Author Topic: Islamic Mysticism: Sufism  (Read 25367 times)

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November 30, 2007, 11:46:07 AM
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An Elementary Examination of the Islamic System of Mysticism

by fra.Veos
1. What Sufism is and its origins
2.  Devotional practices
3.  Asceticism and renunciation
4.  Dhikr and the names of Allah
5.  The 100 spiritual stations of Ansari
6.  The 7 substances of ‘Ala’ al-Dawla and the 6 centers of Naqshbandi
7.  The planes of Nazul and Uruj

   It is not my desire with this article to present the whole of the Sufi doctrine, but to simply provide an elementary treatise on it containing the basic principles, beliefs and terminology.  As far as I know of, I believe this is the first religion-specific article to be written on Veritas and if it results in creating too much of a commotion it may well be the last too!  Now you may say “what about the Kabbalah?” or other such systems that have been dealt with on Veritas that have a natural religious overtone due to their origins, but such things have always been presented in a universal manner here at Veritas so that anyone who wishes to may apply the Tree of Life to a certain doctrine for illumination regardless of Judaism from which it hails.  Now were the Kabbalah to be presented at Veritas under the auspices of its native Jewish practices and roots then it would of course not be so receptive to other religions and ideals.  This is the dilemma I have reached in writing this article on Sufism, in that I have tried to present it essentially as what it is; an Islamic system of mysticism.  Just as the Kabbalah is best understood in relation to Judaism, so is Sufism to Islam, Yoga to Hinduism, etc.

   I have refrained from as much religious dogma as possible during this article and have written it for two main purposes: 1) The expanding spiritual education and diversity of Veritas, and 2) That some may take a few of the doctrines and practices spoken of in Sufism and apply them to their own practices according to how they see fit.  Now then for the Disclaimer!

   I am not personally initiated into Sufism.  I am thus not a spiritual authority of Sufism any more than what may be implied from knowledge given in this article.  I am not Islamic, nor do I particularly agree with its doctrines.  I have written this article with no bias intended or aimed at.  There are two types of scholars on Sufism: 1)Muslim, 2)non-muslim.  They generally disagree, and I will provide both sides of the story when possible according to my knowledge and recollection. 

   If this article causes a negative reaction or if the council members decide that they do not want any sort of religious-oriented material on Veritas, then either they or I will delete it.  I am convinced that the only way a negative reaction could occur is if someone was to make an uncalled for and derogatory statement about the religion from which Sufism hails, so stay mature and open-minded.  If the article is received with some warmth, then with further permission I may write articles about Buddhism and Yoga (not just Hatha).  Currently my plan is to write an article about Self-Initiation next, which should be ready for posting within a month. 

What Sufism Is and its Origins

   Sufism is a school of Islamic mysticism and is generally regarded as one of the three major sects in Islam, the other two being of course the Sunnis and the Shi’ites.  The generally accepted etymology of the word is that “sufi” comes from the Arabic word “suf” which means “wool”(Noldek more or less conclusively proved this).  Some take this to be a reference to the early Christian monks and ascetics who wore woolen robes, while others take it to mean the same but about the early Islamic mystics and ascetics.  Other than the usual scholarly view given above, there is a great deal of Sufis who believe it to come from the word “sufa” which means purity, righteousness, cleanliness, etc.  It would usually matter little where the word originated from, but with Sufism it matters a deal to some people because of the implications that result from the usual scholarly view.  This implication is that Sufism has its early roots in the influence of Christian ascetics.

