Islam and Sufism

Islam & Sufism

Blessing Of Islam

“Say to My servants that they should only say those things that are best. For Satan doth sow dissension among them. For Satan is to man an avowed enemy.” (Quran XVII: 53)

According To The Muslim Faith, When the Almighty God created Adam (the father of the human progeny) out of a lump of clay, and commanded the angels to greet him with a ‘Sijda’ (prostration in humility), Ibless the Satan hesitated to obey and accept Adam as his superior because he claimed his own superiority over Adam by virtue of his age long devotion to God and creation out of fire. His reluctance to obey and bow before Adam, however, resulted in his condemnation and he was therefore, eternally banished from the pleasure of God. Under this great humiliating disappointment, the Satan, however, pleaded with God that he and his progeny (the Satan belongs to the progeny of the genii) may be granted an everlasting opportunity to mislead mankind into error and sin in order to test the devotion of Adam and his progeny to God. This request was granted by the Almighty God with the commandment that whosoever followed the Satan’s path will forfeit His pleasure and that his abode will be in the fire of hell eternally. To accept either of the two options for the creation Adam and his progeny, would not have been in the best interests of mankind just like illness and health, blindness and clear vision, night and day, heat and cold, good and evil, and so on.

The first treacherous act of Satan under this arrangement started with the beguilement of Adam himself in the well known episode of Eve and the “forbidden fruit” which resulted in the banishment of both Adam and Eve from the heavenly paradise as a punishment against God’s pleasure and thus the treachery of Satan, the avowed enemy of the progeny of Adam, has continued throughout the ages causing perpetual misery among the best majority of those people who succumb to his mischievous allurements in defiance of the commandments of God.

In this respect there are two kinds of people in the world, those who follow the commandants of God, and those who are susceptible to the beguilement of Satan. There has always been a mighty struggle between the followers of Satan and the believers of God ever since the creation of Adam in which the latter have always vanquished the former

Islam And Sufism > Blessing Of Islam > Injunction Of Islam

According to the Holy Quran, those who follow the Satan’s enticement are rebels of God. They will have to render an account of their misdeeds and sins on the Day-of-Reckoning and suffer punishment in hell for they acted against the pleasure of God, but those who defy Satan and stick steadfastly to the path of Righteousness and Truth as ordained in the Holy Quran and preached by Prophet Mohammed, are promised salvation and eternal bliss in paradise. This is one of the principal articles of faith in Islam.

Islam And Sufism > Blessing Of Islam > Retribution

The pages of the history and all religious books of the world are full of the terrible stories of God’s retribution upon those past rebellious generations of mankind who defied the teachings of His Prophets and apostles under the mischievous influence of Satan. There have also been numerous bloody wars between the forces of evil and good, Truth and falsehood, the followers of Satan and the devotees and believers of the Almighty God in which the latter few have always vanquished the over -whelming many. As stated above again and again God has sent His Prophets and apostles to all races and nations of the world in order to warn and keep them on the right path of Truth. As it happened, after their death people forgot their sacred lessons and became victims of Satan’s treachery only to forfeit the pleasure of God and earn His retribution. This is a divine decree which no civilisation or modern progress can change in spite of all our scientific and material advancement.

Islam And Sufism > Blessing Of Islam > The Holy Prophet Mohammed

When the holy Prophet of Islam Hazrat Mohammed (May peace and blessing of God be upon his soul) appeared on the scene of Arabia in 750 AD, Satan had virtually established his devilish kingdom over the Arabs who were steeped into abysmal ignorance and sin.

What was the actual condition of Arabia before the birth of holy Prophet Mohammed? According to the holy Quran, “It was on the verge of fiery abyss.” The barbarous Arabs were completely submerged under the evil influence of Satan. They were soaking in superstition, ignorance, cruelty and idolatry and were torn asunder by internecine feuds and wars. They had no settled government and lived a nomadic life. Wine, women and every kind of vice and crime summed up their general attitude towards life. Even the Jews and the Christians had forgotten the teachings of their Prophets Moses and Jesus, and had become idolaters. Writing about the condition of Christianity in the 7th century was itself decrepit and corrupt. It was disabled by contending schisms and had substituted the peculiarities of superstition of the pure and expansive faith of the early ages.”

The teachings of the Prophet of Islam, however wrought a dynamic transformation in the sinful life of the Arabs within only a few years despite all the worst type of oppression, insults and persecution by the evil forces of Satan in order to stick to their devilish ways of life. But, in spite of all these obstacles, Prophet Mohammed succeeded and succeeded triumphantly in completely routing the forces of Satan and religion of Peace and Prosperity happiness of the whole world as well.

Islam And Sufism > Blessing Of Islam > Purpose Of Islam

The true purpose of religion is that human beings should follow the right path according to divine teachings. But before asking people to follow these teachings, it is first necessary to explain the teachings and whose teaching they are: secondly, about the one who is preaching them, and finally, the great benefit that will be derived by following them. These are the fundamentals on which religions are formed. To have a comparative study of Islam in the light of the teachings found in other sacred books, is to know what a comprehensive world religion Islam is pointing out also how the author of such a religion was decidedly the last great Prophet, there being consequently no further necessity at all for another Prophet to rise. Quran is the final revealed Book of God and Mohammed is the last Prophet.

Islam And Sufism > Blessing Of Islam> Islam – An Ancient Religion 

As a matter of fact, Islam which means peace and which represents the Divine Code for a disciplined, contented and harmonious life of man on earth already existed in one or the other form long before the advent of the Holy Prophet Mohammed. It however needed a revival in an up to date form because due to individual and political intrigues, certain abuses had crept into it. The preceding generations had altered the true spirit and version of the former Holy Scriptures to suit their own selfish ends and conveniences. Thus mutilating the original commandments of God and bringing an ugly slur on the fair name of Religion. These unauthorised intrusions and mutilations therefore necessitated up to date ‘divine code’ in its pristine glory and that is why a final and perfect religion in the form of Islam was revealed through the Holy Quran and Prophet Mohammed with the explicit warning that no more Prophets were to come after him. Islam is therefore, a perfect religion for all humanity and for all time, and not for the Muslims alone, whether the world accepts this divine claim or not.

Unlike the past, Islam is now preserved in its up to date perfection in the Holy Quran and because the past generations proved themselves incapable of preserving the original commandments of God in theory and true perspective had, as stated above, tampered with them to suit their own intriguing conveniences, therefore the Almighty Allah promised in the Quran to be its preserver Himself this time. One of the living instances of this jealous guardianship is that millions of Muslims easily commit this ‘Book of God’ to memory- a feature unique in its own way which is nothing short of a miracle. There is no instance in the living memory of mankind to show that any of the ancient religious books or any other kind of book of such a voluminous nature as the Holy Quran is, was ever committed to memory. This fact alone proves that God’s original words have been preserved as He willed, and that there have been no tampering whatever with them after the death of the Holy Prophet Mohammed through whom the Quran was delivered

Islam And Sufism > Blessing Of Islam > Unique Virtues Of Islam

There are many unique virtues of Islam and its holy Prophet as compared with his predecessors. While the preceding Prophets were endowed with only one ‘divine’ virtue to help them to make their mission successful, Prophet Mohammed had the exclusive distinction of possessing all those ‘divine’ virtues in him which were bestowed upon his predecessors individually. For instance, Prophet Mohammed was endowed with the exemplary patience granted to Prophet Ayub, the miraculous virtues possessed by the ‘staff’ given to Prophet Moses, the healing spell possessed by Prophet Jesus, the perfect human beauty bestowed upon Prophet Yusuf and the supreme faith owned by Prophet Abraham.

Further, no Prophet ever since the creation of Adam, had the unique distinction of being succeeded by illustration saints and divines among his followers as the Prophet of Islam had a venerable line of religious teachers and saints who shunned all pomp and show of the material world in order to serve the cause of Islam and humanity selflessly and faithfully. Both morally and spiritually they were pictures of perfection and stood out alone in the multitude of intelligentsia, never deviating from the teachings of the Quran or the tradition of the Prophet. Their one paramount aim of life was the selfless service of mankind, strictly in accordance with the teachings of the holy Quran both, in letter and spirit these holy teachers of Islam in the garb of Sufi dervishes continued to keep the banner of Islam flying for a period of nearly 900 years after the death of the holy Prophet Mohammed by their matchless zeal, abstemious character and amazing spiritual powers and it is due to this unique dedication to the service of mankind that there are today 90 crores of Muslims spreading all over the world whose ‘faith’ in their religion remains as staunch and unshakable as it has ever been in spite of all the political and social revolutions of the world ever since the death of Prophet Mohammed.

