Adab [Spiritual Courtesy] in Sufism

Adab is spiritual courtesy and sincere good behavior and manners. Adab implies sincerity in manners [genuity] as well of humility. For if a person is aware of his manners [i.e. pretending them] then he is motivated by selfishness and is lacking a spontaneous and real behavior.

Adab in this world is almost impossible as ‘correct manners’ are taught to us and implanted in us and practiced in the world. Adab is practiced in the circle of the People [Sufis]. Once in the protected circle of the People one has entered an arena of trust. Now adab is mandatory on you.

You have cornered the self in the zawiyya [spiritual circle], among the Men of Allah, before the shaykh. This is the arena of adab. The Path is nothing but adab, which has forms like:


  1. There is an adab due to the stranger and the visitor.
  2. There is an adab due the fuqara [spiritual seeker or begger].
  3. There is an adab due the noble and the elite.
  4. There is an adab due to the Shaykh.
  5. The completion of adab is the adab due to your ‘self’  or khudi


The first is arrived at by generosity and gifts at arrival and at departure.

The next is marked by the choice or preference. You must prefer what you have or get, for your brother over yourself [ego].

The next is by service, waiting, patience, and listening.

The next is wanting what your Shaykh wants, as his wanting becomes yours.

The last is, in the first stage, to avoid slapping the thigh or clenching the fist [i.e. managing the anger], and the avoidance of harsh exclamations. It’s middle stage is the avoidance of both extreme grief or happiness [which are earthly emotions]. It’s end is to have forgotten it all [emotions] in the presence of the Real.


Quote by Shaykh Abdalqadir al-Murabit on Sufi Adab


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