Please advise if the following statement is found in the hadith or is it the statement of some pious person. We would appreciate it if you could suggest any book where we could get more details. That statement is;
“Man la shaykha-lahu fa shaykhu-hu ash Shaytan”
‘Shaytan is the guide of the one who has no spiritual guide.’
This is not a Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), instead it is a famous principle of the Sufis. Definitely, the need for a mentor is of absolute importance in every facet of life.
No person can ever imagine acquiring any sort of knowledge without the guidance and expertise of a master of that particular field. Similar is the knowledge of din. For a person to acquire any branch of din, whether it be Ilm-e-Zahir (outer knowledge) or Ilm-e-Batin (inner knowledge/ Tasawwuf), he also needs a mentor.
Many scholars of the past had expressed their disapproval of people who aspired to acquire knowledge without a guide. Among those who condemned this were: Imam Shafi’i (rahumahullah) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah).
(Refer Adabul-Ikhtilaf of Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah pgs. 142-145)
For further details such aspects of tasawwuf, I suggest the following books: Tariqat by Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya (Waterval Islamic Institute – firstname.lastname@example.org); Shari’at and Tasawwuf (Young Men’s Muslim Association, Actonville); Hayatul Muslimin by Hakimul Ummat (everymuslim.com)
Note: Having written the above, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that having a spiritual guide is the general procedure for spiritual progress and all Muslims should endeavor to acquire one.
However, it is indeed possible – but very remotely so- that one acquires spiritual progress directly from Allah Ta’ala.
(see footnotes of Shaykh ‘Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (rahimahullah) on Risalatul Mustardhidin, pg.71-73)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar