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Sufism

32 SUFISM (Maulana Raushan All) BASIC PRINCIPLES OF SUFISM Sufism is based upon the LOVE OF GOD and the SERVICE OF HUMANITY, so say the Sufis. As a matter of fact, both of these principles are really—one the Divine LOVE. Ethics and morals, service and righteous life, are the direct result of this love, say their great leaders. The initiative, they say, always rests with Divine Love which induces human love as with the process of induction. As soon as human love begins to stir, the Divine love begins to descend and unite with the human love. The Sufi writers quote a well known saying of the Prophet which says that God told him that He was a hidden treasure, but He willed to be known and so He created Adam. Again, continues, the Prophet, if a man stirs, God moves towards him; if he walks, then God runs in his direction. It should be borne in mind that though now and then these Sufi teachers quote Jesus, Buddha, Socrates and others, that is only in additional support and confirmation of their views, but they base their teachings invariably on the Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet. Ibn-ul -Arabi declares that no religion is more sublime than a religion of Love. He claims that Islam is peculiarly the religion of Love, inasmuch as the Prophet Muhammad is called God’s Beloved (Habib), and that is why they have laid the greatest stress on love. ‘Man’s love of God,’ says Hujwairy, ‘is a quality which manifests itself in the heart of the pious believers…who abjure the recollection of everything else.’ ‘I fancied I loved God,’ said Bayazeed, ‘but on consideration I found that His love surpassed mine.’ Junaid defined love as the substitution of the qualities of the Beloved for the qualities of the Lover, relying on the well known saying of the Holy Prophet which says that man’s love is really the effect of God’s love. ‘If I worship Thee for Thine own sake, with hold not Thine everlasting beauty,’ says Rabia Basri. Again: His love entered and removed all besides Him, and left no trace of anything else, so that it remained single as He is single. (Bayazeed) To feel at one with God for a moment is better than all men’s acts of worship from the beginning of the world to the end of the world. (Shiblee) REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 33 Fear of the fire in comparison with the fear of being parted from the Beloved is like a drop of water cast into the mightiest ocean. (Dhun Noon) Thyself hast Thou sprinkled salt on the wound that has raised the cries of Thy distressful lovers. The mellowness of a sweet face is a part of Thy beauty, and every curled lock points to Thee. (Hazrat Ahmad) 0 Love, what wonderful signs hast Thou shown. The cut and the salve hast Thou made the same in the way of the Beloved. Thy love is a remedy for a thousand ills. By Thy Face, the real liberty consists on Thy Bondage. (Farrukh) If the secret of Love between Him and me had been disclosed, thousands of lives would have been offered as a sacrifice at my door. (The .Promised Messiah) ‘The Muslim mystics enjoyed greater freedom of speech than their Christian brethren who owed allegiance to the medieval Catholic Church, and if they went too far, the plea of ecstasy was generally accepted as a sufficient excuse… Their expressions were bold and uncompromising.’ says Professor Nicholson. We know that they never hesitated to use sayings of Jesus and other great teachers by way of supplementary proofs of their teachings, but perhaps it would be a surprise to many that they very rarely used the Gospel definition that God is Love. Their point of view is so sublime that such a definition would not fit in. Love, according to them, is one of the attributes, and not a whole definition of God, that is why they always rely on the Holy Quran and the traditions, and the works of other Muslim saints. Fatherhood of God seems an imperfect idea to them, that is why the Quranic verse, 0 ye believers, remember God with an intensity of love as ye remember your parents, or rather more, goes deeper into their hearts. Another verse which throws them into raptures is: 0 ye believers, if you love God then follow me, and thus you (yourselves) will become the beloved of God. Love of the Prophet and love of the Word of God with them are tantamount to Divine Love-a practical expression of it. That is why they can never be dissociated from God according to Sufi interpretation. This Divine Love has found its highest expression in total resignation and complete submission to the Will of Allah according to great Sufi minds. ‘Thy Will be done’ was spoken to give expression to this very sentiment. As a matter of fact, this is the culminating stage of Love. How 34 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS enraptured and how eloquent the Sufi writers are when in glowing words they comment upon the following Quranic verses: Say if your parents or your children, your brothers or your wives and your other kith and kin, and the hoardings that you have amassed together, and the business of whose dullness you are afraid and the mansions that you love if these things are dearer to you than Allah and His Prophet, and striving in His way, then wait till Divine decision arrives, verily, God never guides the violators of solemn pledges. (9.24) Say: My prayers and my sacrifice, my life and my death are for Allah. There is none beside Him. That is my order (duty) and I am the first of the believers. (6.163) Love of God and total submission to His Will are the first and the last principles, and the whole foundation of Islam, according to these Sufi minds, is based upon these two hinges. VARIOUS STAGES OF SUFISM Sufism has been developed into a science. Even the minutest points of a person’s character have been classified. It is at once a composite of ethics, philosophy, metaphysics, psychology and spiritualism, etc. A