Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Rabi3a Al Adawiya

Mystics and Sufis (June 16, 2009)



            Sufis refers to those who wore wool (souf) clothing summers and winters. Probably the first known Moslem Sufi is Abou Achem who died in 780.  Moslem mystics and Sufis, of both genders, judged that sexual desire was the main enemy of rational thinking.  They comprehended this dialectic: You cannot vanquish your enemy if you fail to know the enemy completely since the mind is the most valued part in man. 

            In “Memorial of Saints” Hasaan Basri said of the woman Sufi Rabi3a Al Adawiya “I stayed a day and a night by Rabi3a, discussing with such ardor on spiritual ways and mystery of life that I had no idea if I was man and she a woman” The differences between genders that permit union is viewed as the pre-condition for access to plenitude.


            The Sufi Al Hallaj (857-922) was Persian and was burned alive for going too far in his mysticism; he said “God and I are one; I am the One I love; the One that I love has become me; I was exuberant in my love: I am chastised for that loving exuberance; my death is to survive and my life is to die; I feel that abolishing my bodily life is the noblest grace I was offered; my survival as I am is the worst of wrongdoing. My living has disgusted my soul. When I am dead you will find amid the calcified bones the surviving souls.”


            Love is no longer a sign of weakness. “Eros subjugates the hearts of only the one who carries the mark of excellence and a great delicate temperament” said Abi Hanifa. “Love has the motif of an imperishable vision of beauty and splendor.” said Addaylami. In the world of the Sufis separation of man-woman and man-god are blurry; the dividing lines are shifting constantly. The veil that hides the “others” is flimsy because love is a perpetual attempt to discovering the ultimate in beauty, intensity, and refinement.

            Fundamentally, Islam is the religion of reason.  Desire is thus the risk to take that might distract you of knowing God the focal point.  Sexuality is not opposite to civilization but desire (a component of sexuality) is.  Reason has to control desire; if desire (al hawa) meddle in science it pollutes it into error; if desire is exercised in power and overtakes the powerful then it corrupt both and lead to injustice. If desire intercedes in the Imam then religious laws and commandments are transformed from their proper meaning.  Imam Ibn Al Jawzi said: “there is no sleep heavier than inattention (al ghifla) and no servitude as complete as desire.  If we exercise constant reflection then desire cannot triumph.  There is negative correlation between reason and desire; as one takes the ascendance then the other wanes into oblivion. Thus, the will (azm) and capacity of discernment (ra2i) are the two main aspects of the mind”

            Desiring a woman may lead to succumbing to evil “the arrow in Satan’s arsenal that never misses is when he dispatches a woman to his victim”.  Al Hallaj said: “If you assign a sensual individual to legitimate functions then he will occupy you in illegitimate activities. Learn to control and govern your behavior.”


            Mystics are found in most religions; many of the “prophets” led mystic life of denigration of the body, eating lightly, fasting frequently, praying, contemplating nature and the living things around them, and seeking seclusion of society.  I have visited one of the “monasteries” of the Maronite monks who were secluded from society at the altitude of 1,400 meters where snow covers the tiny village 7 months a year.  I have seen the room (2*3) meters of Mar Charbel, beatified as Saint for miracles he performed after his death, and I could not believe how a person could sustain such rough weather wrapped in a single blanket on a thin mattress. Those mystic monks were allotted a garden to plough and they refused to meet with their parents and cousins.  They read only religious books.

            I may understand someone who experienced life to the hilt deciding to change his life style; but for an adolescent to start a mystic life does not seem right and normal. This kind of “grace” is pure expediting punishment for a youth imposed by institutions.


            Mystics and Sufis, of both genders, achieved the highest level of serenity in personal victories after mastering the characteristics of the enemy to defeat; they faced it boldly; they lost many battles but their purpose was to keep up the struggle.  Steadfastness in the struggle for the victory of rational thinking is the discipline of the courageous and strong men and women.




May 2023

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