Friday, 23 November 2012

Sufis:The Mystical Muslims



By: Elliot Miller
A popular expression of Muhammad’s religion in the Western world today is Sufism, Islam’s mystical way. The current interest in Sufism can be largely explained by pointing to the same factors which account for the popularity of several diverse Eastern mystical traditions among Westerners. These factors include a hunger for lifetransforming spiritual experience, and an attraction to monistic belief systems. British orientalist Martin Lings comments: “A Vendantist, a Taoist, or a Buddhist can find in many aspects of Islamic mysticism, a ‘home from home,’ such as he could less easily find in Christianity or Judaism.”’1
Not only is Sufism making an impact on Western shores in its own right, it has also profoundly influenced such notable founders of new religious movements as George I. Gurdjieff and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Also, several personalities who have made their mark outside of the field of religion acknowledge the influence of Sufism on their lives, including novelist Doris Lessing, actor James Coburn, poets Ted Hughes and Robert Graves, psychologists Erich From and Robert Ornstein, and the late Secretary-General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold.
Sufism (Arabic Tasawwuf) is a name which probably has its origin in the wearing of undyed wool (suf) as a mark of personal penitence. The Sufis are also known as fakirs and dervishes, both words originally denoting that these were people who believed in being poor (in spirit).
Sufis do not constitute a separate sect of Islam (as do, for example, the Shi’ites), but can be found within both the Sunni and Shi’a sects (although Sunnis tend to be more tolerant of them). Historically, Sufism has encompassed a wide gradation, ranging from devoutly orthodox Muslims to mystics who viewed their connection with Islam as little more than incidental.
All Sufis stress the supreme importance of religious experience, and distinguish themselves among Muslims by their insistence that experience of God (who is often viewed in Islam as remote and unapproachable) can be achieved in this life.
EARLY HISTORY
There are three distinct but overlapping periods in Sufi history generally recognized by historians: classical, medieval, and modern. Sufism can be traced back to a pious minority within the early Islamic fold who felt that the more austere aspects of the Prophets teaching were being lost sight of in the midst of political expansion.
Within Islam’s first century the Muslim leaders found themselves in possession of a vast empire, and, living off tribute money from the conquered, they “surrounded themselves with captive concubines and slaves, and lived on a scale of luxury unknown to their ancestors.”2 The movement of protest against this worldliness ultimately resulted in both the legalistic and mystical schools of Islam.
For early Islamic ascetics fear of eternal punishment in hell was the primary incentive to piety. Eventually however, a fervent love for God, displayed by such early Islamic saints as the woman Rabbi’a al-Adawiya (d. 801) became a central theme, and provided a basis for emerging Sufi mysticism. Professor E.G. Browne notes that early Sufism was characterized by
… ascetism, quietism, intimate and personal love of God, and disparagement of mere lip service or formal worship. This ascetic Sufism…if influenced at all from without, was influenced rather by Christian monasticism than by Persian, Greek or Indian ideas.3
Over two centuries after the time of Muhammad, gnostic influences began to appear in some expressions of Islamic spirituality. Junayd of Baghdad, (d. 910), a transplanted Persian, was especially instrumental in the shaping of Sufism into a pantheistic system. He wrote: “Whatever attains to True Being is absorbed into God and becomes God.”4 Another Persian, al-Hallaj (d. 922), executed for blasphemy, became celebrated as a martyr among medieval Sufis, particularly Persian poets. Hallaj, who traveled extensively and developed quite a following, scandalized the orthodox with statements like “I am the Truth.”
Quietism, with its emphasis that God is all that matters and man is merely an instrument in His hands, provided fertile ground for the pantheistic beliefs that God is all there is, and man and the phenomenal world are merely shadows or emanations of His being.
TRANSITIONS TO MEDIEVAL SUFISM: SOME LEADING NAMES
Ghazali
Likely the most important figure in the history of Sufism is al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Prior to his appearance, Sufisms success had been partial. To be sure, it had become a powerful force among the common people, as it offered a more personal and emotionally satisfying approach to religion than that exhibited and prescribed by the orthodox interpreters of the Qur’an. However, it had not won acceptance from the religious establishment.
The theologians and legalists had gone to great pains to develop an orthodox interpretation of the faith that would protect it from heretical innovation. They perceived that the Sufis’ emphasis on experience as a superior source of truth, and their tendency to neglect legal prescriptions, could lead to the corruption of Muhammad’s religion. They also feared that their own positions as religious leaders of the people might be supplanted by the popular Sufis. Consequently, the Ulama (religious authorities) sought, unsuccessfully, to silence the mystics. ‘This conflict between doctrinaire legist and follower of the Inner Light was fundamental and seemed irreconcilable.”5
Enter al-Ghazali. “The accepted position of Sufism, whereby it is acknowledged by many Moslem divines as the inner meaning of Islam, is a direct result of Ghazali’s work.”6
Al-Ghazali was orphaned at an early age, and raised by Sufis. Of Persian descent, by the age of 33 he was appointed a professor in Baghdad, where he became recognized as an authority on canon law In spite of his success, Ghazali entered a period of spiritual crisis. Concerning this he wrote in his autobiography Deliverance from Error: “I examined my motive in my work of teaching, and realized that it was not a pure desire for the things of God, but that the impulse moving me was the desire for an influential position and public recognition.”7 In 1095 Ghazali became a wandering ascetic, returning to the Sufism of his youth. He spent 11 years in meditation and retirement, until a Sultan persuaded him to teach again.
In the public teachings and writings which followed his retirement, Ghazali set forth a synthesis of orthodox theology and mysticism. His greatest work The Revivification of the Religious Sciences, argues that only the Sufi emphasis on inner devotion can fulfill the strict demands of the Qur’an. Ghazali’s arguments did much to relieve the hostility and suspicion that had developed between the Ulama and the Sufis. He has been widely regarded as Islam’s greatest theologian, and the acceptance of his synthesis resulted in a large measure of tolerance (though never a full acceptance) between the legalists and the mystics. The two traditions came to regard each other as having necessary roles to fulfill within the larger Islamic community.
The acceptance of Sufism into the orthodox fold had monumental consequences. Islam “acquired a more popular character and a new power of attraction.”Some historians credit Sufism for Islam’s success at establishing itself in points beyond the Middle East. However, once Sufism achieved orthodox status the general distinction between what was and was not lawful became blurred, and several popular ideas and practices, previously kept under restraint by the Ulama (i.e., the cult of the saints, astrology and divination), became commonplace in the Islamic world.
Arabi
Another important Sufi from the same era is al-Arabi (d. 1240). Raised by a Sufi family in a Spain that had been under Islamic control for more than 400 years, Arabi studied law and Islamic theology before establishing himself as one of Sufism’s greatest poets and esoteric philosophers. He created a Sufi literature which did much to promote the cause of Islamic mysticism in many cultures.
While Ghazali stayed within an outwardly orthodox framework, Arabi offered a clearly monistic, gnostic system. “His commentary on the Koran is a tour de force of esoteric interpretation.”9 With Arabi the emphasis on the Sufi path “was shifted from moral self-control to metaphysical knowledge with its sequence of psychological ascent to the ‘Perfect Man, the microcosm in whom the One is manifested to Himself.”10 In his Bozels of Wisdom Arabi explains: “When you know yourself, your ‘I’ness vanishes and you know that you and God are one and the same.”11
Arabi’s poetic usage of erotic language to signify the relationship of the soul with God set the tone for much of medieval Sufism. Poetry became a favorite medium of expression, the imagery sometimes becoming so sensuous that it is difficult to distinguish whether the “Beloved” being referred to is heavenly or earthly. For the Sufis, this made little difference, since they believed that “‘Whether it be this world or that/Thy love will lead thee yonder at the last!”12
Rumi
The most important of the Sufi poets is Jalaluddin Rumi (d. 1273). Born to a noble family in Bactria (located in modern Afghanistan), he settled in Asia Minor (Iconium) where he taught, founded the Mevlevi Order (popularly known as the Whirling Dervishes), and wrote poetry in Persian.
Rumi was as much an esotericist as Arabi. He held that the teachings of the Qur’an are allegorical, having seven different meanings. The description of his search for God, which he gives in the following excerpt from one of his poems, reveals his gnostic and pantheistic convictions:
Cross and Christian, from end to end I surveyed, He was not on the cross. I went to the idol temple, to the ancient pogodaNo trace was visible there. I bent the reins of search to the Kaaba, He is not in that resort of old and young. I gazed into my own heart; There I saw him, he was nowhere else, In the whirl of its transport my spirit was tossed, Till each atom of separate being I lost.13
THE MASTER-DISCIPLE RELATIONSHIP
The master-disciple relationship is a facet of Sufism that was laid down by Ghazali, and has remained central to this day. Ghazali sets forth the reasoning behind it:
The disciple [murid] must of necessity have recourse to a director [shaikh or sheikh: in Persian pir] to guide him aright. For the way of the Faith is obscure, but the Devil’s ways are many and patent, and he who has no shaikh to guide him will be led by the Devil into his ways. Wherefore the disciple must cling to his shaikh as a blind man on the edge of a river clings to his leader, confiding himself to him entirely, opposing him in no matter whatsoever, and binding himself to follow him absolutely. Let him know that the advantage he gains from the error of his shaikh, if he should err, is greater than the advantage he gains from his own rightness, if he should be right.14
Once the seeker is initiated, his shaikh subjects him to a rigorous spiritual regimen, designed to induce the desired enlightenment. The discipline can come through a variety of forms, including assigned activity (e.g., sacrificial service of the master), oral instruction (including the use of “teaching stories”), and various spiritual exercises (we shall consider examples later). The precise training that the shaikh employs will vary from disciple to disciple, according to the perceived needs of the individual.
THE SUFI ORDERS
Charismatic and/or devout shaikhs (often possessing pronounced psychic powers) frequently attracted large followings. These gatherings of initiates constituted brotherhoods, or communities, growing around the residence of the shaikh. Gifts from lay supporters enabled the members of these budding monasteries to devote all of their time to spiritual concerns. Succeeding generations would highly venerate the founders of the orders as saints (their tombs becoming monastery focal points), and the successors to the headship of the orders would either be through family line, or by election. Additionally, disciples who achieved a high level of initiation would often bring their masters teachings to new areas, where they would attract disciples of their own, and found new sub-orders. In this way, from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries onward, Sufi orders spread throughout the Islamic world.
The two most important Sufi orders are the Qadiri Order, founded by Abd al-Qadir (d. 1166) in Baghdad, and the Shadhili Order, whose founder, al-Shadhili (d. 1258) lived in Alexandria, Egypt. The Qadiri are known for their moderation, while the Shadhili are more given to extravagance and emotion. An important order in India is the Chishti, founded in the thirteenth century. As would be expected, it bears several marks of Hindu influence.
Sufi orders differ from Roman Catholic orders in that they are not under the control of an outside authority and also in that they often do not require celibacy.15 The chief differences between the orders themselves involve variations in ritual and litany (dhikr), and also in attitude (e.g., orthodox/unorthodox; militant/tolerant). Professor AMA Shustery affirms that the current number of Sufi orders reaches above 175.16
In addition to the established orders, itinerant, independent fakirs, reminders of Sufism’s less organized days, persisted throughout the medieval period, and continue down to the present day. They have been described as” ‘holy fools,’ spiritual ecstatics who were also social eccentrics, openly flaunting the norms of acceptable behavior….”17
