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    Thread: Sufism

    1. #1
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      flag Sufism

      Sufism, or Tasawwuf as it is known in the Muslim world, is Islamic mysticism (Lings, Martin, What is Sufism?, The Islamic Texts Society, 1999, pg 15).


      Non-Muslims often mistake Sufism as a sect of Islam. Sufism is more accurately described as an aspect or dimension of Islam. Sufi orders (Tariqas) can be found in Sunni, Shia and other Islamic groups. Ibn Khaldun, the 14th century Arab historian, described Sufism as:


      ... dedication to worship, total dedication to Allah most High, disregard for the finery and ornament of the world, abstinence from the pleasure, wealth, and prestige sought by most men, and retiring from others to worship alone.

      Ibn Khaldun, quoted in Keller, Nuh Ha Mim, The Place of Tasawwuf in Traditional Islam, Mas'ud Ahmed Khan's Home Page, 1995




      Ibn Khaldun's words are an accurate description of Sufis today.


      Sufis are emphatic that Islamic knowledge should be learned from teachers and not exclusively from books. Tariqas can trace their teachers back through the generations to the Prophet himself.Modelling themselves on their teachers, students hope that they too will glean something of the Prophetic character.


      Although Sufis are relatively few in number they have shaped Islamic thought and history. Through the centuries Sufis contributed hugely to Islamic literature for example Rumi, Omar Khayym and Al-Ghazali's influence extended beyond Muslim lands to be quoted by Western philosophers, writers and theologians. Sufis were influential in spreading Islam particularly to the furthest outposts of the Muslim world in Africa, India and the Far East.

      Origin of word sufi


      Several origins of the word 'sufi' have been suggested. It may derive from the word for 'wool' (soof) and the woollen garments worn by early Sufis. It may also have connections with the word for 'purity' and another suggestion is that it has links with the Greek 'sophia' or wisdom.


      However throughout history a Sufi was most often understood to be a person of religious learning who aspires to be close to Allah. They understand their purpose in life from the verse of the Qur'an:



      I created the Jinns and humankind only that they may worship me

      Quran 51:56





      In pursuit of this goal of worshipping Allah, Sufis belong to Tariqas, or orders, established in the first few centuries after the Prophet's death. These orders have a master who will teach sacred knowledge to others in the group.



      Tareeqas & Innovations (Debatable concept of bida)

      Although Tariqas have a long history, in recent times some Muslims have questioned the necessity of Tariqas arguing that they were alien to the Prophet himself. Sufis make a convincing defence from the Qur'an and Sunna (what the Prophet said, did, agreed to or condemned).


      Sufis acknowledge that Tariqas were not established at the time of the Prophet. They consider that the Prophet his companions and their immediate successors, the first three generations, embodied Islamic mysticism but the phenomenon was too general to have a specific name. Later generations of Muslims became distracted by worldliness and so those, now in the minority, that were dedicated to worshipping Allah were given the name Sufi. This turn of events was eloquently described in the 10th Century by Abu l-Hasan Fushanji who said:




      Today Sufism is a name without a reality. It was once a reality without a name.

      Abu l-Hasan Fushanji, quoted in Lings, Martin, What is Sufism?, The Islamic Texts Society, 1999, pg 45





      Although the word Sufism is absent from prophetic speech, it's believed Sufism's place in Islam is described by the Prophet:

      Umar ibn al-Khattab, a companion of the prophet, said:


      "One day we were sitting in the company of Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) when there appeared before us a man dressed in pure white clothes, his hair extraordinarily black. There were no signs of travel on him. None amongst us recognized him. At last he sat with the Apostle (peace be upon him). He knelt before him placed his palms on his thighs and said: Muhammad, inform me about Islam.

      "The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Islam implies that you testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and you establish prayer, pay Zakat, observe the fast of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the (House) if you are solvent enough (to bear the expense of) the journey. He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth.


      "It amazed us that he would put the question and then he would himself verify the truth.


      "He (the inquirer) said: Inform me about Iman.


      "He (the Holy Prophet) replied: That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil.


      "He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth. He again said: Inform me about Ihsan.


      "He (the Holy Prophet) said: That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don't see Him, He, verily, sees you.


      "He (the enquirer) again said: Inform me about the hour (of the Doom).


      "He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: One who is asked knows no more than the one who is inquiring (about it).


