Origination and Growth of Sufism Term Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Subject: Mythology - Religion
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #19127105

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Origination and Growth of Sufism

The word Sufism came in use in the second century of Hijrah. Historians have intensely contested the etymology and source of the word Sufi. Numerous people say that this word is used from Suffah.

Some Sahabah used to spend their time in Prophet's mosque devout to learning in regard to their religion and to prayers. Consequently, they claim that later people who succeed the People of the Suffah were given this name. There are others who say that the source of this word is in "Saff" which means the prayer line. There were some very religious people who used to come to prayers constantly and were regularly in the first line and so they were given this name. Some people say that the word is taken from "Safa" which means pureness and those who tried to keep themselves ethereally clean were given this name. It is also said that the root of this word is in "Suf" which means wool. In previous times, some devout people who used to wear simple clothes made of animal's hair.

As White Cloud exemplifies, other Sufi teachers, philosophers and poets are coming through the door opened by Rumi. But Sufism is more diverse than many Western readers may realize. As it has developed and spread over more than a millennium, it has also given birth to a variety of significant teachers and followers, splintering the tradition. Sufism, as it has evolved in America over the past 40 years, has split into two camps: "traditional" Sufism, which says Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam, and non-Islamic Sufism -- what some would call "New Age" Sufism or others would term "universalist."

Nasr bluntly assesses some interpretations of Sufism that have gained adherents in the United States: "It's easier in America than in Europe to sell diluted interpretations of Sufism. There's less knowledge here, and the New Age wave began in America and went to Europe." http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/islam/pw111300.htm

Islamic Publishing Is Poised for Growth

They were modest and had nothing to do with the world and worldly things, so they were given this name. It is also claimed that this word is taken from the Greek word "sophia" which mean prudence and tact. They propose that in the second century of Hijrah some Greek philosophical books were interpreted and some Muslims became swayed and convinced with the theory of knowledge ideas Subsequently their rivals gave them the name Sufis.

There are several other definitions as well, but they all seem unlikely. Nonetheless, we do not know what is the actual source of this word. The source of the Sufi movement appears to be in Zuhd, being satisfied with very little worldly things. In the early hundred years of Islam there were numerous people who lived the life of Zuhd. They evaded worldly extravagance and niceties and devoted themselves to religion and to the memory of Allah.

Sufism, by the end of the 9th and beginning of the 10th Century, was already like a big tree, with various branches and various birds singing in it.

A the spread of Islam was not done by fire and sword

.. But rather by the preaching of the Sufis who knew how to win the hearts of the people."

We find poetry and prose in all the languages of Islam. We find that Sufism permeated the countries from West Africa to India, and, in fact it was the Sufis who brought Islam to the border countries of Asia and Africa. Sir Thomas Arnold in Sudan told me the teacher of Muhammad iqbal in Lahore had published exactly 100 years ago his famous book The Preaching of Islam, in which he shows that the spread of Islam was not done by fire and sword as most of our sources are won't to say, but rather by the preaching of the Sufis who knew how to win the hearts of the people. And the Sufis wrote their poetry in the language of the people of their lands.

They taught the love of God, love of the Prophet, love of mankind to the illiterate, simple people who were unable to understand the Arabic of the theologians. It was the same in Europe with the introduction of mystic poems." http://www.naqshbandi.org/events/sufitalk/sufismeu.htm

Sufism and its Influence on Europe lecture by Dr. Anne-Marie Schimmel delivered at Stanford University, May 4, 1997 sponsored by CAIR

Subsequently when the period of specialty came and various disciplines emanate, some people became proficient in Qur'an, some in Hadith, some in Fiqh. In the same way some people were recognized as the experts in 'Ilm al-Suluk, the learning of religious living. These are the people who became recognized as Sufis.

Sufism has a long memoir in Islam. Betwixt the Sufis there were some who followed the Qur'an and Sunnah, but there were different others who thought up their own teachings. Some of these teachings were not taken from the Quran and actual Sunnah, but from the Neo-Platonic ideas, Gnosticism, Syrian and Egyptian Christianity and afterward from Hinduism and Buddhism.

One should be watchful and vigilant when vocalizing concerning Sufism. It is not right to generalize. Neither all Sufism is corrupt, nor all of it is righteous. Some Sufis were great experts of real and pure Islamic spirituality, but there were others who went to extremes and left the path of actual Sunnah.

In Sufism, the heart is considered to be the center of the intellect and the conscious center of Being. Troublesome deeds, for the purpose of this paper, can be anything that holds us in a state of limited consciousness. Many individuals may strive for the knowledge of unity, the vision of Universal Reality, yet few achieve this knowledge in a lifetime. Those who do achieve this level are called Sufis. For the rest, we live in a limited stage or state of understanding or knowledge, within the realm of multiplicity.

One phrase that is used in Sufism to describe the realm of multiplicity is that the heart is veiled in ignorance, which indicates a state of less than full consciousness. This state is also defined as living in darkness or searching for light. The light can be considered a metaphor for ultimate or cosmic consciousness. In Sufism it is understood that wisdom, light, and a complete system of existence exists, yet they are often hidden from view. As the great Sufi, Amir al-Moumenin Ali said, "You think you are a small body, yet within you is wrapped the greater world." Through this saying Sufis are given the key to understanding existence. It is not to focus on the small body or to look somewhere outside, but rather, the greater world (awareness of existence) is wrapped within, more specifically, within the heart." http://www.sufismjournal.org/psychology/psychologyconsciousness2.html

Sufism and Consciousness: part two

The Heart of Consciousness

The notion of Qutb is a belated Sufi idea. It does not inhere in the Quran and the actual Sunnah. There are of course a variety of definitions of this theory in Sufism. According to some Sufis, Qutb is a main and central spiritual figure who reaches the superlative state of religious cognizance and therefore becomes a chief figure in his community. But there are some other more out of proportion claims in regard to the Qutb. Some contemplate the Qutb is a center and pivot of this world. Each and every person has a center and then every area has a center and then there is a center of the centers who is labeled as Qutb al-Aqtab.

The Qutb is carefully thought about as the supreme position in the spiritual mounting of a Sufi. Some Sufis claimed that the Qutbs were even bigger than the prophets were and the supreme Qutb is nearly equal to Allah. Such motifs are of course not Islamic. They were embraced from some non-Islamic traditions.

After I went through some of the narration of Qutbs in some Sufi writings, it reminds me of the concept of Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism. It is very much likely that those who were switched over from Buddhist tradition brought about these arguments into Islam.

Let the sun of thy divine spirit rise from my heart, that morning may break out of the darkness of life." These words by Hazrat Inayat Khan, founder of the Sufi Order, embody a central principle of Sufism, awakening to the light within and to the abundance of life, both individually and collectively.

The Sufi Order is an esoteric, interfaith school, guiding its practitioners on a journey of transformation and self-realization. Founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan in 1910, it is presently directed by his son, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, and grandson, Pir Zia Khan. It is a heart-centered, universal approach to spiritual growth with no adherence to prescribed ritual or dogma. Although the Sufi Order is not linked with any one religion, it derives from the Chistia Order, an Islamic Sufi Order out of India. http://www.aquarius-atlanta.com/april02/sufi1.shtml


With respect to Sufism, complete cognizance of the complete actuality results in…

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