The original Sufi were basically mystics - people who followed a pious form of Islam and who believed that a direct,
personal experience of God could be achieved through meditation.
Sufi mysticism endeavoured to produce a personal experience of the divine through
mystic and ascetic discipline.
The term Sufi appears to be derived from the Arabic word "suf" meaning "wool" in the sense of "cloak", referring
to the simple cloaks the original Sufis wore. Some initiates are given a specially designed, coloured wool vest
which is symbolic of the woolen robes of poverty worn by ancient dervishes, and signifies the loving commitment
of the dervish to serve humanity.
Sufism in now to be found in many parts of the Muslim world as, across the centuries, many people have felt drawn toward the more emotional and
personal ways of knowing God promoted by Sufi mysticism. Today there are literally hundreds of mystic orders with
millions of adherents. They are most prevalent in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Arabia.
Sufism has come to mean those who are interested in finding a way or practice toward inner awakening and
enlightenment. This movement developed as a protest against corrupt rulers who did not embody Islam and against the
legalism and formalism of worship which paid more attention to the form rather than content of the faith. Many of the
sufis became ascetics, began to gather disciples around themselves and developed into religious orders, known as
dervishers. Others forsook the orders and became mendicants, traveling around the country side, living off the
charity of others. Many sufis were outstanding men of saintly stature.
Not all sufis were accepted by the more
conservative elements of Islam due to their unorthodox habits and beliefs. Mainstream Islam has tended to regard
Sufism with some suspicion because of a perceived extremism in beliefs which
Sufi mysticism is prone to.
Jalaluddin Rumi was the author of The Masnavi, an immensely influential work, which is celebrated for its
spiritual profundity by many across the Islamic world.
Rumi lived 1207 - 1273, (by the western calendar). A BBC "Culture" web page of April, 2014 said of him:-
The ecstatic poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master born 807 years ago in 1207, have sold millions of copies in recent years, making him the
most popular poet in the US. Globally, his fans are legion.
One of the many significant quotes attributable to Jalaluddin Rumi being:-
"Would he had been less full of borrowed knowledge! Then he would have accepted inspired knowledge from his father. When, with
inspiration at hand, you seek book-learning, your heart, as if inspired, loads you with reproach. Traditional knowledge,
when inspiration is available, is like making ablutions in sand when water is near. Make yourself ignorant, be submissive,
and then you will obtain release from your ignorance."
A number of profound quotes from The Masnavi are to be found on our page about Islamic Spirituality. This page is actually presented as one of a series which consider the
Spiritual Truths recognised by ALL the major World Religions.
The following linked pages are intended to fully demonstrate a degree of
Common Ground between the Inner-most Spiritual Teachings of several major World Religions on Charity, Purity of
Heart, Humility, Meekness, A Disdain for Materialism
(compared to the Spiritual), A Distrust of the Intellect (compared to Divine Inspiration) and A Yearning
for Divine Edification (or A Thirst for Spiritual Enlightenment).
These quotations are presented on a series of very brief pages where each faith is considered individually.
We have seen it as worthwhile to add
another category of quotation ~ where recognition has been given to the possibility of Mystical Communion with God ~ as this
addition may rather directly tend the range of agreement about "Core Spiritual Truths" already demonstrated
towards actually becoming something of a proof of the Existence of the one God or Spirit which is the focus of Mystical
Links to Particularly Popular Topics & Pages