Sufism Beliefs | Structure, Literature, Thought and Practice

Sufism Beliefs

What’s the sufism beliefs?

Sufism And sufism beliefs may be best described as Islamic mysticism or asceticism, which through belief and practice helps Muslims attain nearness to Allah by way of direct personal experience of God. While there are other suggested origins of the term Sufi, the word is largely believed to stem from the Arabic word suf, which refers to the wool that was traditionally worn by mystics and ascetics.

Sufi Belief in pursuing a path that leads to closeness with God, ultimately through encountering the divine in the hereafter, is a fundamental component of Islamic belief. However, in Sufi Beliefs, this proximity can be realized in this life.

Far from being a minority articulation, Sufi orders and Sufi-inspired organizations can be found throughout the Muslim world and beyond, from Marrakech to Manila, London to Lagos, and everywhere in-between.

Sufism Beliefs | Sufi Structure:

Sufism is often erroneously referred to as a sect or as a fringe minority, however, Sufi thought and practice extends beyond the Sunni-Shia sectarian divide, across socio-economic boundaries, geographies, and languages. Sufi orders, known as Tariqas, are found throughout the Muslim world, with each order taking on its own distinct identity based on its practices and structure, and often reflecting the cultural and linguistic context in which it is set.

While structures vary greatly between different Sufi orders, the basic components are that of the murshid, the spiritual guide, and the murid, a follower who pledges allegiance, bayah, to the murshid. These spiritual guides derive their authority and legitimacy from a chain of successive tutelage and instruction, silsilah, which through continuous generations may reach back to a prominent saint or mystic and eventually to the Prophet Muhammad himself. The role of the murshid is to act as a facilitator to the murid, instructing them on how to experience the divine.

Sufism Beliefs

Sufi literature:

Though a Hadith (a recorded saying of the Prophet Muhammad) claims that “he who knows God becomes silent,” the Sufis have produced literature of impressive extent and could defend their writing activities with another Hadith: “He who knows God talks much.” The first systematic books explaining the tenets of Sufism date from the 10th century; but earlier, Muḥāsibī had already written about spiritual education, Ḥallāj had composed meditations in highly concentrated language, and many Sufis had used poetry for conveying their experiences of the ineffable mystery or had instructed their disciples in letters of cryptographic density. The accounts of Sufism by Sarrāj and his followers, as well as the ṭabaqāt (biographical works) by Sulamī, Abū Nuʿaym al-Iṣfahānī, and others, together with some biographies of individual masters, are the sources for knowledge of early Sufism.

Early mystical commentaries on the Qurʾān are only partially extant, often preserved in fragmentary quotations in later sources. With the formation of mystical orders, books about the behavior of the Sufi in various situations became important, although this topic had already been touched on in such classical works as Ādāb al-murīdīn (“The Adepts’ Etiquette”) by Abū Najīb al-Suhrawardī (died 1168), the founder of the Suhrawardīyyah order and uncle of the author of the oft-translated ʿAwārif al-maʿārif (“The Well-Known Sorts of Knowledge”). The theosophists had to condense their systems in readable form; Ibn al-ʿArabī’s al-Futūḥāt al-Makkīyyah (“The Meccan Revelations”) is the textbook of waḥdat al-wujūd (God and creation as two aspects of one reality). His smaller work on the peculiar character of the prophets Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam (“The Bezels of Wisdom”) became even more popular.

Later mystics commented extensively upon the classical sources and, sometimes, translated them into their mother tongues. A literary type that has flourished especially in India since the 13th century is the malfūẓāt, a collection of sayings of the mystical leader, which are psychologically interesting and allow glimpses into the political and social situation of the Muslim community. Collections of letters of the shaykhs are similarly revealing. Sufi literature abounds in hagiography consisting of one of three types: biographies of all known saints from the Prophet Muhammad to the day of the author, biographies of saints of a specific order, and biographies of those who lived in a certain town or province. Much information on the development of Sufi thought and practice is available if sources are critically sifted.

The greatest contribution of Sufism to Islamic literature, however, is poetry beginning with charming, short Arabic love poems (sometimes sung for a mystical concert, samāʿ) that express the yearning of the soul for union with the beloved. The love relation prevailing in most Persian poetry is that between a man and a beautiful youth; less often, as in the writings of Ibn al-ʿArabī and Ibn al-Fāriḍ, an eternal beauty is symbolized through female beauty; in Indo-Muslim popular mystical songs the soul is the loving wife, God the longed-for husband. Long mystic–didactic poems (mas̄nawīs) were written to introduce the reader to the problems of unity and love by employing allegories and parables. After Sanāʾī’s (died 1131?) Ḥadīqat al-ḥaqīqah wa sharīʿat ạt-ṭariqah (“The Garden of Truth and the Law of Practice”), came ʿAṭṭar’s Manṭeq al-ṭeyr (“The Conference of the Birds”) and Rūmī’s Mas̄navī-ye maʿnavī (“Spiritual Couplets”). These three works are the sources that have furnished poets for centuries with mystical ideas and images. Typical of Sufi poetry is the hymn in praise of God, expressed in chains of repetitions.