During the period spanning the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, the Sufis reached the height of their influence in the Islamic world. The number of Muslims affiliated with Sufi brotherhoods at that time has been estimated to have been anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of the total population.18 The Sufis were also Islam’s greatest missionaries during these centuries.
DISTINCTIVE SUFI BELIEFS
Based on experience rather than doctrine, Sufism has always been more open to outside influence than other forms of Islam. Because it took root and developed in the centrally located Middle East, it has quite naturally absorbed ideas and practices from several of the world’s notable religious and philosophical systems. In addition to early influences from Christianity, one can find elements of Zoroastrianism, Neoplatonism, Hinduism, and other diverse traditions, around its Islamic kernel. As we proceed to examine Sufi beliefs and practices, these non-Islamic influences will be abundantly evident.
In the Qur’an, Allah (God) is not only absolutely singular (barring the Trinity of Christian theology), he is also radically transcendent—separate from his creation. How then can anyone claiming to be a Muslim possibly hold to a pantheistic conception of God in good conscience? Martin Lings, himself a practicing Sufi, gives us an example of how such reasoning is typically carried out:
It is necessary to bear in mind that each of the Names of the Divine Essence comprises in Itself, likeAllah, the totality of Names and does not merely denote a particular Divine Aspect. The Names of the Essence are thus in a sense interchangeble with Allah, and one such Name is al-Haqq, Truth, Reality. We can just as well say that there is no truth but the Truth, no reality but the Reality as that there is no god but God. The meaning of all these is identical. Every Muslim is obligated to believe in theory that there is no reality but the Reality, namely God; but it is only the Sufis, and not even all those who are affiliated to Sufi orders, who are prepared to carry this formulation to its ultimate conclusion. The doctrine which is based on that conclusion is termed “Oneness of Being,” for Reality is that which is opposed to that which is not; and if God alone is Real, God alone is, and there is no being but His being.19
As do all pantheists, Sufis run into a morass when they attempt to resolve the problem of evil. In their effort to reconcile the existence of evil with belief that God is all there is, they end up associating evil with the process of creation. E.G. Browne illustrates:
A thing can only be known through its opposite—Light by Darkness, Good by Evil, Health by Sickness, and so on…. Thus Eternal Beauty manifests itself, as it were, by a sort of self-negation; and what we call “Evil” is a necessary consequence of this manifestation, so that the Mystery of Evil is really identical with the Mystery of Creation, and inseparable therefrom. But Evil must not be regarded as a separate and independent entity: just as Darkness is the mere negation of Light, so Evil is merely the Not-Good, or, in other words, the Non-Existent. All Phenomenal Being, on the other hand, necessarily contains some elements of Good, just as the scattered rays of the pure, dazzling white light which has passed through the prism are still light, their light more or less “coloured” and weakened. It is from this fall from the “World of Colourlessness” that all the strife and conflict apparent in this world originate.20
Corresponding to their pantheistic denial of actual evil, the Sufis affirm the inherent goodness of man. The human soul is the microcosm of the Universal Macrocosm (God), related to God as rays are to the sun. It is restless because of its unnatural relation with matter and seeks union with its origin…. Its weakness is in its being tempted by the wrong notion of its being material.”21
With such a gnostic-like definition of man’s problem (the spirit’s false identification with matter), we might appropriately expect a gnostic solution, and this is precisely what we find. Commenting on the most standard Sufi text, the Gifts of the (Deep) Knowledge, by Shaikh Suhrawardi (d. 1235), Idries Shah affirms: “By divine illumination man sees the world to be illusion.”22 Browne adds:
Evil is, as we have seen, illusion; its cure is to get rid of the ignorance which causes us to take the Phantoms of the world of Sense for Realities. All sinful desire, all sorrow and pain, have their root in the idea of Self, and Self is an illusion.23
To the above summary of Sufi doctrines we can add belief in both the preexistence of the soul, and the soul’s survival of physical death. Unlike Indian mystical systems, this is not generally viewed in terms of reincarnation. The soul’s sojourn on earth is one stage in a long progression through various worlds of existence. Sufis believe that their homeland is beyond the stars, and to there they will ultimately return. For their time here on earth they purposefully submitted themselves to a state of forgetfulness, although one of the aims of Sufi discipline is to awaken from this sleep. At various. points in the soul’s evolutionary journey it may take on the nature of an angel, a jinn, a human, a Master, etc.
DISCIPLINE, PIETY, AND MYSTICISM
Sufis have done their best to make a science of the subjective. They have developed perhaps the most systematic, charted, and regulated progression into the mystical there is. For the serious seeker of mystical experience this aspect of Sufism is appealing, for it conveys the impression of a venerable tradition that can be trusted to produce authentic spiritual knowledge.
Believing in the perfectiblity of man, the Sufi way is very much concerned with the perfecting of the individual disciple. This endeavor is known as work (those familiar with Gurdjieff will recognize his debt to Sufism here). The work is prescribed by the Shaikh, performed by the Sufi, in the context of the community. It aims to break the hold of conditioned patterns of behavior which inhibit the desired spiritual awakening.
Most Sufi orders consider the first work of the disciple to be the observance of traditional Islamic piety: to perform the “five pillars.” The Sufis’ exceptional spiritual hunger, however, will characteristically drive them to go far beyond the prescribed observations. For example, in addition to observing the nightly fasts required during the month of Ramadan, Sufis frequently engage in voluntary fasts.
The use of dance for spiritual purposes has become one of the most distinctive characteristics of Sufism, though not all of the orders observe it. According to Martin Lings, many Sufis are under the conviction that “the body stands for the Axis of the Universe which is none other than the Tree of Life. The dance is thus a rite of centralisation… intended above all to plunge the dancer into a state of concentration upon Allah.”24
Meditation is an essential part of the Sufi’s work at self-perfection. Repetition of a dhikr or sacred formula (e.g., the name of Allah) is often combined with breathing exercises to induce altered states of consciousness.
As the natural (and, from the Christian perspective, God-given) mental barriers to psychic intrusion are broken down, and a link is established to the spirit world, the Sufi may
see visions, hear the voices of angels and prophets, and gain from them guidance…. It is a condition of joy and longing. And when this condition seizes on the “seeker,” he falls into ecstasy. The dervishes in the monasteries may be seen working themselves up into a condition of “ecstasy.”25
Such spectacles will not be viewed in the same favorable light by all observers. John Alden Williams points out that
the observer may encounter things which seem to belong in a case book of abnormal psychology, or witness what looks remarkably like demonic possession. But unless he is wholly unsympathetic, he may find also in these sweating ecstatics examples of pure and devoted attendance upon the Holy.26
SUFISM IN THE MODERN ERA
By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Islam had accumulated an amazing diversity of religious ideas and customs; several of them quite extraneous to the faith Muhammad had long before bequeathed to his followers. As we saw earlier, the acceptance of Sufism into the orthodox fold had no small part to play in this discoloration of the faith.
Accompanying this proliferation of peculiar beliefs and practices was a multiplication of bizarre ecstatics within the Sufi orders: “With the passing of time and the social decline of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, almost every pervert entered a Sufi order, and almost every madman was accounted a saint.”27
Eastern historian S. Ameer Ali points out another aspect of Sufism which contributed to the decline of Islamic civilization:
To the bulk of humanity the call to abjure the world and to betake ourselves to complete absorption in the contemplation of the Divinity is an inducement to mental lethargy. The responsibility for the present decadence of the Moslem nations must be shared by the formalism of the Ash’ri [orthodox theologian] and the quietism of the Sufi Mystical teachings like the following:
the man who looks on the beggar’s bowl as a kingly crownAnd the present world as a fleeting bubble He alone traverseth the ocean of TruthWho looks upon life as a fairy talecan have but one result–intellectual paralysis.28
In eighteenth century Arabia, a puritanical revivalist movement known as Wahhabiya arose which has done much to turn contemporary Muslim sentiment against the Sufis. For reasons such as those mentioned above, the Sufis were blamed, not only for the pollution of the historic faith, but for the weakened political position of Islamic nations, as contrasted with expanding European imperialism. In the twentieth century Sufism has lost the political influence it once enjoyed, and, in Wahhabi-ruled Saudi Arabia, it is officially prohibited. While still tolerated in other Muslim countries, Sufism generally in the Muslim world is hard-pressed because of a resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism and according to some sources, because of the activity of bogus sheikhs and Sufi orders.”29
Certainly, Sufism has known better days in its native lands. However, “for the last forty years the direct and indirect influence of the East has prepared the ground in the West for the seed of the Sufi message.”30 Idries Shah, the “Grand Sheikh of the Sufis,” whose family has reputedly reigned in India’s Hindu khoosh since 1221, has devoted his life to demonstrating the applicability of Sufi ideas and practices to today’s life in the West. “He has achieved the difficult task of being accepted by the Western scholars as well as by those of the East.”31
In 1916 the Sufi Order in the West was founded in London by another important Indian Sufi, Hazrat Inayat Khan. His Chishti Order master sent him to the West specifically to spread the Sufi message. Khan died in 1927, but his son, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, has succeeded at establishing 88 centers in America and 166 worldwide. Pir Vilayat, who turns 70 this year, is a frequent, highly respected speaker on the New Age circuit.
In spite of its popular acceptance, the Sufi Order is looked upon with disapproval by Shah and other more traditional Sufis. This is because, in keeping with its self-determined mission to promote unity among all religions, the Sufi Order does not insist that its members identify with the Islamic faith. It has been rightly described as “one of the most thoroughgoing syncretistic movements in history.…”32
A CHRISTIAN APPRAISAL
The emergence of Sufism in Islam, its historic popularity and its long-term negative effects upon that religion, could all have been predicted beforehand by an informed, perceptive Christian. The reasons for this will become evident as we proceed.
First of all, this Christian observer of world religions would have recognized from history that there have really only been two paths traveled by human beings to the realms of spiritual experience. The first could be described as “natural spirituality,” not because there is nothing supernatural about it, but because it is generally accessed by very natural, methodical means (e.g.; meditation, chanting, or ecstatic dancing). The second might be characterized as “supernatural” or “revelation” spirituality, for it is not entered upon by natural methods of altering the consciousness, but opens up to all who respond in faith and obedience to the revelation found in Jesus Christ and the Bible. To simplify matters, I shall summon the imagery Jesus employed in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:13-14) and refer to the first path as the “Broad Way,” and to the second as the “Narrow Way.”
Those on the Broad Way usually assume that what is natural is also right: that the way we humans are now is essentially how we were originally intended to be. Therefore, to be “spiritual” all we have to do — indeed, what we must do — is develop our own inherent spiritual potential. As this “natural spirituality” is cultivated, certain phenomena typically follow, including psychic powers, contacts with spirit entities, and ecstatic or mystical experiences.
Being universally accessible, the Broad Way appears, in some form, in virtually all religious traditions. The very universality of these experiences convinces the advocates of mysticism that it is the one true religion of mankind, and the various religious traditions are merely the cultural packages which contain it.
Since monism and pantheism are philosophical by-products of the mystical sense of oneness with all things, the proponents of natural spirituality also conclude that these world views, coming so naturally,must be the correct ones. Consequently, they often attempt to show that monism and pantheism lie at the esoteric heart of all the world’s religions.
