Sufi and Sufism
Written By: Sufi Raz Ali Faqir Sabz Posh
Follower of Sufi Ghous Mohd Ilyaes, Sufi Irshad Abbas Late Sujjada Nashin Dargah Jhoke Sharif
Islam, and all other religions, emphasize spiritual purity or the improvement of soul, which is also known as spiritualism Scholars have stated that unless the human soul is given the power of purity, it is not possible to understand or feel the presence of God Almighty within oneself. As for the acceptance of prayers every religion has the concept of intention, so also for the improvement of spirit the concept of purity has been stated to be a prerequisite. This subject of Sufism is explained hereunder in seven sections:
(A) Literal Meaning of Sufism
(B) What is Sufism?
(C) Kinds of Sufism
(D) Teaching of Sufism
(E) Scope of Sufism
(F) How Sufism can guide the mankind in modern world?
(G) Befitting character for a Sufi
(A) Literal Meaning of Sufism/Sufi:
(B) What is Sufism or Islamic Mysticism?
Sufism is, in fact, a tradition based on the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.). Only through this method or tradition one can understand the principles of Islam; because the religion comprises of principles while life of the prophet is the model of living. Such a living encompasses the principles of purity of soul, supremacy of oneness of God, appreciation for human rights, firmness of belief and the training of soul. In short, the Prophet’s life is synonymous with Love for Humanity. As an example, one may state that revenge is a natural form of justice; but the Prophet exercised patience and love even for his enemies and those who tried to harm him. Sufis have also adopted the same lifestyle and character; and have, through love, occupied a very respectable status in the hearts of common people.
Religion is law while the life style of the Prophet is following that law. If the law asks not to eat the forbidden, it means not only to avoid eating the forbidden meat but also from corruption, theft and usurping the property of the widows and orphans. This act is known as Tareeqat or the chosen method which is in accordance with the life of the Prophet. A life that is full of love, grace, affection, brother hood, honesty, prayer, practice, leadership, code of Islamic conduct, realism and the understanding of God. These pure traits are also upheld by Almighty Allah.
This, it is evident that Sufism is actually yet another form of Prophet’s life and encompasses the principles of Muhammad (P.B.U.H.). Through prayer rituals one may be able to please God Almighty; but, it is only through the essence of the life of Prophet Muhammad i.e. through his tradition of love for humanity that one can please the human beings – the heart of each of whom houses the Almighty Allah ! Sufism or Islamic Mysticism is love for humanity and that love is actually the essence of life; while life means the life style of Muhammad (P.B.U.H.).
(C) Kinds of Sufism
Two main traditions of Sufism are: Qadria and Chishtia. Both cherish the same basic principles and life style. However, they differ in the format of prayer rituals.
(i) Qadri Mode or Tradition
Both collective prayer in loud voice and the individual prayer through breath are prevalent in the Qadri mode. If the Sufi masters the art of using breath for performing "Zikr" or remembrance of God, he or she becomes free from the limitation of time; and, could perform the prayer even during other worldly activities. The prayer then becomes hidden from the eyes of common man. Breath is the most valuable activity of human body; and, it becomes the medium for the uplift of a Sufi to the higher levels of attainment.
(ii) Chishtia Mode or Tradition
Chishtia mode entails collective prayer through words spoken in a loud voice. Qadri mode, in comparison, is easy and lasting as the Sufi keeps on praying unnoticeably.
(D) Teachings of Sufism
Sufism believes that a Sufi may not be lost in the worldly affairs. Instead, he may be lost in understanding himself through the following questions:
(a) What was the state of existence before the creation of man?
(b) Why was the human being created?
(c) Once you have been created as a human being, what is the mission in this world?
Teachings of Sufism include understanding of oneself, doing justice with oneself, introducing one with his/her self in the real form, developing love with oneself so as to achieve the righteous place. Thus, the Sufi is taught to do justice with the self, with the soul, with the mind and heart, and with one’s city, country and humanity at large. Justice to humanity means service without greed and manipulation. Justice to oneself means understanding oneself and following the path of righteousness and truth.
- Sufism teachers respect and adhere to the life style and values held by the Prophet Muhammad
- Sufism teaches respect and reverence for others and equal treatment for all;
- Sufism teaches love for human beings, animals, flowers and fruits, leaves and trees, day and night, earth and skies, and all the creations of God;
- Sufism teaches polite speech so no one is hurt because love is the religion of Sufis;
- Sufism teaches purity of sight so as to ensure the purity of soul;
- Sufism teaches us to avoid the forbidden;
- Sufism teaches purity of head to avoid arrogance in accordance with teachings of Qura’an;
- Sufism teaches us not to hear ill words against any person so as to avoid harm to other human beings;
- Sufism teaches us not to use hands in any wrong-doings; and
- Sufism teaches us not to move the feet in a direction where one may lose consideration of mankind.
Sufism teaches us to distinguish Good from Evil. What is the purpose of creation and how to struggle with one’s soul? It emphasizes that love for humanity is above all religious. Sufism unveils the spiritual secrets and teaches us to change our lives on the pattern of the life of Prophet Muhammad!
