Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. – Rumi
The ancient path of Sufism, or Tasawwuf as it is known in the Muslim world, is the inward dimension of Islam, essentially Islamic mysticism. Sufi practitioners seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of the Beloved. It is a rapturous, deeply devoted and often arduous path, but one with enormous rewards.
Sufism is the way to God via emotions and spirituality rather than through reason, and it celebrates the intimate relationship of the seeker with Allah. The ancient mystical teachings and practices of the Sufis have great relevance for seekers today and can help you to deepen your spiritual practice or elevate it to a new level.
Igniting the Fervour
Some spiritual paths are very focused on the mind, with practices aimed to clear the mental state, tame thoughts and attain a calm equilibrium. These cooling, meditative practices bring equanimity, tranquility, and clarity of mind. The mystical practices of Sufism are hot practices in that they are working with the heart, and igniting the fervour of passionate, wild love.
Rumi translator, and well-known spiritual teacher, scholar, and mystic, Andrew Harvey, describes the Sufi path like this:
It is a way to the heart of hearts, to the utmost direct intense experience of one’s sacred identity.
Here is some wisdom from this ecstatic and beautiful path.
Love lies at the core of the Sufi tradition. Love is the reason we are all here. Really at its simplest, we are all on earth to learn about love. As we experience higher love and learn to open ourselves to giving and receiving love, it is said we see the ‘face of God’. We see the many faces of the Divine in all we meet and in ourselves. Ultimately, we reach a stage where we do not see the ‘many’ anymore, and instead, only see the ‘one’.
The Sufis say that the reason of the whole creation is that the perfect Being wished to know Himself, and did so by awakening the love of His nature and creating out of it His object of love, which is beauty. Dervishes, with this meaning, salute each other by saying, ‘Ishq Allah Ma’bud Allah’ – ‘God is love and God is the beloved’. – Volume V, Love, Human and Divine, p144
Surrender to Love
Sufis talk about annihilating themselves in the Beloved through the path of love. Dr. Javad Nurbankhsh of the Nimatullah Sufi Order says, in one of his discourses, that human love can be classified into three basic categories. The first form of love is friendship based on social conventions where two people behave in accordance with the principle:
I for myself, you for yourself; we love each other, but we have no expectations of each other.
This form of love is that of ordinary people, whose love relationships tend to be of this nature. The second form of love is based on a more solid foundation, and those who live together usually experience this kind of love:
I for you, you for me; we love each other, having mutual expectations of each other.
This form of love includes profound love, as well as the love found within most families, and involves emotional give and take on more or less equal footing.
The third kind of love transcends all conventions based on mutual expectations, being founded on the following principle:
I am for you, you are for whoever you choose; I accept whatever you want without any expectations whatsoever.
The Sufi responds with loving-kindness towards those who harm him, for he sees everything in himself and himself in everything, and because of this it is said that the highest form of human love is ‘Sufi love’.
Chant the Divine Name
Many spiritual traditions include the chanting of the divine name as part of spiritual practice, for attaining divine qualities and purifying the mind. In the Hindu religion, the practice of chanting the 108 names of the divine is hailed by ancient scriptures as the best way to deal with challenging times.
Hearts become tranquil through the remembrance of Allah. – Qur’an 13:28
Mantra chanting helps to focus and develop the mind. The practice of chanting is said to transform a person’s vibrations, energize their chakras, and raise their mind, body, and spirit to a higher state of consciousness.
Sufism takes this one step further, with more ecstatic chanting than most traditions, and also ritual dance. Devotees become absorbed in the rhythmic repetition of the name of God or his attributes. This remembrance of the Divine fills your life with sacredness and keeps the focus on higher wisdom, away from the small-minded concerns of the self. Some beautiful Sufi mantras are: La ilaha illa’llah and the mantra: God is love, lover and beloved: Ishq allah mahbud lillah.
Sufis practice Dikhr, the devotional practice of the remembrance of God. It is performed by the repeated invocation of the names and attributes of God, and is based on the Qur’anic verse in which God says: ‘Remember Me and I will remember you’. It is practiced either individually or in groups. God is love, lover and beloved. Ishq is the word for this fervent devotion and love that the seeker has for the Divine, and Sufis talk about becoming drunk on divine love.
