Mohammad Mohiyuddin for WordForPeace.com
In accordance with spatial-temporal changes,Sufism is bearing an assortment of exposures that denote Sufi organizations as distinctive dimensions which embody credentials of regional peculiarities. These include trips to the tombs of saints, usage of music, dance in producing a state of ecstasy or changed awareness. It also covers the solicitation of spirits of living and died saints through recitations of special prayers and litanies, and the unconditional surrender of the devotee to a Sufi master. Nevertheless, the Sufi practices which are formulated under the legal instructions of Islam are permissible and adaptable. It is the Sufi narrative of inclusion that engendered masses to assemble the syncretic Sufi movements, disregarding normative frameworks. The mass allegiants, gained from all walks of life, was a clear-cut criterion that distinguished Sufi orders from counter approaches. This article seeks to carve out the different contours of Sufi narratives from the varied spheres of the history.
Sufis craped the sway and control of the people from all sects of society. It is a more discernable fact that the Sufi discourses have now channeled not only in religious usurps but also in the entire human life. Thus, it can be applauded as a ‘pervasive style of action’. Presumably, their engagements in the native affairs resulted in the indirect formulation of Sufi groups, to a great extent. This point of view prompted critics that ascribe Sufism as an escaped figure from worldly matters and the solitude that keep distance from mundane relations, something that turned as the cornerstone of Sufi doctrines.
There are so many Sufi magnates who themselves exemplified their eagerness to involve in socially constructed paradigms as well as in political administration. Fundamentally, Sufism denounces whole-hearted commitment towards the mundane affairs.But some Sufi pioneers devoted their blood and soul to mould the society through morality and creatively crafted channels. According to Snouck Hurgronje, when the political leaders were reluctant to defend the doctrines of Islam and make Muslim society endangered, it was Sufi sheikhs who showed themselves the capability of mobilizing the masses for that purpose. Definitely, the above mentioned facts diametrically oppose the fact that the Sufi orders are always vigor to disconnect the societal procedures. Instead the Sufi sheikhs, were keenly looking for the progress of society.
As a matter of fact, the Sufi path is the righteous representation of the traditional Sunni faith that navigates its endeavors in formulating religious patrimonies and introducing relevancy in a much pacified ambience by which entire society may reach the pinnacle of harmony and fraternity. Beyond that, disciples to whom Sufi shykhes impart the moral values needed to be good, extending the circle of peace and harmony.In fact, they are the leaders of good Muslim as explicated by the well-known Ugandan Anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani in the book titled ‘Good Muslim Bad Muslim’. This is mainly due to the dependence of Sufi orders on the same source of knowledge that traditional stream has adopted to pursue religious worships whether it is obligatory or recommended. Basically, there is no subtle difference between both streams in total, but the styles of action may be changed from one other. Historical trajectories turn out that dichotomy between these practices had appeared to make numerous impacts upon the public manifestation of religiosity. The dichotomy was an outcome of anti-Muslim identities and it has now become as the impediment in the intellectual flourishment of Muslim caliber.Even, it was said that the Sufism is exotic to Islam and Islam is not compatible to Sufism. As and when Sufism is considered as the main basement of Islam, how it is possible to postulate the above mentioned arguments without doubt? Here, while the sacred word ‘Sufi with empty knowledge is a hypocrite and a scholar without being as a Sufi is the destructor of belief’ taken in account,Islam requires an ensemble of both attributes.
Modern Sufi movements
It is imperative to know that the modern Sufi convictions and concepts are entirely different from those classical scenarios due to its impressive progress in the world. However, each of them strives to consolidate all disciplines through the parameters of Islam. Emphasizing the holy texts which they used to indulge in modern trends, they are extensively trying to promote the thoughts of Sufism.
Moreover, some Sufi sheikhs became the torch bearers of political uprisings against the yoke of colonial powers to protect people from fear and assault. For an instance, Sheikh Usman Dan fodio, a Sufi of Qadiriyya order from West Africa, had led the jihadmovement. This movement resulted in the creation of Islamic state, the Sokoto caliphate, in northern Nigeria. The role ofQadiriyya in this jihadi foundation is indeed a matter of debate: the state he laid down did not replicate the structure of Sufi order but Usman Dan Fodio’s position as thehighest sheikh of this order had, no doubt, facilitated mobilization of masses around his awakenings.
At the end of Islamic world, in South East Asia, Dutch colonial invasion encountered the activists from Sufi orders who playan indispensable role in local resistance.It was especially Sammaniyya and Qadiriyya as well as Naqshabandhi that were repeatedly engaged with the setbacks against ruthless invaders. These were reckoned as the first step to find an organized mass following in South East Asia. What is more noteworthy here is that ‘Neo-Colonialism’, a term coined to signify these political pronouncements Sufi orders is yet another subject to academic studies. This fact was well elucidated by the anthropologist Martin Van Bruinessen, in her article ‘Sufism, popularIslam and the encounter with modernity’.
Several leading scholars including Fazlur Rahman and John O Voll defined Neo-Sufism, saying loosely as Sufism reformed on orthodox lines and interpreted in an activist sense. This phenomenon is typically displayed by newly emerging Sufiorders that sowed the seed in North African regions in 18th and 19th centuries. The Tijaniyya and the orders were derived from Ahmad,b.Idris(Sanusiyya,Ahmadiyya,Idressiyya,Khatiiyya,Rashidiyya) .
These Sufi systemsvividly differ from classical Sufi norms, by that the proponents of Sufi doctrines did not trace their spiritual genealogies to a long lines of predecessors but claimed to have a direct relationship with the prophet. Needless to say,these organizations of Sufism are no longer following a traditional way of Sufism. Besides this, they often, divert from pure precepts of Islam. The impulse, which may be a motif of formulating such orders, has helped to mobilize scatteredmultitudes, who believed falsehood about the holy creed.
In the course of time and space, Sufism was also misinterpreted and underestimated in the public sphere. Due to excessive secularization campaigns of concepts and ideologies during the post-structural period, Sufi orders too became entangled under this campaign, even with the same name. Most notable ideology among those Sufi campaigns was the Universal Sufism of Inayathullah Khan, which argue that Sufism is the property of all human beings, not being privileged to some fractions of society. Supportersof Universal Sufism hasten to express their contention on a presupposed structure of Sufi stream based on the religion of Islam.
In reality, it has no linkage with the real Sufism. Connotation of the word ‘Sufism’ is undesirable and cannot be recognized in brief. Therefore, Universal Sufism can be described as a part and parcel of pseudo Sufism which exactly contraries the so-called Authentic Sufism, tracing back to the prophetic portrayals. Although this compartmentalized exposition of Sufism has taken the edge recently, it started its basic tendency by theearly period as described by Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani(d. 561 AH/ 1166 CE). The then Sufis were divided into two sections. Firstly, they were the followers of the ahl al-Sunnah was al-jama’ah. They are the “Sunnis”. As such, they belong to the “saved group” mentioned by Prophet (pbuh) when he revealed that the Muslim community after his demise will split into seventy-three sects, from which only the one will be saved. The other group consists of heretics.
It is high time to convince Muslim brothers that they are the real heir of Sufi narrations. If we are not so, our culture may get lost.
In a nutshell, Islam is the only patriarch of Sufism but with different colors. No one can renunciate this reality. Whoever wants be allured from the lure of secularized notion of Sufism will be expelled from the religion.
The writer is a research intern fellow at Madeenathunnoor College of Islamic Science. His areas of interests are Islamic mysticism, philosophy, Rumi thoughts, and contemporary Islamic thought.