Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Part Two: The Imperative Requirements Of Sufism.

In Part One a conclusion has been reached to the effect that the essence of Sufism is quite similar,if not identical, to the essence of Islam. Hence, one may consider Sufism as, at least, a "persuasion" of Islam, if not a full pledged "Order" of Islam.

In this essay, an attempt will be made to outline the imperative requirements to become a genuine Sufi. These requirements are mainly four stages or rather levels a potential Sufi has to climb and go through as climbing on a ladder having four steps. That means one cannot possibly reach at the fourth step of the ladder without passing the first,second and third step. If you want to call them steps that is fine,if that helps you comprehend what is involved in each step and finally what is really involved in the totality of the four steps. The writer of this essay prefers to call the four steps as The Four Levels of Sufism. The first level is the foundation of the second level,and the first and second levels are the foundation of the third level,and finally the first,second and third levels are the foundation of fourth level.

The main intent of the writer of this essay is to try to provide the readers,especially the novice readers,with a degree of comprehension of Sufism and what a Sufi has to go through in order to become a genuine Sufi. It certainly is not easy to reach the final level.

The Imperative Requirements Of Sufism:
As mentioned in the Introduction above, in order to become a Sufi, one must go through and must understand the four essential levels of Sufism. Those four essential levels of Sufism are called by the writer of this essay, as The Imperative Requirement Of Sufism, for the purpose of stressing the extreme importance of understanding the four levels. The usage of the word,"Imperative" in the title seems to fit splendidly. Let us explore the four levels as briefly as possible:

Level One Is "Shari'ah" :
"Shari'ah" is an Arabic word that means a " Pathway", although most books and other essays called it "Religious Laws". Yes, the meaning of "Shari'ah" can be used to mean "Religious Laws", as long as the larger meaning of "Shari'ah" is not forgotten, but kept in mind. Since the fundamental intent of religious laws is to deal with the affairs of Muslims in justice and peaceable manners-a just and peaceable "Pathway". Such affairs can encompass a variety of human issues,ranging from marriage to divorce to burial to inheritance etc...and these affairs need some kind of an enlightenment to treat justly. Such an enlightenment is the" Religious Laws". The potential Sufi must know all the religious laws and become a reliable scholar in their interpretations. This is considered as an  external dimension of Sufism.

Level Two is "Tariqah" :
"Tariqah" is an Arabic word that means a "Method". A university student in chemistry or physics, for example, must be formally trained in a set of experiments in the laboratory to prove certain and well  specified theoretical principle or concept. The theoretical principle or concept has to stand the laboratory tests or laboratory scrutiny. Otherwise,the theoretical principle or concept will be false and consequently rejected. By a similar analogy,the potential Sufi must know his theoretical or rather the abstract values of his or her morality and ethics and spiritual belief and test them in the laboratory of the mundane world and see how strongly his inner self or her inner self can withstand the confusion,misery and entropy of humanity. In short, the potential Sufi must know his or her inner perception as he or she follows the worldly concepts of ethics,morality and justice provided by Shari'ah. This, too, is considered an external dimension of Sufism.

Level Three Is "Haqiqah" :
"Haqiqah" is an Arabic word that means the "Truth". When the word truth is written with capital "T" as such as "Truth",it means the "Absolute Truth", "The Divine" or God. As the potential Sufi passes the first two levels outlined above,he or she will know the inner meaning what he or she has experienced in Shari'ah and Tariqah. With such experiences the prospective Sufi will know the presence of God within himself or herself. In other words,the "Truth", within oneself cannot be attained without the tough experiences and test of time, as one encounters in Shari'ah and Tariqah. When that happens,the future Sufi will discover the spirit of God within his or her well being. This is considered an internal dimension of Sufism.

Level Four Is "M'arifah" :
"Ma'rifah" is an Arabic word that means, in the literal sense, "Epistemology", but epistemology has to do with the knowledge of the mundane world. It cannot be used as a meaning of "M 'arifah,since the word "M'arifah" has profound connection with the spiritual truth,not the mundane knowledge. What it really means is that the Sufi in this level has reached a level of profound knowledge characterized with
outstanding wisdom and spiritual thoughts, because of his or her inner communications with The Divine,meaning God.  Only very few, such as a Messenger of God,The Prophets,great Saints,Sages and Imams, can  reach such a level of Spiritual M'arifah . Nevertheless, genuine Sufis try to achieve communications with The Divine-God,through their own ways of Dervish dancing,music and poetry. This is considered the superior dimension of Sufism.

The Exponents Of Sufism :
The recorded history of Sufism shows so many people,Muslims and non-Muslims,who practice Sufism. It is beneficial to remember the following names as the most exponents of Sufism :

*  Al-Rumi.
*  Al-Gazali.
*  Ibn Arabi.

The poetry and prose of Al-Rumi are beautiful.  The wisdom of Al-Ghzali and Ibn Arabi are fascinating. They are worth exploring and learning from.



Monday, November 26, 2012

Part One: Is Sufism A Persuasion Of Islam ?

Although this essay was intended to be an attempt to answer the question:" Is Sufism A Persuasion Of Islam? ", the massive knowledge accumulated from reviews of, and researches about, Sufism and Sufis, had compelled the writer of this essay to divide it into two parts. Part One will be concentrated on answering the question as expressed previously and in the title of this essay. And Part Two will focus on the imperative requirements, in order to be a Sufis,since Sufism without Sufis will remain just a word, having concept and meaning,but with no adherents or practitioners. Hence, in order to develop an objective comprehension of the essence of Sufism, one must be familiar with what it really takes to be a Sufi. Hence, Part Two will show the readers the imperative levels or stages that a man or a woman must meet in order to become a genuine adherent to Sufism.  

 It has always been the intent of the writer to provide the readers with brief outlines of the subject matters he writes about; and avoid burdening the readers with unnecessary information that may confuse the novice reader.

Part One: Is Sufism A Persuasion Of Islam?
The title of this essay is related to an essay entitled, "Sufism And Sufis", dated May 5,2012 and published on this website. Therefore, it is recommended to read it, before reading what is coming bellow in this essay. It is easy to get. Just Google the following words:

Sufism And Sufis By Reviews by Sodium.

In that essay entitled, "Sufism And Sufis" of May 5,2012, the following question has been raised:

Is Sufism an integral part of Islam?

 The answer that was given was "Yes and No". Such an answer has not been satisfactory to some readers, not even to the writer of that essay of May 5, 2012. Hence, this attempt seems to be in order:

The "Yes" Answer is based on the fact that many Islamic scholars, Imams and Historians have considered Sufism as an order of Islam. Also, many of them such as Rumi and Al-Ghazali practiced Sufism and thus considered themselves Sufis.

The "No" Answer is based on the fact that some order of Islam,such as Wahabism,one of the most conservative order of Islam, does not consider Sufism as an integral part of Islam,since it does not believe that dancing,music,poetry and the arts in general, as essentials to worship God, while Sufism and Sufis do. In fact, Sufis are proud of their Sufism. Another reason that gives credence to the "No" Answer is the fact that there are people who are not Muslims, but practice Sufism in their spiritual meditations.

As one considers the facts supporting the "Yes" Answer and the facts supporting the "No" Answer,one finds himself or herself in a dilemma and has to accept both answers until a way is found out of the dilemma and thus consider themselves Sufis.

Perhaps,one way out of the dilemma is to compare the very fundamental tenets of Islam and compare them to the very fundamental tenets of Sufism:

Fundamental Tenets Of Islam:
~ Tawheed, meaning,the belief in the Oneness of God.
~  The Qur'an and authentic Hadiths are the ultimate references,to a Muslim 
~ Adherence to ethics and morality and cleanliness in conducting one's mundane or worldly life.
~ Charity.
~ Humility in prayers to, and love of, God.
~ Adherence firmly to the Five Pillars of Islam.

Fundamental Tenets Of Sufism:
* Tawheed, meaning, the belief in the Oneness of God.
*  The Qur'an and authentic Hadiths are the ultimate references, to a Sufi  
* Adherence to ehthics and morality and cleanliness in conducting one's mundane or worldly life.
* Charity.
* Humility in prayers to, and love of,God.
* Adherence firmly to the five pillars of Islam.
* Practicing dancing, music,singing, or poetry,as tools to reach to, and communicate with, The Divine (God).

Comparing the Fundamental Tenets Of Sufism with the Fundamental Tenets of Islam,as shown above,it is obvious that Sufism has all the six fundamental tenets of Islam. In fact,with the exception of  practicing dancing, music, singing, or poetry that Sufism embodies, all the other five fundamental tenets are identical to the fundamental tenets of Islam. Therefore, Sufism can be considered, at least, a Persuasion of Islam,if not a fully pledged Order of Islam.

Final Words:
The writer of this essay has deliberately used the word "Persuasion" instead of "Order", in due respect to those who do not consider Sufism as an "Order" of Islam, for the two facts pointed out and specified in the course of discussion, in this essay.




Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Scrutiny Of The Slogan:" A Lesser Evil Is Still An Evil.

