An in depth study of the Cult of Sufism

Submitted by Newseditor on Sun, 2015-11-08 16:23 Recently, I came across book “Sufi Poet Zaffar Shawl” (ISBN 81-89345-16-8, published in 2013, Rs. 500. by Poets International Books, Bangalore, India), by Dr. Mohammed Fakhruddin. I was always curious about the Cult of Sufism, and this book gave me ample scope to indulge in back-breaking hours of exploration and examining the contents of this wonderful book. It comes in a flashy cover featuring the Celebrated Sufi-Poet “ Zaffar Shawl” wherein the photograph is done by Kerstin Sezesny and the cover page design by the Poet Photographer, Dr. Fakhruddin; himself.   As I leafed through the glossy pages egregiously packed with intuitive learning by the Poet-scholar; I fell upon a reverie like and did a deft work on an assemblage of known facts and fiction. ‘Sufism’ a popular expression of Mohammed’s religion in the western world today is actually Islam’s mystical way, a hunger for life-transforming spiritual experience and an attraction to monistic belief systems.  Sufism ( Arabic ‘ Tasawwuf’) is a name which probably has its origin in the wearing of undyed wool (Suf) as a mark of personal penitence. Sufis are said to experience God ( which is often viewed in Islam as remote and unapproachable) can be achieved in this life. It is characterized by asceticism, quietism, intimate and personal love of God and disparagement of mere lip service. All these are clearly propounded in the introductory part of the book by Dr. Mohammed Fakhruddin; as he ventures into the subject and introduces Mr. Kashmiri and his poems. The Sufi tradition is well elucidated, but when I come to the portion of the work where Dr. Fakhruddin undertakes to explain the modern concept of a Sufi- or a Sufi against the backdrop of 22nd Century; it appears  to me rather wayward from the existing norms of what had been a conceptualized thought-process regarding Sufis through ages.   The original accepted norms of "Sufism" lays emphasis on inner devotion that fulfills the strict demands of the Holy Qur’an- shift in later years from moral self-control to metaphysical knowledge with its sequence of psychological ascent to the Perfect Man-the microcosm in whom the One is to manifest to Himself-spiritual hunger that characteristically drove them to go far beyond the prescribed observations in addition to observing nightly fasts required during the month of Ramadan, when they engage in voluntary fasts et all has been simplified when he declares on the basis of the interview held with the celebrated Sufi Poet Mr Zaffar Shawl that there is no word called "Sufism". Self interested people have coined the word and sufi basically means “a person who is on the way of truth and wants to discover himself”. He wants to take all the pain while trying to find the right spirit of truth. In a lucid way Dr. Fakhruddin’s realization came with that with of a Sufi, not being a saint at all, but a human being with a difference. The  Haiku exponent even pens up a haiku on this to stress on a Sufi’s developing his inner vision through spiritualization. The norms that come in present day context regarding a Sufi is that one who lives as a “respected citizen of the country, does not violate laws of the land, earns livelihood with hard work and sincerity, earns respect in his society. For him even today truth is God and God is truth. He finds God in every human being, and in everything that is living and non-living, created by god the Supreme.   All these accountability in today’s crashing materialistic world plagued by severe ills is not only difficult to see but even harder to imbibe. Man has grown such Chaotic and silence is missing in today’s hectic life-style; man is not only deviated from the innate sense of the term but even grown callous and indifferent, in mad pursuit of worldly desires. In this kind of a raging scenario, Dr. Fakhruddin haply chance upon a real Sufi --who according to him fits into norms of a realistic approach to this dying Islamic Cult. If according to Dr. Fakhruddin, Sufism is about certain facts, belief systems. That he names about as he illustrates; certain virtues like Patience, Perseverance, Tolerance, Constancy, Courage, Charity, Contentment, Helpful attitude, Kindness, Broadmindedness which he ropes in along with certain  practices like avoiding anger, hatred, back-biting, jealousy etc then I must say such findings would not only be an uphill task but even hard to believe and find. All these moral discourse in today’s consumerist world would fall short of being able to find customers, sorry to say Sufis. Lest, finding any other example ; read at hand ( Sonnets, Haikus, villanelles) of Dr. Mohammed Fakhruddin on ‘death’, ‘life’, ‘after-death’ which deals with self-exploration that leads the reader towards ultimate truth in the Preface, clearly points out another glaring sufi to us. For now on, we know of his identity as a celebrated Haiku exponent, a photographer, a journalist, an Editor, a Convenor of Poetry Festivals, a film script-writer and director none-the-less a playwright but this concept is a diversified one.   Among  other things to note, I find similarities on the propagative views of Wordsworth’s Pantheistic Philosophy reflected in thought- process of Mr. Kashmiri which in turn been illustrated by Dr .Fakhruddin as well  . Even British poets to some extent inculcated with them this philosophy as well like Owen and Yeats. Other characteristics of this cult of Sufism is well postulated though like the ritualized dance in the rite of centralization whereupon the body considered as the Axis of the universe is none other than’Tree of Life’intended to plunge the dancer into a state of concentration upon Allah; the other being the meditative trance-exercises induced to alter states of consciousness whereupon mental barriers to psychic intrusions are broken down and link is established to the spirit world.   Sufism is just a popular expression Of Muhammad’s religion in the western world today. It’s a mystical way a hunger for life transforming spiritual experiences and an attraction to monistic belief systems. Several personalities acknowledge the influence of Sufism in their lives-novelist Doris Lessing, Actor James Coburn, poet Ted Hughes, Robert Graves, psychologist Erich From and Robert Ornstein, late Secretary General of UN- Dag Hammarskjold.                                            The Sufi sees visions, hears the voice of prophets and gain from them guidance….condition of Joy and longing-in the works (33) poems delved deeply in the above book on discussion are noteworthy in the sense they are piquant with the hedonistic parlance of Sufism-where a Sufi has to find His Beloved (Supreme Being) within Himself, since God can be found only in the heart of a Devotee that has been purified by the fire of divine Love. "Truth is Allah". "Traveler of Truth" is a Sufi’s goal in the journey of life hence all the poems are a variegated display of all the attributes of a perfect Sufi poetry cult.