It is a well known historical
fact that in spreading the ethical and spiritual values
of Islam, major and effective contributions have been
Made by the Walis of ALLAH (saints). It was their humanistic position,
and piety which won over the hearts of lacs of people.
They made a direct contact with the masses served and
loved them, lived with them in the realization of Eternal
Truth. The proof of this is more than evident from the
history of growth of Islam in India.
Although Islam had penetrated in this subcontinent in
the first century of Hijra, but the noble task of inspiring
the people to its tenets and values in India was accomplished
by Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty (R.A.)
http://www.kgn786.com popularly known as Khwaja
Saheb and Khwaja Gharib Nawaz.
word Sufi is derived from the Arabic word 'suf' which means
' wool ' and which refers to the coarse woolen robes that were
worn by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and by his close companions.
The goal of a Sufi is none other than God Himself. There are
signs of God everywhere in the universe and in man himself.
Sufis have pointed out useful things about Iblis. Let's continue
with some of their teachings. Let us quote shaykh Fariduddin
'Attar who has written these lines in his "Mosibat Nama"(Book
of Adversity), p. 63, for people looking for a Sufi teacher:
to gu'i nist piri aashkaarTo talab kon dar hazaar andar hazaarZe
aanke gar piri namaand dar jahaanNa zamin bar jaai maand na
zamaanPir ham hast in zamaan penhaan shodaTang-e khalqaan dida
dar kholqaan shoda
you say: There is no pir openly to be seen,Then you should seek
another thousand times.For if no pir would remain in the world,Then
neither the earth nor time would remain in place.The pir exists
even now, but he is hidden.Having seen the narrow-mindedness
of the people,He is wearing worn-out clothes.
'Azizuddin Nasafi speaks about the role of Iblis in this respect:
"O, dervish! You will not find this wise man or this verifier
of thetruth in mosques, preaching from the pulpit or reciting
will not find him in the religious schools giving lessons, and
you will not find him among the people of high office among
the bookish people or among the idol worshippers. You will not
find him in the Sufi centre prostrating himself with the people
of fantasy and self-worshippers.
of these three places for worshipping God, there may be one
person out of a thousand working for the sake of God".
" O dervish! The wise man and the verifier of the truth,
and the men of God are hidden and this hiddenness is their guardian,
their club, their fortress, and their weapon. This is the reason
why they are clean and pure. He that is not hidden is a plot
and a trick of Satan". O, dervish! Their exterior is like
the exterior of the common people and their interior is like
the interior of the elite. They don't give access to any leader
or chief and they have no claim to be a leader
most of their time in retreat and seclusion, and they don't
enjoy interaction with this world. They are opposed to company
with those of high position. If it is useful, they spend their
time in association with the dear ones and the dervishes".
Serving Love :- The truly virtuous are they who? give food
however great be their want of it unto the needy,
the orphan, and the captive, saying, in their hearts, "We
feed you for the sake of God alone: we desire no recompense
from you, nor thanks: behold, we stand in awe of our Sustainer..."
One of the traditional roles of the dervish lodge was as community
kitchen and hostel, providing food and shelter for the poor
and for travelers. Many early Sufis were "sons of the road,"
wandering during the warm season, and relying on the grace of
God and the spontaneous generosity of fellow Sufis for shelter
and sustenance. Followers of other faiths also could count on
such generosity, with no questions asked about their religion.
who entertains dervishes will be compensated in paradise. Uthman
kitchen in which meals were cooking around the clock was the
hallmark of many Sufi saints. The great Chishti Shaikh Nizamuddin
Auliya was known to entertain large groups of traveling dervishes
even thirty or more for up to three days at a
time. The three-day limit is in keeping with Muhammad's counsel:
"Hospitality extends for three days, and anything beyond
that is charity." Ibn Batuta enjoyed and documented such
hospitality during his travels in the 14th century, as did Evliya
Efendi in the 17th century.
The desire to share food was one basis for the development of
communities the Turkish word tekke referred to a refectory
or dining hall long before it became exclusively identified
with a Sufi establishment. With the development of orders and
communities came a greater capacity to serve greater numbers;
but no matter what its size, each Sufi center had lodgings reserved
for guests, and a place of honor for them at the table.
Persian word langar was synonymous with a soup kitchen and resting
place for travelers, or a Sufi residence. Ahmed Uzgani's largely
mythical "History of the Uwaysis," set in East Turkestan
around 1600 CE, includes stories of Sufi saints who established
langars and spent years in this way of service. Legend has it
that the kitchen of one of them, Ghiyath al-Din of Shikarmat,
was miraculously granted a limitless supply of fire and water.
