Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Understanding the Concept of Islamic Sufism : Shahida Bilqies Research Scholar, Shah-i-Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies University of Kashmir, Srinagar-190006 Jammu and Kashmir, India. Journal of Education & Social Policy Vol. 1 No. 1; June 2014

Sufism, being the marrow of the bone or the inner dimension of the Islamic revelation, is the means par excellence whereby Tawhid is achieved. All Muslims believe in Unity as expressed in the most Universal sense possible by the Shahadah, la ilaha ill’Allah. The Sufi has realized the mysteries of Tawhid, who knows what this assertion means. It is only he who sees God everywhere.1 Sufism can also be explained from the perspective of the three basic religious attitudes mentioned in the Qur’an. These are the attitudes of Islam, Iman and Ihsan.There is a Hadith of the Prophet (saw) which describes the three attitudes separately as components of Din (religion), while several other traditions in the Kitab-ul-Iman of Sahih Bukhari discuss Islam and Iman as distinct attitudes varying in religious significance. These are also mentioned as having various degrees of intensity and varieties in themselves. The attitude of Islam, which has given its name to the Islamic religion, means Submission to the Will of Allah. This is the minimum qualification for being a Muslim. Technically, it implies an acceptance, even if only formal, of the teachings contained in the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet (saw). Iman is a more advanced stage in the field of religion than Islam. It designates a further penetration into the heart of religion and a firm faith in its teachings. Ihsan, the third quality, is the highest stage of spiritual advancement. At this stage the devotee has such a realization of the religious truths which amounts almost to their direct vision. This quality of Ihsan, which was later termed as Mushahidah (Direct seeing) by the Sufis, is described in the Tradition by the Prophet (saw) as: “Ihsan is to adore Allah as though thou do see Him for even if thou do not see Him, He nonetheless sees thee.” According to these three stages of religiosity, Sufism may be defined as the Spiritual Progress of a devotee from the initial stage of Islam to the final stage of Ihsan. 2 Macdonald in his book,” the Religious Attitude p. 159, writes, ‘From the earliest times there was an element in the Muslim church which was repelled equally by traditional teaching and intellectual reasoning. It felt that the essence of religion lay elsewhere; that the seat and organ of religion was in the heart. In process of time, all Islam became permeated with this conception, in different degrees and various forms. More widely than ever with Christanity, Islam became and is a mystical faith.3 Sufism in the sense of ‘mysticism” and quietism”, was a natural development of the ascetic tendencies which manifested themselves within Islam during the Umayyad period.4 To understand Sufism, we must understand mysticism. The Greek root myein, “to close the eyes,” is also the root of “mystery”; the mystic’s goal is not to be reached by the intellect or by ordinary means. Fundamentally, mysticism is love of the Absolute, the One Reality, also called Truth, Love, or God. According to Sarraj’s classic definition of Sufism, “The Sufis are people who prefer God to everything and God prefers them to everything else.”5 Sufism is necessary because it is to Islam what the heart is to body.6 There is no Sufism without Islam because Sufism is the spirituality or Mysticism of the religion of Islam.7 It is said that science deals with the universe outside us, and spirituality with the universe inside us.8 Thus, Sufism can be said to be a movement which aims at making people good and better Muslims. It is a call to them to actualize truly and internally those teachings of Islam they have accepted only formally or intellectually as part of their inheritance. 9 A Sufi relinquishes the worldly pleasures, the cheap sensations, the materialism and the corruptions, but not in theleast withdraws from the worldly living. He earns his own bread and is never a parasite or a menace to the society.He abides by the Shari’at, the cannon law of Islam, goes by Tariqat, the Spiritual Path, to achieve Abudiat i.e. The Unity with the Allah, his beloved.10

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