By Mudasir Al-Majdey
January 15, 2019
The meaning, dimensions and the basic requisition of mysticism need a systematic, logical and genuine explanation. Mysticism is not what Sufism is for me. Is the universe and man an untold mystery or are they the creations of ‘one’ known to none, but presents everywhere, controlling everything, omnipotent and omniscient? Is he a ‘reality’ or a ‘mystery’. If he is treated as a ‘reality’ then he must be the ultimate and only reality, giving existence to all; and what he creates or created must be a factuality and reality. It cannot be otherwise. If this universe, including man, is treated as a mystery, it nullifies their whole meaning and reality. A reality can be realized, not a mystery.
The human mind is the only meaningful tool and agency that raises and explains all the questions. But one must not forget that it has its own limitations. It is not all inclusive and absolute. It realizes things only in the framework of categories of understanding or the situations given to it. But this is not the only reality about it. It has a capacity to rise above these limitations and open the doors of the realities which are not usually given to it. The question is whether this power is given to it or there is some other reality or existence that opens these doors for it. The creation is not a myth, nor an untold story, or a play of someone who has no control on it, or who does not care for it, or who has created it simply as a meaningless game.
And if there is no ‘Reality’ behind it, how has it been created, or how it came into existence? My problem is man, and I cannot understand how an existence like man can be meaningless or purposeless. The position of man as a purposeless creation makes everything meaningless; and his position as a purposeful creation presupposes three important things that is (a) His creator, (b) purpose of his creation and (c) the guidance or system of knowledge and the guide who can teach him. Mysticism has various modes and faces.
There are mystical traditions that believe in no Absolute Reality controlling this universe and treat the existence of man simply as a mystery, the result of evolution, or a sudden burst of matter. There are some traditions that talk of love without any purpose, or a purpose of absorption in the absolute soul, or release from the clutches of the world, treating world as a chain or curse. And, to liberate the bonded soul, it puts human body into unbearable tortures. This again raises the question about the meaning of the ‘body’. We should not ignore the fact that soul has no value without body. It is the body that is the bearer of mind and soul, and not the vice versa.
There are many more traditions of mysticism but they are in no way connected to or identical with a system of spiritualization known as Sufism. My position is that Sufism is neither a system of mysticism, nor a methodology of supernaturalism, for Islam does not consider any separation between spirit and matter. According to Islam, material is spiritual and spiritual is material. It holds creation a purposeful creation and ‘order’ of God. Both spirit and matter are creations of God. The spiritual and material are the two faces of the same coin.
Mysticism or the so-called spiritual process holds matter as an anti-spiritual entity. Its entire mission is to get rid it, and to reach this goal it executes various methodologies which are painful to body, which destroy it, or make it worthless and reduce it to the level of a meaningless tool. There are various religio-mystical systems which treat life as pain or the source of pain. For them the only purpose of life is to get rid of this pain or suffering.
Islam holds life as one of the basic attributes and order of God in the form of soul in man. The world and worldly life are a purposeful creation of God. Man as His vicegerent has to follow the way of God. No doubt there is pain and suffering in life but it is simply a touchstone to judge his worth and intensity and truthfulness of his faith .Sufism is complete submission to the Quranic teachings. It treats the world and worldly life as the preparatory ground for the success or vision and pleasure of God in the life hereafter.
Sufism has always played a dynamic role in the character building of man and has emerged as a reaction against tyranny, tyrants and satanic deceptions and pursuance of crime and immoral life. This is well nourished, established and explained in the life and writings of the great Sufis of Islam. Life for these Sufis is the pursuit of this path, and the ultimate end (al-saadah) is the pleasure and vision of God which is not possible without following the footsteps of the last Prophet (SAW).Life is not a source of pain for them. It is a gift of God. The struggle in life is a tool for the success and completion of man and his purpose of creation.
Renunciation or flight from life has no meaning in Sufism. There is no ‘celibacy’ Rahbaniya in Islam. Man has to live, cherish and nourish a complete life and fight all that which is against life and its development. Sufism believes in and is based on divinely ordained guidance. It is rooted in the unity of God (al-Tauhid), the prophecy (Risalat), life hereafter (Aakhirat) and unity, equality, vice regency and greatness of man.