The word Sufi is derived from the Greek "Sophia", meaning Wisdom.
It is known as Tasawwuf ( Mysticism ) in Arabic, and is considered
by scholars as the mystical, the inner or psycho-spiritual aspect
of Philosophia Islamica. The great scholar, Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
considered Sufism as the esoteric dimension of Al Islam.
Sufism emphasizes on the Unity of Absolute Being, Wahdat al Wujud.
The Influence of Neoplatonism on Sufism
Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism, conceived God as the Alpha
and Omega of Existence, its Source & Goal. The translations of
Plotinus provided the philosophical ground for Sufism. One is
struck by the similarities which exist in both systems, with
regard to the concept of God, the soul, the body, Vice and
Virtue, Life and Death and Beauty !
Sufism was influenced by Orpheus and Pythagoreanism. Orpheus
was a poet who lived in Anatolia in the 6th and 7th centuries
BCE. He had divine qualities and he could influence wild
animals with his music. He postulated that the human soul
can achieve perfection by refining itself from all passions
and worldly possessions. Soul travels from body to body for
self purification and reaches the Perfect State. Pythagorus
adopted Orpheus' philosophy and integrated it with his own
concepts. Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism took Plato's
Theory of Ideas & reinterpreted them from Protagoras' point
of view. Neoplatonism considers God as the Alpha & the Omega.
>From Him everything comes into being, in Him everything exists,
and to Him all return. Communion or Union with Him is the
highest Goal, therefore. Our lives have only a symbolic
meaning and it is good and necessary as a Becoming. But all
Becoming has Being as its Goal and Fulfillment and God is
the only Being !
Sufism is the Path of Love - Al Muhabba. God is understood
as Universal Love and the aim of Sufism is to unite with
the Source of all Being, Universal Love ! Love without
Philosophy is superstition and Sufism therefore encourages
the adventures of the Intellect, the scientific and the
philosophical pursuit, Al Marifa !
When he was asked about Sufism, Junayd ( the preceptor of
Mansur Al Hallaj ) said, "Sufism is that you should be with
God-- without any attachment."
Sufism emphasises upon the struggle to overcome the domin-
ance that one's Negative Ego ( Nafs ) has over one. The war
depicted in the great Epics - Iliad & the Odyssey etc -
depict the great war between Good and Evil happening inside
the human bosom - where the great struggle for supremacy is
fought out on the ground floor of our existence, between
the black and white opposites of Virtue and Vice, Light
and Darkness, prosperity & adversity. The Beloved ( God )
may manifest as Benevolence or Severity and the Sufi
aspirant has to love both !
As Rumi said:
"I am a lover of both His benevolence and severity!
Amazing it is that I'm in love with these opposites !"
If the aspirant can overcome one's Negative Ego, ( in
the inner War, Jihad ul Nafs ) he can achieve Bliss,
the Bliss for which the world's derelict sorrows yearn !
If you could get rid of yourself just once,
The secret of secrets would open to you.
The face of the Unknown, hidden beyond the universe
Would appear on the Mirror of your perception. - Rumi
The Sheik of Naqshbandi wrote
"In my annihilation of annihilation
In my annhilation
I found You !
"I thought about You so often
That I completely became You !
Little but little You drew near
Slowly but slowly I passed away.
This passing away is Annihilation in the Beloved ( Fana
fi Allah ). There is another intermediary state - Fana al
Fana and the last state is Baqi bi Allah or Permanence in
About Universal Truth, Ibn Arabi, the Great Master , ( al
Shaikh al Akbar ) wrote:
"She has eluded the learned of Islam
And those who have studied the Psalms
The Jewish Rabbi
The Christian priest !
The greatest Sufi was Mohammed himself ( Peace be upon him ),
he who said that
" Shariah ( Ethical Law ) is my speech,
Tariqat ( the Way ) my actions &
Haqiqat ( Truth ) my states " !
Inner & Outer Jihad ( Struggle ) in Sufism
"And those who perform jihad for Us, We shall certainly guide
them in Our ways, and God is surely with the doers of good".
(Quran XXXIX; 69)
"You have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater
jihad" . (Hadith)
Jihad means struggle and there are two types of struggle. The
lesser Jihad is struggle against the oppressors; the greater
Jihad is the inner struggle against the inner enemies, the
Seven Deadly Sins ( lust, greed, anger, jealousy, sloth,
covetousness & gluttony). The outer struggle is defined as
Al Jihad Al Asghar and the inner struggle is Al Jihad Al
Akbar ! In his journey, the aspirant ultimately overcomes
his Negative Ego & he becomes the Perfect Man, Al Insan
Al Kamil !