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IslamQA: On the saying that Satan is the teacher of Muslims without shaykhs

Have you ever heard a saying attributed to Islam that goes(i'm paraphrasing):"Whoever that does not have a teacher, satan is his teacher". What are your thoughts on that?

I have heard that saying, it is usually used to justify having students submit to the authority of a shaykh in Sufi circles. It is meant to reinforce the Sufi idea that the shaykh/teacher is central to the spiritual growth of the student and that spiritual growth cannot be sought independently without submitting to the authority of the Sufi organizational system.

My view is that the saying is ridiculous and has no basis in Islam. It is great to have good teachers. But there is nothing in Islam that requires us to submit to the authority of a shaykh/teacher as if there can be no learning or growth outside of them. I support egalitarianism (equality) between students and teachers. Teachers are simply students who have learned more.

And God knows best.
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