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SUFISM and SUFI MUSIC by Shariq H Naqvi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

The human being since ages has been inventing ways to please the Almighty. It has been the burning desire and it is well said, “Need is mother of all inventions”. This has made the human being to look beyond the horizon to achieve his/her desires to the brim.

The desire to understand God and His creation has been haunting the mankind since ages and the same led to the creation of Sufism or Tasawwuf (Arabic: تصوّف‎). The word Sufi is an Arabic which means holy person who is near and dear to Almighty. The abstract noun of Sufi is Sufism which is related to the inner instinct of the human being and consists of the mystical dimension of Islam.

The other word for the Sufi is dervish. Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God”. Alternatively, in the words of the renowned Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, “a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits.” It is many times addressed as “Islamic Mysticism,” in which Muslims seek to find divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God.

Sufism began to develop in the 7th century, the first century of Islam. Sufism arose out of various influences, among them a mystical overtone in some of the teachings of Muhammad, the founder of Islam; a desire to escape the social and political upheavals of the time; and a tendency toward quietism in reaction to the worldliness and extravagance of the early caliphs. The Sufi mystic follows a path of seven stages: repentance, abstinence, renunciation, poverty, patience, trust in God, and acquiescence to the will of God.

It was in the primary stages of Sufism, Sufis were attached to dhikr “remembrance of God” or asceticism. It was in the time of the Umayyad Caliphate when the need for peace of mind elevated mankind, hitherto Sufism came into existence. In the time of Umayyad Caliphate when the greed for the worldly processions was at large and the evil practices were uncontrollable. Few of the people renounced the world for the true peace and traveled to the lands of Arabia, Persia, Turkey, etc.

It is also advocated by few Muslims that Sufism is not the part of Islam and its nature is of universal status. On the other hand the other scholars of Islam voice it to be the name for the inner esoteric dimension of Islam.

The etymologic root of Sufi is traced to صُوف ṣūf “wool”, which the early Muslim ascetics used to wear. It is also said that the other reason for this may be the word to صَفا ṣafā “purity,” therefore it is said by the common people that Sufi is a person who wears wool over his purity. The others have their own reasoning to the origin of the word Sufi, which according to them is from Ashab as-suffa “Companions of the Porch”. Ashab as-suffa are know as a group of pauperized Muslims during the time of Muhammad and used to live in the veranda of the Prophet’s mosque, being devoted to prayers and memorise Quran as it was being revealed. In the 10th century a historian Abu Rayhan al-Biruni of Persia states that the word is linked to Greek word sophia “Wisdom”. Abu Rayhan al-Biruni a Persian historian of the 10th century has rooted the word Sufi with Greek word sophia “wisdom”.

In the 20th century in ‘The Mystics of Islam’ R. A. Nicholson described Sufism a product of diverse philosophical and spiritual influences from Christian, Neoplatonism, etc. In the same century A. J. Arberry defined Sufism as the mystical movement of an uncompromising Monotheism, relating it to be derived from Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.

This sect of ascetics has its branches all around the globe. It is not only the Arabian countries that home these true lovers of God as stated by the common people but they are found in Turkey, China, India, Pakistan, etc.

Sufism states that one has to undo his ego which is the only way of purification through controlling blameworthy conscious. This fills the heart of a person with the love of Almighty and thus purifies him for the Day of Judgment. It can be broadly described as a way to control greed for the worldly things which repulses one from God. Unlike all the studies of the world this also require a teacher and as the normal pupil passes from one grade to another her the disciple move to another master in to an unbroken succession (Silsilah).

Sufism can be compared to different religions of the world. Sufism is similar to a Buddhist or Hindu mysticism, and a Sufi can be defined to be a Christian hermit of a monk.

The motive of this ascetic group was to educate the common masses regarding curtailing the desires and thus to lead a happy and prosperous life. In this regard to make people come to them they created a form of music which is popularly known as Sufi music. This comprises of the popular for of Qawwali which has the stage of “wajad” in which the listener starts to dance divinely on the music. This according to Sufis happens when the divine power of Almighty bestows on you.

Shariq Haider Naqvi.


~ by shariqnaqvi on October 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “SUFISM and SUFI MUSIC”

  1. Nicely written Shariq. What are the text sources that you consulted?

  2. Bhaiya, itni lambi story to log print me karte. Chota likh na. Small is beautiful yaar. Niha se kuch seekh lo!

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