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These may be treated under the following heads: Poverty, Mortification, Trust in God, and Recollection. Whereas poverty is negative in nature, involving detachment from all that is worldly and unreal, the three remaining terms denote the positive counterpart of that process, namely, the ethical discipline by which the soul is brought into harmonious relations with Reality. The fatalistic spirit which brooded darkly over the childhood of Islam--the feeling that all human actions are determined by an unseen Power, and in themselves are worthless and vain--caused renunciation to become the watchword of early Moslem asceticism.

Every true believer is bound to abstain from unlawful pleasures, but the ascetic acquires merit by abstaining from those which are lawful. At first, renunciation was understood almost exclusively in a material sense. To have as few worldly goods as possible seemed the surest means of gaining salvation. That is the reason why Malik is preferred. The Sufi ideal of poverty goes far beyond this. True poverty is not merely lack of wealth, but lack of desire for wealth: the empty heart as well as the empty hand. The 'poor man' faqir and the 'mendicant' dervish are names by which the Mohammedan mystic is proud to be known, because they imply that he is stripped of every thought or wish that would divert his mind from God.

He may even be rich, in the common meaning of the word, though spiritually he is the poorest of the poor; for, sometimes, God endows His saints with an outward show of wealth and worldliness in order to hide them from the profane. No one familiar with the mystical writers will need to be informed that their terminology is ambiguous, and that the same word. Hence the confusion that is apparent in Sufi text-books. When 'poverty,' for example, is explained by one interpreter as a transcendental theory and by another as a practical rule of religious life, the meanings cannot coincide.

Regarded from the latter standpoint, poverty is only the beginning of Sufism. Faqirs , Jami says, renounce all worldly things for the sake of pleasing God.


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They are urged to this sacrifice by one of three motives: a Hope of an easy reckoning on the Day of Judgment, or fear of being punished; b desire of Paradise; c longing for spiritual peace and inward composure. Thus, inasmuch as they are not disinterested but seek to benefit themselves, they rank below the Sufi, who has no will of his own and depends absolutely on the will of God. It is the absence of 'self' that distinguishes the Sufi from the faqir.

The Sufi teachers gradually built up a system of asceticism and moral culture which is founded on the fact that there is in man an element of evil--the lower or appetitive soul.

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This evil self, the seat of passion and lust, is called nafs ; it may be considered broadly equivalent to 'the flesh,' and with its allies, the world and the devil, it constitutes the great obstacle to the attainment of union with God. The Prophet said: "Thy worst enemy is thy nafs , which is between thy two sides. He trod on it, but it grew bigger at every kick that he gave it. He said:.

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The nafs of Hallaj was seen running behind him in the shape of a dog; and other cases are recorded in which it appeared as a snake or a mouse. Mortification of the nafs is the chief work of devotion, and leads, directly or indirectly, to the contemplative life. All the Sheykhs are agreed that no disciple who neglects this duty will ever learn the rudiments of Sufism. The principle of mortification is that the nafs should be weaned from those things to which it is accustomed, that it should be encouraged to resist its passions, that its pride should be broken, and that it should be brought through suffering and tribulation to recognise the vileness of its original nature and the impurity of its actions.

Concerning the outward methods of mortification, such as fasting, silence, and solitude, a great deal might be written, but we must now pass on to the higher ethical discipline which completes the Path. When they say, "Die before ye die," they do not mean to assert that the lower self can be essentially destroyed, but that it can and should be purged of its attributes, which are wholly evil. These attributes--ignorance, pride, envy, uncharitableness, etc. Therefore 'dying to self' is really 'living in God. The Sufi who has eradicated self-will is said, in technical language, to have reached the 'stages' of 'acquiescence' or 'satisfaction' rida and 'trust in God' tawakkul.

A special class of the ancient Sufis took their name from this 'trust,' which they applied, so far as they were able, to matters of everyday life. For instance, they would not seek food, work for hire, practise any trade, or allow medicine to be given them when they were ill.

Quietly they committed themselves to God's care, never doubting that He, to whom belong the treasures of earth and heaven, would provide for their wants, and that their allotted portion would come to them as surely as it comes to the birds, which neither sow nor reap, and to the fish in the sea, and to the child in the womb. These principles depend ultimately on the Sufistic theory of the divine unity, as is shown by Shaqiq of Balkh in the following passage:. The 'trusting' Sufi has no thought beyond the present hour.

