NOOR ALA NOOR Home Page
Home | A.A.I.I. | Studies in Islam | Qur`anic References | Short Prayers | Sufism-Tijaniyya | Noor - Newsletter | Spirit of Good Morals
About Sufism.

Sufism - Tasawwuf,

Islamic Spiritual Science

 

       "Sufism, or Tasawwuf (Islamic Spiritual Science), which is the esoteric or inward (Batin) aspect of Islam, is to be distinguished from exoteric or external (Zahir) aspect of Islam. Whereas the ordinary way of believers is directed towards obtaining a state of blessedness after death, a state which may be attained through indirect and symbolical participation in divine truths by carrying out prescribed works, Sufism contains its end or aim within itself in the sense that it can give access to direct knowledge of the Eternal One."

"--There is no adequate reason for doubting the historical authenticity of the spiritual 'descent' of the Sufi Masters, a descent which can be traced in an unbroken 'chain' (Silsilah) back to the Prophet himself (pbuh)."

"--As for initiation in Sufism, this consists in the transmission of a spiritual influence (Barakah) and must be conferred by a representative of a 'chain' reaching back to the Prophet (pbuh). In most cases it is transmitted and confers the means of spiritual concentration that are appropriate to the aptitudes of the disciple. The general framework of the method is the Islamic Law,--"

"Initiation generally takes the form of a pact (Bayah) between the candidate or seeker (mureed), and the Spiritual Master (Murshid) who represents the Prophet (pbuh). This pact implies perfect submission of the disciple to the master in all that concerns spiritual life and it can never be dissolved unilaterally by the will of the disciple."

"The different 'branches' of the spiritual 'family tree' of Sufism correspond quite naturally to different 'paths' (Turuq, plural - Tariqa, singular). Each Great Master from whom the start of a specific branch can be traced has authority to adopt the method aptitude of a particular category or group of those who are gifted for spiritual life. Thus the various 'paths' correspond to the same goal, and are in no sense schisms or sects within Sufism, although partial deviations have also arisen from time to time and given birth to sects in the strict sense."
[The above excerpts are from an article about the teachings of Sufi Master 'Rumi, the Persian' that was published in a Sufi newspaper in the U.S. which we have since misplaced.]

THE SUFIS

[The following excerpts are from the book "The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Vol. 5.]

The word Sufi is derived from (Safa) meaning pure, purified of ignorance, superstition, dogmatism, egotism, and fanaticism, as well as free from limitations of caste, creed, race, and nation. The Sufis believe in God as the Absolute, the only Being; and that all creation is the manifestation of His nature.
There have been Sufis at all periods of human history. Though they have lived in different parts of the world, speaking different languages and born into different faiths and beliefs, they have recognized and sympathized with each other, through the oneness of their understanding Yet with their deep knowledge of world and of spiritual mysteries, they have concealed their beliefs from the multitude, and have pursued in secret their way of attainment to the highest bliss.

SUFISM

Sufis, who had received spiritual training from all previous Prophets and leaders, likewise received training from Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The openness of Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) essential teachings paved the way for them to come forward into the world without the interference they had previously experienced, and a mystic order called the Sahaba-is-Safa, (Companions, or) Knights of Purity, was inaugurated by the Prophet (pbuh), and afterwards was carried on by Ali (ra) and Siddiq (ra). The lives of these knights (Companions) were extraordinary in their wisdom, piety, bravery, spirituality, and great charity of heart. This order was carried on by their successors, who were called Shaykh, Pir-o-Murshid, etc., one after another, duly connected as links in a chain.
The spiritual bond between them is a miraculous force of divine illumination, and is experienced by worthy initiates of the Sufi Order; just as the electric current runs through all connected lamps and lights them. By this means the higher development is attained without great efforts. Sufism was unostentatiously practiced in Arabia during the period of Sahabis, Taba'een, and Taba'-Taba'een. Charity, piety, spirituality, and bravery are the real proofs of Sufi advancement.-

