a person's hands concerning a subject he knows nothing about [A: knows meaning through having studied in with sheikhs who are masters of it] and has not learned by engaging in it at first hand, he should do absolutely nothing with the book, but rather return it to those whom it concerns. He should not believe, disbelieve, or discuss it at all'' (ibid., 131-32).
Keller again quotes Ibn Arabi in section 4.7 under s4.0 THE DELUSIONS OF WOULD-BE SUFIS. We have shown in this article the scholars’ opinions on Ibn Arabi. It is clear that Keller and his Sufi Manual, the Reliance, sanctions the teachings of Ibn Arabi. And yet the book is used to teach students at Zaytuna institute, which only shows that those at Zaytuna Institute also sanction the teachings of Ibn Arabi.
Ihya Foundation has spearheaded a variety of initiatives over the years. It has created many opportunities for hundreds of students to learn Sufi teachers through local weekly classes, summer programs, Deen Intensive and Rihla programs in Canada and abroad, and by facilitating visits to Canada by some of the best scholars living in the West.
For the last several years Ihya Productions and now the Foundation, has sponsored students to study sacred knowledge full-time with Sufi teachers. Several of these students will soon be in a position to teach what they have spent years learning at the feet of their teachers.
Since the start of the Deen Intensives in 1993, the idea has caught on and taken a life of its own. Besides the Intensives in various locations in North America and Europe, which consist of five to eight day residential retreats, an annual month long Intensive, known as the Rihla. In the summer of 1996, The Ibn Abbas Institute in England organized the first month-long Rihla. The instructors included Hamza Yusuf, Abdullah Al Qadi, Nuh Keller and Besa Krasnigi.
The Deen Intensive Programs are organized by individuals who had attended the previous Institutes. The main contact for the Deen Intensive program is Nazim Baksh. By the end of 1998, Deen Intensives had already taken place in New Mexico, Toronto, New Haven, New Jersey, England, Michigan, and California.
These programs are designed to attract impressionable youth yearning for knowledge and religious fulfillment. They attract young Muslims to “traditional” Islam and retreats to secluded. Some of the rihlas that were organized in the past include:
- 1998 – Fez, Morocco that included Jamal az-Azahabi, Abdullah Adhami, Hamza Yusuf and the teacher of Hamza Yusuf from Mauritania.
- 2000 - Granada, Spain that included Hamza Yusuf, Abdallah al-Kadi, and Mohammad al-Ya’qobi.
- 2001 - Hayward, California that included Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir
- 2002 – Abiquiu, New Mexico that included Hamza Yusuf, Abdal-Hakim Murad, Jamal Al-Zahabi, Mohammad Yaqoubi, and Zaid Shakir.
- 2003 – Abiquiu, New Mexico that included Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir Habib 'Ali Al-Jifri, Abdallah Adhami, Jamal Zahabi, and Abdal Hakim Murad.
- 2004 - Abiquiu, New Mexico that will include Hamza Yusuf, Jamal al-Zahabi, Zaid Shakir. Walead Mossad, and Abdal-Hakim Murad.
Ihya Foundation is a Toronto-based group that organizes the Deen Intensive program and promotes its instructors. This group, lead by Nazim Baksh, also has a number of other activities in the Greater Toronto Area, which includes a regular lecture-series entitled “Sacred Knowledge Series”. It is no coincidence that both the Sacred Knowledge Series covered the book “The Book of Assistance”. Here’s how Ihya advertises and promotes this book:
ISLAMIC SPIRITUALITY ('Ilm al-Ihsan) [they typically hide Sufism under the veil of Ihsan]:
This science is concerned with purifying the heart of blameworthy traits (such as envy, arrogance, and anger) and adorning it with praiseworthy traits (such as sincerity, gratitude, and certainty). Along with theology and jurisprudence, it represents the third dimension of Islam as described by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the hadith of Jibreel.
The Book of Assistance, written by the great scholar of the 12th Islamic century (18th century CE) Imam Abdullah al-Haddad, is a practical guide to Islamic spirituality. The book provides a comprehensive overview of the teachings of Imam al-Ghazali condensed into concise and clear chapters that are meant to impact a Muslim's daily life. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the program.
