By Sadia Dehlvi
June 30th, 2010
The Sufi path consists of different spiritual stations including taubah (repentance); zuhd (piety); tawakkul (trust) in God; faqr (poverty); dhikr (remembrance of God); sabr (patience); shukr (thankfulness); rida (contentment); mohabbah (love); and marifah (Divine knowledge). These stages are travelled through mujahidah (self-mortification).
Taubah, repentance is the first station in the Sufi path signifying an awakening of the soul. It involves turning away from sin with the intention of remaining steadfast on the right path. Compassion and mercy are among the foremost attributes of Allah who accepts forgiveness from those who truly seek it. The Sufis believe that loving Allah’s friends effectively cleanse one’s sins. Bayazid of Bistam said, “Love those beloved of Allah and make yourself lovable to them so that they love you, because Allah looks into the hearts of those he loves 70 times a day. Perhaps he will find your name in the heart of the one He loves. He will love you too and forgive your wrongdoings. This is the quickest way to reach Him”.
Allah waits for his servants to ask forgiveness, assuring in the Quran that He is Most Forgiving and Most Merciful “Why turn they not to God, And seek His forgiveness? For God is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful” (5. 74).
Forgiveness and mercy are the dominant themes that run through the Holy Quran. Prophet Mohammad said that all of us err to some degree, but the best are those who reflect and then ask Allah for forgiveness for their wrong actions.
Sufis have a treasure of stories relating to methods used in replacing unworthy attributes by praiseworthy qualities. One day the bazaars of Baghdad caught fire and Sari Saqti, the ninth century mystic was informed that his shop had burnt down. He later learnt that somehow his shop did not get destroyed in the fire whereas most of the other shops in the street had been destroyed completely. Saqti said he gleefully thanked God, but soon realised his selfishness in not feeling immense pain for fellow shopowners. He admitted to repenting that one sin for over 40 years. Eventually, Saqti gave away the shop and everything he owned to the poor and embraced the Sufi path.
A true repentance is an awakening of the heart in making a connection with God. The Sufi philosophy outlines three kinds of taubah, which vary in rank because of the intent with which it is made. The first taubah is of the people who leave sin for the fear of Hell, the second kind is rooted in the desire for Heaven. The third taubah is not made out of fear or desire, but simply for the love of Allah. This is the true taubah of the lovers, where they get to a point that they have no complaints, remaining content with whatever comes from God, be it tribulation or joy.
Abu Said Ibn Abi Khair, Sufi poet of the 11th century explains, “Sufism is glory in wretchedness; richness in poverty and lordship in servitude; satiety in hunger and clothedness in nakedness; freedom in slavery and life in death and sweetness in bitterness”.
Islam accords a high rank to those who forgive while in a position to retaliate. Abu Said Ibn Abi Khair writes:
“He who is not my friend — may God be his friend
And he who bears ill will against me, may his joys increase
He who puts thorns in my way on account of enmity
May every flower that blossoms in the garden of his life be without thorns.”
Sufi Masters remind followers that the door of repentance remains open till doomsday. Rumi’s mausoleum in Konya has his famous verse inscribed on it, “Come back, come back, even if you have broken your repentance a thousand times”.
— Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Asian Age, New Delhi