Sufism-Origins of Sufism

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The Origins of Sufism


Like many other Sufi doctrines, pantheism is adopted from man-made religions and philosophies, as confirmed by S. R. Sharda in his book, Sufi Thought

"Sufi literature of the post-Timur period shows a significant change in thought content. It is pantheistic. After the fall of Muslim orthodoxy from power at the centre of India for about a century, due to the invasion of Timur, the Sufi became free from the control of the Muslim orthodoxy and consorted with Hindu saints, who influenced them to an amazing extent. The Sufi adopted Monism (24) and wifely devotion from the Vaishnava Vedantic school(25) and Bhakti (26) and Yogic practices(27) from the Vaishnava Vedantic school. By that time, the popularity of the Vedantic pantheism among the Sufis had reached its zenith." (28)

It is quite obvious that the Sufis did not develop their thoughts independently. Christianity and the worldly religions had their impact on Sufi doctrines.

"At the beginning of the ninth century," N. fatemi elaborates, "the Sufis developed an ecumenical doctrine based on the idea of Zoroastrianism,(29) Buddhism, (30) Judaism, Christianity, Neo-Platonism and Islam"

Sufism regards all religions as more or less perfect shadowings forth of the great central truth which they seek fully to comprehend, and consequently it recognizes them as good, in proportion to the matter of truth they contain.(31)

Ibn Arabi, the most infamous Sufi philosopher, including most of his heretical ideas in his book, the Bezels of Wisdom, which he alleged was given to him by the Prophet Muhammad . He wrote:

"I saw the Prophet in a visitation granted to me in the latter part of Muharram in the year 627 A.H. in the city of Damascus. He had in his hand a book, and he said to me, 'This is the book of Bezels of Wisdom; take it and bring it to men, that they might benefit from it.'" (32)

Suffice it to say that the Prophet has been in his grave since the moment his honourable body was laid in it, a fact agree upon by all the Muslim nation, and that it was never reported that he made any visitation to any of his companions, let alone those who came six centuries after him.

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said:

"I am the most eminent of the children of Adam on the Day of Judgment, and the first from over whom the grave will cleave asunder, and the first intercessor, and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah)." (33)

In the Bezels of Wisdom, Ibn Arabi presents certain aspects of what he terms "Divine wisdom," as he conceives it, in the lives and persons of 27 prophets mentioned in the Qur'an. The contents of this book are best described by its translator, R.W. Austin. He says in his introductory note to chapter III:

"This chapter is the most difficult and controversial of all the chapters in the book, by reason of the unusual and extraordinary interpretation of the Qur'an that feature in it. Certainly, from the standpoint of the exoteric theology, Ibn Arabi's approach to the Qur'anic material in this chapter is at best reckless, and at worst flagrantly heretical." (34)

This chapter deals with the surat Noah, one of the five Apostles who were endowed with earnestness, constancy and patience. He made sincere efforts for 950 years to persuade his people to abandon worshipping idols and to worship Allah alone, to no avail. Finally, the Messenger of Allah, Noah, peace be upon him, prayed to Allah to punish his stubborn and heedless people.

Allah responded by drowning Noah's people in the flood in this world, and condemning them to Hell-Fire in the next, a punishment fitting their crime. But Ibn al-Arabi interprets the relevant verses of surat Noah in the most outrageous fashion, since he suggests meanings diametrically opposed to those accepted by all Muslim scholars. He interprets the "wrongdoers," "infidels," and "sinners" in surat Noah as 'saints and gnostics'(35) drowning and burning not in the torment of Hell, but rather in the flames and water of knowledge of God. Ibn Arabi regarded the idols worshipped by Noah's people as divine deities. Allah condemned their deed saying:

which means,
"And they (Noah's people) said, 'Do not abondon your gods, neither Wad, Suwa', Yaghooth, Ya'ooq nor Nasr.'"(71.23)
On which Ibn Arabi commented:
"If they (Noah's people) had abondoned them, they would have become ignorant of the Reality to the extent that they them, for in every object of worship there is a reflection of Reality, whether it be recognized or not."(36)

The "Reality" to which Ibn Arabi refers is nothing but the divinity of his pantheistic beliefs. Yet his disciples, the Sufis, still argue that their doctrines are based on the teachings of Islam. However, the fact remains that their cardinal doctrines are not far from the christian doctrine of incarnation, promoted by Mansoor el-Hallaj, one of the infamous Sufi leaders, who was crucified for claiming identity with God.

"I am He Whom I love," he exclaimed, "He Whom I love is I; we are two souls co-inhabiting one body. If you see me you see Him and if you see Him you see me."(37)


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