What is Sufism ?
Sufism is the mystical dimension of the religion of Islam and Sufis represented the inner side of Islamic creed which stresses on self realization, beautification of soul through purity, righteousness and universal love for all. The central doctrine of Sufism is worship to Allah and selfless service to humanity. A Sufi’s ultimate objective is to achieve closeness with God and develop his firm belief in the oneness of God and total surrender to His will. Its an extreme difficult process which starts with killing of Nafs (Ego), building the internal and external character, meditations, mortifications, serving humanity and finally reaching to the stage of Divine truth. Following the tradition of Prophet Mohammad SAW the Sufi believe that acquiring knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.
Origin of the word Sufi
Different scholars have diffrent opinions regarding the origin of the word ‘sufi’. Some say that the word sufi is derived from the word Safa, meanin purity of the heart. The other opinion is that it comes from Saff Awwal, meaning the first row of the faithfull. One of the beliefs is that it is taken from Ahle Suffa, a section of great devotees who lived in the first mosque of Madina at the time of the prophet Mohammad SAW. But the most widely accepted opinion is that it is derived from the word Suf, meaning wool referring to a group of sincere worshippers who lived during, and shortly after, the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and who became known for their tendency to wear coarse woolen clothes.
This Sufi Sufi philosophy is classified in four stages:
- Shariat (outward religion or law)
- Tariqat (the path)
- Haqeeqat (the Inner truth)
- Maarifat ( divine knowledge)
Sharia is the Islamic canonical law based on the teachings of the Quran and Hadees. Tareeqat is the path to understand of this law. It is the journey between the Shariat and the Haqeeqat. It is the understanding of law besides following it, that we must understand the cause of all things that we must do and must not do, instead of obeying the law without understanding. Haqeeqat is the stage of knowing the internal truth. It shows what is real, genuine and authentic. Maarifat is the real understanding of the spiritualism by his own experience.
According to Sufi belief, the object of man’s creation is to acquire knowledge of God which includes knowdege of the Creator as well as knowledge of the creation. Man can return to Him through Love of Him. If a person loves God intensely, than it is obvious for him to love and serve His creation too. The Sufi believes that the most important thing for the path of Sufism is the heart in which he can see the vision of God. And if the heart is polluted with the dust of Nafs (worldy desires) it has to be purified by way of certain Sufi practices which are actually a journey of spiritual attainments which leads to God Amighty. There are varius stages on this path of Divine knowdege and spirituality and those stages are called muqamaat (stations).
The Sufi Path:
This path of a Sufi is full of struggle and in the terminology of Sufism it is called Jihad-e-Akbar (the greater struggle). It is an inner fight of a practicant to get control over the Nafs (Ego) which always tries to overwhelm the soul. The first step for a Sufi aspirant to follow this path is to seek a Pir ( Spiritual preceptor) who must be a practical master of the Sufism and its practices. The Sufi practice is two-fold. First is to detach the love of the worldly diseres and secondly to develop the true and passionate love for Almighty While going through this path, a Sufi has to pass many stations. These stations are Tauba (Repentance), Zuhd (Abstinece), Faqr (pious poverty), Zikr (Recitaiton of Allah’s name), Fikr (Reasoning), Muraqaba (Meditation), Muhabsaba (Self-examination) and Tawakkul (Reliance on God).
It is the first step of the Sufi way. It is the stage of consciousness of a mendicant in respect of the sins he has already committed in his past life. He feels ashamed of his sins and asks forgiveness of God.
It is refraning oneself from being opportunist and selfish and being free from worldly objects of pleasures. It does not at all means pursuing a clearical life and living in a remote area and cease working, it means trying to refrain oneself from unnecessary worldly attractions.
Faqr is a stage of non-possessiveness. Here the mendicant does not care for any worldly benefit. The materials gains and losses of the world do not make any difference for him. Neither is he pleased nor is he pained by the worldly pleasures and sorrows.
It is the most excellent act of the Sufis to focus their attention on God. They recite the names of Allah to enable them to become continuously aware of the Divine presence in every aspect of life. Zikr are of two kinds, Zirk-e-jali (reciting loudly) and Zikr-e-khafi (reciting silently in the heart).
Muraqaba is a science of Sufi meditation. It is the way of guarding, observing and controlling ones desires. By sitting and closing his eyes the Sufi visualizes the image of the name of Allah and purifies his heart and removes its darkness. He experiences at this stage that God sees him and he sees God.
This is a practice of self-assesment. At the end of each day that has passed, the practicant thinks about his whole day achievements in order to check him. What has he done in the course of the day? Why has he done it?. What has he ommitte? Why has he omitted it?. If he findes hisself satisfied than he should be thankful to God. If he finds himself guilty, he must ask for God’s forginess and try his best so that it would not occur again. The best time for this self ciriticism is when a person is going to his bed at night.
It means total reliance of God. Sultanul Mashaikh Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia described three stages of Tawakkal. First one is that a poersone who hires a lawyer to plead his case. The attorney is leaned and also a friend of the plaintiff. The plaintiff, in this situation, feels secure and confident. The second stage is that there is an infant. He cries but does not ask her mother to suckle him. He has full trust in her mothers love and affection. The mother suckles her baby. The third stage of Tawakkal is that there is a dead person before ghassal (one who gives bath to the dead person before burial). He neither moves nor asks something. But Gaassal turns him and washes him as per his choice. This is the highest form of Tawakkal.
The basic requriment for this journey is Sabr (extreme patience) and Raza (surrender to the will of God). Sultanul Masshikh said: “When a person encounters awful situlations withg out complaint then such courage is knoiwn as Sabr (patience). And when someone faces awefulless but he does not feel its awfulnesss as it has not reached to him it is called Raza.
A Sufi sees God in everything. Whatever he see, feel and taste is all temporary for him. It is God who is permanent and Supreme and nothing his outside of his circle. He does not believe in taking only in giving. He believes that all the things around him are an indication of God’s presence and everything beside Him is subjective.