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What is Sufism?

The Shaykh of  Olanlar (=The perfect Ones) Convent, Ibrahim Effendi ( k.s. ), defines Sufism as follows,

The beginning of Sufism is said  to be inanimate
The end of Sufism is said to be a sultan at the heart throne

On the  path of love  Sufism is  to accept nothingness
In  Reality it is said that Sufism is to be a quest in the palace of secrets

Sufism is  to pass away individuality
It is said that Sufism is to become Light  by purifying the soul

Sufism is to awaken the lamp of Divine light within the heart
It is said that Sufism is to burn with the fire of love.

Sufism is  to roll the book of existence (= to annihilate self)
It is said that Sufism is to be  a true Moslem

Sufism is to be aware of the Divine Laws eminently
It is said that Sufism is to prescribe remedies to all the sufferers

Sufism is  to open the door of existence with the name of God
It is said that Sufism is to destroy Self

Sufi! Sufism is to convert knowledge into action
All the words of  a Perfect Man  are like the  elixir of life

Sufism is to be cognizant of the expressions and their interpretations
It is said that Sufism is to discover  divine secrets within your heart

Sufism is  to be enchanted by the amazing presence of God
It is said that Sufism is to be fascinated by the infinite secrets of God

Sufism is  to renounce all  things but save love for God in the heart
It is said that Sufism is to have  faith in the heart  and to make it  God’s throne

Sufism is  to think Eastern and Western in every breathe
It is said that Sufism is to be a guard of all the people

Sufism is  to see God in every molecule in the world
It is said  that Sufism is to be like  sun light which illuminates the world

Sufism is to be considerate to  seventy-two nations
It is said that Sufism is to be Solomon in the world of  mind

Sufism is  to obey the orders of  Holy Qur’an strictly till passing away
It is said that Sufism is to deserve  God’s mercy

Sufism is to guide  the whole universe with the great name of God
It is said that Sufism is to be able to  interpret Holy Qur’an

Sufism is to  see God everywhere
It is said that Sufism is the way that makes the difficulties easy for the Sufi

Sufism is to make your heart the cellar of Divine knowledge
It is said that Sufism is to be an ocean whereas a single drop

Sufism is  to burn the whole body with the fire of ‘ la’(=inexistence)
It is said that Sufism is to be a Perfect Man through the light of ‘ illa’

Sufism is to be aware of the eighteen thousand world
It is said that Sufism is to be a firman to solar system

Sufism is  to invite people to the Sufi path  saying ‘God is enough’
It is said that Sufism is to be enchanted by  the words, ‘Return your God’

Sufism is  to die thousands of times a day and to come to life again
It is said that Sufism is to experience union with God

Sufism is  Sufi’s absorption in God
It is said that Sufism   is  to attain the stage of nearness to God

Sufism is  to give the  heart to the beloved  and become free
It is said that Sufism is to be the lover of  true beloved

Ibrahim! Sufism is to be a servant of God
It is said that Sufism is to let the Divine Law live in heart as an evidence

Definitions of Sufism

One of the Khalifs of Shaykh Ibrahim Effendi(k.s), Hazrat Sunullah Gaibi, from Kutahya, defines  Sufism,  saying that it consists of self-annihilation,  noble behaviour and  entering every exalted quality.

 In Masnawi Sharif Hazrat Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi says, ‘It was asked to a holy person what Sufism was. He said it was to find serenity at the time of grief and sorrow.’

Hazrat Shaykh  Abu Muhammad al-Jariri said, ‘ Sufism is to adopt every higher quality and to leave every low quality.

Hazrat Junayd Baghdadi stated in his definition of Sufism that God should make you die to yourself and should make you live in him.
 
Below are  some other definitions of Sufism  by  famous Sufis quoted from Tasavvuf ve Dinler Tarihi ( = Sufism and the History of  Religions ) by  Dr Mustafa Kara.

Ruwayn ibn Ahmad Baghdadi said,  ‘ Sufism consists of abandoning oneself to God in accordance with what God wills. Sufism is founded on three traits adhering to poverty and dependence on God attaining the virtues of generosity and selfless giving and abandoning resistance and choice . Sufism is to devote yourself. If you don’t do this,  then don’t stand the pain and sufferings of Sufis.

Abu Bakr ash Shibli: ‘Sufism consists of mutual friendship and love. It  is  being with God by  letting go off all negative qualities.  It is a fire which burns. Sufism is to curb your senses and guard your breaths. Sufism is polytheism because it is to protect heart from worldly things. However, the God and the universe are the ‘One’ and the same thing.’

Amr ibn Uthman al- Makki : ‘Sufism is that at each moment the servant should be in agreement with what is most suitable at that moment.’

Abu Said Miheni:  Sufism is to achieve a sense of direct communion between ‘Heart’ and the God.

Ja’far Huidi: Sufism means taking up every sublime moral characteristics and turning  away from every low quality.

Abu Bakr Kathani:  Sufism  consists of high-quality comportment. So one whose comportment improves in quality, his purity will similarly become increased.

Other definitions of  Sufism.(Who said them first couldn’t be  defined)
Sufism is
              generosity, grace  and  purity.
              to be aware and watchful.
              to be purified from dirt and to get rid of grudge.
              to leave lust and will.
              to be modest, to serve food and drink and to extend hospitality.
              to be wise, loyal, generous and have good moral quality.
              to be with God  but  to live in society.
              generosity and fidelity.
              not to be hurt or not to hurt.
              the knowledge of heart.
              to give support to each other.
              to learn how to love and be loved.
              the  gathering of  opposites.

All these definitions are  as if  the flowers of the garden of Sufi’s heart which are watered by Prophet Mohammed’s light spring. Although these definitions look different,  they all express the same meaning . The differences are only  because of the Sufi Masters’  dispositions and attitudes. All these definitions have gained their colour and harmony from Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). He is the Pir of Sufi Masters. These definitions are the rays of the eternal Sun. God is the owner of them. The  definitions  of all  masters, concerning Sufism, are correct. Because   all these definitions at first  arise from the hearts’ of  those who feel and experience Sufism  and then they are described through words.

After examining these definitions of Sufism , the following things  can be said about it,

Man as a soul apart from body is the most honourable of all  living creatures. There is a hidden Truth which resides within man and this causes unsatisfaction. Neither prosperity nor status, position, glory or fame is enough to make him happy. The one who wants to find  peace and  tranquillity starts to seek them. Thus, the need for  training occurs at that point.

Those who wants to be on the Sufi Path or who wants to join the Sufi wayfarers can  get some information by reading some books. However, the information gained from the books are not enough for Sufi training. Because Sufism is a path  of devotion. We should accept our nothingness. With regard to this  a perfect master says, ‘A Sufi student should learn  the  two important principles of Sufism  at the beginning of his training. Firstly he should accept his nothingness  and secondly he should  be  silent.  One  should realize that everything is a manifestation of God and seeking an independent existence is only an  imagination. Sufi should listen silently  to reach the stage of awareness. When one starts to realize the importance of accepting his nothingness and staying silent ,  the door of Truth opens  partly.