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Various: Sufism and Islam

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.sufi,alt.islam.sufism,talk.religion.misc,alt.religion.gnostic,talk.religion.newage,alt.consciousness.mysticism
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Various: Sufism and Islam
Date: 23 Dec 1997 22:03:41 -0800

Jim Bier :

imo, when the claim is made that Mohammad is the  'final' or ultimate Prophet of
God it sounds like the Christians' claim that Jesus is the 'only' Son of God.
Both claims are exclusive and seek to limit God's action in history, again, imo.
In Jesus' case the claims are also contrary to what Jesus himself said.  I am
quite ignorant of the life of the Prophet.  Did he himself claim to be the last
prophet?  If history records that he did, I would think that likely to be the
same kind of error as the recorded expectation of Jesus that he would return
'triumphant' in the lifetime of his disciples.  My intention here is not to
offend, but to explore and understand.

jim bier wrote:

> To a Muslim in tasawwuf, the whole idea of Sufism somehow predating Islam
> looks very odd.  It would be like saying that Adam came before humanity.
> As for Sufism being the essence of all the religions, present from the very
> beginning of the human race, found among all peoples of the earth, we will
> certainly agree to that.  It's just that whatever you say of Sufism along
> these lines is also true of Islam.  It has become the habit of non-Muslims to
> think of the definition of "Islam" being limited to the revelation brought by
> Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah, peace and blessing upon him, 1400 years ago.  From
> our perspective, all the prophets beginning with Adam were prophets of Islam,
> and Muhammad was the Seal of Prophethood with the final revelation.
> While the idea of Sufism that has popularly spread--that it is the original,
> universal essence of all religions--is essentially true, this is just another
> way of saying that it is Islam that is the original, universal essence of all
> religions.  All the prophets from Adam to Muhammad brought essentially the
> same message.


I'd like to follow up on Yaya's explanation which I think is an answer to the
question from the point of view of meaningfulness rather than factualness,
thought the two are related. 
 There is a view which may or may not be shared by many sufis and that is
that all religions are exemplars of various states of consciousness. That if
one divided the one conscioiusness into the various states the religions
would represent them. Isam is different from the other states in that it
represents a state of subsistence in God rather than a state of the absenting
of self (they call it anhilation of self but perhas what is meant is God
subsitsing in self - the distinction between the two is an important one but
one should be reminded that it is all part of one process) . This final state
in the progression has an essence like that of smoke, which is to say that it
is represented by ether rather than that of a physical element. It stands for
the achievement of unity. There is, however, another state of consciousness,
after all of these states of consciousness which is not represented by a
religion in that it is not a separate state (or station if you will) in that
it does not occur by itself so to speak. While the last station of
consciousness (lets call it Islam) can be characterized by the state of being
finally unified, the station further than the last station is a station which
is the tie between the stations. While the last station is the result of the
process the further station is the overview of the process itself. 
  While the station of Islam is characterized by the viewing of God through
his/her traces (one could also characterize other religions by analyzing
their viewpoint, ie the methodology of the consciousness that they
represent). This further station represents the knowledge of God that one has
if the names of God were taken away.  
  The sufi, therefore is the one who represeents the knowledge of God that
one has if the names of God were taken away, but this knowledge does not
occur outside of the names. It is like saying the knowledge one has of Mozart
irrespective of any of his musical compositions. Of course, one cannot know
Mozart without knowing his works of music, they are the same thing.
  The same is true for all the different stations; you can't know that which
links them without knowing them, though that which links them is not the same
as them.
  But, the most important thing is to realize that by dividing it all up into
differenet religions, or different states of consciousness one should not
loose sight of the fact that it is really only one religion, only one state
of consciousness, our dividing is only done to serve a useful purpose. 
So, I've been trying to say what Yaya said without using any "terminology'
and trying to show how what Yaya is not saying (though many Muslims do say
it, and most non-Muslims assume that what Muslims are allways meaning is the
following): that Islam is the "best" religion, that you'd better not speak of
a prophet who comes after 1400 because it is impossible, or that Islam is the
preferd religion, or anything like that. But I do think that what Yaya is
saying, is something that one can easily agree with if you are asking the
question, which came first Sufism or Islam, as long as you are considering
the question from the point of view of meaning rather than an
historical/factual view ... from the historicl/factual veiw, if one were to
ask, "Did humanity exist before Adam?" one would have to say, "I don't think
you can document this person named Adam, and in fact the first human was, by
deffinition of genetics, a woman."
  One should not confuse trying to trace the roots and specific existance of
an historical group with tracing the inner reality of that group even though
they are both interconnected and of interest.  The same problem shows itself
with the idea that Isalm is the final revelation ... if you are looking at it
as a historical factual thing then the questions don't apply in the same way
as they would if you were looking at it from the point of view of
meaning..... so if you were to ask are there prophets after Mohammed one
could say yes, and at the same time if one were to ask was Mohammed the seal
and last of the prophets, one could also answer, yes.
- Asha


Yahya M :

Thank you, ASHA.  What I was trying to express is the universal meaning of
Islam.  I understand that not everyone realizes that it has a universal
meaning.  We still meet with this notion held by some that Islam is that
"Arab" thing from Arabia.  Allah sent 124,000 prophets and messengers to every
people, each speaking the language of his people.  The external cultural
specifics of each instance of the revelation naturally vary from nation to
nation and from era to era, as languages vary.  The inner gist of the
revelation is essentially the same for all.  The message of tawhid (oneness). 

What Muslims would like to get across is that the meaning of the word "Islam"
does not rule out any nation, whether Hindu, Japanese, Bantu, or Arapaho.
"Islam" does not equal Arabism.  Allah sent messengers again and again
throughout the ages to renew the essential message.  A few examples:

To the ancient Egyptians, who were ruled by magic, Allah sent Moses with signs
that outdid Pharaoh's master magicians---to break up the people's ingrained
habitual thought patterns, to get them to consider Divine Reality afresh.  

To the Jews, who were skilled in the healing arts, Allah sent Jesus, who
healed lepers, made the blind see and the deaf hear, and raised the dead.
Again, to make them wake up and realize.

To the Arabs, whose supreme art was poetry in the complex, subtle, intricate
classical Arabic language, Allah sent Muhammad with the Qur'an, the clear
Arabic eloquence of which left the champion Arab poets dumbfounded.  When they
heard the word of Allah, they had to know it was the truth, as long as they
allowed their hearts to be open.  One Arab poet actually stuffed wads of wool
into his ears when he went near the Prophet because the Meccan oligarchy had
warned him against the Qur'an.  When he decided that he could think for
himself and unstopped his ears, he realized that he was hearing the truth from
Allah and accepted Islam.

As for the Hindus, consider that some Indian Sufis identified the Upanishads
with divine revelation mentioned in the Qur'an, the "Book kept hidden (kitab
maknun)" (Qur'an 56:78).

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