This thesis is challenged and ultimately destroyed, however, by the historic reality of the Narrow Way (a reality which often escapes the notice of these “natural men” — see I Cor. 2:14). In it, careful investigation will uncover a rich tradition of spiritual experience fundamentally different from that of the Broad Way. This tradition is centered in the redemptive activities of the one God who made a covenant of promise with Abraham, gave His law to Moses, spoke to His people through the prophets, and personally fulfilled these promises, laws and prophecies in the man Christ Jesus.
On the basis of information that would have been unavailable had God not historically acted to reveal it, followers of the Narrow Way understand that man’s natural state is fallen—he is not now as he was originally created to be. Thus the only spiritual realm that he can contact by natural means is likewise fallen—and extremely dangerous. To “see the Kingdom of God” he needs a new nature; he “must be born again,” supernaturally, by the regenerating work of God’s Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8).
As the believer passes through the narrow door of Jesus Christ (John 10:7-9) an incomprehensibly vastrealm of spiritual experience opens up to him. It is the kingdom of the infinite-personal God of revelation, and it is distinctively “not of this world” (John 18:36)—including that kind of spirituality which comesnatural to this world.
The Narrow Way can lead to very profound encounters with the presence and glory of God. However, no matter how far one advances along it, he never experiences his “I-ness” vanishing, nor is he drawn toward belief in the oneness or divinity of all things. God is experienced as distinct from His creation, though omnipresent and intimately involved with it. God is also revealed as both awesomely righteous and holy, unwilling to tolerate or overlook sin, and yet also as infinitely loving and merciful, unconditionally forgiving and accepting those who come to Him through Jesus, the sin-bearer.
In contrast to the autosotericism or self-purification which typifies the mystical traditions, the dynamic force behind this supernatural spirituality is the activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, convicting him of sin, teaching, comforting, and progressively conforming him into the image of Jesus Christ. This work of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the scriptures perfectly complement each other, pointing to the same truths, which are focused in Jesus.
In addition to identifying these two distinct varieties of spiritual experience, our Christian observer would also have recognized that there would be no authentic theism had there been no authentic divine revelation. Indeed, any student of man’s religions should acknowledge that truly theistic world views can only be found in the “revealed” religions (i.e., religions that claim to be based on truths directly disclosed by God at particular points in history). The Christian can (and I believe should) argue from this fact that the theistic world view is too exalted to have been conceived by unaided human reason—it had to be revealed.33
Islam is the only fully theistic religion apart from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Whereas the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament, the Qur’an contradicts both Old and New Testaments, as we saw in Part Two. Therefore, the Christian maintains that Islam is theistic, not because of any direct revelation granted to Muhummad, but because he borrowed heavily from biblical sources.
Nonetheless, Islamic culture stood to gain certain benefits from its borrowed theism, unavailable to pagan cultures. Not the least of these was an absolute basis, in a moral, transcendent God, for defining good and evil; resulting in a firm, comparatively lofty moral structure to uphold society.
As a theistic religion, however, Islam is incapable of delivering a vital spiritual experience. This is because, on the one hand, the Broad Way, which generates pantheism, is inherently incompatible with theism. On the other hand, that which is compatible with theism, the Narrow Way has its origin in the revelation of God. To participate in this supernatural spirituality, one must remain in harmony with true revelation. The work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:14). Therefore, theists like the Muslims who resist His work turn aside from the Narrow Way.
In other words, the Narrow Way is so narrow that it can only be entered through the grace of Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 15:11). Those who deny that grace and seek instead to win entrance into God’s presence through good works will find themselves haunted by a spiritual void and a lack of assurance concerning their personal salvation. Since theism originated in revelation, a theism in conflict with revelation is doomed to spiritual impotence.
Bereft from beginning to end (by rejection of the gospel) of any participation in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Islamic tradition was left with only one recourse for filling this spiritual void: common occult mysticism—the Broad Way.
This explains the rise and popularity, not only of Sufism in Islam, but also of similar mystical movements in other theistic traditions which either deny or largely ignore the gospel of grace.34 Each of these movements, hungering for something more than a dead, legalistic externalism, has fed on that spirituality which is available to all men. As a direct result, in each case the monotheism which originally upheld them degenerates into pantheism, and pantheism predictably opens the door to a wide range of pagan beliefs and activities.
Only conservative Protestantism, which on the whole has faithfully emphasized the cross of Christ and personal salvation, has remained almost impenetrable to the inroads of the Broad Way. The reason for this is clear: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ leaves no spiritual void.35
In the context of Islam’s rejection of the Christian gospel, then, the rise of a mystical movement like Sufism was quite predictable. But mysticism is a dead end—as our previous consideration of Islamic history has indicated.
Nowhere is the bankruptcy of mysticism more evident than when mystics address ethical issues, such as the problem of human evil or sin.
Owing to Islam’s Jewish and Christian influences, an emphasis on morality runs through Sufism that cannot be found in such purely pagan mystical traditions as Hindu Vedanta or Tibetan Buddhism. However, Sufis are unable to come up with a satisfying, sustaining basis for ethics out of their monistic, pantheistic world view.
As we saw earlier with E.G. Browne, “Evil is merely the Not-Good, or, in other words, the Non-Existent.” Thus we find that the seemingly endless array of evils which stalk human history, mock mankind’s potential for greatness, steal hope away from the human heart, and tempt a man to sell his soul in a moment of darkness, are all casually written off as unreal “colourings,” necessary “self-negations” of Beauty-in-manifestation. Such shallow explanations of something as existentially profound as human evil fail to possess the sensitized conscience. Why should we commit our lives to resisting evil if in fact it is necessary, and, finally, unreal?
The Sufis’ understanding of human sinfulness is painfully deficient. Ultimately, the true nature of man’s dilemma was lost sight of amid the rapture of intoxicating mystical experience. This blindness can be discerned in Nasrollah Fatemi’s affirmation that Spiritual perfection leads to the gnosis of the divine unity and the bridging of the gap between God and man when the latter’s soul transcends the confines of personality by losing the conditioned self in the intuition of the one.”36
Such talk of attaining spiritual perfection (typically mystic) is self-delusion (see 1 John 1:8), resulting from a bankruptcy of authentic “gnosis” (i.e., self-knowledge). The unpleasant but necessary truth was pointedly stated by the prophet Jeremiah: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick: who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).
Man is stricken with a moral sickness that runs to the depth of his being, defiling even his most sincere efforts to apprehend God (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:9-19; 7:21). The “gap between God and man” is the result of very real transgressions of the divine law (Isa. 59:1-2). The Bible, then, defines sin in moral and legal terms (1 John 5:17; 3:4), not as ignorance of a “divine unity” which in fact does not exist (the world and/or the human self are not a part of God—Ps. 113:4-6; Rom. 1:18-25; Ezek. 28:2). Therefore, subjectively man needs to be healed by a force external to himself, while objectively he needs to have his sins forgiven. Both of these are available only in the new covenant made by God Himself in Christ’s blood (Jer. 31:33-34; cf. 1 Cor. 11:25).
If the Sufi trusts so strongly in his subjective ‘intuition of the one” that he does not sense his desperate need to take advantage of God’s merciful provision in Christ, he has not begun to attain usefulknowledge. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7), and such a one needs a healthy dose of it.
Historically the Sufis have always been caught in a bind. It is clear that most of them have desired to be true to the one God of revelation—the God of Abraham, whom Muslims claim to worship. At the same time, their earnest quest for an experience of that God has led them into the realm of pagan spirituality. They need to be shown that the only way to what they have sought for is the Narrow Way. They must face the realities of their own creaturehood and sinfulness, and the acceptance of Jesus Christ which these realities demand. Then they will know an inner fulfillment, peace and joy that neither Islam nor mysticism could ever provide (John 7:37-39; 10:10; 14:27; 17:13).
NOTES
1 Man, Myth, and Magic—An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural, s.v. “Sufis,” by Martin Lings. 2John Alden Williams, ed., Islam (New York: George Braziller, 1962), 123.3 E.G. Browne, “The Sufi Mysticism: Iran, Arabia and Central Asia,” In The Suit Mystery, ed. N.P. Archer (London: The Octagon Press, 1980), 175.4 Ibid, 175.5 H.A.R. Gibb, Mohammedanism, 2d ed. (New York: Mentor; 1953), 106.6Idries Shah, The Sufis (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1964), 167. 7 Williams, 183. 8 Gibb, 110. 9 Ibid.,115.10 Ibid.11 Williams. 141.12 Nasrollah S. Fatemi, “A Message and Method of Love, Harmony, and Brotherhood,” in Sufi Studies: East and West, ed. L.F. Rushbrook Williams (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1973),51.13 Ibid., 70.14 Gibb, 116-17.15 Man, Myth and Magic.16 A.M.A. Shushtery, “Philosophy, Training, Orders and Ethics,” in Sufi Mystery, 71.17 Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions, s.v. “Sufism,” by Bruce B. Lawrence.18 Abingdon.19 Martin Lings, What is Sufism? (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1975), 64-65.20 Browne, 187.21 Shustery, 70.22 Shah, 297.23 Browne, 88-89.24 Lings, 84-85.25 S. Ameer Ali, “The Mystical and Idealistic Spirit in the Islamic Expression,” in Sufi Mystery, 210-11.26 John Alden Williams, 155-56.27 Ibid., 177-78.28 Ali, 208.29 John Dart, “Islamic Sufis Blend Dance, Poetry,” Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 1981, part I-A.30 From an untitled brochure published by The Sufi Order in the West.31 F.X. O’Halloran, “A Catholic Among the Sufis,” in Sufi Mystery, 26.32 Eddie Noonan, “A Random Sampling,” Update 5 (Aug. 1981): 16.33 “By saying this I do not mean to imply that there is no evidence in nature for a transcendent, holy God. Rather, human depravity characteristically gravitates toward lower, baser concepts of the divine, and this has resulted in a pervasive intellectual blindness (see, e.g., Rom. 1:18-32).34 For examples, in Judaism we find such mystical traditions as the Cabala (a Gnostic-like theosophy formulated in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries) and the Hasidim (a movement founded in eighteenth century Europe), both of which are enjoying a tremendous revival today under the name “New Age Judaism.” In Roman Catholicism many of the medieval mystics and mystical movements appear to have been mystics indeed—in the Broad Way sense. These include the Brethren of the Common Life, Meister Eckhart, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross. Today, twentieth century mystics such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Merton enjoy large followings. Additionally it should be pointed out that the New Age movement has made extensive inroads into both Roman Catholicism and liberal Protestantism.35 This fact can be documented by a literally endless supply of personal testimonies (see, e.g., Escape from Darkness, comp. James R. Adair and Ted Miller, Victor Books). On the other hand, the claim that mysticism is spiritually satisfying is open to challenge. Many who have experienced bothnatural spirituality and supernatural spirituality (including this writer) agree that while mystical experiences can be extremely stimulating and pleasurable, over the long term they do not so much fillone’s spiritual void as numb his capacity to feel it. In other words, the Broad Way’s answer to the fears, loneliness and other pains and longings of personal existence is depersonalization. The Narrow Way, on the other hand, affirms and fulfills personal existence. It does so, first by showing that the Ultimate Reality is personal, and second, by granting a meaningful relationship with that infinite Person.36Fatemi, 71.

