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Islamic Q and A ( 28 Nov 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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What Are the Origin, Concept and Teachings of Sufis and Sufism?

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam

29 November 2019

We come across different opinions about the origin of the word Sufi. The words which are supposed to be its origin are 1) Safaa (meaning; cleanliness, purity of soul, heart and actions of a man), 2) Suff (meaning; row, those believers who performed Namaaz in the coveted first row of the five-time congregations in Namaz during the time of the Prophet peace be upon him), 3) Ahl al-Suffa (those certain ascetics (Zaahids and Aabids) during the era of the Prophet, who devoted all their life to continuous study and recitation of the Quran, prayers, meditation and obedience to God in the Madina’s historical mosque) 4) Soofa, (an old tribe of Arab dedicated to the service of Kaaba in Makkah), 5) Soof (wool), 6) Sufana (a type of plant), 7) Siyu Sufia ( a Greek word, meaning divine knowledge).

Hazrat Junaid defines “Sufism is that one must be with God, without any attachment (to other than Him) (al-Luma’)

In another place, Hazrat Junaid defined Sufism as saying, “It is the purification of the heart from all conformity with creatures, the separation of oneself from the moral attitudes of the natural world, and the stamping out of all the attributes of human nature. It is to shun everything to which the ego (Nafs) beckons you, to keep company with the qualities of spiritual men, to hold fast to the sciences of the Truth, to be always busy with what is appropriate (to a Sufi), to give sincere admonition to all Muslims, to keep faith with God, and to follow the Prophet in the Shari'at.” (Asrar al-Tawhid)

“Sufism is based on eight qualities: generosity, contentment, patience, allusion, exile, the wearing of wool, travel and poverty. Generosity is symbolized by Abraham, contentment by Isaac, patience by Job, allusion by Zacharias, exile by John, the wearing of wool by Moses, travel by Jesus, and poverty by Mohammad (peace be upon him). God bless them all and give them peace!” (Kashf al-Mahjoob)

According to Hazrat Sirri Saqati, “Sufism is a word that signifies three characteristics: The Sufi's light of Gnosis never extinguishes the candle of his piety; he does not speak of esoteric knowledge which contradicts the exoteric meaning of the Quran and traditions; and he never allows his own miraculous deeds to unveil the secrets of saints or sinners.”(Tazkirat al-Awliya)

According to Hazrat Ja'far Khuldi, “Sufism is to throw the ego (nafs) into slavery, emerge from human nature, and gaze wholly upon God.” (Tazkirat al-Awliya)

Hazrat Abul-Hassan Husri said, “Sufism is the purification of the heart from the turbidity of oppositions.” (Tazkirat al-Awliya)

Hazrat Abul-Husayn Nuri said, “Sufism is neither formal practice nor science, but rather moral qualities and virtues.”

Hazrat Hujweri comments, “If Sufism were formal practice, it could be acquired through effort; if it were science, it could be learned through study. But Sufism is virtues; seek within yourself for their properties and apply them correctly within yourself; pay from yourself their just price, or you will never acquire Sufism” (Kashf al-Mahjub)

According to Abu Mohammad Jurayri, “Sufism is to watch closely (Muraqabah) one's states and to maintain Adab (the correct manners of the Path).” (Risalat al-Qushayri). He also said that Sufism is “to assume all exalted virtues, leaving all lowly dispositions behind.” (al-Lumaa')

Abu 'Amr Demashqi said, “Sufism is to contemplate created existence as a fault, or rather to ignore all imperfections by gazing upon that which transcends them.” (Nafahat al-uns)

Hazrat Abu 'Ali Rudbari says, “The Sufi wears wool (suf) upon purity (safa) and forces his ego (nafs) to taste the cruelty (of being ignored); he leaves the world behind and travels the way of Mohammad (peace be upon him)” (Sharh-e-Ta'aruf)

Hazrat Junaid says, “The Sufi's heart, like Abraham's, is secure from the world, obeying God's commands; his submission is that of Ishmael; his grief that of David; his poverty that of Jesus, his patience that of Job; his yearning (for God) that of Moses when he called upon God; and his sincerity that of Mohammad (peace be upon him)." (Tadhkerat al-Awliya')

On another occasion, Hazrat Junaid says, “The word Sufi derives from 'wool' (suf) which has three letters: s, u and f. 'S' stands for sabr (patience), sedq (truthfulness), and safa' (purity); 'uoo/woo' for wudd (love), verd (litany), and wafa' (faithfulness); 'F' stands for fard (detachment),faqr (poverty) and fana (annihilation in God).” (Tara'eq al-Haqa'eq)

This can be said that “Sufism teaches how to purify one’s self, improve one’s morals, and build up one’s inner and outer life in order to attain perpetual bliss. Its subject matter is the purification of the soul and its end or aim is the attainment of eternal felicity and blessedness.” (Waliuddin, Mir, The Quranic Sufism, Motilal Banarasidas, New Delhi 1959/ Journal of Education and Social Policy vol. 1, June 2014, Understanding the Concept of Islamic Sufism, Shahida Bilqies)


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