On one occasion Shaqiq asked those who sat listening to his discourse:. In view of the practical consequences of attempting to live 'on trust,' it is not surprising to read the advice given to those who would perfectly fulfil the doctrine: "Let them dig a grave and bury themselves.

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What type of character is such a theory likely to produce? At the worst, a useless drone and hypocrite preying upon his fellow-creatures; at the best, a harmless dervish who remains unmoved in the midst of sorrow, meets praise and blame with equal. This cold morality, however, is not the highest of which Sufism is capable. The highest morality springs from nothing but love, when self-surrender becomes self-devotion.

Of that I shall have something to say in due time. Among the positive elements in the Sufi discipline there is one that Moslem mystics unanimously regard as the keystone of practical religion. I refer to the dhikr , an exercise well known to Western readers from the careful description given by Edward Lane in his Modern Egyptians , and by Professor D.

Macdonald in his recently published Aspects of Islam. The term dhikr --'recollection' seems to me the most appropriate equivalent in English--signifies 'mentioning,' 'remembering,' or simply 'thinking of'; in the Koran the Faithful are commanded to "remember God often," a plain act of worship without any mystical savour.

But the Sufis made a practice of repeating the name of God or some religious formula, e. Recollection may be either spoken or silent, but it is best, according to the usual opinion, that tongue and mind should co-operate. When he had acquired the habit of doing so, Sahl instructed him to repeat the same words during the night, until they came forth from his lips even while he was asleep. One day a log fell on his head, and the words "Allah, Allah" were seen written in the blood that trickled from the wound.

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Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam - Arthur John Arberry - Google книги

Ghazali describes the method and effects of dhikr in a passage which Macdonald has summarised as follows:. Recollection can be aided in various ways. When Shibli was a novice, he went daily into a cellar, taking with him a bundle of sticks. If his attention flagged, he would beat himself until the sticks broke, and sometimes the whole bundle would be finished before evening; then he would dash his hands and feet against the wall.

The Sufi Mystics of Islam

The Indian practice of inhaling and exhaling the breath was known to the Sufis of the ninth century and was much used afterwards. In 'meditation' muraqabat we recognise a form of self-concentration similar to the Buddhistic dhyana and samadhi. This is.


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  • Nuri used to meditate so intently that not a hair on his body stirred. He declared that he had learned this habit from a cat which was observing a mouse-hole, and that she was far more quiet than he. It is said that the Devil is smitten with epilepsy when he approaches a man thus occupied, just as happens to other men when the Devil takes possession of them. This chapter will have served its purpose if it has brought before my readers a clear view of the main lines on which the preparatory training of the Sufi is conducted.

    GOD, who is described in the Koran as "the Light of the heavens and the earth," cannot be seen by the bodily eye. He is visible only to the inward sight of the 'heart. According to a mystical interpretation of the famous passage in the Koran where the light of Allah is compared to a candle. The light which gleams in the heart of the illuminated mystic endows him with a supernatural power of discernment firasat.

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    Although the Sufis, like all other Moslems, acknowledge Mohammed to be the last of the prophets as, from a different point of view, he is the Logos or first of created beings , they really claim to possess a minor form of inspiration. When Nuri was questioned concerning the origin of mystical firasat , he answered by quoting the Koranic verse in which God says that He breathed His spirit into Adam; but the more orthodox Sufis, who strenously combat the doctrine that the human spirit is uncreated and eternal, affirm that firasat is the result of knowledge and insight, metaphorically called 'light' or 'inspiration,' which God creates and bestows upon His favourites.

    The Tradition, "Beware of the discernment of the true believer, for he sees by the light of Allah," is exemplified in such anecdotes as these:. Sari al-Saqati frequently urged Junayd to speak in public, but Junayd was unwilling to consent, for he doubted whether he was worthy of such an honour. One Friday night he dreamed that the Prophet appeared and commanded him to speak to the people. He awoke and went to Sari's house before daybreak, and knocked at the door. Sari opened the door and said: "You would not believe me until the Prophet came and told you.