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Islamic Mysticism:

Tasawwuf is an Arabic terminology for Islamic Mysticism (or Islamic Sufism as being referred to in the West). Its a collective term that pertains to the various ways that the Sufis follow (Practitioners of Tasawwuf) to reach God (Allah) by way of heading towards the inwardness of His revealed religion - Islam. It has been defined further in many ways. According to some, Tasawwuf is Almighty Gods annihilating man with respect to his ego and self-centeredness and then reviving him spiritually with the lights of His Essence; in other words, Gods annihilating man with respect to his own will and then directing him by His Own Will. Another approach to Tasawwuf sees it as continues striving to be rid of all kinds of bad maxims and evil conducts and acquiring virtues or angelic qualities pleasing to Allah thereby living ones life in accordance with the requirements of knowledge and love of Allah and in the spiritual delight that comes thereby. Islam, like most other faiths to a greater or lesser extend, consists of two vital aspects Mans relationship with Allah and mans relationship with his fellow man. Mans relationship with Allah can be found in certain belief such as the existence of Allah; the coming of the judgement; the reward and punishment in the next life; and others along with the outward expression of these beliefs in forms of worship such as prayer and fasting. Mans relationship with his fellow man, on one hand, can be found in Islamic system of morality with its outward expression in certain social institutions and laws such as marriage, inheritance, civil, and criminal laws. But it is obvious that the basis of this faith, the spirit that gives it life, is the inward expression the Spiritual dimension. Thereby if this inward expression converse with the Supreme Being - Allah and inspiration from Him is present, then they are comparable to a soul that gives life to a body (outward expression). But if it die away, or in proportion to the extent that they wither or become feeble, the outward expressions of the faith becomes like a soulless body, which by the inexorable law of nature swiftly succumbs to corruption. Thus, the former is indeed the breath and life of Islam. And it is the study and cultivation of this inward expression that the word Tasawwuf further connotes. In can be seen from the word of Allah, the Quran, that whenever something concerning mans outward actions are decreed, its inward content and purpose is also stressed. Take prayer for instance, Allah says: Observe prayer for My remembrance. (Ta-Ha 20:14); or The believers have attained success; who are humble in their prayers. (As-Sajdah 32:01) The above verses of the Holy Quran emphasize that the object of prayer is not the mere outward performance, but to remember Allah with a humble heart.

In fact, one of the highlighted features in the practice of Tasawwuf, are issues concerning the heart. In its terminology, Heart signifies the spiritual aspect of a biological heart as the center of all ambitions and faculties such as perception, consciousness, sensation, reasoning and will-power. The Sufi or mystic calls it the Human Truth, while the philosopher calls it, The Speaking Selfhood. Relative to this, The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) once declared that: There is a fleshy part in the body. If it is healthy, then the whole of the body is healthy. If it is corrupted, then all the whole body is corrupted. Beware, that part is the Heart (Qalb). (Bukhari, Iman, 39; Muslim, Musaqat, 107) It uses the equation of the Kabaa and the heart in a metaphoric sense to demonstrate its primacy over normative piety and to establish the centrality of mystical practice in religious life. And accordingly, spiritual dimension of Kabaa (Bayt Allah) and Human heart is the same both contain the key to the Essence of Existence.