Work with Your Dreams
The ancient Sufis turned to their dreams for guidance, clarity, and wisdom. It was an important tool to help them on their spiritual path. The Sufi tradition has a well-developed philosophical psychology, which includes dream interpretation.
When we sleep we return to where we came from. We rest in the arms of inspiration. It is a potent time for spiritual growth, healing, and restoration. We become innocent once more and when we awaken, we may have clear answers to many of life’s challenges. Take some time to remember your dreams when you awaken and, through sharing them with others, deepen your understanding of the wisdom that is coming through in your dream state. The dream world is an important portal to the Divine and to higher guidance. The Sufi approach to dream science is to share your dreams with a spiritual teacher who can give a divine interpretation of your dreams, rather than relying on commonplace interpretations.
Enter into Devotion and Service
The essential message of Sufism is to remember God and serve others. The true practice of devotion is service. If you wish to serve the beloved, you must serve others. In selfless service, we begin to see ourselves clearly. The rough ego starts to be smoothed and we learn humility, tenderness, and love. Harsh judgments, arrogance, and divisive qualities are diluted in the river of our intentions to help others. The twin pillars of Sufism are selfless service and love. Only one who loves can serve.
The Sufi is a lover of God, and like any other lover, he proves his love by constant remembrance of his Beloved. This constant attention to God has two effects: one outward and the other inward. – Dr. Javad
Revel in Rumi
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Rumi
The most important of the Sufi poets is 13th-century poet, Jalaluddin Rumi. Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry, and dance as a path for reaching God. For Rumi, music helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine, and to do this so intensely that the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. The practice of whirling dervishes developed into a ritual, and from these ideas and Rumi’s teachings, became the basis of the order of the Mevlevi.
In the Mevlevi tradition, the seeker undertakes a mystical journey of spiritual ascent to God through the transformation of mind and heart. He grows through love and releases the ego, coming to find the truth and then returning to be of service to the whole of creation.
Rumi has always been a massively influential figure in the East. As Andrew Harvey, Rumi translator and author of The Way Of Passion: A Celebration Of Rumi, points out:
His odes have been chanted by crowds on pilgrimages for centuries and sung with the highest reverence, from Tangier to Cairo, Lahore and Sarajevo, into the humblest, most remote villages of Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran and India. No other poet in history, not even Shakespeare or Dante, has had so exalted and comprehensive an impact.
Andrew Harvey believes Rumi is our sacred guide for today’s troubled world and is the one who can deliver us from the evils of capitalist materialism. He sees Rumi as:
…an essential guide to the new mystical renaissance that is struggling to be born today. He is the spiritual inspiration for the 21st century.
Dying Before You Die
Sufis are lovers of life and do not choose which aspects of life to celebrate. Everything in life gives reason to celebrate. To a Sufi, each moment could be the last. So it’s important to be present in all of life and to live as if you could die in this moment, with your heart pure, your actions good and your relationships at peace.
It is a similar teaching to the Tibetan teachings on life and death. Sufis believe that God may give us the power to kill our ego and make ourselves ‘die before we die’. Essentially, this is a teaching on honoring life and living with gratitude and humility.
Honor the Divine Feminine
Woman is the radiance of God; she is not your beloved. She is the Creator—you could say that she is not created. – Rumi
Sufism has always honored the Divine Feminine. It is an esoteric aspect of an outwardly patriarchal religion, in fact, the Divine Feminine resides at the center of Islam, some saying she is the compassionate heart of Islam. The Divine Feminine in Islam manifests metaphysically and in the inner expression of the religion. When we honor the Divine Feminine, we open ourselves to receiving higher wisdom.
Sufism cherishes the esoteric secret of woman, even though Sufism is the esoteric aspect of a seemingly patriarchal religion. Muslims pray five times a day facing the city of Makkah. Inside every Mosque is a niche, or recess, called the Mihrab – a vertical rectangle curved at the top that points toward the direction of Makkah. The Sufis know the Mihrab to be a visual symbol of an abstract concept: the transcendent vagina of the female aspect of divinity. – Laurence Galian
The Real Work is in the Heart
Rabia Basri was a female Muslim saint and Sufi mystic, and she is remembered as one of the great saints of the 8th century.
The real work is in the Heart:
Wake up your Heart! Because when the heart is completely awake,
Then it needs no Friend. – Rabia Basri
The original Sufi were mystics. People who followed a pious form of Islam and who believed that a direct, personal experience of God could be achieved through meditation.
