Tasawwuf i.e. the Sufi path is an esoteric dimension of Islam;
rather it is the soul of Islam. It has been defined in various
ways, which simply leads to a conclusion that it cannot be defined
through words. This path leads towards an understanding of the flame
of life that happens at the time of birth and disappears at the
time of death. It is not a concrete path going from point A to point
B rather an abstract view of understanding oneself by directly facing
and experiencing the ongoing process of life. To elaborate it further,
it can be called a circular journey in search of GOD where centers
meet without touching the peripheries. Although, Sufi path has been
subjected to criticism by a group of Islamic scholars on the grounds
of similarities with other religions, but to an average intelligence,
this should not pose a problem as all the religions were for the
human beings and as human beings have evolved with time so are the
religions. Even in Quran, Islam has not been mentioned
as a new religion rather a culmination of all the previous religions,
hence similarities are bound to be there. However, just as flower
does not mean anything without colours, likewise Islam loses
its meaning without Tasawwuf.
ALLAH says in Quran, "Wa maa Khalakthul jinna
wal insa illa li ya'budoon" i.e., I have not created the
jinns and humans except for worshipping (ME). (Al Quran 51:56).
However Sufis interpret, 'ya'budoon' (worshipping) as 'ya'reefoon'
(knowing) as is substantiated by the famous Hadith Qudsi which reads,
"Kuntu kanzan makhfiyya fa Ahbabthu an u'rafa fa khalaqthul
khalqa" (ALLAH says, " I was a hidden treasure.
I wanted to be known and so created the creation"). Hence,
the very purpose of our creation is to know Him. Now the question
arises, how to know Him? There is a famous Hadith Ihsaan
in answer to this question and which also forms the basis of Sufi
path. PROPHET MOHAMMED (Peace And Blessings Of ALLAH Be Upon
Him) says" Worship ALLAH as if you see Him, and if
you cannot achieve this state then at least feel as HE is seeing
you" This is the beginning of search for GOD or
an ultimate experience of finding oneself in real terms as basically,
one's own existence makes him aware of everything in and around
him. Sufis refer first part of Hadith as Mushahada,
while the second part as "Muraqba". It can also
be inferred from this Hadith that Mushahada is superior to
Muraqba. To attain to that state, Sufis practice Dhikr,
Ashghaal etc. to purify their souls. However, it does not
mean that they do not observe other Islamic practices, rather
on the contrary only then Salaat, Sum, Zakaat
and Hajj become meaningful otherwise these pillars of Islam
remain just the superficial acts without any power of transforming
a human life.
The foundation of Islam is based on Tawheed. To a Sufi
'La ilaha illal lah (there is no GOD but ALLAH) means La
mojud illal lah (i.e. nothing exist but ALLAH). This
is the most important reality of a Sufi's life that determines
his relationship with GOD. According to the Sufis,
The Creator is not distant from His Creation rather there
is just one presence everywhere. It is just due to taiyyunat
that so much diversity seem to exist within a unity. As has been
expressed in a Sufi poem:
"Each image painted on the canvas of
is the form of the Artist himself
Eternal Ocean spews forth-new waves.
Waves we call them; but there is only the sea."
It is just as light seems to change its colour when shines through
a coloured glass. Light has no colour, but it's rays shine through
the glass and only then do hues and tints appear. To the Sufis,
Wahdat-ul-Wujud is a very sensitive subject and is like a
double-edged sword and without a Sufi Shaykh and proper discipleship,
one is bound to misunderstand the whole concept. Our Murshid
(Sufi Shaykh) Dr. Ikhtiyar H. Mirza(R.A.) has once told a story
about this misunderstanding,
"A person came to know about this concept from the Sufi
doctrines. One day, while walking on the street, he noticed several
people running for their lives as a mad elephant got freed from
his chains and was on a rampage. He immediately remembered the Sufi
doctrine and said to himself,' I am GOD and this elephant
is also GOD, so why to run and be afraid when we both are the same'.
He waited while the elephant approached and crushed him to death".
Another story told by our Murshid conveys the same concept:
" Mulla Nasruddin entered a serai for an overnight stay. The
seraikeeper approached to welcome him.
Mulla asked him,
'Did you see me entering in your serai? "He replied, Yes! this
is why I have come to welcome you".
"Did you know me?"Mulla once again enquired. "No
Sir!"answered the keeper.
