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Sufi Magic and Mysticism

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.islam.sufism,alt.sufi,alt.magick,talk.religion.misc,alt.religion.wicca
From: haramullah 
Subject: Sufi Magic and Mysticism (was Islam, Sufism, Magic and More!)
Date: Sat, 29 Sep 2001 07:15:34 GMT

50010928 VI! om Hail Satan! Hail Allah!

assalam alaykum, my kin.

"Slp" :
>There are basically two kinds of magic.  

only two?! :>

>One where one attempts to control or command or force various entities 
>and powers without permission, and one where one does things by permission.

this is too simplistic. not everyone operates within a system in which
'permission' is necessary. you're describing this from your own Muslim
perspective or from that of the conventional religious (and therefore
mention 'permission' intending to be permission from a religious
authority implies Muslim magic). I can agree that there are two 
categories of Muslim magic (permitted and without permission).  I'll 
proceed within this context of discussion and rename the Subject header 

>If one stops to think about  it, how can one really safely control or
>command an entity or power more powerful and more knowledgeable than 
>oneself without permission or without a greater force or power on one's 
>side?  And still survive, that is.

one would need to have bolstering magical *tools* or reservoirs of
power from which to draw. comparable to non-magical engagement.

>At one time in the far past, there was supposedly a small sufi order that
>did practice magic or what would today be called sorcery as a method to
>achieve enlightenment.  

are you familiar with mystical objectives and siddhi-like powers
conventionally associated with spiritual development? there is the
ability to convey miracles and there is the apparent misperception
of power where the actuality lies beyond the comprehension of the mage
(at least as described by a number of mystics). the former is 
considered by many Muslims to be 'permitted magic' while the latter 
is considered 'ignorant fooling with the ways of Allah'. perhaps this
is to what you were alluding above.

>...few if any survived the process, as powerful entities do not like being
>commanded and ordered around by humans and are constantly looking for a 
>way out that usually results in the destruction of the human or the human
>becoming under the control of the entity or entities.  

is it possible that the mere fact of being on the side of Allah predisposes
these entities toward either hating or loving the Muslim magician? I have
considered this seriously about the Jewish and Christian magician, mostly
because there are many Christians, for example, or Solomonic mages at least,
who take an adversarial attitude, arrogantly ordering the spirit/djinn/efreet
around and expecting to be obeyed without question because of the wielded
Power of their Almighty.

I wonder whether taking a more conversational, less adversarial, attitude,
treating these beings with respect that even some Muslims say they are
due, might not result in a less dangerous interaction. in any case this is
the first time I've really heard much from a Muslim about how magic is
conducted outside Sufi orders and folk magic.

>Most, if not all of these sufis were destroyed by the entities they 
>worked with.  Highly undesirable.

the texts describing sufi magic I have do not mention having any sort
of trek with powerful entities other than Allah. I quote some below.

>The sufi magic that you speak of does not really come from books.  Certain
>sufi individuals are granted certain permissions or given certain authority
>to do certain things in order to accomplish the task or tasks that Allah has
>set before them.  As a result, they have certain perceptual abilities that
>allow them to know that a certain verse or verses of the Quran will have a
>desired effect in a given situation and how to use this,  by their knowledge
>or reading of the Quran with this special perception.  People see this and
>think, oh, sufi magic or Quranic magic.  Whatever you call it, it is
>something that is granted from Allah and is not even given to many sufis.

are there constants in what is granted? is what is granted ever of a
spell-like or ritual quality?

>Then there is the stuff that the majority of magical practitioners attempt,
>which works fitfully, if at all.  Primarily because they are doing it by
>rote, without any perception of events on the level on which they think they
>are working.  It is kind of like memorizing a set of computer commands, and
>typing them into the computer without having a computer moniter to see what
>they are doing.

yes, like a science. this is how some see the magical art also, as some
way of using the Creation to one's advantage based on the inner workings
made possible by the Creator. this is the idea also behind what is
called the Doctrine of Signatures -- a purposive essence discernable
in form and associated function sown into the Creation by the Creator. 
it should be considered at least a kind of proto-science, if not a
spiritual or acausal scientific lattice.

>There are many entities in the other world that do not care for or are
>indifferent to humans.  

again I wonder whether this is true of all humans or just those whose
cosmology is adversarial to the entities. if you didn't worship a God
whose preferences may be adverse to their way of living, if you didn't 
have the attitude toward them that you do, I wonder if they would have a
different attitude. if they are pagan gods, for example, displaced by
monotheists to lesser status and focus of attention, maybe they would 
harbour fewer grudges if you treated them with greater respect.

>Once one goes too far into magic, one leaves the
>protection (yes, this world is protected and under protection, for the most
>part) that Allah has set up for the human race, and one either has to fend
>for themself or they need to have have aligned oneself with something
>greater than themself, and hopefully greater than any entity in this world
>and the next.  

where does the power come from for those entities aside from Allah?
it is said that there are some powerful djinn, for example, who are
extremely devout Muslims. are they granted power by Allah to effect
the work of Creation on the order of angelic beings described by
Jews, Christians, Solomonic and Hermetic magicians, or are angels
of a fundamentally different order of being?

>Because there are some entities out there that we are like
>minnows or frogs to, and they are great whales.  And sometimes, if they are
>involved with a human being, and you try to help that human being, they
>attempt to either hurt or destroy the human being they are involved with,
>and attack the one that is trying to help with magic.  

in the Hermetic world these entities would probably be compared with what
H.P. Lovecraft envisaged: indifferent or antagonistic gargantuans shambling
about stepping on humans who get in their way. asking why Allah allows them 
such power is probably little different than the age-old Problem of Evil.

>helpless and can easily become the target of another entity.  And if one
>uses all of their energy to help one of [their victims], then one has nothing
>with which to defend oneself and one very easily becomes the target.  Which
>is why this is best left to the sufis who have the authority granted by
>Allah to utilize power and knowledge that does not come from them, but from
>Allah.  Even then, they suffer, and sometimes fail, because of their human

how can you tell who is and who is not granted the power by Allah? is it
only sufis who do? if so, how can you tell who is a real sufi and who is
just faking it?

>And if you still are considering pursuing magic because you consider magic
>power to be just a force of the universe, remember that that force is not
>only more powerful than you, it is more intelligent than you, and what
>happens if it doesn't like you?

does the force of which you speak have a name? does it have preferences,
such that we might appease it or placate it so it won't hurt us? how did
you determine its intelligence and power?

here are some things I have read about sufi magic, I'd appreciate your
comments in response to the pertinent points made by Idries Shah here:

	Magic is a training system as much as it is anything else.
	It may be based upon experience, upon tradition of celestial
	or other ascription, upon religion. Magic not only assumes
	that it is possible to cause certain effects by means of
	certain techniques; it also schools the individual in those
	techniques. Magic, as we know it today, may be subject to
	every form of rationalization. It embodies, taken as a whole
	corpus of collected material, minor processes such as small
	hypnotic techniques, and beliefs which attempt to duplicate
	natural happenings. While Sufism cannot be taken apart to
	see what its constituents are, the magical tradition, because
	it is a truly composite one, can in fact be so dissected. We
	are only concerned with that part -- a very large part -- of
	magic which is involved in the effort to produce new
	perceptions and to develop new organs of human development.

[note the similarity of aim and conception with many other kinds 
 of mysticism here, inclusive of the Hermetics -- haramullah]

	Looked at in this light, a great part of the human 
	heritage of magical practice (which often includes religious
	practices) is seen to have geen concerned with this quest.
	Magic is not so much based upon assumptions that things 
	can be done which transcend the normal man's capabilities,
	as upon the intuitive feeling that, if you like, "faith can
	move mountains." Those magical activities which are designed
	to exercise the projection of thought or ideas at a distance,
	or to see the future, or to attain a contact with a source
	of superior knowledge, all carry their echo of a dim human
	consciousness that there is a possibility of man's taking
	part consciously in the work of evolution; and the feeling
	of a stirring, evolving organ of perception beyond those
	senses which are formally recognized by physical science
	as it stands today.

	Magic, then, to a Sufi, is judged according to Sufic
	criteria. Is it involved in the development of man? If it
	is, where does it stand in relation to the main Sufi
	stream? Magic is seen, Sufistically, as generally a
	deterioration of a Sufic system. The methodology and repute
	of the system continues, but the essential contact with the
	continuing destiny of the system is lost. The magician who
	seeks to develop powers in order to profit by certain
	extraphysical forces is following a fragment of a system.
	Because of this, the warnings against terrible dangers in
	magical dabbling or obsession are frequent, almost
	invariable. It is too often assumed that the practitioners
	imposed a ban on casual magic because they wanted to
	preserve a monopoly. From the long-term viewpoint it is far
	more evident that the practitioners themeselves have an
	imperfect knowledge of the whole of the phenomenon, some of
	whose parts they use. The "terrible dangers" of electricity
	are not dangers at all to the man who works continuously
	with electricity, and has a good technical knowledge.

	Magic is worked through the heightening of emotion. No
	magical phenomena take place in the cool atmosphere of the
	laboratory. When the emotion is heightened to a certain
	extent, a spark (as it were) jumps the gap, and what
	appears to be supernormal happenings are experienced.
	Familiar as an example to most people are poltergeist
	phenomena. They appear only where there are adolescents
	or others in state of relatively continuous nervous
	(emotional) tension. They hurl stones, seem to cancel
	the force of gravity, move tremendously heavy objects.
	When the magician is trying, shall we say, to move a
	person or an object, or influence a mind in a certain
	direction, he has to go through a procedure (more or
	less complicated, more or less lengthy) to arouse and
	concentrate emotional force. 

[note the psychicism-oriented and spiritualism-oriented perspective
 on magical technology and effects; perhaps this locates at least
 Shah and perhaps Sufis like him in time and space -- haramullah]

	                             Because certain emotions
	are more easily aroused than others, magic tends to
	center around personal power, love and hatred. It is
	these sensations, in the undeveloped individual, which
	provide the easiest fuel, emotion, "electricity" for
	the spark to jump the gap which will leap to join a
	more continuous current. When the present-day
	followers of the witchcraft tradition in Europe speak
	of their perambulation of a circle, seeking to raise
	a "cone of power," they are following this part of
	the magical tradition.

[this is also the contention of Satanists like Anton LaVey --
 his ideas about magic are emotion-based also, though he doesn't
 seem to want to believe it effective for more than personal
 transformation on the order of deconditioning (Greater Black
 Magick, these Satanists have named it; otherwise 'High Magic'
 as named by Hermetici magicians and even Shah here -- haramullah]

	But the seer, who places himself into a certain state
	in order to penetrate beyond the time barrier, and  the
	magician, who undergoes a course of training in order
	to attain a specific object, differ from the Sufi. The
	Sufi's task is to so organize himself as to make it
	possible for the meaningful operation of an organ of
	perception and action which will have a continuing
	effect. The seer and the magician, like many of the
	Christian mystics, are not wholly regenerated or	
	reconstituted in the process....

	Everyone should read Miss Underhill's book, *Mysticism*;
	and almost anyone who is interested in mysticism will
	generally be found to have done so. She points out a
	similarity of thinking between the religious and the
	magicial, between the mystic and the magus. To the Sufi,
	this similarity is in the end contained in the concept
	of "forward-reaching." This is the origin of the human
	movement toward, among other things, civilization,
	toward progress, toward more knowledge. 

[there appears to be a shared focus upon knowledge amongst the
 Gnostics, Sufis, and Hermetics, perhaps as a remedy for the
 torment of uncertainty, perhaps in order to persuade toward
 conversion toward their preferred religions -- haramullah ]

	                                        Miss Underhill
	considers that the mystic wants to "be" and the magically
	minded wants to "know." The Sufi attitude is undoubtedly
	that of "being;" but, unlike the familiar type of mystic,
	he will use "knowing" as well. He distinguishes between
	the ordinary knowing of facts and the inner knowing of
	reality. His activity connects and balances all these
	factors -- understanding, being, knowing.