   The idea of “outside influences” that could have possibly helped shape Sufism is a much debated topic among muslim and non-muslim scholars.  It is generally acknowledged that at least the early Christian ascetics played some sort of role in the early development of Sufism, and then Hinduism played a role some centuries later as a result of the Muslim conquest into India.  The proof of these claims is readily seen in the doctrines elaborated by the early sufi writers which resemble Christian Gnosticism a great deal and then the later meditation and breathing techniques among the Sufis that started to occur after the Indian conquest.  It was also around this time period shortly after the conquest that ideas such as baqa (identical in nature to the Yoga Samadhi) and the various stages of fana (similar to the concepts of jnana yoga) started to become a large part of Sufi doctrine.  Despite this, it can be easily argued that the Sufis bare strong Christian Gnostic and jewish kabbalistical traits due to the close relation of Islam to these two religions, and that the later developed meditations and breathing techniques were a result of experience and genius.  Either theory is valid because there is unfortunately no real evidence for the claims.  To dispute about its origins seem to only be a block in the way of the aspirant who wishes to pursue any mystical art.  If a guru who can trace his teachings’ lineage back hundreds of years can not show you God, but the man next door has created a technique for enlightenment which has produced real results, then which is the better?  Similarly, it only matters on a very superficial level where exactly Sufism as a practice originated as long as it works. 

Devotional Practices
   The Muslim has 5 daily prayers, and the Sufi has 5 additional prayers that are performed in between the others, one of which is in the middle of the night.  The main object of devotion in Sufism is of course Allah, but the Prophet Mohammad is also considered to be an object of adoration and contemplation.  Allah is Za’at (The Knower) and Mohammad is Sifat (The Known).  A common practice of spiritual progression in Sufi meditation is to first become one with the Teacher or Guru, and then he will lead you to the Prophet, who can then alone lead you to Allah for complete Baqa (passing away or absorption) into God. 

The spiritual steps or veils which are between the Sufi and allah and must be overcome will be spoken of soon enough, but there are four general stages of consciousness that manifest during this spiritual journey.  These stages of consciousness are called “Fana”, which means “passing away”.  First there is Fana-fi-shaikh, which is passing away on the Astral Realm.  This is followed by Fana-fi-rasul which is passing away on the mental realm and then the final fana is fana-fi-Allah which is annihilation or passing away on the abstract plane.  When this third stage of Fana is reached, then Baqa can be achieved.  Note that “Baqa” is used as the same meaning of “Yoga” in a spiritual sense, namely “to join” or unite, and denoted a complete and total union with God. 

Unfortunately Islam teaches that Mohammad is the seal of the Prophets.  This is unfortunate because in a stage of Baqa or spiritual ecstasy, the sage will utter things that are not only prophetic but sometimes blatantly blasphemous to the Islamic doctrines.  It was and still is very common for a fully realized and ecstatic Sufi to proclaim that he is God when in a mosque or surrounded by his disciples.  On one occasion there was a famous Sufi who would proclaim such things and upon coming back to normal consciousness would be awestruck by his disciples when they told him what he had said (for he knew not).  So he told his disciples “If I should ever say such blasphemies again, pull out your knives and kill me!”.  Soon enough he went into an ecstatic trance and started to say such things as “I am God”, and his disciples followed his order by pulling out their blades and attempting to stab him to death.  Unfortunately whenever they lunged at him they invariably missed and either stabbed themselves or one of the other disciples. When the Sufi returned to normal consciousness, all of his disciples were severely wounded. 

Oddly enough despite the common Sufi claim that they are “above” the Koran or are the only ones who understand it, there has been very little martyrdom or executions regarding the Sufis in their history.  Islam as a whole has generally been very acceptable of Sufism (accept for some of the Sufi schools which teach the Doctrine of Reincarnation).  The large amount of Sufi executions were the results of blasphemous utterances of the saints while they were in ecstatic states, the most notable of which is perhaps Al-Hallaj, a 10th century sufi saint.  He was executed for proclaiming “Ana’l Haq” (I am God), but he proclaimed it all of the time and not just while in an ecstatic trance.  His doctrine was of course based on the idea of the perfection of Adam and mankind as a mirror in which God sees his own reflection (I.e. man as the microcosm).  Unfortunately, the three “Religions of The Book” all seem to have a history of killing their own saints. 

        A common discipline in Sufism is worldly renunciation.  Once again, some say this is an influence from the early Christian mystics.  More than likely, the simple fact is that almost any religion will eventually give birth to a system of mysticism because someone will always try to find God through direct experience instead of in the church hall or synagogue.  The best way in doing this is to rid your self of all things which distract the mind from God, namely all worldly possessions.  In this way the mind can focus singularly upon God, Humility, and spiritual discipline.

