Comparison on Sharia and Sufism Term Paper

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Islam: Sufism and Shariah

Islam is grounded in some core concepts which include Shariah, Tariqa, Tassawuf and Tawhid. Another concept that might also be of significance is Sufism. The reason for this slight doubt on its importance is due to the fact that Sufism doesn't have any Islamic support through Quran or Hadith. Mysticism wasn't ever a part of Islam though it has been practiced all over the Muslim world and great sufis have emerged from many areas most prominently in the Sub-Continent. These mystics have played important role in the spread of Islam and thus their contributions are duly appreciated. However we have yet to understand the connection between core concepts of Islam most specifically Shariah and Sufism. According to Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, Shariah is of vital importance to the Sufi way of life. And Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari has stressed the significance of this link in the following excerpt:

The Shariah has three parts: knowledge, action, and sincerity of motive (ikhlas); unless you fulfil the demands of all these parts, you do not obey the Shariah. And when you obey the Shariah you obtain the pleasure of God, which is the most supreme good in this world and the Hereafter. The Qur'an says: "The pleasure of God is the highest good." Hence, the Shariah comprehends all the good of this world and the next, and nothing is left out for which one has to go beyond the Shariah.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Comparison on Sharia and Sufism Assignment

The tariqah ["way"] and the haqiqah ["reality"] for which the Sufis are known, are subservient to the Shariah, as they help to realize its third part, namely, sincerity. Hence they are sought in order to fulfil the Shariah, not to achieve something beyond the Shariah. The raptures and ecstasies which the Sufis experience, and the ideas and truths which come to them in the course of their journey, are not the goal of Sufism. They are rather myths and fancies on which the children of Sufism are fed. One has to pass over them all and reach the stage of satisfaction (rida) which is the final goal of suluk ["travelling," i.e. The Sufi path] and jadhbah ["overwhelming love"]. The purpose of traversing the stages of tariqah and haqiqah is nothing other than the realization of ikhlas which involves the attainment of rida. Only one out of a thousand Sufis is graced with the three illuminations (tajalliyat sih ganah) and gnostic visions, given ikhlas and elevated to the stage of rida.

Once we understand what exactly is Shariah and what exactly is Sufism, it would become easier to understand what is link between the two and how does Shariah provide support to Sufism. Islam as a religion is composed of a very important and completely irreplaceable law called Shariah. Shariah is actually the way of life as given by Allah and revealed through Quran. For Muslims, it is mandatory to follow religion in its true essence by following Shariah. "Most often than not, those persons who are assiduous in following the Shariah are seen as being led to the Tariqah (the path of tasawwuf or Sufism). For the few successful travelers on the path, the grace of God terminates their journey at the exalted station of Haqiqah (Divine Truth). An unshakable belief in Divine Unity (tawhid) is the cornerstone of the structure of spirituality in Islam. Therefore, those persons who devoted themselves to the spiritual life came to be called ahl-i tawhiid (people of Unity) ahl-e-Haqq (people of Truth, i.e., of God). Tasawwuf (Islamic mysticism) is appropriately called the "science of purity" of the human soul, and those who adhere to it live a purely virtuous life based on the Shariah. The Shariah and tariqah are both expressions of tasawwuf, like the reverse sides of a coin. These two aspects of tasawwuf as a discipline are aimed at providing the means of union with the Divine. Both the male and the female go through the special discipline provided by tasawwuf and delineated by the renowned masters of the Islamic spiritual orders, who have provided guidance ever since the physical departure of the embodiment of Islamic spirituality, namely, the Prophet of Islam and his companions."

It is now important to see how Shariah was given to mankind and how it was meant to be imposed. Shariah is the way of life as ordained by Allah in the holy book Quran. The revelations together form the Shariah and it is indeed a very important system as revealed by the Quran:

If We had sent down this Quran upon a mountain thou wouldst have seen it humbled, split asunder out of the fear of God. (LIX, 21)

This verse shows that it was known that when the revelations are made, man would not be able to fully comprehend the seriousness or importance of the system. It was thus said that had it been revealed on a mountain, it would have split in pieces due to the very significance of the system. The revelations have thus been extremely important in their effect and in their need in a man's life. The earlier suras state: "Surely this [the Revelation] is a Reminder; so let him who will, take unto his Lord a way" (LXXIII, 19; LXXVI, 29).

In the Quran, Islam is mentioned as "the Way of God," which makes it clear that Islam is the way ordained by Allah, chosen for the people so that they would know which system to follow and how to live their lives. This path includes both esoterism and exoterism. Hwoever it is believed that "the Way to God," mentioned only in these two suras, is in the clear direction of the esoteric path.

No one probably understands the importance of loving God more than the group that calls itself the slaves of God. However here a distinction needs to be made: those who consider themselves the slaves are those who have taken upon themselves to love God in a way that none has ever done. Does that make the Prophet and His companions also sufis? That is one question which cannot be answered in black and white. It is sure true that Prophet and his companions loved Allah with a strength that goes beyond anything we know. However to say that Allah has actually been present in the very souls of these great men would be very true because they never really faltered and their love for God never wavered.

The strength of love is similar to those we find in Sufis of relatively modern period. These men gave up their lives for the pure love of God but how they followed Shariah and to what extent is what we need to understand. Does Shariah have a place for Sufis? Shariah sure places great emphasis on loving Allah but mysticism to the extent of becoming a hermit is definitely not allowed. Islam has to be practiced in the very thickness of life. Sufis often followed another sufi in their quest to love God and in this, they sometimes started loving the master or the murshid to an extent that it became wrong according to Islamic principles.

Prophet and his Companions cannot be charged with this at all. For them, Allah was first and foremost and they would have gone against anyone if the person didn't follow the right path, no matter how much they loved him. Sufi tradition however is definitely grounded in the same concept of slavehood. This group of slaves is discussed by another writer in these words:

third group also is spoken of in the earlier Revelations, namely, "the Righteous" (al-abrar). This does not alter the main twofold division of the community, for the Righteous are given to drink a draft that has been flavored at Tasnim (LXXXIII, 27-28), the same fount at which "the Nigh" drink directly. This suggests that the Righteous are following in the footsteps of the Foremost and that their aspirations are set toward the station of nearness. In a parallel way, they are not yet fully realized; nonetheless, esoteric status is confirmed in another very early sura where they are said to drink a draft that has been flavored at the fountain of Kafur (LXXVI, 5-6). Those who are privileged to drink directly from this other supreme fountain are named "the slaves of God" ('ibad Allah), a designation that has two distinct meanings in the Quran, one inclusive of all beings -- even Satan is a slave of God -- and the other, as in the present context, exclusive of all who have not realized the essence of slavehood, which is extinction in God. The slaves of God not only drink directly from Kafur but they cause it to flow at will, "making it gush forth abundantly."This suggests a spontaneous and inevitable cause -- effect connection between the "irresistible" emptiness of the slaves, in themselves the personification of spiritual poverty (faqr), and the extreme plentitude of Divine Riches symbolized by the fountain. "Seek to draw nigh unto Me by that which… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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