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Sufism and Tassawuf

Subject: Re: Sufism and Tassawuf
Date: Tue, 9 Apr 1996 11:30:42 -0400

In a message dated 96-04-08 13:06:17 EDT, you write:

>Now I am wondering, what is the difference between Sufism outside of Islam
>and gnosticism/mysticism?

I would submit that there is a discernably sufic thread that distinguishes a
sufi school from other gnostic or mystical schools.
There may be more, but these traits, taken together, come to mind:
* An emphasis on an holistic, adualistic and embodied spirituality, rather
than the transcendent sort ("Let's get the hell off this rock") approach
typified by the traditional (dualistic) yogas et al. Along with this goes the
philosophical (and ultimately experiential) stance that God is the subject
and creation is the object, and the whole host of implications following from
* Some form of Tasawwuri Murshid
* Some form of zikr, whatever be the outward formula

>Why do those who wish to be Sufis without being Muslims gravitate toward
>Arabic names and selective Islamic practices to a greater extent than
>those of other traditions?
Sometimes this approach is applied by Muslim Sufi teachers who do not
themselves require their students to become (outwardly) practicing Muslims.
 Suleyman Dede, the late Konya Shaikh of the Mevlevi, was one such.  Shaikh
Bulent Rauf was another, and there is Pir Zahumiat in India, the head of two
sufi Orders, who has students who are Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and

I suspect that sometimes there is (selective) use of Arabic/Persian names and
practices because you can only teach what you know.  Another is that there is
enormous barakat embodied in many of the traditional practices, and it would
be foolish to not avail onself of that, if your goal is to lift your students
as high as possible as fast as possible.

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