The many references to holy men and women engaged in such work
reflect the great value attached to it, and the widespread presence
of langars throughout Central Asia.
Abdul Qadir Gilani, pir of the Qadiri Order, was known
as Ghauth al-'Azam, "The Great Helper," and was renowned
for his charity. According to the Qadiris, he was 'born of love,
lived in a perfect way, and died having achieved the perfection
of love." One of his characteristics was generosity, and
the tradition which he started of feeding the poor is perpetuated
every year by his followers on his urs, the anniversary of his
death. On the 11th day of Rabi'al-Thani, at his shrine in Baghdad
and throughout the Muslim world, thousands of people gather
at meetings and festivals to recite Qur'an, to honor the memory
of Abdul Qadir Gilani, and to partake of the large quantities
of food cooked and distributed in his honor.
the example of their founder, Muinuddin Chishti, Chishti khanqahs
have always kept open kitchens and have provided vital services
in public emergencies. In 1976, when monsoon floods destroyed
many houses in Ajmer, India, the Chishti khanqah there fed and
housed many of the homeless. For centuries the Ajmer Langar
Khana has cooked and distributed twice daily a barley porridge,
itself known as langar. In 1904 the Rajputana District Gazetteer
maunds and six seers of grain (178 lbs.) with six seers of salt
(13 lbs.) are cooked and distributed to all comers before daybreak
in the morning, and the same quantity before five o'clock in
the evening... Besides the 1,570 maunds of grain (65 tons) which
are thus yearly consumed, 644 maunds (27 tons) are annually
distributed to infirm women, widows, and other deserving persons
at their own houses.
Rajputana District Gazetteer
From the 15th to the 19th centuries CE, the Ansari caretakers
of the shrine of Ali in Balkh (now Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan)
offered to all comers a meal of bread and soup every Friday
and Monday evening; and when they could afford it, sweets and
fruit were set out after Friday and Monday evening prayers.
The 16th Century Helveti Shaikh Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Gulshani
established a dergah in Cairo which became widely known for
its public offerings of food; its staff included a baker, a
cook, and a "tablesetter for the poor."
In Ottoman lands, the imaret was a public institution serving
travelers, the needy, dervishes, and the keepers of the mosques.
The public kitchens of the imarets and many of the Sufi tekkes
and zawiyas (all of which had open kitchens) were supported
by waqf, charitable foundations established by government, and
by wealthy and prominent men and women. Support also came from
private donations and from the dervish orders' agricultural
activities and industries. (For instance, for centuries the
Bektashi Order controlled the most productive salt mines in
the Ottoman Empire; the salt from those mines was called Hajji
Bektash salt.) In the 16th century, the Istanbul imaret of Sultan
Mehmed II Fatih prepared meals for over 1,100 people every day;
its guest house accommodated up to 160 visitors at a time. Stores
of cheese, cream and honey were earmarked for guests, and those
fortunate enough to attend a banquet there were served special
rice dishes such as dane and zerde.
have carried this tradition of service into modern times. Although
Kemal Ataturk outlawed the Turkish dervish orders in 1925, in
the 1930's Mevlevi Shaikh Suleyman Loras was permitted to open
the kitchen of a Mevlevi tekke in order to feed the poor. Three
evenings a week the Karagumruk Helveti-Jerrahi dergah, located
in a poor section of Istanbul, accommodates 500 or more diners.
Many local community residents come for dinner and leave after
the meal, to be replaced by others who come to participate in
dhikr. The Jerrahi dergah in Spring Valley, New York, serves
125 or more diners every Saturday night, and even more
and more frequently during the month of Ramadan. Once
a month, community members directly distribute cooked meals,
person to person, to local families in need.
Rufai dergahs throughout Turkey, tables are routinely set for
200-250 people. During Muharram, the Tirana, Albania, Bektashi
tekke prepares ashura, a pudding of legumes and dried fruits,
for 600 people. Throughout the year at the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
Fellowship in Philadelphia, 50 to 200 people take their evening
meal together every night.
In modern Egypt, offerings of food and hospitality are central
to Sufi life. The Sufi center or saha offers meals and lodging
to guests; some have enormous concrete tables accommodating
one hundred of more diners at a sitting. At annual moulid observances
honoring the anniversary of the death of Sufi saints, khidamat
hospitality stations are set up in tents, at nearby
buildings, or on simple cloths laid out upon the ground. Guests
are offered food and drink, called nafha a word with
the dual meaning of "gift" and "fragrance."
Nafha must be accepted, for not only is it a gift of the heart,
but it carries with it the baraka of the saint being honored.