vast literature has been written on every phase of the subject, and abstruse problems such as the reality of God, His Unity, the problem of good and evil, responsibility of man, or otherwise God and His attributes, Pantheism, created and uncreated things, matter and soul, life and death, almost all the points have been dealt with in great detail and with a depth of mind which would baffle the students of abstruse psychology of today. It is impossible to deal with them here. Suffice it to say that with the master minds among the Sufis, these were not mere mental exercises. Their discussion had always a bearing on life, and they did live up to their professions. Whatever views they expressed, they never meant to be libertines. As their efforts were directed to the improvement of their self. As they have reduced this Sufism to a science they have their own terminology. The Sufi who sets out to seek God is called a Salik (a traveller). He advances by slow stages (maqamat) along a path (tariqat) to the goal of union with Reality (fana fil Haqiqat). In general, there are seven stages 1. Repentance. 5. Patience. 2. Abstinence. 6. Trust in God. 3. Renunciation. 7. Satisfaction. 4. Poverty. REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 35 After the traveller has progressed along this path, he is raised to the higher planes ofMa’rifat (Gnoses) and Haqqitat (the Truth). It would be well to note that the Sufi renunciation differs from Christian and Bhuddhist renunciations. The Sufi is a true Muslim. He does not believe in mere other— worldliness, or celibacy and monasticism. All the great Sufi teachers led happy married lives. This renunciation is the right use of all powers given to man by God. The Sufi is in the world, yet he is out of it. He braves the risks like a courageous, dutiful soul. He never shirks his responsibility, for the Prophet had said that an unmarried person who shirked the great responsibility of life could not be trusted with higher responsibilities. The Sufis have three more advanced stages. As a matter of fact, the divisions are many, but these three roughly include them all. They are Fana, Liqa and Baqa. Fana means total effacement of one’s self, so much so that the adept becomes merged in Divine Presence. He eats and drinks, prays and fasts, not that he likes to do it but because he is impelled to do it. God is all in all for him. Turn to your Creator and surrender yourself to Him, says the Holy Word; and the Sufi, in contemplation of this, just puts himself at the disposal of his Creator, as the dead corpse in the hands of the undertaker. He thinks of the Holy Prophet’s words ‘Die before your death’, and in keeping with his origin that he is a perishable thing after all, for the Word says: ‘Every thing is perishable but what comes under Divine Will,’ he undergoes a death to receive an eternal life; not that he wants it, but because it is the Divine Will, which in Sufi terminology stands for Law. That is the stage of Fana, of passing away in to Divine Presence. Rumi has well illustrated this stage of Fana or self effacement in the following verses: When a fairy comes to possess a man, he loses his attributes of man. Whatever he says is through the inspiration of that fairy. It is neither from this nor from that brain. Gone is his own individuality, he himself becomes that fairy. Arabic to a Turk comes as a mother tongue without any revelation When he is lost to himself he knows nothing of the language. For knowledge is the person and attributes of the fairy, How can then the Creator of man and spirit be less than a fairy if this influence and law hold good in the case of a fairy? We can well judge the powers of the Creator of the fairy. When he (the drunkard) is under the influence of old or new wine he begins to speak. You would say, ‘It is the wine that is speaking.’ If this noise and fuss are due to wine, could it be possible that the light of God can be without force and power? 36 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Though the Quran has come out of the lips of the Prophet, Infidel is he who says that God has not said it Unlike Nirvana, Fana, the passing away of the Sufi from his phenomenal existence, involves Baqa, the continuance of his real existence. He who dies to self lives in and with God, but not in the pantheistic sense as is generally supposed. The Sufi is opposed to deification. Rumi, who has been accused of being a believer in pantheism, clearly refutes this idea in his well known couplet: To say I am He at the wrong moment (as did Pharaoh) is a curse. To say I am He at the right moment (as did Al Haj] Ibn Mansoor) is a blessing. Yet, as he thinks that his soul has proceeded from the hands of his Creator and that his self is but a reflection of the Real Self, so he always aims at continual progress. The elder Sufis never lost sight of the fact that they were human, and though in their periods of illumination and union they sometimes thought they were lost to themselves, just as the shadow vanishes when the sun is high in heavens, their ultimate aim was to continue in a state of Baqa eternal life actuated and moved by the instinctive desire for unification called Liqa in their language. That is why the elder Sufis never went beyond the bounds of the Law. Such a state of mind according to their best judgment, bordered upon apostasy. ‘Strive hard in the path of truth and rectitude.piety and devotion.’ says Saadi, ‘yet never dream of trespassing the bounds set by Mustafa (Muhammed).’ Two more stages the advanced Sufis claim are lahoot and nasoot. When the Sufi has traversed all the stages until he has attained to the stage of Baqa, or Eternal Continuance, he is supposed to have stepped into the stage of that which they call lahoot in which stage the Sufi remembers nothing but God. He is dead to all else besides, and he feels that he is, as it were, at unison with Him. At this stage, all his actions and all his movements are due to Divine urge rather Divine Will for that is the stage of ‘There in none but Allah (La ilaha Ilallah). The Sufi is nowhere, but God is everywhere. This stage has its degrees the beginning and culminating points. That is the ascent of the Sufi, which is his own terminology he calls Mi’raj (ascent), and when the climax arrives, then he begins to descend, which should not be confused with decline, for this descent is higher than his previous ascent. It happens in this way: Divine Love is the source of all creations, and REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 37 Divine Love is what inspires the Sufi to seek union; and now that the consummation has arrived, he is not his own self but Love himself and now he desires to manifest himself. Here the Sufi writers quote the well known saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), in which God says that He was a hidden treasure and that He desires to be realised, and so He created Adam. The Sufi believes that God is the Creator, and it is in the realisation of His attributes of Creation that He brought forth Adam. Hence, after this ascent, when the Sufi becomes united with God, Divine attribute begin to manifest themselves through him. As Divine Love is always flowing out to meet the needs of humanity, so the Sufi, the highest-embodiment of Divine Love, begins to evince and ultimately manifest his love for humanity, which is termed service, and this is called the stage of Muhammad (peace be on him) Rasool Allah, that is the Sufi, the reflection of Muhammad (peace be on him), has now become the message of God, That is the stage of Mujaddid, and a Nabi, both of these having their own stages, degrees and qualities, the highest being the stage of Muhammed, which the Sufis call the Light of Muhammad (peace be on him). The Sufis here draw a very fine distinction. Love of God with them is the first and the original inspirer, but progress depends upon the human soul, for which effort is necessary. This self effort, which is a reaction of the human soul to the Divine action, then leads him on to the stage of submission, total and entire, where all his movements become Divine. Here the Sufi’s action becomes God’s action. The highest stage is that of the prophet, where the prophet is only the instrment and God works through him. All this is included in the stage of nasoot. One of the stages in this state of nasoot is the stage of burooz. According to the Sufis, Muhammad (peace be on him) is the Perfect Man, AI Insan-ul-Kamil, and it was to realise this or that aspect of the Light of Muhammad (peace be on him) that the other prophets have been appearing in this world, and the perfection was fully realised when Muhammad (peace be on him) himself appeared. All the prophets that appeared before him were but a partial reflection, the reality alone was Muhammad (peace be on him) himself. Just as John the Baptist was the second coming of Elijah, so were the earlier prophets the forerunners and heralds of Muhammad (peace be on him), and now that he has appeared he has become the seal of the prophets. The other prophets came only to herald his coming. They were the pioneers, and in the absence of the Master they were allowed a free hand. Hence they are called independent prophets. Now that the Master himself is holding the court and swaying his dominations, nobody can assume independence; each one has to act under his guidance. That is why the Sufis (one and all) regard his law as 38 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS final, and Muhammad (peace be on him) the last of the prophets. Dependent prophets, of course, may continue, and in fulfilment of the ancient prophecies and Sufi beliefs, there has appeared one who is the burooz of Muhammad (peace be on him) in the full sense of the word, and he is no other than the late Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, the Second Christ, the Buddha Matreya, the Second krishna, the greatest Sufi of the age, and the successor of Muhammad (peace be on him). It is better to state here that the Sufi term burooz is not reincarnation theory, which the Sufis totally reject. Burooz means the appearance of one in the power and spirit of another, just as John the Baptist was Elijah that was to come, yet Elijah was dead and he could not come back to this life. This phenomenon of recurrence the Sufis use in a spiritual and metaphorical sense. The Second Christ or the Second Buddha does not mean that both these dead personages have taken a re-birth. The second one is individually different, but corresponds to his prototypes in some of his spiritual traits, moreover, the correspondence in situation needs correspondence in character, neither more nor less. The Sufis are opposed to hulul and tanasukh, that they reject both the theory of reincarnation transmigration and metempsy chosis, and they also deny that there is anything like one soul possessing or overshadowing another. SUFISM AND ISLAM The elder Sufis were true Muslims. They lived and taught nothing but Islam, and the emphasis that they laid on the spiritual side was only to revive the pristine, pure, Islamic spirit. Islam stands for the whole, while Sufism is but one of its aspects. Moreover Sufism has no constructive side, nor does it stand independent. It stands and falls with Islam. Like everything, else, Sufism has been affected during its history of many centuries. The present day Sufism, though built on the old lines, has undergone some changes. Some of the present day practices and teachings are not in conformity with the original Sufism. Renunciation in the sense of celibacy and monasticism was never countenanced by the great Sufis. What they taught was the same as is taught by Islam. They never used it in the sense of severance of human relations and retiring into woods and forests leading anchorite