Islamic Videos

Sufi Path


 
Tasawwuf

Tasawwuf i.e. the Sufi path is an esoteric dimension of Islam; rather it is the soul of Islam. It has been defined in various ways, which simply leads to a conclusion that it cannot be defined through words. This path leads towards an understanding of the flame of life that happens at the time of birth and disappears at the time of death. It is not a concrete path going from point A to point B rather an abstract view of understanding oneself by directly facing and experiencing the ongoing process of life. To elaborate it further, it can be called a circular journey in search of GOD where centers meet without touching the peripheries. Although, Sufi path has been subjected to criticism by a group of Islamic scholars on the grounds of similarities with other religions, but to an average intelligence, this should not pose a problem as all the religions were for the human beings and as human beings have evolved with time so are the religions. Even in Quran, Islam has not been mentioned as a new religion rather a culmination of all the previous religions, hence similarities are bound to be there. However, just as flower does not mean anything without colours, likewise Islam loses its meaning without Tasawwuf.

 
Tasawwuf from an Islamic Perspective

ALLAH says in Quran, "Wa maa Khalakthul jinna wal insa illa li ya'budoon" i.e., I have not created the jinns and humans except for worshipping (ME). (Al Quran 51:56). However Sufis interpret, 'ya'budoon' (worshipping) as 'ya'reefoon' (knowing) as is substantiated by the famous Hadith Qudsi which reads, "Kuntu kanzan makhfiyya fa Ahbabthu an u'rafa fa khalaqthul khalqa" (ALLAH says, " I was a hidden treasure. I wanted to be known and so created the creation"). Hence, the very purpose of our creation is to know Him. Now the question arises, how to know Him? There is a famous Hadith Ihsaan in answer to this question and which also forms the basis of Sufi path. PROPHET MOHAMMED (Peace And Blessings Of ALLAH Be Upon Him) says" Worship ALLAH as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state then at least feel as HE is seeing you" This is the beginning of search for GOD or an ultimate experience of finding oneself in real terms as basically, one's own existence makes him aware of everything in and around him. Sufis refer first part of Hadith as Mushahada, while the second part as "Muraqba". It can also be inferred from this Hadith that Mushahada is superior to Muraqba. To attain to that state, Sufis practice Dhikr, Ashghaal etc. to purify their souls. However, it does not mean that they do not observe other Islamic practices, rather on the contrary only then Salaat, Sum, Zakaat and Hajj become meaningful otherwise these pillars of Islam remain just the superficial acts without any power of transforming a human life.

 
Tawheed - Wahdat-ul-Wujud

The foundation of Islam is based on Tawheed. To a Sufi 'La ilaha illal lah (there is no GOD but ALLAH) means La mojud illal lah (i.e. nothing exist but ALLAH). This is the most important reality of a Sufi's life that determines his relationship with GOD. According to the Sufis, The Creator is not distant from His Creation rather there is just one presence everywhere. It is just due to taiyyunat that so much diversity seem to exist within a unity. As has been expressed in a Sufi poem:

"Each image painted on the canvas of existence
is the form of the Artist himself
Eternal Ocean spews forth-new waves.
Waves we call them; but there is only the sea."

It is just as light seems to change its colour when shines through a coloured glass. Light has no colour, but it's rays shine through the glass and only then do hues and tints appear. To the Sufis, Wahdat-ul-Wujud is a very sensitive subject and is like a double-edged sword and without a Sufi Shaykh and proper discipleship, one is bound to misunderstand the whole concept. Our Murshid (Sufi Shaykh) Dr. Ikhtiyar H. Mirza(R.A.) has once told a story about this misunderstanding,

"A person came to know about this concept from the Sufi doctrines. One day, while walking on the street, he noticed several people running for their lives as a mad elephant got freed from his chains and was on a rampage. He immediately remembered the Sufi doctrine and said to himself,' I am GOD and this elephant is also GOD, so why to run and be afraid when we both are the same'. He waited while the elephant approached and crushed him to death".

Another story told by our Murshid conveys the same concept: -
" Mulla Nasruddin entered a serai for an overnight stay. The seraikeeper approached to welcome him.
Mulla asked him,
'Did you see me entering in your serai? "He replied, Yes! this is why I have come to welcome you".
"Did you know me?"Mulla once again enquired. "No Sir!"answered the keeper.
"Then, how can you say that the person entered in your serai is me?"
MULLA WAS THERE YET NOT THERE.