Poor people partake of nafha for its nourishment; poor and rich
alike partake of nafha for its baraka.
Dervish hospitality in the grand manner was described by an
American guest of the Shaikh of the Tripoli Mevlevi tekke in
[The Shaikh] shouted welcome in French and Arabic as he came,
embraced Dr. Dray like a grizzly bear, shook hands with me,
deplored the hot weather, and led us to a terrace where he hoped
there would be a little breeze...
We found ourselves[...] sipping a delicious pale-green liquid,
mixed from freshly crushed white grapes and lime juice... The
luncheon was an Arabian Nights feast of more than twenty courses
and lasted for two hours. Whole roasted chickens, and chicken
pilaf with rice, almonds, and raisins; lamb on skewers; lamb
wrapped in grape leaves and cooked in olive oil, lamb stewed
with eggplant; lamb cooked with peppercorns; delicious salads;
cucumbers peeled at the table and eaten as we eat fruit; no
less than six desserts, beginning with a great pan of custard,
running the gamut of pastries with ground-up nuts and honey,
to end at last with watermelons cooled in the fountain.
[...] through all the exuberance of his welcome, through the
elaborate material luxury of our entertainment and his obvious
whole-hearted enjoyment of the delicious food, I sensed continually
that there was another side to this man and felt that his abundant
physical vitality was not incompatible, perhaps, with powers
which might be equally unusual in other directions. I had been
told that he was a great mystic, and I was not prepared to doubt
it on the superficial evidence.
Six hundred years earlier, that Shaikh's Pir had written:
waits for the fulfillment of their desires
that's why they eat so much!
But the Sufi who takes nourishment from the light of God
is free from the shame of begging.
Such Sufis are one in a thousand,
the rest live under their protection.
Both guest and host stand at the threshold between the known
and the unknown worlds, between the mundane and the sacred.
Whether the material setting be opulent or simple, the ultimate
value of the relationship lies in the degree to which both are
willing to reflect the divine qualities. The offering and acceptance
of an invitation reflect the willingness of guest and host to
render service and honor, to identify with each other, and to
acknowledge that, in fact, there is no other. Knocking at the
door, opening it in welcome, sharing company at the hearth,
breaking bread in fellowship these actions mirror the
inner capacity for unconditional acceptance of the hospitality
and sustenance God offers to all creatures. The epitome of such
openness was depicted by the Hungarian traveler Arminius Vambery,
who in 1862 was a guest in the tent of Allah Nazr, on the plateau
to the north of Gomushtepe, Anatolia:
old Turkoman was beside himself from joy that heaven had sent
him guests; the recollection of that scene will never pass from
my mind. In spite of our protestations to the contrary, he killed
a goat, the only one which he possessed, to contribute to our
entertainment. At a second meal, which we partook with him the
next day, he found means to procure bread also, an article that
had not been seen for weeks in his dwelling. While we attacked
the dish of meat, he seated himself opposite to us, and wept,
in the exactest sense of the expression, tears of joy. Allah
Nazr would not retain any part of the goat he had killed in
honor of us. The horns and hoofs, which were burned to ashes,
and were to be employed for the galled places on the camels,
he gave to Ilias; but the skin, stripped off in one piece, he
destined to serve as my water-vessel, and after having well
rubbed it with salt, and dried it in the sun, he handed it over
Whether he wore the robes of a Bektashi or not, it is clear
that Allah Nazr understood the words of Hajji Bektash:
is the state of the world: those who come shall pass away. Serve
thou also. Lay out the meal. If you need help, seek it in generosity.
When the people wanted courage and a miracle from 'Ali, he commanded
Kanbar, saying, "Lay on the meal." Let all who would
enter the tariqat and wear its dress seek out a traveler and
Hajji Bektash Veli
origin and essence of man
Man is the mystery of God. For a mysterious purpose, man was
outwardly created of clay and God breathed life into him, and
all of the angels were commanded to prostrate themselves before
him. As the Qur'an, which we believe is the highest form of
"And remember when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo I
am creating a mortal out of potter's clay. So when I have made
him and shaped him and have breathed into him of My Spirit,
do ye fall down prostrating yourself unto him."
is a mystic tradition of Islam encompassing a diverse range
of beliefs and practices dedicated to Allah/God, divine love
and sometimes to helping fellow man. Tariqas (Sufi orders) may
be associated with Shi'a Islam, Sunni Islam, other currents
of Islam, or a combination of multiple traditions. It has been
suggested that Sufi thought emerged from the Middle East in
the eighth century, but adherents are now found around the world.