lives, having nothing to do with this world. That is a great departure from the old Sufi point of view. All that Islam and early Sufism insisted upon was that real attachment should be with God. Support and care and maintenance of one’s wife and REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 39 upbringing and looking after one’s children is one of the primary duties of man. Under the mistaken notion of serving God with a singleness of purpose they have forsaken the world. They are just like a horse that runs without a load or carriage, but as soon as he is loaded or yoked he stops short and kicks. What Sufism and Islam required of a man was that he should learn to stand, walk and run in spite of hindrances and handicaps, so as to bring out the best in him. As a matter of fact, the care of all these things in the right spirit is a part of Divine worship. That is why the Sufi writers have insisted on the law which says, ‘There is to. be no monasticism in Islam.’ God has willed that all these things should be well looked after, and yet a monk disregards all these duties. That is one of the practical abuses that has found its way into some present Sufi orders, whose practices, in certain instances, are a direct infringement of the teachings of the great Sufi Master. The Shariat, or law of Islam, has always stood mounted guard to counteract such tendencies. Another mistake pertaining to belief has also crept into some of the present day orders. One is the belief in transmigration and reincarnation (tanasukh and huLool) The elder Sufis have always reflected it. What they mean by recurrence is, the reversion of the old types. Some Sufis represent the spirit and power of some of the past Sufis, and therefore they sometimes have asserted their identity with their prototypes. This has been understood to mean reincarnation, etc., which the elders have expressly repudiated as abomination. As we have explained elsewhere, this reversion of types they term a burooz which means the coming of another in the power and spirit of the departed one. These elder Sufis cite one of the sayings of the Holy Prophet, which says that some people “among his followers are born in the spirit of Abraham, while others in the spirit of Moses, and Jesus, and other prophets.But they are not the same. It is only the prominence in resemblance which entitles a person to a certain name. Ahmad of Qadian had appeared in our day in the power and spirit of Jesus, and that is why his coming is the coming of Jesus. It was necessary to guard against these corruptions that the form of Shariat was maintained by them, and it was in conformity with the law that the elder Sufis have all rejected reincarnation and other theories that border on polytheism. MYSTICISM AND SUFISM Sufism has generally been confused with Mysticism. The misunder- standing has been due to the apparent similarity in the meanings of the word ‘mysticism’ and sirr. But the sirr of Sufism is not the mystery of the mystic, for the Sufi had nothing to conceal. To a Sufi the word connotes the reality underlying anything, even if it be a phenomenon. As the 40 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS reality of every one’s experience is known which one has to go through himself. One can instruct another in formalism, but discipline and illumination are an individual affair. This attitude of a Sufi has been attributed to a mystifying habit, which is surely an unfair judgement on him. So Mysticism and Suflsm are two different things altogether. ORDERS IN SUFISM There are many orders of Sufism with many more sub orders. They all started with the same principles and the same practices, differing only in minor details, and the idiosyncrasies of the individual. These orders are all known by the names of the different persons who first founded the movement in their own localities. There has been no difference whatever so far as the elders and the best people in these movements have been concerned. But with the lapse of time and the difference of tastes, temperaments and traits of character, and the atmosphere and environments that surrounded them, there were developed certain practices, which though harmless perhaps at first, led in the end to wide cleavages, not only in matters of details but also even in principles of actions. The present day orders are mostly of the above type, who neither care for the law nor for the behests of great minds of their movements. This degeneracy was mostly the result of contact with peoples that had themselves deviated from the right path and who now have come to think more of hypnotism, mesmerism, auto suggestion and cure by suggestion, which the elder Sufis never cared much about, though of course during the course of their disciplines those, or some of these things, came to them of themselves, and were perhaps made’use of very-often-unconsciously;— but these were never the chief nor the sole means. These latter day Sufis, having lost the spirit and the reality, now looked about for something tangible, and as the sudden results achieved themselves through these alien practices along with the fact that there was some similarity between these practices and some of the actions of their elders, which they never tried to fathom, they devoted themselves to these things to the exclusion of the reality, and that is the reason we meet with fraud, hypocrisy and imposture so often. Some of them have adopted the heathenish practices of bowing and prostrating before men, offering libations to dead saints, offering prayers to the living and dead. Some think themselves above every law, thus giving a free rein to every passion. It is fortunate that there are not very many of them, but it is undeniable that they are a part of the society, however low it may be. But they have nothing in common with the real Sufism of Islam.

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