The following is a translation of His Holiness Younus AlGohar's speech.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الْأَحْبَارِ وَالرُّهْبَانِ لَيَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
The Wahabbi sect uses this verse [9:34] misleadingly to try and prove the saints wrong. They translate the two words ‘الْأَحْبَارِ وَالرُّهْبَانِ’ as 'priests and Sufis'. For the word ‘رُّهْبَان’ (Rahban) there is a literal translation and then there is the original meaning. The literal translation means, 'One who cuts himself off from the world and seeks hermitage in the jungle, and he does so on a regular basis.' Wahabbis misuse this verse against the Saints of God but it is ironic how well this verse fits the fake Sufis and fake Gurus.
We will study the meaning of this verse and divide this verse into three segments. First of all, God is giving information to the Momineen (Enlightened Believers).
‘يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الْأَحْبَارِ وَالرُّهْبَانِ لَيَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ’
The majority of the priests and mystics are those who use the wealth and belongings of people undeservedly.
The second segment we will take is:
‘يَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ’
To create hurdles in the way of God.
It does not mean to stop. ‘صُدُّ’ means to create a wall, to create a hurdle. So, one is to use the wealth of people undeservedly ‘بِالْبَاطِلِ’ (bil batil) and the other is to create hurdles for people in the way of God. Thirdly, the word written in the above verse, ‘يَكْنِزُونَ’ has been derived from ‘كْنِز’ which means 'treasure'. It means to gather gold and silver and not spend it in the way of God.
Now, in the first segment God has notified that there are many priests (أَحْبَارِ) and mystics (رُّهْبَانِ) who use people’s wealth and belongings undeservedly. If ‘bil batil’ had not been written then it would have meant that nobody is allowed to use anybody else’s wealth. But God has objected to using people’s wealth undeservedly. What does undeservedly mean? You believe somebody to be a saint, a Friend of God, a Faqir or Dervish. Now for example, in a Hadith it is written that through auxiliary worship, man can obtain such nearness to God that God becomes his hands with which he holds and God becomes his feet with which he walks. And at this stage, seeing such a person is seeing God. A Hadith also state that on the Day of Judgment, it will be every man for himself and suddenly a procession would pass by and people would ask which prophet it is. They would be told that, 'This is not a prophet, this is a saint.' They would say, 'There used to be saints in our time, let us see.' And upon seeing the saint, they would recognise him and say, 'I fed him food,' or 'I gave him clothes to wear.' God would say, 'Okay,' and grant such people salvation. People shall obtain salvation by spending their wealth, money and belongings on the saints of God. Therefore, spending wealth is not wrong; it is a means of salvation. God has made his reservations about spending wealth on those who do not deserve it. Your inner is dark and neither are you connected to God. If you are sitting as a fake Sufi and people are coming to you and giving you their wealth, and you are using it, then this is 'bil batil'. You do not deserve it and God has said it for such cases.
For instance, Tahir ul Qadri is not connected to God but it has become well-known amongst people that he is a saint of God/Ghous/Mujaddid and therefore people give him their wealth and facilities. Tahir ul Qadri says that he does not take a single penny from the funds of the Minhaj ul Quran or revenue from the books. Then where do these Land Cruisers, airfare tickets, hotels and tours come from? People give it. What do people think when they give him this wealth? Do they give it to him because they believe him to be a cleric? Does the public serve clerics in such a manner? They serve him in such a manner because they believe him to be a saint of God, a Friend of God. But he is not a Friend of God and people are sacrificing their wealth and belongings on him, so this is taking people’s money and wealth undeservedly. Why is it called 'bil batil'? The wealth that they have sacrificed upon you, on the Day of Judgment when flocks of people will be gathered and when the procession of the saints will pass by, people will say, 'We gave things to Tahir ul Qadri,' or 'We fed Tahir ul Qadri.' But Tahir ul Qadri would be nowhere to be seen. Those people would remain standing. Those who had spent their wealth on the real saints of God, the saints too would verify that the person did indeed spend his wealth on them. Thus, they would be granted salvation. One who is not even a saint, his procession will not pass by on the Day of Judgment. Tahir ul Qadri is one who is using the wealth of the people undeservedly. God has said the majority of people who are in this field are fakes; they are sitting as fake Sufis. When you serve such people, you shall obtain nothing.
His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi said, 'Even if you did not feed a saint and a saint says to God, "This person looked at me once out of love," that shall be enough to be granted salvation.'