"Then, how can you say that the person entered in your serai
MULLA WAS THERE YET NOT THERE.
The following Quranic verses also reflect the concept of
"Huwa Ma'akum ayna maa kunthum" He is with you,
wherever you are. (57:4)
"Huwal awwalu wal akhir wazhahiru wal bathinu wa huwa bi
kulli shay'in aleem" HE is the beginning, HE is the
end, HE is the manifest and HE is the hidden. (57:3)
"Nahnu Akrabu Ilaihi Min Hablil Wareedh" We
are closer to them (human) than their jugular vein. (50:16)
"Fa Ayna maa thuwallu fasamma wajhullah" Wherever
they see there is ALLAH's face. (2:115)
"idha sa'alaka ibadhee annee fa innee khareeb"
(Oh PROPHET) if my slaves ask you about me I am certainly close
There is a special class of Hadith called divine sayings (Hadith
Qudsi), which are in effect extra Quranic revelations in which GOD
speaks in the first person. The following Hadith Qudsi- Qurbe-Nawafil
is also giving the same message of oneness i.e. wahdat-ul-wujud
"Nothing is more pleasing to Me as a means for My slave
to draw near unto Me than the worship I have made binding upon him.
And My slave does not cease to draw near unto Me with added devotions
of his free will until I love him. And when I love him, I become
the ear by which he hears the eye by which he sees the hand by which
he grasps, and the foot by which he walks".
A few Hadith may also be mentioned here which not only shed light
on the spiritual status of PROPHET MOHAMMED (Peace And Blessings
Of ALLAH Be Upon Him) , but also convey the same message of
'The first thing that GOD created was my light, which originated
from His light and derived from the majesty of His greatness'.
'I was a Prophet even when Adam(R.A.) was between spirit and
'Whoever has seen me, has seen the Truth'.
'GOD created man in His own form'.
Also, there is a famous saying of HAZRAT ALI (R.A.),
'Whomsoever has known his self has recognized GOD'.
The Sufi way is a love-oriented path. Anyone can taste that
fire of love in the poetry, music and dance created by the Sufis
to name a few. The Sufi way has given birth to a culture
of beautiful human beings with hearts of pure love and a highly
developed aesthetic sense. The Shaykh helps his disciples
to give birth to a true heart and nourishes him with spiritual milk
like a mother. The role of a Shaykh is extremely important
in forming a milieu of love in the life of his disciples,where gradually
they are pulled to the level of Nafs al Mutma'inna (the contented
self) as explained below. The Shaykh's physical presence
exists like a flame of love for his disciples and this is how when
any soul catches fire from that flame, an unknown fragrance materializes
on this very earth with a song of its own. Just as a flower takes
so little from the earth in comparison to what it gives back in
the form of emanating radiant colours and soft ripples of scent,
likewise such a soul enriches the universe with his/her presence
and adds a new dimension to life before departing for an unknown
A beautiful poem by Sultan Bahu (R.A.) sheds
light on this relationship of a disciple with his Shaykh:
ALLAH is like the jasmine plant which the preceptor planted
in my heart - O Hu,
By water and the gardener of negation and affirmation - O Hu,
it remained near the jugular vein and everywhere - O Hu,
It spread fragrance inside when it approached the time of blossoming-
May the efficient preceptor live long says BAHU who planted this
plant- O Hu.
It is the Quran that provides the raw materials of spiritual
practice for Sufis:
Zikr means 'Remembering ALLAH,' usually by pronouncing
His name or by uttering a number of recognized formulae. Zikr
may be practiced as jahri (loudly) or khafi (quietly).
The Quran repeatedly admonishes believers to celebrate the
praises of ALLAH almost always as it brings satisfaction
and comfort to man's heart. The following verses of the Quran
reveal the significance of zikr.
"Recite that which has been revealed to you of the scripture,
and observe prayer. For prayer restrains one from lewdness and iniquity,
but remembrance of GOD is the greatest virtue. Therefore remember
Me, and I will remember you."
"Verily, in the remembrance of GOD do hearts find peace."
A pattern of words which needs to be repeated silently without
moving the tongue i.e. meaning of those words are to be focused
through inner eyes.
It is a visualization technique where a particular affect is created
by going deeper into an image of an idea.