The Relationship between Shariah (Islamic Law) and Tasawwuf (Islamic Mysticism):
Basically Tasawwuf is based on observing the rules of Sharia down to good manners thereby penetrating their inner meaning. An initiate or traveler upon the path (Salik) who can succeed in this never separates the outward observance of Sharia from its inward dimension. Through such observance, he travels toward the goal in utmost humility and submission with strict observance of the religious obligations and austerity in lifestyle, the renunciation of animal appetites. Although it mostly concentrates on the inner world of man and deals with the religious commandments with respect to their meaning and effects on mans spirit and heart and is therefore abstract, it is not contradictory with any of the Islamic ways based on the Quran and the Sunna. Far from being contradictory, it has its source, just like other religious sciences, in the Quran and the Sunna and the conclusions that the purified scholars of the early period of Islam drew from the Quran and the Sunna ijtihad. It dwells on knowledge, knowledge of God, certainty, sincerity, perfect goodness and other similar fundamental virtues. In addition, its priorities have never been different from those of Jurisprudence (Fiqh). Both of these ways or disciplines have stressed the importance of belief, doing good deeds and good conduct. The only difference is that, more than the jurisprudents, the Sufis have also focused on purification of the self, deepening in the meaning of good deeds and multiplying them, and attainment of higher standards of good morals, by which mans conscience awakens to knowledge of God and man can enter a way leading to the required sincerity in practicing the religion and obtaining Gods good pleasure. Since man can, by means of these virtues, acquire another nature another heart spiritual intellect within the heart, a deeper knowledge of God, and another tongue to mention

God he can perform all the commandments of Sharia in a deeper consciousness of, and with a disposition for, servanthood to God, and in greater exhilaration.

The Basic Concepts of Tasawwuf (Islamic Mysticism):


It may be useful to discuss Tasawwuf in the light of the following basic concepts which are the subject matter of the books written on good morals, manners and ascetism, and regarded as the points where one finds the Muhammadan Truth in ones heart. They can also be considered as the lights by which to know and follow the spiritual path leading to God. The first and foremost of these concepts is wakefulness (yaqaza), which is alluded to in the Prophetic saying: My eyes sleep but my heart does not. And in the saying of Ali (R.A.), the fourth Caliph and cousin of the Prophet (S.A.W.): Men are in sleep. They wake up when they die. Following wakefulness come tawba (repentance), inaba (sincere penitence), awba (turning to God in contrition), muhasaba (self-criticism or self-interrogation), tafakkur (reflection), firar (fleeing ), itisam (taking shelter), halwat (privacy), uzlet (seclusion), hal (spiritual state), maqam (spiritual station or rank), qalb (heart), huzn (sadness or sorrow), khawf (fear of God), khashya (reverence), raja (hope or expectation), zuhd (asceticism), wara (utmost abstinence from all kinds of sins), ibada (worship), ubudiya (servanthood), ubuda (deep devotion), muraqaba (self-supervision), ikhlas (sincerity or purity of intention), istiqama (straightforwardness), tawakkul (reliance on God), taslim (surrender), tafwiz (commitment), thiqa (confidence), (husn-u) khuluq (good nature or good conduct), tawadu (humility), futuwwa (chivalry), sidq (truthfulness), haya (modesty), shukr (thankfulness), sabr (patience), rida (resignation), inbisat (expansion), qast (decision), azm (resolution), irada (will), murid (willing one), murad (willed one), yaqin (certainty), dhikr (regular recitation of Gods Names), ihsan (perfect goodness), basira (insight), firasa (discernment), sakina (serenity), itminan (peacefulness), qurb (nearness), bud (distance or remoteness), marifa (spiritual knowledge of God), mahabba (love), ashq (intense, ecstatic love), shawq (joyful zeal), ishtiyaq (yearning), jadhb (attraction), injidhab (feeling of being attracted toward God), dahsha (terror), hayra (amazement), qabd (strain), bast (relief), faqr (poverty), ghina (richness), riyadat (austerity), tabaddul (change), hurriya (freedom), hurma (sacredness), ilm (knowledge), hikma (wisdom), himma (endeavor), ghayra (effort), walaya (sainthood), sayr (journeying), ghurba (exile), istighraq (absorption), ghayb (invisibility), qalaq (restlessness), waqt (time), safa (delight), surur (joy), talwin (coloring), tamkin (selfpossession), mukashafa (unveiling), mushahada (witnessing), tajalli (manifestation), hayy (life), sakr (intoxication), sahw (sobriety), fasl (separation), wasl (reaching), fana (annihilation), baqa (subsistence), tahqiq (verifying), talbis (utmost avoidance of

ostentation), wujud (existence), tajrid (abstraction), tafrid (attributing whatever good one has to God), jam (combination), jam ul-jam (unification), and tawhid (unity).

