The Would-Be Salafi And The Would-Be Sufi

By Novid Shaid, 2011


Once there were two neighbours

who were locked in a rivalry,

for one was a would-be Sufi

and the other a would-be Salafi.


“You’re a man of shirk and innovation!”

argued the Salafi,

“You’re an arrogant man,” smiled the Sufi,

“You lack spirituality!”


“I yearn for past!” cried the Salafi,

“For the salaf us saliheen!”

“I yearn for the saints!” cried the Sufi,

“For the likes of Jilani!”


Whenever they passed on the pavement,

They would bicker like some angry bees!

“Where’s your daleel for Milad?” roared the Salafi.

“Where’s your ishq?” growled the pretentious Sufi.


“I’m the true follower of the Sunnah!”

“No! That title belongs to me!”

“You’re not invited to my popular halaqa!”

“And we don’t consort with ghair-muqallideen!”


It happened that one of their neighbours,

was a man of technology,

an eccentric, wild-haired scientist,

who had built a time machine.


So he thought he would conduct an experiment

To assess his time machine,

“I know, I’ll try it on the Sufi!

And his friend, the Salafi!”


After putting the idea to the Salafi,

He said: “this sound likes a bida’ to me!”

“Sound like you’re a wuss!” laughed the Sufi

“Where’s your faith in Allah’s decree!”


“No one calls me a wuss!” said the Salafi

“with this experiment, I agree!”

“If he’s doing it now,” said the Sufi,

“Then it’s definitely for me!”


So the scientists told them to listen

While he explained the intricacies,

“You have to explain your destination

Where’ll you go for your first journey.”


Then they both sat down in the contraption,

and strapped themselves in tightly

“To the time of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal,

To Imam Hasan Al Basri.”


And they bickered as the gadget travelled

Through time and the galaxies,

“Imam Ahmad is the true Salafi!”

“None can compare to Hasan Al Basri!”


With a thud and a great explosion

they landed far from the seas,

in the dominion of the stern leader

Mamun son of Harun Al Rashid.


When they emerged from their aircraft

It was too hard to believe

That they had travelled through time and the universe

To the time of the Salaf Us Saliheen!


And lo and behold who stood there

With a book in his hands, peaceful, at ease

But no other than the almighty scholar,

Imam Ahmad of the Hanbalis!


“Welcome my friends from the future!”

And the Salafi was on his knees,

“I’m not worthy of this my master!

You are the true Salafi!”


“But this isn’t fair,” said the Sufi,

“What about Hasan Al Basri?”

“Oh I’d loved to meet him,” said Imam Ahmad

“Let’s travel to him with speed.”


So they took Imam Ahmad with them

Further on back in some degrees,

Landing on the shores of the Tigris

Where they found, Hasan Al Basri.


“How wonderful!” said the Sufi.

“You are the Imam of the pure Sufis!”

Then the Sufi and Salafi starting bickering,

Who was the truest in their beliefs.


But Imam Ahmad and Hasan Al Basri

Of the travellers they took no heed,

Instead they looked at each other

In a state of eternal peace.


“I am Ahmad Ibn Hanbal”

“I am Hasan Al Basri”

“You are the greatest of the Salafs”

“You are the imam of the pure Sufis”.


“Let me learn from you my brother”

“No you’re greater in mastery!”

“I love you for the sake of Allah”

“You remind me of the saaliheen”.


Then in horror the travellers followed them

watching them speak so graciously

They loved each other like no other

This true Salafi and this true Sufi.


Suddenly, the travellers were excited

For the imams seemed to disagree

on a point of fiqh and aquida

it seemed they had different beliefs.


“Although we have our difference,”

“We’ll agree to disagree,”

“But I still love you for the sake of Allah!”

“May He unite us again by the Lote tree!”


The would-be Sufi grumbled,

Frowning sat the would-be Salafi,

For their amazing journey had ended

Rather disappointingly.


After they gave their salutations

To Imam Ahmad and Hasan Al Basri

They asked the machine to return,

Back to the 21st century.


When the machine reappeared with a rumble

the scientist jumped up with glee,

“did it work!?” he asked with wonder.

“yes, it did,” they both replied sadly.


And they went back to their houses,

shut the doors, this time rather quietly,

when they walked on to their different masaajid,

they avoided each other purposely.


From that day on something happened,

To the Salafi and Sufi,

Instead of bickering and fighting,

They offered salaams to each other rather meekly.


And they stopped labelling themselves with the titles

That they used before with such surety,

Because now they had learned the true meaning,

Of a true Salafi and a true Sufi.

This entry was posted in comical, Poems and tagged , , , , , by Novid Shaid. Bookmark the permalink.

About Novid Shaid

I am a Muslim writer and English teacher. I have written poetry, short stories, a play, and I am currently working on a novella. My subject matter and themes are related to Islam, Sufism, politics and also my job as a secondary school teacher. My work is copyrighted and any works published here may not used or copied without my prior consent. You can contact me via the "Contact Me" page, if you wish to use any these writings. I am keen to gain the notice of publishers and if any are interested in my writings, please contact me via the "Contact Me" page. Was salaam, Peace

11 thoughts on “The Would-Be Salafi And The Would-Be Sufi

  1. I understand your good intentions Sidi, but, the premise for this poem is wrong.

    Sufism is just a branch of knowledge within the Sunni tradition. Salafism is a new sect, which came to being after colonial rule. So, it’s Sunni vs. Salafi, not ‘sufi vs. salafi’.