The mystics also contributed largely to the development of national and regional pieces of literature, for they had to convey their message to the masses in their languages: in Turkey as well as in the Punjabi-, Sindhi-, and the Urdu-speaking areas of South Asia, the first true religious poetry was written by Sufis, who blended classical Islamic motifs with inherited popular legends and used popular rather than Persian meters. Sufi poetry expressing divine love and mystical union through the metaphors of profane love and union often resembled ordinary worldly love poetry, and nonmystical poetry made use of the Sufi vocabulary, thus producing an ambiguity that is felt to be one of the most attractive and characteristic features of Persian, Turkish, and Urdu kinds of literature. Sufi ideas thus permeated the hearts of all those who hearkened to poetry. An example is al-Ḥusayn ibn Manṣūr al-Ḥallāj, the 10th-century martyr-mystic, who is as popular in modern progressive Urdu poetry as he was with the “God-intoxicated” Sufis; he has been converted into a symbol of suffering for one’s ideals.

Sufism Beliefs | Sufi thought and practice:

The mystics drew their vocabulary largely from the Qurʾān, which for Muslims contains all divine wisdom and has to be interpreted with ever-increasing insight. In the Qurʾān, mystics found the threat of the Last Judgment, but they also found the statement that God “loves them and they love him,” which became the basis for love-mysticism. Strict obedience to the religious law and imitation of the Prophet were basic for the mystics. By rigid introspection and mental struggle, the mystic tried to purify his baser self from even the smallest signs of selfishness, thus attaining ikhlāṣ, the absolute purity of intention and act. Tawakkul (trust in God) was sometimes practiced to such an extent that every thought of tomorrow was considered irreligious. “Little sleep, little talk, little food” were fundamental; fasting became one of the most important preparations for spiritual life.

in sufism beliefs, The central concern of the Sufis, as of every Muslim, was tawḥīd, the witness that “there is no deity but God.” This truth had to be realized in the existence of each individual, and so the expressions differ: early Sufism postulated the approach to God through love and voluntary suffering until the unity of will was reached; Junayd spoke of “recognizing God as He was before creation”; God is seen as the One and only actor; He alone “has the right to say ‘I’.” Later, tawḥīd came to mean the knowledge that there is nothing existent but God, or the ability to see God and creation as two aspects of one reality, reflecting each other and depending upon each other (waḥdat al-wujūd).

The mystics realized that beyond the knowledge of outward sciences intuitive knowledge was required to receive that illumination to which reason has no access. Dhawq, direct “tasting” of experience, was essential for them. But the inspirations and “unveilings” that God grants such mystics by special grace must never contradict the Qurʾān and tradition and are valid only for the person concerned. Even the Malāmatīs, who attracted public contempt upon themselves by outwardly acting against the law, in private life strictly followed the divine commands. Mystics who expressed in their poetry their disinterest in, and even contempt of, the traditional formal religions never forgot that Islam is the highest manifestation of divine wisdom.

A mystic may also be known as walī. By derivation, the word walī (“saint”) means “one in close relation” or “friend.” The awlīyāʾ (plural of walī) are “friends of God who have no fear nor are they sad.” Later the term walī came to denote the Muslim mystics who had reached a certain stage of proximity to God, or those who had reached the highest mystical stages. They have their “seal” (i.e., the last and most perfect personality in the historical process; with this person, the evolution has found its end—as in Muhammad’s case), just as the prophets have. Female saints are found all over the Islamic world.

The invisible hierarchy of saints consists of the 40 abdāl (“substitutes”; for when any of them dies another is elected by God from the rank and file of the saints), seven awtād (“stakes,” or “props,” of faith), three nuqabāʾ (“leader”; “one who introduces people to his master”), headed by the quṭb (“axis, pole”), or ghawth (“help”)—titles claimed by many Sufi leaders. Saint worship is contrary to Islam, which does not admit to any mediating role for human beings between humanity and God; but the cult of living and even more dead saints—visiting their tombs to take vows there responded to the feeling of the masses, and thus several pre-Islamic customs were absorbed into Islam under the cover of mysticism. The advanced mystic was often granted the capacity of working miracles called karāmāt (charismata or “graces”), although not muʿjizāt (“that which men are unable to imitate”), like the miracles of the prophets. Among them are “cardiognosia” (knowledge of the heart), providing food from the unseen, presence in two places at the same time, and help for the disciples, be they near or far. In short, a saint is one “whose prayers are heard” and who has taṣarruf, the power of materializing in this world possibilities that still rest in the spiritual world. Many great saints, however, considered miracle working as a dangerous trap on the path that might distract the Sufi from his real goal.

