Friday, 2 May 2008

Talk on Sufism

[13:34] Sivat Ariantho: I'd like to extend the universal greetings of peace to all of you. As-salaamu alaikum
[13:35] Milena Piccard: wa aleykum salaam
[13:35] Michel Manen: SAlaam SivaT!
[13:35] Maxime Gentil: salaam
[13:35] Annie Obscure: alekun a slaaam
[13:35] Sivat Ariantho: I was asked to talk about Sufism today, and as with any topic, it is important to define it for those unfamiliar with it.
[13:36] Sivat Ariantho: Sufism means different things to different people. So, first I would like to illustrate to you what I believe traditional Islam teaches about Sufism and then we can discuss our own views and ask questions, God willing.
[13:36] Michel Manen: insh'allah!
[13:36] Maxime Gentil: :))
[13:36] Derry Auer is Online
[13:36] Sivat Ariantho: I'll begin with a story that took place during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)
[13:37] Sivat Ariantho: He was sitting among his companions
[13:37] Milena Piccard: saws
[13:37] Sivat Ariantho: and a man dressed in all white approached them.
[13:37] Sivat Ariantho: The man came right up to the Prophet and sat so that their knees were touching.
[13:37] Aldus Zenovka: Take care, Akito! wonderful to see yu again
[13:37] Sivat Ariantho: He said to him, "Tell me what Al-Islam is."
[13:38] Akito Kuramoto: /tc Aldus, and I like your new skin btw !
[13:38] Sivat Ariantho: The Prophet said, "Al-Islam is testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah (shahadatain), prayer (salat) fasting (sawm), alms tax (zakat), and pilgrimage to makkah (hajj) for one who is financially and physically able.
[13:38] Sivat Ariantho: The man said to the Prophet, "You are correct."
[13:39] Sivat Ariantho: His companions were astonished that someone would come to the Prophet and tell him he is correct when he is the messenger of God.
[13:39] Sivat Ariantho: The man then asked, "Tell what Al-Iman (faith) is."
[13:40] Sivat Ariantho: The Prophet replied, "Faith is believing in Allah, in angels, in the messengers, in the books (revelation), in the Day of Judgment, and in God's divine decree, the good and the misfortune from it."
[13:40] Sivat Ariantho: The man said, "You are correct."
[13:40] Sivat Ariantho: Then the man said, "Tell me what Al-Ihsan is."
[13:41] Sivat Ariantho: The Prophet said, "Al-Ihsan (excellence, perfection) is that you worship Allah as though you see him, and although you cannot see Him, know that He sees you."
[13:41] Sivat Ariantho: The man told the Prophet that he was correct.
[13:41] Sivat Ariantho: There is more to this narration (hadith), but I have told you the part that is important to our discussion.
[13:41] Sivat Ariantho: When the man left, the companions of the Prophet asked, "Who was that?"
[13:42] Sivat Ariantho: The Prophet replied, "That was the angel Jibreel (Gabriel). He came to teach you your religion."
[13:42] Sivat Ariantho: So, what we have here are three levels of awareness
[13:42] Sivat Ariantho: Islam, which is to be Muslim is the beginning stage, where one performs the outward declaration and the outward rituals
[13:42] Sivat Ariantho: One can be Muslim and only be Muslim on the surface.
[13:43] Sivat Ariantho: Then, we have Iman, faith in God and those things which God has revealed to us. This is a higher level because the rituals and deeds are done with sincere intention and devotion.
[13:44] Sivat Ariantho: The next level goes beyond just faith, however, and goes into Ihsan (excellence), to worship God as though you see Him. Sufism is the study of this state.
[13:44] Sivat Ariantho: But you cannot study it the way you study jurisprudence (fiqh) or belief (aqidah)
[13:44] Sivat Ariantho: It is something that must be experienced and realized.
[13:45] Sivat Ariantho: Sufis have certain ways of reaching realization.
[13:45] Sivat Ariantho: Many of them are mentioned in the Qur'an
[13:45] Sivat Ariantho: One verse says, "Similarly, we sent to you a messenger from among yourselves reciting to you Our signs (ayaat), purifying you, and teaching you scripture (al-kitab) and wisdom (al-hikmah) and teaching you that which you did not know."
