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No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.
      - Sunnah

Islam is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion originating with the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. The word Islam means "submission", or the total surrender of oneself to God. An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning "one who submits [to God]". The word Muslim is the participle of the same verb of which Islām is the infinitive. There are between 1 billion and 1.8 billion Muslims, making Islam the second-largest religion in the world, after Christianity.

Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad, God's final prophet, through the angel Gabriel, and regard the Qur'an and the Sunnah (words and deeds of Muhammad) as the fundamental sources of Islam. They do not regard Muhammad as the founder of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. Islamic tradition holds that Jews and Christians distorted the revelations God gave to these prophets by either altering the text, introducing a false interpretation, or both.  - from Wikipedia

 

The Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society

 


 

Tasawwuf

Sufism or tasawwuf, as it is called in Arabic, is understood by scholars to be the mystical dimension of Islam.

Sufism began as religious teachers in the Middle East came to learn the Truth of Islam directly from Mohammad. Masters who were “ordained” directly by Mohammad founded three major Sufi schools or orders. The most essential mystical knowledge was then passed down from each master to a disciple selected to follow as the leader of the school. Other disciples were sent out as masters to establish new schools. A Sufi school (ashram or convent) is often a community center that may include a residence for the students and master, a school, hospital, orphanage or any number of community services. Some of these services may be very modest and others may be very extensive, but they are often a vital part of the local community.

Schools are sometimes set up near the tomb of a Sufi saint in order to maintain the shrine and provide services to pilgrims, including places to retreat and meditate. While mainstream Islam promotes community service, mosques rarely umbrella such services beyond theological schools since mainstream Islam distinguishes the needs of the spirit from the needs of the body.

There is no firm historical source for Sufism. Many of the early orders were considered an integrated part of Islam, but as teachings were codified and the elements of Shi’i and Sunni Islam became more distinct, Sufism emerged with an identity. One of the basic ideas of Sufism is to minimize the self or individual identity. Belonging to a particular group with a unique name is contradictory to this effort. It is said, “a Sufi is one who is not,” and with a philosophy that seeks the destruction of self-identity it is thought that Sufi’s received their name from outsiders. Initially the term Sufi referred only to those who had achieved God realization, but it has since come to be applied to anyone who follows that particular spiritual path.

 While Sufism did not exist prior to Islam, Sufi doctrine contains many elements that go beyond the teaching of Mohammad. Islam is an external structure in which the individual exists while the internal quest for enlightenment belongs to a realm of Sufi knowledge. This knowledge integrates Islam and ancient doctrine that resembles elements of Greek Philosophy, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism that are part of the Sufi path to God-realization.

The most sacred knowledge of the Sufi masters is not written and is passed to each generation orally, which makes it somewhat difficult to historically trace the evolution of Sufi doctrine. Nonetheless, it seems reasonable that the Sufi doctrine that differs the most from the rest of Islam had its beginnings much earlier (although this is a very non-Muslim view of Sufism). For many years these extra qualities created a great deal of friction between mainstream Islam and the Muslim mystics. After centuries of falling in and out of favor, Sufis became integrated and an important central part of Islamic culture and society.

 A cornerstone of mysticism is that true knowledge of God is achieved directly and not through an intermediary like a prophet, saint or priest. Over the centuries this has led to a great deal of political conflict between mystics and non-mystics. If a cleric or Priest behaves or commands something that seems in conflict with dogma, the individual is not in a position to disagree as long as there is no direct relationship between God and the individual.

 Many Sufi orders encourage honoring Saints and Prophets by visiting them if the are alive or their tombs if they have passed on. Pilgrims often will go to ask for favors in the form of miracles or prosperity. In many communities the pilgrims are people from other religions who come to the tombs in hopes of finding favor or receiving miracles.
    
The high status afforded saints in communities influenced by Sufism implies an alternative means to communicate with God other than through the Imam, the Islamic clerics. In a fundamentalist Islamic community the highest-ranking Imam is the supreme authority, both politically and religiously. Sufism presents a potential conflict to this authority that has over the centuries led to persecution of Sufis in several Arab countries. Saudi Arabia and Iran are two countries where the tombs of Sufi saints have been destroyed. In some areas teachings of the Sufi masters are held in high regard, yet practicing Sufism is discouraged or even criminalized.

