What is Sufism or Tasawwuf

What is Sufism or Tasawwuf

Professor Sayyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University and an authority on Sufism, says Sufism or Tasawwuf is the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam. Professor Allan Godlas of the University of Georgia says that Tasawwuf is the inner, mystical, or spiritual dimension of Islam.

An Islamic website says that  Tasawwuf is the rooh (soul) and state of perfection of the Deen (religion). Its function is to purify the heart from anger, malice, hate, jealousy, greed, etc. and to fill it with truth,  justice, compassion, forgiveness, Zikr (remembrance of God) and other virtues.

The way I understand it, Tasawwuf is necessary to build a foundation of our Deen(faith). It requires that we control our ego (Nafs) and get rid of the toxic trash/baggage* from our heart and replace it with compassion, humility, truth, forgiveness, gratitude, justice and other virtues and that will illuminate the heart and bring love of God. The fear of God leads to the love of God. One does not have to join a  Sufi order to do Tasawwuf. . 

*The toxic baggage is anger, hate, resentment malice, greed, jealousy, lust, ostentation, deception, backbiting and slander(gheebat) and other negative emotions.

PS. In Sufi poetry especially of Hafiz and Omar Khayyam there is lot of mention of wine,  intoxication and love. But the wine they mention does not cone from a bottle . It is a  spiritual state one reaches with Ibadat, devotion and Tasawwuf. Love is love of God(ishq e Allah).

What is Halal

 (A brief Explanation)
The term Halal is generally associated  with meat or food. It indicates that meat is from an animal that has been slaughtered in Muslim way. It also indicates that  a substance contains no pork products.
Halal simply means permissible or lawful. The term equally applies to income or  wealth whether it is halal or non halal. Any income derived from breaking the law of the land, by dishonesty, by paying unfair wages, using unfair means, bribery, gambling is not halal. So is income derived from sale or  distribution  of  substances or activities that are prohibited by Islam such as pork products, Alcohol,  can ibis, drugs, dope etc.
One is entitled to enjoy an income or  wealth obtained by halal means. But its display and boasting is  not halal. One should enjoy wealth with humility. 
Islam requires that the object or goal one wants to achieve is halal and means to achieve that object or goal are also halal. The famous quote of Shakespeare that “all is well that ends well” has to meet the criteria described above.

Who is a Muslim

This is a brief and simple explanation.

Anyone who professes to be a Muslim is a Muslim. However practicing Muslims  observe  prescribed rules and actions derived from the Quran and the Sunnah.. These fall into two categories. do and don’t or to stay away from.
Do category. In this category are namaz, fasting, zakat and all other obligatory duties. Also be fair, just and honest in all actions and do good deeds. 
do not category. Refrain from envy, greed, malice, resentment, hate and anger, inflated ego, lust, backbiting(gheebat) and stinginess. Also to stay away from gambling, dishonesty in any action, eating pork, consuming alcohol, drugs or any substance that blurs  judgement or is harmful to your body.
One must follow the commandments in both categories.  Neglect of one negates the other.  Therefore, observe all obligatory duties and do good deeds. Strive to remove from your heart hate, envy, greed, malice  and other toxic trash listed above and replace them with compassion, forgiveness, truth, generosity, justice, humility, contentment, Zikr (remembrance of Alllah) and other virtues. The goal is  to reach a level that brings tranquility, contentment and inner peace which is a great reward but Allah rewards us again in the hereafter. All worldly things stay in this world when we depart, We cane to this world with nothing and leave it with nothing, only our deeds and actions go with us.
 
 

 

ABC of Islam

Here is a  short overview of Muslims and their belief. To start, humanity is one and is created by the same God (Allah), Who created the universe.

(1)   Muslims believe in the strict Oneness of God.  God has no gender or shape or form that we can comprehend. God is without any equal, Eternal. Nothing precedes Him, He is without any end. He is the First and the Last. He knows everything….  .

(2) Belief in the prophets, who received  God’s revelations from Abraham to Prophet Mohammed, the last prophet, through whom the Quran was revealed. Jesus is a prophet and not a son of God. God sent his message to other people but those messengers are not mentioned.

(3) Belief In the Day of Judgment when everything ends. There is no free pass for Muslims, who will be judged like everyone else based on deeds and actions.

Islam has no defined clergy. It is the responsibility of every individual to read the Quran and follow the religious obligations and these can be done in a mosque or at home without the presence of an imam. It is not necessary to belong to a mosque. One may pray in any mosque or any place that is convenient. The imam of a mosque does not have a status anywhere near close to a priest or a minister in a church .

Before I go to obligatory duties I will clarify terms often heard in the media. A Fatwa is simply a religious opinion of a scholar and is not binding on any one.

“Infidel”. It is also not an Islamic term. The word “Kafir” simply means a person who denies the existence of God or does not believe in God(Allah). A non believer..

Jihad does not translate into Holy War and  is misunderstood by radicals and also the media. It means a struggle. The struggle with one’s own ego, soul (Nafs), that one does every day to keep on the right path. To be a good person, to control envy, malice, anger, greed, resentment, inflated ego etc., and to replace these with compassion, forgiveness, justice and other virtues. Jihad does permit to defend and protect ones family and community from attack or harm. However, it does not permit one to be an aggressor. 

Obligations or religious duties are  Prayers, (namaz or salat) 5 times a day, morning, noon, late afternoon, at sun set and a few hours after sun set. It takes a few minutes. One can pray at any place, at home or in a mosque. In Muslim countries it is a common sight to see people taking a few moments to  pray in a park, a bus or train station or an airport.

Fasting(no food or water) from sunrise to sunset in the month of Ramadan.  Your fast is negated if you indulge in anger, envy or other negative emotions or bad deeds. It is a month of prayers and devotion. However, your good deeds and actions should continue as long as you live. It is a religious duty to be just, fair in your dealings in business, work and everyday life and to obey the laws of the land. 

 Zakat is compulsory giving to the poor and needy.

Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime is obligatory if one can perform it without incurring  economic liabilities or debt. Several million people perform the Hajj every year. Its ritual takes 5 days and is centered around the Kaaba.

Kaaba. A brief background. As you may know  Abraham had 2 sons, Isaac (Ishaq) with Sara and Ishmael (Ismail) with Hagar(Bibi Hajra). Tradition states that Abraham (Hazrat Ibrahim) left Hagar and his infant son Ishmael in a valley near Mecca. When water ran out, Hagar ran in search of water for her son between two hills called Safa and Marwa, praying to God for water. On the seventh round God revealed a spring that is known as ZAM ZAM. Her running between Safa and Marwa is part of the Hajj ritual and so is the drinking of water from that spring. Abraham returned and found Hagar and Ishmael. There he was commanded by God to build the house of worship near the spring. With the assistance of Ishmael he built the Kaaba. Today the Kaaba stands close to the original location, but the only original object remaining is the black stone.
Just to point out that Muslims are not allowed to drink alcohol or take substances that alter the mind or are harmful to the body(That means pot and  drugs). Also prohibited are pork products and gambling or any game of chance for money. One cannot trade or benefit from the production, trade or sale of substances and activities that the religion prohibits.
I will conclude with a quote from the Quran which is followed by an often recited supplication or Dua:
 

“Verily men who submit (to God) and women who submit,

And men who believe and women who believe,

And men who are devout and women who are devout,

And men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth,

And men who are patient and women who are patient,

And men who are humble and women who are humble,

And men who give alms and women who give alms,

And men who fast and women who fast,

And men who guard their modesty and women who guard,

And men who remember God and women who remember,

God has prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward”.

                              

 

An often recited supplication (Prayers, dua)

“O Allah (God)! Give my soul Piety and my conscience purity. You are the Master of my soul and guardian of my conscience. O God I seek refuge in you from oppressing others or being oppressed, from doing wrong or suffering wrong, and from committing an error or a sin that You will not forgive”.

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More Suras from the Quran

                                49.13

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).

                                5.8

O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do.”