Here's a review of the same book on a number of an online Islamic bookstores:
Abdallah ibn Alawi al-Haddad; Translated by Mostafa al-Badawi Long popular in Arabic, as well as Swahili and Malay, this classic text offers a complete guide to Muslim devotions, prayers and practical ethics. There are many books in English which present Sufi doctrine, but few which can be used as practical travel guides along the Path. Originally written in Classical Arabic, the aptly-named Book of Assistance is today in widespread use among Sufi teachers in Arabia, Indonesia and East Africa. The author, Imam al-Haddad (d. 1720), lived at Tarim in the Hadramaut valley between the Yemen and Oman, and is widely held to have been the "renewer" of the twelfth Islamic century. He spent most of his life in Kenya and Saudi Arabia where he taught Islamic jurisprudence and classical Sufism according to the order (tariqa) of the BaAlawi sayids.
The sister organization of Ihya Foundation is called Ihya Productions. It supplies recordings and writings of prominent Sufi teachers like: Ha Mim Keller, Hamza Yusuf, Abdal-Hakim Murad, Muhammad Al-Ya’qoubi, Zaid Shakir and Abdallah Adhami. It sells the following books on the website:
- Three Early Sufi Text: A Treatise on the Heart by Al-Ha
- The Sufi Path Discourses on Traditional Spirituality
- Revelations of the Unseen (Futuh al-Ghaib)
- The Place of Tassawuf in Orthodox Islam
- Tassawuf According to the Shari'ah
- The Sufi Path Discourses on Traditional Spirituality
- The Book of Assistance
I was quite dismayed when I found that people of bida’a are working night and day to spread their bida’as. To my surprise, I found more than 10 institutions to spread Sufism between the Muslim youth. Have no doubt that the aim here is the Muslim youth that is ignorant of their reality. Their aim are those Muslims that are raised in the West and do not have very good Arabic skills. They lure them by offering intensive programs where they teach “traditional Islam”. The even established a Shariah Program in Toronto. A site that is linked the Shariah Program claims that Sunni Islam is:
“Sunni Islam, or Ahl al-Sunna wa’l-Jama‘ah, understands the Islamic religion as it has been passed down in an unbroken chain of transmission from teacher to student from the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) until today. The way of Sunni Islam is to take the branch of Islam from living jurists who follow one of the four Sunni schools of fiqh: the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i, and Hanbali schools; the branch of Iman from living scholars belonging to one of the two Sunni schools of ‘aqida: the Ash‘ari and Maturidi schools; and the branch of Ihsan from living masters of one of the many Sufi orders that have emerged over the centuries, such as the Qadiri, Naqshbandi, Shadhili, Chishti, and Rifa‘i tariqas.”
We now know what these Tariqas are about and what they promote. Unfortunately, these people are great marketers: there’s not one major conference in North America except that at least one of their teachers is there. Sadly, conference organizers generally only care about the number of people attending in order to make money or breakeven. Hence, they have to bring these famous names in hope of attracting a large crowd. Regrettably, they are only playing in the hands of these sects by promoting them as Muslim Scholars. Of course, Hamza Yusuf and his associates will not spread their bida’as in conferences; this would be too obvious and would turn the majority of people against them (although, they inject other poisons in the minds of Muslims). Instead, their aim is attract people to their teachings in order to attend their special events. Then, they tell their followers to only attend their own events and not to listen to any one else. This is evident to anyone who attended a conference when Hamza Yusuf was lecturing, the hall would double in size during the lecture of Hamza Yusuf or any of his associates and then return to normal size once he’s left.
I ask all those who are involved in organizing conference to fear Allah SWT in what they do and the guests they invite, and not to be a helping hand in spreading bida’a. It is enough that we have all these Sufi organizations that are working hard to corrupt our youth:
Deen Intensive, North America (http://www.deen-intensive.com/)
Zaytuna Institute, California (www.zaytuna.org)
Ihya Foundation (www.ihyafoundation.com)
Dar al Islam, New Mexico (www.daralislam.org/)
Madina Foundation, Florida (www.madinah.org/)
The New International Muslim Association (NiMA), New York (www.nima-ny.org/pages/home.html)
Lighthouse, U.K. (www.lightstudy.org)
Nawawi Foundation (www.nawawi.org)
Andalus Islamic Institute for Learning and Research (www.andalus.co.uk)
Badr Language Institute (www.badr.org.uk)
Dar Al-Mostafa (www.daralmustafa.org)
Nur Al-Huda (www.nuralhuda.org)
Media & Publishers:
The Imams of Sunnah warned against the bida’a of Sufism:
Imam As-Shaa’fee said, "If a person exercised Sufism (Tasawafa) at the beginning of the day, he does not come to Dhuhur except an idiot." and he said, "Nobody accompanied the Sufis forty days and had his brain return (ever)." [Talbees Iblis].