Islam And Sufism > Blessing Of Islam > Khawaja Shaib

On the illustrious list of these great Sufi Saints who preserved the spirit and promoted the cause of Islam by their strict religious devotion and amazing spiritual powers under all sorts of cruel persecution like the holy Prophet himself, the name of Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chishti of Ajmer stands high in perpetual glory. For the spiritual salvation and moral uplift of the people of Hindustan by peaceful means and universal love. In fact, this lonely saint actually changed both the map and the course of Indian history at a crucial period of her destiny not by sword or cannon but by the sweet and melodious spell of his spiritual sway plus unparalleled moral and religious character, a revolution which ushered in quite a new era of peace and prosperity for millions of Indians, and a revolution which the march of history and the present civilization cannot afford to forget in the interests of mutual love and peace for which the people of the world are so intensely thirsting today.

Because mutual goodwill and confidence between man and man and nation and nation are once more rapidly deteriorating, and because the world is searching for a lasting peace against the forces of Satan that have once again raised their monstrous head under the intoxication of new kind of scientific materialism, the teachings of Hazarat Khwaja Munniuddin and Islam must, therefore, be revived in the interests of world peace, as much as other recognised religions.

We are sure, these lessons will prove of immense value in easing the political and religious tensions and restoring the waning faith of man in God and Religion without which there can be no lasting peace in the world.

Subject Of Islam 

One of the strangest facts in today’s world is that Islam, a religion which in many ways is almost identical to Christianity and Judaism, should be so poorly understood in Europe and America. Since there are millions of Moslems in the world, and since they control many strategic areas of the earth it is essential that we understand them better.

Mohammed, the inspired man who founded Islam, was born about 570 AD at Mecca. Orphaned at birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor, needy, widows, orphan, slaves and the downtrodden. At 20 he was already a successful businessman and soon he became the director of camel caravans of a wealthy widow. When he reached 25, his employer recognising his merit proposed marriage. Even though she was 15 years senior, he married her and as long as she lived, he remained a devoted husband.

By 40 this man of the desert had secured for himself a most satisfying life, a loving wife, fine children and wealth. Then, Moslems believe, in a series of dramatic and terrifying events, he began to revive through Archangel Gabriel a revelation of God’s word.

Like almost every major Prophet before him, Mohammed fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God’s word, sensing his own inadequacy. But the angel commanded, ‘Read’. So far as we know, Mohammed was hardly able to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionize a large part of the earth; “There is but one God”.

Mohammed’s message infuriated those rich Arabs whose faith required many idols, and he and his few followers were driven from Mecca, his home. Forced now to fight in defense of the freedom of conscience which he preached, he became an accomplished military leader. He repeatedly went into battle, out-manned and out-speared as much as five to one, he won some spectacular victories.

Later he became head of the state, and the testimony even of his enemies is that he administered wisely. The wisdom he displayed in judging intricate cases became the basis for the religious law that governs Islam today. In his final years, he was invited to become a dictator or a saint, but he rejected both temptations, insisting that he was an average man to whom God had sent another of his periodic messages to the world.

By the force of his extraordinary personality, Mohammed revolutionized life in Arabia and throughout the Middle East. He preached a religion dedicated to one God and he lifted women from the bondage in which desert custom held them and preached general social justice.

Moslems think it particularly ironic when Mohammed is charged by Western writers with having established a voluptuous religion. Especially considering the fact that he abolished alcohol so that even today all good Moslems are teetotalers. He ordered individual prayers five times each day. In a nation that reveled in feasting he instituted a most rigorous daytime fast lasting a full month each year.

Western critics have based their charges of voluptuousness mainly on the question of women. Before Mohammed, however men were encouraged to take innumerable wives, he limited them to four only and the Qoran is explicit that husbands who cannot maintain strict equality between two or more wives must confine themselves to one.

A widespread misunderstanding arises from Mohammed’s promise of paradise. In a land of blistering drought and sandstorms he predicted that evil men would suffer the tormenting fires of hell. Whereas good men will experience cool breezes, comforting streams and beautiful hours.

Western imaginations, unfamiliar with this last word hour, defined it by analogy with one of the ugliest words in English and jumped to the conclusion that Mohammed’s paradise was to be a sexual debauch. They were wrong. A hour is a fair-skinned, blacked woman created from musk and spices, incredibly beautiful and perpetually virgin.

In all things, Mohammed was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumours of God’s personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Mohammed is said to have announced-” An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the birth or death of a human being.”

At Mohammed’s own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history. “If there are any among you who worshipped Mohammed, he is dead. But if it was God you worshipped, he lives for ever.”

These things explain why people who follow the religion of Mohammed do not like to be called Mohammedan

Islam And Sufism > Subject Of Islam > The Book

The Quran is probably the most often read book in the world, surely the most often memorized, and possibly the most influential in the daily life of the people who believe in it. Unlike the New Testament, which is written in an exalted style, it is neither poetry nor ordinary prose, yet it possesses the ability to arouse its hearers to ecstasies of faith. Its rhythms have been compared to the beat of drums to the echoes of nature and to the chants which are common in all early societies.

It is written in Arabic, and devout Moslems have often insisted that it must not be translated into any other language. One might expect that such a wish would have limited the spread of Islam. On the contrary, all over the world men have laboured to learn Arabic, not an easy language just to be able to read their holy book and pray in the original.

The Qoran was revealed to Mohammed between the years 610 and 632 AD in the cities of Mecca and Medina. Devoted scribes wrote it down on “scraps of paper, bark and the white shoulder blades of animals. The early revelations were dazzling assurances that there was only one God, Merciful and Compassionate; He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, and the Fashioner. Whatever is in the heavens and the earth declares His glory and He is the Mighty, the Wise.

It was this message that inspired men to revolutionize their lives and their nations. In later years, when Islam began to penetrate large areas of Arabia and had acquired much power, the revelations dealt with the organisation of society its laws, procedures and problems.

The Christian or Jew who reads the Qoran finds himself on familiar ground a good deal of the time. Many revered names from Christianity and Judaism appear in the Qoran. For example, five of the important chapters are entitled Noah Jonah, Joseph, Abraham, and Mary. Lacking specific chapters of there own, but playing quite important roles are Jesus, Adam, David, Goliath, Job, Moses, Lot and Solomon.

Islam is partly founded on the words of four Prophets who lived before Mohammed; Jesus, Noah, Abraham, Moses. The Qoran does not acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God and that He suffered death upon the Cross. If Jesus were acknowledged the child of God, Moslems believe it would compromise God’s oneness, the belief which is the cornerstone of Islam. It would, moreover be difficult thereafter to contend that Mohammed was the bearer of the final perfect revelation as Moslems do.

It is this dedication to one God plus practical instruction that makes the Qoran unique. Each Islamic nation contains many citizens who are convinced that their land will be groaned well only if its laws conform to Quran

Islam And Sufism > Subject Of Islam > Traditions

In addition to the Quran Islam relies upon ‘traditions’, what Mohammed said and did. These are largely affectionate campfire gossip, the odds and ends that would be remembered after a great man had died.

About 200 years after Mohammed’s death, more than 6,00,000 separator anecdotes about him were still current, and several great scholars undertook the job of checking them for historical validity. More than 5,97,000 were rejected. The remainders called the Hadith, are accepted by all good Moslems.

Much of Islam’s common sense comes from them. For example, one dark night Mohammed had to escort his wife home from the mosque. On the way he saw two men giggling in the shadows so he called them to him, lifted his wife’s veil and said, “See, it is my wife with whom I walk.” When the strangers protested that they trusted him, he said; “I was not worried about your trust of me. I did not want your faith to be affected by your suspicions.

Once a Jew came to the Prophet and protested that Mohammed’s chief assistant had outraged Jews by claiming that Mohammed was more exalted than Moses. The Prophet said to his assistant: “You should not have said this. The feelings of other people must be respected.”

Also some of the profoundest elements of Moslem faith and culture derive from these traditions. Every Moslem, before beginning a meal or entering upon any other task, repeats ‘In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Beneficent’. This is the opening verse of the Qoran. Moslems greet each other with the traditional salutation “peace be on you.” The whole ritual of congregational prayer is taken from the traditions, including the well-known call to worship.

Some traditions influenced Western behaviour. On one occasion, Mohammed saw a donkey being branded on the face. When asked why this was being done, the herdsmen said, “The Romans taught us this to prevent theft”. Mohammed reflected a moment and said: “An animal’s face is the most sensitive part of its body. If you must brand, then do it on the flanks, where the flesh is thicker”. And the custom spread.

