Monday, August 08, 2005

The Sufi Path

Sufi master, Al-Junayd said: "The sufi is like the earth: the rubbish is thrown over it, and only good things come up". He also said: "The sufi is like the earth, a place where both an innocent and a guilty walk on in, like the sky that shadows everything, like the rain that waters everything".

Sahl [al-Tustari] said: "The sufi is someone who is pure (safaa) from trouble (kadar), he is filled with thinking (fikr) and has renounced to the human for the Divine ; someone for whom gold and mud have the same value", that is to say, someone who doesn't desire or wish anything but his Lord and Master.

"Sufism" (tasawwuf) is the science through which we can attain the modalities for our journey toward the King of kings; it is also the inner purification (tasfiya) from the vices (radhaa' il) and the inner beauty by the means of all virtues (fadhaa'il); or the erasing (ghayba) of the creature, be it lost in the vision (shuhuud) of Truth (God; al-Haqq), or going back to the manifested world (al-athar). Its beginning is "science" ('ilm), its medium "action" ('amal) and its aim "gift" (mawhiba) [from God].

Regarding the word itself, it derives:
- possibly from safaa', purity, as its aim is purification (tasfiya) ;-possibly from sifa, quality, because it is the qualification (ittisaaf) derived from perfections ;

- possibly from suffa, the "bench" at the Prophet's Mosque, as the sufis look very much like the People of the Bench from their orientation [towards God] (tawajjuh) and from their renouncing to the world (inqitaa') ;

- and possibly from suuf, the wool, because most of them used to wear garments made with wool as a sign of detachment of the things from this world, and also imitating those Prophets that were dressed with clothes made in wool.

This last etymology seems the most convincing from a linguistic point of view, it also corresponds in a better way to the literal sense.

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