With so many people adrift in the world, the Sufi path charts a course back to union with the Beloved, and in this quest, all religion crumbles, and only lover and Beloved remain.
My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christians, and a temple for idols and the pilgrims Ka`ba and the tables of the Torah, and the book of the Koran. I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take, that is my religion and faith. – Ibn Arabi
Thanks To You!
Do you think you are an enlightened one?
Love is love. There are not different kinds of love. There are only different subjects that we freely give or offer our love to, as evidenced by our human responses to each. People are both human and being. It’s *and* not or. Consciousness is this awakening to love, which, is not attained yet realized, i.e., love is inherent in all of creation, including when a star goes supernova. Love is how we express that awakened spirit to not just other humans but to all things and creatures, to all of existence. That unawakened love is what lies dormant in all of us! The words, phrases, quatrains, prose of the Sufi mystics, is for this scribbler, the poetry of swoon.
Thank you for this and the ability to comment. Peace be unto you all.
I am impressed. My Seikh has left for heavenly abode on 27th March this year. Incidentally he was also my father in law Papa as I called him. He completed imparting lessons in Nakshbandi Silsila to me in February 2016. The first lessons started in December 2009. Definitely sufism is based on deep inner meanings from Quran Sharif.
I have always felt connected to Sufis but I have never read anything that describes their ways more than this. Thanks for this clear message
I am muslim women how could be able to be a sufi
How can I become a sufi
Feel like laughing at my own lower self n it’s way of deluding me.Am fooled million times till I realise I need guidance n today my weapon IS SUBMISSION.
ALLAH SWT KNOWS THE BEST.ALHUMDULILLA
Is Sufism the laid down way of worship by the Prophet Muhammad (saw)? I want to know with clear cut verses of the Qur’an and Hadiths of the Prophet(saw)too.
Impressive article. Important and useful information. Often Murshid’s name is chanted to get a higher state of consciousness.
thanks sir,i am very impressed. very nice article, keep up the good work.
I read your blog and
I’m very impressed. It’s very useful I hope I will see this type
of post again in your blog
for your nice post .
for your nice post .
I hope I will see this type
of post again in your blog.
Does God knows God?
Does light knows what light is?
Does ocean knows what ocean is?
Does anything knows what itself is?
Perhaps for anything to BECOME, must be an observer ( consciousness) and something to be compared with!
If the observer be in a absolute lightness, does it know it?
Lightness BECOMES when compared with darkness!
ONENESS becomes through eyes of ALL!
for WHOLE to become WHOLE it needs all of us!
No matter of color, race, religion, intellectual, beliefs, looks, status.
This a beauty of creation
For anything to exist, must be other things to compare and consciousness to being observed!
Your view is right and wonderful and mine is too so as every other one!
There is nothing to argue or fight for, since we are all part of a WHOLE.
Every thing is LOVE but love also needs recipients
to receive it and feel it.
For one to be able to truly become recipient of love must surrounded itself to love! That means no more of any PARTICULAR WAY since every way will end up to same thing!
We all need only to surrender ourselves not to force others to do so.
May you find your way to love.
Mr. Ghosh and Haniel,
Peace be upon you. I wish Allah will give you the passion to study more, be it about Sufism or about Allah. The Holy Quran is the final gift from Allah and hence we all have to be confined ourselves within the Quran. Yes for gathering knowledge we can read anything be it a novel, a book of history, philosophy or Gita. Thank you.
Sufism answers two main qustains of life.
1) We are born into this world and one day we PASS away,so what are we supposed to do during this span of time? This leads us to the next qustain…
2) who/what am I? & who/what is GOD?
During the process of finding the answers to these questions you loose yourself and merge into HIS LOVE !
SUFI IS A WAY OF LIFE AS IT LINKS GOD(ALLAH)TO HIS CHILDREN
SUFI MUSLIMS SHOULD LEARN BHAGWAT GITA BECAUSE IT WAS WRITTEN BY ALLAH HIMSELF KRISHNA
Sufi thoughts be imbibed and inculcated in our daily life
Sufi’s stand above all of us in their deeds and actions.They spent their whole life span in loving almighty and sharing their love with us.For restoring peace;harmony and brotherhood across the universe we all must follow Sufi ways unquestionably.