Sufi The Practitioners of Tasawwuf (Islamic Mysticism):


The one who practices Tasawwuf is called Sufi as mentioned above. There are various opinions as to where the term derived. And as far as the term is concerned, the following are worth mentioning: 1. Sof (wool)-a kind of clothing used by the early practitioners of Tasawwuf; Safwat (purity)-the purity of the heart; Suffa (chamber)-the chamber adjacent to the Prophets (S.A.W.) mosque where the homeless, poor, and scholarly Companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.) stayed and practice Tasawwuf; Sofu (religious zealot); Safa (spiritual delight); and Sophos or Sophia (wisdom)-both of which are Greek terms. But in the strictest sense of the term, it is actually symbolic rather than descriptive. The Sufis can be divided into two categories with respect to the path they follow: The first category comprises those who give priority to knowledge and seek to reach their destination through knowledge of God (marifa). They spend their lives by continuously traveling towards God, progressing in God and progressing from God on the wings of knowledge and knowledge of God, and try to realize the meaning of There is no power and strength saves with God . Every change, alteration, transformation and formation they observe in existence and every event they witness or themselves experience, is like a comprehensive message from the Holy power and Will expressed in different tongues. On the otherhand, the second category consists of those following the path of yearning, spiritual ecstasies and spiritual discoveries. But although they are serious in their journeying and ascetism, they may sometimes, since they are in pursuit of discovering hidden realities or truths, miracle workings, spiritual pleasures and ecstasies, suffer deviations from the main destination and fail to reach God Almighty. Although it is grounded on the Quran and Sunna, this second path may yet lead some initiates to cherish certain desires and expectations such as having a spiritual rank, being able to work miracles, being known as a saint, etc. That is why the former path, which is the path leading to the greatest sainthood under the guidance of the Quran, is safer. Furthermore, as far as the inner world of man is concerned, the Sufis divide people into three groups: The first group comprises those they call the perfect ones who have reached the destination. This group is divided into two sub-groups namely the Prophets and the perfected ones who have reached the Truth by strictly following it. It is possible that some among those perfected ones are not guides; rather than guiding people to the Truth, they remain annihilated or drowned in the waves of the ocean of meeting with God and

bewilderment. Their relations with the visible, material world are completely severe and therefore they live unable to guide others. The second group is called initiates. They are also divided into two sub-groups. The first sub-group is those who completely renounce the world and, without considering the Hereafter, seek only God Almighty. The second sub-group consists of the initiates who aim to enter Paradise and do not completely give up tasting some lawful pleasures of the world. They are called by different titles such as ascetics, worshipping ones, the poor or the helpless. As for the third group, since their aim is only to live an easy, comfortable life in the world, the Sufis call them the settling or clinging ones those who cling heavily to the earth. They are evil, unfortunate ones belonging to, according to what the Quran calls them, the group on the left who are blind and deaf and do not understand.

The Goals of Tasawwuf (Islamic Mysticism):


The goals of Tasawwuf may be listed as follows: 1. To be freed from the vices and weaknesses particular to human nature thus acquiring angelic qualities and conducts pleasing to Allah. 2. To acquire a strong, heart-felt, and experienced conviction of the Truth thereby directing attention to the reality of things beneath and beyond their outer dimension. 3. To overflow with Divine Love thereby experiencing the ability to unveil ones Spiritual hearts eyes thus seeing the secrets of creation and the Creator. 4. To overcome the demands of ones own will through self-annihilation in Allahs Divine Will thus reaching the Real Nature of Existence. 5. To be able to experience, recognize, and express both the Immanence and Transcendence of Allah as one and at the same time thus reaching the Ultimate goal the Essence of Divine Unity (Tawheed).

