Sufi Mistranslates "Reliance of the Traveller"?

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Active ImageMistranslation (Sufi?) of "Reliance of the Traveler" Under Question
Abu Aisha Claims He Can Prove - Keller's Translation Contains "Deviant Distortions and Disceptions of Fiqh - Mixed with Corrupt Concepts of Belief & Mysticism"

Take a look at this letter - written by Abu Aisha, concerning the "mistranslation" of Reliance of the Traveler (by Nu Ha Meem Keller).
It is most interesting to say the least and we have requested the brother to provide us with any information he might have on Keller's associates - Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir, Mohamed Yaqubi and Abdul Qadir As-Sufi Al-Murabit - founder of the "Murabitoons".

We had asked someone to Investigate this story and reply back


We have received this information on Nuh Ha Meen Keller from

Keller was born in 1954 in Odessa, Washington and now lives in Jorday since 1980.

He was authorised as a sheikh in the Sufi Tariqa of Shadhili by the late Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri al-Shadhili in Damascus. He has students throughout the world, and has annual retreats (suhbas) with his students where he teaches sufism in Canada, USA, UK, Turkey, Australia, Egypt, and Pakistan. 

Muslim Sufi scholar
Modern era
Full name Nuh Ha Mim Keller
Main interests Sufism, Islamic law


Here is what Wikipedia has on Nuh Ha Meem Keller and his Shadhili Sufi group --

Here now, is the letter from brother Abu Aisha, concerning the "mis-translation of Reliance of the Traveler" -

       Verily, All Praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah, Most High, from the evils of our own selves and from our wicked deeds. Whomever Allah guides cannot be misguided, and whomever He leads astray cannot be guided. I testify that there is no true God worthy of being worshipped except Allah, alone, without partner or associate. I further testify that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger (Peace be upon him). May Allah's Salaah and Salaam also be granted to the Prophet's pure family and to all of his noble companions.

       The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "The best speech is the Book of Allah and the best guidance and example is that of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). And the worst of all things are the newly invented things (in religion), for every innovation is error and misguidance." [Reported by Muslim] and in another narration, "every newly invented matter (in religion) is a bid'ah and every bid'ah is a dalaalah (going astray) and every dalaalah is in the Fire." [Reported by At-Tirmithee and it is saheeh].

       In another warning the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Whoever introduces into this affair of ours something that we have not commanded it is to be rejected." [Reported by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim].

       The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "He among you who witnesses an evil, let him change it with his hand, if he cannot do that, then by his tongue, if he cannot do even that, then with his heart, and this is the weakest faith." [Reported by Muslim].

       Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'lla) said: "It is not for a believer, male or female, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have an option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in plain error." [Qur'aan, Al-Ahzaab, 33:36]

       A serious issue appears to have arisen in our MSA and it is that of deviant teachings that have crept out and are threatening everyone in the MSA. I believe that everyone has sincere intentions to learn about their Deen, however the problem is the sources where this knowledge is acquired. As Muslims we must warn one another of danger when it appears. As Allah (Glorified and Exalted) states: "And Help one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety) and do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment." [Al-Maidah 6:2]. After certain deviant people were exposed for their deviant teachings someone took it upon themselves to protect these misguided so-called Sheikhs and to speak up on their behalf. Thinking in the best of ways towards whomever sent out that message, we will think that the person who sent out that message did not understand the seriousness and the magnitude of the issues involved. Therefore, in all ernestness THIS IS A PLAIN WARNING. Do not get trapped in arguments claiming that Muslims must Unite under all circumstances and so forth. This is not the way of the early Muslims in particular, and Muslims of all times in general. It cannot be, since Allah clearly tells us to ENJOIN GOOD AND FORBID EVIL. May Allah guide us all to the straight path, Ameen.

Saleh As-Saleh's in his "Warning The Muslims Against Deviant Creeds and Methodologies," clearly and without a doubt exposes the deviant teaching of those who stray from the Quran and Sunnah and cause fitnah and misguidance amongst the Muslims. As-Saleh states "the case of Nuh Ha Mim Keller is very much representative of those who follow the late Ash-'arite scholastic theology and share a brand of mysticism and blind imitation of Mathaahib. The dangerous aspect is the deception approach, which is used by those who hold such concepts. In this regard, one does not see a great deal of difference between the concepts and approach of Nuh Ha Mim and those of another person by the name of Hamza Yoosuf" (229). They seem to hold the same methodologies and thoughts and as everyone will see, this is not an attack on them per se, but a warning against deviant philosophies and since they adhere to these philosophies they must be warned against. We ask Allah to guide them and us to the straight path.

