Sufism: The Religion of the Heart
Sufism, the religion of love, as it is known, embodies the true spirit of living by heart and oneness, seeking the Divine in the human heart. The heart is a very important place as this is where the journey to the Divine takes place, where one travels deep within himself to share the bliss of union with the Divine. With Sufism, thus, begins the communion with Divinity. One begins to question their own existence, surroundings, and purpose.
To achieve the ultimate goal of Sufism, an individual must recognize the limitedness of his or her worldly-influenced knowledge and perception and then discard them, opening oneself to an awakening, thus embarking on a journey of truly understanding what is beyond this world; the true message of Divinity.
Religiosity to Spirituality: The Universality of Sufism
Sufism is a ‘mystic body of religious practice within Islam’ and has, seen its inception, evolved as a spiritual practice. Although it is born from a specific religion, it is a practice for all, regardless of belief, creed, or dogma, since Sufism is a religion that empowers humanity. Sufi mystic, Inayat Khan, revolutionized traditional Sufism by separating it from its strict association with Islam. “Sufism has never been owned by any race or religion,” he stated, and that “Sufism itself is the essence of all the religions as well the spirit of Islam.”
Since its inception, the crucial beliefs of Sufism have existed free of social and cultural constraints, such as gender and ethnicity, rituals and rites, and other socio-cultural constructs. Therefore, it appeals to everyone, as it allows one to rediscover oneself on this journey to communion with the Divine.
One of the very fascinating aspects of Sufism is the relationship with Divinity and Its creations. It is not just a heavenly being, but a Friend, a Beloved. The creator/creation relationship is very special; an echo of the relationship between the lover and the beloved. For the lover, the union with the beloved is sacred. This sacredness is honored through the lover’s service to humanity; our words and actions when dealing with Its creations are offered as though to the Divine itself. The pinnacle of Sufism lies in treating all hearts, including ours, as ‘precious jewels,’ and it is necessary to not break them.
Seeking the Divine in Ourselves and Others.
We all were too busy finding the higher power outside ourselves until we realized that true wisdom comes from within. Divinity resides in us, in our hearts, and the more we live in the heart, the more spiritually awakened we become and closer to the Divine. How is Divinity to be searched within us? The heart needs to be purified from worldly influences for its spark to ignite into a glowing flame, shedding light upon the darkness of this world’s temporary pleasures. As our hearts become more alive, our soul opens up to the spiritual light present somewhere deep within us.
To recognize the Divine and Its creations is to develop empathy and kindness for Its creations. We know that the Divine is everywhere, all around us. This knowledge tells us to be compassionate to others, thus embodying the very essence of humanity that Sufism teaches us. Hurting others or being cruel to Divine creations would mean hurting It.
Sufism And Rumi
Perhaps the finest example of Sufism is the greatest mystic and poet Rumi. His lyrical depiction of Sufism, wisdom, God, and oneness widely influenced the spiritual understanding of Muslims and even the west. “This combination of mystical richness and bold adaptations of poetic forms is the key to his popularity today.” Says Jawid Mojaddedi, a scholar of early and medieval Sufism at Rutgers University and an award-winning Rumi translator. Rumi believed that God, consciousness, and oneness reside within us. He showed his love to the creator through art; poetry and dance as a path to reach God.
Ask a Sufi, and he would tell you that everything is connected in the cosmos, and love is the driving force in life. Sufism doesn’t glorify isolation or ask you to give up your essentials. If anything, it makes you crave the right knowledge and find the truth about everything you see.