   While I do not personally believe that Christianity and Hinduism played a vital role in Sufism development (though it is known that Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras were translated into Arabic and in circulation among the sufi communities in the 11th or 12 century),one almost has to admit based on pure logic alone that these two mystic systems at least acted as a model from which the early Islamic mystics used to design their own spiritual disciplines.  Still there are some interesting parallels (Five that I can think of off hand) between the Hindu Yoga and teachings that occurred shortly after the occupation into India: 1)The Role of the Guru, 2)The regulations of a renunciant, 3)The breathing techniques, 4)Japa (called Dhikr by Sufis), and  an interesting eating restraint. 

   The Guru is called Mursheed in Sufism while the disciple is called the Mureed.  The common sufi doctrines concerning the importance and role of the Mursheed is almost (if not exactly) identical to the extreme importance that the Guru has in Yoga.  They are both “dispellers of darkness”, and they are the only ones who can safely teach their spiritual doctrines.  The Guru is worshipped as a God in Yoga, while in Sufism the Mursheed is not worshipped of course but is indeed highly revered as the first principle source who can lead you to spiritual salvation.  Many of the primary spiritual exercises of Sufism start with concentration and meditation on the form of the Mursheed until the Mureed sees the Mursheed constantly in every-day life in the spiritual eye.  Once a definite union has occurred, then the Mursheed proceeds to lead the Mureed to the Prophet for the next level of realization.  These practices are very similar to the ancient Yoga methods of Guru worship and realization.

   The Regulations of renunciant are of course somewhat common sense (or so it may seem), but it is worth noting that Hinduism was one of the first and only religions to place so much emphasis on worldly renunciation and applied strict rules for following the life of a Sanyasa.  It is probable that the strict disciplines they follow at least influenced the incoming Sufis somewhat during the 10th century.  The most notable similarity (which personally I think has to be a blatant hindu belief adopted by the Sufis) is the teaching that the eating habits should be regulated in such a way that ½ of the stomach is filled with food, ¼ with water, and the last ¼ is filled with the spirit of Allah through Quranic prayers.  This is identical to the restrictions laid down in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali along with many of the Upanishads that say “fill ½ of the stomach with food, ¼ with water, and save the last ¼ for Brahman”. 

   The largest possible influence is of course the practice of Dhikr (called Japa by the Hindus) which involves the constant repetition of a prayer using the aide of a long strand of beads.  This is a great spiritual practice which can be talked about later, but as far as I am aware, the Hindus originated this technique and it did not start to become a common Sufi practice until after the Indian occupations started to take place.

Dhikr and the Names of Allah

   The practice of Dhikr is the gem of Sufi meditation and practice.  Like the Yoga “Japa”, the goal is to become completely absorbed in the mantra.  By focusing on the mantra constantly, then you are focusing on God constantly as well.  Dhikr is one of the primary techniques employed to experience the different fanas or spiritual attainments in consciousness.  The dhikr is repeated over and over continuously while keeping the mind steadfast on the object of adoration or worship, which is Allah or The Prophet. 

   The first real treatise that we know of on Dhikr was written by an Egyptian Sufi Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah of Alexandria in his The Key of Salvation and the Lamp for Spirits (1309?).  Ibn Ata Allah believed and wrote that Dhikr was a manifold process operating on the spiritual, psychological and physiological levels of the being.  It employs the faculties of the Sufi starting from the outermost (the tongue motions).  Once the Sufi has learned to properly pronounce and recite and can unconsciously recite the Dhikr over and over with the proper and perfect mechanical motion of the tongue, the practice is deepened to involve the soul.  Once both the tongue and soul can join in reciting the Dhikr, then the process moves on to the Spirit, the Intellect, and finally the supernal consciousness so that the Sufi is ecstatically reciting the Dhikr in complete union and harmony on all levels of his being and thus becomes engulfed in the presence of God. 

