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The origin of the word Sufi ( tasawuff) - almost a synonym for Islamic mysticism- is the subject of a great deal

of discussion. Possible roots range from a bench on which the first Sufis sat to listen to the Pro het s ea!" to the wool of the clothes they wore" to their purity. In #rabic" all these words $ suffe" suf" safi - might gi%e us Sufi. Sufi Islam has its critics within the &uslim world. #ccused of syncretism" some blamed its alleged corru tion for the decline of &uslim ower during the eriod of 'uro ean (olonial e) ansion" when almost e%ery &uslim country became art of a 'uro ean em ire. *n the other hand" millions of &uslims identify to some e)tent with Sufi Islam" which has had a unifying tendency" bridging Sunni and Shi+a. Some non-Sufi &uslims ractice a style of de%otion" reciting the ,, -ames of .od" for e)am le" ossibly accom anied by the use of rayer-beads (tasbih/misbaha)" that e%o!es a rofound awareness of .od+s intimate resence and reality in their li%es. 0sually ,, beads" sometimes 11 (three cycles).

Performance of %oluntary rayer" too" may result in a ty e of s iritual e) erience that can be described as mystical" although not necessarily Sufi-related. -on-&uslims often characteri2e the &uslim %iew of .od as distant and remote but the huge majority

of &uslims" Sufi or non-Sufi" regard the de%elo ing of taqwah (.od-consciousness) as one of the rinci al goals of their de%otional li%es. Sufism traces its beginnings from &uhammad" who communicated certain teachings through a chain of &asters" each of whom chooses and initiates a successor. This com ares with the idea of a ostolic succession in (hristianity" through which bisho s trace their ordination bac! to 3esus+ a ostles. Sufi Islam stresses inner e) erience of the resence of .od" so much so that Sufis sometimes neglected Islam+s e)ternal rituals" for which they were roundly condemned. They see different layers of meaning in the 4ur+an and sunnah" in ritual acts" technical and theological terms (as do Ismailis). The chain of succession is a silsilah. This is often traced through #li and also through 5asan of 6asra (789 - :9; or :1:). Sufis usually follow a &aster" joining his tariqah ( ath" or order). This is the murid-murshid relationshi " similar to the student-.uru relationshi 5induism. in

(htt <// order in 0S#) Mehmet Nzm Adil - 5ead of the -a=shbandi order (lineage traced to >umi and to &uhammad through #bu 6a!r.) htt <//'!B4 Some Tari=ah ha%e distinct dress.

Sufis are s iritual tra%elers" from worldliness and selfishness towards union with the di%ine. They rogress through stages (maqamat) that result" by .od+s grace (karamat)" in states (ahwal) mar!ing their s iritual de%elo ment. Stages of Sufi Experience Since about 859 A.D. in the earliest days of Sufism, the stages or stations (called maqamat) a Sufi is said to experience ha e been one of the central beliefs. !hese ary based on sect, but here is a typical se"uence. #. $epentance of sins and the %orldly life &. Abstinence of the desires of the %orld. (fa"ir) '. (atience in %aiting to experience )od *. )ratitude for their existence in )od 5. !rust in )od +. (leasure in experiencing the di ine ,. Absorption of the self in the di ine 8. -any teach annihilation of the self in the di ine

ST#T'S $ (ahwal) These states differ from the stations through which the Sufi asses in that the states are transitory e) eriences granted to him by .od and o%er which he has no control" whereas the stations are ermanent stages on the ath which he has achie%ed through his own indi%idual effort. Wajad (ecstatsy) #nnihilation (istilam) 5a iness (bast) Ces ondency (qabd)

#wa!ening (sah into)ication (sukr)

The goal is farna" a assing away of self-consciousness and into a ermanent state of .od-consciousness" the demise of nafs (the selfish soul).

&iracles are associated with the barrakah" or blessing" of the Shei!hs" some of which sound fantastic. The Shei!h or Pir does not claim to erform miracles< .od+s grants miracles as a sign of fa%or and mercy.

