Peace, one and all…
‘To become a dervish we pledge ourselves to a shaikh and a lineage. This reaches hand over hand all the way to Allah. Our pledge, our obedience, our commitment is to Allah, and the shaikh is a link. Why should there be any intermediary at all? That is a very good question. Actually there is no intermediary if the shaikh is a real shaikh and if one’s pledge is sincere. The shaikh actually is the evidence of God’s mercy and generosity, making grace more tangible, more immediate. The shaikh does not gather power or privilege for himself or herself but is the servant of the yearning of the dervish’s heart. The shaikh may also be the challenger of the dervish’s egoism, calling us to surpass our timidity, our fears, our comfortable complacency. The shaikh may also be the one to say, ‘Come into this fire; it will not burn you’.
No shaikh is perfect, and it is particularly in his function as shaikh that he may sometimes disappear and become a pure medium for divine grace or wisdom. It is the dervish who helps to create the shaikh, and both are in the process of learning from that relationship. It must be remembered that before becoming a shaikh, one had to be a dervish, and one never stops being a dervish’
(Shaykh Kabir Helminski, The Knowing Heart, p. 135)