A shaykh is one who has full knowledge and experience of spiritual ailments (Amraadh-e-Baatinah), attributes of vice and virtue (Akhlaaq-e-Razeelah and Akhlaaq-e-hameedah), their characteristics (khawaas) and their effects (ta'theeraat). He should further be able to distinguish between their similarities and he must have perfect ability in devising plans and prescriptions for the acquisition of the attributes of virtue and the elimination of the attributes of vice. He has to be aware of the progress and retrogress of these attributes. He must be well versed in the hazards of the nafs and shaitaan, the intuitive senses and feelings pertaining to the angels and the Divine Being. He must be able to distinguish these various intuitive and extra-sensory feelings and perceptions. It is therefore imperative that the shaykh of tareeqat be one who is qualified in this knowledge, be a Mujtahid in this field and possesses natural ability and inherent propensity. If he has acquired the Tareeq by a mere self-study of books on Tasawwuf or by listening from others, he will destroy the mureed whom he is attending, because he will not be in position to correctly diagnose the various states of the mureed.
Shaykh Ibne Arabi (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) briefly summarizes the signs of a shaykh-e-Kaamil (the perfect and qualified shaykh) to be three:
The exposition of the above summary is as follows:
The one in whom these attributes exist is worthy of being a shaykh and he should be considered a wonderful alchemy. His companionship and service to him are in fact priceless treasures. Once these attributes or perfection are found in a shaykh, one should not be concerned about karaamat (miracles) and kashf (inspiration). It is not necessary that these states exist in the shaykh-e-Kaamil nor is it necessary that he be one who does not himself earn his livelihood.