Sufism and its reality

Summary of a speech delivered by Syed Asmat Gilani

Up till the 19 century, the dominant thought in the West was that ‘science’ was the climax of knowledge. But today we see that for example aero physics has a complimentary science of metaphysics attached to it. The strength of emotions and thought is not thoroughly investigated yet, but we see how this energy effects communication between people. Sometimes between heart to heart.

The famed professor Dr. Nicholson from Cambridge in one of his books on Rumi, while discussing the aftermath of the two world wars (in relation to its scientific advancement of sophisticated weaponry etc.) advises the European West to get inspiration from Eastern philosophers ,thinkers and the Sufis. That is primarily (as I see it) because of their awareness of the spiritual reality of the universe and their ability to balance between the finite and infinite.

Spiritualism is characterized as a beautiful inner revolution in man. It is ideally through purity, refined character and obedience of God that this can be attained. Science without spirituality and spirituality without science is an annoyance for the world. To be able to breathe a new spirit in the world and change attitudes and perceptions; It’s vital to get inspiration from the force and light of spiritual traditions.

Sufism and its contents

Tasawwuf or Sufism is the love of God. Love is the only tool that leads to the goal. That’s why the main goal of Sufism is the desire to arrive to God. Meet God. The wayfarer to God (salik) through his/her meditations, spiritual struggles and practices aims to witness God (mushahida) hence making that the ultimate ambition of his/her life.

Sufism has three prime pillars:

  • Complete love
  • Complete God-consciousness
  • Complete unity (tawhid)

Sufism has three primary teachings:

  • Love of God
  • Purification of character
  • Service of creation

The main goal of Sufism is not merely refining character or establishing an Islamic political structure but Sufism teaches ways to create a living dialogue with the living God. The Quranic vision is not based on mere rulings, but in its entirety attempts to create awareness of Gods intimacy with mankind.

Syed Asmat Gilani speaking at the University of Copenhagen, faculty of theology

The universality of Spirituality

Just as religion is an universal truth so is spirituality. That is because spirituality is the essence of religion. The approach of every religion, community and tribe for achieving spirituality has (in its ultimate form) always been through love. God is seen as the beloved and mankind as Gods lovers. The seekers of the ultimate reality are present in every community and will be so till the end of time.

One of the many advantages of being on the sufi path is that one begins to love Gods creation and does not discriminate between color, race or religion. Actually the first lesson of the sufi is that all creation originates from God and therefore is in the family of God. In the words of the Prophet Muhammad: “to see Creation as God’s family”.

But how can this variation of universal love effect our internal relations and create a road map for peaceful and meaningful co-existence? The thought of Gods ‘family’ harmonizes well with the biblical thought that humankind is created in God’s image and could do well in dispelling the images we have of one and another. In Sufism it is known, “When love kindles, all conflicts end”. What is meant by these words is that when love becomes embedded it would have its say- so that human creation would eventually work towards building and nurturing constructive relationships. Hence, discovering the spiritual in sacred traditions should ultimately lead to peace, not negate or work against peace.

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