As a successful general, Mohammed left many traditions regarding decent conduct in war. “Faithfully carry out all covenants and agreements. Avoid treachery and do not disfigure the enemy dead. Do not slay children, women, old men or persons dedicated to the service of religion. Do not destroy sacred objects, orchards or crops.

Throughout the traditions Mohammed appears as a saintly man, one whom devout people of all religions would have recognised immediately as deeply concerned about the nature of God. He preached that slaves should be set free, that fathers should not kill unwanted baby girls, that those oppressed by society inherit the earth, that peace is much proof that Mohammed hoped for the day when all who shared a common belief in God would exist together in peace. It is well documented that, on one occasion, when a deputation of Christians visited him, he said, when time for prayers arrived, “Conduct your service here in the mosque. It is a place consecrated of God.

No other religion in history spread so rapidly as Islam. By the time of Mohammed’s death (AD 632) Islam controlled a great part of Arabia. Soon it triumphed in Syria, Persia, Egypt, and the lower borders of present Russia and across North Africa to the gates of Spain. In the next century its progress was even more spectacular.

The West has widely believed that this surge of religion was made possible by the sword. But no modern scholar accepts that idea, and the Quran is explicit in support of freedom of conscience. The evidence is strong that Islam welcomed the people of many diverse religions, so long as they behaved themselves and paid extra taxes. Mohammed constantly taught that Moslems should cooperate with the “people of the Book” (Jews and Christians).

Islam And Sufism > Subject Of Islam > Important Facts

Many Westerners, accustomed by their history books to believe that Moslems were barbarous infidels, find it difficult to comprehend how profoundly our intellectual life has been influenced by Moslem scholars in the fields of science, medicine, mathematics, geography and philosophy. Crusaders who invade the Holy Land to fight Moslems returned to Europe with new ideas of love, poetry chivalry, warfare and government. Our concept of what a university should be was deeply modified by Moslem scholars who perfected the writing of history and who brought to Europe much Greek learning.

More than most religions, Islam preaches the brotherhood of all races, colours and nations within its fold. Mohammed himself probably had the same skin colouring as Jesus, a very suntanned white but today his followers embrace all colours: black men from Africa, yellow men from China, brown men from Malaya, white men from Turkey.

For long periods in history Moslem nations strayed far from the spirit of Mohammed. If one focus only upon the worst Persian and Turkish caliphs one can easily condemn Islam as a religion that failed. But one can find such similar dark spots in the history of Christianity. If one looks at the enormous good that Islam has achieved, however, one sees the permanent greatness of this religion.

Propagation Islam

“The Brotherhood of Truth is one in all ages, it is narrow men who create sects. Let them not think that the goods of this world can shield them from evil or its consequences. God’s Truth and His messenger can be known to all: for He in His mercy has given us faculties and judgement if we would but use them. The message is not new: all Creation proclaims it, High above all is the Lord of Glory Supreme.” (Holy Quran: XXIII C. 155)

Islam And Sufism > Propagation Of Islam > Clarification

Besides the various old scholars and impartial historians belonging to other religions, many of the recent writers on Islam, like Khawaja Kamaluddin (author of “The Ideal Prophet”);, Syed Amir Ali (author of “The Spirit of Islam”) and Al-Haj Dr. M. A. Salmin (author of ‘The Holy prophet Through Different Lights) have also refuted this fallacious charge. We are reproducing here a few relevant ‘extracts’ from their works:

Writing about Prophet Mohammed’s migration from Mecca to Medina, Dr. M. A. Salmin says: ” The Prophet next turned his attention to another important affair, namely to establish friendly relations between the various tribes inhabitance in and around Medina. He was not satisfied with the brotherhood that he had established between Muslims in Medina and the resident-emigrant Muslims there. He concluded a pact between Aus and Khazraj, (who had now embraced Islam) and the Jews. The terms were:

(1) The Muslims and the Jews shall live as one people.

(2) Each one of the parties shall keep its own faith; neither shall interfere with that of the other.

(3) In the event of war with a third party, each was bound to come to the assistance of the other provided the latter were the party aggrieved and not the aggressors.

(4) In the event of an attack on Medina, both shall join hands to defend it.

(5) Peace, when desirable, shall be made in consultation with each other.

(6) Medina shall be regarded as sacred by both all bloodshed being forbidden there.

(7) The Prophet shall be the final court of appeal in case of dispute.”

These terms which from the starting point of Islam, themselves refute the baseless charge of spreading it by the force of sword. On the contrary, they prove “how the prophet was anxious to maintain an atmosphere of peace and harmony among all classes of people in Medina from the very beginning of his hijrat (migration) there.” Bloodshed was and is entirely against the spirit of Islam and repugnant to the teachings of the Prophet. The warfare which the Muslims were forced to resort to was purely defensive. It was certainly not to propagate their faith. It was only to defend themselves against their archenemies that always took initiative to attack with a view to destroy Islam and its Prophet. The instinct of self-preservation is as natural to man as breathing to his life; therefore to fight in self-defense does not mean that Islam wielded sword for the propagation of its faith. “All religions, all governments, all people have the right to fight for their protection.” On the other hand, in the latter history of Christianity we see that sword was used indiscriminately for the slaughter of all non-Christians. Even among the Christians themselves, those who did not follow the Church of Rome were slaughtered mercilessly. If any haughty Muslim ruler or exploiter acted contrary to the teachings of Islam, it was his personal fault which cannot be laid at the door of Islam and for which he will be answerable to God according to Islamic restrictions. Against the militants, the Prophet declared: “He who is not affectionate to God’s creatures and to his own children would not receive the affection of God.” (Abu Huraira). “Charity of the tongue, the most important and least cultivated of all charities was likewise earnestly inculcated by Mohammed”, writes Irving. How can a religion that keeps all the finer qualities of human character in the forefront be therefore, aggressive by sword? The Prophet was supremely patient and tolerant when the bitter animosity, sedition and betrayals of the Jews prevailed against Islam in Medina. It was in such a terrible state of affairs that God ordered the Prophet: ‘Defend yourself against your enemies, but attack them not first: God hates the aggressors” (Quran: 2: 190).

Citing various examples of coercion to which Muslims were subjected by the Jews and the Christians, Dr. M. A. Salmin proceeds:

“I challenge anybody to show me an instance when the Prophet used sword, or force, or compulsion, for the promulgation of his faith while, on the other hand, history tells of many instances of dreadful wars waged by the Jews, the Christians and the gentle Parsis. In the case of Jews, the force and compulsion were sanctioned by religion and in the case of early Christians, the teachings of the Prophet of Nazareth were soon forgotten for the pride of power. From the moment Christianity became a recognised force, it become aggressive and persecuting. The name of religion served as the plea and justification of aggression upon the weaker nations to lead to their spoliation and enslavement. Thus it is Islam that has suffered endless persecution patiently at the hands of its enemies at every step of its peaceful propagation and progress.”

Referring to the ‘diplomatic’ toleration of Christianity, Dr. Salmin continues: “In the history of religion as well as individuals expect in Islam, we see that the spirit of toleration is preached and insisted only as long as they have been powerless which spirit gave way to intolerance and persecution the moment they attained power. Till the time of the conversion of Constantine, Christianity was weak and in consequence remained passive, but from the moment of the conversion of Constantine, it became safe for molestation. From this moment began a system of religious persecution unparalleled in conception.” “From the very moment, writes Lecky, the church obtained civil power under Constantine, the general principle of coercion was admitted and acted upon against the Jews, the heretics and the pagans.”

Dr. Salmin multiplies such instances and then deplores yet the followers of this religion have the temerity and impudence to say that Islam became militant since its advent in Medina. Yes, Islam did become militant in so far as it was necessary to fight for self-preservation.”

It is a well-known fact that Islam as a religion never took initiative in aggression even against its worst enemies. It was quite contrary to its spirit and teachings. Islam was always ready to say to its enemies; “Cease hostilities, be our allies and we shall be faithful to you; or pay tribute as a cost of protecting your life and property and we shall secure and protect you in all your rights.” Muslim laws of war are also admittedly more human than those of any other religion. The holy Quran has ordained: “And fight for the religion of God against those who fight against you, but transgress not by attacking them first, for Allah loves not the transgressors.”

