Islam religion religion Buddhism Sufism Spirituality


10: Sufism

When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found. Sufi saying

The image of Sufism as a mystical tradition at odds with orthodox Islam is pretty much a Western invention. What may be true is that Sufism began as a reaction to the sybaritic superficiality of Islam under the caliphs who succeeded Muhammad and his companions and who quickly became more concerned with military victories, amassing wealth, and living a life of great comfort and indulgence than in following the teachings of the Quran. As warriors spread the faith and were rewarded with piles of booty, the ruling elite of Islam grew ever more materialistic and its caliphs began to deviate from the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet.

But Sufis also opposed the increasing literalism of Islamic legal interpretations, challenging the rulers and religious guides of their countries to be true to the essential spirit of that law rather than the letter, always seeking the hidden spiritual significance of the most common ritual or prayer. They sought deeper connections to the mystical core of the other great religious traditions, and so tended to be more tolerant than unreflective Muslims. In most cases, however, they were unable to affect the power of the largely corrupt dynastic caliphs, and so they turned to inner contemplative practices and to elevating the spiritual life of the common people.

Still, the vast majority of Sufis remained first and foremost orthodox Muslims who performed the prayers and followed the sunna. Rather than avoiding the worship practices of orthodox Islam, Sufis must do more of these practices even more carefully than other Muslims - contrary to the teachings of some American Sufis. Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri, a Sufi born in Iraq and educated in Europe and America, writes that the basic laws of Muslim worship, the Five Pillars, are "although necessary, not sufficient for most of the people who are sick in this vast hospital called the world." According to Fadhlalla, Sufism "starts with following the Islamic Law. . . with acquiring the knowledge of the outer practices in order to develop, evolve, and enliven the inner awakened state."1

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Popular Q&A

What are the similarities between the religions Hinduism and Buddhism and Islam

Between Hinduism and Buddhism there is some common tradition and the Buddha was a Hindu, but generally Hindus believe in a God and Buddhists do not. I am a Buddhist.
As to Islam it is an Abrahamic faith just like Christianity and Judaism are, meaning they trace there heritage back to Abraham and all believe in the same creator God. After that there are other similarities in the 3 but far more differences.

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