The signs of a Shaykh-e-Kaamil (Qualified Shaykh)

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:

  1. Deen resembling the Deen of the Ambiyaa.
  2. Prescribing like the physicians.
  3. Management and control like that of kings.

The exposition of the above summary is as follows:

  1. He should possess the necessary knowledge of the Deen which he must have acquired by either academic pursuit of such knowledge or from companionship with the Ulama-e-Muhaqqiqeen.
  2. He must be a deputy (Khaleefah) of a shaykh-e-Kaamil attached to an authentic Silsilah.
  3. He should be uprighteous and pious.
  4. He derived spiritual benefit by remaining for an adequate period of time in the company of the shaykh. Such "companionship" is either by means of correspondence or by physical presence in the association of the shaykh.
  5. The people of knowledge (i.e. the Ulamaa) hold him in high esteem, and refer to him.
  6. The effect of his companionship (suhbat) is increase in the desire for Aakhirat and Divine love as well as detestation for the love of the world.
  7. The majority of his mureeds are followers of the Shariat, their conditions conforming with the demands of the Shariat.
  8. He is devoid of greed and desire (for worldly gain and benefit).
  9. He engages in Zikr and devotional practices.
  10. He does not leave his mureeds unfettered, but reprimands them when the need arises. lie treats everyone according to their respective abilities.

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.