Islam And Sufism > Propagation Of Islam > The Ideal Prophet

The pulpit has always been subservient to statecraft. The clergy further the ends of the state further than guard the conscience of the people. They read homilies of war when the state wants war, as did the Bishop of London in 1914 at the Marble Arch, but they lay special stress on the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ when the time has come for the sword to return to the scabbard. Humility, meekness, forgiveness and nonresistance to evil are some of the claimed ethics of Christianity, but her history discloses quite a different chapter. There we find heartless, sanguinary persecution of others, want of charity and lack of kindness.”

While religious wars and persecution have blackened many chapters of European history, it must be noted that Prophet Mohammed always preached and practiced supreme toleration, allowing his bitterest enemies full freedom of conscience in religious matters. We do not read of the persecution of Galileos, Latimars and others in the annals of Islam. The prophet respected and also preached to his followers to respect other religions. He also protected life and property of the unbelievers without any discrimination whatever. Those Muslims who violate the laws of Islam are not true Muslims

Islam And Sufism > Propagation Of Islam > A Grand Mission

Sir Bernard Shaw, the learned philosopher and great novelist of England, predicted: ” I believe the whole of the British Empire will adopt a reformed Mohammedanism before the end of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phases of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. The world must doubtless attach high value to the predictions of great men like me have prophesied about the faith of Mohammed that it would be acceptable tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today. The medieval ecclesiastics either through ignorance or bigotry painted Mohammedanism in the darkest colours. They were in fact trained to hate both the man Mohammed and his religion. To them Mohammed was antichrist he must be called a saviour of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving the problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness. Europe is beginning to be enamoured of the creed of Mohammed. In the next century it may go still further in recognising the utility of that creed in solving its problems, and it is in this sense that you must understand my prediction.”

“Already even at the present time many of my own people and of Europe as well have gone over to the faith of Mohammed. And the Islamisation of Europe may be said to have begun.”

Islam And Sufism > Propagation Of Islam > The Spirit Of Islam

To the Christians of Nazareth and the surrounding territories, the security of God and the pledge of his prophet are extended for their lives, their religion and their property-the present as well as the absent, and other besides; there shall be no interference with the practice of their faith or their observances; nor any change in their rights or privileges; no bishop shall be removed from his bishopric, nor any monk from his monastery, nor any priest from his priesthood, and they shall continue to enjoy every thing great and small, as heretofore; no image or cross shall be destroyed; they shall not oppress not be oppressed; they shall not practice the rights of blood-vengeance as in the days of ignorance; no titles shall be levied from them nor shall they be required to furnish provisions for the troops.

Can there be a nobler example of the religious toleration of Islam than this? It can certainly not be the attitude of one who wanted to thrust onto others their religion at the point of sword.

After the death of the Holy Prophet of Islam, who was the founder of true democracy in the world, his four succeeding Caliphs also followed in their master’s sacred traditions most scrupulously upholding the dignity of Islam both in letter and spirit by granting complete freedom of conscience and protection of life and property to their non-Muslim brethren. In spite of all the wealth of their expanding empire, these noble Caliphs-Abu Bakr, Omar, Usman and Ali, lived the life of an ordinary humble citizen and ruled in true democratic spirit unseen and unheard of in the history of the world. No ruler of the world has ever lived such an austere and self-denying life. Indeed the history of Islam under these four Caliphs is the history of a new era, a new civilisation and a new prosperity in the life of a medieval and savage mankind. Their selfless rule was strictly dedicated to the noble cause of human welfare. But for their exemplary character and sacrifices, there would have been no such galloping progress which Islam was destined to make within 30 years of its birth.

Islam And Sufism > Propagation Of Islam > Gandhiji’s Tribute

Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest apostle of nonviolence and religious toleration of our time said about the holy prophet and Islam:

“I become more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and his own mission.”

“In its glorious days, Islam was not intolerant. It commanded the admiration of the world. When the west was sunk in darkness a bright star rose in the eastern firmament and gave light and comfort to a groaning world Islam is not a false religion. Let Hindus study it reverently, and they will love it even as I do.”

Islam And Sufism > Propagation Of Islam >Sir Bernard Shaw’s Prediction

Sir Bernard Shaw, the learned philosopher and great novelist of England, predicted: ” I believe the whole of the British Empire will adopt a reformed Mohammedanism before the end of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phases of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. The world must doubtless attach high value to the predictions of great men like me I have prophesied about the faith of Mohammed that it would be acceptable tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today. The medieval ecclesiastics either through ignorance or bigotry painted Mohammedanism in the darkest colours. They were in fact trained to hate both the man Mohammed and his religion. To them Mohammed was antichrist he must be called a savoir of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving the problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness. Europe is beginning to be enamored of the creed of Mohammed. In the next century it may go still further in recognising the utility of that creed in solving its problems, and it is in this sense that you must understand my prediction.”

“Already even at the present time many of my own people and of Europe as well have gone over to the faith of Mohammed. And the Islamisation of Europe may be said to have begun.”

Islam And Sufism > Propagation Of Islam > Sir W Muir’s Tribute

The prophet of Islam was an ideal embodiment of such virtues as mercy, sympathy, magnanimity, justice, forbearance and forgiveness. There is not a single instance to show that he ever used force or preached violence to promulgate his religion or to revenge against his foes who persistently dogged the early part of his prophetic mission. One of the many noblest examples of his tolerance and forgiveness in history is seen in his peaceful but triumphant victory over Mecca. It was not a military victory. It was the triumph of his magnificent moral and religious character, unparalleled in the history of the world after many years of ceaseless oppression and sanguinary wars waged by his enemies to destroy him and his religion. In this moment of great triumph, the prophet remained god fearing, merciful and forgiving, magnanimously refusing to avenge the Quraish tribe for their past misdeeds. He did not compel even a single soul to embrace Islam under the pressure of his grand victory. Although the city of Mecca had surrendered unconditionally and had recognised his authority, but all its inhabitants had not till then embraced Islam nor had they formally acknowledged his prophetic claim. Verily the ways of the Prophet were the ways of God. Here is a tribute which Sir William Muir pays to the supreme and exemplary religious tolerance of the Holy Prophet: Thus he (the prophet) preached a religious toleration that had never been known to the world before. If religious toleration must be a necessary article of faith in the ‘Religion of Humanity’ it is surely another cogent justification for Mohammed’s claim to the name of the Ideal Prophet.

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy of Sufism 

Life of Sufi | Sufi Silsilas | Regulation and Practices | Training In Sufism | Stages Of Mysticism

Life of Sufi

The life of a Sufi is the “life of the spirit ” regulated strictly in accordance with Islamic theology and traditions. To attain this his first lesson is unshakable belief in the existence of God and unconditional surrender to His will. This entails a strenuous life attended by rigid austerity and self-denial. He has to undergo a course of training in regular prayers and meditation to attain the Divine Knowledge and realisation of Truth. This particular knowledge is passed on ‘in secret’ by one Sufi to another having the requisite qualifications i.e. one who does not think evil does not see evil, does not hear evil and does not speak evil. Without this Divine Knowledge, one cannot fathom the hidden mysteries of the Nature and those of the soul. To sum up the whole object of Sufism is to attain the highest spiritual perfection.

A Sufi will be distinguishable from others on account of his detachment from his parents, children, wealth, power, position and comforts. His ignorance vanishes in the effulgence of the ‘Divine Light’ of the most High, the Lord of the entire Universe. In such an ecstatically devotion there is neither pain nor sorrow for him as he is overwhelmingly dedicated to the will of the Almighty God. Thus a Sufi saint is the Spiritual King, far above all temporal kings, disguised in the patched robes of a humble dervish.

Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chisty (May peace of God be upon his soul) was one of the greatest Sufi saints the world has ever known. His spiritual influence and benedictions have been, and are still a perpetually source of inspiration courage and guidance to the afflicted humanity, irrespective of caste creed or religion.

Sufi Silsilas

The Sufis are classified into four prominent silsilas (categories) or lines, viz. Qadaria, Chishtia Suhraward and Naqshbandia.

Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty belonged to the second ‘silsila’. There is no fundamental difference between these silsilas except in matters of minor details. They are all within the framework of the Islamic law as laid down by the Holy Quran and expounded by Hadith but the rituals applied for obtaining the communion or ‘raza’ of God are different just like the modern Universities where student take different courses for obtaining a particular class of degree. The Chishtia ‘silsila’ does not enjoin any indifferent belief from that of the other Hanafi Sunni Mussalmans. Their belief is based upon the Holy Quran. A study of the lives of Chishty saints, including Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin and his spiritual preceptor Hazrat Khwaja Usman Harooni reveals that they preached and held purely Quranic beliefs. According to Shariat, every Chishty saint has to follow the Quranic laws strictly.