The famous Sheikh Abu Bakr Al-Jaza'iri stated, "Sufism is a shameful deception which begins with Dhikr and ends with Kufr. Its outward manifestation appears to be piety, but its inward reality forsakes the Commandments of Allah." [Illat-Tasawwuf Yaa Ibadallah].
Imam Al-Barbahaaree (May Allah's Mercy be upon him) said: "The innovators are like scorpions. They bury their heads and bodies in the sand and leave their tails out. When they get the chance they sting: the same with the innovators who conceal themselves amongst the people, when they are able, they do what they desire." [Sharhus-Sunnah, p.94].
Imam Al-Awzaa'ee (May Allah's Mercy be upon him) said: "Patiently restrict yourself to the Sunnah and do not go beyond the limits held by the decisions of the Sahaabah; hold their positions and avoid what they avoided. Hold to the path of As-Salaf As-Saalih (the righteous predecessors), for verily what was sufficient for them is sufficient for you." [Reported by Ibnul Jawzee in Talbees Iblis and Al-Laalikaa'ee in Sharhu Usooli 'Itiqaadi Ahl-Sunnah].
Saleh As-Saleh's in his "Warning The Muslims Against Deviant Creeds and Methodologies," clearly and without a doubt exposes the deviant teaching of those who stray from the Quran and Sunnah and cause fitnah and misguidance amongst the Muslims. As-Saleh states that "Today mystic Sufis attempt to influence the Muslims, especially in the West (due to the inability of many Muslims to read the original Arabic texts), by presenting themselves as followers of "mainstream or traditional Islam," and that those who expose the corrupt doctrines of esoteric Sufism are named 'extremists.' They [claim] that they are "lovers of humanity," and stress the call for "Unity with diversity," meaning that the Muslim should "understand and tolerate" the different philosophies among Muslims misleadingly claiming that the basic foundations of the creed ('Aqeedah) are agreed upon by all Muslims, but there is diversity in the branches of the religion!" (As-Saleh, 231). However, this is not the Islam that the scholars of the Sunnah including Imam Abu Haneefah, Imam Maalik, Imam Ash-Shaafi'ee, and Ahmad Bin Hanbal (May Allah's Mercy be upon them) fought so hard and were punished and tortured trying to preserve. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "By He in Whose Hand is my soul! You will enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, or Allah will send a punishment upon you from Him. Then, you will supplicate to Him, but He will not accept your supplication (if you don't enjoin good and forbid evil)." [Reported by Imam Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi].
This is the position of the scholars of the pure Sunnah. They are against all forms of innovations and against all innovators because of the grave danger that they pose to the Ummah. Likewise we must Enjoin Good and Forbid Evil or else the punishment and wrath of Allah will be upon us. Allah (Glorified and Exalted) says: "Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongues of Dawud and Isa, son of Maryam. That was because they disobeyed (Allah and His Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds. They used not to forbid one another from Al-Munkar (wrong, evil-doing, sins, polytheism, disbelief), which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do. "(Al-Maidah, 5:78-79). Therefore, all Muslims must be aware of innovation and must avoid it and call one another to Good and forbid Evil and Fear Allah, because verily Allah is Severe in Punishment. Whatever is correct is from Allah and whatever is wrong is from the evil within myself. May Allah forgive and protect the Muslims and restore their lost greatness and guide us to the straight path of His Messenger (Peace be upon him), his companions, the Righteous Predecessors, and those who followed them in goodness.
وآخر دعوانا أن الحمد لله رب العالمين
 For full text, visit hamzayusuf.faithweb.com
 Note: the section about the bearer of the shoes was recently taken off three different websites as not to expose their craziness. But I found it on another site that was not updated