Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Third Sect



As waves upon my head the circling curl,
So in the sacred dance weave ye and whirl.
Dance then, O heart, a whirling circle be.
Burn in this flame - is not the candle He?


Whirling Dervishes


Perhaps you have heard of the Whirling Dervishes, but maybe you have not heard of the sect of Islam that gave birth to their traditions - Sufi Islam. Sufism, also referred to as Islamic mysticism, is a branch of Islam that focuses on the direct perception of truth or god through mystic practices based on divine love. It is the Kabballist aspect of Islam, so to speak.

One commentator has explained,
The Sufi phenomenon is not easy to sum up or define. The Sufis never set out to found a new religion, a mazhab or denomination. They were content to live and work within the framework of the Moslem religion, using texts from the Quran much as Christian mystics have used the Bible to illustrate their tenets. Their aim was to purify and spiritualize Islam from within, to give it a deeper, mystical interpretation, and infuse into it a spirit of love and liberty. In the broader sense, therefore, in which the word religion is used in our time, their movement could well be called a religious one, one which did not aim at tying men down with a new set of rules but rather at setting them free from external rules and open to the movement of the spirit.

This religion was disseminated mainly by poetry, it breathed in an atmosphere of poetry and song. Its one dogma, and interpretation of the Moslem witness: 'There is no god by God', is that the human heart must turn always, unreservedly, to the one, divine Beloved.

Who was the first Sufi? Who started this astonishing flowering of spiritual love in Lyrical poetry and dedicated lives? No one knows. Early in the history of Islam, Moslem ascetics appeared who from their habit of wearing coarse garments of wool(suf), became known as Sufis. But what we now know as Sufism dawned unheralded, mysteriously, in the ninth century of our year and already in the tenth and eleventh had reached maturity. Among all its exponents there is no single one who could be claimed as the initiator or founder. Sufism is like that great oak-tree, standing in the middle of the meadow - no one witnessed its planting, no one beheld its beginning, but now the flourishing tree speaks for itself, is true to origins which it has forgotten, has taken for granted.


One of the greatest masters of Sufi Islam is Mowlana Jalal El-Din Rumi. Rumi was born in Wakhsh (Tajikistan) under the administration of Balkh in 30 September 1207 to a family of learned theologians. Escaping the Mongol invasion and destruction, Rumi and his family traveled extensively in the Muslim lands, performed pilgrimage to Mecca and finally settled in Konya, Anatolia, then part of Seljuk Empire (now part of Turkey). When his father Bahaduddin Valad passed away, Rumi succeeded his father in 1231 as professor in religious sciences. At 24 years old, Rumi was an already accomplished scholar in religious and positive sciences.

If there is any general idea underlying Rumi's poetry, it is the absolute love of God.


The lover's food is the love of the bread; no bread need be at hand:
no one who is sincere in his love is a slave to existence.
Lovers have nothing to do with existence;
lovers have the interest without the capital.
Without wings they fly around the world;
without hands they carry the polo ball off the field.
That dervish who caught the scent of Reality
used to weave basket even though his hand had been cut off.
Lover have pitched their tents in nonexistence:
they are of one quality and one essence, as nonexistence is.


***


Praise to the emptiness that blanks out existence.
Existence: This place made from our love for that emptiness!
Yet somehow comes emptiness, this existence goes.
Praise to that happening, over and over!
For years I pulled my own existence out of emptiness.
Then one swoop, one swing of the arm, that work is over.
Free of who I was, free of presence, free of dangerous fear, hope, free of mountainous wanting.
The here-and-now mountain is a tiny piece of a piece of straw blown off into emptiness.
These words I'm saying so much begin to lose meaning:
Existence, emptiness, mountain, straw:
Words and what they try to say swept out the window, down the slant of the roof.

***

My heart, sit only with those who know and understand you.
Sit only under a tree that is full of blossoms.
In the bazaar of herbs and potions don't wander aimlessly
find the shop with a potion that is sweet
If you don't have a measure people will rob you in no time.
You will take counterfeit coins thinking they are real.
Don't fill your bowl with food from every boiling pot you see.
Not every joke is humorous, so don't search for meaning where there isn't one.
Not every eye can see, not every sea is full of pearls.
My heart, sing the song of longing like nightingale.
The sound of your voice casts a spell on every stone, on every thorn.
First, lay down your head then one by one let go of all distractions.
Embrace the light and let it guide you beyond the winds of desire.
There you will find a spring and nourished by its waters
like a tree you will bear fruit forever.


For more on Sufis and Rumi -

14 Comments:

At 6:38 PM, March 24, 2006 , Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

03 24 06

Thanks for sharing this information. I wish our buddy Sandy would read this so he could see that good and bad exists no matter what religion one is. Sufism seems a lot like the Christian mysticism that came about inbetween the Renaissance and the 95Theses and the Kaabalist analogy seems fitting as well. Maybe one day, you will explain how sufiism and Salafiism are different theologies within a broader umbrella of Islam, but that will be your choice obviously. I am far too ignorant to do a post on different aspects of Islam, however I am quite saddened that many Americans have begun to generalize the actions of a few to MILLIONS worldwide. Good post and thanks for sharing the poetry too. I learn every day.

 
At 8:27 PM, March 24, 2006 , Blogger Boris Yeltsin said...

I read this book called, "All Rivers Run to the Sea, and the Sea is Never Full." Your post reminded me of that book - with the exception the book I read was by a Jewish author. He covered that Kaballah thing, and it was interesting.

I love your posts.

I know alot of people are surprised to hear this, but the Arab language is just as old, if not older than most European languages, and it has just as much, if not a greater capacity for nuance, ambiguity and rhyming.

From what I understand, the Arab language also has an "old Arabic," just like English has "Old English." To me, stuff like that is very interesting.

 
At 1:30 AM, March 28, 2006 , Blogger The Best [ Ghostface ] said...

Sufism, Wajad, Nafs, Sufis, and The seven worlds.




Chance: I glad to see that you enjoy Sufism, I use to study Sufism a lot and I studied Kabbalah also. I really like Persian Sufism the best and I like the Sufism that comes from the Sufis of India also. But the real popularity of Sufism came from Persia (Iran) and spreaded to the rest of the world. I like the teachings of imam Jilani (some say Gilani) and Rumi. I also study the teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan (inayat Khan was born in India). Sufism speaks of the 7 worlds, Wajad, Nafs, clairvoyance etc. I really love Sufism. I have many versions of the Quran also. I have read the teachings of Hafiz and many other great Sufi masters. Sufism is kool. I do comparative esoteric religious studies too. I could go on and on about sufism. Ibn Arabi was the last of the Sufi saints I love his esoteric interpretations of the Quran. I have written a couple of essays comparing Islam and Christianity esoterically, more power to Sufism.


By Chance

 
At 3:42 PM, March 28, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Chance,

I am really impresssed that you know that much about Sufism. The poetry that came from the Sufi masters is amazing and is unparalleled in other religious traditions.

Thanks for stopping by.

 
At 12:37 PM, March 30, 2006 , Blogger The Best [ Ghostface ] said...

You are welcomed intellectual insurgent.

By Chance

 
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