The Sufi ‘silsilas’ however, are not sects. They grew up because people went to Sheikhs or ‘murshids’ (religious masters) for spiritual guidance and training who invested those of their disciples whom they regarded as spiritually fit to cater for the spiritual and moral needs of others Traditions, no doubt, grew up differently in different ‘silsilas’. What is common between the various Sufi ‘silsilas’ is confined to few spiritual practices like auraad (verses from Quran) ‘sama’ (audition) certain festivals, institutions like veneration of the shrines, the etiquette of visiting them and the devotion to certain leading personalities of the order. One special features of the Chishtia order, which is particularly observable among the early Chishty saints of India, is their love for all humanity. They sought to inculcate among their followers an attitude of broad sympathy for the common man irrespective of caste, creed or nationality. They stressed more on humanitarian of caste, creed or nationality. They stressed more on humanitarian obligations of Muslims than on any other point. And that is why Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty attracted lakhs of people to the vast circle of his devotees in India in a very short time.

Regulation and Practices

There are certain regulations of Sufism which are called ‘Adraak’ and ‘Ehsas’ in Sufi parlance. They are also known as ‘Arkaan Tasawwuf’ or ‘Arkaan-Baatani’ i.e. the rules and discipline for the acquirement of the hidden wisdom or knowledge. They are divided into the “hidden wisdom” or knowledge. They are divided into the following three categories:

(1) “Knowledge” i.e. the ‘divine Knowledge’ attainable through the rigid discipline of ‘Shariat’.

(2) “Amal” i.e. action under the above discipline with unflinching faith and devotion.

(3) “Haal” i.e. the resulting reaction from ‘Amal’ or the action.

A Sufi aspirant’s first important step to act upon the above course is to seek a religious preceptor or ‘murshid’ who should be a practical master of the said Divine Knowledge and its training experience. His preliminary lessons start with,

(i) Liturgical practices and exercises with unswerving devotion to certain Quranic verses which are pregnant with the Divine Knowledge in order to grasp their spiritual interpretation and values.

(ii) A rigid control over his soul called ‘Nafs’which starts which renunciation and self-mortification.

Training In Sufism

When a person decided to become a mystic or Sufi, he was expected to go to a Sheikh or Murshid (master) and spend with him as much time as was deemed necessary by the Sheikh for his spiritual development. During this period of apprenticeship which, in most cases, lasted a lifetime the Sheikh used to instruct the disciple to perform mortification (Mujahedas) so as to gain control over his appetitive soul, i.e. ‘Nafs’. This was done by performing service like hewing of wood, drawing of water from the wells and so many other menial services in the Khanqah (the monastery or chapel). Even Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty himself had to pass through this hard and rigorous course of probation when he was under training for a period of 20 years with his Pir-o-Murshid (master) Hazrat Khawaja Usman Harooni. Every Sufi saint had to perform these hard services for his ‘Pir’ before achieving the robe of Khilafat (succession).

Stages Of Mysticism

According to the Islamic standard of judgment, the seeker after Truth, as stated above has to pass through many stages before he can actually feel himself in commination with the Truth being the ultimate object. The elementary condition is to have an unshakable faith and a firm resolve in doing or not doing a thing that is termed ‘niyyat’ (intention) in Muslim theology which is followed by repentance and penitence. The next stage is called “Mujaheda” (probation of striving). When it reaches its zenith then the revelation process begins which is known as “Mukashfa” (the uplifting of veil). At this stage the attainments of the saint (or Sufi) are so exquisite that he emerges his identify in the will of God, the creator, and the reactions are visible and affect the code and conduct of human beings. The effort by which each stage is gained is called ‘haal’ (state). It is a state of joy or desire and when the seeker is in this condition he falls into ‘wajd’ (ecstasy).

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism> Basis Of Sufism

Early history of Sufism reveals that this particular branch of Divine knowledge originated and developed under conditions of strict discipline of quietism, seclusion, renunciation and incessant devotion to prayers under the guidance of a ‘Murshid’ or spiritual preceptor. In the popular sense, Sufism is known as mysticism in the West but it is not at par with the conception which the word ‘Sufism’ actually carries in Islamic parlance. One of the advantages of this cult is that its follower speedily discovers all the mysteries of Nature for the benefit of mankind. Its greatest gospel is to Live and Let live’ and to bestow undiscriminating affection upon all mankind. It caters for the real peace and spiritual needs of the people who are generally sick of the material world and seek a spiritual asylum. To be brief, unless one is a God’s chosen man endowed with the inherent natural spark of Divine love, pity and religious devotion, and is also fit for the necessary hard Mujahedas (probation and strivings) one cannot become a prefect Sufi.

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism> Brief History Of Sufism

Brief History Of Sufism | Sufism In 12th Century | Doctrine Of Sufism And Its Need | Wealth Despised | Attendance At Shrine

Brief History Of Sufism

The origin of the term Sufi is rather complex, but in general it signifies one who wears the garment of ”suf” i.e. wool. In the beginning it was a mark of personal penitence though some early Muslims, like Ibn Sirin (died 729 AD) criticised the ascetics for wearing Suf in imitation of Jesus Christ. He said, “I prefer to follow the example of the Prophet who dressed in cotton.” In the second century of Islam a particular group of ascetics of Kufa were generally called al-Sufiya due to their dress. But, by 4th century wearing of woolen garments became the recognised badge of the Sufis of Iraq and hence the term was commonly applied to all Muslim mystics. In the same century, groups of these a sites used to assemble to recite aloud the holy Quran and other religious pieces which practice gradually took on a liturgical character called Zikr evolving into spiritual concerts named Sama (now popularly called Qawwali in India) with their attendant perils of extreme ecstatic nervous.

Gradually a change was coming over the general character of Sufism. Its basis was ” fear of God and His wrath to come ” with the mystical element of love and adoration. According to a woman saint, Rabia al-Adawiya (died 891 AD) The mainspring of mysticism is Love. She said, “Love of God had so absorbed me that neither love nor hate for any other things remains in my heart.”

Sufism In 12th Century

While Imam Ghazali (died 1111) and Abul Qasim Al Qashari (died 1072) laid the basic foundation of Sufism, it was Ghos-ul-Azam, Mahboob Subhani Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadar Gilani (died 1166) who helped to give it a real practical shape by instituting the famous “Qadaria” silsila of Sufis in Baghdad in the 12th Christian century which did wonders in raising the cult at Sufism to a glorious pitch in the succeeding generations. Sufism under Hazrat Gilani’s spiritual and moral spell created a marvelous revolution which brought the whole of Afghanistan and its adjoining parts in Islamic fold in a very short time. This was one of the greatest miracles of Sufism in the history of Islam at a very crucial period. The number of converts after Hazrat Gilani’s every preaching meeting, often exceeded 70,000 necessitating the employment of as many as 400 writers for the registration of these converts. Other Sufi saints of this century were Sheikh Najeebuddin Abul Qahir Suhrawardy, Sheikh Akbar mohiuddin Ibn Arabi (1156-1240) and Hazrat Sheikh Shahabuddin Suhrawardy (1144-1234), the last named being the founder of another famous “Suhrawardia” silsila which Sheikh Saadi embraced in his later years of life. Their services to the cause of Islam proved exceedingly invaluable and their innumerable writings and speeches helped to rejuvenate the waning spirit of Islam, serving the cause of Sufism itself as a guiding star for all future generations.

Doctrine Of Sufism And Its Need

After the death of the Prophet the overpowering influence of his religion and sacred traditions dominated the lives of his succeeding descendants and the Caliphs. During the early period of Islam there was no necessity of any new cult like Sufism. But, as time passed on a revival of the Islamic influence was deemed necessary and Sufism took it up in right earnest. The term Sufism denotes nothing but a direct interpretation of the cardinal principles of Islam and certain spiritual practices to be observed in this process. Its originator Abu Ishaq Shami was the first Sufi who preached this cult which was in conformity with all the basic principles of Islam.

Wealth Despised

One of the cardinal principles of the followers of Sufism is the hate of all wealth pomp and show. All great Sufis have always therefore refused to accept any money or presents from any quarters whatever, and they never went to the glittering courts of any monarch which made them bold, selfless and independent of all secularism, thus distinguishing them from the class of the Ulama, who so often succumbed to these temptations. On the contrary, if any ruler or rich person sought an interview with them they either refused it flatly or gave them illuminating sermons, bluntly reminding them of their misdeeds and instructing them to realise and follow their duties and responsibilities to the cause of Islam and the Holy Prophet’s Shariat. Once Khalifa Abu Muzaffar Yusuf of Baghdad approached Hazrat Gilani for a blissful advice with a present of 10 bags of gold mohurs. This great Sufi saint contemptuously refused to accept the money but when the Khalifa insisted upon its acceptance he picked up two of the bags one in each hand, and squeezed them. And as he did so human blood flowed out of them! The great saint said: “Abu Muzaffar, don’t you feel shame in offering me this blood of the poor people?” The Khalifa was dumbfounded and went away in a shameful disgust.

During the 13th century AD Sufism had gained greater popularity among the masses as the result of the persistent efforts of the above named Sufi saint. Under the rule of the Ommayads and the Abbassides, secularism had usurped the real spirit of Islam and had economic, political and social fabric of Islam to pieces resulting in the ultimate downfall of their power itself. Baghdad, once a flourishing capital, was in the grip of debasing frivolities and revelry. Unbalanced secularism had caused unprecedented pillage, arson, murder and all round destruction at the hands of Mongols and Tartars. Although this condition was generally attributed to the intruders’ invasions but as a matter of fact it was primarily due to the deterioration of the spiritual and moral character of the Muslims from top to bottom.

Attendance At Shrine

When these Sufi saints left this world their devotees put up impressive buildings over their tombs (Mazaars) most of which are attractive monuments of architectural beauty and subdued oriental splendour where Muslims, Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, and their beneficiaries pay loving homage to their immortal glory all the year round, and receive all sorts of benedictions even to this day. On the occasions of their death anniversaries, which are called Urs, the gatherings in many cases run from thousands to lakhs, according to the popularity of the saint.

Religious ceremonies are performed on these occasions and the poor and the needy are fed liberally. Of the numerous Sufi saints of India, Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chisty of Ajmer, (the founder of Sufism in this country) Hazrat Makhdoom Allauddin Saabir of Kalyar and Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganj Shakar of Pak Patan are the most celebrated. But each Indian province from North to South and East to West has one or more monumental shrines of its own Sufi saints whose benedictions have left an impressive mark upon the people of those parts and whose blessings they still enjoy year after year.

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism> Divine Love

The next important feature of Sufi belief was divine love. From the time of Rabia Al-Adawiya (died 801 AD). It had become the mainstream of Sufism while in India it had become the dominant feature of the popular Bhakti movement. Love they said was both the causes as well as the effect of gnosis. A person was likely to achieve gnosis as a result of divine blessing only when he had devotion for God. While a person who had achieved gnosis could not help being overwhelmed and overpowered by cosmic emotion (jazba) and divine love. Love, according to them was emotive force of life in fact raison d’être. This powerful emotion dominated every thought or sentiment, contemplative life, theology, ritual thought of heaven and hell and all else. “The heart of a mystics is a blazing furnace of love which burns and destroys everything that comes into it because no fire is stronger than the fire of love”, says Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty. Love implied an illuminative life a state of continued communion with Reality (haal). The object of life was indifferently described as apologetic vision (sometimes used in spiritual sense at others in a physical sense), nearness to God, annihilation (fana), everlasting life in God (baqa) and ultimately absorption or union (wassail). It was only on the achieves tranquillity by falling into the sea? Thus when the lover finds the beloved he no longer wails.”

The natural outcome of such an outlook was a religion of ecstatic fervour and intoxication (Sukr). Such an attitude of mind could best be produced by and then find satisfaction in liturgical practices (Azkaar-Zikr-e-khafi, zikr-e-jail), spiritual concerts or audition (sama), and other forms of auto hypnosis. Because of the efforts of Khawaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, Sufi Hameeduddin Nagauri and Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, ‘sama’ became a cranial feature of the Chishty silsila and brought it in occasional conflicts with the orthodox Ulama.

The mystic belief in gnosis and love is usually accompanied by characteristic ethics. The Sufis had fully followed and systematised certain ethical concepts before Islam came to India. The Indian Sufism merely reiterated these beliefs although there was difference in the degree of emphasis. The basis of the Sufi attitude is that the Veil which hides Reality from mankind is that of Bashariyat, (creature hood). The nature of man consists of sensual, intellectual and spiritual features. Intellect, according to them performed a restricted function. The central pivot of spiritual life was the Qalb (heart) or the Rooh (soul). They were regarded as ethereal in nature and hence capable of communion with God. This function however could never be performed until the heart was purified of the dirt of sensual or lower self called in Sufi terminology the nafs (appetitive soul). The struggle against nafs regarded as wholly evil, therefore, became one of the main concerns of the Sufis. This implied an outlook of renunciation, penitence, asceticism, poverty, self-mortification and quietism-in short, other worldliness. This other worldliness was never interpreted strictly and the Chishty product recommended more an outlook of another-worldliness than actually going away from society.

The idea among the nobler minds in the world of Islam, that there is a deeper and more inward sense in the words of the Quran arose not from the wish to escape from the rigour of ‘ texts and dogmas’, but from a profound conviction that those words mean more, not less than the popular expounders supposed them to convey. This conviction combined with a deep feeling of Divine pervasion, a feeling originating from and in perfect accordance with the teachings of the Quran and the instruction of the Prophet led to the development among the Muslims of that contemplative idealistic philosophy which has received the name of Sufism. The appeal of which among the Mohammedans was probably assisted by the prevalence of Neo-Platonic ideas. Imam-al-Ghazzali in the East and Ibn Tufail in the West were the two great representatives of mysticism among the Muslims.

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism > Ulema Sufi Clash

Ulema – Sufi Clash

At first the leaders of mysticism were supposed to be the Ulema or orthodox religious teachers but by the end of 3rd century they were replaced mostly by middle classes, specially from the mixed half Persian and half Arabian population of Baghdad, who followed Sufism. Against the political revolutionary aims of Shia’ite propagandists the Ulema protested vehemently. Their programme of reform included the awakening of religious conscience of individuals and the spiritual revival of the social organisation of the community. These social implications were reinforced by the labours of Sufis in preaching and converting, firstly members of their own class or followers and secondly carrying on their missionary work for Islam in other distant lands. For all times and in all countries these Sufi ascetics were the most active and powerful propagandists of Islam and it was none but Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty of Sanjar who introduce the Chishtia silsila (order) of Sufis in India and did such a wonderful service to the cause of Islam.

For the above reasons the orthodox Ulema began to suspect the new social implications of the Sufi movement in Islam and a rift seemed to be widening between Sufism and orthodoxy. Serious attempts were made to silence the Sufis and on failure an example of punishment was set of one prominent Sufi Mansur al-Hallaj, who was charged with heresy in having identified himself with God and was cruelty executed in the beginning of the 4th century. This punishment was not inflicted by any violent fanatics but by pious upholders of the ancient Faith like the Good Wazir’ Ale-ibn-Isa. Repression however proved futile and the Sufi movement continued firmly based as it was on both the open and ‘secret’ teachings of Quran and the moral standards of Islam. Despite the adverse views of the learned layers, the tendency towards the neglect of the ritual prescriptions and the outside influence clashing with the traditional outlook of Islam the strength of Sufism lay in the satisfaction which it gave to the religious instincts of the people, instincts which were chilled or starved by the rigid and impersonal teachings of orthodox Ulema but which found more relief in the directly personal and emotional approach of Sufism.

It must be remembered that this popular character and appeal of Sufism arose out of the ranks of the people themselves and appealed to the people whose main reading matter was furnished by short lives of the saints often replete with their miraculous deeds. It was the unceasing labours of the mystics ascetic or Sufis that gave to Islam its widespread permanent hold upon the masses and that plated such a conspicuous part in spreading the Divine Message among new and fertile lands rather than the slow work of purely orthodox Ulema or their system of propagation.

During the 4th and 5th centuries, Sufism grew in strength in spite of the frowning Ulema it was in this period that the Zikr and Sama from their simple congregational recitation and meditation over the Quran began to show more definite liturgical tendency marked specially by the recitation of chants and litanies. But it was not this difference alone that marked off Sufism from the orthodox services as similar liturgical ceremonies were commonly performed in the mosques as well. The hostility of the theologians was however due partly to their fear that the Sufi Zikr might replace the mosque as the center of religious life. There was also a more deeper and selfish reason for the conflict, the traditional exclusive claim of the possession of sciences of theology and law and their position as the sole authoritative exponents of the Islamic doctrine-sciences which they had built up by infinite trouble and whose acquisition involved long and arduous study. They maintained that it was by their means that the substances of Faith had been preserved against both heretical innovations in doctrine and the attempts of the secular arm to override its privileges and obligations.

Naturally the theologians were proud of their system and jealous for the maintenance of their authority. They held that it was by this method alone that they were able to propagate Islam and promote its cause and that any relaxation would open the way to heresy and corruption both spiritual and material. But the Sufis rejected these claims bluntly and even derisively. According to them there was only one way to knowledge which lay through the direct and personal experience called “Marifat” culminating in momentary union with or absorption into the Godhead and not through the rational and second hand knowledge or ilm of the scholastic type. They thought, theology instead of assisting their process. Actually hindered it. The conflict between the doctrinaire and the seeker or follower of the Inner Light therefore seemed irreconcilable.

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism > Sufism Triumphed 

The outside influences and doctrines implied in Sufism in these formative centuries, were also suspected by the Ulema. Apart from the various orthodox rules and concepts of Islam the exaltation which the holy Prophet Mohammed enjoyed also appeared to be eclipsing against the overwhelming veneration accorded to Sufi sheikhs in their lifetime and their elevation to sainthood after death. Nothing could, therefore be more intolerable and repugnant to the primitive ideas of Islam and the system of their maintenance by the Ulema but in the teeth of Quran. Tradition, rationalism and orthodox theology the worship of Sufi saints irresistibly crept into the Islamic fold, and eventually swept everything before it. As time went on popular elements of Sufism established themselves more and more firmly in the Islamic fold. More and more religious minded people also joined the ranks of Sufi mystics who sought not metaphysical knowledge of religion but living experience of God. During the 5th century there was a marked drift towards Sufism of some of the ablest thinkers of Islam. Ultimately principle of compromise between orthodoxy and Sufism was inevitably sought with the result that a celebrated theologian Al-Qushari (died 1072 AD) wrote a treatise urging the cause of the higher Sufism and the acceptance of the doctrine of ecstatic communion with God. The actual revolution is however linked with the name of Imam al-Ghazale (died 1111 AD) who stands high in his religious insight and intellectual ability and who dived deep into mystics sciences and philosophies. He changed his convictions again and again in his long religious experiments and research. First, he revolted against the casuistry of the theologians and incessantly sought ultimate reality through all the Muslim religious systems and philosophies of his time.

After a prolonged bodily mental and intellectual struggle he finally fell from sheer philosophic agnosticism upon his personal experience of God which he found only in the Sufi path. To his school of thought belonged such Sufi giants as Maulana Rum the author of the celebrated Masnavi (one of the most authentic works on Sufism) Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi, Maulana Shibli, Maulana Fariduddin Attaar, Khaqani, Shamsuddin Haafiz Shirazi (one of the greatest Persian Sufi poets in the East) Sheikh Sa’adi and others. Both Imam al-Ghazali and the stalwart Al-Qushari forged a synthesis that ultimately accommodated the essential principles of Islam between orthodoxy and Sufism which were thus tied to one and the other forever though their paths remained different.

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism > Sufism In India

From Iraq and Persia, Sufism perpetrated into India with Hazarat Khawaja Muinuddin Chishty where it found a very congenial soil to prosper after some stubborn opposition. With its advent a large number of Sufi saints sprang up all over the land, doing invaluable service by their solacing influence to the afflicted humanity irrespective of caste or creed. It was this indiscriminating service to the cause of the suffering humanity and peace that won the hearts of the people of India and made the Sufis highly popular among all classes of people from a peasant to the prince. Not only this but even after their death, they are still held in high reverence, a thing which is unknown in other countries. This unflinching devotion is of course not with out any reason; there must be “something” very real and serious to come and end it?

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism > Meritorious Contribution 

Sufism in spite of its loftiness in religious ideals has been less fastidious and more ready to accept alien practices and ideas provided they produced good results. Blended with Sufism the orthodox couch was undoubtedly refreshed and strengthened and in fact acquired a more popular character and attraction in Islam. Sufism in Western Asia, North Africa, won over large multitudes to Islam. Central Asia, India and Indonesia. In the wake of Sufism, Shia’ism also suffered an eclipse and lost much of its original influence. On the whole Sufism has made a meritorious and invaluable contribution to the promotion and prosperity of Islam in the world.

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism > Sufism Defined

Sufism implies “Iqtida” i.e. to adhere strictly to the laws of Shariat. It means highly pious and enlightened way of life which may be expressed in conformity with thought and action as explained below:

(a) `Qualan’ i.e. expression through ‘Shariat’ or the Divine Law (ordained for the harmonious conduct of man in this world with promise of his salvation in the next.)

(b) `Failan’ or ‘Tariqat’ i.e. expression through human activity and discipline under the said Divine Law or ‘Shariat.

(c) “Haalan” or Haqiqat i.e. the ‘state ‘ acquired by acting upon and passing through Qualan and Failan stages reaching the zenith of the spiritual perfection.

While the Qualan and Failan stages can be analysed or expressed through the human faculties, the expression of Haalan ‘Haqiqat’ or ‘Reality’ is beyond the scope of all human conception and is therefore inexpressible and indescribable because human intellect or faculties are restricted to a ‘limit and transcend no more. This is the highest and final stage of Sufism in which the aspirant is face to face with the ‘Divine Light ‘ and ultimately merges his identity with God Supreme. It is therefore a state, the secrets of which have never been divulged to the humanity at large without Sufism entitles.A Persian couplet describes this ‘state’ as follows “Aan raa ke Khabar shud Khabarash baaz nayamad.” i.e. nobody ever heard of them who dived deep into the secrets of God or the mysteries of Nature.

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism > Ma’Arifat

The Sufis emphasised that ultimate Reality could be grasped only intuitively (Ma’arifat or gnosis). It was veiled from the human eye and intellect, and constituted a mystery which could be apprehended by none but the advanced spirits. Although they described in vivid details how Ma’arifat could be achieved they never concerned themselves with the nature of the Reality. There are clear traces of belief of pantheism and of monism, although in general they believed in a transcendental omnipotent God as the Creator of the universe.

The intuitive or esoteric experience or Reality implied that parallel to the orthodoxy or “external” theology, there was also an “internal” or spiritual interpretation of the Holy Quran and of the actions prescribed by the Law. This spiritual interpretation was necessity subjective, intuitive and esoteric. But this is a very delicate point to be discussed by a layman. Only the advanced Sufis or Saints, who are now rare, can interpret them satisfactorily in the light of their own practical experience. No one in the present scientific civilisation can either understand or convince easily the average man on these delicate points.

Islam And Sufism > Philosophy Of Sufism>The Process

According to Islamic conception a Sufi is one who is fired with Divine live and who as a true devotee of God and is constantly impatient to seek nearness to HIM. The quest of a Sufi centers round the exploration or probe into the mysteries of the nature. He is whole-heartedly engrossed in seeking out the myriad truths of the TRUTH, and concentrates on the hard task of reconciling his action to his thoughts. This is an extremely difficult process. He has, first of all to suppress or subdue his worldly desires inherent in the soul of man called Nafs in order to attain purity and steadfastness in his character. After attaining this stage, he enters the second phase of building up his external and internal character through mental exercises as the result of which the knowledge of the hidden mysteries of Nature or God is revealed unto him. To summarise the whole process of Sufism, the true path of a Sufi’s salvation lies through the thorny wilderness of renunciation, self-mortification on and annihilation of the Nafs by incessant devotion to God. Thus a Sufi aspirant has to under go a rigid test in morals and by acquiring a perfect knowledge of the Quran and Islamic theology. Also strict adherence to the Muslim law of jurisprudence called ‘Fiqah’ and ‘Hadith’ which deal with the moral, social, economic, and political aspects of Muslim life, he reaches his goal ultimately.

Shariat And Tariqat

The basis of the teachings of the early Sufis was a clear distinction between the real and the apparent, between the external and the internal, between the formal and the spiritual. The codes of beliefs and behaviour prescribed in the two were the Shariat which they called ‘external science’ and the Tariqat (the path or way) or the ‘internal’ or “spiritual science”. The starting point of the spiritual progress, they argued was the Shariat but their distinctive contribution to the religious life of the Muslims was the emphasis which they laid on Tariqat. They bypassed the abstract and colourless scholastic discussions of faith and ritual, and supplemented the inspiring orthodox attitude of commands and prohibitions with an “emotive principal and a living religious experience.” In orthodox Islam, these features had become subordinated. By emphasising them the Sufis sought to restore the religious balance and brought Islam into greater harmony with the prevailing Indian traditions.

Principles of Islam

Islam And Sufism > Cardinal Principles Of Islam

Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin mission was dedicated to the sacred cause of peace and salvation of mankind from the moment he set his holy feet on the soil of India in 1191 AD. His life work is therefore of very absorbing interest to the suffering humanity particularly at a time when the world is once more torn by mutual hatred and survives precariously at the mercy of Atom and Hydrogen bombs. Indeed the teachings of this great saint have been a perpetual source of solace and inspiration to the past 750 years. His grand success was based upon the magnificent lessons of Islam coupled with the inspirations he used to get from the divine powers which in the terminology of Sufism, are the basic teachings of the Holy Quran as elaborated in Hadith and Fiqah having their root in the religion of Islam.

Islam And Sufism > Cardinal Principles Of Islam > What Is Islam

A comparative study of Islam will reveal that it is the most practical and latest religion in the world that suits all human requirements. It completes the final “Divine Message of God” for the good conduct of man on earth – a message which He delivered in parts, through His various other Prophets before Prophet Mohammed, as revealed and confirmed in the Holy Quran.

Islam’s most distinguishing features, as a world religion:

Its simplicity

Its explicitness

Its highly realistic attitude towards the day-to-day life of man.

It enjoins upon its followers to observe moderation in all things relating to man’s conduct and behaviour. Islam does not tolerate revelry and yet it does not shun all joy, best and adventure. It adopts a middle course between the extremities and discards Puritanism and moral anarchy but it allows freedom and satisfaction to all natural human desires and instincts, including even the instinct of war PROVIDED certain limitations are strictly observed.

Islam recognises that social conditions have a great influence in shaping human character and therefore it tries to set right the social, political and economic systems of mankind in accordance with its moral and spiritual values. Islam does not recognise that mere improvements in social, political and economic conditions as preached by Communism and other Western type of ‘ism’ will make people virtuous and prosperous in their conduct of life. It advocates and insists upon individual reform and self-discipline through unswerving belief in God, His line of Prophets, their respective scriptures the angles His last Prophet Mohammed and the resurrection after death on the Day-of-Judgment.

Islam lays final responsibility on the individual for all his actions. In Islam you cannot plead that because you were born in an evil environment, therefore you could not shake off its evil influence to lead a pious virtuous and ordered life, and that society was responsible for your sins of omission and commission. There is no appeal against Islamic law which is the law of God, and one must necessarily discipline himself according to it if one desire well-being in life and salvation after death.

Islam does not want people to be tolerant to evil and injustice for fear of incurring the displeasure or wrath of those who happen to be in strength and power. Those who tolerate this are in the eyes of Islam no better those evildoers.

For the selfish and greedy there is no place of honour in Islam. The moral and religious attitude of Islam must follow its adherents in all walks of life. A Muslim cannot be a Muslim in the mosque and a socialist nationalist or communist on a political platform outside. At every step of his life he is a Muslim always guided by the Laws of Allah – embodied in the Holy Quran and expounded by the Holy Prophet Mohammed.

Among all the religions of the world, Islam stands alone, teaching humanity that political power must be subordinated to ethical values that religion should not be allowed to serve the ends of a state which is not informed and actuated by moral values, ideals and decencies.

Islam is the only religion that made international brotherhood a reality. It recognises no racial and political barriers. It stands alone for its complete freedom from the domination of priestly class and the burden of cumbersome ceremonials and rituals

Islam And Sufism > Cardinal Principles Of Islam >Conception Of God

The whole structure of Islam is based upon the conception that all other tenets principles and injunctions of Islam flow. Once this paramount conception is admitted, then many important and relevant questions as to the relationship of man with God arise. For instance what is the law of God’s pleasure for the conduct of man, a rational animal on earth? How He desires to shape man’s conduct and destiny in his life? Without a clear answer to these questions it is meaningless to merely affirm God’s existence. The east does not believe in God like the West whose conception is that “God is nothing more than a mere creator” and having created the universe, He has retired to the seventh heaven and left man to do as he pleases. If such a conception were admitted, then it would be very difficult to distinguish between good and evil justice and injustice because if moral standards and ethical values have no relation with God who created us then they are no more than mere ideas based on expediency and shaped only by our social necessities. We hear the name of God repeated by Western statesmen and warlords in times of distress and wars. According to their conception, God seems to serve equally the national and imperial interests of both the belligerent sides. Such a role can never be the role of God. His position has been reversed. How can man be the master whose causes God is called upon to serve? This belief amounts to open disbelief in God. If we truly believe in God then we must take Him not merely as the Creator of the world but also as its “guide and sustainer” And it is we therefore who must serve the cause of God for we are his servants and He is our Master. It is we who ought to seek His will and shape our conduct and destiny in life in accordance with His will explained through the code of religion which has been propounded by his holy messengers and Prophets from time to time ever since the creation of the world. All our loyalty to other worldly causes is misplaced and misdirected. We have to associate ourselves finally and irrevocably with His will and pleasure and not with our own or any other’s..

Islam And Sufism > Cardinal Principles Of Islam > Sovereignty Belongs To God

But how can we know God’s cause and discover His will with our ‘limited’ intelligence except through His own ‘Self-revelation’? Not all the wisdom of the world can give us any knowledge of the Almighty God’s attributes and of how He wills us to shape our lives? According to Islam. God has revealed His will through his many chosen prophets from time to time ever since He created the world, and has given the people express commands to do some things and abstain from others. Through his revelations in the holy Quran, He has shown us how our individual and collective lives should be shaped to win His pleasure and acquire our own peace and salvation. He has not left our guidance to the whims of any worldly leaders or the so-called “sovereign people” to be determined by the counting of heads because in Islam, sovereignty belongs to the Almighty God and God alone. No people can usurp his sovereignty and if they do, they are rebels against God. Therefore the life of man in Islam is an act of devoted worship of God and complete surrender to His will. The simple rituals of offering prayers, etc. are merely outward worship and if they are not supplemented by a concentrated effort at living in accordance with the Divine will and commands the life of man becomes a meaningless and fruitless affair. Hence Islam’s social and political aspects are not excluded from the sovereign authority of God, as the Western civilisation would like our modern society and its conduct to be.

To those who would worship ‘anything’ possessing the attributes of power and force, Islam says ” Do not bow down before the rivers, the mountains, the sun and the moon, for none of these and other forces of nature has the least power to do you injury or benefit you without the will of God. All obedience is subject to the final and absolute loyalty to God and His commands as revealed in the Holy Quran through the holy prophet of Islam. Obedience to other authorities can be rendered only in so far as their commands do not go against or contradict the Divine commands. The doctrine of the oneness of God has therefore the greatest significance in Islam. A Muslim cannot by mere vote of the majority change even an iota of the legal and moral precepts of the Holy Quran or the “Law of God ” which says-obey God, obey the prophet and obey those who are in authority from amongst yourselves, but if there is difference of opinion either amongst yourselves or with those who are in authority over you, turn to God and the prophet for decision. Thus God and the prophet are the final arbiters in all matters of dispute whether social, political or economic. This, in a nutshell, was the “Message of Islam” and peace which Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chishti was deputed, by a Divine decree to preach to the people of Hindustan 750 year ago. His life and work are an outstanding inspiration and an amazing miracle for those who have a keen eye to see through them objectively and dispassionately.

Islam And Sufism > Western Scholars On Quran

“That part of Islam which most distinctly reveals the mind of its author is also its most complete and its most admirable part, we mean the ethics of the Quran. They are not found any more than the other laws brought together in one or two ‘Suras’ but “like golden threads” they are woven into the huge fabric of the religious constitution of Mohammed. Injustice, falsehood, pride, revengefulness, calumny, mockery, avarice, prodigality, debauchery, mistrust, and suspicion are inveighed against as ungodly and wicked; while benevolence liberality, modesty, forbearance, patience and endurance frugality, sincerity, straightforwardness, decency love of peace and truth and above all trust in God and submission to His will are considered as the pillars of true piety and the principal signs of a true believer. Nor must we omit to point out expressly that Mohammed never laid down that doctrine of absolute predestination which destroys all human will and freedom, because the individual’s deeds cannot alter one iota in his destiny either in this world or in the next. So far from it foolhardiness is distinctly prohibited in the Quran. Caution is recommended. And a glance at the whole system of faith which is built on hope and fear rewards and punishment paradise and hell destined to be man’s portion.”

© Copyright - Khawaja Gharibnawaz Ajmer