Siama Shah

Sufism is the heart of Islam-

Sufism (tasawuf in Arabic) represents the mystical dimension of Islamic religious life.

The phrase ‘mystical’ itself can be problematic in the sense that it can sometimes be

used to depict the occult or the quasimagical quackery of new age thinking or new

religious movements. It may also at times be used to express the sense of the

mysterious felt by those who assert some class of spirituality, yet Sufism has little, if

anything to do with these. Through following a series of devotional practises, which

lead to higher levels of ecstatic state, Sufis aspire to realise a condition in which they

are in direct communion with God. Sufism itself has been defined in many ways,

some view it as a continuous striving to cleanse ones self of all that is bad or evil in

order to acquire virtue, others view it as the path followed by an individual who is

seeking to free himself or herself from human vices and weaknesses in order to

acquire angelic qualities and conduct pleasing to God.

Sufism has been criticised heavily by Muslims as well as non-Muslims, while some

have argued from the perspective that Sufism is the ultimate heart of Islam.

If Sufism despite having differences from conventional Islam, is actually the heart of

Islam, then if so, why can’t the other sects of Islam such as the Shiite or the Wahabi

also be seen as the heart of Islam? The phrase ‘heart of Islam’ must be given a pinned

definition in this context, as some will see it as being the most important thing of the

Islamic religion while others will see it simply as Islam’s truth. Both interpretations of

the phrase ‘heart of Islam’ are vitally the same yet evidence can adjust whether they

are the primary hearts of Islam or even secondary.

Sufism originated as a reaction to certain features of orthodox Islam. They regarded

the mere observance of religious law as a matter of outer conformity and they

encouraged a desire for inner, personal experience of the divine through meditation

and other means. They encouraged the rejection of wealth and class distinctions and

based themselves on the simpler lives led by the prophet Muhammad s.a.w and the

first caliphs in contrast to the worldliness of the Umayyad and Abbaasid caliphates.

Sufis are characterised by their particular attachment to zikr (remembrance of Allah)

and asceticism (seclusion). The early Sufis focused on the central idea of the love of

God, which was introduced by Rabia-al- Adawiyah in the eighth century.  From the

earliest history of Islam, Sufism gradually developed to take on an organisational

form. Pious individuals formed groups or 'brotherhoods' known as turuq (plural of

tariqah, which means 'path') . Each tariqah would be headed by a Sheikh or a spiritual

guide and consist of devotees who saw the Sheikh as a true teacher on the path to

God. In the course of time, different turuq developed, each having its own teachings

and instructions for purifying the heart . 

If Sufism really is the heart of Islam then there must be factual evidence to support

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this view, which I am now going to analyse and interpret.

Firstly, although Sufism mostly concentrates on the inner world of man and deals

with the meaning and effect of religious commandments on mans spirit and heart and

is therefore abstract, it does not contradict any of the Islamic ways based on the Quran

and the Sunna. In fact its source is the Quran and the Sunna, as well as the

conclusions drawn from the Quran and the Sunna via deduction by the purified

scholars of Islam. ...

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