Mystic Mantra: Quest for insaan-e-kamil

‘Your most dangerous enemy is the nafs (ego) within you’ - Prophet Muhammad

Sufi masters have reiterated that Tasawwuf, Sufism, is the heart of Islam. It is the inner dimension of Islam, the mystic way to penetrate the ghayb (unseen world), and establish an intimate relationship with Allah.

The essence of the Sufi path is purification of the heart through constant self-reflection and remembrance of God. One of the first verses of the Quran emphasises that the faithful are those who believe in the unseen. It is through the eyes of one’s heart that God can be known. Sufism teaches the way to internalising God’s attributes and realising Him in your own soul.

The Sufi principle has roots in the Prophet’s definition of ihsan (excellence): “Excellence is that you should worship God as though you see him, for if you don’t see him, he sees you”. The Sufi philosophy derives its sustenance from the Quran, flowing from Prophet Muhammad’s mysticism. Taking the seeds from his own heart, the Prophet planted a garden of faith in the hearts of his companions. They transmitted these teachings to their disciples, for Muhammad said, “Let those present teach those who are absent”. Sufi masters became like lamps of knowledge, one lighting another.

The messenger famously said, “Your most dangerous enemy is the nafs (ego) within you.” Islam classifies jihad — which literally means “to strive” — into jihad-e-asghar, the lesser outward battle fought against injustice, and jihad-e-akbar, the larger inner battle against the nafs. While returning from the battlefield of Badr, the first of the “just wars”, Prophet Muhammad defined the two faces of jihad saying, “We are returning from the lesser war to the greater war against ourselves.”

Sufism is based on the Quran, sunnah and hadith or the actions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad. These scriptures form the ethical, religious and spiritual foundation for Muslims, essentially prescribing guidelines on transforming oneself to higher states of consciousness. The Quran proclaims the heart as the centre of all knowledge and activity. The Sufi path teaches ways of curing the heart of spiritual maladies. Seekers of truth are taught ways of awakening the heart to attain perfection as God’s servants. Sufism is about abandoning oneself to God, in accordance to what he wills. Sufis understand their path as “the greater war”, which demands a slaying of the lower self. They strive to become insaan-e-kamil (perfect being) through emptying of the self; where there is no space for the “I” of the ego to exist and all that remains is the “i” of divinity.

There is a modern trend in both Muslim and non-Muslim societies to alienate Sufism from Islam, depriving it of both, origin and source. Streams do not exist without rivers, and rivers cannot flow without the presence of oceans where they must merge. Sufi silsilahs (orders) are similar to streams that unite with rivers, finally merging with the ocean of divinity.

Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at

( Source : dc )
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