Sufism -- Sufis -- Sufi Orders



Sufism's Many Paths
Dr. Alan Godlas, University of Georgia

Sufism or tasawwuf, as it is called in Arabic, is generally understood by scholars and Sufis to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam. Today, however, many Muslims and non-Muslims believe that Sufism is outside the sphere of Islam. Nevertheless, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the foremost scholars of Islam, in his article The Interior Life in Islam contends that Sufism is simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam.
After nearly 30 years of the study of Sufism, I would say that in spite of its many variations and voluminous expressions, the essence of Sufi practice is quite simple. It is that the Sufi surrenders to God, in love, over and over; which involves embracing with love at each moment the content of one's consciousness (one's perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, as well as one's sense of self) as gifts of God or, more precisely, as manifestations of God.

  • Workshop on Sufi-Islamic meditation with Dr. Godlas in the Bahamas, March 22-24, 2012 As a part of the "Meditation as a Path to Enlightenment: An Interfaith Symposium" held at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in Nassau, Bahamas, March 18, 2012 to March 24, 2012, Dr. Godlas will be giving a series of presentations (on March 22, 23, and 24) involving both lectures on meditative practice in Sufism as well as sessions of silent and vocal dhikr (i.e., Sufi meditation and chanting). Participants are welcome to come for just Dr. Godlas' presentations, for the entire symposisum, or for any part of it. For costs and reservations, see the information at Sivananda Ashram website, linked here.
  • Sufi Spiritual Transformation Workshop w/Dr. Godlas March 29-30, 2008, near Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  • Sufis Without Borders An online semi-private discussion group loosely moderated by Dr. Godlas and a moderating committee; currently over 1100 international participants from many Sufi orders and perspectives, interested non-Sufis, and scholars. 
  • Sufi News and Sufism World Report The only news digest from around the world concerning Sufis and Sufism. Updated daily. 
  • Sufi Cartoons

    Table of Contents

    Sufism: an Introduction
    Classical Sufi Definitions of Sufism
    Obstacles on the Path
    Struggle With One's Nafs (self) 
    Awakening to the Awareness of the Unmanifest World 
    Remembering God 
    Sufism, Remembrance, and Love
    Islam's Relationship to Sufism: Approval and Criticism 
    Sufism and Sufi Orders in the West
    Sufi Poets and Sufi Poetry
    Sufi Women 
    Sufi Qur'an Commentary (Sufi Tafsir)
    Sufi Resources, Books, Bookstores, Events and Conferences, and Sufi Personal and Marriage Ads
    Online Sufi Texts in Arabic

    Shaykhs, Sufi Orders, and Shrines

    Selected Sufis

    Sufi Orders and Their Shaykhs

    Hasan al-BasriMalamatiya
    Rabi'a al-AdawiyaYasawiya - Ahmet Yasawi
    Bayazid-i BistamiKubrawiya (and Oveyssi)- Najm al-Din Kubra 
    Sahl ibn 'Abdallah al-TustariQadiriya - 'Abd al-Qadir Jilani
    Mansur al-HallajRifa'iya - Ahmet Rifa'i
    Abu 'l-Hasan KharaqaniMevleviye - Jalal al-Din Rumi
    Abu Sa'id Abu al-KhayrBektashiye - Haji Bektash Veli
    Khwajah 'Abdallah AnsariNaqshbandiya - Baha' al-Din Naqshband
    Abu Hamid al-GhazaliNi'matallahiya - Shah Ni'matallah Vali
    'Ayn al-Qudat HamadaniBayramiye - Haji Bayram Veli
    Ruzbihan-i BaqliChishtiya - Mu'in al-Din Chishti
    Ibn 'ArabiShadhiliya - Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili
    Yunus EmreKhalwatiya - 'Umar al-Khalwati
    Tijaniya - Ahmad al-Tijani
    Muridiyya - Ahmadu Bamba
    Qalandariya
    Orders in East Africa
    Orders in North Africa
    Orders in Indonesia and Malaysia
    Orders in Afghanistan
    Orders in Pakistan
    Orders in Bangladesh and India
    Orders in Kurdistan
    Orders in Russia
    Orders in Turkmenistan
    Orders in the Balkans
  • Sufism: Islamic Mysticism in its Global Context



    Sufism: Islamic Mysticism in its Global Context (1)
    by R. James Ferguson
    Topics:-
    1. The Concept and Definition of Sufism
    2. Origins and Ideals of Sufism
    3. Prominent Sufi Literary Figures
    4. The Modern Role of Sufism
    5. Sufism: Controversy, Modernism, and Globalisation

    6. Footnotes
    7. Bibliography and Further Resources

    1. The Concept and Definition of Sufism
    Sufism is basically an individualised, socially critical form of Islam which has spread through major sectors of the Islamic world, and has a very strong role to play in the politics and culture. Sufism is essentially a mystical form of Islam emphasising the relationship between the individual and God (2). Al Ghazali, writing in the 11th century, provides one of the clearest descriptions of this tradition: -
    I knew that the complete mystic 'way' includes both intellectual belief and practical activity; the latter consists in getting rid of the obstacles in the self and in stripping off its base characteristics and vicious morals, so that the heart may attain to freedom from what is not God and to constant recollection of Him.(3)
    It developed in part out of mystical literary tradition, as well as through spiritual contemplation of the Qu'ran and key oral traditions (Hadith, especially the divine sayings or hadith qudsi [4]) that provided a path to come closer to God. As we shall see, the role and authority of different teachers and their schools would become quite controversial in different Islamic societies. Likewise, the place of Sufism has been contested: for many religious authorities Sufism is at best unorthodox in its teaching and at worst a serious deviation from the truth (see further below). The new-found popularity of elements of Sufi culture in the West does not guarantee Sufism a strong place in mainstream Islamic culture.
    The origin of the term Sufi has long been debated. One derivation is that of the suffe, or platform of the Mosque at Medina where the Companions of the Prophet met to explore the revealed knowledge of Muhammad.(5) A more probable source is the Arabic word suf for wool, referring to the rough ordinary clothes often worn by prophets, saints, and many sufis.(6) Other connotations include notions of 'purity', 'method', or 'inner beliefs'.(7) Regardless of these linguistic mysteries, 'the reality of Sufism is clear, for its paramount aim is felicity (sa'ada) which is determined by the knowledge of proximity to God'.(8) Hence,Sufism is the mystical path within Islam (tariqa) which complements its legal and normative tradition.(9) It is the inner tradition that balances the outward conformity to laws and custom. Within Islamic thought itself, Sufism was first used as a technical term in the 10th century CE by Abu 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami (d. 1021 CE) in his writings concerning the lives of Sufi saints.(10)
    We can sense this tension between inward reform and outward ritual and obedience in a saying attributed to Abu Muhammad Abdallah Muhammad B. Al-Fadl Al-Balkhi: -
    I wonder at those who cross deserts and wildernesses to reach His House and Sanctuary because the traces of His prophets are to be found there: why do not they cross their own passions and lusts to reach their hearts, where they will find the traces of their Lord?" That is to say, the heart is the seat of knowledge of God and is more venerable than the Ka'ba, to which men turn in devotion. Men are ever looking towards the Ka'ba, but God is ever looking towards the heart.(11)
    In the West, from the 19th century onwards, Sufism was a term that applied to Muslim mystics, and to esoteric phenomena that Westerners observed, e.g. 'whirling' dervishes and fakhirs. As such, early European studies of Sufism in part followed their own interests and fascinations, e.g. with the esoteric, and with a form of Islam that seemed, when superficially understood, less strict and rule-bound than main-stream Islamic culture.(12) It therefore formed part of a pattern of orientalism whereby the West used (and misused) the East for its own purposes.(13) Today, the same is true: Sufism is popular with both New Age culture, as well as with the new phase of cultural tourism. However, it is questionable whether Sufism is at all meaningful when taken out of its Muslim context (see below). As we shall see, Sufism had a central role to play both culturally and religiously in many Islamic societies.
    Within Islam, Sufism was not based on being esoteric, but rather on poverty as a sign 'of turning away from the world and focusing on the divine reality'.(14) Sufis historically viewed themselves as exploring the reality of the submission of humans to God. As we shall see, however, it was Sufi poetry, literature, dance, music, and song that helped make this a popular form of expression for diverse peoples from Morocco to Indonesia.(15)
    2. The Origins and Ideals of Sufism
    In a theoretical sense, Sufism and similar practices began as soon as people to retreat into solitude for worship. As such, according to Ibn Khaldun, it is a tradition that goes back to the first and second generation of those who knew the Prophet.(16) Within most forms of Sufism, emphasis on a having a spiritual teacher or guide is paramount. Teachers are often known by the title of shaykh, or in Persian pir, or as a guide (murshid).(17) It was around prominent early teachers that the first Sufi orders were formed, and from the 11th century these orders often formed around private houses or larger lodges where students came to study, e.g. in Cairo, eastern Iran and Jerusalem.(18)
    Certain key evens within Islam are also viewed as sources of spiritual influence for Sufi's. The most important of these is the Qur'anic Event described as 'the Night of Power' (Sura 97) when the Prophet Mohammad experienced the complete Qu'ranic revelation(19) which he would spent the rest of his life explaining to mankind. This inspiration demonstrated that there was a unique knowledge and spiritual knowledge beyond the ways of earthly experience. From the ninth century onwards, Sufi meditation manuals were published, often compiling the prayers or the thought of Sufi masters such as Shaqiq al-Balkhi, Rumi or Ibn 'Ata Allah of Alexandria, and aimed at developing special prayer formula and methods for developing students at particular levels.(20) Within these manuals, students were instructed to interpret Islamic poetry along set lines - 'the beloved' always refers to God and wine always refers to 'spiritual intoxication'.(21)
    One key practice that soon became connected with Sufi's was the recitation or remembrance of the divine names (attributes) of God, called dhikr: -
    The term for this recitation is dhikr, meaning recollection. Dhikr . . . is mentioned very frequently in the Qur'an, since humanity is often called upon in the sacred text to remember God and his commands. The movement towards interiorization of the Qur'an that was so decisive for the development of Sufism lent itself especially to the practice of meditation in which the names of God are chanted over and over again, either in solitude or in company, aloud or silently. The practice of dhikr seems to have become established by the eleventh century, though there are indications of it among earlier Sufis. In the description of dhikr by al-Ghazali, it has assumed a great importance as the single technique best adapted to concentrate . . . on nothing other than God.(22)
    In later times this meditation might also be combined with dance movements, and with regular patterns of breathing or body movement also designed to induce mediation or trance. It is in this context that Sufi's often use the image of intoxication (drunkenness) as a metaphor of the experience of the closeness of God (see Ibn al-Farid's Wine Ode), which could lead to the annihilation of the sense of individual self (fana').(23) Bearing in mind Islamic injunctions against alcohol and all forms of drugs, this metaphor was intentionally shocking. Likewise, the use of music and dance in Sufi practises would also be criticised within Islam.(24)
    Sufism, though sometimes misused as an excuse to avoid legal restrictions, developed it own strong ethical stance. The pragmatic and humanitarian elementsof Sufism can be found in the ten principles of proper human conduct as outlined by Abd al-Qadir Jilani (1077-1166): -
    1. Never swear by God.
    2. Never speak an untruth even in jest.
    3. Never break a promise.
    4. Never curse anyone.
    5. Never harm anyone.
    6. Never accuse anyone of religious infidelity.
    7. Never become a party to anything sinful
    8. Never impose a burden on others.
    9. Never accept anything from human beings - God alone is the giver.
    10. Look for in others the good points and not the bad.(25)
    3. Prominent Sufi Literary Figures
    It will not be possible in this short account to go through the dozens of Sufi poets and hundreds of Sufi Saints who have inspired millions of followers. For our purposes, however, we can briefly mention Rumi as one key example of poetic and religious inspiration. Rumi is the name given to the person born as Jalal al-Din Muhammad (1207-1273 CE) in the town of Balkh in the north-eastern province of Khorasan, part of what might be called 'greater Iran' but is today within modern western Afghanistan.(26) He would become one of the most influential writers of Sufism and most of the most popular and enduring in world history. His name (Rumi) comes from the name for the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire (i.e. Turkey) and he was known to the Turks as Mevlana (= our master), while he was also known as Jalal al-Din, 'The Splendor of the Faith'.(27) His key works include the Divan-i Shams-i Tabriz (40,000 verses) and theMasnavi (25,000 verses).
    We can see some of these themes of love and intoxication in one of Rumi's poems, Divan-e Shams no. 36: -
    The burning orb of the East
    Is our honored guest tonight
    And the bright moon in this feast
    With us will rest tonight.