By getting involved in these practices, a disciple gradually passes
through a process of the purification of the soul that consists
of three stages.
a) The Carnal soul or Nafs al ammara:
Nafs al-ammara is the tendency in man to disobey GOD,
and to take pleasure in evil deed and thought. A disciple gradually
develops an attitude of indifference towards such temptations and
purification of the body, tongue, mind and the heart takes place.
b) The reproaching soul or Nafs al lawwama:
Once a disciple subjugates the carnal soul or Nafs al-ammara,
he enters into the second stage of purification in which his 'conscience'
takes charge of his decision making process. As a result, he starts
developing qualities reflecting the compassionate nature of GOD.
c) The contented soul or Nafs al mutma'inna
Once the second stage has become firmly established in him, he enters
the third stage of the contented soul or Nafs al-mutma'inna.
In this stage, the Sufi lives in harmony with his divinity and his
soul finds perfect satisfaction and contentment within and without.
Here the Sufi becomes truly free from fear and grief. As
it has been said in the Quran, " Lo, indeed, the
friends of GOD have no fear, nor are they grieved."
The various stages of self awareness on the Sufi path are
known as maqamat, or the 'stations', which are attainable through
continuous spiritual practices and sincere efforts. However, hal
or 'state' can only happen by
the Grace of GOD. Rumi has described these stages
poetically as,'Maqam is the (King's) being alone with the bride
while hal is like unveiling of the beauteous bride'.
Extinction and subsistence in ALLAH i.e. 'fana fi-llah'
and 'baqa bi-llah': The 'extinction of the self in ALLAH'
i.e. fana fi-llah is the transition to the state of baqa bi-llah
or the 'eternal life in union with ALLAH. ' By passing away
from self, the individual does not cease to exist, but the individuality
is absorbed into the Love of ALLAH which gives him an everlasting
awareness of the all-pervading presence of Oneness.
As Maulana Rumi has said :
A certain man knocked at his friend's door. His friend asked,'Who's
'I' he answered.
'Begone! there is no place for the raw in my home' said his friend.
He turned sadly away and for a whole tear, the flames of separation
Then one day, he again knocked at his friend's door.
'Who is there?'
'You! O charmer of all hearts.'
'Now, since you are I, come in! as there is no room for two I's
in this house.
Another event from the life of two Sufi Shaykhs reflects
the same realm:
Shibli went to visit Junaid.The wife of Junaid
was about to conceal herself modestly behind a screen.Junaid
said,'Stay where you are - Shibli is absent.'
At that moment, Shibli began to weep. Junaid said
to his wife,'You must now be absent, for Shibli has returned.'
This absorption in the love of ALLAH brings a Sufi
not only in touch with the spring of beauty within his being but
his qalb i.e. spiritual heart also moves into a realm of ecstasy.
This is how, such a beautiful literature has been contributed by
the Sufis to the humanity.
Hazrat Meerza Agha Mohammad (R.A.) was born in early part
of the 19th century in Lucknow, India. He, from his very childhood
was interested in knowing the way to GOD. He was obsessed
with a question as to how to find ALLAH? He would ask his
parents, teachers, and religious scholars but was never satisfied
with the answers. An event in his early life transformed him and
triggered off his spiritual search leading him from Sufi Shaykh
Shah Maqsus Alam (R.A.) to Sufi Shaykh Hazrat Taj-ul-Aualiya
-Shah Nizamuddin Hussain Niazi (R.A.). Later as a Sufi Shaykh
himself, he got settled in Jabalpur India.He passed away on August
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It will not be an exaggeration to say that he was an institution
in himself. He was a physician by profession, but being a successor
of Hazrat Agha Sahib (R.A.) he was able to transform hundreds
of people into loving human beings. He was the centre of attraction
for people of every religion and walk of life. He was also one of
the most famous physicians of Jabalpur and had three clinics. It
is amazing to see the balance of spirituality and worldliness in
his life, as on one hand he was a Maseeha for the victims
of diseases and side by side he was a transforming force for people
with spiritual ailments.
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Presently, Sufi Shaykh of this order is Dr. Meerza Ikhtiyar
Hussain who is based in Karachi, Pakistan. He does not like to have
his long introduction on this website. However, we would at least
add a persian proverb as his introduction, which he conveyed to
his disciples in another context. The proverb says,'mushk aanast
kaey khud babooyad na kaey attar me goyad' i.e. the fragrance
of musk is itself an introduction to the musk and a chemist / perfume
seller does not have to describe its qualities. Besides, he
is a poet and has also written several books on the Sufi
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