Reynold A. Nicholson lists some miracles e) ressing his own s!e ticism< It would be an almost endless tas! to enumerate and e)em lify the different classes of miracles which are related in the li%es of the &ohammedan saints--for instance" wal!ing on water" flying in the air (with or without a assenger)" rain-ma!ing" a earing in %arious laces at the same time" healing by the breath" bringing the dead to life" !nowledge and rediction of future e%ents" thought-reading" tele!inesis" aralysing or beheading an obno)ious erson by a word or gesture" con%ersing with animals or lants" turning earth into gold or recious stones" roducing food and drin!" etc. To the &oslem" who has no sense of natural law" all these D%iolations of custom"D as he calls them" seem e=ually credible. Ee" on the other hand" feel oursel%es obliged to distinguish henomena which we regard as irrational and im ossible from those for which we can find some sort of DnaturalD e) lanation. &odern theories of sychical influence" faith-healing" tele athy" %eridical hallucination" hy notic suggestion and the li!e" ha%e thrown o en to us a wide a%enue of a roach to this dar! continent in the 'astern mind. The Mystics of slam (F,F8) ( age F8G)

Cead saints (wali/awliya!friends of .od/Waliyyat (f)) form a s iritual hierarchy that hel s to sustain the world. 6elow the "utb stand %arious classes and grades of sanctity. 5ujwiri enumerates them" in ascending series" as follows< three hundred #khyar (.ood)" forty #bdal (Substitutes)" se%en #brar (Pious)" four #wtad (Su orts)" and three $uqaba (*%erseers).

The authority of the qutb" or Hworld i%ot+" recogni2ed among li%ing Shei!hs as the reeminent &aster of his day" sometimes ri%aled that of non-Sufi scholars who ser%ed the cali hal state. Practices include recitation" dance" song and rayer" all designed to lose the sense of self so that only awareness of .od+s reality remains. Ilute< just as the flute+s reed was luc!ed from the rushes" so our souls were luc!ed from aradise. The e%ocati%e sound reminds us of our true abode. Sufi oets" such as >umi (d. F9:1) and Cin #ttar (d. F99F) are widely admired.

Tariqahs include the -a=shbandi" the &e%le%i (the whirling der%ishes) and the (hishti. Saint+s Shrines" where teaching ta!es lace" function as ilgrim centers. Cer%ishes at >umi+s tomb" Jonya" Tur!ey.

Self-less ser%ice of others diminishes self-centeredness" so humanitarianism has a long history among Sufi orders. #longside schools" they run hos itals" hos ices and clinics (for animals as well as for eo le). Sufi orders flourish today throughout the &uslim world. Some non-&uslims identify with Sufi Islam" which 5a2rat Inayat Jhan (F;;1-F,9:) founder of the Sufi *rder International encouraged. Stressing the essential unity of all faith" which is .od+s gift to humanity and ne%er a human wor!" this builds on traditional" uni%ersal as ects of Sufi teaching. Sufis were accused of heresy for teaching the 0-ITK of 6'I-." and for identifying themsel%es as .od. Iamously" &ansur al-5allaj (;L;-,99) was e)ecuted for e)claiming I am Truth ( ana al haq)% #l-.ha2ali did much to reconcile the legalistic" e)oteric Islam with Sufism. Al-Ghazali (d 1111) began his life as a highly res ected legal scholar and theologian who was critical of Islamic falsafah (from the .ree!)" which he saw as neo- latonic and essentially atheist" des ite references to .od. 5is most famous wor! was the Tah&fut al'al&sifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers). #fter a ty e of mental brea! down while teaching in 6aghdad" he started to tra%el.

5e later wrote that he was dee ly in%ol%ed in affairs" and that the best of his acti%ities" his teaching" was concerned with branches of !nowledge which were unim ortant and worthless. ')amining his moti%e for teaching" he found that it was not from a sincere desire to ser%e .od but that he wanted an influential osition and wides read recognition" which he in fact did enjoy. 5e had no doubt" reflecting on this" that he stood on an eroding sandban! Mworldly desires were trying to !ee him chained where he was. .ha2ali described himself as standing on the edge of an abyss" and that without an immediate con%ersion" he felt that he should be doomed to eternal fire. .ha2ali would resol%e to ta!e to the road" to lea%e his ost" but then the mood would ass. Satan would say" Mthis is a assing mood M. Co not yield to it. .ha2ali was free from any financial or other worries and thought that if he did lea%e he would robably soon regret it and return. Si) months went by in this manner" as he was tossed about between the attractions of worldly desires and the im ulses towards eternal life. Then" the matter ceased to be one of choice and became one of com ulsion" and .od caused NhisO tongue to dry u so that NheO was re%ented from lecturingMNthisO im ediment N roduced grief in hisO soul (Eatt F,L9< F17ffP

'ncountering Sufis" he became con%inced that their way was the true way. I learnt with certainty that it is abo%e all the mystics who wal! on the road to .odP their life is the best life" their method the soundest methodD (Eatt F,L9< 71).