Some Sufis have also claimed that Sufism pre-dates Islam and
some groups operate with only very tenuous links to Islam.
Qur'anic roots of Sufism
Sufism really has its roots in the Qur'an itself and in the
religious experience of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The preliminary
signs of revelation were given to the Prophet (pbuh) in the
form of visions and the Prophet (pbuh) deliberately sought solitude
until the book of his heart, which was pure and unspoiled by
schoolmen, was opened and the Divine Pen engraved upon it the
revelation, the Qur'an.
Sufi's knowledge of God comes from the Qur'an directly. And
in spite of the Sufi's proximity to God, the undisputed basis
of their direct experience of God has always been the Qur'an.
The Qur'an contains instructions suitable to man with varying
levels of spirituality. It satisfies those who are content with
merely exoteric practices, but also contains the deepest and
most profound esoteric meaning for those who desire a closer,
more mystical relationship with God.
Qur'anic verses which are the favourites of the Sufis include:
"We [God] are closer to him [man] than his jugular vein."
"Say, surely we belong to God and to Him do we return."
"He is the First and the Last and the Manifest and the
Hidden." "God is the light of the heavens and the
Such verses are limitless in their depth, scope and meaning,
and man may draw from them as much mystical meaning as he has
the capacity to understand.
says in the Qur'an that God sent His Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
first and foremost as a Mercy unto all peoples. And men of different
levels of spiritual understanding may avail themselves of this
Mercy according to their various capacities.
Prophet (pbuh) and his close associates never stopped at merely
observing the minimum requirement in regard to prayer and devotional
practices. All through his life, the Prophet (pbuh) kept long
night vigils and practised voluntary fasts during most days.
He never ate barley bread (the staple food of his day) on three
consecutive days, and he never even touched a loaf of wheat
bread -- which was a luxury. One of his favourite sayings was
"Poverty is my pride," and this saying came to be
quoted in every manual of Sufi doctrine, making the rule of
poverty a basic characteristic of Sufi life.
form of the basic beliefs depends on the Sufi School or current
in question. While there are significant variations in approach
among them, the underlying concepts remain similar.
that love is a projection of the essence of God to the universe.
doctrine of Sufism, sometimes called Wahdat or Unity,
is the understanding of Tawhid: all phenomena are manifestations
of a single reality, or 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 then is to let go
of all notions of duality, therefore the individual self also,
and realize the divine unity.
in personal groups, as the interaction of the master is considered
necessary for the growth of the pupil. They make extensive use
of parable, allegory, and metaphor, and it is held by Sufis
that meaning can only be reached through a process of seeking
the truth, and knowledge of oneself. Although philosophies vary
between different Sufi orders.
metaphor, credited to an unknown Sufi scholar, helps describe
this line of thought.
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.
part of Persian literature comes from the Sufis, who created
great books of poetry (which include for example the Walled
Garden of Truth, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Conference of
the Birds and the Masnavi), all of which contain teachings of
produced a large body of poetry in Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Kurdish,
Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, which notably includes the works of Jalal
al-Din Muhammad Rumi, Farid Ud-Din Attar, Abdul Qader Bedil, Bulleh
Shah, Amir Khusro, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast, Sultan
Bahu, as well as numerous traditions of devotional dance, such
as Sufi whirling, and music, such as Qawwali.
of Sufism can be divided into the following principal periods:
and methodology of Sufism
Sufism is an esoteric doctrine transmitted by word of mouth,
and sometimes without even a spoken or written word, by an authorized
teacher to a disciple, and from disciple to another disciple,
in confidence. These secret instructions are acted upon by a
disciple with perfect faith in the teacher. The disciple gives
a report of his condition and experience in confidence to his
teacher and receives another set of instructions most suitable
to his state.
It is only
the writings of the Sufi teachers, who speak from within the
tradition, that allow an outsider a glimpse of the inner beauty
of Sufism. One of the greatest scholars of all times was al-Ghazzali.
He lived in the later eleventh and early twelfth centuries.
He wrote his famous work The Revival of the Sciences of Religion
in Arabic, with an abridged form, The Alchemy of Happiness,
in Persian. These works were followed by the other writings
and poetry by such Sufi teachers as Abdul-Karim al-Jili, Ibn
Arabi, Suhrawardi, the famous Chishti saints, Hafiz, Sadi, Rumi
and so many other Sufi poets.
At the same
time there was an immense upsurge of open Sufi activity under
the auspices of different Sufi orders in all parts of the Islamic
world. Each Sufi order constituted a focal point of activity,
from which Sufi teachings were carried to the mass of the population
by the representatives of the head of the order. The Sufi organizations
constituted the social cement of the society in which they lived.