[13:45] Sivat Ariantho: "Therefore, remember Me, I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and do not be ungrateful. "
[13:46] Sivat Ariantho: There are some important parts of this verse for Muslims
[13:46] Sivat Ariantho: To be grateful, to have shukr (gratitude) is a high state of awareness
[13:47] Sivat Ariantho: The opposite of this gratitude is kufr (ungratefulness)
[13:47] Sivat Ariantho: So a kafir is technically one who is ungrateful
[13:48] Sivat Ariantho: Despite what we hear in the media about a kafir being an "infidel" it is really much more complex and is more a matter of the heart than the professing of a certain ideology
[13:49] Sivat Ariantho: It is for this reason that many mystical traditions of other religions and cultures have many similarities with Sufism.
[13:49] Maxime Gentil: nods
[13:49] Sivat Ariantho: When you reach the level of love, beyond mere devotion, the artificial wordly boundries between us dissolve.
[13:49] Sivat Ariantho: I have one other saying the Prophet for you, and then I'll open it up for discussion.
[13:50] Sivat Ariantho: It is narrated from the Prophet that Allah (God) said:
[13:50] Sivat Ariantho: Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him.
[13:50] Rober1236 Jua is Offline
[13:50] Sivat Ariantho: When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it
[13:51] Sivat Ariantho: So, this hadith (report) tells us that the basic duties cause a Muslim to draw close to God, the pillars or arkan of Islam, prayer, fasting, etc.
[13:52] Button Wright is Offline
[13:52] Sivat Ariantho: The voluntary acts, such as remembrance (thikr), reciting Qur'an, giving charity, etc. cause them to develop of love for God and God loves them.
[13:52] Sivat Ariantho: When they achieve a high level of this, God's attributes manifest in this person actions (the ears with which one hears, etc)
[13:53] Sivat Ariantho: That is why one of the most common forms of Sufi experiential worship is thikr (remembrance) because one can experience the presence of God.
[13:53] Amatos Kuri is Online
[13:53] Sivat Ariantho: Remembrance in this case is not like remembering something after you have forgotten it
[13:54] Sivat Ariantho: It is more accurately defined as attentiveness
[13:54] Sivat Ariantho: One who is attentive to God is aware of Him at all times
[13:54] Sivat Ariantho: As one sufi said of his life, "For many years I lived and worked among the people, but all I ever really knew was God."
[13:54] Maxime Gentil: :))
[13:54] Sivat Ariantho: On that note, the Qur'an says, "Those who believe and whose hearts are set at ease by the remembrance of Allah; no doubt, the remembrance of Allah will bring peace to your hearts. (13:28)"
[13:54] Alicia Beattie is Online
[13:56] Sivat Ariantho: So, if the human soul might have a malady, it would need the attention of a physician and a remedy just as the physical body or mind would need such attention.
[13:56] Sivat Ariantho: Sufism or Ihsan is the method of rehabilitation for the soul.
[13:56] Sivat Ariantho: The human soul is awakened and returned to its position of facing the Reality, the divine presence of Allah. The highest state of complete submission, where one remembers Allah as one would remember oneself, to the point where the self ceases to be known at all.
[13:56] Sivat Ariantho: Nothing is known as real, only Allah.
[13:57] Sivat Ariantho: ok, phew :)
[13:57] Sivat Ariantho: Now, I can let you all talk
[13:57] Maxime Gentil: Everbody understands the single drop merging into the ocean. One in a million understands the ocean merging into a single drop. *Kabir*
[13:57] Michel Manen: Thank you Sivat for this challenging introduction
[13:57] Michel Manen: you raise a lot of important questions and issues
[13:57] Maxime Gentil: :))
[13:57] Sivat Ariantho: masha`Allah Maxime
[13:57] Michel Manen: and i am sure we all have lots of questions
[13:58] Michel Manen: so i will start with one and hopefully others will ask theirs
[13:58] Michel Manen: How does Suffism reach beyond the traditional muslim divisions into, for example. sunni and Shia muslims, and how can it be relevant to a better undestading of islam by non - muslims?
[13:58] Sivat Ariantho: Good question
[13:58] Michel Manen: ;)
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