   Ibn Ata Allah, along with many other Sufi authors, said that simply the practice of Dhikr was not enough in itself.  A certain type of lifestyle needed to be lived.  He recommended a strict diet and life of purity along with proper clothing and social intercourse restrictions.  In Dhikr, the Sufi (according to Ibn Ata) is to prepare a special place for the practice and is to fill it with sweet perfumes and fragrances that are pleasing to the presence of the Angels and Jinns.  Then the Mureed (disciple) is to sit cross-legged facing Mecca with the hands placed upon the thighs and is to focus on the Murshid (Guru or Teacher) while first learning to recite Dhikr.  The Murshid is seen as the spiritual guide and should be envisioned in the spiritual eye (so-called third eye between the eyebrows).  With more and more practice, the Mureed will learn to ascend higher and higher in consciousness until attaining the guidance of Mohammad and ultimately Allah.  In Sufism, Mohammad is seen as the only one who can lead you to Allah.

   There are two usual practices for the words of the actual Dhikr itself; the first is to recite “Huwa Allah alladhi la ilaha illa hu (There is no God but Allah)”.  The other and less common (though considered more powerful by some) is to recite the 100 names of Allah (There are 99 names of God + Allah).  They are as such (names taken from The Shambhala Guide to Sufism by Carl W Ernst):
1. Huwa Allah alladhi la ilaha illa hu (There is no God but Allah)
2. al-Rahman (merciful)
3. al-Rahim (compassionate)
4. al-Malik (King)
5. al-Quddus (Holy)
6. al-Salam (peace)
7. al-Mu’min (faithful)
8. al-muhayman (preserver)
9. al-‘Aziz (glorious)
10. al-Jabbar (overpowering)
11. al-Mutakabbir (Lofty)
12. al-Khaliq (Creator)
13. al-Bari (Originator)
14. al-Musawwir (Shaper)
15. al-Ghaffar (Forgiver)
16. al-Qahhar (Wrathful)
17. al-Wahhab (Giver)
18. al-Razzaq (Nourisher)
19. al-Fattah (Conqueror)
20. al-‘Alim (Knower)
21. al-Qabid (Seizer)
22. al-Basit (Liberator)
23. al-Khafid (Diminisher)
24. al-Rafi (Exalter)
25. al-Mu’izz (Strengthener)
26. al-Mudhill (Abaser)
27. al-Sami (Hearing)
28. al-Basir (Seeing)
29. al-Hakam (Judge)
30. al-‘Adl (Just)
31. al-Latif (Gracious)
32. al-Khabir (Understanding)
33. al-Halim (Gentle)
34. al-‘Azim (Great)
35. al-Ghafur (Pardoning)
36. al-Shakur (Grateful)
37. al-‘Ali (Lofty)
38. al-Kabir (Mighty)
39. al-Hafiz (Preserver)
40. al-Muqit (Guardian)
41. al-Hasib (Sufficer)
42. al-Jalil (splendid)
43. al-Karim (Noble)
44. al-Raqib (Watcher)
45. al-Mujib (Answering)
46. al-Wasi (Comprehending)
47. al-Hakim (Wise)
48. al-Wadud (Loving)
49. al-Majid (Exalted)
50. al-Ba’ith (Source)
51. al-Shahid (Witness)
52. al-Haqq (Truth)
53. al-Wakil (Protector)
54. al-Qawi (Powerful)
55. al-Matin (Strong)
56. al-Wali (Ruler)
57. al-Jamil (Beautiful)
58. al-Muhsi (Reckoner)
59. al-Mubdi (Maker)
60. al-Mu’id (Restorer)
61. al-Muhyi (Giver of Life)
62. al-Mumit (Giver of Death)
63. al-Hayy (Living)
64. al-Qayyum (Eternal)
65. al-Wajid (Finder)
66. al-Majid (Supreme)
67. al-Wahid (Single)
68. al-Samad (Everlasting)
69. al-Qadir (Forceful)
70. al-Muqtadir (Decree of Destiny)
71. al-Muqaddim (quikener)
72. al-mu’akhkhir (Delayer)
73. al-Awwal (First)
74. al-Akhir (Last)
75. al-Zahir (Outer)
76. al-Batin (Inner)
77. al-Wali (Ruler)
78. al-Muta’ali (Sublime)
79. al-Barr (Good)
80. al-Tawwab (Absolver)
81. al-Muntaqim (Avenger)
82. al-‘Afuw (Exonerator)
83. al-Ra’uf (Kind)
84. Malik al-Mulk (Holder of the Kingdom)
85. Dhu al-Jalal wal-Ikram (Majestic and Generous)
86. al-Muqsit (Apportioner)
87. al-Jami’ (Encompasser)
88. al-Ghani (Rich)
89. al-Mughanni (Enricher)
90. al-Mani’ (Preventer)
91. al-Darr (Damager)
92. al-Nafi’ (Provider)
93. al-Nur (Light)
94. al-Hadi (Guide)
95. al-Badi’ (Renewer)
96. al-Baqi’ (Subsisting)
97. al-Warith (Inheritor)
98. al-Rashid (Leader)
99. al-Subur (Patient)