Because of the strength of this social cement, Islamic civilization
was able not only to withstand the many political upheavals
of this period, but it also acted as a civilizing influence
on the powers that were responsible for these upheavals.
view is that the word originates from Suf (صوف),
the Arabic word for wool, referring to the simple cloaks the
early Muslim ascetics wore. However, not all sufis wear cloaks
or clothes of wool. Another etymological theory states that
the root word of Sufi is the Arabic word safa (صفا),
meaning purity. This places the emphasis of Sufism on purity
of heart and soul.
the origin is from "Ashab al-Suffa" ("Companions
of the Veranda") or "Ahl al-Suffa" ("People
of the Veranda"), who were a group of Muslims during the
time of the Prophet Muhammad who spent much of their time on
the veranda of the Prophet's Masjid devoted to prayer.
etymology, advanced by the 10th century author Al-Biruni is
that the word, as 'Sufiya', is linked with the Greek term for
'Wisdom' - 'Sophia', although for various reasons this derivation
is not accepted by many at the present.
Great masters of Sufism
dispersed throughout the Middle East, particularly in the areas
previously under Byzantine influence and control. This period
was characterised by the practice of an apprentice (murid) placing
himself under the spiritual direction of a Master (shaykh or
were developed, concerning themselves with the topics of mystical
experience, education of the heart to rid itself of baser instincts,
the love of God, and approaching God through progressive stages
(maqaam) and states (haal). The schools were formed by reformers
who felt their core values and manners had disappeared in a
society marked by material prosperity that they saw as eroding
the spiritual life.
Harrm Bin Hian, Hasan Ul-Basri and Sayid Ibn Ul Mussib are regarded
as the first mystics among the "Taabi'een" in Islam.
Rabia was a female Sufi and known for her love and passion for
God. 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 wordly phenomena.
of philosophies of Sufism
treatises, the "Reconstruction of Religious Sciences"
and the "Alchemy of Happiness," argued that Sufism
originated from the Qur'an making it compatible with mainstream
Islamic thought and theology. It was around 1000 CE that the
early Sufi literature, in the form of manuals, treatises, discourses
and poetry, became the source of Sufi thinking and meditations.
during 1200-1500 CE, experienced an era of increased activity
in various parts of the Islamic world. This period is considered
as the "Classical Period" or the "Golden Age"
of Sufism. Lodges and
hospices soon became not only places to house Sufi students,
but also places for practising Sufis and other mystics to stay
of Sufism started from its origin in Baghdad, Iraq, and spread
to Persia, Pakistan, North Africa, and Muslim Spain. There were
tests of conciliation between Sufism and the other Islamic sciences
(sharia, fiqh, etc.), as well as the beginning of the Sufi brotherhoods
One of the
first orders to originate was the Yasawi order, named after
Khwajah Ahmed Yesevi in modern Kazakhstan. The Kubrawiya order,
originating in Central Asia, was named after Najmeddin Kubra,
known as the "saint-producing shaykh" , since a number
of his disciples became shaykhs. The most prominent Sufi master
of this era is Abdul Qadir Jilani, the founder of the Qadiriyyah
order in Iraq. Others included Rumi, founder of the Mevlevi
order in Turkey, Sahabuddin Suharwardi in Asia minor, and Moinuddin
Chishti in India.
of scholars perceive influences on Sufism from pre-Islamic
and non-Islamic schools of mysticism and philosophy. Some
of these new perspectives originate from the synthesis of
Persian civilization with Islam, an emphasis on spiritual
aspects of Islam, and the incorporation of ideas and practices
from other mysticisms such as Gnosticism, Judaism, and Hinduism
into Islam . There are also claims regarding ancient Egyptian
roots of Sufism which are not widely accepted.
from Qur'anic verses, virtually all Sufis distinguish Lataif-e-Sitta
(The Six Subtleties), Nafs, Qalb, Ruh, Sirr, Khafi & Akhfa.