The following Quranic verses also reflect the concept of Wahdat-ul-Wujud:
"Huwa Ma'akum ayna maa kunthum" He is with you, wherever you are. (57:4)

"Huwal awwalu wal akhir wazhahiru wal bathinu wa huwa bi kulli shay'in aleem" HE is the beginning, HE is the end, HE is the manifest and HE is the hidden. (57:3)

"Nahnu Akrabu Ilaihi Min Hablil Wareedh" We are closer to them (human) than their jugular vein. (50:16)

"Fa Ayna maa thuwallu fasamma wajhullah" Wherever they see there is ALLAH's face. (2:115)

"idha sa'alaka ibadhee annee fa innee khareeb" (Oh PROPHET) if my slaves ask you about me I am certainly close (to them).(2:186)

There is a special class of Hadith called divine sayings (Hadith Qudsi), which are in effect extra Quranic revelations in which GOD speaks in the first person. The following Hadith Qudsi- Qurbe-Nawafil is also giving the same message of oneness i.e. wahdat-ul-wujud :

"Nothing is more pleasing to Me as a means for My slave to draw near unto Me than the worship I have made binding upon him. And My slave does not cease to draw near unto Me with added devotions of his free will until I love him. And when I love him, I become the ear by which he hears the eye by which he sees the hand by which he grasps, and the foot by which he walks".

A few Hadith may also be mentioned here which not only shed light on the spiritual status of PROPHET MOHAMMED (Peace And Blessings Of ALLAH Be Upon Him) , but also convey the same message of wahdat-ul-wujud:

'The first thing that GOD created was my light, which originated from His light and derived from the majesty of His greatness'.

'I was a Prophet even when Adam(R.A.) was between spirit and body'.
'Whoever has seen me, has seen the Truth'.
'GOD created man in His own form'.
Also, there is a famous saying of HAZRAT ALI (R.A.),
'Whomsoever has known his self has recognized GOD'.


 
The Sufi Master / Murshid / Shaykh

The Sufi way is a love-oriented path. Anyone can taste that fire of love in the poetry, music and dance created by the Sufis like Rumi,Hafiz,Jami,Iraqi,Khusro to name a few. The Sufi way has given birth to a culture of beautiful human beings with hearts of pure love and a highly developed aesthetic sense. The Shaykh helps his disciples to give birth to a true heart and nourishes him with spiritual milk like a mother. The role of a Shaykh is extremely important in forming a milieu of love in the life of his disciples,where gradually they are pulled to the level of Nafs al Mutma'inna (the contented self) as explained below. The Shaykh's physical presence exists like a flame of love for his disciples and this is how when any soul catches fire from that flame, an unknown fragrance materializes on this very earth with a song of its own. Just as a flower takes so little from the earth in comparison to what it gives back in the form of emanating radiant colours and soft ripples of scent, likewise such a soul enriches the universe with his/her presence and adds a new dimension to life before departing for an unknown destination.

A beautiful poem by Sultan Bahu (R.A.) sheds light on this relationship of a disciple with his Shaykh:

ALLAH is like the jasmine plant which the preceptor planted in my heart - O Hu,
By water and the gardener of negation and affirmation - O Hu,
it remained near the jugular vein and everywhere - O Hu,
It spread fragrance inside when it approached the time of blossoming- O Hu,
May the efficient preceptor live long says BAHU who planted this plant- O Hu.

 

 
The Practices performed by Sufis

It is the Quran that provides the raw materials of spiritual practice for Sufis:


 
Dhikr (ZIKR)

Zikr means 'Remembering ALLAH,' usually by pronouncing His name or by uttering a number of recognized formulae. Zikr may be practiced as jahri (loudly) or khafi (quietly). The Quran repeatedly admonishes believers to celebrate the praises of ALLAH almost always as it brings satisfaction and comfort to man's heart. The following verses of the Quran reveal the significance of zikr.

"Recite that which has been revealed to you of the scripture, and observe prayer. For prayer restrains one from lewdness and iniquity, but remembrance of GOD is the greatest virtue. Therefore remember Me, and I will remember you."

"Verily, in the remembrance of GOD do hearts find peace."

 
Ashgaal

A pattern of words which needs to be repeated silently without moving the tongue i.e. meaning of those words are to be focused through inner eyes.

 
Muraqba

It is a visualization technique where a particular affect is created by going deeper into an image of an idea.