	Sufi methodology, too, organizes the emotional force,
	which the magician tries to explode, into a correctly
	running fuel for operating the mechanism for being and

	Both high magic and ordinary mysticism, viewed in this
	light, become for the Sufi merely the struggling on of a
	partial methodology which will simply reproduce its own
	pattern. Unless it evolves far enough to enable it to
	reproduce more than it inherited, unless, in fact, there
	is a genetic amplification of scope and sufficient power
	of reproduction of that scope, the whole thing is a
	creaking anachronism. At the best it is an escape from
	the destiny of the individual and the community.

	Are magical-type rituals a part of the genuine tradition
	of Sufis? They are not. For the Sufi, certain symbols
	will have associative and certain dynamic functions.
	These he will use, or be influenced by, instinctively.
	"The Sufis", Idries Shah, Doubleday Anchor, 1971; 
	 pp. 378-81.

it is obvious that Shah does not wish to attempt to make any
connection whatever between magic of a mystical character, or 
what is essentially compatible with mysticism, and that which 
could be described as 'magic for practical purposes' (as for
love, sex, money, revenge), though he mentions two in passing 
(hatred, love).

the next quote from Shah is far more interesting, as it begins
to delve into what he prefers, at least in *this* context, to
call 'magic', though apparently not ritualistic in form:

	*Occult phenomena associated with degrees of the Sufi Path:*

	1. *Mujiza* (Miracles).
	   Performed only by prophets.

	2. *Karamat* (Wonders).
	   E.g.: walking on water, prediction of the future.

	3. *Mu'awanat* (Supernatural Thaumaturgy).
	   E.g.: flying, annihilation of space.

	4. *Sihr* (Lawful or 'white' magic; performed by
		   by permission of the Sheikh).
	"Oriental Magic", Idries Shah, Arkana Books, 1993; p. 72.	

it is obvious these are merely 'powers' or 'siddhis' perhaps 
until stage 4, where the magic becomes "permitted" by the
spiritual authority. Shah characterizes these effects not as
the result of spells, conjurations, or incantations, nor even
as a result of the assistance by powerful beings, but just as
'occult phenomena', and we are left wondering whether they are
legends intended to attract the convert and deny the speciality 
of legendary figures proclaimed unique in the annals of 
religious history (e.g. Jesus walking on water or, comparable 
to other text of Shah unquoted here, raising the dead, as Sufis 
as sometimes described as doing) or if he has any knowledge
whatever of conventional notions of magical practice (the
use of sympathy, contagion, etc., discussed at length by
sources like Frazer, Bonewits and others, for example).

ultimately I have been left with the impression that there is
a fundamental character of magic depicted by mystics which
*must* limit it to religious norms and conventions (such as 
what is at least within Sufism called 'permitted') in order to 
compete with folk traditions, place them in an inferior role
with respect to the presumed spiritual authority, and set into
codified restriction that which would otherwise serve up some
kind of competition (as for spiritual, legal, medicinal, or 
political objectives). this is as much true with the contention
and controversy surrounding the issue of spiritually-advanced
humans (look to "saints" or "wali" for this particularly in Sufism)
as to supernatural entities (about which little is said in Sufi
literature, though Shah speaks of the invisible order of saints 
working in the background of mystics and directly comparable
to the 'Great White Brotherhood' of Rosicrucians, 'Secret
Chiefs' of Thelemites, or 'Tibetan Mahatmas' of Theosophists;
Sufis call them 'Invisible Saints', led by an invisible Head of
all Sufis, the 'Qutub', 'Magnetic Pole', 'Polestar', or 'Chief' 
(for more, see "The Sufis", p. 439, "Oriental Magic", p. 74)).

Mabaruk bashad! (that is, "Blessed Be!", as translated by Shah, who
		 says it is a Sufi salutation calling down the 
	         blessing, *baraka*, upon an individual or assembly; 
	         Shah describes Sufis as an ancient spiritual 
	         freemasonry communicating an illuminism lying behind 
	         all these other groups mentioned above; it is somewhat
	         difficult to know how seriously to take him)
emailed replies may be posted  -----   "sa avidya ya vimuktaye"   ----- 
"that which liberates is ignorance"
    hoodoo catalogue: send postal address to

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