Sufism Beliefs | The path:

The path (ṭarīqah) begins with repentance. in in sufism beliefs, A mystical guide (shaykh or pīr) accepts the seeker as a disciple (murīd), orders him to follow strict ascetic practices, and suggests certain formulas for meditation. It is said that the disciple should be in the hands of the master “like a corpse in the hand of the washer.” The master teaches him constant jihad, or struggle (the real “Holy War”), against the lower soul, often represented as a black dog, which should, however, not be killed but merely tamed and used in the way of God. The mystic dwells in a number of spiritual stations (maqām), which are described in varying sequence, and, after the initial repentance, comprise abstinence, renunciation, and poverty according to Muhammad’s saying, “Poverty is my pride”; poverty was sometimes interpreted as having no interest in anything apart from God, the Rich One, but the concrete meaning of poverty prevailed, which is why the mystic is often denoted as “poor,” fakir or dervish. Patience and gratitude belong to higher stations of the path, and consent is the loving acceptance of every affliction.

On his way to illumination, the mystic will undergo such changing spiritual states (ḥāl) as qabḍ and basṭ, constraint and happy spiritual expansion, fear and hope, and longing and intimacy, which are granted by God and last for longer or shorter periods, changing in intensity according to the station in which the mystic is abiding at the moment. The way culminates in maʿrifah (“interior knowledge,” “gnosis”) or in maḥabbah (“love”), the central subject of Sufism since the 9th century, which implies a union of lover and beloved, and was therefore violently rejected by the orthodox, for whom “love of God” meant simply obedience.

in sufism beliefs, The final goal is fanāʾ (“annihilation”), primarily an ethical concept of annihilating one’s own qualities, according to the prophetic saying “Take over the qualities of God,” but slowly developing into a complete extinction of the personality. Some mystics taught that behind this negative unity where the self is completely effaced, the baqāʾ, (“duration, life in God”) is found: the ecstatic experience, called intoxication, is followed by the “second sobriety” i.e., the return of the completely transformed mystic into this world where he acts as a living witness of God or continues the “journey in God.” The mystic has reached ḥaqīqah (“realty”), after finishing the ṭarīqah (“path”), which is built upon the sharīʿah (“law”). Later, the disciple is led through fanāʾ fī ashshaykh (“annihilation in the master”) to fanāʾ fīar-Rasūl (“annihilation in the Prophet”) before reaching, if at all, fanāʾ fī-Allāh (“annihilation in God”).

One of the means used on the path is the ritual prayer, or dhikr (“remembrance”), derived from the Qurʾānic injunction “And remember God often” (sura [chapter] 62, verse 10). It consists of a repetition of either one or all of the most beautiful names of God, of the name Allah, or a certain religious formula, such as shahādah (the profession of faith): “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” The rosary with 99 or 33 beads was in use as early as the 8th century for counting the thousands of repetitions. One’s whole being should eventually be transformed into remembrance of God.

In the mid-9th century some mystics introduced sessions with music and poetry recitals (samāʿ) in Baghdad to reach the ecstatic experience—and since then debates about the permissibility of samāʿ, filling many books, have been written. Narcotics were used in periods of degeneration, and coffee was employed by the “sober” mystics (first by the Shādhilīyyah after 1300).

Besides the wayfarers (sālik) on the path, Sufis who have no master but are attracted solely by divine grace are also found; they are called Uwaysī, after Uways al-Qaranī, the Yemenite contemporary of the Prophet who never saw him but firmly believed in him. There are also the so-called majdhūb (“attracted”) who are often persons generally agreed to be more or less mentally deranged.

The most important cultural works of Sufism:

The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi, is considered one of the most influential figures of Sufism, as well as one of the greatest poets of all time. He has become one of the most widely read poets in the United States, thanks largely to the interpretative translations published by Coleman Barks. Elif Şafak’s novel The Forty Rules of Love is a fictionalized account of Rumi’s encounter with the Persian dervish Shams Tabrizi.

Allama Iqbal, one of the greatest Urdu poets has discussed Sufism, philosophy, and Islam in his English work The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.

Many painters and visual artists have explored the Sufi motif through various disciplines. One of the outstanding pieces in the Brooklyn Museum’s Islamic gallery has been the museum’s associate curator of Islamic art, is a large 19th- or early-20th-century portrayal of the Battle of Karbala painted by Abbas Al-Musavi, which was a violent episode in the disagreement between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam; during this battle, Husayn ibn Ali, a pious grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, died and is considered a martyr in Islam.

 

World Religions

Sources: 1 2, 3

Read also:

Sufism | Meaning And Definition And Brief History of Sufi

Sufi Muslims | Who Are? And Why Do Some Extremists Hate Them?

What is Islam religion | History, Facts, Beliefs, Symbol..

Islam in Bhavishya Purana | Is It Really Predicted in Bhavishya Purana?

Was this article helpful?
YesNo
Mom, Wife, Author, Bachelor of Arts Comparative Religion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back To Top
error: