Sufi Doctrine in Islam: An Aperture towards Spiritual Beauties of Islamic Culture

  August 01, 2021   Read time 2 min
Sufi Doctrine in Islam: An Aperture towards Spiritual Beauties of Islamic Culture
The inner or esoteric (al-batin) dimension of Islam became crystallized for the most part in Sufism, although elements of it can also be found in Shiism.

Sufism, a word equivalent to the Arabic term al-tasawwuf, is simply the teachings and practices related to the path leading directly to God. According to a ad th, there are as many paths to God as there are children of Adam, and although, needless to say, an indefinite number of paths did not come into being, over time a large number of Turuq (pl. of Tariqah) did develop that were able to cater to different spiritual and psychological human types. Usually called Sufi orders, these paths have protected and promulgated the esoteric teachings of Islam to this day and still constitute a vital element in Islamic society.

Sufism is like the heart of the body of Islam, invisible from the outside but providing nourishment for the whole organism. It is the inner spirit that breathes in the outward forms of the religion and makes possible the passage from the outer world to the inward paradise—a paradise we carry in our heart at the center of our being but remain, for the most part, unaware of because of the hardening of the heart associated by Islam with the sin of forgetfulness (al-ghaflah). Sufism provides the cure for this malady in the form of the balm of invocation (al-dhikr), which is at once “remembrance,” “mention,” and “invocation,” the quintessential prayer that becomes finally united with the heart, which according to Islam is the “Throne of the Compassionate” (‘arsh al-rahman).

The whole of Sufism is based, on the one hand, on al-dhikr, the means of meditation, and action to facilitate the dhikr. On the other hand, it is based on the exposition of a knowledge of reality that at once prepares human beings for the journey to God, prepares the mind and soul for dhikr, and is the fruit of the path in the form of realized knowledge (al-ma‘rifah or ‘irfan). In this path to God, human beings begin with the sense of reverence for and fear of God (al-makhafah) in accordance with the hadith: “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.” They are then led to the love of God (al-mahabbah), concerning which the Quran asserts: “A people whom He loves and they love Him” (5:57). And the path is crowned by that illuminating knowledge, or gnosis (al-ma‘rifah), which in Sufism is never separated from love.

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