Esoteric Islam

Malamatiyya – The Path of Blame

Malamatiyya – The Path of Blame

What is Malamatiyya (The Path of Blame) in Sufism?

The path of blame (Malamatiyya) is the hidden Sufi path that centers around the value of self-blame. The goal of the path is to humiliate the nafs (ego) so that it will surrender to the ruh (spirit), which is sometimes known as to “die before death” in Sufism.

The malamatis are the blameworthy ones who follow the path of blame (malamatiyya). They see themselves as vulnerable to hypocrisy, self-importance, and self-righteousness. Thus, the principle of the path is to expose one’s blameworthiness, which means to conceal one’s true piety and knowledge while revealing one’s faults and imperfections to the world.

Purpose of Malamatiyya

The purpose of the path of blame is to value the moral and sincere quality from the inner self for the sake of God alone instead of concerning with outer appearances. The malamatis are NOT the ones who appear to be pious or spiritual people because they believe that displaying any kind of outer spirituality is a type of hypocrisy.

They are the ones who focus much on the inner qualities. They are tolerant, humble, and forgiving towards others but strict, discipline, and harsh on themselves. The malamatis don’t like to be praised in public; they even exaggerate their own mistakes while keeping their superior qualities hidden, or attributing them to God.

Their ultimate purpose is to transform the nafs (ego) to be the servant of God. They regard the nafs as the source of human evilness. According to Sufism, the more we put energy to satisfy the ego’s desires, the less energy we will have for advancing our soul development.

Teachings of the Path of Blame

Most teachings of the path of blame aim to humiliate the nafs with every possible action so that it can surrender itself to the path of God.

The path requires one to look at one’s actions with contempt while directing oneself towards God. For example, the Malamati doesn’t look at their good deeds with pride and satisfaction, but with contempt and mediocrity. This is done so for the sake of not being prone to self-righteousness and hypocrisy.

The people of blame wish to be free from any influence coming from the ego, such as criticizing another to make oneself look good, feeling separate, and exaggerating oneself through status, power, and achievement. The malamatis want to sacrifice whatever related to the nafs, including property, time and resources for the sake of others and for the sake of God.

The malamatis will do unusual things to attract blame to themselves. Some of them even practice intentional poverty to emphasize the principle of humility. There are many examples of the people of blame’s unusual actions such as not defending themselves or not explaining the real reasons behind their actions.

The path of blame is not the path recommended for everyone because it requires that one reaches a certain stage of ego development. In Sufism, there are 7 stages of the nafs and one needs to be at a particular level to follow the path of malamatiyya. Otherwise, it would be unbalanced, not effective, and even counteractive.

3 Stages of Fana

The basic principles for those who follow the path of blame are based on 3 stages of fana. In Sufism, “fana” means “annihilation of the ego” or “to die before death”. It is the process of breaking down, devaluing, and undermining the individual nafs to make it recognize the fundamental unity of God.

The person who has successfully completed the 3 stages are said to obtain Tawhid, which is the oneness with God, where God and him are essentially one. There is no separation between the divine and the human when one reaches the highest level.

1. Annihilation of Actions

The first stage is: there are no actions but God’s actions. It is the step that one takes to protect oneself from lust, sensual pleasures, and materialism of the world. These things will pull the “self” down and distract the “self” from the central oneness with God.

Another way to understand this stage is the detachment of worldly desire. Worldly desires are temporary things on the Earth while our eternal home contains permanent things on the Heaven.

Detachment is like a balloon. If you tie (attach) the balloon into something, it will not fly. Yet, if you untie the balloon, it will fly as high as it can possibly reach.

Thus, the first step of the path of malamatiyya is the fana of actions, or annihilation of actions.

2. Annihilation of Qualities

The second stage of fana is the annihilation of qualities. This is when you feel that you are patient or think that you are good (self-illusion). Thus, you need to escape from this self-deception and focus on sincerity from within.

It is about making one’s character sincere instead of assuming and attributing divine qualities to one’s character. For example, when a sincere man dies, the memories of him will last forever in other people’s mind rather than what he thinks of himself as a righteous person.

Self-righteousness and hypocrisy are two of the most severe problems for the malamatis. People can perform the same act repeatedly, yet once their intentions change, the heavenly records for their deeds will also change.

As the second stage of malamatiyya is the annihilation of qualities, the perceptions of the malamatis will change from impression to perception. That is, the people of blame will not be impressed by the world, but they will see the world as it is.

3. Annihilation of Self (Ego)

The last stage of fana is: there is no existence but God’s existence. On the last level of malamatiyya, one realizes that one’s own essence does not belong to oneself, but it belongs to the universe, to the spirit, and to God.

This is the stage of self-actualization, which is about realizing that there is no existence but God. The malamatis come to realize that there is no separation in this universe and there is no God but God.

There is no “You” and “God” on this level because God and You are essentially one. This is when you achieve the final goal of fana: “to die before you die“. This is also the stage of insani kamil (The Perfect Man) when you have opened all 5 levels of lataif, which are the energy centers of the heart.


The path of blame can be summarized as the path of taking blames while hiding one’s virtues for the sake of God. The ultimate goal of malamatiyya is fana – the annihilation of self, or the transformation of the nafs so that one can move upward in the process of self-realization.

The best virtues may not be seen with our physical eyes but hidden within our character. The best character may the character that is not aware of itself. Unless we transform our ego to serve the path of God, we really don’t know the difference between surviving and living.

A Seeker Of Truth - A Student Of Life - A Master Of Self

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