I’ve recently become fascinated by the culture and significance surrounding Sufism, which is not defined as being a ‘sect’ of Islam but rather a inner mystical dimension of it, which focuses solely on the purity of the heart in terms of how you conduct yourself with others, and your individual world/relationship with creation. It’s described by classic Sufi scholars as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God”.
Considering the amount of political violence and ‘religiously’ justified terrorism today which predates the foundation of morality and justice which Islam, alongside the other Abrahamic religions were built upon on, I feel like Sufism offers a fresh perspective on what faith really means. It has had a heavy influence on Islam in South Asia, where my heritage is and so directly supports the root message of Islam of kindness and justice, which is clear to have been deviated from by the rise of more literalist, over-scruptulous orders such as Salafism and Wahabism, which, while I don’t believe all members are directly associated with violence, is being used to endorse and justify hate filled messages in parts of the world where the culture of ‘Jihadism’, as the media likes to call it is arising, which takes the Islamic teachings of war, called by a LEGITIMATE ruler of a GENUINE state as a last resort to fight oppression or long term persecution of people completely out of context and used as a means to achieve heavily politicized aims, while doing exactly what Islam calls against, governed by what they wrongly assume is ‘mainstream Islam’.
It’s no surprise that this misguided interpretation of Islam is so new, because it predates the core principles of the faith. Now this is why Sufi-Salafi relations are non existent. Many Salafis would oppose Sufism on the grounds of it’s association with using poetry/music/dance as a ways of expressing love for the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and God, or visiting the graves of famous Sufi saints and also on the basis that it’s somehow ‘not Islam’ and a part of a different culture entirely which is so wrong. Yes, Sufism has been embraced by many in the West such as the words of Rumi, as it’s poetry and articulation of words to paint a picture of the unimaginable is beautiful, but I stress once again that it is not some sort of seperate sect from Islam, but directly intertwined with the Prophet’s message. You can have Sunni and Shia Sufis, and if anything, the most devout Sufi’s are in complete solitude, stricting adhering to the five pillars of Islam: the declaration of faith, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage, encompassing compassion and tolerance towards humanity.
Out of all of the aspects of Islam, Sufism inspires me the most, and I feel their way of life, which is one of the most peaceful I’ve ever seen, deserves to have a platform over the typical ‘ISIS’ related article, in light of the persecution and terror many Muslims face from people apparently following the same faith, as well as the wrong use of religious scripture to attack innocent people practising their faith. These merciless, barbaric murderers must be condemned and ridiculed, while giving young Muslims today the mainstream version appreciated and followed by the majority instead of leaving a power vacuum in it’s place, giving rise for radical opportunists to misguide the youth. Purity, justice and love is what we should promote as the future generation, not turn to the twisted ideology presented to us by hardcore Salafists in the form of ‘compulsory Jihadism’. It’s misguided, wrong and not something our Prophet would be proud of today. This is merely how I see Sufism so far, but I am still learning more and there is so much to it, but I see it as the buffer we need today to fight the terror and atrocities committed in the name of Islam and it’s the youth who can look to our forefathers and truly drive it.
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