Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Sufi

Mystics and Sufis (June 16, 2009)

 Sufis refers to those who wore wool (souf) clothing during summers and winters.

Probably the first known Muslim Sufi is Abou Hachem who died in 780.  Muslim mystics and Sufis, of both genders, judged that sexual desire was the main enemy for 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” Hasan Basri said of the woman Sufi Rabi3a (Rabia) 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 precondition 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 and the dividing lines are shifting constantly.

The veil that hides the “others” is flimsy because love is a perpetual attempt to discover the ultimate in beauty, intensity, and refinement.

Fundamentally, Islam is the religion of reason.  (Islam dropped all the abstract myths of the known religions of the time, mainly the Christian dogma)

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 ghafla) 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.

Persia’s Safavide Empire (1501-1750 AC) . (Part 5, March 2, 2009)

The Safavid Dynasty claims Safi-al Din (1252-1334) as its ancestor. Safi-al Din was a sheikh or Moslem Sunni cleric in Ardabil of current Azerbaijan and followed a Sufi (mystic) Sunni movement called “Al Tariqa Safavid” or the way for a clear life style. The Safavid dynasty is Turkish by origin.

Shah Ismail (1501-1524), a warrior, musician, and poet, founded this dynasty after an agitated reign. He imposed the Shiaa Moslem sect as the religion of the dynasty. This conversion from Sunni to Shiaa was to challenge the powerful neighboring Sunni dynasties such as the Ottoman Empire in the west, the Uzbek in the North and the Mogul in the east.  Shah Ismail extended his territory by conquering Uzbekistan and opted for Tabriz as Capital. Then he captured the city of Herat in current Afghanistan. In 1514, the Ottoman Sultan Selim I defeats Shah Ismail in 1514 at Chaldiran. This military defeat ended temporary any further expansion westward.

Shah Tahmasp I (1524-1576) brought in a long period of prosperity. The Safavid dynasty had to wait for Shah Abbas I (158-1629) to expand its territory and launch economic development. Shah Abas re-organized the army, transferred the Capital to Ispahan (Asfahan) in 1598 and contacted European monarchs such as Austria and Spain.  Shah Abbas concluded peace treaties with his neighboring powers and extended his supremacy to the Arab/Persia Golf.

The Safavid dynasty designed wonderful gardens (pairidaeza), sort of oasis for music, fruit trees, running water, and café shops. Ispahan received the best opulence in architecture and lavish monuments. Europe got hooked to Persia carpet.  The Royal Palace is the center for exquisite workshop (ketab khaneh) of luxury book binding and items of highly skilled labor that are exported overseas. Coffee and tobacco become the rage in Persia.

The Safavid Empire extended from Iraq to Afghanistan. 

In 1722, the Afghans occupied Ispahan and destroyed part of it; thus ending this period of prosperity and any further territorial expansion. 

During the reign of Naser al Din (1848-1896), the vizier Amir Kabir crushed a new sect the Bahai and the European colonialists infiltrated Persia big time through exploitation of mineral concessions.

After Naser al Din was assassinated, Mozafar al Din conceded a parliamentary constitution in 1906.




March 2023

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