       As-Saleh states that "Today mystic Sufis attempt to influence the Muslims, especially in the West (due to the inability of many Muslims to read the original Arabic texts), by presenting themselves as followers of "mainstream or traditional Islam," and that those who expose the corrupt doctrines of esoteric Sufism are named 'extremists.' They [claim] that they are "lovers of humanity," and stress the call for "Unity with diversity," meaning that the Muslim should "understand and tolerate" the different philosophies among Muslims misleadingly claiming that the basic foundations of the creed ('Aqeedah) are agreed upon by all Muslims, but there is diversity in the branches of the religion!" (As-Saleh, 231). However, this is not the Islam that the scholars of the Sunnah including Imam Abu Haneefah, Imam Maalik, Imam Ash-Shaafi'ee, and Ahmad Bin Hanbal (May Allah's Mercy be upon them) fought so hard and were punished and tortured trying to preserve. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "By He in Whose Hand is my soul! You will enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, or Allah will send a punishment upon you from Him. Then, you will supplicate to Him, but He will not accept your supplication (if you don't enjoin good and forbid evil)." [Reported by Imam Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi].

       Saleh As-Saleh continues stating that "according to these [corrupt] mystics, those who expose the corrupt philosophies of mysticism, Shee'ism, scholastic theology, and so forth, are against the unity of the Ummah and that they are extremists (231). But once again this is not Islam this is the way of the Christians, the misguided people, the people of deviance and innovation, and those who hate the Sunnah because Muslims enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil and fear no one other than Allah (Glorified and Exalted). This is the way of the Sahabah, the Salaf As-Saleh (The Righteous Predecessors), and the scholars of the Sunnah. We do not love everyone, nor should we. As Muslims we love for the sake of Allah and we hate for the sake of Allah. Allah (Glorified and Exalted) does not love everyone, Allah (Glorified and Exalted) "loves those who submit to His command and worship none but Him, while He hates those who reject it and associate partners with Him in worship. May Allah, the Most High, guide those who were deceived by the mystic paths to the truth" (As-Saleh 232).

       "It is not easy for anyone to stand against the way of the truth. The struggle between the path of falsehood and that of the truth will continue until the time that the Hour will be established. What is important is that the Muslim dies on the Sunnah and not the Bi'dah. He, therefore, should seek the truth to succeed in this life and in the next to come.

       One of the forces of Bid'ah is mysticism, which is a strange body that feeds on ignorance. Ignorance is the fertile soil for the growth of deception, which is the main weapon of the mystics. Knowledge, however, is the impenetrable barrier that stands to protect the Muslim against all forms of evil forces. It exposes the deception and its people.

       Nuh Ha Mim Keller compiled subjects in the Reliance of the Traveler, which are blind imitations of the mystic Sufi path and promotion of deviant distortions of the Islamic creed regarding the Names and Attributes of Allah. The book could be very deceptive for those who are not aware of the true nature of mysticism and of the various deviant sects whose thoughts continue to exist [and are also taught] in many parts of the Muslim world.

       The original text of The Reliance of the Traveler by the Shaafi'ee faqeeh Ibn Naqeeb Al-Misri (in Arabic) is supported with authentic evidence, overall sound judgments, and provides a great deal of benefit.

       However, Nuh Ha Mim Keller plays with the translation using weapons of deception to distort the sound parts of the fiqh matters and mixes them with the poison of corrupt concepts of belief and mysticism in order to propagate his own deviant agenda. This is the biggest danger that the Muslims face, they start off with good intentions seeking to acquire Islamic knowledge, and are then deceived with the words of the innovators who falsely claim that "Our way is based on the Qur'aan and Sunnah," not knowing that they are actually being misled from the straight path. May Allah guide us all to the straight path and bless us with Paradise, Ameen.

       One method that Nuh Ha Mim Keller uses to propagate his corrupt philosophy is through lies and fabrications. He falsely claims that Imams Maalik and Abu Haneefah (May Allah's Mercy be upon them) "had the higher education of Sufism" (See Keller's Classical Manual or Reliance, sec. w9.3, p.863).