The mention here has been of ‘bil Batil’, those who consume people’s wealth undeservedly. If you go and sit next to someone and have the conjecture that he is a Friend of God and you would be blessed through him - but he is not connected to God, then whatever you have spent on him goes to waste. But spending your wealth upon those who are Friends of God, Faqir or Dervish is to flourish your fate. The Wahabbis and Deobandis use this verse for Friends of God and that is very misguiding! Giving gifts, money and your belongings to a fake Sufi or fake Guru, no matter what the intention may be - be it prosperity in this world or in the religion to obtain paradise or salvation - is batil.
Attached to it is the next segment, ‘وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ’. How do these people create hurdles in the way of God? Do they tell someone not to offer Salat? Do they tell people to leave Islam? No. What does it mean then? His Divine Eminence Imam Mehdi Gohar Shahi has explained it.
HDE said, ‘One who is not a saint but claims sainthood, even if he is not a Kafir (Infidel) he reaches near Kufr and is the killer of 16 souls - because the way of God is acquired through the subtleties of the breast. The way of God is acquired through the heart and soul. It is the heart that takes you to God. If you cannot awaken their souls and you have wasted them in their breast, once they have been wasted, they will not be able to reach God.
You keep people under the impression that you are a saint of God, Faqir, Dervish or Sufi but you do not possess the power and authority to awaken and enlighten anybody’s souls and put them on the Sirat al Mustaqeem (Straight Path). If you do not have the power and authority to enlighten any heart (remember: the heart is the passageway to God), then these souls inside a human go to waste. When these souls inside you have been wasted, then the path to God has been closed upon you.
People who create hurdles in the way of God are those who are not saints but pose as fake Sufis, fake Gurus or fake successors of the saints and do not have the ability to enlighten souls and take them to God. A true saint would know how to enlighten the hearts and take them to God, but the imposters do not know of this knowledge. Yet, people continue to serve them believing they are saints of God, such as the likes of Tahir ul Qadri. People only get to hear stories about the love of the Prophet, however Tahir ul Qadri has not been able to initiate anyone’s heart with God’s name through his spiritual glance. No one has acquired the image of the Lord on their soul nor has anyone acquired the knowledge of the Latifa-e-Ana (subtlety of the head) to see God from Tahir ul Qadri. But people who continue to go after him thinking he is a saint are destroying their inner souls and time. The day those souls are destroyed, the path to God will be closed upon them. Those who are not connected with God, whose inner is not enlightened and who have not been given any Spiritual Rank from God, taking gifts from people is prohibited and unlawful upon them (Haraam/Batil). People who run after such fake Sufis and are impressed by their physical austerities, outer appearance and their bookish knowledge, a time comes when their inner subtleties and souls are destroyed also; their time runs out. These people who are undeservedly consuming the wealth and belongings of people are also the means of preventing people from the way of God, which is present within their breast.
You do not have the power to awaken the subtleties that were supposed to be engaged in Dhikr Allah (Remembrance of God) and now people are just engaging in Dhikr. They may continue to engage in Dhikr, but a wall has been established inside the heart which is not allowing the Dhikr to penetrate the heart. So this is the hurdle in the way of God.
The third segment of the verse states:
‘وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ’
Now the gold and silver that they have gathered from people, instead of using it in the way of God, they are making their palaces. So for those people this verse states, 'Tell them, God has prepared his wrath for them.'
When this verse was sent down, there were no fake Sufis or fake Gurus. Then, who was this verse for? The Jewish and Christian scholars at that time used to say, 'We are also preaching the word of God. The Torah and Bible are God’s word also.' But God rejected this. God said, 'Okay, you are preaching the word of God, but you are not connected to me. Therefore whatever wealth you consume from people is undeserved. You have kept the Bible and the Torah, but you are not connected to me. Why then are you using their wealth?' If these people had joined Islam, Prophet Mohammad would have been sitting there, live; and if they sacrificed their wealth upon him, their fate would flourish. Prophet Mohammad was present and God said it in this context. You may be followers of Jesus or Moses and possess the divine book in your hands, but you are not connected to God. The one sent by God as a Prophet is connected to God and if people sacrifice their wealth and belongings upon him, they would obtain something from it.
It is written in the Deen-e-Ilahi ('The Religion of God,' authored by HDE Gohar Shahi) that if common sinners serve a follower of Imam Mehdi, even they will obtain some spiritual rank, not just salvation.