Sufism cannot be called a religion, because it is free from principles, distinctions, and differences, the very basis on which religions are founded; neither can it be called a philosophy, because philosophy teaches the study of nature in its qualities and varieties, whereas Sufism teaches unity. Therefore it may best be called simply the training of the view.
The word ‘Sufi’ implies purity, and purity contains two qualities. Pure means unmixed with any other element, or in other words that which exists in its own element unalloyed and unstained. The second quality of purity is great adaptability.
Such is the nature of the Sufi. In the first place he purifies himself by keeping the vision of God constantly before him, not allowing the stains of earthly differences and distinctions to be mirrored upon his heart, nor good or bad society, nor intercourse with high- or low-class people. Nor can faith or a belief ever interfere with his purity.
The Sufi shows his universal brotherhood in his adaptability. Among Christians he is a Christian, among Jews he is a Jew, among Muslims he is a Muslim, among Hindus he is a Hindu; for he is one with all, and thus all are with him. He allows everyone to join in his brotherhood, and in the same way he allows himself to join in any other. He never questions, ‘ what is your creed or nation or religion?’ Neither does he ask, ‘what are your teachings or principles?’
Call him brother, he answers bother, and he means it. With regard to principles, the Sufi has none, for sweetness may be beneficial to one and harmful to another. Thus is it with all principles, good and bad, kind and cruel. If we ask a soldier to be merciful during the battle, he will at once be defeated. This shows that everyone has his own principle for each action or situation. One person may believe in a certain principle, while another may hold quite a contrary opinion. What one person may call good another may call bad. One says a certain path is the right one, while another takes the opposite direction. The Sufi, instead of becoming centered in his likes and dislikes and limiting himself to a certain faith or belief, reasoning out right and wrong, focuses his view on that of another. Thus he sees the reason why he believes and why he does not, why something is right to one and wrong to another. He also understands why that which is called good by some people may be called bad by others, and thus by keeping his point of view under control he arrives at the true height of wisdom.
The Sufi is a Muslim, not because many Muslims happen to be Sufis, nor because of his use of Muslim phraseology, but because in his life he proves what a true Muslim ought to be. Muslims have such a sense of devotion that no matter how great a sinner or how cruel a man may be, the name of Allah or Muhammad s.a.w.w at once reduces him to tears. Similarly the practices of Sufis first develop the heart qualities which are often over looked by many other mystics. It is the purification of the heart, which makes it receptive to the illumination of the soul. The Sufis are the ones who read the Quran from every experience of life, and see and recognize Muhammad’s face in each atom of the manifestation.
This post has been shared by the Sufi Spiritual Society. You can read the original article here.