 
Suluk: The Spiritual Journey

By getting involved in these practices, a disciple gradually passes through a process of the purification of the soul that consists of three stages.

a) The Carnal soul or Nafs al ammara:
Nafs al-ammara is the tendency in man to disobey GOD, and to take pleasure in evil deed and thought. A disciple gradually develops an attitude of indifference towards such temptations and purification of the body, tongue, mind and the heart takes place.

b) The reproaching soul or Nafs al lawwama:
Once a disciple subjugates the carnal soul or Nafs al-ammara, he enters into the second stage of purification in which his 'conscience' takes charge of his decision making process. As a result, he starts developing qualities reflecting the compassionate nature of GOD.

c) The contented soul or Nafs al mutma'inna
Once the second stage has become firmly established in him, he enters the third stage of the contented soul or Nafs al-mutma'inna. In this stage, the Sufi lives in harmony with his divinity and his soul finds perfect satisfaction and contentment within and without. Here the Sufi becomes truly free from fear and grief. As it has been said in the Quran, " Lo, indeed, the friends of GOD have no fear, nor are they grieved."

 
Maqam - i.e. station and HAL - i.e. state

The various stages of self awareness on the Sufi path are known as maqamat, or the 'stations', which are attainable through continuous spiritual practices and sincere efforts. However, hal or 'state' can only happen by
the Grace of GOD. Rumi has described these stages poetically as,'Maqam is the (King's) being alone with the bride while hal is like unveiling of the beauteous bride'.

 
Fana fi-llah i.e. Extinction and Baqa bi-llah'i.e. subsistence in Allah.

Extinction and subsistence in ALLAH i.e. 'fana fi-llah' and 'baqa bi-llah': The 'extinction of the self in ALLAH' i.e. fana fi-llah is the transition to the state of baqa bi-llah or the 'eternal life in union with ALLAH. ' By passing away from self, the individual does not cease to exist, but the individuality is absorbed into the Love of ALLAH which gives him an everlasting awareness of the all-pervading presence of Oneness.

As Maulana Rumi has said :
A certain man knocked at his friend's door. His friend asked,'Who's there?'
'I' he answered.
'Begone! there is no place for the raw in my home' said his friend.
He turned sadly away and for a whole tear, the flames of separation consumed him.
Then one day, he again knocked at his friend's door.
'Who is there?'
'You! O charmer of all hearts.'
'Now, since you are I, come in! as there is no room for two I's in this house.

Another event from the life of two Sufi Shaykhs reflects the same realm:
Shibli went to visit Junaid.The wife of Junaid was about to conceal herself modestly behind a screen.Junaid said,'Stay where you are - Shibli is absent.'
At that moment, Shibli began to weep. Junaid said to his wife,'You must now be absent, for Shibli has returned.'

This absorption in the love of ALLAH brings a Sufi not only in touch with the spring of beauty within his being but his qalb i.e. spiritual heart also moves into a realm of ecstasy. This is how, such a beautiful literature has been contributed by the Sufis to the humanity.

 
Aghaia Order (Silsila)


 
Hazrat Meerza Agha Mohammad (R.A.)

Hazrat Meerza Agha Mohammad (R.A.) was born in early part of the 19th century in Lucknow, India. He, from his very childhood was interested in knowing the way to GOD. He was obsessed with a question as to how to find ALLAH? He would ask his parents, teachers, and religious scholars but was never satisfied with the answers. An event in his early life transformed him and triggered off his spiritual search leading him from Sufi Shaykh Shah Maqsus Alam (R.A.) to Sufi Shaykh Hazrat Taj-ul-Aualiya -Shah Nizamuddin Hussain Niazi (R.A.). Later as a Sufi Shaykh himself, he got settled in Jabalpur India.He passed away on August 17,1917.
(Click here for more on this in the section of Biographies)

 
Dr. Meerza Murtuza Hussain (R.A.)

It will not be an exaggeration to say that he was an institution in himself. He was a physician by profession, but being a successor of Hazrat Agha Sahib (R.A.) he was able to transform hundreds of people into loving human beings. He was the centre of attraction for people of every religion and walk of life. He was also one of the most famous physicians of Jabalpur and had three clinics. It is amazing to see the balance of spirituality and worldliness in his life, as on one hand he was a Maseeha for the victims of diseases and side by side he was a transforming force for people with spiritual ailments.
(Click here for more on this in the section of Biographies)

 
Dr. Meerza Ikhtiyar Hussain

Presently, Sufi Shaykh of this order is Dr. Meerza Ikhtiyar Hussain who is based in Karachi, Pakistan. He does not like to have his long introduction on this website. However, we would at least add a persian proverb as his introduction, which he conveyed to his disciples in another context. The proverb says,'mushk aanast kaey khud babooyad na kaey attar me goyad' i.e. the fragrance of musk is itself an introduction to the musk and a chemist / perfume seller does not have to describe its qualities. Besides, he is a poet and has also written several books on the Sufi path.
(Click here for more on this in the section of Biographies)

 
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