Western Sufism

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Thomas, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    There's a fairly comprehensive introduction to western Sufism available here pps 7-21.

    Fundamental to the story — the progenitors of one of its two principle streams — is the influence of the Traditionalists, notably René Guénon and Frithjof Schuon. The other stream is that of Pir-OMurshid Hazrat Inayat Khan (a Moslem born and raised in India), who's Sufi Order introduced a fundamental innovation: he separated Islam from Sufism, presenting it rather as a universal doctrine independent of the exoteric religious traditions.

    On a personal note, being aware of Guénon and Schuon, they represented and spoke for the Sophia Perennis, an expression of the Primordial Tradition founded almost single-handedly by Guénon, who at the time was under the influence of the Hindu Tradition and who regarded Hindu metaphysics as the only true and unadulterated expression of a universal metaphysics. Both became Sufis, but neither really ever presented their Sufi faith as a mainline teaching, rather treating Islam as one among a number of Divine Revelations.

    It's a matter of note that, when a Sufi living in Cairo, it took two other Trads, the Sufi Martin Lings and the Tibetan Buddhist Marco Pallis, to convince Guénon that Buddhism was an authentic Tradition in its own right, and not a 'Hindu heresy' as he had been taught by his gurus.

    What can be seen is that Khan's universal Sufism soon became intermixed with various other eastern mysticisms and self-declared avatars, and was led by those who sought initiation from all and sundry they met on their path, flouting the age-old rule of trying to ride two or more horses at the same time.

    The Traditionalist movement has really been in something of a decline with the passing of those great names allied to it, and a general drifting away from the enthusiasms of the New Age and the quest for 'spiritual enlightenment' (largely today a quest for personal wellbeing and contentment).

    What remains is heavily influenced by western eclectic sufism, and the spokespersons, nearly all Sufi I believe, take quite a high-handed view towards other traditions, notably Christianity, which they insist has 'lost the plot' — they make the fundamental error of failing to discern between eso- and exoteric, assuming that a coarsened or distorted exoterism, such as 'fundamentalism' in the US, defines the whole tradition, which is tantamount to suggesting that terrorists and suicide bombers defines Islam.

    Lastly I would say, in response to Phyllis Sidhe Uaine, post: Specifically, what are the similarities and the differences between Sunni and Sufi Muslims? I would say that 'western Sufism' bears a scant and very distant resemblance to the Sufism recognised by Muslims, be they Sunni or Shia, or Sufism as an esoteric component of Islam.
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I only know Dances of Universal Peace a result of Pir-OMurshid Hazrat Inayat Khan work in Sufism in the US. It is a wonderfully glorious interfaith experience...which is probably blasphemous to every orhtodox/conservative branch of every faith we celebrate.

    Prayers and chants of Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Native American traditions, Sufi, Judaism, Catholicism, are converted to song, hand and body movements, thought and dance. A dance leader and a group of musicians take you through the steps, the movement, the chants, piece by peace, in native tongue, latin and/or english. and then it is typically a circle dance, a moving mantra, a walking meditative chant that is sung and repeated by all participants for 5-10 minutes... after which a moments of silence, as we catch our collective breath...allow the feelings imparted by the repetition of the words roll over us and thru us.

    However distant it is from Islam, similar to however different American Football is from European Futbol, or Austalian Footie... does not mean much to me...the result is a beautiful sharing of time and space, blessings of peace and unity, an experiential group thang that I find quite enjoyable, relaxing and uplifting.

    Somehow, who knows how...it has also elevated my experience of walking a labyrinth...as I no longer walk but whirl like a dervish, all the way in, and for a time in the center and then all the way out.... (very well could validate those who think I am dizzy)

    Bismi Allah ar Rahman arRaheem
     
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  3. Arif Ghamiq

    Arif Ghamiq Active Member

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    In the 90's I began meeting people who identified themselves as "Sufi", but not "Muslim". Many Muslims today (especially in the West) who follow and/or study a Sufi Path identify themselves as a "Sufi Muslim", perhaps to distinguish themselves from "non-Muslim" Sufis.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    For me, this is the crux of the matter.

    "Sufism is an essence, a truth. There is no form, no ritual, no custom (substance) in it. It is pure essence."
    Ibn al-Jalla, 10th century.

    "Sufism today is a name (substance) without a reality (essence) that was once a reality (essence) without a name (substance)."
    Abu’l-Hasan Bushanji, 10th century.

    In this instance you have the esoteric tradition: Sufism, within the exoteric form: Islam.

    People tend to forget the great saints, sages and mystics are products of their traditions.

    As in any religion, the fullness of being comes from the entire religion, 'body and soul' as it were. The esoteric is formless, but it shapes the exoteric into those forms that most immanently expresses itself.

    Without the exoteric form, the esoteric essence cannot be seen nor sensed, caught nor contained.

    Without the esoteric essence, the forms are just shapes, surface with no substance.
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    lol...

    I like that they've been complaining it has lost its essence a thousand years ago!! It is like people complaining "kids these days" When we can find those same quotes a thousand years ago...
    They are also products of their time... On this side of the pond we tend to revere our forefathers...those misogynist slave owners who fought for "freedom".
     
  6. Arif Ghamiq

    Arif Ghamiq Active Member

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    Sufism has definitely manifested in many ways through the centuries and has, in some ways, become a separate or branch Religion - as with non-Muslim Sufis.

    The Dervish could be an example of this, as well as the Sufi elements of the Sikh.

    Bawa Muhayyiddeen has been popular among non-Muslim Westerns.
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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  8. Arif Ghamiq

    Arif Ghamiq Active Member

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    Yes - I guess he dictated it.

    "Islam and World Peace" is a book of his I like and "Asma ul Husna (Names of Beauty)", which is about the 99 Names of Allah. Recitation & meditation on the Names is a big part of Sufism.

    Bawa also did some art work - Sufis tend to be much more open to artwork than "mainstream Muslims".
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it seems to follow the same universalist/syncretic pattern that the west finds so appealing.
     
  10. Arif Ghamiq

    Arif Ghamiq Active Member

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    In the various Masjids I've attended here in Texas, Bawa Muhayyiddeen is pretty much unknown.

    Many in the Community are immigrants from the Middle East & Southeast Asia and the bulk is made up of 1st & 2nd generation - raised in homes where Arabic, Urdu, Farsi or Hindi is the spoken language. Very few of them could be called "Westernized" when it comes to their Religion. This may be changing with generation Z.

    Qadiri, Naqshbandi and Shadhili (which have a presence here in the US) are well known in these Communities - studied and utilized by a few.

    There was a knowledgeable Brother from Syria (a Chemist) who often gave the Friday Khutbah (Sermon/Lecture) and he studied the Hikam of ibn ata-Illah and the Munajat - two of my favorite Sufi Texts.
     

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