Sufism - The Path of Love
The word Sufi is derived from
the Greek "Sophia", meaning Wisdom. It is known as
Tasawwuf ( Mysticism ) in Arabic, and is considered
by scholars as the mystical, the inner or psycho-spiritual aspect
of Philosophia Islamica. The great scholar, Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
considered Sufism as the esoteric dimension of Al Islam.
Sufism emphasises on the Unity
of Absolute Being,Wahdat al Wujud.
The Influence of Neoplatonism
Plotinus,the founder of Neoplatonism
conceived God as the Alpha
and Omega of Existence, its Source & Goal. The translations
Plotinus provied the philosophical ground for Sufism. One is
struck by the similarities which exist in both systems, with
regard to the concept of God, the soul, the body, Vice and
Virtue, Life and Death and Beauty!
Sufism was influenced by Orpheus
and Pythagoreanism. Orpheus
was a poet who lived in Anatolia in the 6th and 7th centuries
BCE. He had divine qualities and he could influence wild
animals with his music. He postulated that the human soul
can achieve perfection by refining itself from all passions
and worldly possessions. Soul travels from body to body for
self purification and reaches the Perfect State. Pythagorus
adopted Orpheus' philosophy and integrated it with his own
concepts. Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism took Plato's
Theory of Ideas & reinterpreted them from Protagoras' point
of view. Neoplatonism considers God as the Alpha & the Omega.
From Him everything comes into being,in Him everything exists,
and to Him all return. Communion or Union with Him is the
highest Goal, therefore. Our lives have only a symbolic
meaning and it is good and necessary as a Becoming. But all
Becoming has Being as its Goal and Fulfillment and God is
the only Being !
Sufism is the Path of Love -
Al Muhabba. God is understood as Universal Love and the aim of
Sufism is to unite with the Source of all Being, Universal Love
! Love without Philosophy is superstition and Sufism therefore
encourages the adventures of the Intellect, the scientific and
the philosophical pursuit, Al Marifa !
When he was asked about Sufism,
Junayd ( the preceptor of Mansur Al Hallaj ) said, "Sufism
is that you should be with God-- without any attachment."
Sufism emphasises upon the struggle
to overcome the dominance that one's Negative Ego ( Nafs ) has
over one. The war depicted in the great Epics - Iliad & the
Odyssey etc - depict the great war between Good and Evil happening
inside the human bosom - where the great struggle for supremacy
is fought out on the ground floor of our existence, between the
black and white opposites of Virtue and Vice, Light
and Darkness, prosperity & adversity. The Beloved ( God )
may manifest as Benevolence or Severity and the Sufi aspirant
has to love both !
As Rumi said:
I am a lover of both His benevolence
Amazing it is that I'm in love with these opposites !
If the aspirant can overcome
one's Negative Ego, ( in
the inner War, Jihad ul Nafs ) he can achieve Bliss,
the Bliss for which the world's derelict sorrows yearn !
If you could get rid of yourself
The secret of secrets would open to you.
The face of the Unknown, hidden beyond the universe
Would appear on the Mirror of your perception. - Rumi
The Sheik of Naqshbandi wrote
In my annihilation of annihilation
In my annhilation
I found You !
I thought about You so often
That I completely became You !
Little but little You drew near
Slowly but slowly I passed away.
This passing away is Annihilation
in the Beloved ( Fana fi Allah ). There is another intermediary
state - Fana al Fana and the last state is Baqi bi Allah or Permanence
in the Beloved.
About Universal Truth, Ibn Arabi,
the Great Master , ( al Shaikh al Akbar ) wrote She has eluded
the learned of Islam
And those who have studied the
The Jewish Rabbi
The Christian priest !
The greatest Sufi was Mohammed
himself ( Peace be upon him ), he who said that " Shariah
( Ethical Law ) is my speech, Tariqat ( the Way ) my actions
& Haqiqat ( Truth ) my states " !
Inner & Outer Jihad ( Struggle
) in Sufism
"And those who perform jihad
for Us, We shall certainly guide them in Our ways, and God is
surely with the doers of good". (Quran XXXIX; 69)
"You have returned from
the lesser jihad to the greater jihad" . (Hadith)
Jihad means struggle and there
are two types of struggle. The lesser Jihad is struggle against
the oppressors; the greater Jihad is the inner struggle against
the inner enemies, the Seven Deadly Sins ( lust, greed, anger,
jealousy, sloth, covetousness & gluttony). The outer struggle
is defined as Al Jihad Al Asghar and the inner struggle is Al
Jihad Al Akbar ! In his journey, the aspirant ultimately overcomes
his Negative Ego & he becomes the Perfect Man, Al Insan Al