These lataif (singular : latifa) designate various psychospiritual
"organs" or, faculties of sensory perception.
development involves the awakening of these spiritual centers
of perception that lie dormant in an individual. Each center
is associated with a particular colour and general area of
the body, ofttimes with a particular prophet, and varies from
Order to Order. The help of a guide is considered necessary
to help activate these centers. After undergoing this process,
the dervish is said to reach a certain type of "completion."
acquainted with the lataif one by one by Muraqaba (Sufi Meditation),
Dhikr (Remembrance of God) and purification of one's psyche
from negative thoughts, emotions, and actions. Loving God
and one's fellow, irrespective of his race, religion or nationality,
and without consideration for any possible reward, is the
key to ascension according to Sufis.
six "organs" or faculties: Nafs, Qalb, Ruh, Sirr,
Khafi & Akhfa, and the purificative activities applied
to them, contain the basic orthodox Sufi philosophy. The purification
of the elementary passionate nature (Tazkiya-I-Nafs), followed
by cleansing of the spiritual heart so that it may acquire
a mirror-like purity of reflection (Tazkiya-I-Qalb) and become
the receptacle of God's love (Ishq), illumination of the spirit
(Tajjali-I-Ruh) fortified by emptying of egoic drives (Taqliyya-I-Sirr)
and remembrance of God's attributes (Dhikr), and completion
of journey with purification of the last two faculties, Khafi
& Akhfa. Through these "organs" or faculties
and the transformative results from their activation, the
basic Sufi psychology is outlined and bears some resemblance
to the schemata of kabbalah and the tantric chakra system.
there is no consensus with regard to Sufi cosmology, one can
disentangle at least three different cosmographies: Ishraqi
visionary universe as expounded by Suhrawardi Maqtul, Neoplatonic
view of cosmos cherished by Islamic philosophers like Ibn
Sina/Avicenna and Sufis like Ibn al-Arabi, and Hermetic-Ptolemaic
spherical geocentric world. All these doctrines (each one
of them claiming to be impeccably orthodox) were freely mixed
and juxtaposed, frequently with confusing results - a situation
one also encounters in other esoteric doctrines.
(Zekr) 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.
interesting to note that the practice of Muraqaba and Dhikr
have very close resemblence 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 Kabbalah.
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).
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.
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.
or Sema' (Arabic "listening") refers to Sufi worship
practices involving music and dance (see Sufi whirling). In
Uyghur culture, this includes a dance form also originally
associated with Sufi ritual. See Qawwali origins and Origin
and History of the Qawwali, Adam Nayyar, Lok Virsa Research
Centre, Islamabad, 1988.
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.
Sufi orders emphasize the role of Sufism within Islam. Therefore
the Sharia (traditional Islamic law) and the Sunnah (customs
of the Prophet) are seen as crucial for any Sufi aspirant.
Among the oldest and most well known of the Sufi orders are
the Qadiri, Chisti, Oveyssi, Shadhili, Jerrahi, Naqshbandi,
Nimatullahi, Mevlevi and the Ashrafi. One proof traditional
orders assert is that almost all the famous Sufi masters of
the Islamic Caliphate times were also experts in Sharia and
were renowned as people with great Iman (faith) and excellent
practice. Many were also Qadis (Sharia law judges) in courts.
They held that Sufism was never distinct from Islam and to
fully comprehend and live correct with Sufism one must be
a practicing Muslim obeying the Sharia.
decades there has been a growth of non-traditional Sufi movements
in the West. Some examples are Universal Sufism movement,
the Mevlevi Order of America, the Golden Sufi Center, the
Sufi Foundation of America, and Sufism Reoriented.
Sufism is seen by its scholars and supporters as a part of
traditional Islam. However, there is a major line of non-Islamic
or offshoot-Islamic Sufi thought that sees Sufism as predating
Islam and being a universal philosophy, that is independent
of the Qur'an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. This
view of Sufism has been popular in the Western world, and
the terms yogi and sufi are used interchangeably. Universal
Sufism tends to be opposed by traditional Sufis, who argue
that Sufism has always been practiced from within an Islamic
framework and can never be separated from it. Inayat Khan
founded Universal Sufism whilst also maintaining his lineage
in Chisti sufism, and Idries Shah advocated similar concepts.
Irina Tweedie and Abdullah Dougan also taught outside the
Islamic context while maintaining the connection to their
is also an attempt to reconsider Sufism in contemporary Muslim
thought from within. According to this view, Sufism represents
the core sense of Islam that gives insight to God and His
Islamic schools of thought and Sufism
traditionally consists of a number of groups. The two main
divisions are the Sunnis and the Shia. Sunni Islam consists
of a number of schools of legal jurisprudence (called Madhabs).
Sufis do not define Sufism as a madhhab - what distinguishes
a person as a Sufi is practicing Sufism, usually through association
with a Sufi order. Belief in Sufism is not sufficient for
being recognized as a Sufi. Classic Sufi tariqas insist on
adherence to one of the four Madhabs of Fiqh and one of the
two orthodox schools of Aqida. In this sense, traditional
practicers of Sufism don't see it as an exclusive group but
just as a form of training necessary to cultivate spirituality
and Ihsan in their lives.
between traditional Islamic scholars and Sufism is complicated
due to the variety of Sufi orders and their history.
to the followers of Sufism, the founders and early scholars
of the schools (madhhabs) had positive attitudes towards Sufism,
for example Imam Ibn Hambal used to visit the Sufi master
Bishr al Hafi frequently. Later, there were some scholars
who considered some aspects of Sufism rank heresy as well
as those like Al-Ghazali who defended Sufis as true Muslims.
In time, even the controversial words of Al-Hallaj came to
be accepted by some scholars.
many Islamic scholars (though not all) hold Tasawwuf, in the
sense of Sufi doctrines and philosophies, to be the science
of the heart or gnosis (as distinct from other branches of
Islamic knowledge which are exoteric in nature) and appreciate
Sufis for their extensive contributions to Islamic arts and
philosophy. Many Muslims who are not themselves Sufis are
influenced by Sufi teachings.
the views of some famous scholars about Sufism.
Abu Hanifa (85 H. - 150 H) "If it were not for two
years, I would have perished." He said, "for two
years I accompanied Sayyidina Ja'far as-Sadiq and I acquired
the spiritual knowledge that made me a gnostic in the Way."
[Ad-Durr al-Mukhtar, vol 1. p. 43]
Malik (95 H. - 179 H.) "whoever studies Jurisprudence
(tafaqaha) and didn't study Sufism [tasawwafa] will be corrupted;
and whoever studied Sufism and didn't study Jurisprudence
will become a heretic; and whoever combined both will be reach
the Truth." [the scholar'Ali al-Adawi , vol. 2, p 195.)
Shafi'i (150 - 205 AH.) "I accompanied the Sufi people
and I received from them three knowledges: ... how to speak;
.. how to treat people withleniency and a soft heart... and
they... guided me in the ways of Sufism." [Kashf al-Khafa,
'Ajluni, vol. 1, p 341.]
Ahmad bin Hanbal (164 - 241 AH.) "O my son, you have
to sit with the People of Sufism, because they are like a
fountain of knowledge and they keep the Remembrance of Allah
in their hearts. they are the ascetics and they have the most
spiritual power." [Tanwir al-Qulub p. 405]
Nawawi (620 - 676 AH.) "The specifications of the
Way of the Sufis are ... to keep the Presence of Allah in
your heart in public and in private; to follow the Sunnah
of the Prophet (s) ... to be happy with what Allah gave you..."[in
his Letters, (Maqasid at-tawhid), p. 201]
Khaldun (733 - 808 AH.) "The way of the Sufis is
the way of the Salaf, the preceding Scholars between the Sahaba
and Tabi'een of those who followed good guidance..."
[Muqaddimat ibn al-Khaldun, p. 328]
as-Subki (727 - 771 AH.) "May Allah praise them [the
Sufis] and greet them and may Allah cause us to be with them
in Paradise. Too many things havebeen said about them and
too many ignorant people have said things which are not related
to them. And the truth is that those people left the world
and were busy with worship. ... They are the People of Allah,
whose supplications and player Allah accepts and by means
of whom Allah supports human beings" [Mu'eed an-Na'am
p. 190, the chapter entitled Tasawwufl
as-Suyuti (849 - 911 AH.) "At-Tasawwuf in itself
is the best and most honorable knowledge. It explains how
to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and to put aside innovation."
[Ta'yid al-Haqiqat al-'Aiiyya,p 57]
Qayyim (691 - 751 AH.) "We can witness the greatness
of the People of Sufism, in the eyes of the earliest generations
of Muslims by what has been mentioned by Sufyan ath-Thawri
(d. 161 AH), one of the greatest imams of the second century
and one of the foremost legal scholars. He said, "If
it had not been for Abu Hisham as-Sufi (d. 115) 1 would never
have perceived the action of the subtlest forms of hypocrisy
in the self... Among the best of people is the Sufi learned
in jurisprudence." [Manazil as-Sa'ireen.]
ibn Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (1115 - 1201 AH.) "My
father Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab and I do not deny or criticize
the science of Sufism, but on the contrary we support it,
because it purifies the external and the internal of the hidden
sins, which are related to the heart and to the outward form.
Even though the individual might externally be on the right
way, internally he might be on the wrong way. Sufism is necessary
to correct it." [ad-Dia'at mukathaffa did ash-Shaykh
Ibn Abdul Wahhab,p.85 ]
'Abidin (1198 - 1252 AH.) "the Seekers in this Sufi
Way don't hear except from the Divine Presence and they don't
love any but Him. If they remember Him they cry, and if they
thank Him they are happy; ... May Allah bless them."