- David Berry

Training In Sufism

The life of a Sufi is the "life of the spirit " regulated strictly in accordance with Islamic theology and traditions. To attain this his first lesson is unshakable belief in the existence of God and unconditional surrender to His will. This entails a strenuous life attended by rigid austerity and self-denial. The Sufi has to undergo a course of training in regular prayers and meditation to attain the Divine Knowledge and realisation of Truth. This particular knowledge is passed on 'in secret' by one Sufi to another having the requisite qualifications (i.e. one who does not think evil does not see evil, does not hear evil and does not speak evil). Without this Divine Knowledge, one cannot fathom the hidden mysteries of the Nature and those of the soul. To sum up the whole object of Sufism is to attain the highest spiritual perfection.

When a seeker decides to become a mystic or Sufi, they are expected to go to a Sheikh or Murshid (master) and spend with him as much time as is deemed necessary by the Sheikh for his spiritual development. During this period of apprenticeship which, in most cases lasts a lifetime, the Sheikh instructs the disciple to perform tasks of servitude so as to gain control over his appetitive soul. This is done by performing service like hewing of wood, drawing of water from the wells and so many other menial services in the Khanqah (the monastery or chapel). Even Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty himself had to pass through this hard and rigorous course of probation when he was under training for a period of 20 years with his Pir-o-Murshid (master) Hazrat Khawaja Usman Harooni. Every Sufi saint has to perform these hard services for his 'Pir' before achieving the robe of Khilafat (succession).

Stages Of Mysticism

According to the Islamic standard of judgment, the seeker after Truth, as stated above has to pass through many stages before he can actually feel himself in commination with the Truth being the ultimate object. The elementary condition is to have an unshakable faith and a firm resolve in doing or not doing a thing that is termed 'niyyat' (intention) in Muslim theology which is followed by repentance and penitence. The next stage is called "Mujaheda" (probation of striving). When it reaches its zenith then the revelation process begins which is known as "Mukashfa" (the uplifting of veil). At this stage the attainments of the saint (or Sufi) are so exquisite that he merges his identify in the will of God, the creator. The effort by which each stage is gained is called 'haal' (state). It is a state of joy or desire and when the seeker is in this condition he falls into 'wajd' (ecstasy).

Sufi Symbolism

The Sufis believe that the phenomenal world is the Unreal, that the reason men are blind to the existence of the Real world, which is the Spiritual, is because there are veils and mists separating the soul from God. This world appears Real to the man who cannot use his spiritual eye and view the Beyond. Having no discernment of the Unseen, he does not believe in its existence. But whosoever becomes aware of the Divine Light shining in the heart, and who realizes the love of God in the soul, is able to pass from the Unreal to the Real; he will see:

"Gold wherever we go, and pearls
Wherever we turn, and silver in the waste."

So exquisite is the vision of the All-Beautiful that whoever has had this vision instantly becomes enamored, and leaves the world of shadows and change to contemplate the One. He will not rest until he has purified his life, cast aside everything that may be a hindrance in his path, and he will spend his whole life in communion with God, at the same time pouring out in love-songs and praise all the worship and adoration of his soul.

In reading the enraptured poetry of the Sufi's, it should be borne in mind that, though the symbols of earthly love and beauty are freely used, yet the real meaning is concealed. No doubt this was originally done to keep secret their mystic love, lest the profane should scoff. But as time went on certain words began to have a recognized meaning amongst themselves. For instance:

EMBRACES and KISSES are raptures of love.

SLEEP is contemplation, PERFUME the wish for Divine favor.

IDOLATERS mean men of the pure faith, not infidels.

WINE, which is strictly forbidden in Islam, was used as a word-symbol by the Sufi's to denote spiritual knowledge,
and the WINE-SELLER means the spiritual guide.

A TAVERN is a place where the wine of Divine love inebriates the pilgrim.

INTOXICATION means religious ecstasy, MIRTH the joy in the love of the Deity.

BEAUTY means the glory of the Beloved.

CURLS and TRESSES mean plurality veiling the face of Unity from its lovers.

The CHEEK means Divine essence of names and qualities.

The DOWN is the world of pure spirits which is nearest to Divinity.

The MOLE on the cheek is the point of indivisible Unity.

The TORCH is the light kindled in the heart by the Beloved.
 

- from Khwaja Gharib Nawaz's Website

 

 

 

Antioch Gate
Esoteric Sufism
Sufi Music The Sufi Way

 

 

 

 

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