Sufism is a cult. Like Bhakti. But as confused as the Bhakti movement. Where do the Sufis stand?
Sufism is all about love?love between man and his maker. Islam is its antithesis-?it is fear that motivates a Muslim'srelation with Allah. Allah was the most feared of all the Semitic gods. He remains a distant God.
No wonder, some of the Arabs were envious of the Christians. They too wanted to love their God and be loved by him in turn. With that a new creed was born?Sufism.
We Hindus have a similar cult?the Bhakti movement. The moment we placed Krishna amidst the Gopis, the Bhakti movement was born. No other God, not even Ram, was loved so much as Krishna was. As for the Trinity, they are all placed at some distance.
Music and dance are must to musti (ecstasy). Music produced devotion and dance produced ecstasy. But they were taboo in Islam! Ecstasy became an obsession with the Sufis. Thus, we have whirling dervishes, who went into a trance over Rumi'smusic and the Qawalli, which makes one sway in ecstasy.
Islam was failed religion. Had it not been for the empire it built and the loot that it permitted, it would have perished like so many other cults. Remember, the Shias broke away. Three of the first four khalifs were assassinated. And Abu Bakr just about saved it from an assault of its enemies. He also ordered the first reconstruction of the Quran. It is said that Sufism is a mystic form of Islam. It is not. Far from it. In fact, it is the very antithesis of Islam. The Sufis had to pretend what they were not?mad?to save their lives.
The Sufis were the first to revolt against the Islamic faith. But they grew up in fear of the orthodox. The scars are too many. Sufism is a highly distorted belief system. Abu Yazid was the first great Sufi. He introduced into Sufism the revolutionary Hindu concept of Monism. For this he had to thank his teacher, one Abu Ali, from Sind (India) Yazid abolished the separation of man and God. He was for union of the two. But when he said, ?I am He?, he only meant Allah, not the ?absolute? God. Prof. R.C. Sehner, author of Hindus and Muslim Mysticism, says that Islam has no concept corresponding to Brahman. Allah is not the timeless absolute of philosophy, he says. Very significant!
Yazid (died in 848 AD) was full of contempt for organised religions, to Islam in particular. He believed that acts of worship were merely meant for those who were incapable of mystic experience. He was echoing Shankara (788-820 AD).
Yazid placed himself above Mohammed. He says: ?Verily all creations are beneath the banner of Mohammed, but, by God, my banner is more exalted than the banner of Mohammed. My banner is of light and beneath it are all the prophets.?
Mention may be made here of Abu Said Ibn Abid -Khayr, a Sufi, who deified himself at the young age of forty. He refused to go to Mecca saying that he himself was the tabernacle of God.
Al Ghazali, the greatest Muslim thinker and a Sufi, chose to work within the confines of orthodoxy. His writings were both radical and orthodox. He banned studies of philosophy, Greek in particular. Prof. Akbar Ahmed says: ? In the realm of ideas, it became second nature for Muslims to reject all non-Muslim philosophies.? The Muslims paid a very heavy price for this folly.
Ghazali proclaimed that the soul is identical with God. He rejected dualism and attacked the perversions of the age. For example, love for pretty boys.
Sufism found its fertile soil in Persia. It became an Iranian phenomenon and a manifestation of the Iranian mind.
The Sufi fancied himself as the ashique of the sanam (divine beloved). Wine kept him in a state of masti (ecstasy). It broke into rapturous ghazals, which have no parallel except in Vaishnava bhajans.
It was easy for Sufism to migrate to India. It was like home-coming. Akbar himself became a patron of the ?Sufis?. And the Bhakti movement provided favourable conditions for the propagation of Sufism. But some of the Sufis? came to India in the guise of mystics to propagate the rule of their countrymen and to convert the Hindus. Amir Khusrau was a great Sufi and Muslim scholar. He was also a great musician. He inspired many Hindus saints and poets like Kabir and Mira, Mir and Ghalib.
India is the largest centre of Sufism today. All the four major Sufi silsilas are present here. But the Sufis are nowhere to be seen. They have work here. Will they come out of their masti?
Among the great Sufis of India was Baba Farid (1175-1265 AD) initiator of Punjabi literature. He inspired Nanak, Kabir and Kusrau. Mention must be made here of Jalaluddin Rumi (died in 1273 AD), the greatest Sufi poet.
One may well ask: How is it that the greatest names associated with Islam were all for Sufism and not for the fundamentalists?