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Pure Motivation » General Discussion » Other Religions/ الديانات الأخرى » Sufism


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1 Sufism on Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:31 pm


Senior Member
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Here is some information on Sufism a very mystic religion
If anyone has any further information about Sufism please add

Sufism (from Arabic (صوف), Suf meaning "wool") is a mystical tradition of Islam dedicated to experiencing Allah/God as the epitome of divine Love. Sufis can be associated with Shi'a Islam, Sunni Islam, other currents of Islam, or a combination of multiple traditions. Emerging duing the eighth century C.E. in the Middle East, though having earlier precedents, Sufism subsequently developed into several different orders known as Tariqas. The most famous of these orders is the Mevlevi tradition associated with the poet and mystic, Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi.

Sufis believe that excessive rationalism blocks human understanding of God's immersive and loving nature. Consequently, they focus on directly experiencing God through ecstatic practice in order to efface the obstructing self. Sufis have endured persecution over the years due to their unconventional and controversial approach to Allah, which has been perceived by some to be blasphemous.

Sufism is said to have originated during the time of Prophet Mohammad (seventh century C.E.). Almost all traditional Sufi orders trace their "chains of transmission" back to the Prophet via his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib (except the Naqshbandi order which traces its origin to caliph Abu Bakr). Each order believes that Sufi teachings were passed on from teacher to student through the centuries.

Some scholars argue that Sufism evolved from an interiorization of Islam, such as Louis Massignon who states: "It is from the Qur’an, constantly recited, meditated, and experienced, that Sufism proceeded, in its origin and its development."[1] Sufism may also have emerged from the practice of Muslim asceticism. People of ascetic temperaments were found throughout Muslim communities early in the history of Islam.[2] These ascetics focused on introspection and maintained a strict control over their life and behavior. They followed a lifestyle of modesty, temperance, contentment and the denial of luxury. Their practices included fasting, wearing light clothing in the depths of winter, or withdrawing themselves from the world.[3] Other theories have been suggested for the origins of Sufism, which link it to outside non-Muslim influences.[4]

Sufism as a whole is primarily concerned with direct personal experience, and as such may be compared to other forms of religious mysticism. Sufis make extensive use of parable, allegory, and metaphor to express divine longing and mystical experience. The following allegory helps to explain the Sufi approach to God:

"There are three ways of knowing a thing. Take for instance a flame. One can be told of the flame, one can see the flame with his own eyes, and finally one can reach out and be burned by it. In this way, we Sufis seek to be burned by God."

Sufis understand the Prophet Mohammed’s saying, “God was, and nothing was Him” to mean that God’s existence is supreme to all others. God alone possesses reality and provides the reality to everything else in the world (Chittick, 2000, p. 12). People who sense this special perception within themselves and who work to transcend ordinary human constraints can further develop their minds to “know” God (Hardin, 1973). The ninth-century mystic Nubian Dhu al-Nun al-Misri clearly expressed what was to become the backbone of Sufi philosophy by saying, “Let him direct his soul to the greatness of God, for then it will dissolve and become pure. Whoever regards the power of God, his own power goes away, for all souls are poor next to his awesomeness” (Melchert, 1996). His disciple, Al-Kharraz, (890 – 891 C.E.), was the first to speak of f’ana (annihilation) and baqa (remaining) to describe how Sufis sought to lose consciousness of their own self to properly live in full contemplation of the divine’s existence (Melchert, 1996).

Building on these notions, Sufism developed several key doctrines including Wahdat (meaning "Unity"), which affirms the Oneness of Allah (tawhid), and Tawakkal (meaning "absolute trust in God"). The former doctrine is predicated on the belief that all phenomena are manifestations of a single reality called Wujud (being), or al-Haq (Truth, God). The essence of being/Truth/God is devoid of every form and quality, and hence unmanifested, yet it is inseparable from every form and phenomenon either material or spiritual. It is often understood to imply that every phenomenon is an aspect of Truth and at the same time attribution of existence to it is false. The chief aim of all Sufis is to let go of all notions of duality, including the individual self and realize this divine unity. In this way, Sufis seek to directly connect with the divine. Junayd was among the first theorist of Sufism; he concerned himself with ‘fanaa’ and ‘baqaa’, the state of annihilating the self in the presence of the divine, accompanied by clarity concerning worldly phenomena.

Sufi Devotional Practices

Muraqaba (Persian: Tamarkoz) is the word used by many Sufis when referring to the practice of meditation. The Arabic word literally means "to observe, guard or control one's thoughts and desires." In some Sufi orders, muraqaba may involve concentrating one's mind on the names of God, on a verse of the Qur'an, or on certain Arabic letters that have special significance.