      "He (the inquirer) said: Tell me some of its indications.


      "He (the Holy Prophet) said: That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and master, that you will find barefooted, destitute goat-herds vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings.


      "Then he (the inquirer) went on his way but I stayed with him (the Holy Prophet) for a long while. He then, said to me: Umar, do you know who this inquirer was? I replied: Allah and His Apostle knows best. He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: He was Gabriel (the angel). He came to you in order to instruct you in matters of religion."

      Sahih Muslim, Book 1:Number 1








      In this well-known hadith the angel Gabriel asks aboutpivotal features of the Islamic belief. They includedIslam, Iman, and Ihsan. Islam is the outward practice of the religion. Iman is the belief in the unseen and what the prophets have informed us of. Ihsan is to worship Allah as though one sees him. Traditionally scholars were able to teach each of these essential parts of Islam. The Imams of Sharia or 'sacred law' taught at the level of Islam. The Imams of Aqida or 'tenets of faith' taught Iman. The Imams of Sufism taught at the level of Ihsan.


      The need to learn from a teacher is based on the Quranic verses:


      [QUOTE]
      Ask those who know if you know not

      Qur'an 16:43


      And follow the path of him who turns unto Me

      Qur'an 31:15





      Practice

      Sufis could be described as devout Muslims; praying five times a day, giving to charity, fasting etc, they adhere strictly to the outward observance of Islam. But they are distinctive in nurturing theirs and others' spiritual dimension. They are aware that one of the names of the Prophet was Dhikr Allah (Remembrance of God).


      Dhikras practised by Sufis is the invocation of Allah's divine names, verses from the Qur'an, or sayings of the Prophet in order to glorify Allah. Dhikr is encouraged either individually or in groups and is a source of tranquillity for Sufis.



      ...hearts become tranquil through the remembrance of Allah

      Qur'an 13:28





      Many Sufis have used the metaphor of rs to describe the state Dhikr leaves them in. (All the folk tales like Sassi Punnu, Sohni Mehwal, have been used in this metaphor by Sufi poets)

      Sufis say adherence to the Sharia manifests in the limbs and Dhikr manifests in the heart with the result that the outward is sober, the inner is drunk on divine . (as the famous saying There is no Tareeqa without / beyond Sharia)


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      Re: Sufism

      Sufism- was it spiritual or politics?





      Contrary to the spiritual mission of Sufism,the cult was primarily introduced in India for spread of Islam with a view to help the Muslim rulers for political domination. By and large the spiritual successors of mystic Islamic saints enjoyed the royal favour of Muslim rulers and gave moral support to the atrocious Muslim invaders and looked other way to ignore the growing social conflict. They also guided the State in political affairs with their experience of regular interaction with common people.


      The way Sufis' tombs emerged as a place of pilgrimage suggests that the missionary objective of the Islamic mystics was formulated mainly for conversion and to establish the Perso-Arabian cultural domination in South Asia. Even though the Sufi saints got convinced with non-Islamic worldview on metaphysics in course of their interaction with non-Muslim saints, they did not allow their followers to accommodate it in the straight jacket of Islamic theology. Sufi saints commonly viewed as symbol of secularism however, never opposed Jejiya (Tax imposed on non-believers) levied on Hindus in Islamic India.




      General religious state of Muslim rulers of India


      Passion to the essential spirituality of life was hardly found in any Muslim ruler or Prince except Dara Shikoh (1615-1659). He was perhaps the only sincere Muslim prince, whose "effort was to find a common ground between Hindu and Muslim religious thought"(Islamic Mysticism in India by Nagendra Kumar Singh, Page 179). For this he was accused of heresy.

      Under the patronage of the State under Muslim rulers, the Sufi mystics while offering spiritual guidance and support to the Hindu subjects allured them for adoption of Muslim identity, superiority of Arbo-Persian-Turkish tradition and accordingly transplanted them in the cultural tradition of India. "The establishment of Sufi orders in India coincided with the rising political power of Muslims (Muslim-Almanac edited by Azim A.Nanji, 1996, Page 61).



      So far the argument for objective of Sufism to promote foreign culture, I don't think it was the main objective of sufis, because they adopted more of local culture then promoting the foreign culture.


