Saturday, January 07, 2006

Dancing and Sama3

"I, Ali b. Uthman al-Jullabi [al-Hujwiri], have heard the Shaykh and Imam Abu 'l-Abbaas al-Ashqaani relate that one day, being in an assembly where audition was going on, he saw naked demons dancing among the members of the party and breathing upon them, so that they waxed hot." - Al-Hujwiri [1]

"If you wish to keep your religion safe and to maintain your penitence, do not indulge, while you are young, in the audition which the Sufis practice; and when you grow old, do not let yourself be the cause of guilt in others." - Junayd [2]

"[Some sufis] say: 'Inasmuch as audition is dangerous to the vulgar and their belief is disturbed by our taking part in it, and inasmuch as they are unable to attain to our degree therein and incur guilt through us, we have pity on the vulgar and give sincere advice to the elect and from altruistic motives decline to indulge in audition.' This is a laudable course of action"
- Al-Hujwiri [3]

"I was very assiduous in audition. One night a certain person came to my cell and told me that a number of seekers of God had assembled and were desirous to see me. I went out with him and soon arrived at the place. They received me with extraordinary marks of honour. An old man, round whom they had formed a circle, said to me: 'With thy leave, some poetry will be recited.' I assented, whereupon one of them began to chant verses which the poets had composed on the subject of separation (from the beloved). They all rose in sympathetic ecstasy, uttering melodious cries and making exquisite gestures, while I remained lost in amazement at their behaviour.They continued in this enthusiasm until near daybreak, then the old man said, 'O Shaykh, are not thou curious to learn who am I and who are my companions?'

I answered that the reverence which I felt towards him prevented me from asking that question. 'I myself,' said he, 'was once Azrail and am now Iblis, and all the rest are my children. Two benefits accrue me from such concerts as this: firstly, I bewail my own separation (from God) and remember the days of my prosperity, and secondly, I lead holy men astray and cast them into error.' From that time I have never had the least desire to practice audition."

- Abu 'l-Haarith Bunaani [4]

The above sayings do not say that sama3 is forbidden completely. They say it should be forbidden for anyone who is not a true Sufi master. But it is not forbidden to them. However, since if they engage in it they could cause young aspirants to imitate them and go astray, it is better if they refrain from it altogether. It is also possible that holy men be led astray from sama3, as is shown in the first story. In any case, it was not something the Prophet did, and the Muslim's highest aspiration should be to have the same manners as the Prophet. Although in the hadith below, it is shown that Ja'far ibn Abi Talib, who the resembled the Prophet (pbuh) the most in his manners, danced in joy when he was told that he the one who resembled the Prophet the most in likeness and in manners.

Therefore dancing should be acceptable if it is brought on by a state of ecstasy.

Ali bin Abi Talib said: I visited the Prophet with Ja`far ibn Abi Talib and Zayd ibn Haritha. The Prophet said to Zayd: "You are my freedman" (anta mawlay), whereupon Zayd began to hop on one leg around the prophet (hajala) (out of joy). The Prophet then said to Ja`far: "You resemble me in my creation and my manners" (anta ashbahta khalqi wa khuluqi), whereupon Ja`far began to hop behind Zayd. The Prophet then said to me: "You pertain to me and I pertain to you" (anta minni wa ana minka) whereupon I began to hop behind Ja`far.

-Musnad Imam Ahmad

According to Shams Tabrizi, there are three rulings on sama3:
1. It is necessary and incumbent for the people of states, who are true sincere Muhammedan believers.
2. It is acceptable for the people of ascetic discipline.
3. It is forbidden for anyone else. And in fact, the Prophet was kind to forbid it because any single hypocritical or non-sincere movement during sama3 will lead to Divine chastisement.

"The men of God have more of this disclosure and vision of God in the sama. They have come out of their own existence and the sama brings them out of other worlds, so they reach the encounter with the Real.

In short, there is a sama that is forbidden. In fact, he was kind to say that it is forbidden. A sama like that is unbelief. A hand that is raised without that state (i.e raised on purpose, and not because of a state of ecstasy) will certainly be chastised by the fire of hell, and a hand that is raised with that state will certainly reach paradise.

There is a sama that is allowable, and that is the sama of the folk of ascetic discipline and ascetism, which brings them to tears and tenderness.

There is a sama that is incumbent, and that is the sama of the folk of states, because it is an aid to their life.

If one of the folk of sama has a sama in the east, another possessor of sama will also have a sama in the west, and they will be aware of each other's state." - Shams Tabrizi [5]

"When a sincere man begins to dance, the seven heavens, the earth, and all the creatures begin to dance. If a Muhammadan believer is dancing in the east, and there is a Muhammadan believer in the west, he also will be dancing and joyful." - Shams Tabrizi [6]

"Dancing is a bid`a or innovation which is not countenanced except by one deficient in his mind. It is unfitting for other than women. As for the audition of poetry (sama`) which stirs one towards states of purity (ahwal saniyya) which remind one of the hereafter: there is nothing wrong with it, nay, it is recommended (bal yundabu ilayh) for lukewarm and dry hearts. However, the one who harbors wrong desires in his heart is not allowed to attend the sama`, for the sama` stirs up whatever desire is already in the heart, both the detestable and the desirable."
- Sultan of the Scholars, al-Izz ibn Abd al-Salam [7]

"Dancing and clapping are a bad display resembling the display of women, in which no one indulges except frivolous men or affected liars... whoever apprehends the greatness of Allah, it cannot be imagined that he will start dancing and clapping as these are not performed except by the crassly ignorant, not those who have merit and intelligence, and the proof of their ignorance is that the Shari`a has not cited any evidence for their action in the Qur'an and the Sunna, and none of the Prophets or their notable followers ever did it."
- al-Izz ibn Abd al-Salam [7]

1. Kashf al-Mahjub, pg 412
2. Ibid, pg 412
3. Ibid, pg 412-413
4. Ibid, pg 411-412
5. Me & Rumi , pg 277-278.
6. Ibid, pg 6.
7. Sultan al-`ulama' al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam al-Sulami

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