By Sodium

The slogan, " A lesser evil is still an evil ", is morally and logically correct statement. I have no disagreement with the morality and logic of  such a fine statement. What I do have disagreement with is the intent behind using such a morally and logically fine statement in the last American Presidential campaign to defeat President Obama. During the campaign up to election day on November 6,2012, I had reviewed so many articles, columns and so many blogs that followed them; and the end result of my massive reviews had convinced me that the intent on using such a fine statement was solely used just to defeat President Obama in his bid for re-election. In fact, the voters who were Anti-Obama have changed, intentionally or unintentionally, the essence of a good and fine statement into a slogan, which is usually used in advertisement, publicity or propaganda. Some of them had even dared accusing the voters who planned to vote for the lesser evil, meaning voting for Obama, as being "dishonest? ". " Dishonest?" is my foot.

Because of all of the foregoing, I have found it compelling to write this essay, in order to expose the fallacy of turning a fine statement into a cheap slogan fits nicely for advertisement and propaganda purposes:

In our mundane world, there are only two absolute truths. They are:

~  Ceaseless Changes.
~  Death.

Since the day we are born, we go through Ceaseless Changes and finally we all encounter Death and die, as the following scheme shows:

Baby grows up to Kid----Youth---- Man ---- Middle Age ---- Old Age----- Death.

If one accepts his or her fate as the above scheme shows, he or she must also accept that every other truth in our mundane world must be relative to one other. In other words, what I see as the truth, some one else may not see it so, at all.

In short, as one accepts that the Ceaseless Changes and Death are the only absolute truths human beings encounter in their journey of life on Planet Earth, then and only then, it becomes clear that all other truths are relative, even the strength of the slogan," the lesser evil is still an evil ", is really in its relativity. In it one has "evil" and "lesser evil". Now, let us see how strong such a relativity is by examining  how a legitimate Court of Law handles and treat the following two different evils:

(1)  Deliberate Murder is evil.  Is not it?
(2)  Deliberate Theft, for the sole accumulation of wealth, is evil.  Is not it?

Both evils, listed above, are committed deliberately. Two questions:

Question One:
Is there a legitimate Court of Law, world wide, that can pass the same punishment on the two different acts of evil committed deliberately?  No, sir, there is none, in spite of the fact there is a common denominator connecting the two acts of evil, and that is the word or adverb," Deliberately ".

Question Two:
Since a Court of Law is made up of human beings such as the Judge, Prosecutor, a Lawyer for Defense and Jurors who, by law, are the ones whose actions determine the level or degree of punishment each of the two different acts of evil must face. Since the actors in the Court of Law are human beings who, by law, can pass judgment on two different evils differently, why it is wrong for voters, who are also human beings, cannot  do similarly in an extremely important Presidential Election, as the Jurors and Judge do finally, in a Court of Law? The similarity is truly striking !

A Metaphor:
By way of metaphor, one may consider that the Voters, in a Presidential Election, as the Jurors in a Court of Law, which is the United States. The Voters, acting as Jurors must pass verdicts on two Presidential candidates, one seems and sounds to be more of an evil than the other one. Remember that with the exclusion of the two absolute truths,( Ceaseless Changes and Death ), all other truths are relative. Therefore, those voters who decided to pass their verdicts in favor of the greater evil could do so, since, they felt, it was their prerogative to do so. And those voters who decided to pass their verdicts in favor of a third party, could do so, since, they felt, it was also their prerogative to do so. Those voters who decided to pass their verdicts in favor of Obama were challenged by the slogan," the lesser evil is still an evil ", and even some of them accused the Independent Voters who decided to pass their verdicts in favor of Obama, as " dishonest? "  Most Unreal  !

Those who threw their tactical slogan," A Lesser Evil Is Still An Evil ", on the faces of Independent Voters who were in favor of Obama, in the American Presidential Election of 2012, should also throw it on the faces of the Judges and Jurors of all legitimate Courts of Law, across the United States of America. It is only fair to do so ! And then, it will be interesting to watch what would happen.




Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Note To The Readers Of This Website.

Dear readers,

Shortly, two essays will be posted on this Website. They are:

(1)  A  Scrutiny Of The Slogan: " The Lesser Evil Is Still An Evil ."
(2)  Is Sufism Considered A Persuasion Of  ISLAM ?

I have felt that I have to deal with the first topic (1),  due to the fact that the Independent Voters who decided to vote for  President Obama on November 6,2012 ( American Presidential Election ) were reminded mainly by the third party's (Green Party) supporters that " the lesser evil is still an evil ". It really was a challenge that was worth  exploring for the benefit of all readers who might be interested.

As to the second topic(2) listed above, I have noticed lately,while reviewing the readership of all the topics already published on this website, world wide, a lone reader was digging into the an essay entitled,"Sufism And Sufis" posted on this website on May 25,2012. I want to extend a hand to that reader,whoever he or she might be, and exploring with him or her more about Sufism that may benefit all readers who have interest to know more about the subject of " Sufism ".