   Of the names of Allah, they are generally divided into two categories: his merciful names and his Wrathful names.  A little common sense is all that is needed to determine which names are of what classification, for example; al-Darr (Damager) is obviously a Wrathful name, while al-Nafi (Provider) is obviously a merciful name.  The beginning aspirants in Sufism are usually instructed to start with the Merciful names of God in the Dhikr, while the more advanced Sufis in Dhikr can employ the Wrathful names. 

   It is also thought by some schools of Sufism that a different mystical/magickal formula is represented by each name.  An example of a Formula of one of these names is presented by Ibn ‘ata Allah in the previously mentioned work of his on Dhikr: “The Divine name al-Hasib (The Sufficer): if the reciter is enamored of possessions, he leaves them behind for isolation, in contentment with the Sufficer or The Sufficient.”.

The 100 Spiritual Stations of Answari

   Many Suffis throughout history have mapped out the levels of spiritual attainment in various levels of minuteness.  The simplest system employed was that of Shaqiq al-Balkhi in his The Manners of Worship. He says that essentially there are four stations which the Suffi traverses in reaching Baqa: 1)asceticism, 2)fear, 3)longing, and 4)love.
Other later authors wrote out other lists of different levels of spiritual experience.  The most comprehensive of all of these is probably the 100 spiritual stations of Answari.  These shouldn’t necessarily be looked at as Veils or spiritual paths in the sense that the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah is employed, but rather the Sufi spiritual stations best represent aspects of the relationship between the Sufi and Allah at various levels of spiritual maturity and occasionally his relation to the outside world.  The 100 Spiritual Stations of Answari (taken also from The Shambhala Guide to Sufism) are as such:
1. Yaqza (Wakefulness)
2. Tawba (Repentance)
3. Muhasaba (Self-Examination)
4. Inaba (Penitence)
5. Tafakkur (Thought)
6. Tadhakkur (Remembrance)
7. I’tisam (Continence)
8. Firar (Flight)
9. Riyada (Discipline)
10. Sama’ (Audition)
11. Hizn (Sorrow)
12. Khawf (Fear)
13. Ishfaq (Compassion)
14. Khushu’ (Fearfulness)
15. Ikhbat (Abasement)]
16. Zuhd (Asceticism)
17. Wara’ (Abstinence)
18. Tabattul (Renunciation)
19. Raja (Hope)
20. Rughba (Affection)
21. Ra’aya (Kindness)
22. Muraqaba (meditation)
23. Hurma (Reverence)
24. Ikhlas (Sincerity)
25. Tahdib (Refinement)
26. Istiqama (Uprightness)
27. Tawakkul (Trust in God)
28. Tawfid (Resignation)
29. Thiqa (trustworthiness)
30. Taslim (Surrender)
31. Sabr (Patience)
32. Rida (Satisfaction)
33. Shukr (Thankfulness)
34. Haya (Bashfulness)
35. Sidq (truthfulness)
36. Ithar (preferring others)
37. Khuluq (character)
38. Tawadu (Humility)
39. Futuwwa (Chivalrousness)
40. Inbisat (Joy)
41. Qasd (Seeking)
42. ‘Azm (Resolution)
43. Irada (Desire)
44. Adab (Manners)
45. Yaqin (certainty)
46. Uns (intimacy)
47. Dhikr (Recollection)
48. Faqr (Poverty)
49. Ghani (wealth)
50. Murad (Desired)
51. Ihsan (Beneficence)
52. ‘Ilm (Knowledge)
53. Hikma (Wisdom)
54. Basira (Vision)
55. Firasa (insight)
56. Ta’zim (magnification)
57. Ilham (inspiration)
58. Sakina (tranquility)
59. Tama’nina (Peace)
60. Himma (Consecration)
61. Mahabba (Love)
62. Ghayra (jealousy)
63. Shawq (Yearning)
64. Qalaq (Agitation)
65. ‘Atsh (Thirst)
66. Wajd (Ecstasy)
67. Dahsh (stupor)
68. Hayaman (astonishment)
69. Barq (Lightning)
70. Dhawq (Taste)
71. Lahz (Gazing)
72. Waqt (Time)
73. Safa (Purity)
74. Surur (Happiness)
75. Sirr (Secret)
76. Nafas (Breath)
77. Ghurba (Exile)
78. Gharq (Drowning)
79. Ghayba (Hiddenness)
80. Tamakkun (Firmness)
81. Mukashafa (Unveiling)
82. Mushahada (Witnessing)
83. Mu’ayana (Contemplating)
84. Hayat (Life)
85. Qabd (Constriction)
86. Bast (Expression)
87. Sukr (intoxication)
88. Sawh (Sobriety)
89. Ittisal (Conjunction)
90. Infisal (Separation)
91. Ma’rifa (Gnosis)
92. Fana (Annihilation)
93. Baqa (Subsistence)
94. Tahqiq (Realization)
95. Talbis (Concealment)
96. Wujud (Finding)
97. Tajrid (Separation)
98. Tafrid (Isolation)
99. Jam (Joining)
100. Tawhid (Unity)

