Posted by: Dawud Israel | July 29, 2007

Shaykh Control

‘Shaykh Control’ is what I’ve nicknamed the Daiee (Islamic workers) mentality that develops as he works.

There are levels of this but they overlap and mix so I will only mention the extremes.

Level 1–very mild symptoms

What happens is he starts to count all the things he does and keep track of those things as his ‘islamic efforts.’ So for example, he will count his spending time with a brother as one of these, even if the brother may be stronger than him in emaan (he doesn’t know this however). It may be he wants everybody to know what he is doing and what he is up to or that he is really insecure in regards to what he is doing currently and wishes he could do more. Now in all reality, this is a good thing. But also a sign he isn’t doing enough. One of the ways one knows they are doing good is when they don’t keep track of all the good they are doing–that is, it doesn’t register in their mind, they simply do it.

Level 2–extremely critical conditions

In essence, he thinks he’s boss and in control of everything and the world revolves around him. He tells others what to do as ‘advice’ and when they do what he says he feels in control as if everybody is at pace with him and confident he is ahead. What he sees as being religiously fit–is the only thing that is fit. He doesn’t have to explain himself to anyone nor does he have to hear people’s advice because after all he is in control. He will try and test people to see if they are pure enough. He will indulge in islamic projects that either a) can be done more efficiently and b) do not produce ‘great results’, but rather results that are ‘just enough’. He thinks he is the teacher but in fact Allah is the teacher—we are but useless tools He makes use out of–which is in fact a miracle in and of itself.

You can see level 2 in some shaykhs when they give a talk and then leave when some youngster gives a talk because they don’t need to listen to someone who isn’t as knowledgeable as them, right? It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this can become a MAJOR issue and is something that does occur with leaders of Muslim communities and masjids in the west.

Now much of this has one underlying theme. That theme is simple: complacency and making your self feel good by mentally reassuring yourself that you have done something good and putting whatever unease you had–to rest. It also is connected to pride (kibr). This is bad for one simple reason: there are certain things that bring unease you can never get rid of or put to rest and they come as tests from Allah SWT. And not knowing how to deal with those issues is what creates tyranny, oppression of others and overall–destruction.

Now ironically much of this applies to me, first. But I see it reflected in others, not just young daiees but also experienced shaykhs so that is why I posted this. Also I believe sincerely that these issues need to be noted so we don’t fall into their traps.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdik ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk. Ameen.


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