    Alert, vicious, stressed
    Heavens dissolve and arrest
    The fields of final rest
    Our final test tonight.

    Clap your hands in surprise
    Excited, with us rise
    Dance in our enterprise
    While at our best tonight.

    O sweet singer of love
    Tell us the secrets of love
    Ecstatic music from above
    Is our quest tonight.

    Like a lion brave the way
    Not like a fox run away,
    Wheel of Fortune as we pray
    Our lives has blest tonight.

    Like new grapes be not sour
    Be sweet like nectar and flower
    In sugar and candy this hour
    We will invest tonight.

    The shining jewel that we sought
    For which the whole world we fought
    Is in our own nest tonight
    In our treasure chest tonight.

    If you ask Shams-e Tabriz
    The reasons that are all his
    Union in his breast tonight
    At His behest tonight.(28)

    Writing for a sophisticated audience steeped in Persian and Arabic literature, Rumi's works can either be read as sophisticated mystical commentaries, or as a personal account of his mystical inspiration under the influence of the mysterious dervish Shams-i Tabriz.(29) Such thought, combining intellectual sophistication and inspiration, would establish one of the key layers of Sufism. Rumi has also been taken up by modern scholars, especially in Iran, 'as a precedent for and exemplar of a more expansive and tolerant Islam'.(30)
    Challenging conventional inspiration, writers such as Ibn 'Arabi and Ibn al-Farid would attract devoted audiences and numerous commentaries.(31) Today, such inspired writing is kept alive in the Chishti and Shattari orders, as well as in the bards of Bengal, known as Bauls, who readily cross over linguistic, cultural and religious boundaries.(32)
    4. The Modern Role of Sufism
    Sufism in part grew out of the scholastic and metaphysical researches of great scholars such as Razi (885-925), Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 980-1037), and Ibn Rushd (Averroes, died 1198), but soon developed its own poetic stamp, practical philosophies, and forms of social criticism. These may have developed in part out of earlier trends found in Greek and Christian gnosticism (filtered through Muslim scholarship), but was also influenced by the complex social milieu of Central Asia, where Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Chinese influences (33) mixed with Persian and Islamic ones. Such eclectic trends were most noticeable among the more recently converted Khirghiz of Central Asia, though they reached their limit in India where Sufism and Orthodoxy closed ranks against the challenge of a synthetic and universalist creed proposed by the Emperor Akbar.(34) In large part, Sufism in this context became a popularist and grass-roots movement, which meant that in spite of the collapse of the political control of Abbasid Caliphate, Sufism continued to successfully spread through the Islamic world.(36) In the Indian Punjab, for example, descendants of famous Sufi Saints would become caretakers of the tombs that would become centres for local pilgrimage, a tradition also found in Central Asia.
    Sufism emphasises raising awareness of the 'Real', as distinct from a distorted understanding of what is taken to be real everyday life, through genuine knowledge of the self and the 'veils' which divide it from any experience of the truth.(37) This is also the search for genuine Existence.(38) It also emphasised compassion from one human being to another, regardless of all other distinctions. This trend greatly widened Islam and aided its attraction throughout Eurasia, India, Southeast Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. This trend has been summarised: -
    Though unconcerned with affairs of state, the sufis had a profound influence on the Muslim polity. They humanized its rigours and reduced the area of conflict between religion and politics. They gave Islam a broader base. Non-Muslims flocked to sufi hospices in large numbers and in due course hundreds of thousands came into the fold of Islam. . . . By the beginning of the fourteenth century, large numbers of people, particularly in Central Asia and South and South-East Asia, had accepted Islam through the preaching of the sufis. Under their impact, the Mongols, who had been the scourge of Islam, became patrons of Islam.(39)
    This humanitarian form of Islam was also spread by the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks, and Sufism had a special role in bringing Islam into India, first by traders, then under the Mughal conquerors.(40) From South Asian ports this form of Islam was also propagated into Malaysia and Java. This spread was greatly aided by the role of Muslim traders, whether of Arabic or Indian (especially Gujarati or Bengali) origin.(41) Islam rapidly began to influence the trading ports of northern Sumatra, coastal Java and Malacca. Between the 12th and 13th centuries, Islam was spread along the coast of Java and Sumatra, and then inland, largely aided by Indian and Arabian 'traders and preachers', some of whom intermarried with local populations.(42) Malik Ibrahim, for example, a holy man and 'one of the chief proselytizers of Islam in Java', was probably originally 'a Persian or Arab merchant who had made a fortune in the spice trade'.(43) Though other factors such as direct conquest (in parts of Central Asia and Northern India), the seizing of political power (44) or elite conversion of ruling houses (45) were important, the role of traders, and the Sufi (Muslim mystic) traditions they often followed, made Islam both a pervasive and acceptable influence in much of the Malay-Indonesia archipelago.(46) Regardless of the exact mechanisms, there was a 'close connection between trade and the spread of Islam' in this region, with Malacca becoming one focal point in this trend due to its trading activities.(47)
    There may be a greater scope for an independent role by women within the Sufi tradition than in some strict interpretations of Islamic jurisprudence. Rabi'a al-'Adawiya (717- 801 CE), for example was a prominent woman saint who never married, while Fatima Nishapuri (d. 838 CE) was respected as a great Sufi teacher.(48) Furthermore, in Central Asian areas strongly influenced by Sufism, there tends to be a less strict interpretation on public codes for women - in Central Asia (excluding parts of Afghanistan), for example, women work and travel publicly, and are not expected to conform to a total covering of the body.
    Sufism also allows a considerable range of social criticism, whether expressed through humorous stories, satire, or the special education actions of the 'Malamatiyya . . . those who "draw blame" or deliberately draw the contempt of others while preserving purity of heart, those who do not care if other Muslims accept their faith or actions as legitimate'.(49) Likewise, the inspired exclamations and views (shatahat) of Sufis will not necessarily be conformist, and from the Sufi tradition should not be judged in the same way as everyday sentiments.(50) These trends allow Sufi-influenced groups a greater ability to resist the authoritarian misuse of Islam to establish a legalistic domination of society by rulers or 'clerics'.
    Sufism, though found in Egypt, Africa and elsewhere, was a major progressive force in Central Asia, and Sufism also helped spread Islam in the Indian, Malay and Javanese areas.(51) In many ways, it underpins the more everyday form of Islam lived in villages and communities in these societies. This trend continues today in the privacy of small communities, as well as in a revival of Sufi literature and academic societies. Through its love of music, dance, poetry, story-telling and humour, Sufism helped create a vigorous culture which penetrated much of Central Asia, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. In this guise Sufis are often known to the West as 'dervishes', or spinning dervishes, whose practises like the special chants and breathing exercises lead to a trance state (wajd) designed to bring the participant closer to God.(52) Likewise their humorous, insightful stories have been spread to the West by Idries Shah.(53) One short example can give some idea of the didactic thrust of such stories: -
    A certain wise man was widely reputed to have become irrational in his presentation of facts and arguments.
    It was decided to test him, so that the authorities of his country could pronounce as to whether he was a danger to public order or not.
    On the day of the test he paraded past the court-room mounted on a donkey, facing the donkey's rear.
    When the time came for him to speak for himself, he said to the judges:
    'When you saw me just now, which way was I facing?'
    The judges said: 'Facing the wrong way.'
    'You illustrate my point,' he answered, 'for I was facing the right way, from one point of view. It was the donkey that was facing the wrong way.'(54)
    This artistic tradition incredibly enriched both Arabic and Persian culture: -
    Sufi liberalism had other important effects. While music and dance were anathema to the ulama, these were encouraged in sufi hospices. Their songs were full of passionate devotion to God, the unity of the soul and the body and the oneness of mankind. They indulged in sama, or the chanting of song and music, which led to hal, or a state of mystic exaltation. The theme is as common in the poems of Ibn al-Arabi and some fo the Arabic poets as in the Persian compositions of such literary giants as Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-73), Farid al-Din Attar (d. 1190) and Muslihuddin Saadi (1193-1292). One of the greatest sufi saints of all time was Abd al-Qadir Jilani (1077-1166), better known as Gauth al-Azam or 'the Sultan of Saints' who preached in Baghdad. He was a disciple of Ghazali and his eloquence was as soul-stirring as the radiance of his personality. He founded the Ghauth al order which spread to most parts of the Muslim world and may be regarded as the mother of all sufi orders. According to H.A.R. Gibb, 'The Qadrir order is, on the whole, amongst the most tolerant and progressive orders, not far removed from orthodoxy, distinguished by philanthropy, piety and humility and averse to fanaticism, whether religious or political.'(55)
    All these aspects, however, were all directed towards achieving wilayah, or 'identification of man with God'.(56) Though devout, most of these Schools of Sufism are much more able to accommodate modern and secular trends compared to certain puritanical forms of Islam found in other parts of the world, e.g. theWahhabism exported from Saudi Arabia. Previously, the Sufi orders in Arabia were fiercely suppressed by the Wahhabi movement, which helps explain the fact that Central Asia has not proved the most fertile of grounds for Wahhabism in the modern period, in spite of financial resources pumped into the region from Saudi Arabia. Wahhabis, in particular, are opposed to the notion of ecstatic mysteries, as well as the visiting of the tombs of saints which is viewed as potentially leading to idolatry.(57) Wahhabi influence has also been resisted by traditional orders in Chechnya, though it gained some influence in nearby areas such as Dagestan. .
    Tombs of Sufi saints often became centres of pilgrimage as in this mausoleum built to commemorate Abakh Hodja, near Kashgar in Western China.

