A Shaikh is one who has full knowledge and experience of spiritual ailments (amradh-e-batinah), attributes of vice and virtue (akhlaaq-e-razeelah and akhlaq-e-hameedah), their characteristics (khawas) and their effects (ta’theerat). He should further be able to distinguish between their similarities, and he must have 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 Shaikh of tareeqat be one who is qualified in this knowledge, be a mujtahid in this field and possesses natural ability and inherent propensity (inclination). If he has acquired the Tareeq by a mere self-study of books on Tasawwuf or by listening from others, he destory the mureed whom he is attending because he will not be in position to correctly diagnose the various stages of the mureed.
Shaikh Ibn Arabi (rahmatullah alayh) briefly summaries the signs of a Shaikh-e-Kamil (the perfect and qualified Sheikh) to be three:
- Deen resembling the Deen of the Ambiya (alaihumus-salaam)_
- Prescribing like physicians
- Management and control like that of kings
The exposition of the above summary is as follows:
- He should possess the necessary knowledge of Deen, which he must have acquired by either academic pursuit of much knowledge or from companionship with the Ulama-e-Muhaqqiqeen
- He must be a deputy (Khalifah) of a Sheikh-e-Kamil attached to an authentic Sisilah
- He should be uprighteous and pious.
- He derived spiritual benefit by remaining for an adequate period of time in the company of the Shaikh. Such “companionship” is either by means of correspondence or by physical presence in the association of the Shaikh.
- The people of knowledge (i.e. the Ulama) hold him in high esteem, and refer to him.
- The effect of his companionship (suhbat) is such that it increases in one the desire for Aakhirah and Divine love, as well as detestation for the love of the world
- The majority of his mureeds are followers of the Shariat, their conditions conforming to the demands of the Shariat
- He is devoid of greed and desire ( for worldly gain and benefit)
- He in engages in Thikr and devotional practices.
- He does not leave his mureeds unfettered, but reprimands them when the need arises. He treats everyone according to their respective abilities
The one in whom these attribute exist is worthy of being a Shaikh an he should be considered a wonderful alchemy ( a rare, precious guide). His companionship and service to him are in fact priceless treasures. Once these attributes or perfection are found in Shaikh, one should not be concerned about karamat (miracles) and kushf (inspiration). It is not necessary that these states exist in the Shaikh-e-Kamil nor is it necessary that he be one who does not himself earn his livelihood.
Shariat And Tasawwuf