ON SUFI APPROACH TO ISLAM - Institute of Islamic Studies...

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Institute of Islamic Studies and Centre for Study of Society and Secularism Asghar Ali Engineer is a rights activist and heads the two organisations, Institute of Islamic Studies and Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. He has authored or edited 44 books on such issues as Islam and communal and ethnic problems in India and South Asia in general. For links to his other articles, please go to the top page of this site. ON SUFI APPROACH TO ISLAM Asghar Ali Engineer (Islam and Modern Age, March, 2002) Historically speaking sufism appeared in Islam towards the end of first century of Islamic calender. Some sufis of course maintain that the Prophet of Islam himself is the mainspring of sufism and they draw inspiration from him for their spiritual and devotional practices. Also, there is debate about the meaning of the word sufi. Some maintain that it is derived from the word suf, which means coarse wool as sufis used to wear coarse woolen overall. Some others maintain that it is derived from the Greek word meaning knowledge and wisdom. Whatever its meaning the word sufi has been widely used in Islamic history for a distinct set of doctrines and practices within Islamic frame-work. This school of thought had wide following among the Muslims. The sufi Islam, it is interesting to note, is love-oriented while the theological Islam practised by the ‘ulama, is manly law-oriented. The sufi God is God of love whereas the concept of God in theological Islam is punishing God for violation of Islamic law. It is for this reason that masses of Muslims have been greatly attracted by the sufi Islam than the theological Islam which has intellectual appeal and orientation. The sufi Islam, on the other hand, has spiritual and emotional appeal. While theological Islam is rigorous and rigid in approach the Sufi Islam is flexible and soothing to the soul. While theological Islam lays stress on practice of shari‘a law, the sufi Islam lays stress on devotion to God. It does not, however, mean that sufis are negligent of shari‘a practices, at least not all. There are several schools within the sufi Islam. Some follow the shari‘a provisions quite rigorously and there are some which are on other extreme who do not give much importance to shari‘a practices. And there are some who are in between and give importance to both devotion and law. In India Chishti school has been very popular and all major sufi saints in India have been from this school. The sufis of this school follow the doctrine of what is called wahdat al-wujud postulated by the great sufi saint Muhi al-Din Ibn-i-Arabi. Ibn Arabi has exercised great influence on sufis of India as his doctrine of wahdat al-wujud is quite accommodative and flexible in many ways. According to this doctrine the real existence wujud is that of Allah whereas all of us are its manifestations. In fact entire universe is His manifestation. Thus such a doctrine leads to demolition of barriers between people of one religion and the other. This doctrine
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This note was uploaded on 10/03/2010 for the course CSE 1234 taught by Professor Cho during the Spring '10 term at Bangladesh University of Eng and Tech.

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ON SUFI APPROACH TO ISLAM - Institute of Islamic Studies...

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