    Sufi orders have had a major influence on 20th century Central Asia, and today form one of the main currents of Islam in contemporary political life. Estimates of the number involved in Sufi circles are difficult to make, but Russian surveys of the 1970s suggested that of a population of 27 million, there would have been some 500,000 involved in Sufi brotherhoods, which Bennigsten and Wimbush suggest is a 'reasonably understated figure'.(58) Earlier Sufi ordersincluded the Qadiris, the Chishtis (both of which avoided direct political involvement), and the Suhrawardis and Naqshbandis, who helped give advice to Muslim rulers. In the case of the Naqshbandis, this political activity can be seen in the wide range of contemporary publishing they engage in, including English translations and texts.(59) Likewise, modern Sufi societies also engage in the maintenance of professional on-line Web-sites (Internet resources) promoting their order, and explaining the Sufi role in resisting Russian penetration of the Caucasus.(60) There are contemporary political implications in some of this Internet material, e.g. carrying either direct or indirect criticism of attacks on Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya.(61) Part of the aim here is to bring Sufism to the West. At least forty different Sufi orders could be listed in the mid-19th century.(62)
    With these background factors in mind we can understand why Sufism remained robust even during periods of adversity. The main Sufi brotherhoods (tariqa) were active in the former USSR, in Central Asia, South Asia, and to a more limited extent in Southeast Asia today. Writing in 1988, Rafic Zakaria noted: -
    The other wellspring of Islam in the USSR is the clandestinely organized network of sufi brotherhoods which has been popular in Central Asia since medieval times. These continue to exercise considerable influence on the Muslims. Of these, the Naqshbandiya is the most popular, followed by the Qadiriyya (mostly in the Caucasus) the Khalwatiya (in Turkmenistan . . . ), and the Yasawiya (in Uzbekistan, Kirghizia and Kazakhstan). The Soviet authorities are aware of the potential of these institutions for religious revival but have so far left them alone, since suppressing them in the past had only inflamed fundamentalism. Nevertheless, Communist party workers have been actively decrying what they call 'parallel or unofficial Islam', as opposed to official or state-controlled Islam.(63)
    There are numbers of smaller groups in Central Asia, including the secret society of the 'Hairy Ishans', previously an anti-Soviet group functioning among the Kirghiz in the Ferghana Valley.(64) There are approximately 70 orders active in the world, with perhaps several hundreds of thousands of people directly involved and millions more influenced by their traditions.(65) From 1986, Central Asian leaders were aware of a religious revival throughout the region, including a noted influence on members of the Communist Party and on the young communist association, the Komsomol: the Uzbek Communist Party Central Committee secretary of the time, M. Khalmukhamedov tried to focus his attack not on the believers, but on a 'coercive clergy'.(66) By 1988 other regional leaders, such as Turkmen Party First Secretary Niiaszov were quietly dropping their standard attacks on Islam.(67) At a lower level, other officials were sometimes re-directing state funds to transform 'guest houses' and 'tea shops' into prayer houses.(68) Through the late 1980s, surveys showed that the majority of university students in Uzbekistan attended Islamic religious rituals.(69) By December 1989 the Uzbek Communist Party's election platform stated that it 'favors the freedom of religion and the legal rights of the believers, [as well as] cooperation with religious organisations'.(70)
    These trends show that in spite of Soviet attempts at eradication and then re-education, Islam remained a resilient social and religious force throughout the region. Sufism has indeed thrived 'on adversity'.(71) Furthermore, mass deportation of Muslim populations, e.g. from the North Caucasus to other parts of the Soviet Union including Central Asia, would only result in the exportation of Sufi brotherhoods into these new areas.(72)
    We can see how some Sufi orders, especially the Naqshbandis, could become involved in political life in the turmoil of the latter half of the 19th century. This included strong resistance to imperial domination, e.g. the Sudanese resistance to British colonial power (e.g. the destruction of General Gordon in the Battle of Khartoum, 1885), resistance to British penetration into Afghanistan, Emir 'Abd al-Qadir's resistance to the French in Algeria until 1847 and the leadership in Central Asia of Shamil Waifi (1797-1871) against Russian control of the region.(73) Under the leadership of Khalid Baghdadi (1776-1827), theNaqshbandi order in particular became involved in the struggle against the liberalism of Moghul leader Akbar in India, and then against Czarist forces in the Caucasus. Imam Shamil, himself a Sufi, with the aid of Naqshbandis fighters expelled Czarist forces from the Caucasus and set up a strong resistance down to his surrender in 1859.(74) Naqshbandi adepts and other murids (disciples) continued strong resistance to Soviet control of the north Caucasus from 1917 down to 1925, with a subsequent revolt lasting from 1929 till 1936, and another bout of resistance in 1942-43.(75) Likewise, Bahal Din Vaishi (1804-93), had led a revolt against Russian influence in Kazan.(76)
    Islam generally and Sufi orders in particular form part of the strong resistance of Chechnya to Russian domination, both historically and in the 1994-2007 period. In part this national feeling was sustained by the presence of two mystical Islamic orders, the Naqshbandiya and Quadiriya. In time, the more radical Quadiriya began to dominate in the mountains, where the more 'pure' and nationalist clans lived. From the early 1990s there was also an attempt by external purist forms of Islam, the Wahhabis, to gain ground in Chechnya, but they lost credibility when they tried to confront the Sufi groups, and when they rejected Chechen nationalism.(77) However, the Wahhabi influence has been felt to some extent in nearby areas of the Caucasus region, especially Dagestan. By late 1999 parts of nearby Dagestan had been drawn into the conflict, resulting in Russian military intervention.(78) However, most Chechen leaders, though Muslim, are not Islamic extremists but were drawn from the professional classes, while others in the past were students or in the Soviet military, e.g. Maskhadov and Dudayev.(79)
    In general, the organisation of the Sufi brotherhoods was highly effective in the spreading of religious concepts, as well as for revolution and armed resistance.(80) These trends were part of the broader picture of resistance by national groups in the Caucasus and Central Asia against the expansion of Tsarist Russia and then the Soviet Union. In part, this was due to the fact that religious training and ritual was often taught in underground schools attached to the key social unit in Central Asia, the mahalla or neighbourhood based around a group of extended families, a grouping which also provided a 'social security net'.(81) Mullahs, female religious teachers, and elders within the mahalla were the source of religious authority and custom.(82) On this basis, indigenous Islam and Sufism were impossible to eradicate.
    Sufi brotherhoods had been consistently represented by Soviet authorities as either bandit criminals or at least radical breeding grounds of anti-Russian feeling, which must be eliminated, as in Chechnya.(83) It was precisely in such an environment that the Sufi brotherhoods were extremely effective. Indeed, scholars such as Alexandre Bennigsten and Enders Wimbush have suggested that Islam was largely kept alive during the Soviet order by the influence of Sufism in Central Asia.(84) This is likely given the covert networking abilities of Sufi brotherhoods, and the way that low-conflict strategies of resistance could be used by these groups which otherwise seemed compliant with the regime. Soviet authorities had real fears that Sufi communities were essentially closed societies which largely lived outside of Russian and communists systems, while seeming to be part of them.(85) It is this aspect of Sufi politics that is also a challenge for governments that oppose their activities.
    Sufi Orders continued to exist in Central Asia throughout the period of the Soviet Union, including the period of Stalin, and the age of sophisticated espionage surveillance of the 1970s and 1980s. In spite of attempts to limit and control religion in the region, and their sensitivity to potential Islamic threats or CIA involvement, at least for the closed orders like the Hairy Ishans, there is no recorded case of the inner workings of a Sufi group having been deeply penetrated or exposed by the KGB.(86) Nonetheless, the early revolts of the 19th and early 20th centuries could not be sustained: popular support was strong but variable, while the industrial and military strength of the West and of the Russian empire in the long run were too dominant. It was for this very reason that the more invisible, indirect form of resistance offered by many of the Sufi brotherhoods was more effective.
    We can sense the resilience of Islamic social life through some apparent paradoxes. Several Sufi strategies have been consciously used to help Islamic culture survive under conditions of oppression. Two of these are 'invisibility-in-the-crowd', sometimes formulated as khalwat dar anjuman, 'solitude within society', and safar dar watan, 'journey within the homeland', which reminds the Muslim that the journey into the inner world is more important than any external condition.(87) These trends are particularly important in the Naqshbandiya order, where the adepts remain 'in the world' living apparently everyday roles, adapting to everyday modern society.(88) Taken together, these strategies structure a psychological and social 'endurance'.
    A related tradition is that of being willing to disguise or hide belief in order to avoid persecution or extinction. In general, Sufis are ordered not to seek martyrdom, and to practise taqiya, that is, caution. Under extreme conditions, they may even deny membership in Islam, without this being regarded as sinful.(89) A Sufi leader's constant engagement in prayer and meditation means that 'he is permanently "mobilised" and engages in unending intensive spiritual and mental concentration'.(90) For the Sufi all earthly empires are ultimately impotent before universal prophecy and before God's will - sincere trust (tawakkul) is sufficient to convert fear (91) into hope. In fact inner corruption and sin is more to be feared than any external oppression. Within the expectation of future judgement, time is always on the side of Islam and its professors. This has meant that in most contexts, Sufi groups and the communities they influence have been willing to use non-violent forms of accommodation with secular state authorities. This was the case with the Tijaniya order of Algeria down to the 1950s, and in general coloured the way Sufi groups reacted to Soviet rule in Central Asia. Exceptions to this trend can be found when Sufi groups try to resist external imperial powers which disrupt regional cultures,(92) e.g. against the Russians in the Caucasus, the Turkmen steppes, and the Ferghana valley,(93) in the Sudan against the British in the 19th century, and in Chechnya during 1994-2007.
    5. Sufism: Controversy, Modernism, and Globalisation
    The relationship among Sufism, Islam, and universal philosophical trends has been well explained by Dr. Nahid Angha: -
    Since all the principles that underlie the instructions of Sufis are based on the Koran, it is impossible to relate Sufism to any religion outside of Islam. Yet the search for true understanding and abstract knowledge of reality is a universal quest. As long as humanity endures, so too will the search for such understanding continue. History shows us that every nation and religion has its own way of expressing the universal spiritual quest.(94)
    However, this has not stopped Sufism being controversial both within Islam and more generally. Within Islam, several concerns have been raised: -
    1) Circa 1800 the Persian Shi'i authorities persuaded the Persian king to prosecute Sufi movements on the basis of their moral and religious corruption.(95) This distrust of Sufism continues in the current period: -
    Theoretical mysticism, known as 'irfan or gnosis, has retained a reputation in Iran to this day; leading scholars such as Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Mutahhari are well known for their writings on philosophical mysticism. On the other hand, anyone who actually practices mysticism in a social context is known instead under the name darvish, which in Iran has become a term of contempt suggesting idleness, drug use, immorality, and every other sort of evil. This distinction permitted the religious hierarchy in Iran to eliminate possible rivals to their authority while appropriating those Sufi doctrines which they admired.(96)
    2) The role of Sufi Saints, in so far as they are involved as spiritual intermediaries, and their tombs as places of pilgrimage and healinghas become common in parts of Central Asia (from the 11the century CE onwards), North Africa, Pakistan and Northern India. On this basis, some Muslims are concerned that this could become a form of 'hidden' idolatry distracting believers from their primary religious concerns.
    3) Caution has also been raised concerning the ascetic and non-worldly practises of Sufi's, since in Islam there is no formal role for monasticism.(97) Muhammad, himself, was married and had children, and remained deeply involved in the political and social life of his community.
    4) Some Sufi's were open to influences from other religious traditions, including Greek gnosticism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Thus the North Indian qawwali singer Ja'far Budauni could combine Arabic verses about Ali, along with Hindi couplets the infant Krishna, interpreted from a Sufi viewpoint.(98) Bengali bards, called Bauls, also mix their songs with elements drawn from Tantric and yogi practises.(99) This syncretism and openness, though making Sufism popular, also suggests how it readily crossed the limits imposed by more Orthodox interpretations of Islam.
    Also, in a more general context: -
    1) Sufism has sometimes been viewed as a medieval tradition not compatible with a modernising state, e.g. dervish orders were banned in Turkey in 1925, partly because of the loyalty many citizens felt towards such orders.(100) They have since been allowed a limited place as carriers of Ottoman and artistic traditions.(101)
    2) The problem of fake Sufis is widely recognised, e.g. those claiming special powers to gain personal power or wealth. The misuse of a claimed holiness, of course, is not just a problem for Sufism, but has also been a major problem in Christianity and Hinduism.
    3) The problem of a modern pseudo-Sufism which appropriates elements of Islam as a commodity and entertainment for foreign and particularly Western audiences. The boundary between genuine dialogue between religions verses a severe distortion of belief can be difficult establish.
    Here we need to place Sufism against the current trends of modernisation and globalisation. Dialogue across diverse international groups can now easily occur under the current conditions of globalisation, and it is now impossible for a single 'pure' message to be controlled by any single authority. Ensuring a valid interpretation and reception of Sufism is thus part of a wider issue. If a genuine understanding of Islam is propagated globally, then it is also more likely that a better understanding of Sufism will also emerge. Many of the problems listed above will then be set in the context of a deeper and more genuine understanding of the bases of Sufism within Islam. If Sufism can still provide some better access to understanding for non-Muslims, this must not be done at the expense of a genuine understanding of Islam itself.

    6. Footnotes
    1. A different account of this theme with particular emphasis on Russia and Central Asia will be found in FERGUSON, R. James Meeting on the Road: Cosmopolitan Islamic Culture and the Politics of Sufism, Bond University, Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies, December 1996.
    2. ARBERRY, A.J. Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, London, Allen & Unwin, 1950, p58.
    3. Al-Ghazali Deliverance from Error, p56.
    4. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p51.
    5. ANGHA, Nahid "About Sufism", from Principles of Sufism, (Internet Source), February 1991; IMOS, Zos "Sufi Traditions", (Internet Source), 1994.
    6. ARBERRY, A.J. Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, London, Allen & Unwin, 1950, p35; AL-HUJWIRI, Ali B. Uthman Al-Jullabi The Hashf Al-Mahjub: The Oldest Persian Treatise on Sufism, trans. Reynold Nicholson, London, Luzac and Company, 1976, Chapter III "On Sufism", p30; DANNER, Victor "The Necessity for the Rise of the Term Sufi",Studies in Comparative Religion, 6 no. 2, 1973, p70; LINGS, Martin "Sufism", in ARBERRY, A.J. (ed.) Religion in the Middle East: Three Religions in Concord and Conflict, Cambridge, CUP, 1969, Vol. 2, p253; ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p19, though Nahid Angha denies that this is the main derivation ANGHA, Nahid "About Sufism", from Principles of Sufism, (Internet Source), February 1991.
    7. ANGHA, Nahid "About Sufism", from Principles of Sufism, (Internet Source), February 1991; IMOS, Zos "Sufi Traditions", (Internet Source), 1994.
    8. RIDGEON, Lloyd "The Felicitous Life in Sufism", Sufi, No. 28, Winter 1995-96, p30.
    9. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p26.
    10. Ibid., p20.
    11. In AL-HUJWIRI, Ali B. Uthman Al-Jullabi The Hashf Al-Mahjub: The Oldest Persian Treatise on Sufism, trans. Reynold Nicholson, London, Luzac and Company, 1976, Chapter XI, pp140-141.
    12. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p3.
    13. SAID, Edward Orientalism, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1995.
    14. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p4.
    15. Though most Sufi groups accept some form of song or chanting, note that ordes such as the Naqshbandis and Qadiris are cautious of the role of music and dance, ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p179.
    16. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p17.
    17. Ibid., p30.
    18. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p125. See also ARMSTRONG, Karen A History of Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, N.Y., Harper Collins, 1996.
    19. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p32.
    20. Ibid., pp89-91.
    21. Ibid., p161.
    22. Ibid., p92.
    23. Ibid., p115.
    24. BEDFORD, Ian "The Interdiction of Music in Islam", The Australian Journal of Anthropology", 12 no. 1, 2001, pp1-14 [Internet Access via Proquest].
    25. In ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, p106.
    26. LEWIS, Franklin D. Rumi: Past and Present, East and West, Oxford, Oneworld, 2003, p9.
    27. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p167; LEWIS, Franklin D. Rumi: Past and Present, East and West, Oxford, Oneworld, 2003, p9.
    28. Translated by Shahriar Shahriari, 1999, at http://www.rumionfire.com/shams/rumi036.htm
    29. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, pp166-168.
    30. LEWIS, Franklin D. Rumi: Past and Present, East and West, Oxford, Oneworld, 2003, p3.
    31. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, pp154-157.
    32. Ibid., p178.
    33. For a detailed comparison with the Taoism of Chuang Tzu, see IZUTSU, Toshihiko Sufism and Taoism: A Comparative Study of Key Philosophical Concepts, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1984.
    34. IMART, Guy "The Islamic Impact on Kirghiz Ethnicity", Nationalities Papers, 14 nos. 1-2, Spring-Fall 1986, p69; OLESEN, Asta Islam and Politics in Afghanistan, Richmond, Curzon Press, 1995, p47.
    35. ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, p100.
    36. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p5.
    37. ELWELL-SUTTON, L.P. "Sufism and Pseudo-Sufism", Encounter44 no. 5, 1975, pp9-11; ANGHA, Nahid "About Sufism", from Principles of Sufism, (Internet Source), February 1991.
    38. RIDGEON, Lloyd "The Felicitous Life in Sufism", Sufi, No. 28, Winter 1995-96, p30.
    39. ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, p101.
    40. BALJON, Johannes M.S. "Islam in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan", in ARBERRY, A.J. (ed.) Religion in the Middle East: Three Religions in Concord and Conflict, Cambridge, CUP, 1969, Vol. 2, pp122-3; ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, p101, p132.
    41. BALJON, Johannes M.S. "Islam in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan", in ARBERRY, A.J. (ed.) Religion in the Middle East: Three Religions in Concord and Conflict, Cambridge, CUP, 1969, II, pp122-3; ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, p101, p132; DI MEGLIO, Rita R. "Arab Trade with Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula from the 8th to the 16th Century", in RICHARDS, D.S. (ed.) Islam and the Trade of Asia: A Colloquium, Oxford, Bruno Cassirer, 1970, p116; MEILINK-ROELOFSZ, M.A.P. Asian Trade and European Influence In the Indonesian Archipelago Between 1500 and About 1630, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1962, p63. Earlier and stronger influence would probably have come from Bengal, which had already adopted Islam as early as the 12th century, while Islam was not a strong influence in Gujarat till the 14th century, MEILINK-ROELOFSZ, M.A.P. "Trade and Islam in the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago Prior to the Arrival of the Europeans", in RICHARDS, D.S. (ed.) Islam and the Trade of Asia: A Colloquium, Oxford, Bruno Cassirer, 1970, p144; MEILINK-ROELOFSZ, M.A.P. Asian Trade and European Influence In the Indonesian Archipelago Between 1500 and About 1630, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1962, p21, p23, pp68-69. Indian ships, merchants and merchant corporations predominated in the Indian seas and the Bay of Bengal down to the 13th century A.D., PANIKKAR, K.M. India and the Indian Ocean: An Essay on the Influence of Sea Power on Indian History, 3rd ed., London, George Allen & Unwin, 1962, pp28-29, p35.
    42. DI MEGLIO, Rita R. "Arab Trade with Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula from the 8th to the 16th Century", in RICHARDS, D.S. (ed.) Islam and the Trade of Asia: A Colloquium, Oxford, Bruno Cassirer, 1970, pp116-118; See also MEILINK-ROELOFSZ, M.A.P. Asian Trade and European Influence In the Indonesian Archipelago Between 1500 and About 1630, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1962, p6, pp20-21.
    43. DI MEGLIO, Rita R. "Arab Trade with Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula from the 8th to the 16th Century", in RICHARDS, D.S. (ed.) Islam and the Trade of Asia: A Colloquium, Oxford, Bruno Cassirer, 1970, p119. See also MEILINK-ROELOFSZ, M.A.P. Asian Trade and European Influence In the Indonesian Archipelago Between 1500 and About 1630, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff, 1962, p108.
    44. In some ports in northern Java, see MEILINK-ROELOFSZ, M.A.P. "Trade and Islam in the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago Prior to the Arrival of the Europeans", in RICHARDS, D.S. (ed.) Islam and the Trade of Asia: A Colloquium, Oxford, Bruno Cassirer, 1970, p149.
    45. As in the conversion of the prince, who founded Malacca, to Islam, thereby being given the new name Iskandar Shah, DI MEGLIO, Rita R. "Arab Trade with Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula from the 8th to the 16th Century", in RICHARDS, D.S. (ed.) Islam and the Trade of Asia: A Colloquium, Oxford, Bruno Cassirer, 1970, p119.