"---Sufis have in many cases realized and shown the greatest perfection in humanity. And among the lives of the Sufi Saints may be found some of the most divine models of human perfection in all capacities, from a king to a laborer. The idea that Sufism sprang from Islam or from any other religion is not necessarily true; yet it may rightly be called the 'Spirit of Islam', as well as the pure essence of all religions and philosophies.
A true Sufi remains in the thought of truth continually, sees the truth in all things and never becomes, prejudiced, but cultivates affection for all beings. A Sufi accomplishes the divine journey and reaches the highest grade of Baqa during this life, but people of all beliefs arrive, eventually, at the same level of understanding and realization which Sufism represents.
Sufism contains all branches of mysticism, such as psychology, occultism, spiritualism, clairvoyance, clairaudience, intuition, inspiration, etc., but that which a Sufi particularly wishes to acquire is not necessarily any of the above-named powers; because the object of all these powers is towards greater individuality, and individuality itself is only a hindrance on the Sufi's path towards the accomplishment of his highest perfection. Therefore the main object of initiation in the Sufi Order is to cultivate the heart through renunciation and resignation, that it may be pure enough to sow the seed of divine love and realize the highest truth and wisdom, both theoretically and practically, thereby attaining the highest attributes of humanity.
Divine perfection is perfection in all powers and mysteries. All mysteries, powers, and realizations gradually manifest themselves to the Sufi through his natural development, without his specially striving for them.
Self-realization is the highest and most difficult attainment of all. It is impossible to acquire it in the manner of sciences and arts, nor is it possible to attain it as health, wealth, honor, and power can be obtained by certain means. For the sake of self-realization, thousands have renounced family and all worldly possessions, and kings their kingdoms, and they have retired to desert, jungle, or mountain fastness, striving to find in asceticism the secret of this bliss.

LOVE

The greatest principle of Sufism is, 'Ishq Allah, Ma'bud Allah' (God is Love, Lover, and Beloved).
When Ahad, the only Being, became conscious of His Wahdat. (only existence) through His own consciousness, then His pre-disposition of love made Him project Himself to establish His dual aspect, that He might be able to love someone. This made God the Lover, and manifestation the beloved; the next inversion makes manifestation the lover, and God the Beloved. This force of love has been working through several evolutions and involutions, which end in man who is the ultimate aim of God. The dual aspect of God is significant in Zat (Dhat), and Sifat, in spiritual matter, and in the mineral, vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms, wherein the two sexes, male and female, are clearly represented. The dual aspect of God is symbolized by each form of this wonderful world. This whole universe, internally and externally, is governed by the force of love, which is sometimes the cause and sometimes the effect. The producer and the product are one, and that One is nothing but love.

'A church, a temple or a Kaa`ba stone,
Qur`an or Bible or a martyr's bone,
All these and more my heart can tolerate,
Since my religion now is Love alone' (Abul Ala).

Sufis take the course of love and devotion to accomplish their highest aim, because it is love which has brought man from the world of unity to the world of variety, and the same force can take him back again to the world of unity from that of variety.
'Love is the reduction of the universe to the single being, and the expansion of a single being, even. to God' (Balzac).
Love is that state of mind in which the consciousness of the lover is merged in that of the object of his love; it produces in the lover all the attributes of humanity, such as resignation, renunciation, humility, kindness, contentment, patience, virtue, calmness, gentleness, charity, faithfulness, bravery, by which the devotee becomes harmonized with the Absolute. As one of God's beloved, a path is opened for his heavenly journey: at the end he arrives at oneness with God, and his whole individuality is dissolved in the ocean of eternal bliss where even the conception of God and man disappears.

'Although love is a sweet madness,
Yet all infirmities it heals.
Saints and sages have passed through it,
Love both to God and man appeals.'
***

SUFI TRAINING

The Murshid (Right Guide) prefers a Mureed (Seeker) whose mind is unembarrassed by other methods of training; who is free from worldly considerations, and is possessed of whole-hearted perseverance; who is capable of committing himself with perfect faith and devotion to the guidance of his Murshid.
The practice of harmony and temperance is essential, but the Murshid never prescribes for his mureeds the ascetic life; rather it is a peculiarity of the Sufi training that the mureed is quickened to appreciate and enjoy the world more than Others. The Murshid at first creates divine love in the mureed, which, in the course time, develops and purifies his heart so much that it permits the virtues of humanity to develop freely of themselves. He then receives more and more divine wisdom from the appointed channel, and at last arrives at complete self-realization.
There is no common course of study for mureeds; each receives the special training best adapted to his requirements. In other words, the Murshid, as a spiritual physician prescribes a suitable remedy for curing every mureed. There is no limit of time for the advancement to a certain degree. To one, realization may come the moment after initiation; to another it may not be vouchsafed during his whole life. Among the Sayings of Muhammad (pbuh) one finds: 'It depends upon nothing but the Mercy of Allah, whomever He may kindly choose for it.
Still, there is hope of success: 'Whoever walks one step toward the Grace of Allah, the Divine Mercy walks forward ten steps to receive him' (id.).

 

Al Hamdu li-llah.