(E) Scope of Sufism
All spheres of human life are within the scope of Sufism; as it is not a separate religion but a tradition following Qura’an and the life of Prophet Muhammad. Whatever is within the scope of the Islamic code of conduct and the life and character of the Prophet, is automatically within the premises of Sufism. Islamic Mysticism disregards alienation from worldly life. It emphasizes justice with life so as to achieve the purpose of creation within the scope of religion. The holy Qura’an states that the man may please God Almighty through the prescribed code of conduct. A person facing worldly problems as a result of family and yet offering prayers as per prescribed code is far superior to a saint who has given up the worldly life to offer full time prayers.
Thus it is apparent that Sufism desires justice to the family, children and to all spheres of life. The scope of Sufism encompasses day and night, stars in the sky and the universe as a whole.
(F) How Sufism can Guide Today’s Man?
Sufism has provided guidance to mankind in all ages and shall continue to do so in future. It illustrates and asks to act on the principles outlined in Qura’an and followed by the Prophet in his model life.
Every religion has some basic tenets while there are numerous principles that are secondary in nature. For example, a basic tenet of Islam is belief in the God and the Prophet. If a person is ignorant of basic philosophy of Belief, he/she cannot benefit from mere prayer rituals. There are some principles that are apparent and some that are underlying or hidden. Such hidden tenets or principles are more important and govern the effect of the obvious ones. For example, offering regular prayers is an obvious foundation of Islam while avoiding the forbidden acts is the underlying foundation. If one would involve in corruption and injustice, the offering of prayers would not help him attain the real level.
Sufi tradition has the capability to highlight those hidden foundations of the religions which would brighten the apparent principles, for example, a person who does not pray but also does not lie would reflect better as compared to the one who prays but whose intentions are evil. Prayer is only established by right intentions, which are, in turn, foundation on truth.
Today’s man is rapidly becoming ignorant of those eternal yet hidden tenets of Islam as well as other religions. Today, humanity has lost track of the brotherhood and human relations. Neither there is adherence to the principles of religion, not there is any following of the lifestyle of the Prophet. Neither there is a firm belief, nor there is justice, love and affection. Hence, what remains is exploitation, manipulation, dishonesty, greed, uncertainty, and lack of confidence and unprincipled living. Sufism offers a remedy to these evils in the modern world.
In the darkness of today, Sufism offers support to the individual by training him in the needed values such as respect for relations and living, reverence for beliefs, appreciation for love, and justice based on eternal principles. Sufism trains the individual on the lines of the life of Prophet Muhammad, on the principles of Hazrat Ali and the patience of Hazrat Hussain son of Hazrat Ali.
As is known, it is the individuals that form that society and not vice versa. Thus it is the individuals who would reform the society in accordance with the religious dictates. Sufism is a lesson for model individual life, which ultimately assumes the shape of collective life in the same token as the principles of love, characters and purity of soul of Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), finally eliminated in the form of a Muslim society. Sufism develops individuals in accordance with the life of Prophet; and, provides lessons in purity of soul, love, character, modesty and other eternal principles. Sufism is synonymous to the life style of the Prophet which is the only way to reform today’s society.
Sufism does not only explore the good in religion but also develops respect, greatness and welfare of human beings It attempts to develop respect of individual in the society through right deeds and not through the forbidden acts. Respect established through good character is commanded even after death while that gained through material wealth earned by wrong means, perishes before or on the death of the person.
(G) Befitting Character for a Sufi
Role of a Sufi demands that the society may consider him honest, truthful, and a custodian of human rights. From the speech of this individual, purity of words, respectfulness, dignity and character should be evident. His eyes should depict compassion and honor. His hands should move to sole the problems of others and for prayers. His feet should move with firmness of purpose and struggle in the name of God. Such an individual could claim to be a true Sufi.
Justice is the essence of the life of a true Sufi. Justice is to be done with oneself, one’s conscience and character, with wife and children, mother and father, brothers and sisters, relatives, with the religion, with the dictates of God Almighty and with all spheres of life. True Sufi possesses good character both apparently and inherently; he holds pure intentions firm belief and controls his sexual urges and his soul. True Sufi obeys the will of God with patience and forbearance. He speaks and hears only the truth; and believes in as well as preaches the purity of the inner being. He does not hide or defend his own mistakes. He accepts his wrong doings and possesses the potential to remedy such mistakes in the future.
True Sufi covers the weaknesses of others and guides for their remedy. He keeps silent unless otherwise needed; because, one never knows which words may displease God Almighty. True Sufi controls the urge for material gains and holds few worldly goods during his lifetime. He remains occupied in the teachings of his Master. True Sufi is careful not to harm any one; not even a flower in the garden. He is fearful of God and respects the believers of all religions. Character of a true Sufi is a reflection of the life style of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.); and, as the Sufi progresses towards that end he commands great reverence.
The lifestyle of the Prophet demonstrates a complete code of conduct and Sufism is the simplest form of that lifestyle. Today is might be easy to adhere to the religious law; but it is highly difficult to demonstrate the life and character of the Prophet.
A true Sufi depicts proper apparent as well as inherent character. He does not cherish greed or arrogance of inner soul; because he believes that the real intentions are always known to God Almighty.
A true Sufi is one who holds the purity of soul; and keep above arrogance, greed and other undue inhuman ambitions.