Facts of Prophet Mohammads Life as a Practitioner of Tasawwuf:


As far as the contradictory opinion of closed minded individual is concerned, the facts of the life and the character of the Prophet (S.A.W.) are used by Sufi to legitimize the Islamicity of Tasawwuf. The Seerah or Biography of the Prophet (S.A.W.) known all over the Muslim world shows that he was a mystic or Sufi as well as statesman and a lawyer. The first Quranic revelation which asks the Prophet (S.A.W.) to read occurred

in the context of meditation inside the Cave of Hira near Mecca. In fact, since the age of Twenty-five, after marrying a widow named Khadija, the Prophet was known to frequently enter the said cave for a solitary meditation. In addition, the Arabic biographical literature on the Prophet (S.A.W.) mentions childhood encounters with angels and other portents of his mystical destiny. Moreover, another very revealing evidence of his life as a mystic is the Al-Israh wal Miraj where he is believed to have traveled by night from Mecca to Jerusalem from where he is believed to have ascended to the Seven Heavens. In that night journey, the Prophet (S.A.W.) is believed to have conferred with several Prophets sent before him and during which occasions Allah gave him the obligatory five tines-a-day prayers for his adherents to observe. While the orthodox interpretation of the Miraj (Ascension) is quite different from that of the Sufi, the mystical dimension of the event can not be denied. Abu Hurairah (R.A.), one of the Prophets (S.A.W.) close companions, used to say: I acquired two vessels from the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), one of which I published, but if I published the other my throat would be cut. This is an interesting allusion to the danger of making a show of spiritual experience before those who do not understand them. In fact, this is the very reason why the Muslim mystic have always counseled great caution in the matter of describing some of their spiritual states in detail as these can only be appreciated in the tasting, and not in the description. In spite of the obvious references in the Quran, the many Hadith, the previously mentioned Seerah of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the lives of the companions, some have tried to deny this spiritual heritage of the Prophet (S.A.W.).

The Legacy of Tasawwuf (Islamic Mysticism):


Islamic Mysticism is actually one of the most controversial yet very substantial topics to tackle as far as knowledge of Godknowledge about God is concerned. In fact, its controversial yet substantial content reflects in the works of the Sufis themselves. Now, let us consider to contemplate on the following list of known Muslim mystics or Sufis, along with a short description of their respective contributions: 1. Rabiat ul Adawiyya: She is also known as Rabiat al-Qaysiyya or Rabia of Basrah. She was the first to set forth the Doctrine of Mystical Love and is considered as the first in a long line of female Sufis. The defining work on her life and writing was written over 50 years ago by Margaret Smith, a small treatise written as a Masters Thesis.

Saying: I want to put out the fires of Hell, and burn down the rewards of Paradise - they block the way to God. I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for the promise of reward, but simply for the love of God. 2. Abu Yazid Bistami (Bayazid): He developed the Doctrine of Fana (Self Annihilation) the passing away of the self; and its positive counterpart, Baqa (Self Permanence) the unitive life in God. One can relay on the following Hadith ul Qudsi as to authenticity of his claimed doctrine: When I love My servant I become his eyes, his ears, his tongue, his hands, and his feet. He sees through Me he speaks in My name, his hands become Mine and he walks with Me. Saying: I came forth from Bayazid-ness as a snake from its skin. Then I looked. I saw that lover, beloved, and love are one, for in the world of Unity all can be one. 3. Abdul Qadir Jailani: He is also known as Al-Gauth al Azam (The Supreme Helper) and Sultan ul Awliya (King of the Saints). His contribution and renown in the Mysticism and Shariah was so immense the he became known as the spiritual pole of his time. In fact, his writings were similar to those of Imam ul- Ghazzali in that they dealt with both the fundamentals of Islam and the mystical experience of Islamic Mysticism (Tasawwuf). Saying: Tasawwuf is an Arabic word consisting of four consonants T, S, W, and F. Letter T stands for Tawba (Repentance), the first step to be taken on the path. It is as if a double step - outward and inward. The outward step is in words, deeds, and feelings to keep ones life free from sin and to incline towards obedience; and to flee from revolt and opposition thus seeking agreement and harmony. While the inward step is taken by the heart it is the cleansing of the heart from conflicting worldly desires and the hearts total affirmation of the wish for the Divine; the second letter stands for Safa (Peace and joy). In this stage, there are similarly two steps to take: the first step is towards Purity in heart and the second step is towards Hearts secret center; the third letter stands for Wilaya, which is the state of sanctity of the lovers and friends of Allah - this state depends upon inner purity; and lastly, the fourth letter stands for Fana (Self Annihilation) this is the state of nothingness or