    46. Although Sufism may have been involved at an early date, no certain evidence of Sufi orders have been found in the region during the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries, SEEKINS, Donald M. "The Malacca Sultanate and the Evolution of the Malay Identity", Chapter 1B in Malaysia, 1991 [Electric Library, Internet Access]. Alternatively, it has been suggested that although traders had some role, circumstantial evidence suggests that the Sufis had the dominant role in bringing Islam to the region, AL-ATTAS, Syed NaguibSome Aspects of Sufism As Understood Among the Malays, Singapore, Malaysian Sociological Research Institute Ltd., 1963, p21. Certainly by the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Sufis and Muslim mystics are attested in Malacca and Sumatra, with major mystics such as Hamzah Fansuri, Shamsu'l-Din and `Abdu'l-Ra-uf prominent in north Sumatra in the early and mid-seventeenth century, Ibid., pp22-32. For the spread of Islam into West and East Africa by Arab spice traders, see FARRELL, Karen "Arab Spice Trade and Spread of Islam: SPICE Case", TED Case Studies, no. 334, June 1996 [Internet Source. http://gurukul.ucc.american.edu/ted/SPICE.HTM].
    47. MEILINK-ROELOFSZ, M.A.P. "Trade and Islam in the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago Prior to the Arrival of the Europeans", in RICHARDS, D.S. (ed.) Islam and the Trade of Asia: A Colloquium, Oxford, Bruno Cassirer, 1970, p143, p148, p100. See also ALISJAHBANA, S. Takdir "The Confluence and Conflict of Culture in Malaysia in a World Perspective", in ALISJAHBANA, S. Takdir et al. (eds.) The Cultural Problems of Malaysia in the Context of Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Society of Orientalists, 1965, p36; SEEKINS, Donald M. "The Malacca Sultanate and the Evolution of the Malay Identity", Chapter 1B in Malaysia, 1991 [Electric Library, Internet Access].
    48. IMOS, Zos "Sufi Traditions", (Internet Source), 1994; HELMINSKI, Camille Adams "Women & Sufism", (Internet Source), 1996.
    49. IMOS, Zos "Sufi Traditions", (Internet Source), 1994.
    50. LINGS, Martin "Sufism", in ARBERRY, A.J. (ed.) Religion in the Middle East: Three Religions in Concord and Conflict, Cambridge, CUP, 1969, Vol. 2, p264.
    51. In general, see SYED, Naguib al-Attas Some Aspects of Sufism As Understood and Practised Among the Malays, Singapore, Malaysian Sociological Research Ltd, 1963.
    52. IMOS, Zos "Sufi Traditions", (Internet Source), 1994.
    53. Idries Shah is sometimes viewed as not presenting an authentic Sufi tradition, i.e. as a pseudo-Sufi, see ELWELL-SUTTON, L.P. "Sufism and Pseudo-Sufism", Encounter44 no. 5, 1975, pp9-17.
    54. "Which Way Round is Right", in SHAH, Idries The Way of the Sufi, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1968, p192.
    55. ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988 p105.
    56. ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, p109.
    57. LINGS, Martin "Sufism", in ARBERRY, A.J. (ed.) Religion in the Middle East: Three Religions in Concord and Conflict, Cambridge, CUP, 1969, Vol. 2, p268; RENTZ, George "The Wahhabis", in ARBERRY, A.J. (ed.) Religion in the Middle East: Three Religions in Concord and Conflict, Cambridge, CUP, 1969, Vol. 2, pp270-271; RASHID, Ahmed "Revival of Islam", Far Eastern Economic Review, 17 December 1992, p33.
    58. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p57.
    59. For one list of Sufi-related sites on the Web, see http://world.std.com/~habib/index.html
    60. See for example FENARI, Kerim "The Jihad of Imam Shamyl", (Internet Source) 1995.
    61. For one printed Iranian view of the Western failure to protect safe havens in Bosnia as a direct attack on Muslims, see AYATOLLAH KHAMENE'I "In Fulling Our Obligations and Duties Regarding Bosnia, We Will Not Wait For Others", Echo of Islam (Tehran), No. 119, (Extracts from Speech of 20 April 1994), May 1994, pp10-12).
    62. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, pp112-113.
    63. ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, pp268-269. See also BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p7.
    64. RORLICH, Azade-Ayse "Islam and Atheism: Dynamic Tension in Soviet Central Asia", in FIERMAN, William (ed.) Soviet Central Asia: The Failed Transformation, Boulder, Westview Press, 1991, p191; BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p12.
    65. IMOS, Zos "Sufi Traditions", (Internet Source), 1994.
    66. RORLICH, Azade-Ayse "Islam and Atheism: Dynamic Tension in Soviet Central Asia", in FIERMAN, William (ed.) Soviet Central Asia: The Failed Transformation, Boulder, Westview Press, 1991, p189.
    67. Ibid.
    68. Ibid., p190.
    69. HANKS, Reuel "Civil Society and Identity in Uzbekistan: The Emergent Role of Islam", in RUFFIN, M. Holt & WAUGH, Daniel C. (eds) Civil Society in Central Asia, Seattle, Centre for Civil Society International, 1999, p162.
    70. Ibid., p210.
    71. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p112; HUNTER, Shireen "Islam in Post-Independence Central Asia: Internal and External Dimensions", Journal of Islamic Studies, 7 no. 2, 1996, p293. See also FULLER, Graham E. & LESSER, Ian O. A Sense of Siege: The Geopolitics of Islam and the West, Boulder, Westview Press, 1995, p164.
    72. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p30.
    73. OLESEN, Asta Islam and Politics in Afghanistan, Richmond, Curzon Press, 1995, pp52-53; Rashid, Ahmed The Resurgence of Central Asia: Islam or Nationalism?, Karachi, OUP, 1994, p16; ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, p157; ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p5.
    74. WHEELER, G.E. "Islam in the USSR", in ARBERRY, A.J. (ed.) Religion in the Middle East: Three Religions in Concord and Conflict, Cambridge, CUP, 1969, Vol. 2, p149; BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p19.
    75. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, pp24-8.
    76. ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, p158.
    77. BENNIGSEN, Marie "Chechnia: Political Developments and Strategic Implication for the North Caucasus", Central Asian Survey, 18 no. 4, December 1999, pp548-549.
    78. MALAYEV, Arsen "Caucasus War Could Spread", ABC Newsworld, 13 August 1999 [Internet Access].
    79. FREDHOLM, Michael "The Prospects for Genocide in Chechnya and Extremist Retaliation against the West", Central Asian Survey, 19, nos. 3-4, September-December 2000,p321.
    80. ZAKARIA, Rafic The Struggle Within Islam: The Conflict Between Religion and Politics, N.Y., Penguin, 1988, pp157-8.
    81. HANKS, Reuel "Civil Society and Identity in Uzbekistan: The Emergent Role of Islam", in RUFFIN, M. Holt & WAUGH, Daniel C. (eds) Civil Society in Central Asia, Seattle, Centre for Civil Society International, 1999, pp158-179, pp166-167.
    82. Ibid., pp168-169.
    83. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, pp101-103, p111.
    84. The definitive text remains BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985.
    85. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p108.
    86. Ibid., p36, p74.
    87. OLESEN, Asta Islam and Politics in Afghanistan, London, Curzon Press, 1995, p50; BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p59.
    88. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p8, p59.
    89. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p36, p76, p52, p58, p67, pp76-77; FALARTI, Maziar M. "Sufism in Central Asia", Unpublished Research Paper, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University, Queensland, Australia, 1996, p19.
    90. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p77.
    91. ARBERRY, A.J. Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, London, Allen & Unwin, 1950, p27.
    92. FALARTI, Maziar M. "Sufism in Central Asia", Unpublished Research Paper, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University, Queensland, Australia, 1996, p19.
    93. BENNIGSTEN, A. & WIMBUSH, S. Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985, p3.
    94. ANGHA, Nahid "About Sufism", from Principles of Sufism, (Internet Source), February 1991.
    95. ERNST, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism, Boston, Shambhala, 1997, p11.
    96. Ibid.
    97. Ibid., p99.
    98. Ibid., p176.
    99. Ibid., p178.
    100. Ibid., p8.
    101. LEWIS, Franklin D. Rumi: Past and Present, East and West, Oxford, Oneworld, 2003, p2.

    7. Bibliography and Further Resources
    Resources
    A short account of Islam in Central Asia will be found at http://info.irex.org/publications/policy-papers/islam.htm#history
    A range of material on Sufism and Sufi orders is collected athttp://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/Sufism.html/sufism/sufism/ibnarab.html
    A useful website with a mass of material on Rumi, including translations of his poetry, will be found at http://www.rumionfire.com/
    An update of material on Rumi can be found at http://www.oneworld-publications.com/Rumi/
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    Essays in History, Politics and Culture: Copyright © R. James Ferguson 2007