   Now I have neither the time (nor the energy!) to comment on each station.  But I will make some general comments and a few specific examples.  Many of the stations seem to be the same or too similar to recognize a different “station” from another one.  The same thought has probably occurred while reading the names of Allah as well.  This is largely due to the fact that many words in Arabic do not translate into English very well.  English is a comparatively new language and lacks the spiritual vocabulary of languages like Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Arabic. 

   Aside from this, with the spiritual stations some of the repition or seeming similar stations is because the Sufi is reaching various levels of realization and spiritual attainment as he passes through these stations.  With each new level of attainment, many former obstacles and circumstances occur again but on a slightly higher level. I will try to label the different levels or groups of stations:

1-13: The Devotional Stage.  It reflects the spiritual and even social events that occur in the Sufis life as he first starts to worship God seriously.

14-40: The Ascetic Stage.  Renunciation with Mystical practices and their results on the person mark this stage.  At this point the Sufi has decided to pursue God on a personal level above that of the usual Mosque-attending Muslim.  Most Sufis still attend the Mosque just as much or more than any other Muslim, but the Sufi in this stage takes his devotion to another level of personal relationship through self-sacrifice.  This stage ends in “joy” as the final attainment.  This is a joy on a higher and more personal level then the “compassion” that marks the end of the last stage.

31-74: The Mystic Stage-In this stage the Sufi has achieved the humility and renunciation that is the primary aim of The Ascetic Stage, and can now begin “Seeking” (station 31) for Allah internally.  The Spiritual stations that comprise this stage all have to do with the mystical experiences on some level or another for a Sufi pursuing God through serious and diligent Mystical practice.

75-100: The Realization Stage.  This is the fourth and final stage (That I perceive in a general scope) of the 100 stations.  The stations that comprise this Stage all deal with the final mystical attainments and dark-nights of the Soul that occur before that final Union with God.   

The 7 Substances of ‘Ala al-Dawla and the 6 Centers of Naqshbandi

   The 7 substances of ‘Ala al-Dawla were employed by the Kubrawi school of Sufism.  They were used to aid in meditation and Dhikr and are very similar in nature to the 7 pranas of the Hindus.  Each substance emanated from a separate part of the 7-fold body in Sufism, and was learned to be contacted and used in meditation for deepening realization.  The substances were linked to a part of the body, a class of person, a prophet and a color.
 First there is the Qalab, this substance originates with the Physical body and its level of consciousness is that of the Barbarian.  It is represented by the Prophet Adam due to his being the first man, and to a grayish color.