intoxication whereby the false self melts and evaporates when the multiplicity of worldly attributes and personalities leave, then place is taken by the single attribute of Unity. 4. Imam ul Ghazzali (Algazel or Abuhamet): He is also known as Hujjat ul Islam (Proof of Islam) and Zainuddin (The Ornament of Faith). He contributed significantly to the development of a systematic view of Mysticism - its integration and acceptance in mainstream Islam. Sayings: If reason cannot prove the existence of God, the heart (Qalb) can have a direct encounter with Him. The heart has its own reasons which reason itself does not know. Therefore, the heart is the means to discover God. Moreover, Al Ghazzali believed that true Islamic revival means the revival of Muslim communal ethics through individual moral transformation as reflected in his saying: I now earnestly desire to reform myself and others I ask Him (God) to reform me first, then to use me as an instrument of reform; to guide me, then to use me as an instrument of guidance

5. Jalaluddin Rumi: Though he preached struggle to the death against the canal self which he described as a Hell with Seven Gates and as The Mother of All Idols, his contributions, particularly the odes he often writes reflects the standpoint of a mystic who sees nothing but God. In fact, he wrote on the claim of Al-Hallaj the Anal Haq three centuries later: People imagine that it is a presumptive claim, whereas it is really a presumptive Claim to say I am the slave of God; and I am God is an expression of great humility. The man who says I am the slave of God affirms two existences his own and Gods, but he that says I am God has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says I am God, that is, I am naught, He is all; there is no being but Gods. This is the extreme of humility and selfabasement. 6. Junayd ul Baghdad: He is also known as The Imam of the world in his time; Shaykh of the Sufis; and Diadem of the Knowers. He laid the groundwork for Sober Mysticism not as subjective as the God-intoxicated Sufis like Al-Hallaj, Abu Yazid, Abusaeid Abolkheir, and others.

Sayings: Tasawwuf means that Allah causes you to die to your self and gives you life in Him. They (Sufis) are the members of a single household that none other than they can enter.

7. Mansur al Hallaj: He is one of the known God-intoxicated Sufis who, most of the time would fall into trances which he attributed to being in the presence of God. Many honor him as an adept that came to realize the inherent divine nature of all men and women. Moreover, He is concern more with the spiritual meaning of Hajj and thus spoke of the spiritual efficacy and legitimacy of pilgrimage in ones own home that is, without physical travel to Mecca. Sayings: I am the Truth. In another statement, he would point to his cloak and say, There is nothing underneath the cloak except God.

8. Ibn Arabi (Ibn al Arabi in the Greater West and Ibn Suraqa in Spain): He is also known as Muhyiddeen (Revivifier of Religion); Hujjatullah il Zahira (The Outward Proof of Allah); Ayatullah il Bahira (The Astounding Miracle of Allah). He is known a th prime exponent of the idea that would later be termed Wahdat ul Wujud (Unity of Being). His emphasis lay rather on the potential of the human being and the path to realizing that potential, which reaches its completion in Al Insan ul Kamil (Perfect Man). Sayings: O Pearl Divine, white Pearl that I a shell. Of dark mortality are made to dwell! Alas, while common gems we prize and hoard. Thy worth inestimable is still ignored! The slave (human) is the Lord (God) and the Lord (God) is the slave (human). Sufis claim that such statements were always considered to be the most elevated exposition of mystical thought in Islam, and therefore unsuitable for the untrained mind.