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Sayr al-Sālikīn ilā ʿIbādat Rabb al-ʿᾹlamīn, a work by Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ṣamad al-Falimbānī (1704–1789), is a Malay masterpiece which has had considerable influence and lasting impact on the expansion of Islam in the Malay world. The Muslim community’s wide acceptance of this work is due to its contents which deliberate on the essence of Taṣawwuf as expounded by authoritative Sufi scholars, the most significant of whom is Imām al-Ghazzālī with his Iḥyāʾ ʿUlūm al-Dīn. Like many other Sufi scholars, al-Falimbānī also approves of both the waḥdat al-wujūd (The Transcendent Unity of Existence) and Martabat Tujuh (the Seven Degrees of Existence) formulations, which today are often accused as deviant by the pseudo-Salafī group—better known as Wahhābī. This article attempts to examine the truth of the group’s allegations by presenting waḥdat al-wujūd and Martabat Tujuh as the Sufis themselves expound as well as scrutinising the various arguments put forth by the aforementioned group in equating the two formulations with pantheism and monism. This study thus finds that both are ijtihāds of the Sufi scholars in interpreting and understanding some of the Qurʾanic verses and Prophetic ḥadīths related to creation which are not easily understood by the public, and as such, are not meant for public discussions. In fact, such matters form the abstruse and intricate part of the science of Tawḥīd which, as such, ought to be learnt only by al-muntahī, referring to those Sufis who have successfully reached the end of their spiritual journey, not by the spiritual novices, let alone the general public. With findings gathered in this study, it is hoped that public discussion of both formulations by the untrained minds, which eventually gives rise to confusion and accusations of heresy and polytheism, could be put to an end and misunderstandings regarding them could be halted and redressed.
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