[Risa'il Ibn'Abidin p. 172 & 173]
'Abduh (1265 - 1323 AH.) "Tasawwuf appeared in the
first century of Islam and it received a tremendous honor.
It purified the self and straightened the conduct and gave
knowledge to people from the Wisdom and Secrets of the Divine
Presence." (Majallat al-Muslim, 6th ed. 1378 H, p. 24].
Hasan 'Ali an-Nadawi (1331 AH b.) "These Sufis were
initiating people on Oneness and sincerity in following the
Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and to repent from theirsins and
to be away from every disobedience of Allah 'Azza wa Jail.
Their guides were encouraging them to move in the way of perfect
Love to Allah 'Azza wa Jail. "...In Calcutta India, everyday
more than 1000 people were taking initiation into Sufism.
"...by the influence of these Sufi people, thousands
and thousands and hundreds of thousands in India found their
Lord and reached a state of Perfection through the Islamic
religion."[Muslit-ns in India, p. 140-146]
and criticism of Sufism
is a somewhat controversial subject today. For didactic convenience,
the perspectives on Sufism as a part of Islam will be mentioned
first and after that, the non Muslim groups who claim to be
position on Sufism
was traditionally considered the systematisation of the spiritual
component of Islam. It dealt with matters of the heart (just
as Fiqh dealt with the body and Aqida dealt with the intellect).
Many of the greatest Islamic scholars wrote treatises on the
subject (eg. Al-Ghazali's ihya ulum-aldeen (·····
Imam Nawawi's Bustan al-Arifeen etc.). Many of the traditional
scholars who were part of famous Islamic institutions (eg.
Al-Azhar) like Ibn Ata'illah were Sufi masters. Even today,
many of the traditional Islamic universities like Al-Azhar
endorse Sufism as a part of the religion of Islam. Many of
the famous Islamic scholars have praised Sufis and their practices.
For a list, please refer to scholars on Sufism.
Sufism emphasises non quantifiable matters (like states of
the heart). The authors of various Sufi treatises often used
allegorical language which couldn't be read by an unknowledgeable
person to describe these states (eg. likened some states to
intoxication which is forbidden in Islam). This usage of indirect
language and the existence of interpretations by people who
had no training in Islam or Sufism led to doubts being cast
over the validity of Sufism as a part of Islam. Also, some
groups emerged that considered themselves above the Sharia
and discussed Sufism as a method of bypassing the rules of
Islam in order to attain salvation directly. This was disapproved
of by traditional scholars. An example of such a deviant sufi
was Abu Hilman. One of the most vocal critics of such deviations
from the Islamic creed was Ibn Taymiya.
detailed essay on the role that Sufism plays in traditional
Islam, please refer Place of Tasawwuf in traditional Islam.
Salafi school form the majority of Muslims opposed to
Tasawwuf. They hold that Sufism was always held to be an innovation
even by the earliest scholars. Some of their main criticisms
are listed below.S
have introduced many special prayers and devotional acts into
their schools. These are criticised as being reprehensible
innovations which are at best unnecessary. The supporters
of Sufism defend their position by saying that innovations
can be classified into good and bad ones. They hold that the
textually transmitted prayers and invocations are superior
in all respects to the ones they institute and that the latter
only plays a reinforcing role rather than a main one.
to certain practices like singing being inconsistent with
the Sharia. Sufis defend their position by quoting prophetic
traditions that condone certain forms of non instrumental
music (refer links above).
and often abstruse language used by Sufis in their texts when
interpreted by unqualified people opens avenues for many misunderstandings.
eg. The concept of divine unity Wahdat-ul-wujood which critics
consider equivalent to pantheism and therefore incompatible
with Islam. Sufi masters in many of their introductory texts
caution aspirants from reading and interpreting texts by themselves.
They hold that the subject can only be taught by a master
to a student under strict guidance and supervision owing to
its delicate nature.
positions on non Islamic Sufi groups
of the title Sufi by many groups to refer to themselves and
their use of traditional Sufi masters (notably Jalaluddin
Rumi) as sources of inspiration as well as the existence of
interpretations of classical Sufis texts by people who have
no grounding in traditional Islamic sciences has created a
group of non-Islamic Sufis. These are considered by certain
conventional Islamic scholars as "beyond the pale"
of the religion. However, Sufis are often encouraged to observe
a higher degree of forebearance. Some Sufi Sheikhs, although
having been initiated in an Islamic setting themselves, have
gone on to teach more widely and to make it clear that students
of Sufism need not formally embrace Islam