>es onding to criticism that Sufis neglect e)ternals" he encouraged them to also obser%e the fi%e illars" which hel ed reconcile Sufi Islam with mainstream Sunni Islam.

#l-5allaj had miss o!enP what he e) erienced was intimacy with .od but there is a difference between saying that the wine and the wine-(lass are identical" and saying that we percei)e them as identical.

A Woman Su i Saint The earliest &uslims are said to ha%e feared .od+s wrath. 5owe%er" a Sufi woman" >abi+a (d. ;GF) introduced the notion of lo%e ( hubb) into Islamic mysticism" the lo%e between the belo%ed (.od) and the lo%er. In their de%otion" these two become one. >abi+ia" who ne%er married" is highly regarded among Sufi &uslims. Ehen as!ed why she remained celibate" she re lied that she was so wra ed u in the lo%e of .od that she no longer had any awareness of e)isting as a being se arate from .od. -o duality e)ists when the mystic is immersed in the lo%e of .od. Since she had no being" how could she marry? Bater" Sufis de%elo ed the conce t of the Hunity of being+" inter reting the Shahadah to mean that there is no >eality but the >eality" that if only .od His+" then e%erything is di%ine. *ther women ha%e also become !nown as Sufi saints.

POETRY Intoxicated by the Wine of Love. From each a mystic silence Love demands. What do all seek so earnestly? 'Tis Love. What do they whisper to each other? Love. Love is the sub ect of their inmost thou!hts. In Love no lon!er 'thou' and 'I' exist" For #elf has passed away in the $eloved. %ow will I draw aside the veil from Love" &nd in the temple of mine inmost soul" $ehold the Friend' Incomparable Love. (e who would know the secret of both worlds" Will find the secret of them both" is Love. Farid ud )in &ttar * translation +ar!aret #mith *The ,awhar &l* )hat

-h. #upreme Lover. Let me leave aside my worries. The flowers are bloomin! with the exultation of your #pirit. $y &llah. I lon! to escape the prison of my e!o and lose myself in the mountains and the desert. These sad and lonely people tire me. I lon! to revel in the drunken fren/y of your love and feel the stren!th of 0ustam in my hands. I'm sick of mortal kin!s. I lon! to see your li!ht. With lamps in hand the sheikhs and mullahs roam

the dark alleys of these towns not findin! what they seek. 1ou are the 2ssence of the 2ssence" The intoxication of Love. I lon! to sin! your praises but stand mute with the a!ony of wishin! in my heart. 0umi * 'The Love 3oems of 0umi' * )eepak 4hopra 5 Fereydoun 6ia

The Song of the >eed Bisten to the song of the reed" 5ow it wails with the ain of se aration< Q'%er since I was ta!en from my reed bed &y woeful song has caused men and women to wee . I see! out those whose hearts are torn by se aration Ior only they understand the ain of this longing. Ehoe%er is ta!en away from his homeland Kearns for the day he will return. In e%ery gathering" among those who are ha y or sad" I cry with the same lament. '%eryone hears according to his own understanding" -one has searched for the secrets within me. &y secret is found in my lament 6ut an eye or ear without light cannot !now it . . .Q The sound of the reed comes from fire" not wind Ehat use is oneDs life without this fire? It is the fire of lo%e that brings music to the reed. It is the ferment of lo%e that gi%es taste to the wine. The song of the reed soothes the ain of lost lo%e. Its melody swee s the %eils from the heart. (an there be a oison so bitter or a sugar so sweet #s the song of the reed? To hear the song of the reed e%erything you ha%e e%er !nown must be left behind.

-- Aersion by 3onathan Star Q>umi - In the #rms of the 6elo%edQ 3eremy P. Tarcher/Putnam" -ew Kor! F,,: