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Lakum dinukum wa-leyah dini


Subject: Lakum dinukum wa-leyah dini

What follows is my response to a severely edited version of Shaikh 
Hisham's expression to Shaikh Adly, this latter recently posted to 
Usenet's soc.religion.islam.

|To: soc.religion.islam
|From: (Mateen Siddiqui)
|Date: 49940917
|Quoting: |Shaikh Hisham and |>Shaikh Adly

|>1. What is Tassawuf? 

|The term Tasawwuf was not known in the time of the Prophet (s).
|However,...even though the name is new, the essence of it is part and 
|parcel of the religion and cannot be separated out from it. 

My understanding is that the religion is largely what is discussed
in this essay.  If one were to judge only by this essay one might think
that nowhere within Sufism were there practices or concepts with which
orthodox Muslims might take issue, yet even within the Tariqas Elist
we have heard that such is not the case.  Shah points out the fallacy 
of such a contention, yet we might say that for *Sufis* the religion 
is indeed inseparable from the Din.

|The Linguistic Roots of the Word 'Tasawwuf'
|There are four roots given to the word "tasawwuf." The first of the
|roots of the word tasawwuf is from the Arabic word "safa." This word
|means "pure like crystal, transparent like water." It is used to refer
|to the purity and transparency of a clean heart.
|There are many other explanations for the word "tasawwuf." Another one
|is that it is derived from "Ahl as-Suffa," (the People of the Bench),
|who were the people who lived in the Mosque of the Prophet (s) during
|his life....
|The third of these roots is the word "as-siffa"--"the characteristics
|or attributes of carrying goodness and leaving badness"
|The fourth linguistic root is from "Souffattul-kaffa" which means "a
|soft sponge" as the Sufi, which is the noun derived from that word, is
|like a sponge, whose heart is very soft due to its purity.

Idries Shah writes:

"As there is no standard appellation for Sufism, the inquirer may
turn to the word *Sufi* itself, and discover that it suddenly became
current about a thousand years ago, both in the Near East and Western
Europe; and it is still in general use to describe particularly the
best product of certain ideas and practices, by no means confined to
what people would conventionally call 'religious'.  He will find
plenty of definitions for the word, but his problem is now reversed:
instead of coming up against a mere label of no great age, he gets so
many descriptions of *Sufi* that he might as well have none at all.

"According to some authors, and they are in the majority, *Sufi* is
traceable to the Arabic word, pronounced *soof*, which litrally [sic]
means 'wool', referring to the material from which the simple robes
of the early Muslim mystics were made.  These, it is further claimed,
were made of wool in imitation of the dress of Christian anchorites
who abounded in the Syrian and Egyptian deserts and elsewhere in the
Near and Middle East.

"But this definition, plausible though it may appear, will not solve
our problem as to name, let alone ideas, in Sufism.  Equally important
lexicographers, however, stress that 'wool is the garb of animals' and
emphasize that the Sufi objective is towards the perfectioning [sic]
or completing of the human mind, not the emulation of a herd; and that 
the Sufis, always highly conscious of symbolism, would never adopt such 
a name.  Furthermore, there is the awkward fact that the Companions of 
the Bench -- the *Ashab as-Safa -- are traditionally supposed to have 
been the Sufis of the Time of Mohammed (who died in A.D. 632).  It is 
said that they formed themselves into an esoteric group in the year 623, 
and that their name is a derivation from the phrase *Ashab as-Safa*.  
Although some grammarians have pointed out that the 'wool' origin is 
etymologically more likely - and more probable than, say, the derivation 
from *safwa* ('piety'), or even *saff* (contracted from the phrase 'First 
Rank of the Worthy') -- others have contested such opinions on the ground 
that nicknames do not have to abide by the rules of orthography.

"Now the name is important as an introduction to the ideas....  
The Sufis claim that a certain kind of mental and other activity can 
produce, under special conditions and with particular efforts, what 
is termed higher working of the mind, leading to special perceptions
whose apparatus is latent in the ordinary man.  Sufism is therefore
the transcending of ordinary limitations.  Not surprisingly, in
consequence, the word *Sufi* has been linked with the Greek word for
divine wisdom (*sophia*) and also with the Hebrew cabbalistic term
*Ain Sof* ('the absolutely infinite').  It would not reduce the
problems of the student at this stage to learn that it is said, with
all the authority of the _Jewish Encyclopaedia_, that Hebrew experts
regard the Cabbala and the Hasidim, the Jewish mystics, as originating
with Sufism or a tradition identical with it.  Neither would it
encourage him to hear that, although the Sufis themselves claim that
their knowledge has existed for thousands of years, they deny that it
is *derivative*, affirming that it is an equivalence of the Hermetic,
Pythagorean and Platonic streams.

"Our still uninitiated student may by now be thoroughly confused; but
he has had a glimpse of the problems of studying Sufi ideas, even if
only because he can witness for himself the unproductive struggle of
the scholastics."

_The Way of the Sufi_, by Idries Shah, pp. 13-5.

|Tasawwuf = Tazkiyyat an-Nafs 
|The term Tasawwuf was used to identify the way of cleansing the heart,
|originally called Tazkiyyat an-Nafs in the Qur'an, but which became
|known later as the Science of Tasawwuf. 
|The Science of Tassawuf teaches one to look at one's self and to purify 
|oneself.... and teaches one to dress oneself with the perfect attributes 
|(as-siffat ul-kamilah), such as Repentance (tawba), God-Consciousness 
|(taqwa) , keeping to the Straight Way (istiqaama), truthfulness (sidq), 
|sincerity (ikhlaas), Abstention (zuhd), Piety (war'a), Reliance on Allah 
|(tawakkul), contentment with the decree (ar-ridaa'), surrender to Allah 
|(at-tasleem) , good manners (al-adab), love (muhabbat), remembrance 
|(Dhikr), watchfulness (muraqaba), and many, many other qualities too 
|numerous to mention in detail here.
|...the Science of Tasawwuf [has] numerous classifications of both the
|good characteristics (akhlaaqan hassana) ...and the bad characteristics 
|(akhlaaq idh-dhameema) order to attain the state of Ihsan -- 
|i.e. to become a muhsin.

This appears to be a very important principle, purification of the qalb,
or heart.  My understanding is that the heart is the organ by which we
are able to receive the communications of Allah, sort of like a barometer
or psychic sensor.  The traditional teaching appears to be that as one
falls out of phase with the Way of Allah, the heart, sometimes as a result
of interference by the Great Adversary (Shaitan), is 'stopped up' or 
'hidden', prevented from its proper function/perception.  

Of course for Sufis an important method of assessment is through the
evaluation of another's 'manners' (adab), behavior.  Some sufis beyond 
the religion would of course not consider this an appropriate measure 
as the social norms do not always indicate to them the Way of Allah.

[Elements of the Din: Islam, Iman and Ihsan]

|...Jibril (as) ...categorized religion into three pillars or essential 
|components. The first is the pillar of Islam. The second is the pillar 
|of Iman and third is the pillar of Ihsan. 
|We can summarize this by saying, Islam prescribes the behaviour of a
|Muslim, Iman relates to his beliefs and defines them, and Ihsan refers
|to the state of the heart which determines whether one's Islam and
|Ihsan will bear fruit in this life and the next.  
|...Islam is divided into five components: shahada, salaat, zakat,
|sawm, hajj. Iman is divided into six: al-Imanu billahi, malaa'ikatihi,
|kutubihi, rusulihi, Yawm al-aakhir, Qadar. Ihsan is divided into many
|parts, including all good character and qualities of a believer under
|its umbrella. These parts include but are not limited to:
|God-consciousness (taqwa), Fear of God (wara'), Abstention (zuhd),
|reverence and humility, (khu'shu and khudhu), patience (sabr),
|Truthfulness (sidq), Trust in God (tawakkul), morality and good
|character (adab)...,  Forbearance (hilm), Compassion (ruhma), 
|Generosity (karam), Humbling one's self (tawada'a), Modesty (haya), 
|Courage (shuja'a) and many other qualities... 
|The first pillar, Islam, is 
|the practical side of the religion, including worship, deeds and other 
|obligations. The state of that pillar is the external side of the self, 
|which is related to the body and the community.... 
|The third aspect of the Din is known as the spiritual aspect of the
|heart, to make one aware when combining the first pillar--which is
|worship, and the second--which is belief, to keep the state that you
|are in the Presence of Allah, as if seeing Him, in all your actions
|and thoughts. And if you cannot see Him--because no one can see Allah
|in this life--then it means you must keep the continuous awareness of
|Allah's Presence in your heart, knowing that He is Aware of every atom
|and every particle in your worship and in your belief--the states and
|qualities of your 'Ibadaat and Iman. As a result it will produce in
|you a state of excellence, a state of high quality, by keeping
|awareness of Allah's vision on oneself and making one taste the
|spiritiual pleasure and that spiritual light of knowledge that Allah
|will direct to your heart from His favors and His grants. That is what
|scholars have termed the Science of Truth, 'ilm al-Haqiqat, and it was
|known by this name in the time nearest to the Prophet, during the
|lives of the Sahaba, as as-Siddiqiyya, the Path of the Siddiqs. Only
|later did it become known by the name of Tasawwuf.
|If we take the dictionary we find that the word Ihsan and its
|derivatives has many meanings and they are: 'hasuna': "become
|excellent, to make good, to seem good, to be beautiful" [To be
|beautiful means to decorate oneself with good attributes, to beautify
|inwardly and outwardly]....  When used as an adjective, it means 
|kindness and an internal attitude and composure.

Frithjof Schuon writes:

"...Islam... proceeds through 'sincerety in unitary faith' and we know
this faith must imply all the consequences logically following from its
content - which is Unity, or the Absolute.  First there is el-iman, the
accepting of Unity by man's intelligence; then, since we exist both
individually and collectively, there is el-islam, the submission of
man's will to Unity, or to the idea of Unity, this second element
relating to Unity considered as a synthesis on the plane of multiplicity;
and finally there is el-ihsan, which expands or deepens the two previous
elements to the point of their ultimate consequence.  Under the influence
of el-ihsan, el-iman becomes 'realization' or 'a certitude that is lived'
-- 'knowing' becomes 'being' -- while el-islam, instead of being limited
to a certain number of prescribed attitudes, comes to include every level
of man's nature; in the beginning faith and submission are hardly more
than symbolical attitudes, although none the less efficacious at their
own level.  By virtue of el-ihsan, iman becomes gnosis, or participation
in the divine Intelligence, and islam becomes 'extinction' in the divine
Being; since participation in the divine is a mystery, no man has a right
to proclaim himself a mu'min ('believing', one possessing iman) though
he can perfectly well call himself muslim ('submitted', one conforming
to Islam); iman is a secret between the servant and his Lord like the
ihsan which determines its level, or 'station' (maqam), or 'secret' 
(sirr), its ineffable reality."

_Understanding Islam_, by Frithjof Schuon, pp. 118-9.

|...This is the essential understanding of Tasawwuf--to combine soul and 
|--Shaikh Hisham Mohammed Kabbani

William Stoddart writes:

"Strictly speaking, the Arabic word *sufi*, like the Sanskrit word *yogi*,
refers only to one who has attained the goal; nevertheless, it is often
applied by extension to initiates who are still merely travelling towards
it.  The word 'initiate' serves to indicate that, in order to embark on
the spiritual path, a special rite of intitiation is an indispensable

"From the foregoing it will be seen that Sufism (tasawwuf) comprises both
esotericism and initiation, haqiqa and tariqa, doctrine and method."

_Sufism_, by William Stoddart, pp. 20-1.

May we all come to see the center of the sufi-circle, which cannot be
expressed yet which encompasses each path to Unity.

La ilaha illa 'Llah.  Muhammadun rasulu 'Llah.


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