    Also, Imam Ahmed is the Imam of the Sunnis, the Sufis. The wahabiyya have nothing to do with him.

    The bickering and antagonism is also from the salafis, who can’t stop shouting bid’a and shirk every other second or so.

    Salafism is a failure. Sunnism, Ashari and Maturidi aqeedah, will continue, inshAllah.

  2. I would like second the thoughts of sunni_5. The premise of this poem is certainly mistaken though I understand the point being made.

    If I was the would-be sufi and If I had went back into the past, I would be excited because I would have had one over the would be salafi.

    The reason being that sufism is branch of knowledge within the wider ahl sunnah wal-jamah. It’s this branch of knoweldge which the salafis deny. Imam Ahmad b Hanbal was the eponym of fiqh and hadith; the sufi and Salafi both respect and honour Imam Ahmad b Hanbal. And if the Imam of the sunnah, Imam Ahmad, is honouring the sufi Imam Hasan Basri, who is also from the salaf, therefore a salafi, it proves that Sufism is authentic and from the sunnah, practiced by the salaf, therefore disproving the would be salafis and legitimizing the would be sufis.

    This is why the poem doesn’t work, though it is excellently written. In fact it would have been scary and thought provoking if the two imams critcized the wannabes for not staying true to their ways. This way both would have been humbled by their respective imams; but it’s just a thought. Enjoyable read however.

  3. Above Brothers got it right……pseudo_salafis must be defeated ideologically for islam to survive…….And that can be done only by the beauty of Sufism,Sunni Islam………Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal is Imam of Ahle Sunnat wal Jamat

  4. Jazak Allah for your comments, feedback and the time you took to read my poem!

    I knew I was dealing with difficult territory here…Anyway, being of a Sunni-Sufi persuasion myself, I though to myself, how can I write the poem in such a way that it has a more universal appeal?

    So the premise I worked on is this: there are a growing number of Muslims (myself included) who label themselves Sufi/Salafi, who enter into circular arguments and bickering. And although it is the Salafiyyah who do make accusations and takfir, regrettably, some of our sufi brothers are doing this as well. I chose sufi because some salafis are adamant that they are sunni (follow the sunnah). So, the premise was, they are both wrong to label themselves with such terms, because if you are a true “Salafi” then you will act with the love, adab and knowledge of Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal (qaddas Allah sirruhu) and if you are a true “sufi” you will also act with the love, adab and knowledge of Imam Hasan Al Basri qaddas Allah sirruhu. Bickering, oneupmanship and points scoring is far from the way of the true Salaf and the true Sufis, and if they disagree it was with adab and love.

    Actually, Sufi/Salafi are complementary terms, because most of the Salaf were the Imams of tasawwuf,so you’re absolutely right. But I prefer not to get into singling out the salafi, and try to indirectly make the point. In the poem, insha Allah, if anyone reads between the lines, they should also work out that, hang about, our imam was very close to Ahlat tassuwuf, so there must be something good in it….Sometimes there’s wisdom in being subtle and being self-critical, Allah Alim, thanks for reading!

  5. Please bothers and sisters, more bickering is kicking off. I think we need to stop nit-picking at the historical accuracy of the poem and try and understand the point Novid was trying to make and the essence of the message, where we need to accept our differences as there are bigger issues at stake. The Ummah is disunited as it is in the more we bicker amongst ourselves the more divided we are and we are playing in to the hands of the powers that be. C’mon, look at the bigger picture and realise that this is the policy of divide and rule at work right here. We all try and follow the Sunnah the best we can using our own interpretations, or the interpetations of our teachers using our own intelligence, we all accept ourselves as the followers of the Sunnah so were all on the same team. My advice would be to look at the bigger picture, look ahead and think at the damage that is being caused. There are people out there trying to bring, people into Islam, to unite our ummah however these sorts of arguments are only causing divisions..and the division is only growing. so you may want to ask yourselves do you want to be part of the solution or part of the problem??

  6. Are the bickering ‘geniuses’ stupid or are they stupid?

    Oh the vast amount of knowledge and brain cells these lot have! Bringing aqeedah, the rainbow and my neighbour’s shoe into it. Not to forget the logic (or lack thereof) to support why the “premise is wrong”. An empty vessel….

    I’m sorry my dear, I’m sorry they read it without actually reading it. Then again, guess we can all have an opinion. Even ‘me’!

  7. Also thank you Novid as I found your poem to be bang-on!!! I pray for our brothers and sisters to start opening their mind and start studying the other side of the argument. There is 1400 years of history and political influence that seem to be missing in arguements on both sides that need to be researched. Following the example of our Rasool (PBUH) as well as being a statesman and a military leader, he was also a loving and compassionate man. Theres nothing wrong with a little bit of sufiness in your life, belive me i know!!!

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