Second is the Nafs, which emanates from the Etheric body.  Its level of consciousness is represented by the Infidel.  Aside from the usual Islamic concept of an Infidel, you could simply look at it as anyone who does not acknowledge a supreme God, regardless of name.  The Prophet is Noah and its color is blue. 

Third is the Qalb, which emanates from Astral Body.  Its level of consciousness is represented by the Muslim (Arabic for “one who submits”).  Its Prophet is Abraham as its color is red.

Fourth is the Sirr, which emanates from the mental body.  Its level of consciousness is someone who has complete faith in God.  Its Prophet is Moses and color is white.

Fifth is the Ruh, which emanates from the Lower Trinity of the Heavenly Body (the Neshamah of the Kabbalah).  Its consciousness is the saint, its prophet David and its color is Yellow.

Sixth is the Khafi, which emanates from the second of Trinity heaven bodies (The Yechidah of the Kabbalah).  Its consciousness is that of a Prophet, its prophet is Jesus, and its color is black. 

Finally the 7th is the Haqq, which emanates from the spark of God inherent in the soul (called the Chiah by the Kabbalah).  Its type of consciousness is that of Mohammad, its prophet is Mohammad and its color is green. 

Aside from this Kubrawi school’s system of spiritual energies of the body, the Naqshbandi school created a scheme employing 6 of those substances and linking them to certain subtle energy centers on the body.  The Nafs is below the navel, the Sirr is in the cardiac plexus, the Khafi is in the Cavernous Plexus, the Akhfa (replaces Haqq) is at the top of the head near the Pineal Gland, the Qalb is two fingers beneath the left breast and the Ruh is two fingers below the right breast.  While slightly different than the chakra system of the Hindus, it is very likely that it still had an effect on this scheme’s development among the Sufis simply because like Dhikr, it was developed after the invasions into India when Indian culture was mixing into Muslim culture.  Still, almost all mystical systems around the world have originated a chakra-like scheme on their own, so I can’t short-cut the Sufis of their creative genius.  If you meditate enough, its almost impossible to avoid stumbling across at least one or two of the Chakras even if you are totally ignorant of their existence. 

The Planes of Nazul and Uruj

   In Sufism, the doctrine of Involution and Evolution is expressed in the terms of Nazul and Uruj.  Nazul is the process of Involution by which Allah descends to man, i.e. the process of his manifestation from an unknowable reality to a knowable reality.  Uruj is the process of the mystic, being the spiritual evolution of man to God.  The reader acquainted with Max Heindel’s “Cosmo-Conception” will recognize a similar system of involution and evolution.  In Sufism, this is a seven fold process in Nazul and a five-fold process in Uruj.  The levels of Nazul and Uruj are as such:

1. Zat-The unmanifested
2. Ahadiat-Plane of Eternal Consciousness
3. Wahdat-Plane of Consciousness
4. Wahdaniat-Plane of Abstract Ideas
5. Arwah-The spiritual plane
6. Ajsam-The Astral Plane
7. Insan-The Physical Plane

1. Nasut-Material world
2. Malakut-mental world
3. Jabarut-astral plane
4. Lahut-spiritual plane
5. Hahut-Plane of consciousness

   In Sufism, the planes of Uruj correspond to the elements in this order: Ether, air, fire, water, earth.  The planes of Nazul correspond to the Macrocosm in this order: Celestial, Lunar, Solar, and then the four kingdoms of Mineral, Vegetable, Animal and Man. 

Thus ends the lecture on Sufism.  As mentioned above, this is an introductory lecture.  I believe some of the techniques and ideals mentioned in the above lecture are at least good for scholarly purposes of the Aspirant, and hopefully some will also pick up and maybe even adapt some of the ideals for their own practices.  It of course is the most effective if practiced in its inherent religion.