Dhikr is the remembrance of God commanded in the Qur'an for all Muslims. To engage in dhikr is to have awareness of God according to Islam. Dhikr as a devotional act includes the repetition of divine names, supplications and aphorisms from hadith literature, and sections of the Qur'an. More generally, any activity in which the Muslim maintains awareness of God is considered dhikr.

It is interesting to note that the practice of Muraqaba and Dhikr have very close resemblance with the practices of the Jewish mystics. Muraqaba is very similar to the Merkavah practice, which is one of the meditations used by Kabbalists to attain higher states of consciousness. Kabbalists also use a practice called Zakhor which in Hebrew literally means remembrance. Zakhor serves the same purpose in Kabbalah as Dhikr serves in Sufism. Another thing to notice here is that there is not only similarity in practice but also a strong similarity in the spelling and sounding of the words in Sufism and Kabbalah. This may imply that the Sufi mystical system has its origins in Judaism and its mystical tradition the Kabbala.
Some Sufi orders engage in ritualized dhikr ceremonies, the liturgy of which may include recitation, singing, instrumental music, dance, costumes, incense, meditation, ecstasy, and trance. (Touma 1996, p.162).

Hadhra is a dance associated with dhikr practiced primarily in the Arab world. The word Hadhra means Presence in Arabic. Sometimes the Sufi songs, or dances are performed as an appeal for the Presence of God, his prophets, and angels.

Qawwali is a form of devotional Sufi music common in Pakistan, North India, Afganistan, Iran and Turkey. It is known for its secular strains. Some of its modern-day masters have included Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Sabri Brothers.

Sema refers to Sufi worship practices involving music and dance. In Uyghur culture, this includes a dance form also originally associated with Sufi ritual.[8] The Mevlevi order, founded by Rumi, became famous for their whirling dance (El-Zein, 2000). Along with anticipation and anguish, the dance of the whirling dervish symbolizes the exhilaration that comes from the search for divine love (El-Zein, 2000; Tell, 2002). The whirling movements of the dervishes are performed to the sound of a reed and drum; the intensity of the movement mounts as the Sufis attempt to transcend their body and rational consciousness (Tell, 2002). Their dance is said to be symbolic of the universal cosmic dance that was begun and is sustained by the divine music of love (And, 1977; Omaima, 1994).

Khalwa refers to a form of retreat, once widespread but now less common. A khalwa may be prescribed by the shaykh (spiritual advisor) of the murid or talib (student). Muslims believe that most of the prophets, and also Maryam (Mary) the mother of Issa (Jesus), lived in some form of seclusion at some point in their life. Muhammad, for example, used to retreat to the cave where he received his first inspiration—but had been going there for many years prior to his meeting with the angel Gabriel. Similar examples include Moses' going into seclusion for 40 days in a cave in Mt. Sinai. Mary was in seclusion in the Jewish temple for a year, where only Zakariya was permitted to see her.

Sufism and Love

The Sufis believe that the highest form of human love is the pure love for the Divine. Humans can achieve this love if they give themselves entirely to the Allah's will (Abdin, 2004). Sufis consider love for family, friends, material goods, or even Paradise all to be distractions from the love of God (Chittick, 2000). The heart of a believer should be so overflowing with God’s love that there is no other room for any other emotion in it (Abdin, 2004). Affirming this sentiment, the great female Sufi Rabi’a Al Adawiyya said, “I love God: I have no time left in which to hate the devil.” (Abdin, 2004). Love allows the believer to seize the spiritual beauty of God that is present in all things, and therefore love God in all things and love all things through God (Abdin, 2004).

Sufis believe that love is a projection of the essence of God to the universe. The most famous and respected of the Sufi poets, Jalaludin Rumi, wrote extensively of love and the overwhelming joy of joining with the divine:

"What would happen, youth, if you became a lover like me –
Every day madness, every night weeping.
His image not out of your eyes for an instant –
Two hundred lights in your eyes from that face.
You would cut yourself off from your friends,
You would wash your hands of the world:
“I have detached myself from myself,
I have become totally Yours.
“When I mix with these people, I am water with oil,
Outwardly joined, inwardly separate.”
Leaving behind all selfish desires, you would become mad,
But not any madness a doctor could cure.
If for an instant the physicians tasted this heartache,
They would escape their chains and tear up their books.
Enough! Leave all this behind, seek a mine of sugar!
Become effaced in that sugar like milk in pastry.”


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