Bismi'llah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim...for the sake of Prophet Muhammad saws and Sheikh Nazim may Allah protect his secret.
Again, this piece was inspired by the difficulties I am having communicating with non-muslims over at BL, I wanted to try to simplify the inner and outer aspects of the sufi Islamic teaching and show how what is seen in the world today under the name of Islam, is not really Islam at all.
July 29th. 2005. La herradura. Granada. Spain.
Bismi'llah arRahman arRahim.(Alhamduli'llah Rabi'l'alameen ... )
For the sake of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Sheikh Nazim (qs).
May we benefit by our connection with them and may they guard us and guide us to speak properly and well on behalf of the Holy Deen of Islam.
Today I am attempting perhaps the most difficult of tasks I could set myself within the writing/blogging context. I want to try to simplify and encapsulate, in a readable article, the main points which I wish to communicate about Sufism, and it's mystical reality and as a means to understanding true (as opposed to Wahabi) Islam.
Perhaps the main point to understand is that there are two facets of true Islam, the inner and the outer.These are known as "Haqiqat" ( Inner Truth/Reality) and "Shariat" (outer rules regulations and dogma for society and everyday life).Just as there are two facets and names of Allah mentioned in the Koran, He is "Al Dahir wa Al Batin" The Outer (or Manifest) and The Inner (or Hidden).
In most traditional Sufi ways (or "tariqats") it has always been the normal process to enter first shariat and then tariqat.Perhaps in these mixed up times when everything is upside down and turned on its head, especially in the west, it is O.K. to enter in reverse order, or somewhat of both at the same time.Many people of the sixties Hippy/Flower Power generation had experiences which either were,or imitated very closely, mystical experiences.
Although drug induced experiences are never 'real' in the same way as those which occur on the spiritual path/paths,yet they give a taste or a window onto possibilities which can exist within naturally achievable states of the human being through concentration/meditation and asceticism.Perhaps because of these kinds of experience many people of my generation were inspired to look for the authentic and original experience of which the drug induced one is a mere reflection or shadow.(This could be seen as coming to Shariat via Haqiqat.)
Running through all mystical experience there is a thread, which Aldous Huxley named "The Perrenial Philosophy." a name which he used as the title of his well known book tracing the similarity of mystical experience in all religions and spiritual paths.
In this book it can clearly be seen that there is an experience of the Divine, or a state of Oneness, or a higher order of consciousness which has great similarities in its description by mystics wether from Zen Buddhism, or Islamic Sufism or Christianity or Hinduism, to name the main religious contexts.
That experience we might say is a universal archetype within all human beings, perhaps known or recognised as "a spark of the Divine within", and it is accessible either by luck and nature or by relentless spiritual practice and sincere dedication... or a combination of both.
There have been a few, very,very few, who have achieved, or been granted, access to this state on their own, by grace or effort, but the vast majority have to take a master in a living tradition who has achieved that state (passed on to him by another living master) to guide him and care for him and guard him from pitfalls on the way, and set up tests and exercises which are appropriate for his development, leading him gradually to that place where he may experience "oneness with the all", "union with the Divine", or enlightenment,as it is variously known.
It is a process of accessing the 'real self' which resides within and necessitates strict self control and domination/abasement of the ego, combined with prayer,meditation, repetition of mantra or dhikr, (names of God,spiritual phrases) fasting and other ascetic practices, helping to loosen the hold of the desirous sensual ego and strengthen the life of the spirit through concentration and remembrance of the goal, wether that be concieved of as Allah, Emptiness (or Nirvana), meeting Lord Krishna or experiencing the overwhelming love of God through Jesus Christ.
That .. more or less is the inner or mystical part of Islam which sufism traditionally concentrates upon.
There really is no Islam without sufism and there really is no sufism without Islam. Sufism has often been called the essence of all religions but it's true vehicle in these times (i.e. since the advent of Muhammad saws) is Islam.
Any attempt to sustain an Islam which lacks this inner mystical core is like trying to sustain a body without a soul. There is a physical outer body, but no life. It is a useless, unfeeling, unloving, dead thing which may look like Islam but actually lacks any real spirituality.
The living teaching which resides in all religions goes back to a master, Buddha or a Prophet , generically known as "avatars", who has had a huge or very close experience of the Divine Reality ... call it what you will .. (Buddha called it "The Eternal Uncreated" after experiencing it in his great enlightenment, which is not a bad description of God as concieved by many people, the Prophet is said to have come "within two bow lengths" of Allah on his famous "Night Journey.")
It has always been generally accepted that this teaching, this inner, wordless teaching, gets handed down from the original connection (or avatar) through an "inner knowing" to near disciples and from them to the next generation so that a line of transmission is created reaching to the present day which is the life blood of any religion. (Many students of Zen Buddhism are familiar with this system of masters and students and "transmission").
In Islam there is not really a separation of religion and state. Islam is a complete system and its political system could be called a Theocracy, with God (Allah) at the very top, all else tending towards and sublimated to Him Almighty.
When the Prophet (pbuh) died, he did not nominate a successor and,as Allah had arranged it that he had no surviving sons there was not so much question of a blood line being the deciding factor in temporal/religious power.
At that time there was not much need to decide or vote for a leader as it was obvious that the most outstandingly faithful follower of the Prophet and his nearest companion,was Abu Bakr, who naturally became the first Khalifa.
After him the next most obvious one was Omar and then Uthman and then came Ali.
There was always some discussion from some quarters about the fact that Ali was family of the Prophet (pbuh) and therefore had more right to the Khalifate than anyone else, but Allah arranged it in the order cited above and those who stuck by their claims of family rights, became the Shia group.
It can be seen that the overriding characteristic necessary for a Khalifa is spiritual state and station and near connection to the original fountain of revelation and spirituality, although of course a certain temporal wisdom and power is also necessary to rule over others.
At the beginning the Khalifate was not a position desired by anybody because there was real faith in and fear of Allah. The Khalifate was the biggest responsibility that anyone could have on this earth after the Prophet because it carries with it the responsibility for maintaining the religious and spiritual life of the whole community or "Ummah" and it's system of law and justice.
It would have rather been a role "thrust upon one" by an unavoidable and obvious reality of one's sincerity and spiritual state, rather than being a position lusted after for the power and (latterly) priveliges which it conceded.
As it was foreseen by the Prophet (pbuh) that there would be a decline, from the time of himself and his companions, in sincerity and strength of faith and self control, and as it was obvious that human weakness will always play a role in any questions of power, he recommended for his followers not to eagerly replace the Khalifa every time some minor indiscretion or unliked thing was manifetsed by him, as this would obviously bring about instability and weakness in the community, but to try to maintain the status quo, despite even intense dislike of certain actions, unless and until they were "haram" ( expressly forbidden by Islamic law to the extent of being punishable by death.)
This advice has been recorded in well known hadith especially from the close companion "Abu Huraira" (or "Father of cats" as he was known for his love of cats and kittens) and many others and are attested to in the major recognised collections of hadith or authenticated sayings, such as "Sahih Bukhari", used alongside the Koran for religious rulings.
This system of Khalifate was what maintained the strength of the Muslim community or "Ummah" (from an arabic word meaning mother) down to the time of the Ottoman Empire, which was ruled by the Khalifa from Istanbul.
There must be only one final authority in Islam, the Khalifa, and only under such circumstances can jihad ever be declared. There is no jihad without one Khalifa for all Muslims.
The British had for a long time been wanting to do away with the strength of Islam which was already beginning to crumble by the time they became involved in its downfall. The Ottoman Empire was by then known as "The Sick Man of Europe."
Although the Khalifate and its power were centred in Istanbul the two main religious sites of perigrination were always Mecca, where Muhammad was born and raised and where stands the Kaaba, (a cube shaped building dating back to the time of Abraham and rebuilt in the Prophet's lifetime) towards which all Muslim ritual prayer is directed as it is known as "Bait Allah", or The House of Allah, and which is the centre of the rites of Haj, and Medina where the Prophet migrated to when the persecution of the Arab tribes became too strong to withstand in Mecca, and where resides his burial tomb flanked by those of Abu Bakr and Omar (with a space reserved for Jesus after his return) and near which, in the cemetery of the companions, is the tomb of Uthman.
Power in the land of Arabia was basically being disputed by two factions at the time of Ibn al Wahab and Ibn Saud and the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the British saw their chance to infiltrate by backing both, until it should become clear which of the two were winning and then support that one.
Abdl Wahab was from a region known as "Najd" which was proclaimed by the Prophet (also in a well known hadith) to be the place from where would arise trouble for the Ummah, and he refused to bless it, despite being importuned by some companions.
Abdl Wahab's own father and many of his village rejected him and his false teaching when he tried to foist it upon them and he was forced to leave, eventually finding an ally in Ibn al Saud who was basically the leader of ruthless desert tribe and who found in Abdl Wahab's teachings the perfect justification for breaking away from the Khalifate and setting up himself and his tribal family as the rulers of Saudi Arabia. This situation was eagerly encouraged by the British who had unsuccessfuly been trying to invade Kuwait, and through agents such as Philby connection was made and aid, in the shape of arms and money and military support, was given.
The main push of Ibn al Whab's teaching was against the inner living spiritual core of Islam and any connection to, or belief in, the unseen world was abhorred and ruthlessly stamped out.
This included the barbaric killing of many sufi people and any belief that the Prophet had access to the "unseen" or is spiritually alive. The Wahabis efectively try to reduce the status of the Prophet to being like any other human being and refuse to allow any prayers to be made for him or belief that he, or indeed any saintly person alive or dead may intercede with Allah on behalf of a petitioner, (a practice known as "tawasul") even though there is plentiful proof from hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) approved of and encouraged this.
The reign of the Saud family has been marked by the desecration of tombs and holy sites from Saudi Arabia to Iraq and has successfully deprived Islam of its living spiritual tradition, turning it instead into a dogmatic and fanatical tool for power and money through oil sales both for themselves and the United States of America.
Through them the British finally finished off the Ottoman Empire and since then there has been no Khalifate, and no central power, either temporal or spiritual, in Islam.
The British did their dastardly work and soon had their come-uppance when they lost the ill-gotten gains to America with the setting up of Aramco oil company.
Most of the problems emanating from the so-called Islamic world today, stem from the rigid, narrow minded, lifeless dogma spread through all the worlds' mosques, aided and abetted by Saudi petro dollars and known as Wahabism.It is originally the source of the fanatical "fundamentalist" Islam which leads directly to totally "haram" (forbidden) un-Islamic and anti-Islamic acts of terrorism and, unfortunately it is taken to be the face of Islam when nothing could be further from the truth!
One could say that, due mainly to the "teachings" of one man, the Islamic world has suffered the huge blow to its outer structure of destroying respect for and following of, one Khalifa (akin in its way to the effects of the French Revolution on the western political and social structure) and a huge blow to its inner life by destroying respect for and following of the inheritors of the Prophet's spiritual knowledge and its living transmission.