Ishq Allah Mabud Allah” (God is Love, Lover, and Beloved). 
~Sufi Axiom

A Church, a Temple or a Ka’ba Stone,
Quran or Bible or a Martyrs bone,
All these and more my heart can tolerate,
Since my Religion now is Love alone
~Abul Ala

~Frater Veos
« Last Edit: November 30, 2007, 04:07:18 PM by Saer »
Soham Sivoham Aham Brahma Asmi Mahavakya
Suddha satchitananda purna parabrahma
Chidananda Rupa Sivoham Sivoham

November 30, 2007, 12:26:45 PM
Reply #1


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Informative article. This sect of mysticism is strikingly similar to others.
“I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.”

November 30, 2007, 01:47:12 PM
Reply #2


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Thanks for your work on the lecture, Veos. I'm sure Tempest Desh will be pleased :)

November 30, 2007, 06:06:16 PM
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Tempest Desh

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Awesome lecture, Veos!!! :biggrin: I was quite enlightened by this work (on top of all your other works) :biggrin:...Thanks so much :biggrin:...I do look forward to you Self-Initiation article and your continued presence here at Veritas as one of our great teachers :)...I do hope that the Council does allow this and other seemingly religious articles to remain, as they would provide a much needed new venue on metaphysics :wink:...Anywho...


« Last Edit: December 09, 2007, 07:11:42 PM by Tempest Desh »
"Appear as you are. Be as you appear." - Mawlana Rumi (ra)

November 30, 2007, 06:37:59 PM
Reply #4


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I've never seen so many happy faces in one post O_o

Edit: Indeed, I see no problem with this article, and I don't see why the Council and Members would have a problem either. I hope that there may be more to come.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2007, 06:40:39 PM by Hech »

November 30, 2007, 07:01:46 PM
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I'm glad to see such a good response.  Tempest, I am especially glad that you liked it because I wrote the article just for you due to your request.  In the future I will write some articles on other religious forms of mysticism but I will focus the most on Yoga because it has such a large scriptural basis for its mystic practices.  But for now, I'll direct my attention to the self-initiation article.  I believe it will benefit Veritas very much.   
Soham Sivoham Aham Brahma Asmi Mahavakya
Suddha satchitananda purna parabrahma
Chidananda Rupa Sivoham Sivoham

December 14, 2007, 09:32:10 PM
Reply #6

Tempest Desh

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I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, the additional prayers of the Sufis are referred to as 'awrad'. They consist of reciting various formulae that are provided to you by your murshid/pir. As you progress, the awrad, of course, get more and more time consuming, as you involve yourself more and more in the practice of Sufism. Just thought I might add two more cents...

Tempest Desh

EDIT: The wird of each Order is recited after the dawn prayer and the evening prayer, as per the Q'uran. Also, the extra prayers referred to are the sunnah and nafil (recommended and supererogatory) from the tradition of the Prophet (pbuh). Night prayer is known as tahajjud salah. Basically Sufis are solid Muslim, iow.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2011, 12:34:45 AM by Tempest Desh »
"Appear as you are. Be as you appear." - Mawlana Rumi (ra)

November 01, 2008, 02:32:27 PM
Reply #7

Tempest Desh

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    • View Profile - A chapter from Ibn Ata Allah's book Miftah al-Falah (The Key to Salvation and the Lamp for Spirits)

Just thought I might add these links...

Tempest Desh
« Last Edit: January 08, 2009, 09:03:07 PM by Tempest Desh »
"Appear as you are. Be as you appear." - Mawlana Rumi (ra)

August 01, 2009, 10:35:04 AM
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This is like the MOST INSIGHTFUL introductory article on sufism i've ever read!

Finally i understand least in a nutshell.

I loved sufi poetry and finally i understand where those words and rhymes comes from.

Thanx Veos! :bunny:

March 14, 2011, 10:50:29 AM
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Tempest Desh

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Just did some research recently and I've discovered that the eating habits (½ of the stomach is filled with food, ¼ with water, and the last ¼ is filled with the spirit of Allah through Quranic prayers) are actually derived from the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saws), who had just this approach to eating, etc. Thus, this practice is rooted in the sources of the Islamic faith and not borrowed from external traditions.
"Appear as you are. Be as you appear." - Mawlana Rumi (ra)

August 05, 2013, 07:42:18 AM
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"Appear as you are. Be as you appear." - Mawlana Rumi (ra)