    3. #3
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      Re: Sufism

      More extracts from the article


      Even though the majority of Sufi orders have a Sunni orientation, early Shia Imams were also revered commonly in Sufi circles. However Nakshbandi order of Sufism, which reached the Prophet via Abu Bakra was notably known for anti-Shia views. Suhrawardiyya and Naqshbandiyya orders of Sufism had more support of Muslim political powers in India." The numerous Sufi religious establishments in India were the major means of spreading Islam and adapting it to indigenous cultural tradition" (Islamic Mysticism in India by Nagendra Kumar Singh, former Chairman, Islamic Research Foundation, Delhi).

      Sufi Orders



      Of the various Sufi orders, Muslims of India prominently follow Chistiyya, Naqshbandiyya, Qadiriyya and Suharabardiyya.

      Of them the impact of Chisti order is visible even in small villages of Indian subcontinent. Kwaja Moin-ud-Din Chisti, a disciple of Khwaja Abu Abdal Chisti, the propounder of this order introduced it in India. Born in Afghanistan in 1142 AD, he came to India with the army of Shihab-ud-Din Ghuri in 1192 AD and selected Ajmer as his permanent abode since 1195. His shrine became a place of pilgrimage largely with the support of Muslim rulers. Akbar used to have annual pilgrimage there (Indian Islam by Murray T.Titus, 1979, Page 117). (It is famous and many Urdu writers including Ashfaq Ahmed wrote that Akbar went to Ajmer bare footed (Nange Paon) for miles to Saleem Chisti for to get blessing for having a son to follow him, and when Jehangir was born, he was named after this sufi saint Saleem Chishti ). Four Islamic mystics from Afghanistan namely Moinuddin(d. 1233 in Ajmer), Qutbuddin(d. 1236 in Delhi),Nizamuddin (d.1335 in Delhi) andFariduddin (d.1265 in Pattan now in Pakistan) accompanied the Islamic invaders in India (A History of Modern India edited by Claude Markovitz, Anthen Press, 2002, Page 30). All of them were from the Chistiyya order of Islamic mysticism. Radiating from Delhi under Nizamuddin and following the trail of Mohammad ibn Tughlaq towards the south, the Chistiyya spread its roots all across India ( A History of Modern India edited by Claude Markovitz, Anthen Press, 2002).Internationally famous Sufi Shine at Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan and Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi belong to this order.

      A section of Sufis under Chistiyya order was not against adjustment with Hindu saints of Bhakti cult and used even Hindi language for Islamic devotional songs. However, the orthodox Ulama with royal support forced the Sufis to raise the slogan of "back to Shariat" Even though Ulama had certain differences with Sufis over theological and mystic issues, Shariat remained a cementing force between them. Later both the Islamist groups joined together to woo the rulers with a view to furthering their self-seeking interest.

      Suharawardy order of Sufism was founded by Shihabud-Din Suharawardy of Baghdad and introduced in India by his disciple Baha-ud-Din Zakariya of Multan. Suharawardiyya order of Sufism became popular in Bengal (Contemporary Relevance of Sufism, 1993, published by Indian Council for Cultural relations).

      Qadiri order founded by Abdul Qadir whose tomb is at Baghdad. Its influence is extensively among the Muslims of south India.

      Baha-ud-Din Naqshband (1318-1389) of Turkistan founded Naqshbandi order of Sufism. Insistence on rigid adherence to Shariat and nurturing for prophet was the essence of this order that established its hold in India under the patronage of Mogul rulers, as its founder was their ancestral 'Pir' (Spiritual guide). "The conquest of India by Babur in 1526 gave considerable impetus to the Naqshbandiyya order" (History of Sufism in India by Saiyied Athar Abbas Rizvi, Volume 2, 1992, Page 180). Its disciples remained loyal to the throne because of the common Turk origin. With the royal patronage of most of the Mogul rulers Naqshbandi order served the cause for revival of Islam in its pristine form.

      Khwaja Mohhammad Baqi Billah Berang whose tomb is in Delhi (E.I.Rose ) introducedNaqshbandi order in India. Though, the Sufis of this order were lying low during the period of Akbar, Khalifa Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, (1564-1624), a favourite disciple of Baqi Billah achieved increasing importance and popularised this order when the Great Mogul became bed ridden. Baqi Billah, nicknamed him as 'Mujaddid (Reformer or reviver of Islam for the second millenium).






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