12 Mar An Introduction to Sufism
Psychological Articles as Solutions to Types of Discrimination
The practitioner of a belief is convinced of the truth of his faith, thus an interested observer is robbed of his perspective. Sufism, the mystical strain of Islam, is no stranger to this dilemma. As seen from the periphery, Sufism is the meditational mystical aspect of a World Religion sharing many of its practices with that of other faiths. For the believer of Tassawuf, it is the very essence of reality and the purpose of the message of Islam as conveyed by its Prophet.
Among the many pre-requisites of a Sufi to attain his end of spiritual achievement a saying of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, is particularly enlightening:
My servant draws near to Me through nothing I love more than that which I have made obligatory for him. My servant never ceases drawing near to Me through supererogatory works until I love him. Then, when I love him, I am his hearing through which he hears, his sight through which he sees, his hand through which he grasps, and his foot through which he walks.
Meditation, purifying oneself of the lower self, and various practices of mystics are the occasion but not the cause of the end of the Sufi. They are stepping stones towards the attainment of Oneness with the Divine.
As all mystical orders, Sufism’s schools of thought endorse and propagate different concepts and ideas, however, certain underlying concepts are shared by all that provide the commonality binding followers of Sufism together.
Dhikr (pronounced Ziker), is one the practices shared by all orders, and consists of repetition of Quranic verses or other religious liturgies. In its broadest sense it can mean any activity that maintains awareness of the Divine. Muraqaba, or meditation, maintains complete non-awareness of all that distracts from concentrating on the idea of the Divine in the Sufi. Sufism, while maintaining the necessity of such means, stresses equally of not more the necessary pre-requisites of attaining perfect character in tune with that of the Prophet as conveyed through the Ages through collections of his sayings, the Hadith. Humility, purity of thought and action, removal of pride, ego, ostentation, arrogance are the markers overcome on the Path or Tariqa reaching different stations or Muqamat towards attaining the ultimate end of the Sufi.
In spite of the theories behind every order, Sufism emphasizes that its knowledge is that to be practiced and experienced, and not be understood in the intellectual sense. For this the guidance of a Teacher is indispensable, who has been transmitted an Ijazah (divine light from the Master to the pupil) through an unbroken chain (silsilah) through the ages. Seen in its simplest form however, Sufism is open to all, but with varying degrees of success and usually failure for most unless expertly guided. Highlighting the confusion of all trying to understand Sufism without practicing it is an extract from the Quran, quoted as explaining the heart-core of the Sufic way:
“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) through no fire touched it. Light upon light, Allah guideth unto His light whom he will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is Knower of all things: (This lamp is found) in houses which Allah hath allowed to be exalted and that His name shall be remembered therein.”
(cited in: 24th chapter of The Holy Quran called Al-Nur meaning Light. http://articlesculture.blogspot.com/2009/02/abdelhamid-zoubir-al-ghazali.html, Feb 15, 2009)
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