       Keller quotes a Sufi scholar who fabricated the following and claimed that it was said by Imam Maalik, "He who practices Sufism without learning Sacred Law corrupts his faith, while he who learns Sacred Law without practicing Sufism corrupts himself. Only he who combines the two proves true" (Reliance w9.3, p.862).

       Keller tries to falsely attribute this corruption to the scholars of the Sunnah so that the people without knowledge would be misled into believing that Sufism is part of Islam or that it was supported by the great scholars of the Sunnah.

       However, the truth is revealed about the attitude of the early scholars of the Sunnah in this authentic narration by 'Abdullah Bin Yoosuf At-Tanneesee (a trustworthy Muhaddith with great knowledge of Imam Maalik's Muwatta) who spoke about a man from the city of Nasiyeebeen who came to Imam Maalik and told him about "some people who are called As-Sufiyyah" in the city who "when they finish eating, they start reciting poetry and dancing." Imam Maalik exclaimed: "Are they insane?" The man responded: "No." Imam Maalik exclaimed: "Are they boys?" The man replied: "No. They are old and intelligent men." Imam Maalik said: "We didn't hear that anyone from the people of Islam did like this [what the Sufis did]."
[Reported by Al-Qaadi 'Iyaad in Tarteb Al-Madaarik wa Taqreeb Al-Masaalik and many others].

       This without a shadow of doubt reveals the attitude of the scholars of the Sunnah, including the Four Imams, in regards to all the innovators and their deviant sects.

       Imam Maalik (May Allah's Mercy be upon him) said: "He who innovated something in Islam regarding it as something good has claimed that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has betrayed the Message which he was entrusted to deliver. Whatever was not Deen at the time of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) cannot be considered to be a part of the Deen today." [Reported by Ash-Shaatibee in Al-I'tisaam].

       Imam Al-Awzaa'ee (May Allah's Mercy be upon him) said: "Patiently restrict yourself to the Sunnah and do not go beyond the limits held by the decisions of the Sahaabah; hold their positions and avoid what they avoided. Hold to the path of As-Salaf As-Saalih (the righteous predecessors), for verily what was sufficient for them is sufficient for you." [Reported by Ibnul Jawzee in Talbees Iblees and Al-Laalikaa'ee in Sharhu Usooli 'Itiqaadi Ahli-Sunnah].

       Imam Al-Barbahaaree (May Allah's Mercy be upon him) said: "The innovators are like scorpions. They bury their heads and bodies in the sand and leave their tails out. When they get the chance they sting: the same with the innovators who conceal themselves amongst the people, when they are able, they do what they desire." [Sharhus-Sunnah, p.94].

       This is the position of the scholars of the pure Sunnah. They are against all forms of innovations and against all innovators because of the grave danger that they pose to the Ummah. Likewise we must Enjoin Good and Forbid Evil or else the punishment and wrath of Allah will be upon us as it was upon the Jews. Allah (Glorified and Exalted) says: "Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongues of Dawud and Isa, son of Maryam. That was because they disobeyed (Allah and His Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds. They used not to forbid one another from Al-Munkar (wrong, evil-doing, sins, polytheism, disbelief) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do." [Al-Maidah, 78-79].

       Therefore, all Muslims must be aware of innovation and must avoid it and call one another to Good and forbid Evil and Fear Allah, because verily Allah is Severe in Punishment. Whatever is correct is from Allah and whatever is wrong is from the evil within myself. May Allah forgive and protect the Muslims and restore their lost greatness and guide us to the straight path of His Messenger (Peace be upon him), his companions, the Righteous Predecessors, and those who followed them in goodness. Wa As-Salamu Alikum wa Rahmatuallahi wa Barakatuh.

Abu A'isha lists the associates of Nuh Ha Meem Keller and their sufi orders as well:

  • Tariqa Notes, a small handbook for those following the Shadhili Sufi order.


Nuh Keller has also written numerous articles and is a regular contributor to Islamica Magazine.

He is currently translating Imam Nawawi's Kitab al-Adhkar (The Book of Remembrance of Allah)

Additional Sufi Shaikhs:
  • Muhammad Hisham Kabbani
  • Muhammad al-Yaqoubi
  • Zaid Shakir
  • Hamza Yusuf
  • Abdal Hakim Murad